What a great week of links! Tonight is my monthly Pathfinder game, so I’m scheduling this for release later tonight, but the post is being finalized earlier in the day. If I miss anything from later today, I’ll link to it next week.
Enjoy the links!
Every time my players have retreated and stayed away for a lengthy amount of time, it’s never gone well for them. While they may come back stronger and more prepared, so are the Bad Guys. It’s rare for me to use non-intelligent “monsters” because giving my Bad Guys the ability to think their way out of a bad situation imposed upon them by the PCs makes for more interesting times. There are times when a “brute force” monster with limited intelligence come into play, but it’s pretty rare. Peter makes some great points and add additional insight into this concept in his post. I highly recommend it!
Douglas has a fantastic breakdown of time in various RPGs. However, the real meat of the article comes to fruition with the details about how to resolve time within a game system, encounter, event, etc.. It’s well written, thoughtful, and insightful. I love this post, and it’s given me food for thought for my own game development. I’ve done gobs of martial arts (armed and unarmed) during my life, and I know from personal experience that sub-second decisions can play out and resolve in a second, or less. However, I tend to stick with 10-second rounds for my games that I develop because there are many other things that can happen during a “round” and I want to allot for those actions. I tend to “hand wave” things a bit. That Judo throw that only takes 2 seconds to go from start to finish? Yeah. I “pad” the action by 8 seconds by describing a struggle between the two parties that ultimately resolves into a successful throw to the mat. I love GURPS, but those 1-second rounds are hard to get “dramatic” in because of the short time frame involved.
This is an awesome map of the Forbidden City. If I had any plans to drag my current campaign into an underground setting, I’d be using this right away! As it stands, I’ve bookmarked it for later use.
My heart goes out to Peter and his friend’s family. It’s hard to lose a friend. Especially one that impacted your life. It may seem a bit strange to see that difference someone made while playing a silly game like Paranoia, but it’s true. I’ve lost some gaming friends over the decades, and it’s hard. It’s almost like every character they played with you passed away as well, which adds to the loss. This is a great tribute to Peter’s friend, Ed. Running a game is no small or easy task. Running Paranoia and doing it well is doubly so. Fare thee well, Ed. I didn’t know you, but you sounded like a cool guy.
One of my favorite software engineering books is from O’Reilly Press called, Physics for Game Developers. It’s on my shelf alongside AI for Game Developers. Both of those books are fantastic! While they are aimed at computer games, there are some lessons to be learned from them for RPGs and board games and such. I’m really looking forward to Mike diving into this same topic to see what he has to say about applying physics (and related topics) to RPGs.
Running established settings with a group that knows the setting well is a challenge. However, to reduce that challenge exponentially, I always tell the group. You know the world. I know the world. Collectively, we’ll get it right most of the time, but this is a fun-house mirror reflection of the established world. We’re going to bend and mold it to our needs, so let’s not get bent out of shape (get it?) over inconsistencies unless those inconsistencies are utter deal breakers. Case in point: I started up a Fate Core game set in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files universe. Yes. I know there is already an RPG (Fate-based, no less) specifically for that universe. I own it. However, Fate Core streamlined so many things, that we’re just converting it to our use. It’s me and three players. We all know the universe very well, and we’re okay with bending/breaking things for our needs. As a matter of fact, one of my players has interviewed Jim Butcher. Another has met him at a conference, and the third player is a good friend of someone close to Jim and has met Jim a handful of times. I guess I’m the odd man out in this scenario. 🙂
In fiction writing, it’s always best (or, at least, better) if the Bad Guy(s) have their own motivations that make them think they are doing the Right Thing, even if it’s apparent to the Good Guy(s) that it’s the Wrong Thing. This is a great post about giving some of those motivational characteristics to the “monsters” and other Bad Things in your world. When you decide that XYZ race is carnivorous and will eat only meat and drink only ale… also think about the “why.” This will add so much more depth to your world, system, and game sessions.
Here are three great ideas from Casey on giving the start of a D&D campaign a swift kick in the pants and getting things rolling. These are really good ideas, and I may steal some nuggets from them when time comes for me to fire up a new campaign idea.
When I read the poster’s question about big dungeons, I immediately thought, “Bigger is not better. Coherent and inclusive of ecological concerns is better.” I was happy to see that in point #5 from Mike’s original answer addressed that. I was also happy to see him go into greater depth on his revised answer. There is some really good advice in this post for folks that are considering running a big dungeon. That’s not to say that big dungeons are bad. They just need to be done well in order to succeed in amping up the level of fun. I guess that’s pretty much true of everything, right?