Writing for Rogue Trader

I’m going to run a Rogue Trader game for my friends soon.  For those who don’t know: Rogue Trader is a role-playing game based in the Warhammer 40k universe.  You are a group of explorers headed into the Koronus Expanse: a part of the Milky Way galaxy far from the Imperium of Man.

You are given a holy Writ of Trade from the Administratum on Holy Terra.  With this Writ, you become an official Rogue Trader and have the influence and clout to represent humanity on the furthest fringes.

My role is the Game Master.  This is only my second time trying to do this with the first being a relative failure.

I have resolved myself to try harder on this one and press through even when its been pissing me off, like it thus far has been.

My current problem is that I hold myself to a high standard of game play.  I’m trying to write stories and missions with complex problems and innovative solutions.  I could write simple “go to place on map and kick serious ass” but that feels so basic.  Maybe its because I’m a starry eyed newbie GM, but I really want to involve my players in what’s going on in the universe.  I want them to feel like they are making a difference.

I want missions to end with them excited but maybe asking themselves questions.  Better yet, asking themselves if they did the right now.  I don’t like perfectly tied up endings.  We’ll see.

I am pretty outspoken against video games and how they tell their stories.  My main thing with most games that I complain about is that “they don’t know why people are still playing.”

I want to keep that in mind.  There will be missions that are fun for me to GM, and there will be missions that are fun for them to play.  I’ve asked my players to let me know what kind of stuff they wanna do just so I can swing into their wheelhouse.

Well the issue is, at this particular moment, only one of my players have chimed in and he gave a detailed idea of what he wants the game to be like.  Which is simultaneously helpful and hard to use.

So I’m writing the opening mission as just a fucking slew of different things.  Mostly to teach everyone the different types of challenges they will encounter, flying their spaceship, fighting in their spaceship, and fighting on the ground.  Exploring cities and exploring planets.  Interacting with the Imperium and the Underworld.

I’m still just trying to figure out a style to write into.  I got to find my voice.  I’m really good at the brainstorming part but pretty shit at the execution.  I’m hoping this helps me develop a muscle so I can become a pretty great GM.

I have to re-acquaint myself with the system.  I remember the broad strokes but this time I want to learn the universe so damn well that I can eventually just free ball missions and interactions.  There is a lot of lore which is to my benefit but its also going to be a problem.

My players have access to all the books and as previously mentioned, I haven’t read all of them back to front.  So they are likely going to try and derail me all the time.  That is there prerogative as players but I sense it might be annoying when I’m trying to craft large strokes of a story and someone wants to argue with me over the wording of an expansion book I’ve never read.

That’s where this is going to be an exercise in being adaptable.  Its already fucking happening.  I’m going to have to learn how to be a freakin’ politician.  When to appeal to my constituents and when to slap their wrist so they know not to fuck with me too much.

Oh my god I have to become my cat.

-DTM

 

Why Monster Hunter is Fucking Awesome

I fucking love Monster Hunter.  It’s probably one of my all time favorite franchises ever.  Its one of the most satisfying and challenging games I’ve ever played.

Today as this post goes up the next one comes out in America.  Monster Hunter Generations!  I can’t even play it for real real until like- next Tuesday.

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They are using the subtitle ‘Generations’ because they know how many hours I’ve played.

The games basic formula as mentioned in my last post is that you are a villages Hunter and its your job to protect them from monsters!  Some smaller ones, and some that could be qualified as ‘big.’

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Fairness sold separately.

In the event that its not obvious, the tiny running man in the bottom left corner of that graphic is you!  Run you little, bitch!

Or get good.

I mentioned in one of my earliest posts about why I like golf.  The idea is that the game isn’t about competing against one another as players, but to improve yourself every time.  Its not a match of brute force or physical ability against one another, but the ability to be better than yourself every time.

And that’s what this game is about: repetition.

Wait that ain’t- oh, never mind.  PLAY THIS GAME EMILY!  It starts you off with some basic equipment and some training, but after that you can go explore the immensely beautiful levels and fight some of the most badass monsters ever.  The game is hard for newcomers, I won’t deny that, but the satisfaction you get when you finally overcome these massive beasts.

If you look carefully at the above graphic (again) you will notice in the center that there are just two legs poking down into view.  IT’S REALLY THAT SIZE IN THE GAME.

When you beat them you carve their bodies to get monster parts to create awesome new armor and weapons.  Then you go face new monsters wearing the faces of their fallen kin.

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Or give commencement speeches.

It will always be hard to describe to people why the game is fun.  I mean if you watched Pretzel and I play this game for an evening we’d go fight the same monster ten or more times just to get the rare piece we need to finish some tiny upgrade.

The satisfaction isn’t necessarily that you can beat Monster X, but the fact that you used to be less good as a hunter but now you are a better one.  Monster Hunter isn’t really a JRPG where you level up and your stats all get boosts, this game is straight skill in the end.  You could pit me against a terrifying monster and I’d still hold my own.

I mean I’d lose because it would one shot me by waking up, but hunting monsters is something you learn- not attain.

The armor and weapons are about closing gaps with harder monsters, not getting enough +1’s to all my stats.  Any benefits I gain by equipping badass armor (which you, the player, worked really hard to get) is mostly moot by the fact that the next hardest monster is just that more badass.

Monster Hunter so far hasn’t been about flowery cutscenes and GRAFIX as much as its about giving you freedom of motion and the ability to attack monsters however you see fit.  When you do something badass in the game it isn’t the game giving you the “Press X to Badass” option- no, it was just you doing some crazy shit to defeat this monster.  Jumping off cliffs onto a monsters back?  You did that.  Knocked a monster off its feet?  You did that.  Cut the monsters fucking tail off?  You did that.

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Never ask Hunter if they got any tail this weekend.

Later in the game they do sort of give you event type quests with cut-scenes and the like- but its more to get the mood going.  One of my all time favorites is the Lao Shan Lung fight in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.

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So fucking big it has atmospheric perspective.

Its fucking huge dude.  The entire hunt takes place in a long, winding canyon.  You and your fellow hunters must continually attack him or else he is going to destroy the village.  The hunters are so small and insignificant that he is just moving down the canyon; the Lao Shan Lung doesn’t even care about you insects.

Its not really all the difficult, to be honest.  He doesn’t really attack you so the most you have to worry about is him stepping on you.  But the stress and adrenaline you feel is from that fact that you have to do enough damage to kill him or repel him.  You have to be on your best game, because you need to whittle his health down.  And you have limited time to do it.

At the end you go back to the base and wait for him on top of the gate walls with arrows and cannonballs ready.  Its quiet, and you can’t see into the canyon where the Lao Shan Lung is because its foggy.  Then you see him slowly step out of the fog, and the Monster Hunter music starts to swell.  This is it.  Either you win or he will destroy the village.  Man versus beast.

You launch cannon balls and ballista arrows at him and you use the mighty Dragonator!  You jump to from the wall and fight him at the very gates of the people you are trying to protect.  THIS SHALL BE YOUR FINEST HOUR.

If you defeat him, you can learn that this might king among dragons wasn’t just cruising for a bruising.  He was fucking running from another dragon.

So you are sitting there, blood pumping, excitement is the very fiber of your being and the game asks you.

Do you want to fight that dragon?

-DTM