My Name is NPC#4 – Or Why You Should Give NPCs Actual Names

Just yesterday night, I returned to DMing the RPG Alex and I are working on, and that most of you would probably be aware of due to Alex’s magic with cartography and making pretty maps. Well, my post today will not have to do anything with this topic, but something I find that in RPGs is often taken for granted: NPCs. What would you actually do without your good friend Joe the Tavernier telling you that there are monsters attacking the caravans coming in and out of the settlement? Pretty much nothing. Although player interacting is – in my opinion – crucial for a good game, without the NPCs the DM would be 100% bored and the players most certainly lost. So today I am gonna dedicate the post to the many Joes and Daves you’ve encountered in many tales.

One thing that always fascinated me when I was little of the RPGs my parents played, was that my dad always had a quirky character waiting for something to happen in the story and mess up the party – I would love to say help out, but I probably don’t remember that well to confirm such thing….And the thing was that, although this was always my dad, these characters were never the same. Not one merchant was equal to another, nor where the Innkeepers always jolly or informative, neither were his villains always monsters. These were fully fleshed people with thoughts, emotions and agendas – the latter being perhaps the most important one. I believe this is how NPCs should be. The world your roam for your own personal reasons is full of other people, just because Jack didn’t turn up to play, it doesn’t mean that Kronk the Barbarian that you just helped out doesn’t get his 5 minutes of glory. Nevertheless, I find that a lot of people struggle making meaningful NPCs, and even worse, useful NPCs that help the story move forward and add to the narrative. Continue reading “My Name is NPC#4 – Or Why You Should Give NPCs Actual Names”

Advertisements

Finding Middle-Earth in New Zealand

For the whole month of January this year I was fortunate enough to find myself exploring New Zealand, and while the whole country itself has many places that make you feel like you’re stepping right into Tolkien’s world, I specifically went looking for some of the exact locations that were used in the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies 🙂

So I’m going to take you through the places I went, and hopefully you’ll find something about some real world, and fictional locations at the same time!

Hobbiton
The first location really has to be Hobbiton, as its the most obvious location for any LoTR fan to head straight for, and its exactly where I went first out of this list.

hobbitholes

I’m sure everyone knows what Hobbiton is,  but just to give some detail on where it fits into Middle-Earth; Hobbiton is a central village of The Shire, and is located on both sides of “The Water”, which is the main river running through The Shire. The village is overlooked by Hobbiton Hill, usually just called “The Hill”, in which lies Bag End, the ancestral home of the Baggins Family. The village consists of Hobbit holes, also called smials, as the dwellings, but there are also many other buildings of wood, brick, and stone, such as the mill and post office. The standard hobbit holes are most commonly lived in by the poorer Hobbits, aside from smials like Bag End, which are far more luxurious versions of the traditional Hobbit home. Most average hobbits would likely live in standard structures. Although it is located on the Hobbiton set, the Green Dragon Inn is actually located on the closest side of the nearby village of Bywater, just one mile away. Despite what you may think, Hobbiton isn’t actually the Shire’s capital. The title is held by the town of Michel Delving, which lies to the West, and is where the Shire’s Mayor resides.
Continue reading “Finding Middle-Earth in New Zealand”

Some Thoughts on David Gemmel Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

I’ve spent the last 3 months consuming literature like if there was no tomorrow. I usually read a lot for research purposes, but it was a great relief to actually have some time to just enjoy a good book. I decided that I hadn’t had a chance to read much fantasy lately, so I decided to follow that road. A lot of the books I’ve read are not new at all, save the last one perhaps, but they were things I haven’t had the chance to actually dedicate time to in the past, so it was good in any case. Nevertheless, I noticed that the vast majority of these books I’ve been reading had rather unsatisfactory endings. I don’t know if that was just me being too picky…One of them I am certain is an authorship problem from what I have heard from other people, but it seems to me that in many of these cases, there was so much to the story that by the time it needed to be wrapped up, everything as a bit rushed and that almost made the entire experience a bit bittersweet. So, I’ll just give you some thoughts on the books I’ve been reading and what I made of them so you can see where I am coming from.

David Gemmell

I appreciate I am probably very late to join in this party but for whatever reason I had never heard of him until recently. My boyfriend and one of my friends really like him, they swore by the narrative so I thought, okay let’s give this a go. In general, I liked the stories. I found that a lot of them are reworkings in different contextualisation and with different characters of well known folk tales and other old stories, but he does it in a very refreshing way so I did not mind knowing how the plot was going to go. I often find this annoying if I can predict the outcome of the story, but the details were interesting enough to make me see beyond that. I started with Legend – which I have ben told is perhaps not the best one to start with, but as it was the first one he wrote, it made sense. Then I made my way through Morning Star and Knights of Dark Renown. I must said I liked the last 2 better than Legend. I know Druss is epic, but I just couldn’t get to sympathise with any of the characters in the stories – except perhaps the Thirty, who are a very interesting bunch. However, then I jump on to Morning Star and found that Owen Odell is a nice character to guide you through the story, not just because he is the bard and the breaking of the fourth wall can be quite insightful and amusing at stages, but also because of that first person approach to how any narrative develops. He is just as clueless as you are when the plot begins so his own insecurities kinda mingles with yours. It is a good readers trip in that sense, if you follow me. Morning Star was certainly my favourite just cause Jarek Mace is funny in his picaresque and outrageous way, and the entire gang are very relatable…but then again this is essentially Robin Hood without so much cheesiness to it so, it ought to be. I moved to Knights of Dark Renown and I must say out of the three, I think this one has the best pacing. I felt every character was given equal and relevant importance in appropriate correlation to their characters impact in the story, which I do not feel the other three necessarily did.

However, I have the same issue with all of them: the ending. What is up with his endings?! Legend was perhaps the least abrupt and more satisfactory, I guess that is because after such a great war and battle there are only so many possible outcomes. I feel that every character that survives does it rightfully so and their lives proceed as they should. You understand where the rest of the story goes – okay; cool. But with the other two, I felt that something was missing or better said; dismissed. I guess it is not so bad in Morning Star, as everyone is given a brief explanation as to what their futures bring and what not. Even so the last 30 pages of the book seem to go at a whole different speed than the rest and I just wanted more of the consistency of the story up until that moment in time. This was the point that the plot was driving towards and suddenly it’s upon you and there you go, story ended. It is similar but much worse, I feel, in Knights of Dark Renown, which in my opinion had a better pace. However, when it gets to the end a lot of the characters get sidelined and the ending is done in hardly a couple of pages. Also I don’t really like the fact that the people that survive in this one are just given these lame couple of lines explanations as to what happens next after they defeat the ultimate force of evil…plus the book leaves a fair few questions open, or not entirely answered.

So in general, I really enjoyed reading the books, and then the end kinda made me think…what have I been reading the last 270 pages for? Its is a bit like what I mentioned in a previous update about Orphan Black and Falling Skies…

But, I guess the art of writing is a delicate one and as much as someone may be really good at writing a story, in general, they don’t have to be great at every single aspect of it. In any case, I would like to leave the open question to the floor. Is this a thing anyone else had noticed or a problem shared by others? If so, please exchange your experiences with us.

And we shall see you on the next one 🙂

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered Exhibition Review

It was a little while ago now – the beginning of autumn if I recall well – that we went to Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered, the wonderful exhibition that is on loan at the Sea City Museum (Southampton) from the Victoria & Albert Museum (London). All I can say about this exhibition is only positive. It was a wonderful experience to go and learn about the history of board games and how the hobby has changed throughout history. I thought that the exhibition followed an excellent dynamic with information, items on display and plenty of interactive bits – such as the life-size Snakes and Ladders game. It was really fun and well thought off.This was the main exhibition area. You can see there at the back the dice for the life size Snakes and Ladders, but there were other things you could do. The interactive bits occupied the middle of the room where the space was necessary whilst the information panels where on the sides and walls giving you the context relevant for each game or development era. It was really cool seeing a chess board with pieces from all the way back to ancient and medieval history, up to current times.

Continue reading “Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered Exhibition Review”

StarCon Santander (01-2018 English & Spanish)

Buenas chicos, esperemos que hayáis entrado el 2018 con buenos ánimos. Aquí os traemos un breve reportaje sobre la StarCon que se ha celebrado en Santander y que hemos asistido el otro día. La StarCon, por los que no sepáis de que se trata, es una exhibición sobre Star Wars que se ha celebrado en el Palacio de Exposiciones de Santander (Cantabria), y que además de la exhibición en si, contaba con actividades para los más peques como la popular Academia Jedi. No obstante, he de decir que mi opinión sobre este evento, no es terriblemente positivo. He de decir que, evidentemente, comprendo que soy chica de mundo y a Santander no llegan muchas historias de este tipo…Pero…

Sup, guys! Bringing you fresh from Santander (Spain) our latest report in the geeky even that took place here just these past weeks: StarCon. This was an exhibition with all things Star Wars related in the Palacio de Exposiciones de Santander (Cantabria) –  aka my home town. On top of the exibition itself, the gallery included an area for acitivites for the youngest ones such as the very popular Jedi Academy. However, I must say that my opinion regarding this event isn’t very favourable. I understand perhaps my viewpoint is distorted because I live abroad, and stuff but…The quality was…well, let me show ya…

zona central de StarCon donde se realizaban las actividades y donde se encontraban los stands de asociaciones diversas relacionadas con Star Wars como el Escuadron Cantabro de XWing. The activities area in StarCon where they also had stands such as the Escuadron Cantabro de Xwing.

Continue reading “StarCon Santander (01-2018 English & Spanish)”

Games To Look Out For In 2018

So here we are in 2018, and in light of all that has happened in the year just gone, our first thoughts should be… “what games should I look forward to?”. Well that’s what I’m most concerned about anyway, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing right here; looking forward to games.

This is quite simply just a personal list of things I’d be interested in, so if you’re looking for big AAA games, then most of them aren’t going to be mentioned here. Instead you’ll find a mix of my slightly niche tastes, including lots of historical and fantasy settings, and strategy and RPG games. After all, what would be the point of making a list of things everybody already knew about? So go ahead and take a look, you might see a few things you hadn’t heard of just below. 

Continue reading “Games To Look Out For In 2018”

Geeky Apps

 

So today I am leaving you an afterthought, before the year ends, on some geeky apps that I have tried this year. I am not the most techy person, but I thought “you need to try ’em to know you hate ’em”, sorta thing, and that is pretty much what happened. Well, maybe I didn’t hate them in the end – one of them I did…oh yes, I still Do. But in general I was left with a feeling of emptiness. I got this feeling that now that geek culture is popularising – which is not a bad thing – our consumerist/capitalist habits are transforming the essence of our ‘aficionado’  communities, and I am not sure if I necessarily like the impact…

As many of you may know by now, I deal with cultural theory for my academic research, so this hit home very closely. Concepts such as cultural capitalism, cultural citizenship and mass consumerism are intrinsically connected to the purpose and use of these apps, and it felt incredibly awkward dealing with this as a first hand subject, rather than from the point of view of analysing the phenomenon. But, in any case, here is  some food for thought.

Continue reading “Geeky Apps”