I’m actually getting one of these out on a Saturday! Go me! Today’s Halloween, and we successfully ran the kid around a friend’s neighborhood (we live remote and trick or treating is more like hiking than anything else.) I’m hanging in my late-night diner, eating some french fries and drinking too much coffee.
It’s been a good day.
… and I can’t wait for NaNoWriMo to start in roughly 70 minutes.
Time for some links!
I great piece of advice I learned about writing horror stories is quite simply stated, “Put the care into scare.” If the characters don’t care about the scary thing, then the readers… or players… won’t either. If you can tie something the characters truly care about, then the players will be dragged along for the emotional roller coaster as well.
Troy makes some great points in here. If a creature doesn’t fit in the environment you’ve set up in the area, then the suspension of disbelief shatters pretty quickly. If you find the players asking, “Why are the toad men in the driest room in the cave?” then you’ve probably not thought things through… or you should have a really good reason for breaking things down like that.
Mike starts off talking about Hollywood blockbuster budgets ($1 billion on the next Avengers movie. Really?!?!) and then brings it home to RPG prep based on time budgets. At one point in my life, I had oodles more time than money, so I created pretty much every world/campaign/adventure/setting from scratch because I could. These days, the inverse is true. I’d much rather spend an hour or so searching the Internet for something that is “close enough” for what I need, and then adapt it for my needs. This saves me dozens of hours of time at a relatively decent monetary cost. Regardless of which boat you’re currently in, I highly recommend Mike’s article on how to prep and how to do it in a tight timeframe. Pay close attention to the section under the “The Lesson for Beginners” header. It’s spot on.
Andreas has a great post with an excellent list of quality games here. These games all can all be very newbie friendly if approached in the right manner. Dropping two dozen GURPS reference materials on the table in front of someone who has never played GURPS (even a veteran gamer) is daunting. If you can, start with the bare bones of the rules, and as the game progresses, introduce additional rules. I’d even say Pathfinder is a newbie friendly game. Leave out flank and other advantage bonuses for the first few combats. Drop things like attacks of opportunity and leave them aside for a while. At each session roll in 2-3 new rules as they come up and explain the intricacies of each rule. This is so much easier for newbies to digest than looking at the two-foot tall stack of books and options.
Speaking of GURPS, Peter has a short list of disadvantages that really don’t pay off in the point scale. I’ve taken each of these for separate characters at some point in the past because they fit the character concept I looked for. Yeah, it made the game harder on me (they’re supposed to), but I agree with Peter that the bonuses I gained elsewhere didn’t fully offset the harsh realities of these disads.
Surprise is the state of mental lockdown when you know you should react to something, but just can’t seem to get the rest of yourself to cooperate. Can you be more surprised by some things than others? Should surprise get worse depending on the situation at hand? Mike delves into these questions (and more) in this post. My take is this: Surprise should never rob a character of more than one action because that means the player is sitting there, quite literally, doing nothing to push the game forward. Even with a single turn passed over, the player can get upset, insulted, derisive, and even to the point where they are disruptive to the game. Sometimes this is out of boredom. Sometimes this is out of a desire to strike back at either the game or the GM. If you really want to emphasize a “powerful surprise” have a character sit out one round, and then apply some penalties on the first round of allowed actions and slowly “bleed off” those penalties until the character “returns to a normal mental state.” That’s how I handle it, and I rarely impose a “powerful surprise” on a character (and thus, the player) all that often.