Monday, February 20, 2017

Player Run Villains

One of the things I've seen several GMs do in the past, something I've done myself in the past, and something a friend of mine is doing for their next session is hand over some of the bad guys to one or more players. The idea is the players - who are either not normally part of the game or their characters are not present for the session - run the villains to keep them involved and take some of the load off the GM's back. It's not a bad tactic, but there is one thing to watch out for: player run villains tend to be a lot more dangerous and deadly than GM run villains. Today I want to talk about why, so you have a better idea of knowing if it is the right tactic for you.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Discussion: Visual Aides

I'm curious what visual aides you use in your game. Do you go out of your way to provide visual aides? Do you find they help? If you do go for visual aides, how much and how far do you go?

Do you use battle mats for combat? If so, do your PCs have custom miniatures, generic miniatures, or are you fine with just representing them with a pretty stone or other marker?

Do you have pictures for key NPCs? Do you have pictures for special weapons? Locations? Do you reference locations that your players may or may not know when describing locations?

In general I'm fairly light on visual aides, but it's something I've been toying with. In my D&D game I use a battle mat for some combats, but the PCs don't have special minis and I tend to use starbursts for enemies - this way my players can eat what they kill which basically rewards them for being murder hobos.

I don't tend to use pictures for NPCs - unless that is how the NPC started or one just falls into my lap. I do use them for my characters when I'm a player quite frequently though.

Beyond that, I'm pretty light on visual aides. It's a new thing in my D&D game that I have maps for the world. It's a fun thing to play with though, and something I may do more with.

What about you?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weapon Choice Should Be A Character Choice, Not A Power Choice

(Signs you don't know what day of the week it is: a post for Wednesday goes up for Thursday. Sorry!)

As a gamer I feel like my choice in weapon should be more a reflection of the character I'm playing than a necessary choice made if I want to be relevant or at least not behind the curve for my concept. Obviously there are limits to this. Someone who uses a gun should have an advantage - especially at range - than someone with a sword. I'm also not looking for every weapon to be the same. Just for them to be balanced in such a way that how I equip the character says as much about them as what class or race I choose. Today I want to talk about that.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Non-Combat Encounters

After a while combat encounters get pretty boring. I mean, sure, you can spruce them up a number of ways. You can ambush the PCs, or have the PCs ambush the NPCs, or have it just be a straight up fight. It can be a fight for a cause, or just over money, or just because someone won't give right of way on a bridge. Eventually though, your sessions are just conversations and what nots until the next fight. At least, that's what my D&D game is right now. So today, let's talk about other ways to mix it up.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Random Encounter With The Main Plot

My L5R game is in a weird position right now. My players headed out into the wilds in an inadvisable move and ended up in an encounter. At first the intent was just have the encounter, perhaps give some backstory on the area. However, as I developed the encounter it became more than that. It became a major encounter, complete with the kind of lethality you can expect when you run across major encounters in the plot. This has left me in kind of a mixed spot, and today I want to talk about it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

NPCs Can't See Stat Sheets

This takes some people by surprise, but NPCs - despite being under the GM's control - are not capable of seeing stat sheets. On first meeting an NPC should have no clue as to who has what strengths in a party aside from what appearances dictate. This means that the NPC must take time to learn who the PCs are and what they do. It also means that the PCs can take measures to appear as what they are not, and in some cases someone without the mechanics to back up a role may be assumed  Today I want to talk about that, and what it can mean for your game.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Names And How To Use Them

The Shakespeare quote starts "What's in a name?" but the truth of the matter is there is an awful lot packed into a name. A name can tell a story of who you are. A name can set expectations. Your name will carry your reputation across whatever expanse your reputation is travelling across. Today I want to talk about names, and how you can use them to both enrich your world and make some places have their own particular flavor.