I was largely offline for most of the weekend with some D&D 3.5 on Friday night (nice bait ‘n’ switch in the plot from the GM), volunteer work on Saturday morning, a new project planning meeting on Saturday afternoon, relaxing (finally) with some Magic: The Gathering on Saturday night. Sunday was football watching time, and rearranging my office to clean up the clutter a bit, and playing with my son, and puttering around the house doing general clean-up stuff to surprise my wife when she returned home.
I’m finally back at the Day Job today, so I get to “relax” (as compared to the weekend) and get some posting and RPG reading done. It’s rare that my Day Job gives me the time to spare for this, so I’m taking advantage of it.
Here are the links!
Nick’s put together a darn good hireling generator. I love this thing. Some of the hirelings that drop out of the random ether are hilarious, some are spot-on, and all of them are thought provoking. I’m not sure I’d ever take one “as is” from the generator, but that’s true of pretty much any random thing… even the ones I’ve written. Getting a good “food for thought” vector is always a good thing, and that’s what this is.
Where to start on commenting on this? I’m a writer. I do poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, RPG adventures, campaign worlds, etc. I’ve touched almost every form of writing there is, except for scripts for television and movies (I’ve co-written two plays, so I’ve done the stage thing as well.) Mike’s assessment on the difficulty of writing RPG adventures is spot on. He’s nailed it. Perfectly. From uncooperative characters to unknown session length to writing 50 new plots a year (yes, that’s a thing) to being an expert in everything to trying to figure out why you put so much work into being a GM, this post puts everything into perspective. Having experienced everything in Mike’s post (including the rewards), this post struck true and struck home for me. Well done!
I think it is more work for the GM. The “during play” section of time does run (usually) much more smoothly (especially with new players), but there are some limitations on the lock-down of technology. If you wanted to do something not quite centered on a grid line, some systems breakdown and don’t allow this. The “preparation” section of time is incredibly time consuming (for me) because every map (Every. Single. One.) must be prepared ahead of time. Drawing something “on the fly” (from my experience) just doesn’t work. It either halts the game while the GM wrestles with the tech, or can’t effectively be done at all. The same thing goes with tokens, furniture markers, etc.. Because the prep work is an absolute must, it’s rougher on the GM. I’m usually the GM, and this is one of the reasons I’ve avoided online gaming to this point.
Is it a coincidence that I like this post? Perhaps it’s the face that Mike mentions paranoia (the mental state, not the game)? I’ve tried to use coincidence in the past within my games and it always comes off as heavy handed. Perhaps I’m not being subtle enough? Perhaps I need to tie some threads together better and let others fly loose? I’m not sure, but this post certainly gave me food for thought that my brain is still digesting.
I love this post quite a bit because I’ve done this before. I’ve taken “normal” undead and crammed them full of new and unusual powers. Everyone seems to expect the “flame-wreathed demon” to have some form of fire ability, but drop that on to a zombie (or, perhaps, the flames don’t appear until the zombie is at half HP), and suddenly the zombie is a “scary thing to be run from.” I love taking various templates and add-on abilities and putting them on the mundane things in the world to amp up the level of uncertainty in the players’ minds. This works especially well with the more experienced gamers at the table. They think they know everything, but they really don’t recall seeing the “flaming, giant zombie” in the book before.
My approach for a new player coming into an established group/campaign is similar to what Tim does. I ask them for their gaming experience and how long it’s been since they’ve gamed. I also ask them what they enjoyed about past games and what they didn’t. Lastly, I ask them about their favorite character. All of this gives me a flavor of what they’ve done and what they like in a game. I don’t drastically change things to cater to the new player, but there will be subtle shifts of stuff to get the player more comfortable with the gaming group.
Peter makes some good points here about allowing (or not) resting in his games. I pretty much run resting in my games the same way. I also might adjust how much I interrupt the PCs rest based on the players attitudes at the table. If they’re getting used to “no rest for the wicked” gaming, I’ll give them a full night of relaxation. This will actually put them on edge because they’ll meta-game and wonder what I have in store for them that they’ll need their full complement of spells/HP/FTG/whatever. Shifting the pace around helps keep the players engaged and trying to guess at what’s coming up behind the next closed door.