Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Helping a PC Feel Bad Ass

I'm going to start this off with a shameless plug. You want your players to feel Badass then you really want to be playing Philgamer's BADASS RPG. He's revising and revamping it for 2019/2020, but it is a game all about feeling Badass and has good insight into how to make badass moments happen as a player or GM.

That being said, let's talk about how you as the GM can help your players to feel like bad asses in your game.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Progress Clocks: Making Trades

A couple weeks ago I talked about Progress Clocks from Blades in the Dark.  Today I want to talk about what one of my favorite uses of using Progress Clocks: making trades.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Discussion: Do You Have Goal Moments In Your Games? If So, What Are They?

Are there any particular kinds of moments or narrative beats you strive for in your games? Obviously every game is different, and different games have different genres, but we all those preferred beats and types of stories we like. We all have tropes that show up again and again in our games.

In my games, I like to try and set things up so my PCs can feel like big damn heroes and like they matter. This comes across in a number of ways, but effectively I am aiming to set things up so that if they play their cards right they can have those big damn hero moments.

I want them to feel like bad asses as they jump in and save a comrade or more in a battle. I want them to have that emotional pull as they leap back into danger they just barely escaped because someone was left behind. I want them to have the NPCs look up at them in wonder and awe, the weight of their previous actions elevating them to a status of Hero.

I want them to feel like they matter.

On the low end scale, I want to capture the way Ace Combat 5 made me feel. This is one of the better videogame stories I remember playing through, but the stand out moments for me is how the game makes you feel you matter in the story. You show up to battles with ground troops bitching about how impossible the mission will be. There's too much resistance. Too much air support. Then they find out you are the one providing their air cover and suddenly the tune shifts. Defeatist becomes "We have flying cover? This job is already done!"

Now, to be clear, I'm not forcing things into this shape. The PCs don't have to engage. The story might not go this way. But if they play into it? If the dice fall right? We can have those moments. And that theme of letting my players be heroes also governs a lot of the stories I tell. They're stories where the PCs always have hope of making a difference....

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

'Complex' Plots

When it comes to Table Top RPGs I am generally an advocate for simple plots. With a simple plot you have two sides: the PCs and the opposition. The opposition by definition usually needs to be a little more pro-active (at least to start) and play the role of the villains. The PCs therefore are the Heroes, and by definition start off reactionary.

This makes plotting simple. The villain wants something so it acts. The PCs then react to that action, and thus conflict is born. The villain, generally, is in some way trying to change the status quo in some means to their favor. Starting a war they can use to claim territory, conquering a kingdom, unleashing hell beasts towards some other grand end, or - perhaps - just wanting to destroy the world.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Perspective On Threat Is A Hell Of A Thing

This past Friday the PCs in one of my D&D games had a boss encounter of sorts. They went into the nest of some abyssal, abberrations that are something of an homage from me to the Alien movies. The session went well. People had fun. And at the end of the session the PCs stood triumphant, the day saved and a terrible wrong righted...or at least, made as right as it could be considering the circumstances.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Discussion: Single Boss or Boss With Minions?

When you do boss encounters, do you like having it be 1 big bad who on their own is a challenge for the entire party? Or do you like for the boss to have their minions and lieutenants with them, making for a larger fight with multiple enemies being controlled by one boss unit?

Both have their strengths and weaknesses mechanically. Both can be exhausting mentally to track - especially as the PCs get higher and higher levels.

Also, does your preference change if you're playing or GMing?

For me in both cases I find I like boss with minions over a single monster. As a player I find that a single boss tends to make each individual player feel weak in comparison. As a GM I find that single monsters are harder to balance. To be a threat to the party they have to be able to tear through the party in some way. And since action economy is a thing, that tends to mean big attacks and abilities. The kind that with a little luck - or bad luck - can quickly kick the death spiral off for the group.

With a boss with minions the PCs get to feel stronger. They're not ganging up to womp on one person, they're fighting a whole group. This also means damage is broken up across multiple creatures. More importantly though, it lets you employ tactics and using those minions and lieutenants in fun ways to emphasize or mitigate abilities and plans.

A group can be harder to set up. You have to juggle multiple stat blocks. But I feel it is worth it in a lot of ways.

What about you?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

There's No Such Thing As A Side Quest in Table Top RPGs

I've been in several games where the GM or players have laughed about how long it takes for things to get done. The arc looks like it was six or seven sessions where the only thing the PCs were supposed to do was cross a bridge, but in actuality the PCs found a lot of things to do in between. I've also seen GMs worry about this tendency for side quests to bog down the game or slow things down too much. I have had that fear myself. After all, if the PCs go off on too many side adventures, they might forget what is really going on in the 'main' quest. Right?