Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday #6

There was a time when I came up with the techniques (Magician's Choice, etc.) to railroad the players on my own (I'd never heard the term or even heard/read anyone talking about it in any context at the time). Back then, I would have defended Railroading until the bitter end. It just made sense. A GM made NPCs, maps, encounters, locations, scenarios. How else could you get the PCs to these awesome set-pieces? Nowadays, I really do not like Railroading. There are two reasons for it:
1) it really obviated the need for roleplaying. if the characters are going to be at spot X No matter what they do, then there is no need to get clues or befriend NPCs.
2) Was an experience I had as a GM. I made a pretty big dungeon. It had a logic to it. Each of the rooms had a purpose. The inhabitants had a reason to work together. the players got to a new town and someone asked them to retrieve an heirloom stolen by bandits. The reward was generous and the requester surely could not complete it on their own. The players politely declined. Soon, they left the town and were on the road. A road that led to a mysterious ruin. They went the other way. A way that lead to a mysterious underground cavern. At that point, the game broke down. I explained how much work I put into it and asked what the problem was. The players had logical explanations. One player had a Cavalier whose powers relied on him being on horseback. The other had a Druid that relied on being outdoors for most of their spells. Finally, we had an archer, who was less effective in the confines of dungeon hallways. I decided at that point never to railroad my players again. It was tough, I needed to learn some new skills, but it has paid off consistently. Now I can't really accept it when a GM tries to defend the practice.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thoughtfiul Thursday #5

My very first exposure to lifepaths was the little black book Traveler. It seemed like A power-gamer's dream. The risk of dying at character creation was meaningless (and silly) unless characters are made while everyone was waiting. And even then, if all the players were playing the same game (Make the oldest player that is still awesome that doesn't die at character creation), then they wouldn't mind the wait if they happen to finish early.

My next exposure was Cyerpunk. Their lifepath system was amazing! This is when I learned to love lifepaths. It is also when I learned to hate "nothing happens." After my first game, all "nothing happens" rolls during lifepath were re-rolled. Not soon after, I started looking at ways to eliminate "Nothing happens" from all die rolls in existing games and my new designs.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday #4

Henchmen/Followers - When I was a player, I really didn't want followers. I wanted to play a cool wizard, not a army general. When other players started reaching the power level that they should have Followers, the DM at the time (my friend since middle school, Mark (aka @TheCorvi), said that they weren't sure how to role play an army of NPCs or how to balance an encounter wth powerful PCs and an army of henchmen/followers.The decision did not affect the plans I had for my character and when I got to DM, the precendence let me simplify my games. Interestingly in my AD&D 1e revival game, I have tried to encourage the players to hire Henchmen and no one has been interested. In less tactical games, henchmen, followers and protoges have been great additions to the game though.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughtful Thursdy #3

         GP for XP - This is another rule that I have nvever played with. To be honest, the first year or so I didn't play with it, because I didn't notice it. Later when it was pointed out to me by a new player I had met, it just didn't seem right to me. I didn't want to play a game that encouraged stealing and I  wasn't really equipped to handle, "I give Player B 1,000 GPs, they get 1,000 XPs right?" No other game I played had this rule, so it became an issue less and less often as I branched out to other games. I am running an AD&D 1e revival game and am using it for the first time. It does make the game less of a grind.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday #2

  Neither me or any of my friends could afford miniatures, much less could get any kind of terrain. So, we played without it (and had lots of fun). Consequently, 1" equals 10 feet or 10 yards made no sense, really. I could justify it, but it was just that for me, a rationalization. Encumbrance just magified that issue. In one case, it made sense, dungeoneers coudn't just bring everything with them. But, the amount of stuff the game allowed you to carry was absurd. Not only that, but it took a lot of play time to mange. If you were to skip encumberence, character creation usually took less than 15 minutes in Basic D&D. With Encumberance rules, I have spent 45 minutes making a 1st level character with 4 hit points and proer adventure equipment.
  The first several games I designed still had encumberance rules. Only recently have I abandoned the idea of regulating how much people can carry. And since then I have noticed that when less emphasis is put on how much you can carry, players spend less time trying to push that limit. It is still a fun rule to play with when that sort of loot-based adventuring is called for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday #1

My first experience with RPGs was hearing about a D&D group in my middle school (I was in sixth grade). John Smedley (@j_smedley) was running a D&D game. I tried to get in,  but it was full. I tried to play a freeform RPG but it broke down when the player decided they had an invulnerable umbrella.

My mom got me Basic D&D. She is so cool, she got it for me twice. The first time she got the version that didn't have dice (it had chits you could punch out). The second version had cheap plastic dice that needed crayons! I did some solo play and then went to work designing my own Sci fi RPG. My game wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.

Parts of D&D was amazing (I could play a wizard!). But vast swaths of the game made no sense to me. In fact, if you didn't play D&D in a very specific way, game balance had no meaning. All of my designs since have been shaped by these and other memorable gaming experiences. I strive to capture what was fun and avoid what was not fun.

Friday, October 04, 2013

A little explanation

I am changing how I do this blog.
Up until know I haved been intermittenlty updating it as an unoffical design journal. Unfortunatley, I had not been getting a lot of feedback, so I had been letting it fall to the wayside.
Since it is changing, I thought a little explanation is in order. I am going to be releasing it weekly on Thursdays and it will be a combination of stories from my past gaming experiences as well as observations I have made playing other games.
The goal is threefold, to open conversations about games, explain my attitudes towards gaming and maybe convince people that my designs might be worth playing.
If you have visited this blog before, I want to thank you for patience and hope that this w direction will prove more entertaining. If you are new, welcome and enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013