Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why Proactive NPCs Are Amazing!

Dragon Age 2 wasn't the greatest game ever, but it did do something that I really thought was amazing. Namely, in Dragon Age 2, one of the NPC companions will try to initiate a romance with you. When the game released, Bioware got a lot of flack for this. People felt like they were being held hostage because - mysteriously - there was no way to not enter a romance with this character that didn't involve, at least temporarily, hurting his feelings. The players felt like they had to choose between "100% friendship with everyone" and not entering into a relationship with someone they had no interest in. Other people had issues about being hit on by a character of that gender and the sexuality implications it had, they wanted an option to opt out.

I on the other hand loved every part of it, and I think that the social fall out was something whoever made the decision to have that character be the one to try and initiate a romance wanted to see happen. It also got me thinking a lot about the NPCs in my own games. With my current L5R game, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and make my NPCs more pro-active in their interactions with the players. The results have been phenomenal. Today, I want to talk about what I did, why I did it, what it is causing, and how it is so worth the extra work.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Making Your Own Problems Is Fun

On Friday the Shadows of Esteren game I'm in took an interesting turn. Among other things, after a week of my character being unable to feed their addiction and going through withdrawl, ended the session in a jail cell. Why? Well, you tend to get arrested (or linched) when you kill someone in front of a bunch of witnesses, and that was exactly what my character did. It's a move that could ultimately cost me the character in the game, and yet, I'm pretty psyched for it. Why? I made the mess myself.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kickstarter: Tavern Tales

When it comes to fantasy role playing, most of the big names are fairly crunchy following the D&D and Pathfinder molds. While games like FATE do offer a more cinematic take, it does so through the lens of a universal game system. Tavern Tales by Dabney Bailey is looking to change that.

To steal from the Kickstarter page:

Tavern Tales is an exciting new fantasy-themed roleplaying game that follows these principles:
  • Stay simple, intuitive, and tactical
  • Emphasize customization
  • Enable well-rounded characters
  • Think cinematically, not mathematically
  • Grow with ongoing content updates
Tavern Tales is a player-driven, cinematic game that empowers you to play the way you always wished you could play. Have you ever wanted to ride a fire-breathing dragon, but you couldn't because the rules won't let you? Tavern Tales throws that out the window! You can build virtually any character imaginable. 
The folks behind the Kickstarter reached out to me about plugging the project, and it looks interesting enough I figured I'd at least spread the word. So maybe head on over and see if Tavern Tales is a game you'd be interested in helping out.
Oh, and if it does catch your fancy check out this competition on reddit. Win, and a character you make will appear in the official Tavern Tales release complete with official art. Other prizes include designing an item or object, or getting your character mentioned by name in the book.

Discussion: Do You Track XP?

How much XP does your current character have in them? If the GM wanted to bring someone new in at 75% of your XP could you tell them an amount? Is it written down somewhere, or would you have to re-work your character's build out to figure it out?

As a GM, how strong as your PCs? How much XP do they have? How much XP have you given out? Where will they be in three sessions? Five sessions? If someone new joined the game and you wanted them to be equal to the weakest PC, could you do it or would you need ot check with the PCs and rebuild characters?

Do you track XP? If so, why, and has it helped?

I started tracking XP a short while ago (with the start of my Star Wars game iirc.) Now on every new character, and in every new game, I keep track of how much XP I've given out to my PCs or earned as a player. it lets me double check my own math, and helps us catch errors when people have under or over spent on something.

At present, two of the three characters I play have fully tracked XP, and one does not because that game started before I kept track. I find myself regularly wishing I did track the XP that character had earned, because I use the totals so much in my other games.

In Esteren it helps me track how much XP I've lost buying back survival points from fighting (a lot...has to be near 40 XP at this point.) In L5R it lets me double and triple check my math. In my games I run it lets me catch when a player under or over spends, and also to plan accordingly for what I can expect my PCs to face because I know how much XP they have on them.

It works for me. How about you?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

How Much XP To Give Out

On Monday I talked about how you're doing XP in your game all wrong. Today I want to talk about how much XP you should be giving out. Unfortunately, since every game uses a different scale and system for XP, I can't just be like "seven. You should give out 7 XP every session and you'll be good" because, well, if I was getting 7 XP per session of D&D or even something like Deathwatch or Dark Heresy, I think I'd leave the game and give the GM a lot of angry glances.

With that in mind, my goal is to talk about how to come up with a plan for giving out XP, and then - hopefully - you can give out the right amount. I will, however, share the numbers I've come up with for my L5R game and my Star Wars game using FFG's system. Feel free to copy, comment, or critique as you will.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Delayed Post

Due to some technical issues today's post will be up tomorrow morning. Friday's post should be on time. Sorry about the delay!