Friday, November 16, 2012

Pre Generated Characters or WHYYY?

I was looking around my area for D&D games and came upon this description for one:

A thousand years ago, a thousand survivors of a holy war between the Believers; a group of devout warriors; and the Renouncers; an army following The Dragon Generals; traveled to an island surrounded by mountains and sealed off the only pass to or from the island. Over the thousand years of isolation all but a select few have forgotten the old ways and have also forsaken the gods. Now only one Believer remains; Mordeci, taught by his father to follow the path of the warrior and protect the hidden temple that contains their greatest enemy, the last Dragon General; Chernobog.
10 Years ago, a group of children from the island unleashed Chernobog and he has rampaged unchecked since. Too young to understand what they had done or to do anything about it, Mordeci called upon the gods for aid and they answered; the children fell into a deep slumber where they were magically aged into the adults they would have been and now, 10 years later, the 8 children responsible and Mordeci as the final Believer must go forth into the world and stop Chernobog.

I currently have 6 of the 9 players, I need three more to play the characters Liam, Sara, and Syd. A link to the site is below so you can check out the characters.

I think I shared it with about three friends before I realized that I had to know more, so I sent him a message:

Me: This is remarkably rigid for a roleplaying game, especially D&D. That's not a dig on your style, I'd love to know more about your technique and why you want to run this way. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Guy: Hey Danny, the reason is because I like large groups, it makes it more fun for me personally and as a DM, but unfortunately it also causes some problems when I have 8 people with wildly outlandish characters and it causes some backup in character creation as well as other things. So, in order to bring some much needed order to the chaos and be able to work my story around the characters individually, it is easier if I already have well-established characters who all have abilities I know about and can anticipate as a DM. It's also nice for bringing in people who have lives or who have never played before because it takes much of the out-of-game decisions about character stories and creation out of the picture so people can basically just show up and play as well as the ability to switch out players if something comes up and someone can't play anymore without having to work characters in and out.

The end result of this story is that I'm now running a dungeon crawl-centric game for some local tabletop players in my area. I hope they can manage to find some time in their busy lives to come up with names for their characters!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Great Tables, Mediocre Module

I love modules. I've rarely seen a module that didn't have something I could purloin for my own games, even if I usually don't feel like running the entire thing. Generally speaking, TSR modules became something I couldn't even run sometime in the 80s, around the same time they stopped being a map, a key and an explanation of various motivations of the involved parties.


One module that I always assumed I'd love is Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but in practice, it just holds very little appeal for me! Walk down crazy twisting corridors that are fairly linear in actuality? Thick mist that prevents you from seeing anything interesting? A huge chart showing how many spells don't work as you're used to them working(generally making the most interesting spells unable to function of course)

All in all, it's not for me, but it has some random tables that I completely love, especially the creepy regeneration one.

So here you go, my own version of the Creepy Regeneration Table, most likely to be used in my B/X games as the standard way the spell works:

Unpredictable Regeneration (d8)

1.  Scaled reptilian appendage
2.  Limb/Paw of an animal (1-2: wolf 3-4: horse 5-6: bear)
3.  Gelatinous pseudopod (1-3: ochre slime 4-6: green slime)
4.  Chitinous insectoid appendage
5.  Feathery bird wing or scaly, anisodactyl bird leg
6.  Versatile tentacle (1-3: slimy 4-6: clean and smooth)
7.  Normal for the subject's race (1-3: same gender 4-6: different gender) 
8.  Normal for the subject's race (1-3: same gender 4-6: different gender)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The New New Dungeon!

I picked up a copy of the Dungeon! boardgame that Wizards just released and played with a few friends. It was great to get a new copy, because I threw away my copy of New Dungeon! during my last move, since it was missing too many pieces(foolish in retrospect, the board would have been worth keeping if nothing else!)

I'm enjoying the new release a lot and I feel like it captures the original pretty well. I'm particularly glad that there's no optional player ambush rules, because those used to just lead to hurt feelings more than anything else. My only problem is the new Wizard mechanic for relearning spells. It's a lot more friendly than the original 1975 game's "Wizards start with 10 spells, and when they're done, that's that." In the new game, wizards start with 1d6 + 6 spells and they can relearn one per entire turn spent at the starting staircase. That means you have to get to the staircase on one turn, then take an entire turn of "spell memorization."

This might not seem harsh in comparison to the original game, but as someone who grew up with New Dungeon! where you start with 6 spells and you regain all 6 the moment you reach the staircase, it seems a bit rough. Our first game ran long and it still seemed like the wizard was having difficulty against me playing the rogue (the new name for elf, actually a halfling on the card) and another friend playing the fighter. We both hit our required treasure totals around the same time and the fighter made it back to the stairs first. In the next game I played, we used the New Dungeon! rules for the wizard, and another footrace back to the stairs saw me as the victor over the wizard(a narrow victory!)

In either case, I prefer games to be fun, so I figure we'll just tell people playing wizards about both versions and see which one they want. It'd be interesting to see a game where two wizards use different styles. More up-front spells or faster memorization make for very different playstyles, and in any case, I'm delighted to see this game on shelves once more. I might even have to make some new cards on my computer to add to the game if it becomes as popular as I hope amongst my friends.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Catch Up Time!

To bring everyone up to speed, Sweetgrove was a roaring success. Keeping up with it has kept me busier than I would have expected, even though much of it has been rehashing old modules I own. In the past 6 months the following things have happened:

  • The Caves of Chaos were poked into and declared "Not worth the effort" by no less than 10 different characters. 
  • A magic crown was excavated from the Tomb of Demara, an ancient king. 
  • A corrupted Druid was cured of a terrible curse in the western woods. 
  • In the southern swamp, the Black Knight held a tournament of chivalry. The quixotic Dame Varnell was the victor. 
  • An eternal winter has come and gone from Sweetgrove, the Winter King has been defeated and his castle looted by thieves. The Adventuring Guild gained a little more respect from the other groups in town. 
  • The Iron Ring slaver organization attempted to establish their trade in Sweetgrove. They were ousted rather quickly by a man named Fletcher. 
  • Mysterious nightmares plagued Sweetgrove. While a stalwart group investigated, they discovered an "undercity" full of mesoamerican-style architecture and at least one tomb under Sweetgrove. 
  • The wizard Kaine was driven mad by a magic crown sold to him by adventurers and fled the town. 
  • A witch(thank you, Strange Magic) decided to purchase the old abandoned shop behind the Inn which happens to contain an Undercity entrance. She sells brewed potions there. 
  • Far to the west of Sweetgrove, a ship went on a relaxing journey by sea when suddenly it was struck by a freakish storm. Everyone aboard was killed except a handful of rough-and-tumble sorts who found themselves washed ashore on the mysterious Isle of Dread. They went their separate ways after the events on the Isle, agreeing not to discuss what happened with anyone. Afterwards, a tsunami struck the western coast. 
  • The Iron Ring returned with an army and joined forces to the Black Knight. Sweetgrove was conquered for a time, but the Watch Guard Captain and Adventuring Guild joined forces to slay the Iron Ring Commander. The ensuing hero-worship has caused Fletcher to go into hiding.
  • Eerie mists coming from the swamp and a rise in 'accidents' have led to the populace believing themselves to be cursed. A small band of guild members hired by Sethel traveled to a Tomb of an ancient Hero and were successful in appeasing his spirit so the curse would be lifted. 

I'm sure that's not everything, because there were plenty of little one-shot trips into tombs, caves, temples, and keeps with characters and players that were never seen again(for one reason or another.) Now that we're reaching the seventh month since I started this project in full-swing, I think it's time to design a second settlement. I'm thinking of a city, larger than Sweetgrove, that can only be reached by traveling west, through the mountain passes and valleys that are known to hold tribes of giants. Maybe Fletcher can be lured out of hiding to lead a group Against the Giants!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sweetgrove Information

I've finally gotten off my ass and started running my Sweetgrove BD&D game, I'd been planning for almost a year now. It helps that I've brought all my other games to a satisfying conclusion!

Since the actual sessions are generally centered around dungeon crawling expeditions, and some my players have expressed aspirations to interact further with the people of the town, I made a forum to basically handle all the stuff that goes on between sessions.

The forum can be found at: http://sweetgrove.proboards.com

I'm still using Meet Up to play with other people, but the forum that they had built into the site was too limiting for what I have in mind! This way, people can post about their individual goals, messages between characters, and include their in-character session summaries for me to read.

At the moment, I'm willing to allow them to use the forums to exchange goods and services amongst each other, but I included the stipulation that the two characters have to have met at a session of actual play.

Since I was free this week, some of the players asked for small sessions with each other, and I was able to run three of them. I'm a little exhausted, but I consider it totally worth it, because those sessions went a long way towards fleshing out the city and surrounding forest.(For example, now there's apparently an ancient undercity complete with mesoamerican sculptures, statues, and ziggurats!)

The next main session is in a little less than a week, since I'm running every other Saturday, but some of the players are trying to encourage me to use Google Hangouts to run smaller sessions in-between the bi-weekly Saturday ones. I bought a webcam, but only time will tell if I actually go through with it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Attack Bonuses

You can tell I have a lot of time on my hands today, because I'm crunching numbers! I'm debating what attack bonuses to assign to the various classes in my Basic D&D game, and I think I've come to an interesting conclusion.

The original Basic D&D gives Fighters a raise of 2 every 3 levels, Clerics a raise of 2 every 4 levels, and Magic Users a raise of 2 every 5 levels.

I'm assuming that Fighters are going to have 1 for 1 progression, which is to say that they will get +1 every level, so I worked from there.

I divided Cleric(2/4) into Fighter(2/3) and got: .75, also known as Three-Quarters, the Cleric progression from 3rd edition?!

I then divided Mage(2/5) into Fighter(2/3) and got: .6, which is shockingly close to Half, their progression in 3rd edition.

Maybe the third edition design team was smarter than a lot of people assumed, haha!

So without further ado, here's the progression for Sweetgrove Characters:


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Magical Stuff for Basic D&D

Posting this here for Dustin, but it's a good place to point other people who might care too! These are the rules for scroll writing, research, transcribing, and potion brewing that I want to use in my Basic D&D game. I might change them if they seem a little too expensive or cheap, we'll see!


Activity                                                      Time                Material Cost
Writing a Scroll                                         1 day               Costs 50 gp x level
Transcribing a Spell to Spellbook            1 day               Costs 50 gp x level
Researching a Spell(On a List Already) 2 weeks           Costs 200 gp x level
Researching a Spell(Wholly Original)    2 weeks           Costs 300 gp x level
Brewing a Potion                                      1 day/level        Costs 50 gp x level

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quotes to DM By

Frank Mentzer (Creator of 1983 Basic D&D, posting on a message board in 2010):
Well, 'judging events' is not the same as playing a role. And I'm not 'impartial'; I'm extremely biased. As the DM/authority at the gaming table I'm actively working to make sure everyone has Fun. I am utterly opposed to 'impartiality' if and when it causes a game to become Not-Fun. This is why I do not obey dice, for example. If you disagree, and think that bad die rolls that ruin a game session are unavoidable due to some sort of 'rule' or mandate for impartiality... then we'll have to simply disagree in the strongest possible terms.


Tom Moldvay (From the 1981 Basic D&D's DM Instructions section):
The players will often surprise the DM by doing the unexpected. Don't panic. When this happens, the DM should just make sure that everything is done in the order given by the outline or sequence of events being used. Minor details may be made up as needed to keep the game moving. All DMs learn how to handle both new ideas and unusual actions quickly and with imagination.
The DM should make the adventure seem as "real" to the players as possible. All should avoid getting stuck in long discussions about rules or procedures. The game should move along with humor, as well as excitement.

Monte Cook (From 3e Dungeon Master's Guide and reprinted in 3.5's DMG)
While all the players are responsible for contributing to the game, the onus must ultimately fall upon the DM to keep the game moving, maintain player interest, and keep things fun. Remember that keeping things moving is always more important than searching through rulebooks to find the exact details on some point or spending time in long debates over rules decisions.


And of course, everyone's favorite(yes, it's ACTUALLY in all caps):

Gary Gygax (From the 1978 AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide's Afterword)
IT IS THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME, NOT THE LETTER OF THE RULES, WHICH IS IMPORTANT. NEVER HOLD TO THE LETTER WRITTEN, NOR ALLOW SOME BARRACKS ROOM LAWYER TO FORCE QUOTATIONS FROM THE RULE BOOK UPON YOU, IF IT GOES AGAINST THE OBVIOUS INTENT OF THE GAME. AS YOU HEW THE LINE WITH RESPECT TO CONFORMITY TO MAJOR SYSTEMS AND UNIFORMITY OF PLAY IN GENERAL, ALSO BE CERTAIN THE GAME IS MASTERED BY YOU AND NOT BY YOUR PLAYERS. WITHIN THE BROAD PARAMETERS GIVEN IN THE ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS VOLUMES, YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER. BY ORDERING THINGS AS THEY SHOULD BE, THE GAME AS A WHOLE FIRST, YOUR CAMPAIGN NEXT, AND YOUR PARTICIPANTS THEREAFTER, YOU WILL BE PLAYING ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE. MAY YOU FIND AS MUCH PLEASURE IN SO DOING AS THE REST OF US DO!

Sadly, while I enjoy 4th edition at times, it's written in "legalese" so the book says that you can run a game where you gloss over the rules and only care about immersion, but if your group prefers to instead debate rules for an hour, that's okay too. The whole book is unfortunately written in that sort of double-speak!

Maybe I've just failed to attend a game session where players ENJOYED long, drawn-out rules discussions, but in my experience, players and DMs don't tend to consider those sessions very fruitful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Player Character Telepathy

I'm backing a kickstarter that looks awesome for a random dungeon generator poster thingy and I decided to read a little bit about the guy who made it. Apparently he's a 4e player who's had the opportunity to play original D&D with Mike Mornard a few times and posted about it. It's a great series, but one thing from his post here stood out to me:

Lesson two was this: when Mike Mornard is DMing, assume that you're speaking in character. We entered the dungeon with a lot of hirelings: we had hired a dozen bandits last session, and this session we hired half a dozen heavy footmen. At three people per rank, our expedition filled about twenty feet of 10-foot-wide corridor.


Our party was so unwieldy that the wizard joked about letting the dangers of the dungeon doing our downsizing for us. The hirelings heard him, and they were not happy. A few bad reaction rolls later, and my bandit followers abandoned us in the dungeon.

We should have foreseen this, because Mike's NPCs tended to join into our out-of-character strategy conversations. When we lost a heavy footman, and we were discussing whether it was worth it to get him resurrected, the other heavy footmen weighed in strongly on the "pro" column.

This isn't the way I'm used to playing. Our 4e characters must have instantaneous telepathy, because we routinely spend minutes deliberating about each six-second combat round. And we often reach an out-of-character group consensus before we talk in-character to any NPCs.

I've played in a couple of games where DMs told enforced the "everything's in-character" rule, and can see the advantages and disadvantages! When it's too frequent, and the player is taking back more actions and words than they're actually saying in-game, then it can be a nuisance. At the same time, I wouldn't want to shut down all the humor of the game by forcing players to never talk out of character during a session! I think I might work towards some sort of in-between here, where if you CAN do or say it in-character, then you do. If a player says "This reminds me of that movie we all saw last week." that's clearly not in-character dialogue, but if they say "Should we keep talking to these guys or just kill them?" that's in-character. What do you guys think? I figure we all agree that the instantaneous telepathy that goes on for several minutes during a 6 second(or 10 second or 1 minute) combat round isn't a good thing, because it slows down the action!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fleeing - Part 2

From D&D Holmes Basic Set(1977):

HOSTILE/FRIENDLY REACTION TABLE

If the party decides to flee they may be able to delay pursuit by discarding some of their possessions. Unintelligent monsters will stop to pick up food half the time (roll 1 – 3 on a 6-sided die) and intelligent monsters will stop for treasure half the time (roll 1 – 3). Burning oil will deter monsters (referee’s discretion).


Awesome! An actual example of written rules about "what happens when a party attempts to flee" is quite rare in RPG systems, I must admit, leaving a lot of us scrambling to patch the hole up with movement speeds and/or skill systems.

I probably wouldn't run this strictly as-is, because it's so random(50% chance after all!) but I was still very glad to see it in print. You can tell players a million times that they can "do anything," but having something like this written in a book makes it more real, and also gives people some ideas about how the game is expected to be played!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Combat!

The way I see it, there's three ways to handle combat in games.

1) All monsters exist where they do based on the game world. The players hear about Storm Giants in the mountains near their home. These Giants will be 10HD monsters whether the players encounter them at level 1 or level 15.

2) All monsters CAN be killed/defeated, but the players might have to work for it.(expend magic items, outsmart the foes, etc) Ideally, there will be more than one possible solution!

3) All monsters can be killed in a straight fight.(also known as the 4th edition)

Please chime in with your preference! It helps me a ton to know these things so I can run better games, as well as not accidentally invite someone to something he or she wouldn't enjoy. I've run all three and had fun with 'em!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On Players Running From Battles

http://strangemagic.robertsongames.com/2010/10/when-players-dont-know-to-run.html

The longer the combat takes, and the more prep work that goes into setting it up (including battlemats, miniatures, custom statblocks, etc) the more players will tend to believe they are expected to engage in combat when presented with an encounter.


I've personally encountered this one before! Trevor once told me that if he saw that I'd set up a battle grid or had the miniatures close-at-hand, then he'd be more determined to fight than normally. Also, multiple players have told me that seeing a pre-drawn battle environment was very distracting, so I got into the habit of either not drawing it beforehand or drawing it and then hiding it inside my coffee table, haha!

Don't roll dice behind the screen. Or rather, don't roll them behind the screen for numbers/results you're immediately going to give to the players. Attack rolls, damage, saving throws, morale checks - do this all on the table. If you want your players to make choices about fighting or fleeing they need to be able to base that on consistent information: the statistics and probabilities of the game and dice.


This is easily the most convincing argument I've ever read for always playing the dice as they fall. To do otherwise truly IS to deny the players the ability to make decisions based on probabilities of their dice rolls. While I generally prefer that the players make decisions that are in-character before making decisions based on the numbers, if we're playing a game that calls for dice rolls, then by removing those dice rolls from the equation, I'm just putting the players off-balance!


When the players understand all the risks and STILL choose not to back down it's much more dramatic, and while it may end in their defeat it won't feel as much like a random TPK but rather an epic battle they chose on their own.


Again, a good point. Players have the right to make these decisions for their characters, and I shouldn't try to stop them, but it's definitely important that the players KNOW when the encounter is ACTUALLY risky and not just described as risky from the perspective of the setting.(e.g. The farmer is terrified of hobgoblins, but the PCs know that they killed 50 last week.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Basic D&D Spellcasting Ideas

I gave clerics some love, so now I want to follow it up with some Wizard-love, haha!

First Idea:

Magic Users memorize spells the same as usual, but can spontaneously swap out an already memorized spell for anything in their spellbook up to once per point of Intelligence modifier. (e.g. If you have an Intelligence of 16, you have a +2 modifier so you could "freecast" 2 spells per day.)

Since intelligence represents "memory", I think this might be a great way to encourage situations where Magic Users can use a wider variety of spells in situations. The normal memorization system tends to encourage MUs to only select spells with really "wide" utility, like Invisibility/Sleep/Grease/Web/etc, so we end up seeing a lot of repetition!

Second Idea:

Magic Users memorize spells the same as usual, but can choose an amount of spells equal to their intelligence modifier to be swapped spontaneously as needed. Every time the Magic User attained a new level, he/she could change out a single spell in the Spontaneous Pool.(I totally ripped this off from a feat in some 3.5 splat book)

If the same applied to Clerics too, a Cleric with 13-15 Int(+1) could choose Cure Light Wounds as his/her spell-of-choice and function similarly to a 3.X D&D Cleric.

Any thoughts? If I demo'd one of these ideas with the AD&D game, which one would be preferable? I think Iris has a pretty solid intelligence, so both her and Esraminh could take advantage of this. I could possibly even try one for wizards and one for clerics, but the more complicated I make the systems, the harder it is to remember it all.

Yet at the same time, Wizard and Cleric are both so iconic and important to the game that giving them their own modifications would be totally reasonable!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Turning Undead

Damnit Mike Mearls, now you've got me thinking about Turn Undead, a mechanic that I usually ignore!

Okay, Turning Undead is handled differently by every edition of D&D, so let's break it down.

4th edition - It's a Channel Divinity power, once per encounter, hits all the Undead with damage and shoves them away(or maybe they ran away? 4th edition doesn't care about flavor, or maybe the DM/player is supposed to supply it.)

3rd edition - It can be used multiple times per day(based on Charisma), Undead run away or are destroyed, and will come back shortly. Roll once on a byzantine table and add level, then roll 2d6 and add charisma(I could be misremembering this because there were feats to modify it.) for number of HD affected.

OD&D/Basic D&D/AD&D 1 & 2 - It can be used unlimited times per day. Against intelligent undead, the cleric is locked down holding up his symbol and roleplaying the act of Turning. When the cleric ceases to hold the effect, the intelligent undead stop being turned(unless they were destroyed, of course.) Against unintelligent undead, they are turned for an ambiguous amount of time that might be permanent. Roll on a byzantine table, then roll 2d6 to see how many undead are affected.

FIRST QUEST AUDIO CD GAME - It can be used once per hour, and the Turn effect lasts for one hour. Roll on a byzantine table to see which undead in the encounter are affected, but all results happen to all the undead in the encounter.(Turn/Destroyed/Nothing)

I think I might favor the last one, because it's so SIMPLE. The ability to affect an entire encounter is offset by the fact that it's only useable once per hour, so you probably won't be using it on very many encounters during a standard dungeon crawl. Undead encountered during travel are likely to be made a nonentity, but that seems like a desirable result of having a cleric in the party. Undead encountered while resting might require that the cleric maintain a vigil the entire night to keep them from coming back, which could lead to some interesting RP!

I'm posting this here for discussion, however. I'm especially curious what my players who play Clerics think!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Guess at Preferred Styles

These are liberally stolen from this enormous post! These are just complete guesses, and not perfectly accurate. If anyone reads the post and thinks something else is more accurate, or just wants to further discuss these guesses, then we shall discuss in the comments!

What Derek has admitted his preferred GMing style is:

UniPuzzle
The resources are so limited that it effectively actually limits the solutions to any problems to a few things the GM's obviously already thought up and provided for (as in a video game) and is waiting for the PCs to figure out.

Examples: there's only one suspect that actually knows anything and only one way of approaching him/her that'll work or there's a puzzle door with only one or two solutions, and this suspect or puzzle door in turn points to one specific room with only one specific clue which in turn points to one specific device that can be used in only one way to take the PCs to...and on and on for the length of a whole session.

Contrary to what you might believe from hearing discussions about railroading, players do a lot of things during an RPG besides sit around and try to find a plot. A party that does a lot of inter-party dialogue and role-playing, or really enjoys combat, or is enjoying the snacks, etc., can probably handle a day of UniPuzzle without bucking, but it will probably begin to feel like a railroad if it goes on much longer than that. If the UniPuzzle also manages to prevent the players from doing the non-plot-problem solving things they like to do (talk in-character, hit monsters, etc.) then their patience will be even more limited, since, in effect, there really will be nothing to do but jump through hoops.


Personally, I think as long as the DM avoids preventing the players from talking in-character and fighting monsters that they want to fight, then you can run entire games in this style with no problem or dissatisfaction amongst your players!

What I assume Bret prefers from the games I've been in:

The Gauntlet
There's a fight. Winning automatically leads to a clue, the clue points unambiguously to a new encounter, which means you fight. If you survive, you'll automatically find another unambiguous clue, which leads ineluctably to another encounter, etc.

The only meaningful choices you have are what tactics to use in the fight, what to talk about between fights, and whether to keep playing or not. You either have no access to the outside world or the fight is concocted in such a way that nothing from the outside world could possibly help you. Again, a party that enjoys just being a party (dialogue, rolling dice, etc.) can probably tolerate this for a session before it feels like a railroad.


I'm not the best person to comment on this style, but I've heard great defenses from Trevor, Bret, Dustin and Skye about how it allows everyone at the table to be in the spotlight equally due to initiative order and players can build characters with skills that they don't personally have, such as fighting with swords, without having to perfectly replicate those with the player's own skills.(In other words, you don't have to describe your exact martial maneuvers to hit the enemy, but in some games, you might be required to lie convincingly/act charming or get penalties to a social roll!)

What I run but need to learn how to either not run or run in a way that's better:
The Raymond Chandler
This is a typical noir or Cthulhu set-up. Another example is The Big Lebowski. Lots of unanticipatable events., basically. The PCs are trying to do something, and then someone interferes pretty much out of the blue (as far as the PCs know at the time) and creates a new problem, and then while the PCs are trying to solve that problem (or the original one still) there's another and another and another until the PCs basically realize that Unexpected External Events which they have no capacity to prepare for are pretty much a feature of the landscape around here.
The suggestion to improve this is to make certain that the player's decisions are still noticeably altering the "unanticipatable events" and that's good advice, but I'd also do well to just involve a lot less of these kinda events. I would love to run games where the players are all making really well-informed decisions, because those would lead to more of the moments that I cherish when DMing, the moments where I'm completely surprised by a player's decision and have to deal with the unexpected. DMing is, at times, like watching a movie, and when the players are discussing things amongst each other, I'm the one who gets to sit on the edge of my seat with anticipation!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Brendan's 20 Rules Questions

See: Here

His questions and my answers for the Tuesday 2nd edition AD&D game!

  1. Ability scores generation method? - Choose from one of six pre-generated arrays.
  2. How are death and dying handled? - Dying at 0, Dead at -10.
  3. What about raising the dead? - Since only Clerics of certain Birds of Heaven sects can, it's incredibly difficult outside of Cygnus.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? - Create a new character and you'll be worked in as soon as possible.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group d10, lowest wins, ties go to the PCs
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? No fumbles, natural 20s are critical hits and do maximum damage.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? No, but now that I've been asked this question, I'll think about it, haha!
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes, roll a dice representing everyone in the melee to determine who your target is.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Running is important from some, but so far the party's been cautious and avoided anything that sounded like it could kill them.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes, but so far the party's been really really lucky.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Absolutely, but not as frequently as in the Pathfinder game
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Depends on the situation, but usually no. The party has the resources to account for their stuff and money to pay for numerous hirelings and the supplies to feed everyone. So far, the sailors have had no reason to mutiny due to careful hireling management by specific members of the party!
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? No training required to level up. Wizards get one new spell every level up to represent "studying on the side." A full night's sleep at a restful location(Inn/House/Ship) is required to level up, so it can happen in the middle of an adventure, as long as the party takes a break to unwind and think on their experiences.
  14. What do I get experience for? Experience is vaguely kept track of and is based on objective accomplishment, slaying dangerous monsters and acquiring valuable treasures. The whole party gets experience at the same rate.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Description, mostly, though thieves can override that a little with their skills. And of course, some have dice rolls to avoid their effects if you trigger them.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Retainers are encouraged and the party has quite a few. For the retainers, morale is handled through roleplay. NPCs and Monsters that the players fight dice for morale as the battle proceeds. Retainers would also dice for morale in battle, but so far no one has any fighting retainers.
  17. How do I identify magic items? Level 1 Wizard Spell: Identify, but NPC wizards will also do it for a thousand gold pieces.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Sometimes, but NPCs looking to sell magic items are usually untrustworthy. Be prepared to encounter cursed items advertised as real and stolen magic items whose owners want them back later. The risks can sometimes be worth the rewards, though!
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Wizards can once they're high enough level for the Enchant an Item spell. Clerics at the same level can, but it's rarer and only certain gods allow it.
  20. What about splitting the party? Totally allowed!