[Advice/Tools]

Season 7 Episode 12 - Yes or No?

But That's Not in the Rules

This morning, I had the chance to read the excellent article over at the Gnome Stew called The Real Issues With Encounter Balance. One part really stuck me was the following.


There is also a more recent trend, and one that I will attribute to the influence of d20, which is in the absence of rules, players often don’t think they can perform certain actions.

This really got me to thinking. At first, I sort of tried to dismiss the it. After all, as gamers do we not try to think outside the box? Then It struck me as very true.

When I first started playing D&D back in the 80's, the rules were not that thick or complex. There were no skills or feats. Instead there were only a few rules for surprise, combat, magic, and a few other things. Want to jump and grab a rope? There were no rules to do that, instead it was pretty much left up to the Game Master to determine that. Want to swing on chandelier on top of table and attack a few enemies, not in the rules. Even systems that had skills like Traveller had pretty bare bone rules on what you could do with those skills. It was up to the player think of something and the Game Master to come up with way to handle it.

That of course lead people to want to codify things just a little bit more. They wanted more rules on how to handle things. And sometimes they just got way to complex, yes I'm looking at you AD&D Pummel and Grappling.

As thing started to get codified more and more, I think there was a trend to think that the Game Master shouldn't make any one off rules. Without these one off ruling, people started to think if there wasn't a consistent rule in a rulebook, then it just can't be done.

That said, I do think that people are starting to swing back the other way on things. A lot of the rule lite systems have help in this matter. I think people are once again thinking that it's ok to think outside the game rule box again. Personally I hope this trend to think outside the ruleset continues.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Season 6 Episode 9 - To Skill or Not to Skill

Welcome to Season 6 Episode 9 of RPG Circus
Episode Topics

  • Can Time Travel Adventures work?
  • The New Skill vs Old Skill Paradigm

Hosts

Show Links

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Season 6 Episode 3 - Let's Accelerate Our Fate

Welcome to Season 6 Episode 3 of RPG Circus
Episode Topics

  • Making use of pre-made modules and materials
  • Fate Accelerated
  • Telling your non-gaming SO about your hobby.

Hosts

Show Links

No votes yet

Season 6 Episode 1 - We Look Around

Welcome to Season 6 Episode 1 of RPG Circus
Episode Topics

  • Pros and Cons to General Perception
  • Getting Back into the Grove after a holiday gaming hiatus

Hosts

Show Links

No votes yet

Why Do My Descriptions Suck?


I've been running the Gamma World 2ed lately. One of the things that I've been noticing is that I suck at describing things? One of the things that gets interesting in Gamma World is that you find yourself trying to describe everyday items in a way that allows the players to guess what it is without telling them out right what it is.

But why are we trying to describe anything at all? I think part of it is set the mood and allow the players (and the game master) to get into the game being played. I think it give the players something to interact with. Take the players coming up to a pole in the ground. How big is it? What is it made out of? Why does it seem to be there? All questions that when answered help describe it and then allow the player to interact with it or not.

Of course how much description is too much? And yes for the record, I think you can have too much description. I think that's maybe why I suck at giving descriptions. I want to provide information but I also do not want to bore my players to death. I know I've been in gaming sessions where the GM was giving a length descriptions of everything, at some point I think most of us drifted off.

Which leads us to another question, what do you describe? I think I've always wrestled with this question. After all an RPG is not a movie or book where they can spend minutes or pages describing the city. One always describes major places that the players go to a certain extent, but shouldn't we do at least a little on the minor places?

I guess for me, I do better at describing thing when I write, I do not seem to do well in the fly when I speak.

I guess I'm asking all of you, do you suck at descriptions? If so, why do you think that? If not, are there any tips or tricks you can give?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Trying to Restart a Stalled Group

Well, I haven't posted something in a few weeks and it's time for to start up again. This week, I would like to talk about something that is currently happening for me personally. the need to restart a stalled group.

So what do I mean by that exactly you my ask? It a group that had momentum. We were gaming on a regular basis. In our case every other Saturday. Then a few things happened. First up was life events for two of our players. Life events are events that change a persons life. It could be marriage, birth of children, divorce, new jobs, etc. In the case of one player, he got a new job and that changed his available schedule. The other player was forced to move so he could get work. This shrunk the available size of the group. It also in our case shrunk the number of people that could be counted on to play on a regular basis. In my group we have at least 3 players that depending on the needs of their job can play from time to time. Which means in my case we were left with 3 people including myself that were guaranteed to show up. The other thing that happened was the Holidays. I think for most people this is a time that RPG gaming takes a hiatus. This of course creates a stall. Sometimes it's hard to recover from such a stall. In some cases because people start planning to do other things. I know for myself, this was the case. I began to plan trips and activities because there was no gaming going on.

So now here it is almost 6 weeks of no gaming. In many ways it feels like there isn't a group. So what's a person to do but to see about trying to restart the stalled group. When one does this, one has to look at what the current batch of players are up to. Are there time constraints to worry about? Are there possible scheduling conflicts? Is there another day and time that works better? Are more people needed? Are there dangling adventures?

While restarting a group seems simple, sometimes it's not. We had a lack of players. First we attempted to see if there were days and times that would allow our current players all play at the same time. The only day and times that worked were on a Saturday evening/night. I hate to say it but being single, I'm not sure I want to commit to that. The second options is to keep the current plan of every other Saturday afternoon. Which meant I needed to find more players. Luckily for me, I was able to tap a few guys that were playing in my Thursday night games. That group had stalled as well. I'm happy that I was able to take the remains of two groups and form one group.

The second part for me to restart a stalled group has to do with looking at dangling adventures and what sort of things we can or should run with the group at hand. One thing for my current group that has come up time and time again is that not all players can make it to every game session. Take the dangling adventure, I think the poor GM has had to retconn the appearances and disappearances of several Player Characters. This should be like this. I think the GM really wants to finish his adventure, but I'm not sure myself if it should continue. I think the issue of not having all the players all the time (or even most of the time) is an issue we all face. I think this is why adventures which can be run in a 4 to 6 hour time frame work out well. The players are able to get involved, have fun, and get things resolved. You play with the players you have at hand and you don't have to worry about retconn hell. That's not to say that an adventure couldn't run into another session but it should not be the norm. This means if you are going to make adventures of epic nature. You may want to breakdown what would have been a large adventure to a series of tasks. Each task being a session adventure. Something that does not require each player to be there for each session.

So currently that's what I'm going for. No it's not pretty but that's the way things go sometimes. I wonder if you the gentle reader have ever had issues like this and what you did to solve them?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Season 5 Episode 2 - Who's Afraid of Character Death

Welcome to Season 5 Episode 2 of RPG Circus

Episode Topics
  • Not Being Afraid of Character Death
  • Getting Campaign Information Out to Players

Hosts



Show Links

No votes yet

The One Shot Game!

As gamers, one thing we hate is when we can't play. Especially, when it's not something that we have control over. For example, the my GM that is running the current Pathfinder game can not run for the next month. Granted we only play about every two weeks. Which means we will only miss two sessions. Still a month is a long time.

Of course to the rescue is going to be the one shot game. I know we have all done them from time to time. We have done them either by accident or on purpose. Yes, I said accident. I don't know how many times we planned to start a new game and only play a single adventure before we did something else.

The nice things about a one shot game, is you get to try things out. It can either be a genre or a game system. Actually, that's how I introduced people to Savage Worlds. Pinnacle Entertainment Group, makers of Savage Worlds, has large collection of One Page Adventures that are perfect one shot adventures and one of the 30's Pulp Style adventures is what I used to introduce the players to Savage Worlds. On the downside, They liked it so much that wanted to play more. Sadly, I just didn't have the material in place to continue much past two adventures. Still the players had fun and that experience in many ways set them up for the Solomon Kane Campaign that I finished with my Thursday night gaming group.

So now, with my Saturday groups GM out for at least a month, It's time to select some one-shots to fill the gap as I have volunteered myself to fill in. Again, I've selected to run Savage Worlds. The more people I expose to it, the more likely they will play it in the future. The hard part is going to be selecting some one-shot adventures. I'm not sure what Genre the players are going to want to try. I also wondering if I should try one that I know that I can create or have more material available for? If past experience is any guide, then at some point the players may want to continue their characters.

So, wish me luck and I'll let you know what happens in the future.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

You Got Your Rapier Stuck in My Fantasy

Stop me if you heard this before, a heavily armored warrior faces the foul creature with a two-handed sword. All the while the lightly armored rogue sneaks up behind the creature with his trusty rapier. This could easily be a scene in any fantasy game. So much so in fact that I’m sure most of you didn’t see what wrong with the picture. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the fact that one is armored the other isn’t. To put it simply, it’s the weapons.

Now, I’m sure at this point you are asking, what the hell is wrong with the weapons. Well by themselves nothing. Taken together, then one of them is sort of anachronistic. I can hear some of you yelling, “But it’s a fantasy world” or some other such thing. While true, that should excuse the fact that these two weapons would have not be employed during the same time even in a fantasy world.

All too often when we look at things from our modern perspective, we forget that all weapons are function of the time that they were built. Let’s take the rapier from the above example. In our time it was use during the 16th and 17th Centuries. It’s primary use was that of thrusting attacks. Even so, it was not designed to piece armor of any type. Why? because armor had fallen out of use due to the rise of early firearms which could easily pierce the thickest armor of the day. Meanwhile the two-handed sword appeared during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There is some theories that such sword were used to cut down horses rather than mean. Still such a weapon is pretty heavy compared to the rapier.

So let’s face off our warrior and our rogue. In the situation where the warrior is in armor and the where the rouge simply does not run away but stays and fights, the rogue would find his rapier useless against the armored warrior. Although he hit often, those attacks would just penetrate the armor. While the warrior would likely find it hard to hit the rogue, but if it did there would be one less rogue to worry about.

Now let’s say that neither was armored. In this case the warrior would still have a hard time hitting the rogue not to mention he would be getting tired really fast. The rogue on the other hand would be able to quickly use his rapier and remove one stupid warrior from the planet.

These of course are just the quickest examples that I could whip up. There are plenty of more examples out there. I wonder why we always choose to mix time periods like this in fantasy games? The only thing that comes to mind is “Because it looks Cool”. The other is that we always want the kitchen sink setting. We want everything to be possible in a fantasy setting. After all, it is fantasy right? Even in a fantasy setting, I think we forget that there has to be some sort of logic.

If you want everything, you need to explain why there would be such mix-match of weapons and armor. Although I’m not sure what that might be. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to hearing them. I dare say, it might be easier to pick a period stick with it. Disallowing weapons and armor that don’t fit that period.

One closing thought, people from different areas have different needs. The weapons they use should reflect that (not to mention armor). If you a GM, one should have noted what weapons and armor typical warriors of an area would use. That way you players might be able to guess just based on equipment where someone is from.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)
Syndicate content