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.