Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wil Wheaton's new RPG show: Titansgrave

As most of you know, Wil Wheaton is the host of the extremely well-crafted online boardgaming show, Tabletop. On Tabletop he plays boardgames with other famous nerd-types and it gets edited down into a manageable chunk that's conducive to online viewing. Plus they put in graphics and stuff in there in post-production to help explain the rules. Its a good show, especially if you want to learn the rules to a complex boardgame they feature before you play it yourself for the first time.


Today Wil Wheaton released the first episode of his new RPG show on Geek and Sundry, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. Now, the title of that campaign drips with RPG adventure, so kudos on that right off the bat. However, I'm nervous about how this show will eventually play out. I've watched a few 'Twitch'-style RPG game session-shows in the past (where everything is recorded and you just watch 2 straight hours of nerds playing D&D), and I feel like they don't present RPGs in the best light. Because, to be honest, watching other people play an RPG usually isn't that fun after a while, unless something really special is going on in that moment in the game, and it makes RPG games look boring (even though they most certainly aren't when you're playing them!) Because RPGs are by their nature very slow events for bystanders. Boardgames are also generally slow events, but the show TableTop is successful because the editors cut out all the slow bits, leaving just the good stuff for us to watch. But can the same be done with an RPG? Can you edit out the boring stuff that happens during an RPG session and yet still be able to impart the storyline completely?


I've watched the first episode of Titansgrave and I'm hopeful that it'll get better in subsequent episodes. The players sure did spend a lot of time at the RPG-required starting tavern, just doing silly things that all RPGers do. Can't blame them for it, that's how all RPGs start out. And Wil can't really throw out the video showing the beginning of the campaign just because the actual play is a little boring, so it is what it is. The post-production graphics are great, I almost feel like I'm watching a Fantasy Flight announcement video with some of that stuff, but can it counter-act the boring bits in the future? Time will tell. It certainly looks cool enough.


In true RPG-consoussior fashion, Wil decided to use a little-known 3d6 RPG system he loves, rather than going with anything recognizable to the rest of the world. Ballsy, but I respect it. To be honest I'd prefer to see a d20 rolled in there, but maybe just because I'm a traditionalist. I don't begrudge him his preferred system, he is the Game Master, after all.

Also, Wil recorded a "Chapter 0" video for Titansgrave to explain what RPGs are/why he uses that dice mechanic system/introduce the concept of the show. Of course like any experienced and venerable Game Master I didn't watch the Chapter 0 video, any more than I would read the "What is an RPG?" first chapter of any new Players Handbook. I'm just going to say that in my defense, by this time I've got the idea. I don't need to read/hear the introductory: "An RPG is a place where you and your friends come together to create a story...using your imagination!"

Also, I've encountered so many RPG dice-mechanic systems that one can tell they all have consistent traits that are easy enough to parse out during play, and I don't need any new one explained in detail anymore before we start. "So you use a 3d6 task resolution system? Roll and add skill value? Doubles are crits? Good enough. Let's do this. Yeah, yeah, don't worry about it, I got it. I got it. Let's go." So, basically, I'm exactly the kind of new player I hate.

In any case, here's to Wil's new show: Titansgrave! I wish him much success with it!

Game On!
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