I’ve had a rough time keeping up with these posts. It’s partially because a ton of great posts are hitting each week. There’s also more raw content coming out of the RPG blogosphere than I’m used to seeing. It’s rough staying on top of things. Another partial reason is that my contract job has hit a tight deadline, and I’ve been spending most of my spare moments on that effort. It’s time that I’d normally be using to update this post.
On the lighter side of things (and barely RPG-related)… I finally got out to play some Magic: The Gathering tonight. I built a new deck a few days ago as a “brain cleaner break” from the contract job. The deck is 82 cards, which is a bit on the large side, so I was concerned it might not be effective. Turns out (at least for the 3 games I used it in), it is very potent. I’m quite happy with it.
Now on with the links!
Troy’s Crock Pot: Change that pace, gross them out
In fiction writing, or good storytelling, or good gamemastering, the more visceral the reaction you get from your reader, the better of a job you’re doing. Usually, most folks go for the strong emotions (anger, fear, happiness, loss, grief, etc.), but going for pure revulsion is a rare target. This is what makes it so effective. If you want some fine examples of how to go about this, click through to Troy’s post.
Signs and Signatures: An essay on uniqueness of style
Mike has a great post about how your stamp, or style, or signature can be telling in game design and running a game. Sometimes this is a good thing… sometimes, not so much. Our signatures in everything we do is so ingrained that it’s rare that we can recognize it in what we’re doing. It’s called “being too close to your own work.” This is why I’m part of a critique group for my fiction writing. This is why I have people playtest (with and without guidance, but always with my presence) games I’ve created. This is why I constantly ask for honest feedback (sometimes guided and sometimes open-ended) from my players in the game. It takes outside input to show you where you’re shining and where your flaws are at.
Light Consequences, Combat Consequences, and Noise Consequences in the Dungeon
Noisms has a good post that touches the tip of the iceberg about actions and the consequences of those actions. He talks about the dungeon-delving type things that can cause potentially bad things to happen to the group of characters. Go hit his blog and check it out. Maybe drop him a line in his comments about other types of gaming consequences that can happen and what can trigger them.
[MegaDelve] The Crypts
I love the intricate detail in this map. It’s so fine and beautiful that it takes my breath away. Good stuff here, Dyson. I can’t wait to see the final product!
Some Thoughts on Technoir
I also backed Technoir. To be honest with you, I’m so incredibly happy with the base game (and few other supplements that have been released), that I didn’t even realize that I’d been cheated out of additional material. It makes me sad to think that so much money went to the creator and he just couldn’t seem to pull through on the additional goods. Perhaps he burned out? I just hope nothing horrible happened to him to prevent him from finishing off the rewards.
You Can Totally Do That Thing (Or Maybe Not)
I hate it when a player starts describing an action and expecting a result and when I tell them that things won’t quite work out the way they want… well… it’s frustrating for all parties involved. I’ve been GMing long enough to have a “spidey sense” when the disconnect starts to happen. When that tingle goes off, I’ll stop and ask them, “What is the end goal you’re trying to accomplish with what you’re doing?” When they explain that aspect of things, I’ll explain to them the best course of action within the ruleset we’re using (or make up something on the fly if the rules don’t cover the action/result), and go from there. It’s incredibly rare for me to outright shoot down a goal or action, so long as it’s “reasonable” within the genre and rule set we’re using.
D&D: Shaking bad habits out of new players
I have to say that I’ve never run into this particular problem… The one where players show up with massive preconceived notions that directly conflict with the type of game we’re in. There are minor things here and there, of course. However, nothing major has cropped up. I guess I’ve been lucky. Just because I’ve not had the problem of that MMORPG or ComputerRPG person coming into a group with wildly differing expectations from what I was delivering at the table. However, if you’ve hit this problem, check out the post by Duncan and see what he has to say.
Ask The GMs: Some Arcane Assembly Required – Pt 2: Sourcing Parts
More advice from Mike and the gang on scarcity of spell components and other strange items found within the world. This meshes well with what was said before, so do yourself a favor and continue reading! I especially like the idea of Magical Institutions as Components just because of the massive worldbuilding, social, economic, cultural, and ally/enemy potential that idea holds.
Thoughts on whiffing in D&D-based vs. GURPS
Peter has a fantastic post that hits the nail on the head on why I prefer GURPS over D&D (or similar) games. I always feel like I have more control over the outcome of my actions in GURPS. In D&D, I’m always hoping for a “good” die roll to save my ass. He delves deeper into the details than I do here, and it’s worth the few minutes it’ll take you to read through it. Good post!
Phil has a great post on altering, repurposing, or flat out ignoring parts of a game. Honestly, all gaming is off-label gaming. Any non-trivial game is going to be nuanced enough that rules are going to missed, forgotten, or misinterpreted. This naturally leads to off-label gaming. However, Phil’s post is more about doing this intentionally, why you would want to do so, how to do so, and the ramifications of changing things up.