Not much news to report this week other than I’m on time (for the first time in a long time) with this post.
I did pick up some cool card-based products that just arrived in the mail a few days ago. I hope to tear through them in the next few days and maybe get review up before the end of next week.
On with the links!
This is Mike’s follow-up article to his AERO concept. You can find the first one here. In this segment, Mike talks about giving screen time to characters based on their purpose, defining profiles, adding additional aspects to the characters, and how to put it all together. The “put it all together” section at the bottom is excellent. The worksheet for taking notes about the various aspects of AERO characters is excellent! I have my own character workbook that I use for primary characters in my novels. I haven’t thought about putting together a “side character” (or in RPG parlance “NPC”) workbook. If I do undertake such a task, Mike’s articles will be linked to and (with his permission), I’ll use his form at the bottom of the post as a basis for some of the characteristics of the side characters…. Will I actually go through this? Dunno. Depends on time, right?
Making encounters as multi-dimensional as possible creates depth of world, better immersion into the scenario for the players, and more challenges for the characters. Don’t go overboard. Just because two is better than one, this doesn’t mean that eight is better than two. Don’t throw in everything (and the kitchen sink) into each encounter. Spread it out. Building out everything into an encounter will exhaust you as GM, potentially confuse or overwhelm your players, and most likely create a challenge that can’t realistically be overcome. The examples Peter threw into his article are excellent starting points. Go check it out!
It’s only three levels and pretty simple, but the citadel depicted in this map contains beauty in its simplicity. I can see PCs (especially in the suggested gorge setting) having a really hard time taking this reinforced battlement by force. An interesting map to use as a challenge to throw at the PCs.
Jeff has an amazing-looking system for determining “spell points” or whatever you want to call it. It’s not really points, but is definitely a limiter on spell-based powers. This is a pretty cool idea. I’ve been pondering it since I read the blog post. I share Jeff’s reservations about the practicality and speed at which the “stones in a bag” mechanic will actually execute at the table. There’s also the extra materials that have to be lugged to the game session, which is a downside for me since I have a tear in my right shoulder. The heavy (60+ pounds) game bags I used to carry around in days past don’t happen anymore. I try to keep the RPG bags somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 pounds or lighter. Yeah. I know. Glass beads and a few large dice bags don’t weigh much, but it’s the “death by a thousand cuts” premise here. Anyway… I’m off topic with talking about bag weight. I like this idea. I’m doubtful about the practical application, but the concept won’t leave my brain alone. Perhaps that means there’s something there. Right?
John’s post about the Backpocket Adventure is a great one. These are adventures that are short, compact, usually rip-roaring fun (fun turned to 11), easy to make, and quick to run. They’re pulled out of the back pocket when players miss out on a session, but those present still want to adventure. They can also be used if the player zag left when the GM expected them to zig right (there are other solutions, but I like this one). Great idea. Great post.
Ever thought about adding a house rule to an RPG? How about making an adjudication on an action the fly to avoid reading the rulebook mid-fight and slowing down the pace? Yeah. Me too. On both. There are times when the officially published rules must be modified to adjust for the play style of the people at the table. The authors of these books will not get offended. Trust me. They fully recognize that the group(s) they developed the game with during their own process are not the same groups around the world playing the game. Go for it. Change things up. However, do it with structure, forethought, intent, and clarity of mind. Not sure how to do this for house rules and rules-on-the-fly? Well, go check out Mike’s excellent article about how to approach modifying a game and increasing your chances of “getting it right.” (“Getting it right,” in this case, means “having more fun.”) As a side note: Make sure you read his brief historical context about Prohibition in the United States of America. Yeah. It’s a history lesson, but it’s well-written, concise, and ties in very well with the “meat” of the article. Consider it a mental appetizer for the meal of the post.
PS to Mike: I know you haven’t been getting my pingbacks. I’m not sure why. I’ve checked my settings, and they appear to be unchanged (for ages) and set correctly to notify others of pingbacks. I did (as usual) upgrade WordPress to the latest version recently. I wonder if there’s a version conflict between my site and yours? Not sure. Just a guess.