Feb. 12th, 2010

theron: My Dice Are Probably Older Than You (Default)
No, not "Gamecraft."  Or crafting a game, or anything like that.  In this case, I'm talking about game-related crafting.  I love to personalize my games.  In particular, I like to do this for convention games, but even my last Champions campaign featured custom-made map counters for all the characters.

Over the years, I've found that a strong visual element really works to focus a convention game.  Given that con rounds are always a bit of a crap shoot, anything I can do to make the games more engaging right out of the box helps me focus a typically disparate group of strangers on the action a lot faster.  And, for me, a game that hits the ground running is a game that will likely carry that momentum all the way to the end.

For a classic (FASERIP) Marvel Super-Heroes game I ran last year, I made sure I had a proper figure for every character in the game.  Thanks to HeroClix and Heroscape, this wasn't particularly hard, and it added a lot to the end result.  When I've run my "Heroes of the New Wave" game, I always rely heavily on photo references, handing them out like candy to describe characters and scenes.  Since the characters (PCs and NPCs) are always based on real-world musicians and other celebrities, this tends to generate a few laughs and more than a few immediate character hooks.  Let's face it, if your character is Billy, the Big Bruiser of the group and the photo on the character sheet is Billy Idol, then that's probably all you need to get through the next four hours of gameplay.

In the past I've run "Heroes of the New Wave" with Feng Shui; it's an easy-to-grasp cinematic system that's simple to modify.  Also, I can run it in my sleep.  This year, however, I've decided to run it using the Ubiquity System from Hollow Earth Expedition.  It's an even easier system built for pulp action.  And it uses cool dice, which adds to the toy factor.  There was just one little hitch:  I need a GM's screen, and the official HEX screen, while beautiful in all its 1930s pulp adventure glory, doesn't convey the spirit of HotNW's "Neo-Pulp 80s" sensibilities.

Fortunately, a few years ago, I bought The World's Greatest Screen from Hammerdog games.  It's a generic GM's screen that you can customize however you want with your own content.  And so it was that I turned this:

Into this:

Here are slightly closer-ups of each panel:

The funny thing is, with a week to go until Owlcon, I've spent more time this week playing around with props for my games than I have doing actual writing.  And that's OK.  While I was working on this, I had more good ideas for it than I have in the past twelve months.  I'm not ready to throw dice at this moment, but I'm a lot closer than I was this time yesterday.

So, what gets you inspired and helps you make the magic happen?


theron: My Dice Are Probably Older Than You (Default)

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