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Friday Five: 2010-04-12

April 12th, 2010

I’m 3 days late on this one since I’ve just crawled out of my NyQuil-induced haze from a nasty head cold. The cold is better and my consciousness has returned. Time to resume blogging!

Mailbag 1 – Character Contortion

I love this post by Chris because it illustrates the dangers of a race+class+feats=character formula of thinking. It locks people into certain stereotypes that they have a hard time getting out of. This is why I’m a huge fan of skill-based, classless systems like Hero and GURPS. My own system that I’ve created is a classless system, though I do have a section on “templates” that helps give a creative compass to those people that really need a class to define their character around. In the end, if you’re stuck in a class-based system and you want to play a thief with druidic powers, then by all means write “druid” down in the class slot, and then steal everything in sight that you can. There’s nothing stopping you from doing this… except your own imagination.

How to Protect Your Elite Villains

There are as many ways to protect a villain from exposure to the nastiness that a well prepared group of PCs can bring as there are villains out there. While this post is mainly D&D 4e centric, it can apply to any system in any genre. The trick for the GM is to find the power-points of the PCs and neutralize them for a short time, or for the duration of the fight against the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG.) It’s not hard to do, and I think that many players that wish to march their characters into a challenge will find the end result more rewarding for having overcome the larger obstacles.

Become Emotional

We all care more about things that we are emotional about. This is why debates about deeply touching ideas are always the most heated. By giving your characters a greater emotional attachment to their goals, the players will become more involved. This is something the GM can foster, but in the end, this is something for the players to really do to improve the game. I really hadn’t thought to much about the topic, and I’m grateful to Chris for posting this. I think it will help me become a better gamer in the future.

Time in D&D

Ahh… The great quandary of role playing. The rapid advancement of PCs over a short period of time can really mess things up for a GM’s world at large. Where the mighty emperor was once the greatest wizard in the lands, now he plays second fiddle to someone that just started out in adult life just a few scant months (or weeks!) ago. How very strange this can be. This is why I’m a fan of social promotion in addition to level advancement. Not only must the players increase in their power base through leveling, they must also share their exploits with civilization and increase their social status at the same time. I’m not too sure I’m a big fan of “no XP for you until you train” because then the players will do illogical things like leave half a goblin clan alive, so that they can “cash in” on the XP at a later date when it will really benefit them. I think a good balance to this one would be to allow the steady accumulation of experience points, but not of levels until a certain amount of money and time have been spent training and practicing the new skills they’ve learned in the field.

The Cultured GM: Clothes in Gaming

I think the saying goes, “Clothes make the man.” Next time you walk past a meeting at your office and you look through the window into the conference room, look at how people are dressed. If everyone is in T-shirts and jeans, except the one guy in the suit, you know that one guy is having a job interview with some engineers. If a GM includes these types of details in their world, then it will create that much more flavor and “buy in” from the players. This, in turn, will increase the players’ willingness to suspend their disbelief and pull them deeper into the setting the GM is trying to create. It’s something I’m going to try in my next game… we’ll see how it goes.

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