Sorry again for missing out on last week, but this is a double dose of greatness for this week. There are tons of links to go through for this post, I’ll just jump right into it!
Mike’s put together a great post outlining various methods of creating a “campaign log” or “adventure journal” of sorts. I used to do this (as player and GM), but I found it to be too tedious to do at the table, and too time-consuming to do after the game. I guess I’ve become more overloaded with Real Life that the time I need to create a log or journal just isn’t there anymore. I see a great value in them, but I’m no longer the guy to sit down and write/type everything up.
Having a group of people play your game can be better than people testing your game, but I still assert that the playtest group needs to keep in the back of their mind that they are going to be giving feedback on the game after the session is over with. They should at least jot down notes on the fun and not-fun parts. The critical piece of information, however, is not the fun/not-fun moments, but the why of the fun/not-fun moments. This will help the designer(s) amp up the fun and fix the not-fun areas.
Towns have almost always been the safe area to retreat to after a dungeon delve. This is usually a given in any fantasy-based game. (For sci-fi, it’ll be the spaceship or other PC-controlled area.) Shaking things up a bit and making towns a little less safe can really amp up the action and make things a little less controlled by the players. It’s a great chance to twist the story plot around some.
I’ve tried to adopt a setting for Game A into the rules of Game B before with limited success. However, I think the main reason I failed is that I took it on all on my own. I didn’t involve the group or get their input. I was really hoping to surprise them with a “different take” on a classic setting. It didn’t go over well because of many different aspects of Game B mechanics that didn’t quite inter-operate well with assumptions about Game A’s setting. The approach here by Tracy (with the whole group involved) sounds like a much better way of going about things than what I did.
Delving deep into the realms of magical healing, Mike takes on a long-time point of contention that many people have with clerics (or playing the cleric) in the fantasy game. Most of the time, clerics are relegated to the role of “heal bot” that just keeps the fighters alive long enough for the fighter to do his job of killing the Bad Guy. Not much fun for the cleric, to be honest. There are plenty of alternatives to the cleric casting another healing spell, and Mike talks at length about many options. Check them out. Play with some of them. Take them into consideration. However, think deeply about the far-reaching affects of each change to the system. Many of these changes Mike talk about can drastically change the nature of the game play.
I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of static groups. I love the regularity of gaming with people I enjoy spending time around. I love knowing the dates (usually well ahead of time) of when we’ll be getting together, and I like knowing that we’ll be gaming instead of watching TV or some-such. However, I still need the game-oriented (or dynamic) groups from time-to-time to challenge me to think outside my well-constructed box, play a new game, meet some new people, and generally have a blast with a one-shot or short campaign.
Another link about playtesting! As a tangent, I just sent my first novel out to beta readers, so I can get their feedback (and do edits) before sending it to my publisher when they ask for it. I gave clear (I hope) instructions to the beta readers on what I’m looking for in the way of feedback. Without this guidance, I have no idea what level or quality of feedback I’ll receive. The same thing goes with playtesting. Designers have to give direction to the players on what kind of feedback they’re looking for. This direction can even change and morph as the game becomes more mature and closer to a publication or release date.
Two links for one map! The first link is to the wonderful Tomb of Eight map by Dyson. The second link is a great video of someone creating a walk-through of the map on YouTube. That’s fantastic. I love checking out the map and then the video visual. Very cool stuff here.
Two links for one topic! I’m glad I got to read these back-to-back. The first part left me wanting to know more, and I got it right away. If you’re looking for input or advice on creating primitive (not simple) or indigenous cultures for your gaming or fiction writing, these two articles must be your first stop. I highly recommend throwing a permanent bookmark into your “research” folder (or similar) like I have because you’ll want to come back and check these out as you make your developments. These are great! Thanks for the wonderful insight, Mike.
There was a hubbaloo on the RPG blogosphere over the past weekend about how much are RPG materials really worth. There were a handful of posts wrapped around this topic, and this one from Trollsmyth was the best-stated post. I highly recommend you run over to the link and check out his words. They’re quite well put together. My thoughts? Like anything else, books will sell for what the market will bear. There is, of course, a certain minimum cost to produce a PDF or dead-tree version of a book, and publishers must make some coin for their efforts. This sets a minimum price, but how high do you want to go? Depends on the quality and reputation of your work, to be honest.
Another fantastic map from Dyson! I especially love the fracture/crevasse running through most of the map.
I think getting weird and wacky at a con game is perfectly acceptable, so long as the mood of the table and the other players want to go with it. As a GM, I’m there to support the players and ensure they have fun at the table. If it turns out my “grimdark adventure” had a funny turn of phrase I didn’t realize and it sends the group down a slapstick roller coaster ride of hilarity… who am I to argue? It’s like telling kids that are having fun playing Calvin Ball (of the Calvin and Hobbes fame), “You’re having fun in the wrong way!” That’s just pure asshole activity there.