Friday Faves: 2015-07-24 1

I’m actually on time this week with this post! You don’t know how incredibly happy this makes me. I took some advice Mike (of Campaign Mastery) gave me ages ago, and typed up comments as I found the links. This is a key factor that helped me stay on target for this week. That’s a good thing, too. The RPG blogosphere heated up this week with some really fantastic posts.

There’s quite a bit to chew on this week, so right into the links!

Does Post-Apoc need a sense of loss?

I agree with Peter on his answer to this question (hint: click through to see what he has to say in more detail). If a game is based around the destruction of something, then the PCs need to be, in some manner, attached to the thing that’s been lost. Perhaps they have a chance to regain/rebuild the thing that is now gone? I would hope so because this is the gleaming bit of chrome sticking out through the thick layer of rust of a post-apocalyptic setting.

Troy’s Crock Pot: Why does the dog bark II?

Troy throws some twists into the typical monster perceptions with his post. I’ve done this before. I’ve taken a gold dragon (that was once an ally of the group) and twisted his psyche when the mortal woman he loved died of old age. There was nothing to avenge. There was nothing that magic could do about the death of the elderly. The gold dragon completely lost his mind in his grief, and I put his insane rage in the path of the PCs. Much fun ensued.

Cinematic Combat Part 3 – The Absence Of Mechanics

First off, congrats on the one millionth page view! That’s awesome news. Secondly, thanks to Mike for the shout out to my comments in his article. Now on to my comments on the latest installment. Now that I’ve read the series, I guess I unconsciously do cinematic combat. If a situation arises where there is little-to-no danger to the characters involved, I ask the players to describe what happens in the sequence. After the situation is resolved, I tend to shift back to “normal” game mode, which usually relies heavier on the dice and math involved. Example: A highly-experienced, well-trained assassin’s master was insulted by a servant. The master subtly ordered the assassin to “tend to” the servant. The servant wasn’t anything special. Just spice and flavor in the game. When the assassin finally sneaked by the guards (requiring die rolls) and tracked down the servant, the player picked his dice back up. I told him to put the dice down and describe to me how he kills the servant. He did so in a grand and glorious fashion. That’s cinematic! Thanks to Mike for bringing clarity to the approaches and nuances of cinematic combat.

Three Game Book Writing Tips

This is brief, but on target, advice from Peter on what it takes to create game books. This advice also applies to writing fiction as well (though the outlining part is optional for some people.) There’s a “word” that is almost a mantra between me and my local writing circles: BICFOK. Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keys. If you’re not BICFOK’ing on a daily basis, you’re doing something wrong.

Why I Demand Character Generation Be Done at the Table

I agree completely with David’s assessment of doing character creation at the table, and his reasoning behind this requirement is very solid. I do have two exceptions, though. I’ll ask players to think about what kind of character they want to run once I feed them the genre, theme, setting, etc., but I won’t allow the actual build-out (or rolling of) a character until everyone is together and has agreed upon a cohesive group. The other exception is character replacement/addition mid-stream. Because the group is already together and (presumably) working well together, it’s possible for a player to make a character on the side and bring it into play. Here is where I have to trust my players to not do anything too disruptive to the flow of the party or story.

Convention Survival Tips – GM Edition

Angela has some fantastic advice on how to survive GMing at a con with your health and sanity intact. She’s spot on with everything she says here, but I go with a 3-2-1 rule, instead of a 6-2-1 rule. Sure, you want 6 (or more) hours of sleep when life is normal. However, at a con, I think that asking for 6 hours of sleep a night is a bit much. It’s only 2-4 days of your life. Get the most out of it! Get at least three hours of sleep while at cons. If you can manage more, fantastic! Also, go easy on the alcohol the night before you have to run The Big Game. I’m not saying completely abstain, but avoid getting completely schnockered at the bar.

Imperfect Imbalance – Personal Injury Law in RPGs

This is a highly informative post about the different aspects and phases of handling a personal injury situation and how it applies to RPGs. Some of the examples in there were from a fantasy setting. Take the “typical medieval fantasy” setting and throw in the concept of a personal injury lawyer… and I wonder if it’s anachronistic. Probably from the first time someone threw a rock and hit another fellow in the head with it, there has been some concept of “right the wrong.” I’m just wondering what the medieval equivalents of small claims court would look like, in detail. It’s a fun mental exercise, I guess, but not one I have time to run off and explore. Mike also brings up some points about superhero and futuristic societies where things can go horribly wrong in a very short period of time. If you think reading about personal injury is dry and boring, give Mike’s article a shot. It’s neither of those.

Suggested Readings for Running Fantasy Cities

Want to run an adventure (or campaign) completely in a city? Check out Chris’s reading list! It’s fantastic!

Never Look A Gift Orc In The Mouth

This is a great example of what GM improving at a con setting can get you and your players. Sure, you’re not always going to have that random orc wander up to your table, but when you do….

What Makes a Game Publishable?

In this post, Dave ponders the concept of what makes a game publishable. As I’ve never been on the “publisher side” of the gaming equation, I really have no idea. I suppose I could throw out some educated guesses based on what I’ve purchased in the past, but Dave’s post here pretty sums up (and then some) what my thoughts would be as well.

Fate Point Economy – Random thought

The style of Fate Point Economy Douglas is talking about is very close to the one used in TechNoir (which is a game I loved running while I had players interested in it). Basically, the players start with unlimited Fate Points, and when they spend them, the GM can use them by a mook, Big Bad Guy, NPC, whatever back at the players. This does change things up quite a bit, starting at character creation. If you’re going to give everyone infinite (or close to it) Fate Points, then the number of stunts and other specials the characters start with will need to be identical for game balance. Once past this hurdle… it’s not a half bad idea, and I may see about incorporating the concept in my Fate Core game to see how it goes.

One comment on “Friday Faves: 2015-07-24

  1. Mike Bourke Jul 25,2015 3:49 AM

    Glad you liked this week’s articles, Hungry. Yes, what you describe definitely qualifies as Cinematic Combat, and the “Grand Manner” is exactly what you want. It gets a little more complicated when there are multiple characters involved, such as in a Barroom Brawl, but it’s basically just more of the same – “you tell me what you’re trying to do and I’ll tell you what happens”.

    I talked in the “Personal Injury” article at a few points about how village councils would sit in judgement over various offenses, so that’s a good starting point in terms of answering your question. I drew heavily on “Life In A Medieval Village” by Frances and Joseph Gies. Back then, a crime against an individual was viewed as a crime against the community, and the community gathered to dispense punishment and order restitution as they felt warranted. I suspect that this is an evolution of similar attitudes from earlier societies in which the tribe came first and any harm done to a member harmed the entire tribe by reducing its capacity to feed and clothe itself. It was only the rise of a wealthy middle class that led to the evolution of what we now consider personal injury law and lawyers. Any game environment socially advanced enough to have professional guilds will also be advanced enough to have Personal Injury Law – so that’s the dividing line between anachronistic and not. This was actually a hard article to write compared with most; until 3/4 of the way through it, all the “in-game interpretations” were going to appear in sections at the end of the article, but I had to restructure it fairly radically to extract the maximum amount of immediate relevance to the GM from each section. Glad you think it paid off – “dry and boring” is what I was trying to avoid!!

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