Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-08-01 1

It’s been over two weeks since my last post. I’m not sure what happened to me on the previous weekend, but the most recent weekend was jam-packed full of stuff. I won’t bore you with the mundane details of the lengthy list of stuff I’ve been accomplishing (or trying to accomplish) while ignoring the blog.

Time to hit two weeks worth of links. It’s quite a list, but check ’em out!

Basics For Beginners (and the over-experienced) Pt 8: Depth In Plotting

This is a great chunk of advice on how to plot an adventure and doing larger arcs for campaigns. Mike’s included pitfalls (and how to avoid them), and how to guide your ideas through design and into the space at the table. The thing that really hit home for me was the concluding advice of, “The plot structure that you employ should always be the best one for the plotline that you are comfortable with as a GM.” I recently embarked into running a Savage Worlds horror-based game. I write some pretty mean horror stories, but I’m being vicious and cruel to things of my own imagination. I’m not really comfortable in doing that to characters my friends at the table control. I need either break through that discomfort (which can be a good thing for my creativity), or bail on the game and run something I’m more in line with mentally.

The Aesthetics of a Modern Cyberpunk

As we creep closer to 2020, the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG is become more and more a fallacy instead of a strange option for the future. I was born in the early 70s, and grew up as Cyberpunk did. I probably have one of the largest collections of CP novels, anthologies, collections, and RPGs in the world. If you pack it all together, it’s closing in on 100 books (if not over that.) However, the ideas of CP really haven’t evolved with the times. I can see the vision of the “modern cyberpunk” coming out as this blog post portends. It’s an interesting view to yank away all of the neon coverings and go with a more green outlook.

The Village of Kith

I love Dyson’s dungeon maps, but his villages really set my imagination on fire. He does them so well, and so sparsely, that I can see almost anything happening through here. Beautiful work, Dyson!

Working The Other Side Of The Screen

I’m like Mike. I tend to be the GM behind the screen. It’s always been that way for me, so I really don’t know the life of a player and only a player. I’m okay with that, but I do admit that I love being a player from time-to-time to recharge my batteries and cut loose. I filled in the scores in Mike’s blog post and came up with 26 in the advantages and 30 in the disadvantages. Looks like I might be okay where I’m at, but jumping into a game as a player certainly wouldn’t hurt! If you think you need a break from GM’ing, check out this post and see what you can discover.

The Group You Want

Did your players create a group that doesn’t fit in with the theme or style of game you wanted to run? Perhaps there was an up-front communication issue. What do you do about it? Perhaps you reset and start over? Maybe it’s time to alter the game to fit what the players want. There are lots of options here, and Angela does a great job diving into all of them. Go check out her post!

Gygax Regretted Clerical Turning

Wow! I had no idea that such an integral part of fantasy RPGs was a regrettable inclusion. Huh. It makes me wonder what clerics would be like (would they be even less popular as a PC class?) without the ability to crank some holiness into the unliving.

The Final Advantage

Like Mike says in his article, many different systems have some form of “advantage mechanic” to allow players to add bonuses, influence die rolls, reroll the dice, etc.. Should these advantage mechanics be tinkered with at higher levels to create an even more advantageous system for the PCs (or NPCs)? I really don’t think so. Once I read the premise of the article, I was already set against the idea of tinkering with the mathematical structures of the game in such a manner. However, I read the article with as much of an open mind as I could to see if Mike could sway me. In the end, it turns out Mike’s conclusion was the same as my gut instinct. Any game designer worth their salt will run the core mechanics through many simulations and playtests to ensure the math works out fairly. That doesn’t mean all systems are balanced and wonderful, and that’s where minor house rules come into play.



GMs: Never put yourselves on a pedestal

This article bothers me because I know there are kernels of truth in there about many folks running games. Things like “the GM is better” or “the GM rules supreme over the game” or “the GM deserves special treatment” or things like that just rub me the wrong way. I’ve never gone into a game as a GM with these conceits in my mind. Just the opposite. The players rule supreme over the game because it is their story we’re telling, not the GM’s story. The GM is just there to facilitate the telling of the tale, to adjudicate rules, and toss out worthy obstacles. The only time I see the statement of “the GM is better” being accurate and trustworthy is when it comes to rules knowledge. The GM should know the rules better than the others at the table, but it’s not a requirement. Even if this is true, this doesn’t mean the GM needs or requires special treatment. I could go on and on about this topic, but I won’t. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Cities Of Legend: Blueprints For Adventure

This post has changed the way I look at building cities. In the past, it’s always been about maps and locations and NPCs and government organizations and non-government organizations and a few mighty heroes in the area. That’s about it. Not much to it. Good bones. No flesh. This article has changed the way I flesh out my cities (and B-list cities and C-list cities). I can definitely use this in my world building for my writing and my role playing. Thanks, Mike!

One comment on “Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2016-08-01

  1. Mike Bourke Aug 1,2016 12:56 PM

    Hi, JT! Appreciate the feedback as always. In terms of your horror game, you could always shift the genre to 1960s horror movies, where the focus was less on blood and scary and more camp, a completely different vibe that might cut through that discomfort.

    In terms of being a player, one of the key points is that it’s a dynamic situation. Right now, the score says you’re doing just fine – but 6 months from now, it might be more line-ball and a year from now they could read the other way around. You need to take stock regularly. You can either do it by gut feeling (but that risks not asking the question until it’s too late) or put a bit of rigor into it using the survey that I devised, which includes every factor that I could think of!

    Advantages: I was surprised at how closely balanced the arguments were; I expected a much stronger showing, one way or the other. Interestingly, I started off thinking that the ‘yes’ case would win it hands down because initially I had trouble finding meaningful counter-arguements, but when the logjam broke, it broke big. Ultimately, it came down to the smallest of ramifications, but the result was still decisive. It’s always great to be able to make a gut call, but better to be able to show that you’ve looked at all sides of the debate and have valid justifications for those gut calls – and even better when the analysis says that you were right in your gut instinct.

    Finally, the article on cities – I like your skeleton-and-flesh metaphor for the process. Half the credit has to go to my co-GM and co-author of the article,;on behalf of both of us, you’re welcome! Interestingly, the entire article was a casual side-thought tossed out during discussions of a whole series of articles (and a big series at that) when we realized that we could find absolutely nothing on the subject, anywhere! It’s also fair to say that it’s completed a process of transitioning the way that WE create/handle cities, too; we were trending in that direction already, but this was the final step. The realization that the technique could serve as a blueprint for city construction in other genres also came at the 11th hour, and is the only reason it appeared in advance of that big series (which will probably run for a lot of the last third of the year. It, too, is primarily aimed at the Pulp genre but parts have a much wider application. In total, three of us have sunk close to 500 man-hours into it, so far…

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