This was a timely article for me. One of the complaints that surfaced in our group recently was that during character creation, it’s every man for himself. The last person to decide what they want “gets” to be the cleric, and the group is more a collection of individuals that really have no cohesion or reason to be together. Starting tomorrow night, I’m going to try to change that by having everyone put down the dice for a while and talk out their characters before any solid stats are rolled. I, and most of the rest of the group, want a solid character to come into existence for the betterment of the group before any stats are put down on paper. Hopefully, this turns out to work well. We’ll see.
This article brought up one of my more fond memories of gaming. I had created a map using Dundjinni of a dwarven mine, and I had tossed in some pick-axes, shovels and other implements of destruction on the map just for flavor. One of my players, after clearing the room of the umber hulk, spotted the “goods” on the floor of the map and shouted, “That! That’s mine!” She placed her miniature over the square containing the pick-axe to show her ownership and then asked, “What is it? What did I get?” It was the little detail I had tossed on the map that made the day for her. I had to laugh when I told her that she found a rust old digging tool and nothing more. I almost — ALMOST — made it magical just for her. Maybe I should have.
I always hate this part of the game. As a GM, the players just want to roll dice and get answers. As a player, I hate having to be mean to even the lowliest of goblins. Sure, I’ll kill goblinoids all day long, but I hate having to talk to them. It brings out their personality, their fears, their hates, their loves and all that jazz. It makes them more into a person and less into a token on the battlemap that I’m here to slay. I always let them go after I interrogate them because I can’t bring even my slimiest of thief characters to slit their throats. That’s why I linked to this article. It helped me understand the purpose of interrogation (and gave me some good techniques, too!)
I love realism in even my most fantastical of games. For this reason alone, I linked to the article. It has a good breakdown of how to accomplish this in the rules. I think every game designer should read this article. Period.
As a GM (which I usually am,) I handle split parties fairly well. I somehow have this little mental timer in my head that lets me know when I’ve “ignored” one part of the split group too long, and I jump back to them to keep them engaged. I remember one time I had a single group that was split three ways and all three of them got into separate fights at the same time. Instead of handling one fight at a time, I had them all roll initiative, and I ran it as one big combat even though group A’s actions didn’t impact groups B or C. It worked out really well, and I highly recommend that other GM’s try this method. It’s worked for me, and I think it’ll work for you. What if they’re not in combat? Well, I have my mental timer to rely you. If you’re not lucky enough to have one of these, use an egg timer. Each group in the split gets 2-4 minutes to do their thing before the scene gets cut and/or paused and the next group gets their turn.