The differences between MMORPG and pen-and paper RPGs

Ok, another post from my 2007 past self.  For the record, I haven’t played that many online RPGs, I understand that they have got better.  In case you don’t realise it, my 2007 self is trying to come across as ‘journalistically balanced’ whilst really disliking MMORPGs.  I don’t have this problem any more: I don’t play MMORPGs, and if I dislike something, I say so.

Superficially, MMORPG’s and other roleplaying games are quite similar. If you play a combat heavy role play game than the differences become smaller still. I would say that the main difference between to, is that pen and paper role play games are limited only by the imagination of the person writing the adventure. Online role play games, are limited by the technology, and the need to create something for millions of different people. The opportunities for roleplaying somewhat limited, most online role play games have some form of quest system, but sees, with very few exceptions, revolve around doing certain actions in a certain order. There lacks any real challenge to you, beyond slaughtering monsters.

Pen and paper role play games have the flexibility to perform any action, or be in any situation. The only way you are limited is by what you can convince GM to allow you to do. As you can probably guess, I am more in favour of traditional role play games, than online ones. Having said this, I have played Runescape and have quite a high-level warrior.

Another major difference between these two styles of game, is the way that characters advance. Online, character advancement is very precise based on numbers of creatures killed, crafting levels, fishing, and experienced points gained from quests. In a paper role play game, advancement is based on all kinds of things, including how will you role-play situations, and other subjective of the things which makes roleplaying worthwhile.

Attack of the killer fungus zombie ants!

Sounds like a B-film title doesn’t it? This is in fact a real thing.

So, I was flying through the blogosphere and I happened upon a biology blog called Beatrice the Biologist and her post on zombie ant fungus. You should totally check that blog out. It only took me about 4.5 hours to read the whole thing. While I am usually more into physics / maths than biology, this blog is worth checking out for the cartoons alone.

Anyway, the important thing: zombie ants.

It turns out that there really is a type of fungus which causes an alteration in the behaviours of ants. Here watch the video:

  • So this is a fungus which infects a creature.
  • That creature has different from normal behaviour.
  • The creature ignores basic survival instincts, and instead uses uncoordinated movement to start climbing, even to the extent of gripping the branch with its mandibles using its last energy before dying.
  • Then the ant becomes a propagator for the fungus to attack other ants.

Holy extremely-specific-set-of-circumstances, Batman!

Zombie films and realism

For me, while I quite like some parts of zombie films, the idea that they are actually dangerous is difficult to swallow because if your brain is rotting, fine motor control is really quite difficult.

I had an idea about a virus which was spread through the air, causing everyone but a small percentage of people with a certain genetic mutation to zombify, but that lacks a certain something. While it kind of has the deployment vector down, one of the scariest things about a zombie film is the idea that any scratch or bite can turn infected and that person joins the walking dead.

This fungus idea is kind of a hybrid. Some people might be immune to it, others not. Who knows whether they are or not? A rotting corpse is a hazard. Getting bitten by one of the taken is not helpful whether you are immune to the plague or not.

Given that the undead in this scenario still have partial control over their faculties, just a bit unwieldy, perhaps they can still use basic tools like an axe, or other weapons, and open doors etc.

This could present a conundrum. If you take out a zombie, it will just hasten the process of fungification , but if you don’t it will bite your face off.

Get me a Hollywood producer: we have the premise for the next zombie flick.

So, I imagined zombie apocalypse and feasted on the flesh of the living – well I ate a raw carrot. What did you do today?

Playing a game-the Games Masters’ perspective

[While I prefer to be a player rather than a games master, I have also games mastered quite a bit.  This is another post that I wrote back in 2007.]

Congratulations on stepping up to the breach and being a member of your group who is willing to run a role play game. You are now part of the elite caste of people known as Games Masters.

Games Mastering a role play game can be one of the most nerve wracking experiences of a player’s life. Depending on the age group, the games master, sometimes called Dungeon Master, has to act as storyteller, scribe, actor, director, personal assistant, mathematician, and childminder. These many roles all have to be melded together seamlessly for a story to be enjoyable for all players.

That said, it is also a highly enjoyable as watching players come across your fiendish plans is quite satisfying, as is knowing something that they don’t. One of the most important aspects of creating a game for your players is to make sure you tailor your game to the players. If your players once a role play game which is high on combat, it makes sense to fulfil this otherwise players will quickly get bored. Hardcore role players will also get bored if they games consist entirely of combat.

Finding a balance in your game

Let us face it, you are going to be roleplaying with your friends most likely so you will have a good knowledge of their likes and dislikes. Add to this knowledge by having a talk before you start choosing, or writing the first role play adventure. Ask direct questions about what they want, particularly in the character generation stage, as, with most games takes a full night. During character generation, if your players or create characters based on ninjas and Samurai, it is a fair bet that your players want a combat heavy adventure, likewise if you end up the party of apprentice mages, magic will most likely have a large impact on your games.

When running an adventure, either a published version, or one that you written yourself you should make sure that it is one that contains all the aspects that your players are looking for. This really is the subject of another article, but when running your adventure you should make sure that you do not stick to rigidly to the part to the detriment of the fun of your players. As with any game, first role should be fun for you and friends. This is after all a role play game.

Overall, running a game should be fun, and so anything from you, all the other players, which is not fun should be stomped on. Anything which is fun, such as layers doing things that are not strictly in the rules but are very funny should most definitely be encouraged.

This is the tight rope that Games Masters must balance on to ensure fun for everyone and a game where there are no losers, well, unless you are players are really bad. Have fun, and remember: if you get really annoyed at your players, you have dragons to throw at them.

Firefox, Chrome, and the adventures of repetitive advertising

So, I mainly use Firefox as a browser, but I also have chrome (We don’t talk about Internet Explorer) because I use them for different things, and it means that I can be signed into the same mail program or site with two different usernames (Handy as I have multiple Google accounts).


I have been watching YouTube videos in Firefox to procrastinate while I am doing some work with Chrome open.

What is perplexing to me is that all the adverts so far are advertising Google Chrome.  I know about advertising retargeting, and I know that the adware is smart enough to recognise what browser I am using.  But I don’t think I get this much Chrome advertising when I don’t have Chrome open.

Does this mean that the ad software knows that I have Chrome open and is making Firefox so annoying that I am driven to use it out of frustration?

Or is it that I have used this IP address on YouTube recently and it is asking me why I am back on there without using the Google browser?

Or is Google universally advertising Chrome at the moment?

Answers on a postcard – or the comments section.

Shadowrun RPG character concept: Adept called ‘The Wolf’

This is the first in a series of posts that I aim to make about different RPG characters that I have built / ideas that I have had.  You are welcome to use the idea, if you use it for the basis of something published, so credit might be nice…

For those that don’t know, Shadowrun is set in the near future, and features a return of magic.  Adepts channel magic into their bodies to do things that most people can’t do.

I only own 3rd edition Shadowrun, so a lot of the ideas for this character are built on that version of the rules.  This character was the first character that I made for SR, so is fitting that I make this the first character that I put on here.
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Character generation: the gateway to a new universe

[This post was written on the original site, circa 2007.  I have resisted the urge to edit anything, so all mistakes and crappy writing are presented with any content in their entirety.  Since most of the time I outsource work to my future self, it is nice to have some work done by my past self, who was otherwise pretty lazy, particularly as my past self only made 5 posts - which is how long this series will be, posted on Wednesdays.  Anyway, enjoy.]

After reading the rules, making new character is the most important part of a role play game. After all, if you do not have a role to play you cannot role play… If you have a good GM, or your group has been playing for a while, you will know what is the game you are going to play, and the style of challenges you will face. I personally like to try different form of character each game that I play, if nothing else this means I get to try out different part of the rules, or equipment list.

Many people when they create a character for a new game, try to make something rather similar to their other games that they have played, this can be quite useful as it means you can jump into any game with a familiar character. Unfortunately, this is probably responsible for the surplus of ninjas, fighters, cookie cutter mages, and other stock characters.

When choosing your character, although an in-depth background before you start choosing characteristics probably isn’t necessary, some idea of the sort of character you want to create is a very good idea. Once you have this very basic character outline sketch, you can start to create characteristics based on whatever gaming system you are using, and from this it will feed into your character and a more whole character will emerge.

When you get down to the number crunching of creating your character, based on a gaming system you will find that there are some things that need to be done. In a cyberpunk type era, having a big gun for a fighter-type character is a very good idea. Having no guns, is probably a bad idea. Based on this simplistic view, there are certain things that you need to get, and it is often a good idea to get a few things that may not be 100% useful but are in character as this helps flesh out who your character is, and some of the gadgets that they pick up will be useful in odd situations, often a GM will notice these and create situations that only you can solve. Great for getting experience points and getting cash where others wouldn’t.

When you are working together with other players, it is good to have a strong mix of different skills in the group. This means that you have to communicate with other players when generating your characters, which is probably a good idea as you going to be roleplaying with them for the next – however long you are together. Having a good mix of skills in the group means that you can approach and face most challenges, plus it makes the Games Masters’ job a lot easier as a wider variety of interesting challenges can be put forward.

Basically, when creating character to be summarised into: what sort of game do you want to play, what sort of role do you want to play, what genre are you playing in, and what is the rest of the group doing?

Answer these questions, and you will be able to see where you fit in and make a good at all rounded character.

The inevitable intro post

Howdy.  While I am a serial ex-blogger, I have decided that I am going to try again.  The frequency that I have thoughts that I want to post and write down has increased, so I want to have somewhere to put them all.

At the moment, we are on the default design for WordPress, that will change soon as I put together pages.  My previous blogging attempts have gone something like this:

1) Have great idea for blog
2) Buy domain
3) Spend a week+ designing and building template / graphics
4) Get bored of designing
5) Let domain lapse

I am hoping to shortcut this process by using a domain that I have registered a while ago, and using ideas that I have been wanting to write about for a while, such as:


This blog is called for a reason.  This domain was originally registered while blogs weren’t anywhere near are common as they are today, so I manually put up a few posts using static HTML.

I want to write about games; and RPGs in particular.  You will also probably hear about my exploits with tabletop wargames, and board games.  Oh and computer games, and anything else which takes my fancy.

Character ideas

I don’t get to play RPG games as often as I would like, but I come up with a lot of character ideas.  Some of these will just be outlines for a cool set of mechanics, others will be fleshed out introductions, others will be a background and motivation for a hero or villain.

Plot ideas

I have these in abundance, so I thought that I would write them here.


So, I read quite a few webcomics.  I am planning on writing reviews of webcomics that I read and have read to share the love.


Take my word for it; I can’t really draw.  This is something that I would like to change.  Part of the problem is that I think of something that I would like to draw, imagine it, and leave it at that.

Having somewhere to put my stuff online will hopefully mean that I will draw more, and improve.


Because… Science!

It needs no explanation

[See also engineering, arts, creativity, and any other interesting exploits of human endeavour]

Random musings

I.e., whatever else I think of at the time.

Here is the plan

I am hoping that there are times when I want to write, so I will write, and in times when I don’t want to write I will then spend on upgrading the site design.  That is the plan.  If I am still blogging in a few months, we will know whether it worked.

So, um, stick around and see what turns up.