It’s been a few weeks since I’ve made a post. Sorry about that. Life and all that. I’m finally able to sit down and dedicate some time to the blog, so here goes… It’s two weeks (maybe more) worth of links, so this will be a slightly longer post than normal.
I’m in this boat right now. I have so many ideas to play with, but so very little time to actually execute them. I’ve been itching to run the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition since it came out. That’s been a few years now. I have everything I need for it (book, pawns, maps, player’s guide, etc.), but I just haven’t had the time to get to it. I also have a whole notebook packed with scribbled ideas for campaign settings or arcs or one-shots. It’s just nuts. I used to have time to execute most of my ideas, but now I don’t… but the ideas keep coming!
Part 6! Yay! This one helps you take into consideration things like: What’s upstairs? What’s outside? How densely packed are the people? How many can actually fit inside? How long will it take to get a meal? How many folks can comfortable (or uncomfortably) pack into the common room for a night of sleep? So many details about a tavern that I’ve really not considered. I really need to go back through all 6 parts and read them back-to-back and make my own notes now that the series appears to be at a close.
John talks about shades of success/failure. The obvious one is a straight pass/fail, but that gets rather boring unless you’re running a game for newcomers to the hobby. Then you want to keep things simple and ease them into the more complex systems that have critical pass, pass, fail, and critical failure. I think Fate Core does a good job of this and allows an incredible amount of story telling with their ladder. For Fate, I do my best to allow the players to describe the effects of their slot on the success (or failure) ladder. It gives them fiat and room to really get into character. My personal preference is a 4-step tier: Critical pass, pass, fail, critical fail.
Hey! Lookie! It’s a /. article about D&D. This pop up from time-to-time, and I always link to them here when I can. In this case, they are talking about the ethics lessons that can come out of imaginary violence. The /. article is a nice summary, but click through to the main article. It’s worth a read!
Marty’s got some good ideas here on how to give a village a reason for existing other than “it’s a dot on the map for adventurers to resupply.” I wholeheartedly agree with him that these concepts are needed when building out a hamlet or village. I wouldn’t stop there, though. Town, cities, metroplexes, and so on all need a reason to be. Keep in mind that London didn’t start out as a sprawling city. It landed as a “dot on the map” as a hamlet and grew from there. Perhaps the reason the place exists changes over time as well. Don’t forget that.
I ran RPGs for a long time before I incorporated maps and minis into the mix. My method of retreat was left up to situational logic and a series of die rolls to see if you actually make enough distance between you and your opponent to make good with an escape. I don’t recall the exact rules I used. Probably a dex check (for AD&D) or something like that. Now that I’m using maps and minis, things are much more clear on who can get away… or not.
Mike has a fantastic article setting things up for talking about portals to other locations and times. I have to say my favorite invocation of portals comes from fiction in Lawrence Watt-Evans’s Ethshar series. Tapestries can be woven to depict a precise location (including time of day/year if shadows are incorporated) and when you touch one of the tapestries, you end up in the location. If the time isn’t right, you’re more-or-less stuck in a limbo situation until the shadows get just right. He used them in The Misenchanted Sword and in With a Single Spell and mentioned them in other books as well. Back to the article: The part that got me the most excited about this series was the teaser at the end where Mike promises 15 more nasty tricks for use with portals. I’m sitting here rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation.
It’s been a while since I’ve linked to one of Dyson’s maps. This one caught my eye because of the mixture of natural caverns and formed tunnels. These types of maps are always ones that excite me the most. I don’t know why, either. They just do.
Mike talks in this article about the various levels of game prep GMs go through (as it concerns itself with handouts). He covers everything from “The Tolerable Minimum” to “Extreme Excess” and a few points in between. While I’m not a huge handout person (as I’ve discussed in the past), I see the wisdom of his words, and I should probably up my game a little and prep a wee bit more for doing some handouts.
Peter poses a good question here. Haven’t we always changed the game rules, campaign arcs, story lines, or details of an adventure to suit our needs? Why do books still give us permission to do so? I think it’s partially out of adding an extra level of comfort for the GMs out there to get them to give themselves permission to make changes. It’s also a fallback for the GMs. If a player has read the rules/adventure/campaign/whatever and then rakes the GM over the coals for a minor “infraction” the GM can then throw the book at the player (sometimes literally) and point out the clause that tells the GM they can change anything.
Mike dives into the portal series with ideas six through ten for how to do portals. I loved #10 because I used that in a game once. To sum up: Psionics were unknown in the world (and I explicitly told the players that psionics didn’t exist, so no picking those character types). Once the characters hit around 12th level or so, I started opening up purple rifts in the world. These were “wounds” (as I described them) in the veil between worlds. Creatures never seen before by the populace filtered through. The longer these wounds were there, the larger they got and eventually entire armies of creatures poured through. The PCs had to figure out what was going on, kill of the invaders, and do their best to go to the “other side” and heal the wounds as best they could. Oh. The kicker? The creatures from the other side were all skilled in the use of psionics. It was a hoot! Go check out Mike’s article for some other ideas for your own games.