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Topics - ArtfulShrapnel

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RPGs / AR in RPG
« on: September 10, 2011, 01:47:09 AM »
I've just started a Laundry game in the Providence area. Due to scheduling issues we only meet bi-weekly, and I've been finding myself leaning more towards AR game mechanics during the downtime. (Email is perfectly in tune with the setting, and to my delight nobody had registered

For example, this evening my players recieved this email*:

Dear Valued Laundry Employee,

Thanks to a joint subcomitte incorporating members Accounting, Quality Assurance, Operational Oversight and Medial & Psychological, the new Employee Documentation Incentivization Program (EDIP) has been instituted. The following message is from the newly re-named EDIP subcomittee:

"EDIP was created in response to concerns within Med/Psych that the documentation QA measures for field operatives within the agency (Such as Auditing, Official Reprimand, and Mental Probing) were having a negative psychological effect on operatives who are already under considerable mental strain. The Proper Paperwork Compulsion Gaes initiative was one attempt to deal with the problem, but testing found it was unsuitable to the rigors of Organization reality. (Note from Med/Psych: We ask that you avoid mentioning "Materiel Requisitions Rubrick 12-B" in the presence of Mr. Denton and Ms. Hughes during their recovery. This should be easy as these forms have not been in use since 1987 and are mentioned only as a footnote on some unfortunately outdated field equipment registration forms.)

"Our new initiative provides a positive reinforcement for agents in the form of monetary rewards for proper documentation above the current standard of practice. Since it would be inappropriate and against government regulation to add these bonuses to paychecks, they will instead be awarded in the form of Personal Budgetary Enhancement (PBE) accounts for the agents to call upon for operational-related expenses. These could be used to requisition extra personal equipment during field ops, upgrade accommodations or travel arrangements during offsite deployments*, for personal enrichment through the Training department, requisitioning extra refreshments at the annual Holiday Party, or any other usage for which departmental funds would usually be earmarked.

"Any documentation you wish to have counted for these purposes should be addressed to the Laundry Operations Email Switchboard (Note from IT: this address) with "EDIP" somewhere in the subject line. Documentation valuation will be in accordance with Rubrick E-902. In keeping with the Fiscal Opacity Security Regulations, valuation will be in abstract "Budgetary Units", equivalent to those mentioned in your Laundry Budgetary Policy Introductory Handbook."

Your PBE Account Number is 000000022

To access your Personal Budgetary Enhancement Account Status Click Here.

I used Google Docs to create a Personal Budgetary Enhancement Account Status page for each of them, as well as the "valuation" rubrick to tell them how much a given thing is worth.

I've already sent an "official nickname reassignment" notice to one of them because his nickname wasn't the geekiest possible, and I intend to send everyone an "orientation packet" email that shows them their view of the organizational structure around them, as well as the names of their supervisors.

Has anyone else used stuff like this? Any suggestions for more stuff I could send them?

*As a side note for non-Laundry players, your "operational budget" in Laundry is used to let you requisition stuff when your "Status" rolls within the agency fail. You have a (very) small limit that's shared among all players. Things that you might requisition: Backup, Guns, Armor, Computers and of course Training Courses, which allow you to rank up your skills. This is basically the "get more XP for doing out of game stuff that adds to the world" system I'm putting in place.

RPGs / Teaching GMing
« on: September 07, 2011, 05:10:50 PM »
This started as a reply to a G+ conversation, but grew too lengthy to fit there, so I figured I'd bring it here for discussion. The analogy came up that "how to GM" articles tend to be a lot like beginner drawing books: They seem insightful to newbs, but once you have some experience you realize how specific they are and that you really can't condense all the experience needed to be a good GM into a page of writing.

It occurred to me that maybe we should look at how art CAN be taught, if we hope to discover a way to teach good GMing.

As an artist and GM, I can say the two processes are very similar: There are rules to be obeyed, but some people ignore some rules and still get a good result. A lot of the process is mental and hidden, but it manifests in an observable way. There are a lot of different styles, but most people will agree on certain foundations that make "good" art/games... the list goes on. So, on to art teaching methods!

1) Take your ego out of it
You are not your art

This is a part lots of artists and GM’s struggle with, in my experience, and it’s simultaneously the hardest and most important part of the learning process.

When learning art, a person will fuck up. They will be wrong. Not like "I disagree" wrong, but "this is totally incorrect and I can explain why with a fucking diagram" wrong. There are people who are better at certain things and the student needs to accept that and listen to them if they ever want to improve. Even people who aren’t as good as the student can have valuable insight, especially if they are the intended audience.

Honest critique is the core of modern creative instruction, and those who get the most out of it are those who can take a bad critique and not just tolerate it, but honestly study and internalize it. In every art class there is the person who ignores all the critiques and says that any "flaw" is "their style". They don't do well i the long run.

Instead, a student needs to distance themselves from their creations. They need to learn to accept that a person can create something and have it be objectively not good, and that this doesn’t mean they failed. They need to realize that a that a bad critique of work is not a bad critique of a person, it is advice to help improve their next work. The realization needs to happen that if a person takes the time to give a critique at all, it’s because they think the creator is able to do better and greater things.

2) Master Copies
One common way to learn is to study the work of more experienced artists and try to recreate it. Art teachers will tell you that in doing this, it is important to not copy what you see, but to analyze it and try to understand why a decision was made, then make that decision yourself.

In GMing, this might take the form of listening to actual plays or watching a game from outside and trying to figure out why the GM did what they did, then running the same game and trying to stick as close to the original playthrough as possible. Likely the person won't be able to exactly duplicate it (stupid player choice!) but overcoming the small deviations is part of the process.

I will note here that running a pre-written scenario is not the same thing as studying how a GM runs something. I would equate a pre-written scenario as somewhere between a paint-by-numbers and a very comprehensive reference collection, depending on how it is used. It has the stuff that will be in the game, but we're not talking about studying game design, we want to be studying GMing, which is about far more than what happens when or where.

3) Tutorials and Process Workshops
In art instruction it is important to see and study the entire creative process, not just the end result. In painting this means seeing thumbnails, sketches, studies, and reference gathering as well as the final techniques used to make the piece.

In GMing, this might mean being there with the GM while he prepares, asking questions about why he's making various decisions, etc. in addition to watching the actual game.

With art, this is often done in the form of videos where the artist walks you through their entire process, or a specific part of it on several projects at once. A similar set of videos or podcasts for games would be interesting. RPPR approaches this in their theoretical talk about "how to incorporate X into your game" posts, but the real equivalent would be something like an AP podcast where the GM writes the game and narrates their process before the game starts so that you can see their entire thought process and how it carries through into the game.

Highlighting various set-pieces in terms of "I wrote it like this, with these ideas in mind, here's how it played out:" would be good equivalents too.

4) Guided Practice
The most common way to teach art once someone has the fundamentals down is through what I call "guided practice" or "mentoring". The student creates art while an experienced artist looks over their shoulder and gives them advice or corrections. That instructor might assign research materials, tell them to do something or not do something specific, paint over their work to show them how it should be done right, or whatever.

In the context of GMing this could take the form of having a GM mentor while a game is being prepared. They would need to look over the preparation, give advice on it, and be present for the game itself so they could critique the final presentation.  The student should be responsible for running things, but during the preparatory phase the co-GM might step in and give changes or suggestions.

It is important during this type of learning that the mentor be treated like an instructor, not a member of the voting constituency. They are teaching, the student is learning from them. If they make a choice that seems stupid... maybe they know something the student doesn't!  If they’re wrong and fuck things up? Who cares? Learning will happen anyways and you can always run another game.

5. Audience Critique
This may seem like an obvious one, but I'm always surprised at how few GMs practice it. After each session, ask the audience for a critique. "What did you like, what didn't you like?" is a great way to express it. It's a phrase that invites negative feedback as much as positive feedback, and gives the players an invitation to express themselves subjectively.

I would say with this, the tricky part is to NOT take it personally. It's really hard to sit at a table after a bad game and listen to four people discuss how badly things just went and dissect a failed experience. This is where that first part about "you are not your art" comes into play. In my experience the best way to alleviate the stress is to join the other side. Point out things you did that you didn't like, make fun of yourself a bit. It's hard to feel ganged up on when you're in the gang!

Any ideas on these from the rest of the forums? Things that I have overlooked, or other ideas to draw from?

I made these printable earrings on Shapeways. I am calling them GOATSEarrings. :)

They've made the top of BoingBoing's submitterator, and any extra votes to help them make the frontpage would be much appreciated!

Submitterator is HERE
My store page is HERE

</blatant plug>

General Chaos / Cthulhu Mythos Sculpts
« on: July 24, 2010, 11:01:44 PM »
So, now that I'm free from the Codex I'm exploring some of the other projects that have been sitting in the back of my mind. One that has been engaging me for quite some time is creating some 3d printable models of Mythos beasties. There are no good minatures (that I've seen) for the CoC game, and I know some people find that pulling out a gigantic model to put on the table really helps to give people a sense of scale.

So yeah, this is the Bloody Tongue Nyarlethotep I cranked out today. I'm working on getting him printable and uploading him to Shapeways, we'll see how that goes over the next few hours.

Any suggestions for other Mythos beings that could use a 3d treatment? My thoughts immediately turn to Dark Young and Shoggoths.

They're in open beta right now, looks like they'll be a pay service eventually. Seem to have a good "virtual table" setup, and I'd love to run something for you RPPR peoples sometime.

As for what I'd run... I'm open to suggestions. My immediate thoughts include Delta Green, CoC, or MAOCT. I have a DG scenario I've been working on called "Death and Taxis" that a playthrough might help me refine and develop a bit.

General Chaos / Ean's Art Thread of Random Shit
« on: May 04, 2010, 12:45:36 PM »
Didn't want to horn in on Sean-o-tron's art thread anymore, so I started my own. I'll just post whatever I do here, along with sketches sometimes maybe. I don't know.

This week's AP art, a facny party. Did some weird stuff using some different kind of lighting and color than I usually do. I've really enjoyed using RPPR podcast art as a place to experiment, since there's so much material to work with in every podcast.

The sky is on fire for some reason... or maybe those are lights. I don't fucking know.

RPGs / Mired in the Quicksand: Being a Player when Nothing Happens
« on: April 14, 2010, 12:09:59 AM »
So. I'm actually playing in a game for a change instead of running it. Supers game in the Wild Talents system. The GM is new and (having had really railroady GMs in the past) seems to be trying to avoid jamming a plot down our throats. We were told it would be a supers game loosely inspired by "Heroes", so we should make supers that aren't necessarily four-color "let's fight crime" folks. All good things in theory. However... (you knew that was coming)...

NOTHING IS FUCKING HAPPENING! It's a fucking parade of NPCs. An accurate summary of the plot is as follows:

We were threatened by a guy, then were forced to talk to another guy. We were sent looking for a third guy, who sent us to a 4th guy. He sent us looking for a 5th guy. Then the 2nd guy talked to us again. Then guy #5 showed up out of the blue and talked at us, telling us to go find guys number 6 and 7.

There hasn't been a single task to accomplish other than "talk to the next guy". It has been three fucking sessions lasting about 5 hours apiece.

If you want the longer version:

Myself and the other players begin as normal people who happen to have awesome super powers. A great tradgedy kills the old team of supers, and the police force starts hunting for others. Of course it's us.

They threaten us into meeting with them, act like mysterious douchebags who of course know EVERYTHING about us, then ask us to "join the team"... with no specifics as to what that might entail. When we finally relent, nothing happens. No missions, nothing. I grasp at the one straw of plot that I've noticed about supers going missing.

Next a shadowy figure from the "resistance" approaches us, mind controls us, shows off how much he knows about our powers, then asks us to 'join the resistance... again with no implication of what that might entail. We're sick of being dicked around so we say no. The attempt to convince us drags on for about two hours. We finally leave and follow our old trail about some villains who might know something.

Then we met an NPC hero who told us to go talk to another NPC hero, who told us to go talk to an NPC villain, who told us to not talk to an NPC super. This marked the end of session 2.

In session 3 we were accosted by jerk #2 again. He mind controlled us into having a conversation. (like, seriously. He mind controlled someone into walking two blocks so he could talk to us in a dramatic location) In this conversation he again asked us to "join him" with no specifics as to what that would mean. He tells us to talk to another NPC after another lengthy attempt to convince us (at this point we fucking hate him because he keeps mind controlling us, which is a dick move). Then the NPC we were supposed to not talk to shows up out of the blue and tells us to go talk to another guy...  End of session 3.[/color]

So my basic issue here is that the GM seems actively opposed to anything happening. Every pointless conversation leads to another one. Anytime we try to do something one of the NPCs shows up and talks at us for a while. We didn't build crazy psychopath heroes, so we can't just start killing people... but that's the current game plan. My other plan is to explain this to the GM and see if he takes it well...

What does RPPR think I should do?

RPGs / Help me do my RPG!!!! (I'll draw you art)
« on: April 10, 2010, 12:05:21 AM »
Yeah. I'm shit at coming up with names for things. We have some monsters in our RPG. These guys:

I'm having a "name this monster" contest over on my blog. The winner gets their name in the eventual book, and can request a piece of setting-related art. (i.e. something we could use in the book) Post a comment there if you want to enter!

As for a forum topic:
how do you go about naming and creating new monsters for an RPG? Where do you get your inspiration, particularly for names? I suck at this and need some helps :(

RPGs / 3d Models & Custom Minis - Props and other coolness
« on: April 03, 2010, 05:51:30 PM »
I figured I'd start a thread to show off the stuff I'm making, and see if anyone else has some custom minis or props to show off.

I've been playing around with zbrush and 3d modeling, and I've fallen in love with the process of 3d printing. There's something amazing about making something digitally and having it show up on your door in a box.

This site called Shapeways is simple and affordable. Even better, they let you set yourself up as a "store", so other people can have prints of your model made for themselves. I've started on a few custom monsters for the RPG I'm working on, this is the first one. Giant flying centipede from the RPG me and Violet are working on. Considering making a PDF of stats for 4e and 3.5e.

The one I linked is about 5.5" tall (it would be a "huge" monster in DnD terms), and getting it printed is actually a bit less than the price shown on Shapeways. (i put a tiny markup in case people actually buy the thing) I think that's pretty awesome, and the prices for this kind of stuff keep dropping. I think we'll start to see custom print-on-demand figures show up with lots of games and supplements in the near future.

Any other 3d modelers on RPPR? Any cool models to show off? Anyone like the idea of creating a set of RPPR-linked shops on Shapeways to spread the custom mini love?

General Chaos / Looking for a room at Gencon - Anyone have space for 2?
« on: February 28, 2010, 04:55:07 PM »
Stuff just came together, and I now think me and Violet (my girlfriend) will get to attend Gencon this year. Unfortunately, every hotel within 8 miles of the con is already sold out.

Any chance that someone within walking distance is willing to let two wandering adventurers join their party? We're cool with sleeping on a floor and such, we just can't afford to go if it means getting a cab every day.

I can also kick in some free art in addition to our share of the hotel costs. Need something for an RPG, a character portrait for your current game, or a business card or something? Consider it a repayment for the favor of a place to stay. (here's my art)

Edit: Violet has also offered to kick in a piece of art. Her art is here.

General Chaos / uStream Artcast
« on: January 08, 2010, 11:28:16 PM »
Dunno if there's any interest here, but I've started streaming my drawing sessions a lot of evenings.

Doing one right now, and I'll post updates here when I'm starting a long session.

Not sure what I'm drawing today, but I'll be taking requests many evenings.

Check it out here

Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Goblin Hulk Cover Preview
« on: September 17, 2009, 01:54:06 PM »
Ross thought all you forum folks might enjoy a preview of the Goblin Hulk Cover Illustration I just finished up for him. The full image wraps around this time, so there's more hulk to be had when the module comes out.

There's also some previews of the Shoggothic Hosts Here and a step by step of how this cover came together Here.

I've got one more piece going in the book, the Goblin Artillerist. That one is super secret, so I can't show you it yet. (Read: I'm not done with it yet but don't want to tell you.)

So what do you all think? Am I hitting everyone's mental image of the Hulk?

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