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Friday Five: 2012-11-02

November 3rd, 2012

Long Campaigns Don’t Have To Be Boring!

I love long campaigns. They give me a sense of accomplishment… to a point. Why to a point? Because I’ve been gaming for 29 years, and the highest level character I’ve ever had was an elven monk that reached 13th level before half the part was dominated by a wizard and killed off the other half. It was a great way to end a campaign, but there also lacked a sense of final goal-reaching. Having said that, some campaigns suffer a “mig-game slump” that causes players to get bored, or the GM to get bored. There’s ways around that! Click the link to find out more!

Lockpicks and Locks

This is a pretty good write-up about lockpicks and how to handle them in the game. There’s some good stuff in there about alternate rules, laws, acquisition of the picks themselves and such. If you have a thief in the part or something similar, go check things out.

Zen and the Art of Dungeon Mastering #6: Smash that Bottleneck, Part 1, Skill Checks

A single skill check can bring an entire campaign to a screeching halt. Same thing for saving throws. (See my comment above about a set of failed saving throws against a dominate spell.) In my own RPG (which I need to get back to working on someday), I have two types of skill checks: simple and complex. Simple checks are binary in nature. Either they succeed or they don’t. Combat is comprised of a series of simple checks. Most of the non-combat-related checks are “complex” in nature. This means a character rolls a dice pool and accumulates (or loses) successes toward a set goal. Once the goal is reached, the skill check is successful. The downside is that each roll of the dice pool eats time. If the thief is trying to pick a lock (a complex check) while orcs are battling the rest of the party to kill them, then the thief better roll well to provide an escape for the group. If he takes too long picking the lock (multiple rolls of the dice pool) then Bad Things may happen to his compatriots. This was my work-around for killing off the dreaded “failed skill check kills the campaign.” it seems to work quite well.

Thoughts on the “Freak Show” adventuring party

Yeah. Freak show adventuring parties. They happen from time-to-time, especially after a system releases a “race guide” or something similar. In our current Pathfinder game (which had just released the Advanced Race Guide as we rolled up characters), we have a half-quickling, a half water elemental, a half-giant and a catwoman. None of us have anything in common. It was a pain in the ass for the GM to get us together and keep us together. Freak shows may be fun for the individual player, but they’re a pain for the group as a whole. This is where direction from the GM during character creation comes into play. Some guidelines need to be set forth as to what is allowed, what is normal and what’s the theme of the game is going to be. You need to give your players a “creative compass” to guide them through the perils of creating a character. This is especially true of point-buy systems like GURPS and Hero.

Playtesting Tips for Designers

Thanks, Monte! As a fledgling game designer, I really enjoyed this post. It’s packed full of great advice for anyone wanting to playtest a system, world, campaign, adventure or supplement. Good stuff here. Go check it out.

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