Roleplaying on the Wave: Swords and Wizardry Part 1

Posted on Nov 04, 2009

I got invited to Google Wave on the weekend. Finally. I was skeptical of Wave at first as I am with all things Google. I watched the presentation and was left thinking, “Yeah that’s neat but what is it good for?” Planning trips and chatting with my friends doesn’t need a radical new Internet protocol. To say the least I was rather “under-whelmed.”
[google wave][]
Being the nerd I am, I thought about RPGs. I’ve read about a few early experiments on Wave and the prospects looked good. Certainly better than play-by-post and less chaotic than a chat room. Wave itself may be hard to explain as a concept but for playing games it suddenly became clear. Since I didn’t have any invites to bring in my own friends I decided to take the plunge and GM my own Wave.

The decision of what game to play was pretty easy for me. I’ve been wanting to play some of the “retro-clones” of Dungeons and Dragons for some time now. I’ve just had trouble convincing my gaming group to give it a try. We’re all invested in the latest shiny edition and don’t want to let our hard earned dollars collect dust. So I picked Swords and Wizardy.

I had tried Microlite 74 to many groans one evening when half our group decided not to show up for our scheduled game. I had thought that it would be nice to try because it had such a small little booklet that learning the rules to get a quick session going would be painless. Boy was I wrong. I still like the concept, but the rules were just a little too vague and left glaring omissions. The players kept turning to me with questions that I couldn’t find answers for. Naturally I winged it, but they’re all reasonably intelligent adults and saw through it. We had a bit of fun, but it was really hard to tell whether we were “doing it right” or what. Too much confusion.
I picked Swords and Wizardry because it was still rules-light despite the core books hefty 100+ pages. Chgowiz, an RPGBN and one of the players in this new Wave game, wrote a Quick Start Guide for [S&W][sw\_small\_cover\_1] which would ease new players in. Two birds with one stone and the rule book is pretty clear and easy to follow. No omissions as far as I can tell.

I also chose it because the older versions of Dungeons and Dragons were far less reliant on grids and miniatures. Until some interesting extensions become available to Wave, it feels more condusive to stay in the text realm. Instead we can use our imaginations and just ball-park the unique situations with hand-drawn sketches. With the ability to create new sub-conversation threads on the fly and to edit any text in a Wave, I think we have all the tools we need to collaboratively move the game forward with minimal fuss.

So what is playing on Wave like?

Well I don’t know yet. We’re still rounding up players, generating characters, and formulating the background of the adventuring party. However, Wave has certainly made even this aspect of the game much easier. It is sort of like being at the table: the dice bot rolls all the dice in a blip in a Wave and real-time conversations can happen to discuss various aspects of character creation as they surface. Waves can get pretty cluttered fast with all the conversations inter-mingling with the documents you’re creating; so we’ve found that pruning your Wave becomes a necessary evil. Fortunately it’s not hard but it could be easier. Either way, we’ve yet to get to the gaming part but so far so good.

I decided to follow a couple of guides in setting up this adventure. You can think of them as emerging standards or formats for roleplaying on Google Wave. I think I’m going to end up cherry-picking ideas from the lot into my own game. I’ll report the results as we progress here.

Playing on a Wave

The Waves the Thing< />

[google wave]: