Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My BIG Problem With Dungeons & Dragons 5e

I try not to be negative or harp on negative things on this blog, but this has been gnawing at my brain for the past week or more and I figure writing it down would be good for me. The original plan was just to write it down and not post it, but then I came across this article from The Alexandrian, and it got me thinking that my big problem with D&D 5e may not just be a personal quirk, but a larger problem in general. Perhaps then adding my own $0.02 to the discussion will be helpful to someone looking to make fixes. More importantly though, maybe it will be found by a new GM and in explaining some of the places the system hiccups they'll see that it's not just them not getting it, but there are places where 5e prepares you well for the game and places where it does not prepare you at all.

Monday, May 25, 2020

How Strong Are The PCs? How Rare Is That Strength Level?

One of the good things I've found to keep in mind when roleplaying NPCs, and when designing my worlds - or setting my expectations for worlds - for games is the answer to the two topic questions. Just how strong are the PCs compared to your random, normal person? What does that look like as the PCs progress mechanically through the system and gain levels/xp/power - or however your system of choice does progression. Just as important as that first question though is how rare that power level actually is in the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sometimes A Helpful NPC Is Just A Helpful NPC

A conversation with some friends recently brought up this point. One friend mentioned that in a game they were in they had the inevitable betrayal from the friendly NPC, and that the GM was a little disappointed everyone saw it coming. I got unasked for kudos in this conversation because it was compared to my game where the friendly NPC betrayal came out more as a surprise, but the friend didn't quite know what the difference was. Having talked about this a few times over the years, I explained that the difference is that in my games 90% of the time or more a friendly NPC is just a friendly NPC, and that I not only make sure to keep the ratio like that, but I take pains to make sure I do.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Three Questions For An Adventure Plot Miniquest

Adventure stories are tried and true for videogames, cinema, books, comics, and - of course - RPGs. They're so tried and true, we frequently call our parceled stories for games 'adventures' and the characters - at least in fantasy games - are often considered to be 'adventurers'. So how do you catch that feel for an Adventure type scenario? You know what I'm talking about, the thing that happens in what would otherwise be the mushy middle of a story to help keep things going, and to keep people entertained with action and intrigue.

It seems to me, it boils down to answering three questions and in answering these questions you can setup your own scenarios:

Friday, May 15, 2020

Discussion: A Go To Adventure

Do you have a 'Go To' Adventure? Something in a genre or vein you could run in almost any situation or for particular game types at the drop of a hat? Something comfortable and familiar you can use to get a game going or just fill in a gap?

If so, what is it?

For me I have two, one for modern/futuristic games and one for more fantasy/historical settings.

For modern/futuristic I like doing a group of criminals/bad guys taking over a mall or shopping center. You get hostages, but also interesting public locales that give lots of options to the players while making for a tense situation and some fun action sequences.

For historical games, cultists grabbing a family works great for low level characters while being an easy one shot, or setting up a future adventure chain.

What about you? Any tricks or go to easy plot elements you keep handy just in case?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Murder Mysteries for your Game

Murder mysteries - or almost any kind of mystery - is one of the common things adventures go into when it's not just combat or saving kingdoms from possessed demons. This is also one of the places where you can get into trouble. In a book or movie, you can make sure that the right clues are found and things are strung together at the right time for maximum climactic achievement. In an RPG that's a lot harder. After all, you have 4-6 other people working on the adventure, putting clues together, and they - unlike the protagonists in a novel - know the mind of the person crafting the mystery and what they tend to do. That said, there are still things you can do. So let's go into it.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Discussion: Custom or Found Maps?

This was meant to go up on Friday, but apparently didn't so I figured I'd use it today.

Assuming you use maps for your RPGs, do you make custom maps or do you use pre-made/found maps? For book adventures and campaign settings there is often a bunch of professionally made maps for you to use, and that can be an awesome reference. Even for custom content, there is often publicly available maps from various artists put up for free for everyone to use. All you need to do then is modify it to your needs.

And then there are people who make their own maps, either with simple drawing tools on a mat or with software/tools designed to do it.

In person I like using a Chessex Battle Mat and drawing things out as needed. It is even fun sometimes to have one of the players draw the map for the area we're in while I get other things set up, and then placing things around that scenario as I can to get the fight going.

Online I was using scavenged maps, but with Dungeon Draft I find it is just as easy - if not easier - to whip something up on the quick as it is to go looking for things. The best part of that is I can put in the specific challenges I want to have while doing so which makes it all the better.

What about you? Custom, Savenged, or book adventures? Or do you have something that puts you somewhere in between like tile sets you can mix and match as you desire to get something custom made out of something made/found?