Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #20

By the time D&D 3rd edition had been released, I had no interest in it. I had spent a lot of money on 1st Edition and when second and third came out, I felt it was too expensive. And by that time, I had played so much of 1st edition, that I had no real interest in D&D. It made it hard to find new groups, but I was able make my own group. A friend of mine was interested though. He ran a game and I was invited to play. I was hesitant. The last time I had played D&D, it was awful. I was psyched to play Beyond the Looking Glass (I still haven’t played it by the way). Once we got to the first room, a PvP fight broke out. That was the first time I was exposed to this (and I had hoped my last).
  After our 3rd Edition Adventure had gotten underway, the DM gave each of us a secret objective. After speaking with different players, I figured out that we were all at cross purposes. I did my best to arrange a deal where we would all work together until the end. I had a Druid and my wonderful DM had decided that my wolf companion could not survive if I did not feed it. I asked how it could survive in the wild and he insisted that wolves cannot survive outside their pack. We argued a little bit and finally I conceded. The adventure was fun. We found the McGuffin, got to do some team fighting and generally had a good time. Until we got to the end. We had to PvP, and I had been scouring my spells trying to find one that would give me an edge. I happened across “Summon Swarm.” At our level, the damage done by it would be devastating. I was able to win the final fight, but it felt awful. I didn’t like betraying my friends like that. But I didn’t feel like we had a choice. When I design my games, I try and make sure that the players are all working towards a common goal and that the characters all know each other previously. This does not guarantee that PvP will not happen, but it usually gives the players opportunities to go into it with eyes open.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #19

CP2020 was the first game to expose me to in-game factions. There were all these story-related entities that all wanted the same thing. Mega-Corps, Booster gangs, Nomads, Governments, rebels, etc. It excited me the way no other game had. I had tried to do interesting faction play in D&D and Top Secret, but the foundation was not there. In D&D the rules and write-ups of possible factions (such as Duergr) forced them into a set pattern that the players could not really affect. In Top Secret, I tried making my own factions and it worked, but not well enough. I was the only one who truly understood the factions in play. But CP2020 had the solution, the factions were well known, had easily understood and competing motivations that could be manipulated by the PCs if they got their stuff together. Even today, more than 25 years later, this is the yard stick I measure game settings by (even my own).

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday #18

When I discovered that the makers of CyberPunk had made a Mech game (Mekton II), I had to check it out. Once I learned you could make a mech that was ANY shape, I never went back to BattleTech! This is another one of those watershed moments for me. Up until this point, I had always assumed that tactical systems had to be deep. And that the math of buildng them was a requirement of the system. I had let go of this idea for PCs, but somehow their equipment seemed to still need it in my mind. Especially when that equipment was a big, old honking mech that should take some work to overcome. Mekton II disabused me of these notions. I later went back and checked out the original Mekton. It was OK, but you couldn't build just any Mech. And I was sorely disaponted by Mekton Z, it seemed to be headed more in the direction of Battletech than towards a modern RPG.
Mekton II was a game where the RPG elements and the tactical elements were compatible and overlapped so well. It didn’t take long until I integrated CP2020 into the game and we had a real good time on Mars.