Belated Friday Faves: 2015-07-11 3

Woo Hoo! Last night’s game as an utter success. We all had a blast (except for the player playing the fighter… but he was running on 2 hours of sleep and had been up for over 24 hours at the start of the game. Stupid Day Jobs.) Traps were triggered. Others were found and disarmed. Riddles were encountered, but none were solved (I was certain the bard spoke Draconian!) We all had a really good time.

I have some down time right now while getting an oil change, so I’ve put the polishing touches on the post and am getting it out the door.

However, you’re not here to listen to me chatter about my gaming session or my car maintenance, so I’m going to get on with the links. There are quite a few here this week.

Troy’s Crock Pot: Make it a hex-crawl summer

I’ve never liked the concept of “this hex is swamp” and “this hex is jungle,” but I understand the need for hexes for the ease of measuring distance and travel and placing markers and such. It’s a fine system, and it works. However, that’s not really the point of this article despite the title. Troy’s post can be applied to the “sandbox” as well. Basically, make sure there’s a reason the players are headed cross-country, maybe throw in a target for the travels, and toss out some fun new monsters while you’re at it!

Reading Tables, Not Rolling on Them

I love tables. Like Peter, I tend to read through them and use them for inspiration. If I can’t find something I really fall in love with (or too many things catch my eye), I’ll roll three times on the table and pick the one thing from those three that I like best. Then I’ll run with that idea for deeper thought and see where it takes me. Peter also has some links to some great resources, so check it out!

Cinematic Combat Part 1 – Attack Mechanics

When someone breaks out the statement, “Let’s play a cinematic game!” I always cringe. This (in my experience) usually equates to, “I want to play a character where the rules don’t apply to me!” *sigh* I know that’s not the case. However, it’s happened to me too many times that the phrase still hurts me. I guess when I try to limit someone’s actions with a reasonable obstacle or circumstance, the player response has been, “I thought this was supposed to be cinematic?” Ugh. Anyway…. Mike has a fantastic post that’s changing my mind about cinematic games and teaching me how to approach them. Since there’s a “Part 1” in the title, I can only assume there will be future parts as well, and I’m really looking forward to them!

Violent Resolution – You’ve got to move it move it

Ya gotta move if you wanna get there. That about sums up movement in many games. Sure, it gets more detailed or technical than that for most games. Douglas drops a great breakdown of various systems on how movement works, is measured, and is limited. I’ve done the same maths he has done with Olympic sprinters and trying to figure out what a “reasonable” top-end speed for a human is, so that part of the post really made me happy.

[crafts] Aging paper for your games, part one
[crafts] Aging paper for your games, part two

I used to do crafts similar to these two posts when making handouts and maps (see previous mentions of handouts lasting 3 seconds… my maps were different), and the players loved it because of the “aged” effects I put on the paper. Matt’s taken the aging, preparation, drawing, and marking up of maps to a whole new level though! Go check out his two posts on the topic and learn some fantastic new skills.

The Power Of The Question-mark in RPG Plotting

I’ve always loved adventures that were written with questions in mind. This gave me, the GM, a level of agency in the execution of the game that a straight “scripted” adventure doesn’t. We always talk about the players having agency to make decisions that affect the game. We don’t want to take that away from the players. However, the GM needs some agency as well, and straight-up telling the GM that the NPCs/monsters will always do a certain action robs the GM of his/her agency. This is a good post from Mike along those lines, and I think it hits home more with me as a writer and game designer than a GM or player. Thanks for the info, Mike!

[Friday Map] Mapper’s Challenge II – The Deep Halls

Woo Hoo! Some fantastic (and HUGE) maps from Dyson. I especially love the level-based color coding he did to help clarify some of the things about the different layers of the map. Thanks for sharing that, Dyson.

3 thoughts on “Belated Friday Faves: 2015-07-11

  1. Mike Bourke Jul 11,2015 10:42 PM

    Thanks for the support, Hungry, and glad you found something interesting in my articles this week! Yes, there are two more parts to come in the Cinematic Combat series – just finished the next one this morning, dealing with Abstracting damage mechanics, and next week, one on doing away with combat game mechanics completely. I suspect the last one is the one that will resonate most strongly with your negative experiences, and that you’ll find it the most interesting of the three.

    As for the question-mark article, incorporating options and choices for the GM/author to make is something most GMs do without thinking about it, even when running a supposedly canned adventure. And that sometimes gets them in trouble with reliable frequency (which is why they all recommend reading the adventure from start to finish at least once before you run it). A lot of that grief can be solved with better adventure structure, and that includes incorporating decision points that enable the GM to react to what the players are doing. But I was very aware while writing the article that there were broader applications and implications; any process that involves “plotting” or “planning” can benefit from giving yourself a choice of direction – especially if you find that Plan A leads you into a corner. Being able to backtrack and trying Plan B instead is a lot easier if that option is built in from the beginning!

    • Hungry Jul 12,2015 10:24 AM

      I agree that reading a “canned” adventure front to back and sideways will save lots of grief. I’ve altered a pre-written module before and it had disastrous results later as I changed a clue that literally led the party to move away from the area the adventure was written in. I didn’t realize my mistake until the travel deviation happened. It was too late to fix it at that point, so I ran with it. About 3-4 weeks after the deviation (the players didn’t notice), one of the players asked me, “Why aren’t you referring to the module anymore?” I had to laugh and tell them that they’d wandered away from that quite a while back. It didn’t matter much, though. We were still having a good time following the “broken” clue and doing our own thing.

  2. Douglas Cole Jul 15,2015 9:51 AM

    Hey! I just noticed you noticing my Violent Resolution columns . . . thanks for the good reviews and pings on the series, and I’m glad you’ve gotten something out of them!

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