Category Archives: Editorial

My Driving Why

It’s a later post than usual today, but I wanted to get this right the first time.

I know I don’t usually ask this, but please, PLEASE, share this article with anyone you know who might benefit from reading it. Thank you.


Recently, thanks to the fine folks at Innovators Hub and their Catalyst program, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my motivations for doing things.

My conclusion is something that I feel warrants being posted on this website.

Originally, That’s How We Roll was created to host a podcast. The plan was to record every game session, edit it down to the highlights and then hope people find some enjoyment listening to us tell bad jokes and play a game together. That quickly fell by the wayside but the intention, to create something that people could find entertaining, remained.

The website went ignored for a while after that. I had to focus on university and student society things, as well as eventually graduating and moving to live with my partner.

The site as it is now really took shape when I started writing the TitansGrave adventure series (which isn’t forgotten, I just lost my inspiration for a while). This was something that I felt would draw people together to try a novel magic-tech game as well as being proof of my writing skills.

So, THWR slowly became a portfolio (of a sort), whilst also being somewhere to host articles and other gaming aids.

I started the Intro to Role-playing series out of a desire to help more people get into the hobby, to show them that it isn’t something to be afraid of and that it needn’t have a high barrier to entry. From there, I just kept adding to the site, writing whatever I thought someone might find useful or interesting.

I started adding the fiction element to things because sometimes I found that the easiest thing to write.

Throughout all of this, the purpose of the website was to inform and to entertain.

For a while, I’ve thought that is the main reason why I do everything that I do. I thought that I wanted to teach people about things they weren’t familiar with, and to entertain them for a few minutes at a time.

I don’t think that any more. Or rather, I recognise a deeper reason behind everything.

I’ve been pretty open on this website about my struggles with disability and mental illness. When I relaunched it with the TitansGrave content, I wanted to be honest with anyone who stumbled across THWR that I’m not perfect, I have bad days and that that’s okay.

Only now, after a lot of introspection, do I realise why.

There is a reason that I want to spread this hobby that means so much to me, and has been such a help on my bad days. There is a reason why I write so much and on so many topics.

The reason that I do what I do with such enthusiasm and passion is because I want to make sure that no-one else feels how I feel.

Mental health, up until recently, was not widely understood. The support for it isn’t there for everyone and this has a knock on effect with treatments and coping mechanisms. I want to change that.

I want to use this soapbox to offer a place where people can, hopefully, find some respite. Even if it’s just for a few hours in an evening, I want people to feel included in something. To know they aren’t alone. To know that their voice can be heard.

So to everyone who struggles with mental health, disability or anything else, I say welcome.

You are not alone.

You are not ignored.

I am here and I am listening.

Role-playing 301: Role-playing in the Workplace

Today will be a bit of a departure from my usual articles on role-playing. Rather than being aimed at helping people get into the hobby, this article will begin to explore how role-playing can be used in a professional context.

It will not delve into every facet of this, and I plan on returning to this topic in a future update, but for now, it will serve as a basic introduction to the value role-playing games can have in the world of work. Before delving into this subject matter, however, I should remind the reader that my viewpoint is necessarily limited by my own experiences and so some of the material found below may not be applicable to every situation.

The main focus of this article will be upon team-work and the benefits that role-playing games can have upon a team’s ability to work together.

Most role-playing games depend upon a high degree of team-work to be successful. Many games involve puzzles of varying difficulties, investigations that require careful attention to detail and organisation, and enemy combatants that have weaknesses or attack patterns that can be exploited by a party of characters working together.

Team-work, in this context, depends upon several things: communication, organisation and a willingness to listen to the advice of others. These three skills are the three main things that a person will have to master in order to work well as part of the party in-game, as well as in their employment outside of it.

Let’s break down each skill and look at how it relates to both the game and the world of work.

Communication is perhaps the most obvious. It is the ability to convey your ideas in a manner which others can understand.

In-game, how your character communicates will be flavoured by their character’s peculiarities and experiences, as well as their relationships with other characters.  Regardless of that though, you should always be aiming to convey the information you have that your party needs in an accessible manner, or interacting with other characters to in a way that achieves your goal for that interaction.

Out of game, communication fulfils much the same role. You’ll need to relay relevant information in a manner that people can understand and in a way that you get the answers and results you require from any given situation (compromising where necessary).

But more than that, role-playing games can foster inter-departmental communication. In my experience, different departments of organisations are usually fairly insular. They’ll talk to each other but the information flow between two departments can sometimes be lacking. Playing in a group composed of members of different departments can help break down these barriers.

By spending time with other members of the organisation, you will grow to understand how they communicate best and a level of familiarity will exist that might not otherwise happen. This will have a knock-on effect in that you will know how to phrase questions and tailor your conversations with that team member, in order to get what you need to do your job.

Organisation is pretty much the same in-game and in the office (so to speak). This is more about keeping track of information, being able to have relevant resources to hand and generally having an easy to follow method of gathering and storing useful material.

The benefit here for the work-place is that the other members of your group will quickly pick up on your organisation methods (and you, theirs) which means that if you are asked to track down information only they have and they aren’t available, you’ll have a good idea of where to look or who to ask.

It also has the added benefit that players will share good organisational practices with each other, meaning everyone becomes more efficient at organising things that they are responsible for.

Finally, the ability to listen to others is an undervalued skill that role-playing games promote. Beyond merely paying attention to others, this is actively internalising what they say.

This is tied in somewhat with the familiarity that spending time with others breeds, but it is also a mind-set that some people lack or ignore. The puzzles presented in role-playing games often require a mixed skill-set that it is rare to find in one person, so listening to the advice of others is important.

In the wider world of work, being able to do this means that you will be able to learn from those more experienced than you. Team-members will be able to share skills and knowledge between each other when completing projects and the project as a whole will benefit from it. The practice gained in-game should translate to an ability to internalise and build upon the advice of others, as well as allowing team-mates to listen to each other fairly and not ignore less vocal participants.

By freely sharing information, knowledge and experience, as well as by listening to everyone equally, team morale should improve and projects should be completed smoothly and efficiently.

Efficiency and a greater degree of familiarity with each other are the two main outcomes of role-playing together in a team-work sense, but they are by no means the only benefits that role-playing can offer in a work-place setting.

I will expand upon other benefits in future updates, but for now, if you have any feedback, please let me know in the comments. If you feel like role-playing is something you would like to try in your workplace, share this article with the relevant people so they can see some of its benefits.

Until next time!

Class: Runecarver

Today marks the release of my next class for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, the Runecarver can be found here.

If you have any comments, criticisms or other feedback, please let me know.

If you aren’t sold on it already, from last week’s design notes, here is the first page of the supplement to explain the lore behind Runecarvers.

Enjoy!


The halfling laughs as they swing their hammer in a wide arc. Across the field of battle, their human ally crushes a glowing stone and a rune on the halfling’s weapon flares brightly. The hammer becomes surrounded by a corona of flames and slams into the orc’s shin where a cloud of sparks peppers the brute’s skin.

The dwarf whispers under its breath, plucking a faintly glowing stone from a pouch at its belt and crushing it into a fine powder that disappears into the air. The rune etched into the glass lenses of the dwarf’s spectacles glows with life. The dwarf pushes the glasses up its nose and grins in delight as the enchantment allows them to see into the Ethereal Plane and find the party member trapped there.

The tabaxi hisses in frustration as the hobgoblin cuts the last rope holding the bridge in place. It collapses with a loud rattling noise. Wordlessly, the genasi next to it offers a cloak embroidered with an intricate rune, already glowing with power. The tabaxi takes it, a savage grin on its lips, and springs into the air, flying across the crevasse.

Students of the Enchanting Arts

Runecarvers are driven by an insatiable need to tame magic and bring what order they can to the chaotic nature of the world. They are the both the quiet scholar in the dark corner of the library and the wild explorer, testing out their new theories and skills in the middle of a raging battle. When not breaking the laws of nature with a variety of magical effects, most Runecarvers can be found practicing their inscribing abilities and refining their knowledge of runes.

Runecarvers can be found in many areas of life. Whether dominating the battlefield with every swing of their magically empowered weapon or aiding their allies by boosting their defenses and giving them a variety of supernatural abilities, the Runecarver knows the value of teamwork. Their skills naturally lend themselves to a frontline support role where they can keep an eye on their allies and activate the effects of their runes for maximum effect.

Patient Scholars

Runecarvers are the ideal of the careful artisan. The runes they study, and the magical power they channel, require a calm mind and a steady hand to inscribe properly. Every apprentice is taught about the dangers of their art and knows too well the risks of activating poorly inscribed runes. Most Runecarvers learn the basics of their craft in a magical school of some sort, studying alongside wizards and other practitioners of the arcane. Others are taught by a travelling Runecarver who recognises the potential of the student. However they learn the basics of their craft, all Runecarvers quickly realise their life is not an easy one, nor for the easily distracted.

Runecarvers, almost without fail, are sent into the wider world to develop their art in a practical setting. Even those more at home in the library and behind the walls of a magical institution quickly learn the value of refining their runes through practical application. Whilst they know their travelling companions may not fully understand the intricacies of rune-carving, a Runecarver is usually happy to explain what they are doing. It is, after all, a rare skill to possess.

Design Notes: Runecarver

This week I’m trying something new. Below you will find the design notes for the Runecarver, a supplement for D&D 5th Edition that I will be releasing NEXT Friday.

I’m hoping that something here catches your interest.

Enjoy!


Class Overview

The Runecarver is intended to sit alongside the Cleric and the Bard as a support-style class. Through simulated spellcasting, a Runecarver can grant a wide variety of effects to weapons and objects. While capable of holding their own in a fight, their primary objective is to activate a variety of buffs and debuffs through their unique magical abilities.

Hit Points

The Runecarver is designed to be a front-line support, so uses the same hit die as similar classes.

Proficiencies

The saving throws are designed to emphasise the Runecarver’s willpower and ability to channel magic.

The starting skills are a reflection of the Runecarver’s intellect and dexterity.

Equipment

There is nothing special about the starting equipment.

Multi-classing

A potential Runecarver must meet a basic Intelligence threshold.

Features

Runic

This is a thematic class feature, intended to emphasise the structured manner of the Runecarver’s magic.

Runes

The strict rules here regarding the manner in which Carvings and Runes are created is to prevent a) the willy-nilly creation of pseudo-magical objects and b) to emphasise the concentration and dedication it takes to create a Runed object.

Runestones

Rather than opt for a spell-slot like approach, I wanted the Runecarver to be thematically different from typical spell-casters and so gave them an expendable resource instead.

Rune Mastery

Practice makes perfect and all that. The idea here is that the Runecarver’s dedication pays off sometimes and allows them to have a reliable way of aiding their companions.

Inscription Feature

Basic archetype levelling as can be found in every class.

Runestone Generation

A class should never be starved for its key resource, especially one that revolves around buffing party members. This is intended to avoid this.

Ability Score Improvement

Basic ability score improvement as can be found in any class.

Runic Speech

I wanted to tie the Runecarver’s Rune Mastery feat into a feeling of advancement within the Runecarver’s art, whilst also giving a general feeling of progression and flexibility to the class.

Rune Touch

Again, this was intended to give a feeling of progression whilst improving the flexibility of the class.

Rune Keeper

This feature is designed to reflect the mastery of the character by improving their ability to inscribe and activate their Runes.

Inscriptions

By the time a Runecarver reaches 3rd level, they have discovered an affinity for runes of a certain type. Each inscription allows the Runecarver access to  Carvings and Runes that they know without counting towards the ‘Carvings Known’ and ‘Runes Known’ limits. In order to use a Rune, you must still reach the level requirement.

Inscriptions of Lore

Runecarvers who prefer a more scholarly and utilitarian approach to their craft frequently develop new methods of creating runes. Their pursuit of knowledge and efficiency allows them to improve upon the runes they already know and teach the basics of their craft to others.

Carving of Lore: Foresight

Runes of Lore: Quick-thinking and Teleport

The Scholar’s Eye

This feature is designed to emphasise the importance these Runecarver’s place on streamlining the power of their Runes.

The Scholar’s Skill

Building upon the previous feature, this represents the Runecarver becoming more efficient at their skill and being able to make subtle improvements and changes.

Sharing the Knowledge

The student becomes the teacher. The goal with this feature was to free up an action in combat for the Runecarver to do other things whilst also allowing an ally to bear some of the brunt of the resource cost.

The Teacher’s Pride

This is intended as a refinement of the previous feature.

 

Inscriptions of War

Runecarvers who delight in the chaos and maelstrom of battle frequently become adept at inscribing their runes whilst in the middle of a fight. For these Runecarvers, there is no higher testament of skill than being able to give their allies an advantage whilst avoiding the attacks of their foes.

Carving of War: Strength

Runes of War: Wounding and Arcing

Under Fire

This is for the Runecarver who likes to be in the thick of things, the one who wants to be activating Runes more often and still be able to do things on their turn in combat.

Over-charged Runes

Building upon the idea of the Inscriptions of War as being more combat focused, this feature emphasises the brutal nature of magic in combat and demonstrates that even simple things like bright flashes can distract an opponent.

Combat Runes

A further development of the previous feature that encompasses Utility and Defence Runes as well as Offense Runes.

Empowered Runes

This represents the double-edged sword of magic (a theme in my contributions to the DM’s Guild). The extra damage is significant, but can harm allies as well.

 

Summer’s End

Hi all,

Some of you may know this already, but I recently had a short story published in an anthology called Summer’s End. It’s a fantasy anthology dealing with the end of a golden age.

The publisher was nice enough to do a spotlight on my contribution and included the purchase link on the page. If you’re interested, it isn’t that expensive and any reviews or word-of-mouth promotion is appreciated.

https://alternativerealitiespublishing.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/summers-end-ryan-wheeldon/

Expect an update as usual this Friday.

Thank you for your time!

Bubbles

Review: Kaiju Incorporated

For clarity’s sake, in most instances the word ’employee’ is used below to denote players.

In case my introduction isn’t clear, I was given a review copy of the above RPG by Evil Hat Productions. Other than this, I am unaffiliated with Evil Hat Productions.

– Bubbles / Ryan


This analyst was recently given a copy of the document ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ by Evil Hat Productions to review. ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ is presented as a modification of the existing set of rules known as Fate Core and is intended as a training document for potential employees considering a role within one of the many corporations dedicated to cleaning up after kaiju attacks in order to harvest their materials and make a profit from the ensuing products and technologies.

These employees are not presented as the Aces in charge of the battlerobos that defend the helpless from the many kaiju in the world, but as the members of the corporation that are necessary to its survival; the cogs in the machine. Labourers, researchers and other positions related to fieldwork are presented within as possible training schemes and employee archetypes.

Presentation

The presentation throughout is slick and of the quality we have come to expect from Evil Hat Productions. Text and titles are of a sufficiently different font to allow for easy reading.

The dossier is filled with colourful, evocative artwork of high enough quality that this analyst found himself desiring more, possibly in the form of a limited run comic series. Whilst certainly not necessary to convey its report, Evil Hat have chosen their art well and it provides some useful visual reference for the themes of the document.

Setting

The high quality art is paired well with the text. Constant references to the vital corporate structures that keep this world running, as well as important protocols and processes, thoroughly ground the entire document and matches the mechanics presented within.

As ever, one’s first engagement with the information contained within the training material (after necessary paperwork) is the vitally important job interview. This helps to ground the experience and the provided testimonials (example) help to convey the atmosphere the document aims to create.

No report on kaiju attacks, and the corporations involved with the clean-up of such, would be complete without a timeline of the catastrophes plaguing our world, as well as detailed files on the kaiju and those corporate heroes profiting from them. Whilst little information is given on the so called ‘Aces’ whose job it is to stop the kaiju, employees will begin their career well versed in the dangers they may face and the potential employers that the industry has built up around them.

Mechanics

The material, based as it is upon an existing framework of established practices, is up front about the ways in which it differs from the norm. This is particularly useful for analysts and employees who have a large amount of experience with the framework known as ‘Fate Core’.

Employees are given 4 modes to receive possible training in. These modes encompass every facet of an employee’s life and provide further possible training in the form of ‘Skills’. Each mode has 3 Skills in which an employee can be trained, with all employees receiving different amounts of training depending upon their experiences, personality and role. With 12 Skills available, employees receive focused training in 3 and choose one of those 3 to become specialised in.  In this manner, an employee can be chosen who has the right skill-set for the team they are to work with whilst remaining flexible enough to deal with any situation.

Of a more worrying nature, some employees are able to undergo a hybridisation process that links them inextricably with the kaiju and their employer. This genetic alteration brings to mind the B-movies of yesteryear, perfectly in line with the rest of the document.

The training material places a large amount of emphasis on team-work and planning. When a report comes through of a kaiju attack, the employees and their handler are encouraged to work together to discover the specifics of the attack and to plan accordingly. Each phase of the plan is then undertaken and detailed later in an after-action report. This bureaucratic necessity allows the employees to determine whether they were successful in cleaning up after the kaiju attack, or whether the problem(s) remain(s). It is then up to them to decide whether or not the problem is for someone else to sort out.

This process allows for some repetition of scenarios, especially in a training context, in order to experiment and develop the team-work skills required to deal with a high level alert.

Conclusions

Overall, the document meets my expectations from a company such as Evil Hat Productions. High-quality production and research skills have been paired with a razor sharp understanding of modern kaiju harvesting methods and corporations to produce a design and training document sufficient to teach new employees all the skills and knowledge they will need to successfully deal with the aftermath of a kaiju attack.

It is this analyst’s view that ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ be treated as an essential document for all members of the Fate, and kaiju, communities, effective immediately.

The accompanying training exercises, presented as a card game, are also to be considered highly informative and a worthwhile investment.

Dystonia and Dice

I’ve been teasing this for a while, so here it is.

People who know me in real life know that I have a neurological disorder called dystonia. On the grand scale of things, it’s one of the more common, uncommon disorders. Put simply, my brain sends conflicting signals to opposing muscle groups and tells them both to contract at the same time, this produces a pronounced twitch, spasm or seizure of the muscles.

Normally, other than a tremor in my hands, you wouldn’t be able to tell so a lot of people don’t realise I’m disabled. I’m also lucky in that, unlike some sufferers, I don’t experience chronic pain as a result of the disorder. On the other hand, unlike many other sufferers, my dystonia isn’t located in any one specific muscle group. As a result, the tremor can become a mild twitch in my forearm, the complete seizure of my back muscles, a pronounced spasm of my neck muscles or (in the worst cases) a stutter/difficulty pronouncing certain letters as my mouth and throat muscles are affected.

As you can probably imagine, the condition itself has caused me to be very self-aware of how I come across to others resulting in increased anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression on rare occasions.

I’ve already spoken about the benefits of a gaming group in terms of a support network for mental health issues and this post is more of a supporting coda to that one.

Frequently, on bad days, my condition leaves me drained (mentally and physically). As a result, I struggle to focus on things, I find it difficult to remember things and generally my state of mind isn’t all that suitable for role-playing.

With all the above in mind, here are some of the coping mechanisms I’ve developed to help my role-playing with a neurological disorder that affects motor functions.

1: Laugh.

With the pretty much constant tremor in my hand(s), I’ve already got a built in dice-roller. On a more serious note though, if I weren’t able to laugh about the obvious signs of my disability, I would suffer even worse mental health problems. It’s difficult to laugh things off all the time, but it helps me to remain optimistic about what I can and can’t do outside of the game.

2: Focus on what you can focus on.

Habitually, I keep in character journals as a way of internalising my notes and developing my ability to write in a different voice. It also helps me to work out the intricacies of my character’s mental state.

When I’m having a bad day and my mind struggles to focus on the game as a whole, I try to listen to what’s happening and summarise it as best I can whilst other players are engaging in role-play. This means that I can check what has happened already when I come to role-play and allows me to have a rough idea of what is happening.

On the down side, this approach means that I don’t always know what has been said in group conversations, and I do appear distracted, but my group thankfully understands the problem and is forgiving.

3: Immerse yourself.

The journal keeping helps with this, but it helps to fully immerse myself in the character. I’m one of those role-players who acts things out where possible (complete with silly voices) because that’s what I enjoy about role-playing. The improv aspect of the hobby helps distract me from my own problems and helps me realise my character as well as I can.

On top of this, I’m more focused on not corpsing at the absurdity of the things I’m saying and the odd voices I’m using that the tremors, the twitches and the other problems fade away for a while.

I might return to this subject in the future, but for now, this is as much an in-depth examination of my condition as I am comfortable with. I hope it has been enlightening, or helpful to those in a similar situation. For now though, thank you for reading.