Ego Check with The Id DM – Episode 16 – Katrina Ostrander

Katrina Ostrander bio pic
Katrina Ostrander

I’m joined this week by Katrina Ostrander, Fiction Editor for Fantasy Flight Games Fiction and Story Team Member for Fantasy Flight Games. She talks about her early experiences in gaming, which were mostly comprised of play-by-post games. She speaks about the benefits of her play-by-post games, and how she started to play in tabletop sessions. Katrina describes her experiences playing in gaming groups comprised of all-men and all-women, and how those groups tend to approach RPGs in different ways. She discusses her method for running quality games that engage player emotions, and offers advice for how to deal with the anxiety that comes with the duties of gamemastering. She details her roles over the years with Fantasy Flight Games, including her work on highly-scrutinized intellectual properties such as Star Wars and Legend of the Five Rings. She closes the interview by discussing potential future projects, including designing a game that would connect with the younger version of herself.

Enjoy the 16th episode of Ego Check with The Id DM! And please subscribe to the podcast at one of the links below:

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Increasing Immersion with Obligation

We started a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (EotE) campaign last year, and one of the more interesting components of character creation is the Obligation system. Obligation is introduced during character creation and remains an ongoing device throughout the life of the campaign that can be used by both player and game master (GM) to facilitate storytelling, increase tension, and introduce surprise action. I believe the Obligation system is an example of how mechanics can affect the amount of roleplaying and immersion at the table.

When building a character in Edge of the Empire, one of the steps is selecting the character’s Obligation. Quite simply, no one in the Edge of the Empire is a self-starter; every character owes somebody something.  While some players may enjoy forming a backstory – complete with layers of drama and intrigue – creating a detailed backstory is not something all players (or GMs) enjoy. For example, a player does not have to create any meaningful backstory for a 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons character; the character is built by selecting desired attributes, powers, and gear. The player is asked to select Alignment to designate his or her moral compass, but after that initial selection is complete, alignment rarely comes into play for most groups. In other words, creating a backstory with any detail for a 4e D&D character is up to the discretion of the player and GM; Edge of the Empire’s Obligation system forces players to create a bit of backstory for their character.

Prologue Comics Wookiee Life Debt

I believe the Obligation system is something that could be used by other roleplaying game systems to enhance character creation and increase immersion. It forces the player to not answer answer the question, “What do I want my character to do?” But to also answer, “How did my character get here?” I will discuss the benefits of consequences of the Obligation system below.

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Introducing Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Beautiful book.
Beautiful book.

Now that my gaming table is complete, I have started up a new campaign and our group has selected Star Wars – Edge of the Empire as our system. Expect numerous posts in the future about the gameplay, mechanics, and other issues that arise while playing the system. The first item I wish to discuss regarding Edge of the Empire is a great idea that was introduced to our group by our DM (and licensed Lucasfilm artist), Grant Gould.

During our first session, our “pitiful little band” met to create characters with the guidelines provided by the Core Rulebook. This process lasted a couple of hours as we traded ideas on how to balance our three-player party. I stuck with an early character concept – a cross between an interrogation and medical droid who had parts of his memory wiped and was stolen from Black Sun. Now the droid, EIT27, has been reprogammed to help instead of harm, and somewhere deep in the circuits of his chrome brain are essential details on Black Sun operations. The rules allowed me the flexibility to take skills in multiple Careers to build a Droid who could function both as a healer and techno-savvy brain for the party.

With character creation completed, our DM turned his laptop around and told us to gather around the screen. Click below to find out what he showed us!

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