Friday Five: 2010-08-20 — Double Edition!

Wow! A double-dose of Friday Five today. This was a fantastic week for RPG bloggers across that board. Here are the links that really jumped out and grabbed me, so I’m sharing all of them with you.

Bottling Lightning: Coming Up With the Core Idea for a Campaign

Got an idea for a campaign that you think is fantastic? There are ways to fail… epically. There are always ways to make the entire experience a tremendous one that will be talked about for ages to come. Which path do you want to follow?

Setting And Enforcing Campaign Limitations

Most characters fail miserably because their genesis in the campaign didn’t fit the flavors of what the GM had envisioned. Firstly, it’s up the GM to express himself properly to set the mood for the game. Secondly, it’s up the player to listen to the GM and create a character that will fit into the context of the game and go with the flow. No. This does not limit the player’s choices. It guides them. It directs them. It helps them… and the game. Years ago I had a roommate that would only play elves. Period. It aggravated me to the point where I almost started up a “dwarf only” campaign to get him to break out of his mold, but by the time I solidified the campaign, he had moved away. This is a case where me, as the GM, would have had to build up the proper setting to make it enjoyable for all involved, even though the “elf only player” would be forced to play something totally opposite his norm.

Challenge =/= Fun

When are challenges fun? When they offer a situation in which the PCs must work together to barely overcome the obstacle. This requires the GM to know the players and characters quite well. It’s not enough to sit on your side of the GM screen with your monster blocks, skill challenges, traps, curses and treasures and throw them in a haphazard manner at the PCs. By properly building out the challenges presented to the players and the characters they control, the game will grow for the better.

Creating A Character Around A Concept

I rarely create a character without a concept behind it. I’ve always created backgrounds, and I usually write them up in extensive detail for the GM to use as a way to pull me into the campaign, and for a way to keep me there. There are many different inspirations that I pull from for creating my characters. The list includes, but is not limited to, books, movies, comics, RPG articles, pictures, RPG books, campaign sourcebooks and my own twisted imagination. In my opinion, I think that a solid concept for a character will lead to an enjoyable character in the end. This is especially true of open-ended system like Hero and GURPS.

Hot Button: Playing Yourself

I’ve played myself in a handful of games in the past. The most enjoyable one was where I got to play myself as a werewolf in the White Wolf World of Darkness setting. It was an absolute hoot! Character generation was also fun as the Storeteller pulled us aside and “interviewed” us one-by-one to see how we’d act and react in certain situations. It was good stuff. Even though I had a blast with it, not everyone will feel the same. It takes a strong person to be honestly introspective enough to fairly create themselves in an RPG system without getting offended when they see “on paper” how much they suck at various things.

Kids and Games: Getting it Wrong is Doing it Right

I can’t wait until my son is old enough to crack open the Red Box D&D and sit down with his friends to learn the game that I love so much. Like Chatty DM did, I plan on sitting back and letting the group of youngsters read and interpret the rules for themselves. I made a million mistakes with rules going wrong in my day (and I still do,) but I rarely made the mistake of not having fun. So long as the game is fun that is all that matters. However, if my son doesn’t have fun with RPGs, I won’t force it on him…. much. 🙂

The Architect DM: Building Foundations

Ever slap down a maze, dungeon, cavern or building on paper and populate it with monsters without thinking about how it all fits together? Yeah. Me too. As I’ve matured, I’ve made sure that everything makes sense (at least to me) and I try to impress upon the players that everything fits together if they just find the right clues and ideas. If you’re not organically merging elements of your maps and creatures together, go see what Bartoneous has to say on the matter.

World Building 101 – The Art of Artifacts

I love artifacts. No. Wait. I LOVE artifacts. As a matter of fact, one of the early columns that I did on this blog involved an artifact of the week. It finally become too onerous to generate an artifact every week, so I had to bail on my much beloved column. I feel that every magic item (other than menial ones like potions and scrolls) should have a large history behind them all. It adds so much more flavor to hold the “Sword of Karn’s Reckoning” than “a long sword +1” even if their crunchy game effects are the same.

Essential Elements of a DND Campaign

A while back I posted about using the three-act-structure to build out campaigns. This article offers different advice going with introductions through rising action into the climax and then a denouement at the end of the game. I feel that either structure can work for a campaign. It’s up to you to decide which way it goes and which method fits your style. The campaign that I’m currently running is a three act story with the players just now finishing the first act. I hope the second two acts are as fun as the first one has been.

The GM: Everyone’s Best Friend

Whether you are running a homebrew system/campaign/game, or using COTS (commercial off the shelf) gaming supplies, this is an interesting read. Shawn has an excellent breakdown on the pros and cons of both and some deep introspection into the whole affair. I highly recommend this link.