I never realized how many links I used to cull out of the list back when I limited things to just five links a week. I had quite a few links last week, and I’m up to
seven eight nine ten links for this week!
I have dice bits floating in an old dice bag from where I took a hammer to a pair of d6s that royally screwed me in a game of Battletech. I also have the d12 (and it’s d20 sibling) that I set on fire with lighter fluid and melted them into little puddles of plastic. When my current set of dice start to roll poorly, I don’t replace them or “dice shame” them on the Internet. I set them on the side table in my office and line them up so they are facing the same direction. Then I pull out the melted and fragmented bits of their ancestors for display. I’ll put the poor, maimed dice on the table and leave things like that overnight just to let my current generation of dice time to think things over. They tend to roll better for a few more months after this demonstration.
If I can launch into the next adventure and get to a cliffhanger point, I’ll give it a shot. If I’m not sure I can get to such a point, I’ll drop hints to the players about what they might (or might not) face in a manner to get them excited for the next session. I always try to leave the players wanting more when we stop the session for the evening. Sometimes that happens well. Sometimes not. It’s a collaborative storytelling experience after all. I, as the GM, am not in full control of the pacing and timing of everything.
Peter does a great job of dispelling some myths of running a megadungeon. I own every Undermountain (from Forgotten Realms) box set, appendix, extra, expansion, etc.. Even with all of this material in hand and things “pre-prepped” for me, it’s a ton of work to run a game in that setting. It’s lots of fun given the right group, but it’s still loads of research, reading, knowing what’s next, and being on top of your game.
Quinn over at Thought Crime Games has a very interesting and thought-provoking post about how violence may not be the best sort of action for your game. In most RPG books (if you remove the “spell description” section) the largest section of the book is probably dedicated to combat adjudication. This comes from our long and storied roots as a wargaming hobby in which that was the entire point of the game. As a fiction writer, I’ve learned there are different types of action beyond just two people trying to pummel each other. There is social “combat”. There are intra-party disagreements on the best (or most moral) course of action. There are chase scenes. Basically when two opposing forces meet, there is action, but this opposition doesn’t have to mean beating the brains out of one another. Though, combat is still a fun part of the game.
I’ve done this a few times with great success. It can be the evil necromancer and/or lich and the undead horde. It can be the great dragon (or dracolich) and all of the dragonlings and/or dragon-kind roaming the lands. I once played in a campaign in which the GM loved throwing draconians (from Dragon Lance fame) at us. Some of them were grunts while others were shock troops. Having a theme to your story is a fantastic thing. Having a theme to the critters in your story can help out quite a bit as well.
I hadn’ t thought about the 1:12 wheelchair ramp rule. Yeah. Those are very noticeable! Now I have to go back and rethink how I describe things. Also, is it really all that important that you hide the up/down travel to a group? I suppose in certain situations, it’ll work to increase tension or confusion, but as a general rule. No. I agree with Peter that it doesn’t factor into the enjoyment of the game all that much.
Mike’s post is mainly focused on the Hero system, but he does bring it home at the end for gaming in general. He’s hit the nail on the head that Hero (and many other games) are either too deadly or not deadly enough. In one of my first forays into game design, it was impossible to kill someone (even with limbs hacked off) unless you reduced their chest or head location damage points to zero. Oops. I suppose I’d been playing too much Battletech those days and “mech damage” translated to “human damage” in the wrong way. Ah well… Design, playtest, and learn. My key take away from Mike’s post is that house rules are okay, so long as they are well thought out and fairly applied. They also need to be adjusted when flaws are found.
My very first pre-gen character was a halfling thief in 1st Edition AD&D. A fellow was running a game in the back room of the FLGS. I must have been 13 or 14 years old. He had a whole stack of index cards, face down, on a table. Those were the characters we got to choose from, but we could only pull three at a time, and we had to pick one. The other two went back on to the table face down. I enjoyed that process of picking a character. I had so much fun with that halfling that I asked the GM if I could keep the index card at the end of the day. He smiled at my enthusiasm and told me to keep it. I ended up making him a fully-fleshed character for later games that me and my friends played. Today, many years later, I can’t remember his name, but I can remember how he would always use the larger characters as meat shields in combat.
There just aren’t enough “trick monsters” these days. There are plenty with special powers, commanding presences, high HP, yadda, yadda, yadda. However, the true threat and fear of monsters in the “old days” (get off my lawn you kids!) was not what they could do during combat, but rather what special things they did to start combat, and possible end it before the players knew what hit them. I may have to dig up some of these older critters for the Pathfinder game I’m running. Muhahahaha!
The Land of Nod has a very in-depth article about the different kinds of kings. He has twelve of them. That’s right. An even dozen! Head on over and check them out. While you’re there see if you can make it a baker’s dozen in the comments.