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Friday Faves: 2014-12-19

December 19th, 2014

Another week has come and gone, and I have more links for you! This has been a great week for the RPG blogosphere, so there are tons of links this week. Let’s get to ‘em.

You poured rules lawyer all over my fun

I can’t think of a single gamer I’ve played with in the past that likes rules lawyers. I’m not even sure the rules lawyers themselves like rules lawyers. When a cool thing happens in the game (regardless of how or why), it’s a complete buzz-kill to have the rules lawyer speak up, “… but on page X of book Y, rule Z says you shouldn’t be able to do that.” At this point, there are usually dice and curse words thrown in the direction of the rules lawyer. Brandon Sanderson has his Three Laws of Magic. On Writing Excuses, he recently announced Rule Zero, “If it’s cool, do it.” In other words, ignore the rules and allow plausible, cool actions to take place. We’re telling stories, after all.

Technically Correct – the best worst kind of correct

Another post along the lines of the first one. If you destroy the story being told or the fun being had by being “technically correct” in rules reading/interpretation, does this mean you win the game? Nah. It means everyone else around you loses. Don’t do it.

So, What Comes First? The Character Concept or the Characteristics

For me, I tend to have a vague concept of the character, make choices (where possible) toward that concept, and the rest of the character becomes fleshed-out and mostly realized over the course of 2-3 sessions of game play. However, there are times when I hit a new campaign as a player without a clue as to what I want to play. That’s when I let the dice guide my choices or let my fellow players pick something for me to play. I’m up for running just about anything… so long as I get to game!

Coincidental Complications; or, Side Quests Broadly Applied

I’ve never liked the wording of “side quest.” Mainly because the word “quest” heavily implies a lengthy trek, many tasks to overcome, and lots of focus taken away from the main plot of the story being told. I’m more a fan of calling these things “plot twists” and allowing them to tweak the players in sensitive areas for a short term engagement (that may or may not affect the main plot line in some manner.) Do these semantics change things? Yeah. In a way. It allows me (and my players) to realize the side trip is something that will be brief. Just because it’s brief doesn’t mean it’ll be painless or meaningless, though.

Dungeons & Dragons’ Legacy

Forged hits the nail on the head with this post. He’s right that the D&D legacy is thick in pretty much every RPG (and quite a few non-RPG things) these days. Does this mean we have to game today like Gygax and Arnreson did back in 1974? Nope. Things can change. Heck, things need to change over time to adjust for different (and sometimes more mature) outlooks on life.

The Thinking Man’s Guide to Intelligence for Players and GMs

Mike does a great job of dispensing advice on how to run (as PC and GM) various people/critters with a wide variety of intellects. Any attempt to properly sum up the post here would show a lack of intelligence on my part because Mike’s post puts everything out there for you. My favorite section has to be the GMing EHI NPCs. The sample dialogue elements are great exhibitions of how an EHI person might think/talk/act/react.

Gifts In Gaming: Overlooked Seasonal Plot Hooks

Mike takes the Christmas season to heart and gives us a great article on how to give other things to our players. It makes me want to give a trap as a gift to a player now… :)

The Art Book Campaign

Holy crap! This post by Martin is genius. Click through for photos of some great-looking and thought-provoking artwork. I may have to use this technique for the next campaign I start up. Excellent idea!

[MegaDelve] The Marble Hall (Dwarven City Level 2)

More great maps from Dyson. The broken bridge over the expansive chasm is especially evocative. Great work!

Mythical Creatures of Africa

I love learning about new mythological creatures, beings, entities, things, etc.. Africa has a wealth of mythos that is greatly overlooked. Thanks for the post. I might see if I can slip a grootslang into my game in the somewhat near future.

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Friday Faves Finally Posted: 2014-12-14

December 14th, 2014

Sorry for the delay in getting this out. Crazy work day on Friday combined with a sick kid sapped my time (and energy) near the end of the day. Then I had to race out the door to my monthly Pathfinder game. We had a good time, and I can’t wait for the players to meet up with more of my hand-crafted demons.

I intended to finish things up yesterday, but Saturday completely vanished for me. I’m not sure how that happened. Ah well…

On with the links!

Troy’s Crock Pot: Home Is Where the Exit Is

If you’re designing a multilevel dungeon, there’s more than just “stairs” or “ramps” to carry the players between levels. Troy has a whole list of the options presented in the post. I’d like to add the collapsing floor to the list. It’s a bit more violent and unexpected for the players, but that can really ramp up the tension and fun in the game. I recall the trapped floor in the original Ravenloft module that would drop the player into a slide and carry them down to the bowels of the castle. Good times….

Let’s Twist Again – Eleven types of Plot Twist for RPGs pt 2

More plot twist goodness from Mike. He delves into the final plot twists from the original post. I’m a big fan of Twist #5 where the players think they’ve defeated the Big Bad, only to realize the Big Bad is actually nothing more than the Big Minion of a Bigger Bad. I tend to only use this one if a campaign arc has played itself out, but we’re all still enjoying the game and the characters. It renews the energy of the game and allows us to all continue on with the fun we’re having.

GMing With Kids

My son just turned seven years old. I introduced myself to role playing at the age of ten and taught myself how to do it. Granted, I didn’t do a great job at it (it was more hack ‘n’ slash than anything), but I had a good time with. I’m thinking that with my guidance, I can introduce my son to gaming here in a few months. Angela’s tale of introducing three young women to gaming has inspired me to take that step forward and see if my son will enjoy gaming as well.

Gaming and the Busy Adult

Here’s the flip-side of the coin from the above post. How do you get a bunch of adults together in the same place at the same time to enjoy some gaming. We had set up a gaming group with five of us a few months back with the intent to play every other Saturday. We’ve met all of one time. Too many things have gotten in the way. I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever actually play that game or not. The tips and tricks presented by Hunter in his post may help us out. I’ve already sent the link out to the group. We’ll see what happens.

Hatching and Detailing Video

This is a great video by Dyson on how he does some of his magic with his mapping. I learned quite a bit. I followed along as the video progressed. I gotta say the map wasn’t as good as his turn out, but it wasn’t too shabby. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Dyson!

Flavors Of Victory: Why do good GMs fail?

Mike brings up some good points in tiny detail on how a good GM can slip and fall during the course of running a game. I’ve been there before. I’m certain everyone has at some point. We all have off nights, or have planned poorly, or just didn’t quite execute a good idea in the proper manner. So long as a GM is willing to get back on the horse (or griffin or pegasus or whatever) and improve over the previous effort, I’m there for them. I have walked out on some games in the past, but that was immaturity on my part. I’ve learned quite a bit since those days.

[MegaDelve] The Morlock Retreat

More MegaDelve from Dyson! Great map in there. Keep up the good work!

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Friday Faves Delayed

December 12th, 2014

Hey everyone,

I’ll have the Friday Faves up tomorrow. Some coding duties for a non-profit I volunteer for came up with some issues that I had to resolve today. I was hoping to finalize the post today, but that just didn’t happen. I’ll get to polishing things up tomorrow and put up the post.

Thanks for your understanding.

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Friday Faves: 2014-12-05

December 5th, 2014

Another week has come and gone with some great posts from a variety of folks. I usually put a little something personal in here, but not much has happened in the past week to really be of note other than the typical insomnia I battle from time-to-time….

On with the links!

Pretzel Thinking – 11 types of Plot Twist for RPGs, Part 1

Mike delves into three of the eleven types of plot twists he’s found in gaming. Wow! Eleven types of plot twists. Excellent! This is a fantastic article covering just three of them. I can’t wait to see the other eight and how he expands on them. I think the best part of this post is the Ground Rules section. These ground rules still allow for twists, but without making the players feel as if the GM has “cheated.”

4 Bizarre Sources of Truth Perfect for Fiction

MJ has some neat tricks here on how to delve into Internet-based sources for amazing seeds when it comes to creativity. One thing I’ve been itching to use in a modern (or pseudo-modern) setting is to snag the 1-3 word hooks CNN runs across the top of their page for the top trending stories, and then combine as many of those hooks as I can into a plotline.

[MegaDelve] Lost River Cave (West)

Woo Hoo! More MegaDelve. This is a great set of maps, but I really like the South section even more. (See below for link to that section of the Lost River Cave.

Rules changes I like in DnD

I agree with Peter’s list here. I especially like the simplified (and more logical) saving throws in the newer versions of D&D. I think the one I might add to his list is the removal of doing different damage against different sized creatures. That never really made lots of sense to me (but I could justify it in the game balance and “realism” of the game.) Simplifying damage makes the game run smoother. I also like that smaller folks do less damage than the “normal-” or large-sized folks.

When Deliberation Goes On (and On, and On)

Ahhh…. Analysis paralysis. It sucks, but it happens. I get that in my current group a bit, but they’re getting more relaxed. I think it comes from past GMs they’ve had that played “to screw the players,” so they focus tons of energy on the planning and plotting to close out as many loopholes as they can to prevent the “screw you” actions of the GM. I don’t run games like that, and my group is coming to terms that they don’t have to fear me, but they still have to do the right things (and have some luck) or else the characters will be harmed and/or die in the process of the adventure.

What’s He Building in There?

Craig has five easy steps to building out a better story line for you (the GM) and your players. I especially love the segment about the NPC motivations because that is very much overlooked by most people.

Ask The GMs: Buzz and Background

When I read the question at the top of this post, my initial reaction was, “Run! Run away! Don’t do it. It can’t end well.” However, I knew Mike wouldn’t put it out there if he didn’t have some fine advice on the topic. After reading his article about building buzz around a campaign idea and how to “dump” the background to the players in a meaningful manner, I’m less inclined to run. I’d still tread with caution on using a massively pre-built campaign setting because that can go wrong in so many ways. However, it can go right in more ways, so have at it! If you’re thinking about converting a non-RPG setting (game, book, video game, movie, whatever), you owe it to yourself to check out this article.

Easy Historical Gaming

I love history. I call myself an armchair historian. I’ve love to run a game that captures the feel and sense of adventure the Christian Crusades (especially the Third Crusade) can bring. I once ran a game of Vampire: Dark Ages centered around William the Conqueror’s invasion and subjugation of Britain. It went really well because I knew the history incredibly well, wrapped the players in the daily lives of the non-Vampire people, twisted things around and dropped Vampires in key locations, and produced tons of maps that really captured the feel of the era.

GURPS & Sleeping in Armor house rule

I love this idea! Don’t punish the PCs for doing what is “normal” for them. Reward them for taking a risk and getting a good night’s rest. Cool stuff. Great idea, Peter. I gotta use this in my own games that I run.

[MegaDelve] Lost River Cave (South)

Another MegaDelve from Dyson. This is one of my favorites yet. So many details and intricacies exist in the map. It’s just beautiful to behold.

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Friday Faves: 2014-11-28

November 28th, 2014

I’ve been enjoying the extra time I get to myself with the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. Good times.

Also some good links, and great work out there this week. Loads of stuff to bring your attention to. Here they are!

PS: The comments may be brief as I’m nearing the end of NaNoWriMo, and I’m trying to hit that 50k goal this year!

Undead as a Playable Class – HMS APOLLYON Player’s Guide

I’ve always loved undead. I’ve even considered running an all undead campaign. No, not where the monsters are all pulled from the plethora of undead critters that exist out there, but rather, where the players are undead. I’ve just never been quite sure where to being or how to balance the different powers between zombies, ghosts, banshees, liches, etc.. Gus’s layout of the Draugr here has given me some ideas, though. Perhaps it’ll be something to tackle when the current campaign I’m running closes out.

Studs, Buttons, and Static Cling: Creating consistent non-human tech

To sum up: If you have a race of critters, do your best to make sure they’ll wear, use, build, etc. stuff that reflects their own personalities. Elves, tall and graceful. Dwarves, short and blocky. Humans, utilitarian and elegant. Halflings, utilitarian and simple. Okay. That’s a crappy “sum up” attempt. Just head over to Mike’s site and check out his much more eloquent explanations of both fantasy and sci-fi examples of non-human tech designs.

How Dungeons & Dragons Became A Game Changer

Bounce over to Tim’s blog and check out the link he posted. Yep. I’m linking to an article that links to another one. Deal with it. :) You’ll thank me for the end result.

Realism in Roleplaying Games

The best line in this post is, “What we want in roleplaying games is not realism but something which feels internally consistent.” That’s right. Since when are fireballs and slippers of spider climbing “realistic?” They’re not, but they’re internally consistent. That’s key. In my own game designs, I tend to shoot for a 60/40 split. 60% playable with ease, and 40% “realistic,” or as the post says, “internally consistent.” In the end, my true goal is 100% fun, regardless of how “real” the game might be.

[MegaDelve] The Cannibal Cave

Another great MegaDelve from Dyson. This is a great one. Love it! Keep up the good work.

NPC Groups & Centers of Gravity

This is a good post about how groups are held together through the cohesion of leadership. I’m a bit tired as I find this link, and am writing the comments, so I’ll leave it at that. If you’re curious or more interested about to destroy (or build) groups that are held together by a keystone NPC, check out the post!

That *New Game* Smell

Forged is addicted to new settings. I’m addicted to new games. I love learning new mechanics, new ways of doing old things, and fresh approaches at the crunch of role playing. Unfortunately, as time has become more sparse (and money more readily available), I have about 25 different systems (and some of them I have many expansions/splats/modules/whatever for) that I own, but have never played. That’s only counting the physical copies on my shelves, not the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of PDFs I’ve purchased over the years. I really need to resolve this, but I think that would require building out (or finding) 20+ different groups to play with. If they are monthly groups, then that’s pretty much a game a day with a few days off for me to sleep. That ain’t happenin’. I just wish I could either control my urge to buy/play/experience new games, or find a group that wouldn’t mind “system hopping” with a regular basis.

The Unexpected Creeps Up Behind You – Dec 2014 Blog Carnival

Mike delves into the surprising world of game mechanics that are focused on, well, surprise! He goes into great detail about what surprise is, how it can (and does) affect people, how to properly represent that in a game system with fairness and ease, and even gives some game system rules (along with alternate options!) that can be put into play. Go check out his article, and don’t be surprised if you learn something new.

The Duality of Fiction and the Game

As a fiction writer, fiction reader, game designer, and role player, this post really speaks to me on all four of those levels. If you have at least two of those in your creative genes, it’s well worth your time to head over to Gnome Stew and check out Phil’s post.

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Friday Faves: 2014-11-21

November 21st, 2014

We’re gearing up here at home for my son’s seventh birthday party tomorrow. His actual birthday is next week, but we’re holding it on the weekend before his birthday. This allows his friends and such to attend the party at a trampoline-based party center. I just wish they would let the adults in on the fun of the trampolines. :) Ah well. I’ll still have a good time with it all.

I’m also counting down the days (5) until work gets easier on me as we let go a contractor that’s been making my life harder.

In the RPG front, we had a great week in the blogosphere. Loads of links and good stuff for the week. It’s kept me busy compiling the links, making comments, and getting things ready to share for you!

The Host: the Forgotten Leader

Last week, I linked to the initial post about leadership in a group. While thinking about the post, I also overlooked the host. The host of a gaming group (if played in a private setting) is vital because you’ve got half a dozen (or so) people invading the house for a few hours a week. The host will usually fret over the cleanliness of the house, availability of food/drink, atmosphere, cleaning off the gaming table, and making sure everyone is comfortable and happy. It’s a huge responsibility, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. The post goes into more detail about responsibilities of the host and how they should be treated, so go check it out.

Starting with a Big Bang

The current Pathfinder campaign that I’m running started with a Big Bang. The party awoke in a jail cell without knowing one another, without equipment, and without remembering the night before. Yeah. It’s been done, but I did it again. I gave the party about 10 minutes to get to know each other and do a little initial role playing before having the king, his captain, and a few guardsmen run to the jail cell with beams of powerful magic arcing past them. As the guardsmen died, the captain fumbled the jail cell open and shoved the king into the cell just as a beam of magic caught him and killed him. The king proceeded to shove past the group and opened a secret door in the back of the cell before proclaiming, “If you want to live, follow me. If you get me out of here alive, I’ll pardon you for whatever you did.” The campaign is still going, and now the group is working on behalf of the king to reclaim his throne from his son… who is a recently risen Lich. It’s been a hoot so far, and I can’t wait for the end of the campaign. I already know what the final scene will be like.

Alien In Innovation: Creating Original Non-human Species

I’ve never put much thought into creating sci-fi alien species. I’m more of a fantasy guy, so I can just claim, “It’s magic, deal with it.” when I create one of those crazy critters. Mike’s post has given me quite a bit of food for thought on how to logically approach the creation of a non-magical, non-human (or non-humanoid) species. Good stuff, Mike! As an aside, I have created a few sci-fi species, but the thought process was not that involved on my end. An old roommate of mine had an “in” at West End Games for the original Star Wars RPG. We were invited to submit species for a new splatbook for the game. One of the things we came up with together were a race of critters from a forest planet, they were severe environmentalists and very peaceful. We named them “Algorians.” (Go ahead. Say it out loud a few times.) The race made it to the final round before someone spotted the pun of Al-Gore-Ians, and rejected the race. We were happy with the final round placement, but had hoped our goofy pun would have made it into the final book.

Limiting Players Without Limiting Fun

In fiction writing, there’s a concept of “No, And” and “Yes, But.” In other words, when the main character attempts to accomplishing something, the writer should handle it with a “No, And” which means that the character failed and things got worse… or they should allow the character a success but things just got worse as well. This approach ups the tension of the reading, and makes the books more interesting. However, we’re talking about RPGs here. It’s a different concept. If the GM is constantly making things worse for the players, they’ll get disgruntled and possibly leave the game. This isn’t what we want at all. When a player wants to do something that is within the realm of possibility, I usually answer with a “Yes, And.” In other words, I allow the action to be possible (does it really happen? Depends on the dice.) and I make it a really cool action, regardless of the final outcome. It ups the laughs and generally cheerfulness of the group around the table, and it works very well. Does this mean I allow players to walk all over me? Nope. I still limit what they can do or the backgrounds they come up with if there is a campaign (or just plain common sense) conflict, but those are fairly rare.

Time Constraints and “Everyone Gets To Shine”

I agree that all players should get a chance to shine, but not everyone can shine in a single session. I make it clear, up front, to all of my players that they’ll all get chances to do really cool stuff during the course of the campaign. However, sometimes it takes some time to get to those spotlight moments. I keep a mental tally or timer going in my head. If someone hasn’t had a chance to pull out their cool ability, power, magic item, spell, or whatever in a while, then I’ll set things up to give them a chance to use it. I will not point at the player and say, “Now’s your chance to shine.” I’ll just give them the opportunity to take advantage of the moment. If they don’t, then that’s on them.

[MegaDelve] The Goblin Caves

I love these MegaDelve posts! They’re awesome. Seeing the map go from concept to execution to final version in photographic form is top-notch. Keep up the good work, Dyson!

What We Avoid

My trouble spot is romance and deeply personal entanglements. I just don’t write them well. I don’t role play them well. I just don’t know how to pretend to be that way. I don’t do too badly in real life emotional situations, but I find it hard to make believe like that. Head over to Gnome Stew and let them know where you stand on the things you avoid.

Yesterday Once More: A pulp time-travel Campaign

The premise of this campaign idea reminded me of the TV show Quantum Leap. However, instead of the main character trying to return to his own time by helping others, the PCs are intentionally hopping about the time stream trying to catch, stop, or hinder the bad guy that is also time hopping for his own benefit. I can see this being a combination of Quantum Leap, Sliders, 12 Monkeys, and Sherlock Holmes vs. Moriarty with all sorts of steampunk-type technology thrown in. Mike has over a dozen adventures outlined for you to make use of! Go check it out.

use this 17th century city map for your home base

Holy crap! This is an awesome city map. I wish I could draw one as well as this. I’ve given some good shots at creating this style of map, but have come nowhere near this quality. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Paul!

Do you as the GM have obligations?

Yep. Lots of them, but it basically boils down to, “Allow the players to have fun by pushing their characters through make believe scenarios in an imaginary world.” Notice that I said, “Allow” instead of “Make.” You really can’t make someone have fun. You can make them participate, but you really can’t force the fun on them. You have to allow it to happen, and it’ll come naturally. Go check out the post for a more in-depth analysis of the concept.

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Sunday Faves: 2015-11-16

November 16th, 2014

Sorry for the delay on the posting of this. Life caught up to me over the past few days. I’ll spare you the boring details, though.

On with the links!

Layers Of Mis-translation: RPGs and Dubbed TV

I have two main take-aways on this post. The first is that the player makes the character. No. I’m not talking about the player rolls the dice, does the math, picks the powers, etc.. If you hand the same pre-generated character to two different players, you will end up with two different characters at the table. The numbers and such may be the same, but the personalities will be different, perhaps drastically different. The second take-away is that the same thing will happen with GMs and prepublished materials. This could be the game world, or a module, or an NPC codex or something like that. Different GMs will run the exact same material in different manners. This can lead to misunderstandings or confusion if the players have read the game world publications and made different decisions or assumptions than the GM. This is where communication at the table comes into play. There is no “The GM got that wrong.” when it comes to interpreting a world. The outlook from the players should be closer to, “Huh. I didn’t see that angle.”

Left Behind: Sticking with Older Games

The #1 game that I loved the most that was left behind was Top Secret S/I. I own 100% of the published materials available for the game, and I ran it for years. I still love the stories we told and the high action we achieved. Yes, there were some “1980s flaws” in the game design, but it was still a damn good game. Perhaps I could reboot or revive the feel of the game with more polished mechanics that still keep the same flavor? Hrmm…. Yeah, right. Like I need another project. :)

The Cave Of Mushrooms & The Dyson Mega Delve

I love seeing the evolution of a map, and this post illustrates (pardon the pun) that perfectly. Go check it out!

Three Leaders At The Table

Finding yourself in a leadership role? It’s not always the GM, ya know. Heck, it’s not always the paladin or cavalier of the party, either. Sometimes, it’s the rogue or the bard or the grizzled old fighter. Everyone needs to know how to get along at the table and how to share the leadership hat. It’ll move around, so check out this post and see what you need to do when the hat lands on your head.

“I know what’s happening!” – Confirmation Bias and RPGs

I run into confirmation bias as a GM when I know what a player is going to do, and then they start asking questions about abilities or rules or actions that I didn’t expect. I try to mentally force their questions into the mold that I’ve already created. This rarely ends well. When I feel this cognitive dissonance hitting me, I step back, replay the most recent line of questions, and then ask the player, “What are you trying to accomplish here? What actions are you trying to take?” Once I get a clear picture from the player, I’m able to properly adjudicate the rolls and allow the story to unfold.

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Friday Faves Delayed

November 14th, 2014

Hey there. I have a great collection of links for this week, but have run out of time to polish off the post. I have some comments written, and some that are not.

I’ll have the post up sometime tomorrow, probably while my son’s at swim lessons, or maybe after that.

Now it’s time for me to run away from the Internet for the remainder of the night, so I can run my Pathfinder game. I can’t wait for my players to run into the demons I have planned for them this evening. :)

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Friday Faves: 2014-11-07

November 7th, 2014

Crazy week at work this week. I didn’t even get a chance to go through my RSS feeds until about an hour ago, and I’ve pulled out some good links… I hope. I’ll admit that this week was more of a “skim the articles” kind of thing than a “read and digest them heavily” kind of thing. I hope my skimming has produced some good reading for you folks.

Here are the links!

PSA: Scrivener Sale
Random items for a post-apocalypse zombie game
Tourism in Sleepland: Sleep management for GMs & other creative people
[Tuesday Map] New Cresthill
The Land of the Lost: Limiting Your Campaign Choices
Ask The GM: Seasoning The Stew (making races feel distinctive)

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Friday Faves: 2014-10-31

October 31st, 2014

Happy Halloween to those of you partaking in the day in whatever means fits you best! For me, it’s heading into a suburb (we live pretty remote where houses are a quarter-mile or more apart) where we have friends with kids about my son’s age. We’ll team up with them and trounce around the neighborhood snagging treats while looking at the fantastic decorations that people put up. My wife and I swap out years between staying at the friends’ house to hand out candy and going with the kids themselves. I forget who pulls house duty this year, but we’ll figure it out.

Now for some links!

Roleplaying Character Weakness and Vulnerability

In a Space Opera (the game itself, not just the genre), I had a character that was a collection of nebulous numbers and not really any good “meat on the bones.” That was until I rolled one of the last stats to be generated: Bravery. I think the scale was 1-100 for this stat. Either way, I had a 3. Yep. Single digits. Low single digits. At that moment, my character concept was born. My GM told me that I could re-roll that stat if I wanted to, but I refused because that one number gave me a character concept. My guy would do what was necessary to cover his cowardice (including hacking security camera footage, which worked about as well as you would expect), but his main thing was fear of being lost in space due to an astronavigation error. I dumped SO many points into his already high intellect and the astronavigation skill it was ridiculous. Our ship had a navigation officer that was slightly better than me (it was his job, after all), but I double and triple checked his numbers and still curled into a ball of tears and snot at each jump. It was a hoot to play this character. You see? I took his severe weakness and turned it into a role playing opportunity.

I’m Your Number One Fan

As GM, I’m always on the side of the players. I want to see them succeed and have fun while doing so. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m no pushover. I don’t give away things and I don’t nerf the Bad Guys just to make it easy on the players. There’s always a way to survive an encounter (including running away.) It’s just up to the players to find that way to win. With me having one brain (pretty normal), the player brain mass outweighs mine, so they’ll always find a way around whatever devious plans I have for them…. and I’m happy when they do so.

[Tuesday Map] Cliffstable on Kerstal

This is a kick-ass map of a city! This is how I want my city maps to look. Well done!

Rolling Is Fun, Too Much Rolling Isn’t

While developing my own (still hidden away in a dark corner) RPG, I learned this lesson early on. Someone fighting with two swords went something like this: Roll to see if you can use both swords. Roll attack with sword #1. Roll defense against sword #1. Roll damage for sword #1. Roll attack with sword #2. Roll defense against sword #2. Roll damage for sword #2. I think I’m leaving something out in there like a soak roll or something like that, but you get the point. It was too much rolling for one character. It really bogged down combat quite a bit and left the rest of the players bored, and the GM and the active player exhausted. Rolling dice is fun, but don’t go overboard.

Super-heroics as an FRP Combat Planning Tool

While reading Mike’s article, I couldn’t help but think of the forge scene near the end of Terminator 2 where the T-1000 was eventually dumped in the molten metal to be slain. This is a fine set up and case where the environment can be put to use by the players. Of course, if this were an RPG, the GM would be responsible for ensuring such a possibility could come about by placing things just right. If you have the Elemental Ice Lord that can only be damaged by fire, set things up by making sure at least a few (if not most or all) in the party have some sort of fire-based damage. If you don’t do this, then the players will wonder what the heck you were thinking when dropping the Elemental Ice Lord in their path. Think about the larger picture and figure out what Cool Stuff you can put into your games to allow the PCs to pull out all the stops and go super-heroic!

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