Lots of GenCon news this week. I barely make it to conferences and conventions (there is a difference) in my own area, so I tend to blank out the GenCon (and others) news, so I don’t get jealous. That’s why there’s no links to the GenCon greatness.
Apparently, there is also a release of some new RPG product from Wizards of the Coast. I have negative interest in this product because of the previous version. I was burned. Burned bad. I dropped close to $400 on that piece of crap RPG that claimed the same name as one of my favorites. I just kept hoping that the “next book” would “make things better.” It didn’t. Each book made things more and more like a video game, not a tabletop role playing game. I won’t make the mistake of spending money on this version. It looks like to even play that game at its base level (PHB, DMG, and MM), the GM has to drop $150. Ouch. No thanks. Not when Paizo makes Pathfinder at $50 for everyone at the table (GM included) plus another $40 for the Bestiary. That’s $90 vs. $150 as a starting point. I also happen to love Pathfinder, so I’m not about to drop another $150 into WotC’s pocket just to see if their most recent version is better. They get enough of my money from Magic: The Gathering as it is.
Okay. Phew. I feel better. Now you know why you won’t see links relating to GenCon (or other conventions) or to the newest (and most expensive) pile of steaming crap from
Hasbro Wizards of the Coast.
On with the links!
Shades Of Suspense Pt 1 – Eight Tips for Cliffhanger Finishes
I suck at cliffhangers. I can’t seem to do them right in my writing. I certain miss opportunities to have them happen in my games. It’s just not how my brain is wired. I have to put special thought, consideration, effort (loads of effort), and some luck to use in order to nail a cliffhanger well. I have a buddy in my fiction critique group that just hammers home with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter (and sometimes at a scene break). There are also plenty of authors out there that do it well. I’ve improved my cliffhanger execution a wee bit by studying their works, but I still have a long way to go. Mike’s article really helped propel my education forward! If you’re in the same boat as me, drop a click on the link and check out his words of wisdom.
Troy’s Crock Pot: Patrons make sense
I love this idea. I’ve done this in several games. I guess I’m kind of doing it now in the Pathfinder game that I’m running. I especially love the “dirty money” angle. What are the PCs going to do about it? What if the bard finds out the truth before the paladin? What if it’s the other way around? There are so many angles to play with in a patronage-based game. Just don’t make the players feel like their characters are only tools of the patron. Give them free choice, and freedom of thought/action. Let them decide the how of doing the what the patron has asked for. Let them make the plans. The patron just gives a goal, a payment, a deadline, etc.. The PCs are going to have to figure out how to best make the objective happen.
Who rolls damage, the GM or the Players?
I’ve always been a firm believer of “the active person rolls the dice” unless it’s a resistance roll. In the case of the resistance (or saving) throws, it could be argued that the person now rolling the dice is actively resisting the effects that have potentially been placed on them. It just feels like, to me, that having the GM always roll damage steals some agency (and therefore, fun) from the players’ side of the screen. I once had a GM that tracked all PC HP in a D&D 3e campaign… even the players. As a matter of fact, when we leveled up, he rolled our HP gains for us, and wouldn’t tell us how many HP we had at max. That sucked. He piled on top of it that he wouldn’t tell us how much damage we actually took. He had some sort of scaled words (grazed, hit, slammed, massacred, etc.) that told us, in a general sense, how hard we were hit. It took the heroics out of the game and turned it into a thought process of, “Well, I’ve been hit twice, slammed three times, and massacred once. Time to run.” We leveled incredibly slow because most of the party spent their time running away from combats. It devolved into a Monty Python movie, really. Sorry to be so harsh on my disagreement, Peter, but there are some things that shouldn’t be taken from the players.
Alexander the Great looted 5000 tons of gold
Wow. 5,000 tons of gold in Great Alex’s hoard? That’s awesome. I love this little fact. Now that I know this, dropping a few thousand coins into a dragon’s hoard (or whatever the creature is) doesn’t seem too excessive. Very cool bit of information. Thanks for finding and sharing this!
Shades Of Suspense Pt 2 – Fourteen Types of Cliffhanger Finishes
Holy cow! Mike’s put his “Part 1″ (see above for link) of cliffhangers to great use, and come up with fourteen (fourteen!!!) ways to approach and implement suspenseful endings. Phew! I enjoyed every single one of them, and now I have some practical applications for how to hang the PCs from a cliff (or spider’s web or tall tree or floating castle). Of the fourteen items listed in the post, my favorite was “ominous sign” technique. That can easily get overplayed, but it feels… powerful… to me. Very powerful. Thanks for putting together the post, Mike!
Put In Place Your GMing Space
I’m going to twist this around a bit and talk about creativity space in general. I’m a writer. I’m a role player (typically the GM). I’m a software engineer. I would love to say that I do artwork, but I don’t have the natural talent to do it. Same thing with music. For my three main creative endeavors, I have to have a particular type of space within 3-5 feet of me. I need my own bubble of sound. It’s usually music. If I can, it’s through speakers, but if I’m in public (coffee shop, diner, whatever), it’s earbuds. Around me must be a mostly clean surface in case I need to fill it with a notebook, scrap of paper, pen, dice, whatever. I abhor moving item A, so I can put item B in its place. I should just be able to put item B down on a table/desk and put it to use. It really breaks my train of thought more than a person walking up to me to chat. I know. Weird brain gears grinding there, but that’s how I work. Lots of people try to emulate what I do, and I encourage them to try it. I also encourage them to try loads of different things. What works for me might not work for you. You’ll eventually migrate to how/where/when you work through a process of elimination.