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.