|In My Humble Opinion|
In My Humble Opinion, or IMHO, is what other, less-imaginative magazines
would term "the letters page". This is your forum for telling us, and the world,
what you think of Critical Miss, roleplaying, or perhaps life in general.
So that you can figure out who's saying what, we've coloured the text. This is Jonny, and this is Bubba.
Adam wrote to give us his thoughts on Issue 2...
You folks outdid yourselve's. Issue 2 was better than issue 1. The thing that scares me is that I know a few Rpg's who fit into the dysfunctional category. It's funnier to read the articles and think to yourself, "yep that's so and so to a tea".
keep up the great work
Well this is a magazine about dysfunctionals, by disfunctionals.
Chuck B had some comments on the Realism in Roleplaying article:
Thanks for the excellent read.
I just finished the section in #2 on 'Realsim in Roleplaying'. I would like to make one additional point.
While your article covered the complexity vs: playability issue, there is another factor in running a 'realistic' RPG ( or anything or game for that matter ). Gamemaster quality. If the GM is good, knows the game very well, and has some idea of what the setting is all about ( read through the scenario, or has a game plan ), he/she can flesh out reality quite nicely with out resorting to mile high stacks of rules.
Most people refer to combat as their biggest frustration concerning realism. After 20+ years of GM'ing I've found my players will say they want combat realism, but what they're really saying is, more detailed settings and faster combat. Here is an example.
For my current AD&D campaign I run a modified(who doesn't) combat system based on second instead of minutes. This lets the players experience weapon speed. My critical hits are based on a d% + bend-bars % bonus. That's it. Not much 'realism' here. My secret is not rules, it's speed. Next time try running your next combat at combat speed! Instead of debating every descion with the players just keep it rolling. This will generate more realism than you can ever do with complex tables/rules. When the group is done they are literally sweating! Combat is chaos at it's finest. A fighter ( or any participant in a combat ) should not be worried about hit location, hit affect or visual description, instead they should be worried about staying alive. (Hint: mini's really help here if you ( the GM ) are having trouble visualizing where everything is. Don't let players touch them you move them all!)
Save the realism for the campaign world. You don't need tons of rules/charts here, just a good base of knowledge about your world and a vivid imagination.
Thanks for letting me spout off.
Yeah, I think what most people want is an intense experience that feels real, as opposed to a detailed, and supposedly detailed realism. If I've just been involved in a nightmare fight for my life I want to feel terrified and confused during it, and shattered and emotional after it.
Funny. I just want to Kill things...
Michael Lee Viviano wrote to us about American Culture:
Hey, how are you doing? I've greatly enjoyed reading these two issues of your fine publication, and I am looking forward to seeing more. I found the article on American impressions of British culture to be quite amusing and informative. Wrapping up, you mentioned that you would like to see an American response. One question... what half baked notions about American culture do you see commonly in British media?
For example, I have heard that in many non-American stories featuring American characters, the Yankee is usually armed with some sort of firearm. Yeah, we love our guns over here, but most of us don't carry them around. A lot of us, maybe, but not most of us.
I think if you do a word-association test on the average Brit, their response to the word "America" will be "guns". I once spent six weeks working in the United States and particularly remember one Saturday when I went shopping at a local mall. I had parked my car, and was walking towards the shops when I suddenly looked around at the other people there and thought: "these people are legally entitled to carry guns." I immediately experienced a feeling of complete terror and a strong desire to hide under the nearest bush.
On a related note, when I arrived at a gaming session and told the guys that I would be missing the next six weeks for said trip to the States, the first thing said (by Bubba) was: "If you get killed, can I have your computer?"
Look I was young and immature...
Should have asked for the car...
The second was a request for my magic cards.
I myself have never been involved in a gun battle, or have even had a gun pulled on me. I hope like hell that I don't.
I have seen a car chase, though. But that was during a base security exercise while I was in the Navy, and I guess that was kinda planned.
Michael Lee Viviano
Ella Lynoure Rajamaki wrote on the subject of roleplaying the other sex:
The trick of roleplaying a person of opposite sex is that one roleplays a _person_. People are personalities first.
Awooga! Awooga! Estrogen Alert!
Not to men. To us, people are either other men, or people we'd like to sleep with.
After understanding that it's easy to add the small differences from two X-chromosomes instead of one and the bigger differences that come of the culture and upbringing.
I have been many guys roleplaying female characters very well. I did hesitate trying a male character myself, because I was scared of being mistaken: what if they are more aliens than I think. After creating Steven, I have got only positive feedback on how I roleplay him. Well, perhaps the cultural background of the player has something to do with this too. Did you know Finnish language (my mother tongue) doesn't have separate words for he and she, but only one gender neutral pronoun for both?
I didn't, no. That's a really strange concept for someone whose mother tongue has separate pronouns to get his brain around. You have to wonder what message you're sending to kids when you drill it into them that "Jim is a he" but "Sarah is a she"?
Ella Lynoure Rajamaki
James Jarvis wrote under the heading "Critical Miss kicks ass":
Critical miss is absolutely the best web-zine about roleplaying i've come across.
Thank you. That's exactly what we want to hear.
Hey Jonny, you been writing in yourself again?
The article in issue 1 on the five steps for a gm who hasn't got his shit together is great. I must confess i've actually used those steps (on more then one occassion). I ran a fun campaign for over a year that ran every other week and all i had for materials was a campagn map, a town map and 4 (un related) dungeon maps and a set of notecards (mostly empty). I wrote down whatever happened or i thought up during each game session and never threw out a thing. After a couple of months my players thought i had a massive amount of detailed information becasue of the stack of notes I had to reference, they never caught on. (and they still haven't). When a player character died i would take the sheet and place it in a folder we lovingly called "the book of the dead" which unkown to the player became the source for the stats of about 50% of the npcs that had stats.
I've found that the best campaigns / scenarios I've done have often been scratch ones thrown together to play-test various RPG system's I've developed. By contrast, the "real" scenarios that I've done have often got bogged down in detail.
I'm still reading issue 2 and issue 1 right now here at work and laughing out loud every now and then, my coworkers are not amused.
:) Just don't blame us if your boss catches you and gives you a bollocking (that's a telling off for those of you that thought it sounded like some kind of sexual practice).
-James D. Jarvis
veteran Gamer with 2 decades of experience and always working on his next camapign while failing to work on the current one.
Hey! That's me!
Michael Beck Esperum wrote in with a story:
i am not close to beating your record...but this really happened...
we where playing a Forgotten Realms campain with a friend as DM, and he got tired (of DM'ing and the rotten party that could not cooperate) so he announced that he wanted to play this module, which would take us about a month, and then some others should take over....
this raised murmurs as everybody wanted to continue playing their characters...then I came up with a great solution...
as my character was going to be featurerd in a module we wrote for a convention, my friend, the DM introduced his character and they were sent by Randal Morn to help a missing patrol. This was but a foreadventure for my campain; RAVENLOFT
they played this session with me and when they found themselves in a strange land, they became even more apatic then usual, the thief even spent a whole night banging his head against the wall... then they managed to cry themselves out of the mists ... the dark powers found that they had totally misjudged their character and thought they would disrupt everything...
It was a short campain, but actually I had put a great deal of work in it .... and the other DM and me had even placed magical treasure and stuff with care just to help them in the mists ... it was to be a completely nonlethal campain where they would exit RAVENLOFT as my character was finished with the mentioned module for a happy re-union....
The more work you put into a campaign, the more satisfaction your players can derive from trashing it.
James Jarvis wrote back with another gaming record:
Alrighty then here is a rpg record set in my group by a slightly unlucky player:
this record is for the shortest amount of time a character exsisted in game (others with sadistic dm's might be able to beat this):
Me (DM): " ....blah,blah.blah , you land the boat softly upon the beach the sun isn't up yet but soon will be , you can just barely see Serpent Watch Tower about a quarter mile away"
Player: "I quickly sneak up to the tower and climb up it"
Player: " I'm going to have my thief rubn up to the tower and i'm going to climb to the top "
Me: "It's about 80 feet tall"
Player: "No problem"
Me: "Okay you quickly make it to the tower in the gloom, make your climb roll to start climbing the tower"
Player : "Made it"
Me: "What are the rest of you doing? "
Others: "Advancing slowly"
Player "Can i get further up the tower :
Me: "sure another roll and you'll be half way up"
Player: rolls dice blows it," Dammmn......"
Me: rolls damage, the hapless wall crawler is dead "what was his name anyway?"
Player "@#@#$@%$ I didn't even name him yet"
and thus perished "Lucky the Thief" , 2 climb rolls in play one successful one not.
Well, if he didn't have a name I guess he hadn't wasted a couple of hours writing up his background. Now that's annoying...
...only if you bother writing a background...
I once party-killed (well mortally wounded to be exact) a fellow PC within about ten seconds of a campaign starting. For a change I had decided to play a totally ruthless, evil psychopath with a severe anger management problem (I usually play offbeat, nice guys). Dremm was the name of this mobile disaster. Now just to be fair, I had warned all the players in great detail beforehand as to the type of character I was going to play.
So what happens? We start play and one of the other players (a young bloke who had a reputation of trying to wind everyone else up) says something like: "I go up to Dremm and say 'you look like a total prick!'"
What could I do? I basically had the option of retiring the character there and then, or doing the only thing that Dremm would possibly do at that moment (cutting him in half with my axe). It was a hell of a way to start the campaign.
...and so perished Roleplayer the stupid...
Still the look on his face was quite a sight.
Christian felt we had done some solid work:
Solid work as always, folks. I enjoy the fact that the mag is aimed at an audience who is cerebral enough not to giggle when they see the naughty words. My favorite article this issue was the Realistic Role-Playing. My group and I have been playing GURPS quite a bit and all that accuracy and stress over precise rules has driven me nuts.
Keep up the good work!
Well I hate to say this Christian, but I think you might possibly be in danger of overestimating our maturity. :)
To be honest, it is this magazine's official opinion that bad language is both "big and clever".
Still, we do try to put in a few more thoughtful articles, such as the one about realism. Glad you liked it.
Al wrote in under the heading of "Top darts":
Nice one, about time there was a page written by us level headed Englishmen. Its like a wonderful one page crusade to 'take the rod out of the arse of roleplaying.'
...and to replace it with an arrow! Err... perhaps I'd better shut up now considering you guys voted that I'm a screaming pervert with an arse fixation.
You'll all be glad to know JN is actually a caring sensative kinda guy...
He's also a Screaming Pervert but Hey nobodys perfect.
Some of the articles are top notch, How many times have I used similar techniques to eat up an evening that was supposed to be dedicated to running an adventure I'd done nothing for. Letting them go shopping is the real killer, they love it, the slags!
It would be nice to have more detail in the reviews section, at the moment it really doesn't tell the reader anything about the game, certainly not in enough detail to make a decision anyway.
I think the problem with reviews is striking a balance between giving only a conclusion as to your opinion of the product compared with a detailed summary of what it actually contains. Still, we try to do everything as well as we can.
Keep it up and give us more of it, and more often too!
P.S. For all I know since I didn't bother to check the date on issue two you boys have stopped making this E-zine... I hope not.
No, we're still here. We basically aim to do an issue about every four months. Any more than that wouldn't be fun and would probably be more than we can manage.
Léo wrote in to say "Hey There!":
Please forgive me my poor english.. I have a good excuse for being 'that' poor : I'm french. And I have an excuse for being french : I didn't choose it. And I have a good excuse for not choosing it :... ah, well... nervermind.
It's an old line, but your English is infinitely better than my French.
I just crashed on your e-zine by mystake (maybe by joke) and I really loved it. Maybe it is beacuse I'm still depressed from (?) my last saturday night game, witch ended up with what we call in France a ' fin scoubidou' (I can't imagine myself translating that one, hope you get it). The good news I have for you I that we also got some Disfunctional Players in France ! And we're facing the same problems as you do. Maybe we should build some international global and virtual association to support all the DPs in the world. Or maybe we should just all meet up some place, some 300 DP for a huge 24 hours game, so we could get along with it through a group therapy.
Na... it'd probably end up like one of those cult things where everyone tops themselves. That's if that much dyfunctionality concentrated in one place doesn't rip through the fabric of space time unleashing... something really bad.
And if you're interested with it (and ready to work on my expression), I would be delighted to write you an article on what France isn't like for real. I remember reading some American Vampire stuff about France... Still laughing.
Errrr... if we tell him what the Brits think of the French do you think he'll still want to write for us? Answers on a postcard to....
Well if people like this issue's article about the States, then yes I think it would be good to look further around the world.
Well. Notify me anyway on your list, and give me notice of (?*) when the third issue comes out. See ya (happy to know there are gamers in UK... Do you have any 'only british' game the americans don't have ?)
All the games we play are American. The only 'British' game I can recall is a super-hero one called Golden Heroes that Games Workshop published in the mid-eighties (I suppose the Judge Dread game that they published at around the same time might qualify - it's based on a British comic but is set in a future America).
* Christ ! I never thought I was that poor !
Lord Snooty wrote to offer his gracious thoughts:
I have perused your periodical and the back issue and had found of appropriate interest to both my intellect and sense of humour. I found it to be of sufficient interest to congratulate yourselves on a damn fine magazine.
It is most gracious for your Lordship to say so. We are most humbly grateful.
Oh...what is this about people in Blighty not using such terms as 'cor blimey'. One believes that that the lower orders should doff their flat caps in deference to those of better ranks. Especially those such as our illustrious Royal Family who are paragons of virtue. The Prince of Wales who only publicly admitted to his 'Mistress' only after that most unfortunate death of Princess Diana. Those jolly nice MI6 chaps sorted it out all his problems for him. That shows a man who takes his vows of marriage as seriously as he takes his vows as a Prince of the Realm. Jolly Good Show.
Well I think the whole Camillagate thing kindof let the cat out of the bag. (Yes we do have the media cliche of appending gate to every scandal. We've also had Squidygate and my personal favourite, Bastardgate, when the then Prime Minister was overhead on a mobile phone referring to several members of his own cabinet as "bastards".)
Must toodle-pip now.
RJS wrote in to say "Hey There!":
Nice site. Much better design than I'm used to seeing from gaming e-zines. Good writing. I like it. I thought the bit about American misperceptions of Britain was especially funny (I'm American, BTW).
Well I was a bit worried that some people might take offense, but everyone seems to have taken it in good humour.
Getting serious re: the issue of men roleplaying women and vice versa, I think it's entirely "do-able" but its success often depends on the ability of the role-player. A guy can role-play a guy without really thinking about it because he *is* one, but to role-play a woman with any degree of believability takes some work. Same for women playing men (I'm playing one in a Pendragon campaign, currently). Especially since, depending on the mental maturity level operating, each might have the strangest notions about how the other side really works. It can be done, however--if it couldn't, then all the NPCs for an entire campaign would be the same sex, and how weird would that be?
Yeah, that's a good point about the NPCs. I suppose it brings into light the issue that many NPCs aren't much more than two-dimensional props, otherwise male GMs would worry much more about roleplaying female NPCs.
Keep up the good work (no pressure),
Mathieu wrote in to say:
i used to think i was really fucked up. now that i've discovered your site, i really feel better. you guys are really fucking funny!
Thank you. Do you no longer think you're fucked up, or are you just laughing too much to care? :)
Trademark wrote to us on the subject of The Freak:
You rat bastards!! :)
I went to the Freak page in my clever disguise as a player and I see this.....this..... gasp....
So it is true, the Heroes Unlimited Knights of the Dinner Table have their competitors. My team could make something like this up before breakfast. Even when they ring me to say hello I say "No!" in preparation for their RPG question (When they say hello, they are REALLY softening me up for a RPG question you see......they are all after me....)
Hey bud! We told Games Masters not to read that article so don't come whining to us now!
Sigh....do you have a Game Master's Councilling page?
Well now you come to mention it...
Cool work guys :)
Sian wrote in with a message titled, for reasons known only to her: "Mon, 12 Jul 1999 13:45:33 +0100"
In the realm of the real, the almost-real becomes sometimes-real according to the realness of the real head. The sometimes-real is a realness to be reborn into the realreal. In the realm of the realreal, there are many layers of reals; the realreal can be created but not destroyed.
Unless like me you believe that Reality is in fact Virtual...
No, we don't understand either.
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