Season 5 Episode 15 - Let's See if the Ennies Stump Us?

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 15 of RPG Circus
Episode Topics
  • We Make Our Predictions for the Ennie Awards 2013
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GenCon Seminars
  • GMs’ JAM, SEM1345325, Saturday 11:00am-12:30pm, in Room 242 of the Convention Center
  • EVil Hat’sState of the Hat ,SEM1340101,Thursday 5PM-6PM Crowne Plaza : Hay Market B.
  • Third Eye Games - Eloy Lasanta : Getting Started in the Industry: Freelancing and Self-Publishing, SEM1345483 ,Thurs 2pm, Room Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Bllrm C
  • Third Eye Games - Eloy Lasanta : Introduction to Independent RPGs ,SEM1341367, Sat 1pm, Room Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Bllrm D


All Hail Caesar! - Weird Wars Rome Kickstarter

As an older gamer, I have come to really like the ease of the Savage Worlds system. It's not too tough to play and I've found that as game master, I hardly have to look at the rules books (which is a huge plus). One of the settings I really like the concept of is Weird Wars 2. Although to be fair, I never really played it yet. They also have Tour of Darkness, which is Weird Wars during the Vietnam Conflict (or war depending on you point of view). Now comes the lastest Weird War funded via Kickstarter : Weird Wars Rome!

After doing my part to fund this Kickstarter, I told my friend Tony about it. The first words he sent were "OOOOOHHH" (or something like it). Something about the idea of Rome Legions really hit a chord with us. We spent the sometime talking about a bunch of ideas for a game. Mind you neither of us have really seen the game (after all it is a Kickstarter). This I think is important. While I like the Wierd Wars 2 idea, I was really having a hard time trying to come up with ideas for adventures. It was a setting that I wanted to play in, I really wasn't up to running it. Part of that we think was the time frame of the war, which is sort about 6 years. For some reason both of felt tied to the history. With Rome, there many more years to deal with and we actually feel less obligated to history for some reason. The only thing I can think of is that Rome really fired our imagination.

So if the idea of Roman Legions, Gladiators, Celts, and Eyptian Pharohs has your attention, then I sugguest you back this Kickstarter. For $20, you will get a PDF of the Rulebook. For $30, you will get the PDF and a Softcover copy of the rulebook. Personally, I think that's an outstanding price. I personally pledged for a hardcover (I like hardcovers).

So Go to the Kickstarter and pledge for your copy today.

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Season 5 Episode 14 - Fear of tremulus

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 14 of RPG Circus
Episode Topics
  • tremulus Review
  • Game Balance thoughts
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Season 5 Episode 13 - Wishes, Complaints, and Other Things

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 13 of RPG Circus

Episode Topics
  • Random Encounters
  • George's Wishes/Complaints

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Season 5 Episode 12 - I have an Eerie Feeling About This.

Welcome to Season 5 Episode ? of RPG Circus

Episode Topics
  • Our Favorite Monsters : Ghosts
  • Introducing New Players to Your Table
  • How Systems and Settings Influence Each Other

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Season 5 Episode 11 - Are You Managing Your Campaign or Is It Managing You?

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 11 of RPG Circus

Episode Topics
  • Interview with Phil and Walt of Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign
  • Managing Fear of Players

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Season 5 Episode 10 - May the Greater Force be with Your Sandbox!

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 10 of RPG Circus

Episode Topics
  • Greater Forces in Your Sandbox Campaign
  • Diceless Gamemastering
  • Favorite Monsters: Golems

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GM Eye for the Orc Guy

About four weeks ago on the RPG Circus podcast, we kicked off our “favorite monsters” series with musings on orcs. Love them or hate them (or invite them over because mom says you have to), it doesn’t matter; orcs show up in game after game, system after system. I have no problem with that. However, I’d like to take this opportunity to share ideas about how to spruce up those sometimes cliché orc opponents for your next campaign.

Option 1: Make the orcs wicked smart. And by wicked smart, I mean tactically, socially, and strategically. We are so used to orcs being the typical grunts of the world that players believe they can easily outwit or outfight most orc foes. There’s a bit of metagaming going on there, mostly because we all know what orcs are and about how tough they are to fight or fool. But if the GM ups some stats and runs these orcs like badass super commandos, well, the story may change.

Option 2: Give the orcs tuxedos and fancy shoes. This option is a joke…mostly.

Option 3: Deeply consider orc allegiances. This pointer is obviously scenario-driven, but in many situations, the GM might want to specify exactly how and why these orcs are doing what they are doing. Is it for money? If so, can the players buy them off? When two or more orcs go down, will the rest run off when they realize that life is more valuable than gold? Are there other orc factions that can complicate the situation? In short, don’t just plop them into the story because they are “easy” for the campaign; instead, give these orcs reason to participate. Once that reason becomes clear to the players, the orcs ought to have more depth and possibility to them.

Option 4: I know some of you say this in secret, but go on, be loud and proud—more orc women. I’m just guessing, but I would bet that most orc groups as seen in today’s fantasy games are full of angry male orcs of little intellect. Why not throw in some ladies? They may change the dynamic of the situation. Given whatever orc social structure you have in mind, maybe orc ladies are master magicians or dead-eye archers. Maybe they are stronger than the male orcs because they spend less time drinking orc brew and eating fatty humans. I dunno, but I do know that the cliché orc gang is hardly ever female-inclusive. Well, rock the boat, please.

Option 5: Better technology. Many systems set up orcs to be primitive. Their magic is less refined and their arrows are poorly fletched. Maybe, in your next orc encounter, your players should come across a band of orcs that created or stumbled upon a more advanced system of weaponry or a piece of powerful “alien” tech. I once ran a post-apocalyptic adventure in which the players were beset by orcs with machine guns and power armor. The orcs themselves were still savage and straightforward, but their upgraded technology made for some harrowing encounters.

Final option: Don’t tell your players that these beings are orcs! In fact, never supply the name of your monsters. As soon as you supply that name, be it zombie, orc, troll, or basilisk, metagaming and overuse kick in. This goes for any “popular” beast. Instead, describe these creatures regarding their looks, gait, speech, demeanor, and perhaps odor. Leave the rest, including the stats that some players know by heart, to the imagination.

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Character Death and Power Levels

Yesterday on Facebook, Silver Gryphon-Games posted a picture with the caption of "Player Character Deaths : Don't cry just roll-up another one ...at level one". While certainly funny at certain level, It sort of got me to thinking about how times have changed in gaming. I know what you guys are thinking right now, not another in the old days story. But I beg you to bear with me.

So, turn back the clocks to the late 70's and early 80's. You are playing D&D with some friends and your level 5 Magic-user dies. The party has no way to bring you back, so you have to sit down and create a new character. So you break out your dice and start creating a level 1 character of some sort.

But why Level 1? After all that doesn't seem quite fair does it? I think there were of course several answer to this question. First and foremost, there were no real guidelines for this. The rules of course only talked about first level character creation, so that seemed like where you started. The examples that one could find in those pre-Internet days seemed to show that you started back at level 1. I think the biggest thing is that the game was not designed to be fair. You read that right, not designed to be fair.

Let me explain. When you look at the earliest rules, it really seems like players were suppose to maybe reach somewhere around 10th or 12th level. Hell, in AD&D the Druid class's max level was I think 14th (someone can correct me, I don't have my book handy). Honestly the game was suppose to be dangerous and player were suppose to die. A PC that reached 9th was suppose to be something special. At that level most classes had some sort of castle or other structure building option.

So what does that have to do with rolling characters up at first level? Well if player death was suppose to be common, what do you think the median level of a party might be? If you answered low-level, I suspect that would be the correct answer. Even if the party wasn't low-level, the math would usually advance the new character up fairly quickly. After all provided the character survived and got their share of the XP, While they would be behind the other characters, eventually they would be within one or two levels of the other party members. Of course that assumes that their characters didn't die.

Of course, we don't really do this sort of thing anymore. Mostly because rolling up characters get a little boring after a while. And of course who doesn't want to play the more powerful characters? I think we all want to do that. Of course I've found that the higher level characters can be just as boring after a while. Like all things, it really depends on the adventures your group is trying to run.

Well that's it for this week's trip down memory lane. I thank you for staying with me. Catch most of you on the next Podcast.

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