Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The little blue book

Behind the Screen

This is my Sneaky face
Welcome back all, to another round of Behind the Screen. Today I want to talk about a neat little concept I've recently been introduced to called 'the Blue Book'.
Now I could go on at length about the subject, but as many others already have, I'll just take the most condensed and succinct explanation I have found to date, and steal it to place here in the blog.
Note: The following was lifted wholesale [sic] from RPGnetWiki

'Bluebooking' was first described by Aaron Allston in the Champions supplement "Strike Force". The 'blue book' in question is a standard (in the U.S.) blue book used to answer essay questions during exams. Instead of using it to figure out whether you passed or failed, the blue book was used for in-character dialogues, especially of the sort that many (presumably male) gamers might find uncomfortable.
Bluebooking describes short gaming sessions that do not involve the entire group, but which instead focus on the actions of one or a few characters.
Bluebooking is nothing more than writing out roleplaying and conversations between characters, rather than acting them out. Usually, this takes place between game sessions. These scenes could include:
  • thoughts or plans the character is having
  • private conversations with NPCs
  • private conversations between other PCs
  • past history (or future?!!) scenes
  • questions to the GM
  • etc...

Sometimes players feel uncomfortable acting out some scenes, or will want to keep some scenes private. We also use it to flesh out background events. Roleplaying character romances, for example, can be very uncomfortable to do verbally in a game session setting, especially if there's a gender difference between the player/GM and the character. Admittedly modern e-mail can replace a lot of this type of interaction. This presents a perfect opportunity to use bluebooking. Bluebooking also has the advantage of permanence; you keep the written records of what went on, and can use them to create future scenarios.

I encourage players interested in bluebooking type activities to set up PBeM "side games" outside of the regular tabletop game, which could satisfy the desire for writing out solo character stuff without it eating up face-to-face game time.
Mostly for those that seem to have a lot of in game down time. This helps me keep track of everything that the players are trying to do by looking over their books. That is if the player is actually trying to accomplish something.
I've also found it useful for the GM to convey information to a player that he doesn't want the whole group to be aware of right away, such as when the PC has had his mind taken over or the like (for a player willing to roleplay such an event himself).
Blue booking also allows for roleplaying which is important to the character, but not for the troupe, or the main plot line. These could be personal investigations, interaction with the cast of characters around the character's secret ID (Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Perry White, and Clark's neighbors when dealing with Superman), research activities, or even just introspective roleplaying. All of these things would bogg down a game if the player did them durring a session (in most cases), so by doing them via a bluebook (or scene journal, which is another name for them), allows the player to explore these areas without bogging down the game.
In short, the player writes out a play session of what their character does solo (or with the permission of another player) or with other characters. It should be in story format, but does not have to be. The GM reads over what is done and either approves it, approves it conditionally (needs changes), or denys that it could happen. Approved blue book entries become part of the campaign's continuity. Most GM's will award experience, luck, or some kind of reward for blue book activities.
Players with characters who have deep secrets will also be fertile fodder for blue booking. The occasional tactician will also use it to direct their investigations. It can add a great deal to a group campaign, when the characters also opperate solo most of the time "off camera".
It is not the "End all" of game tools, but it is a useful one in your gaming arsenal.

Great stuff I say.
Till next time,
Leave the dice at home once in a while.
Bean out~

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