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I've been playing a variety of Role Playing Games for about eight years now and I've come to the conclusion that the method of gaming that I prefer is what I (and my gaming friends) call Free-Form Diceless (FFD.) Since the story and the enjoyment derived from being a part of the story is the main reason that I game, dice are not needed. Now, you may be wondering, "how do you play an RPG without dice?" Simple. It's not called a "Role Playing Game" for no reason. Describe what your character is going to do! When playing dice based games, players tend to get a bit lazy. They let the dice do the work for them. This, in my opinion, takes away from the experience. It's really hard to get in to the story when all you do is say "I'll hit the ogre" and then roll a die to see what happens. Random-ness can be nice in a game and can lead to wonderful results but more often than not it leads to boredom. Why bother to play a game if your gonna be bored? The "I'll hit the ogre" routine becomes much more enjoyable when it goes something like this:
- - -
Referee: "Aragon sees an ogre dash out of the shadow
of a large oak tree and come straight at him!"
Aragon: "I'll dart to my right, drawing my sword
and taking up a defensive posture. As the ogre passes to my left I'll hit
the ogre on the side of his jaw with the hand guard of my sword.
Ref.: "The ogre anticipates your move. This is
no ordinary ogre! The ogre counter attacks with his huge club in a sideways
swing. You immediately realize that you are in trouble."
Aragon: "I'll duck under the swing, roll to his
off side and hack the back of his closest knee."
Ref.: "The ogre screams out in agony as your blade slices through the tendons in the back of his knee. The inertia of the swing twists the ogre out of control and he slams into the ground..."
- - -
You'll notice that during that encouter not a single die was rolled and still there was a resolution of the combat. What fun would it have been to have gotten killed by the ogre because you failed a dodge roll? None, that's what. Also, if Aragon had gotten killed, the story would pretty much have ended unless his death served some purpose. If it hadn't served a purpose then the rest of the party would lose out also. The STORY is the important part of RPGs. How did the Ref. determine that Aragon had won this fight? Because it served the story line.
This style of gaming is not for everyone though. If you can only play power-house characters, stick to dice games. If you cannot be objective, stick to dice. This style of gaming also requires that whoever is running the session must be able to think quickly, and be able to make fair decisions regarding the individual characters and players. If you can only play an RPG when you have a stack of rules then FFD is not for you. Essentially, there are no other rules than be fair, and have fun. There are no books to buy and no modules to play once and then file. All you need to play is two people (one to run the game and one to play,) some imagination, and a general or rough outline of a story. Hell, you don't even need a rough outline of a story. Some of the best gaming I've ever done was completely improvised! If you're running the game, let the players determine which way the story will go by they're actions and decisions. Sometimes all you need to do is put the characters in a pub, throw a couple vague hints at them and let 'em go. The story will unfold before all of your eyes.
Now that I've told you how I prefer to play, let me tell you about some of the dice based games that I enjoy. I cut my gaming teeth on Warhammer Fantasy RPG. A wonderful dice system. Very enjoyable to play and run. I have fond memories of WFRPG. I also enjoy Dungeons & Dragons in all of it's incarnations. Just about everyone who has played RPGs has at one time or another played D&D. It has it's faults like every other system but it's been around a long time and it's given much pleasure to many individuals. With the relatively recent addition of the new supplemental rules, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition has become more flexible than it has ever been in the past. These rules allow AD&D to become an almost entirely new RPG and has breathed new life in to an old system. These rules have renewed my interest in the system so maybe they'll do the same for you.
GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System) is probably my favorite dice based system. I have many GURPS books and find that it is a competent RPG system. Steve Jackson games has supported this system with many, many source books. Most of which are richly illustrated, well laid out, and actually fun to read. I love all of the side bars rich with coments and examples to make the books all that much more enjoyable.
AMBER Diceless RPG is what got me interested in diceless gaming. It is based on Roger Zelazny's Amber series. More info about Amber can be found on my Book Pages. Amber Diceless is a spectacular system and In my opinion is the best system to learn on if you've never played an RPG. Gone is the confusion of "what die do I roll now" gaming. All attributes are bought with a pre-set amount of character points or are bid on in an attribute auction. The possibilities are endless when playing Amber Diceless!
Here is my Amber character.
Prince Aragon of Amber
STR = 5
Personal Colors: Black/Purple/Silver
Albino with blue/purple eyes. Wavy white hair to the bottom of the shoulder blades. Six foot 2 inches tall and weighs around 190 lbs. Muscular but slightly thin build. Has three ear rings in the right ear (silver hoops). Mostly wears black. Most comfortable in jeans and black tank top. In colder climets Aragon wears a full length fur lined hooded leather over coat. He wears a silver ring on right ring finger and a silver necklace both with his symbol.
Aragon appears to be about 25 years old.
Father: Julian of Amber
Aragon spent the first 25 years of his life in Amber (Mostly in Arden Forest or training with Benedict.) Some of these 25 years were spent in shadow with Benedict fighting wars and battles and learning many skills. The last 30 years were spent in Earth-like shadows of different tech levels. During these years he learned such skills as medical, computer, lock picking, firearms, driving, piloting, star navigation, and star ship navigation/piloting.
In Depth Character History:
Julian loved Helenia very much. They lived together for 12 years in
Amber before she died during the birth of their first son. Aragon almost
didn't make it. He was very weak at birth and almost died several times.
Apparently Helenia had a recessive albino gene in her DNA because Aragon
was born albino. Although Julian cared very much for Aragon, there was
a resentment that he held against him for his mother's death. Because of
the unspoked but sometimes all too apparent resentment that his father
held against him, Aragon took to spending most of his time in the forest
of Arden. When not in the forest he spent his time at Castle Amber training
under Benedict. Even though Julian tried to be a father to Aragon he never
could get close to him. Aragon's time spent in Arden was put towards learning
different animal forms and practicing survival skills. His time spent at
the castle was for social graces and learning the history of Amber and
it's princes and princesses. The time that he spent with Benedict was put
towards learning as much about fighting, tactics, and weapons as he possibly
could. Sometimes he went into shadow with Benedict to fight in different
wars and battles. All of the time spent with Benedict served to drive a
larger wedge between father and son. After all of the time that Benedict
and Aragon spent together they became very close friends. Or as close as
two Amberites can get.
Usagi Laupin Briarwood
Male 29 years of age.
Front of body is off-white. Back is mottled grey, black, and brown.
Clothing is primarily of earthen colors... browns, deep reds, black, grey, deep green, ect. Prefers long coats and light, loose fitting, flowing clothing. Shirts and pants are bound at the wrists and ankles. Usagi wears light flexible boots.
Briarwood-san has a silver ring in each ear and always wears a necklace of silver with a piece of the family briarwood tipped in silver. (Family heirloom)
A staff that converts to a three sectional staff with a special twist. Approximately six feet in length.
Highly proficient with bo staff and three sectional staff
Usagi was raised from birth to follow in the family tradition of peace, enlightenment, and strength. He has trained his body and mind to become strong in the way of his ancestors. Usagi believes in a peaceful solution if at all possible though this does not mean that he doesn't know how to defend himself and take life if it's the last resort.
After his family training Usagi studied computers and technology to expand his mind. He found that he had a real talent for this profession and has become well versed in most systems and travels designing and setting up computer systems for corporations. Usagi has gained a reputation for his abilities and has no problem finding a job.
Usagi spends his personal time in repose, meditation, and study. His life is rather empty as he has no lover and is far from what's left of his family. His mother and father are dead. His two brothers and one sister are far away on their home planet. He has a strained relationship with his family due to his leaving the home world.
Although considered a loner Usagi is not unfriendly. He is soft
spoken but not timid or shy... Prefers to be friendly with others
but he will not step away from strong convictions. He will go to
great lengths to difuse confrontations with others but does not suck up
to anyone. Usagi's presence is strong and confident. He's a
lover of all things in nature and of beauty.
If you'd like to discuss role playing or how to play diceless just drop me a note. My email address is at the bottom of each of my pages.
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