Friday, October 24, 2014

Links to Canon. Links to the Past

When a game has run for a long time it develops its own sort of canon. By that I mean the "official timeline" that fans would use when debating points about what is going on. In the case of a long running game though, the Canon would be what actually happened in your game as opposed to the fanciful retelling that people use when telling stories. Not that players naturally want to lie or exaggerate when telling stories, but as human beings that tendency lives within us and so deeds tend to grow in scope and scale until, at some point, the Death Lord that the party barely took down comes across like some epic 1v1 with the party Paladin with holy smitings raining down from the heavens.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Attacking Past Victories

This Friday sees my L5R game once again being played and the conclusion to the first major political event in the game - the party to announce the PCs to the Courts in the Imperial city the game is set in. The first part of the party was mostly setting the stage with the PCs getting ready, showing to where the party would be held, and the order in which the various NPCs arrived. I'm playing it up with the same drama as I would a major battle scene, because that is - in essence - exactly what this is.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Death That Is Chosen

Over the past weekend I went to see the movie Fury with some friends. It's a good movie, and I don't want to ruin anything but the summary for the movie on Rotten Tomatoes says that it's a group of soldiers, in a tank, behind enemy lines, and they're out numbered and out gunned. I feel that means it is safe to say things are dire. The kind of dire where, were it to be a Table Top Role Playing Game I would expect PC deaths - if not a TPK - to be the result at the end of the day. And that is something worth talking about.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Discussion: Favorite Mechanic From The Last Game You Played?

What is your favorite mechanic from the last game you played? Preferably a table top RPG, but if you played some other game with a mechanic you want to gush about, than go for it.

For me, the last game I played was FATE: Core. The mechanic I love the most about it is the Tagging system for Aspects.

For those that don't know, an Aspect is a word or short phrase that describes a character. Something like "The #1 Sword in all Bravosi" for a certain Water Dancer from Game of Thrones, or say "Leader of the Autobots" if we were making a sheet for Optimus Prime. Now, a player can invoke their aspect to give a bonus to themselves on a roll relevant to the aspect. However, the GM - or other players - can tag the aspect to force the character into a bad situation or certain course of action based on the aspect.

For example, say there is someone loudly proclaiming to be the greatest swordsman in all the world. The person is a drunk and a fool, but your character needs a distraction to slip past some guards unnoticed. You give a Fate Point to the player and say you are tagging his aspect "#1 Sword in All Bravosi" in regards to the drunk. The player then has their character go up and dispute the drunk's claim, a duel ensues, and you have your window.

I love this mechanic for a number of reasons. One, is that it pays the player every time a negative part of who their character is comes up, which encourages players to play into their flaws/negatives to create interesting situations. Two, is that it lets the GM and other players bring another character into a scene or the spotlight for a moment or two.

With this mechanic as a GM I've paid PCs to all be present for a big thing. As a player I've paid a PC to have them come along with the group. I've even used it to pay a PC to take charge and grab what became a crowning moment of awesome.

It's a wonderful mechanic, and I wish more games had something like it. So, what is yours?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Re-read Your Game Book From Time to Time

This was supposed to go up at 12:00am but I messed up. Whoops!

I've been GMing L5R a whole heck of a lot over the past 5-7 years. Yesterday for the first time in months I picked up my base book for 4th ed and read through some of the mechanics sections. Funny enough, I found several things that I've been doing wrong. Small things mostly, things that were changed from previous editions, but still errors. Errors that in some cases have made things harder for my players - or my NPCs - and errors that in other cases have made things easier.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Whoops...A Little Too Much

A few hours ago I finished the most recent session of my Force and Destiny game. The session ended with all 5 PCs unconscious, having just lost a fight against 8 Jedi Training droids armed with training sabers. The fight was rough to say the least. Not just from a numbers perspective, but also the skill of the droids.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Shadow of Mordor Uses An Ancient GMing Technique To Perfection

If you like to play video games of the Stealth, Action, or Stealth-Action variety than odds are you've at least heard of Shadows of Mordor. My housemate bought the game recently and was nice enough to let me try it, and I have to say that I really enjoy it. The game effectively combines two of my favorite console series (Assassin's Creed and the Batman Arkham series) to masterful effect with a Lord of the Rings skin dropped on top. However, what really has me engaged with the game isn't the gameplay - which is solid - or even the story telling - which is solid as well - but the Nemesis system that has me going out of my way to hunt down specific Uruk lieutenants and captains. Why am I doing this? Because the game is exploiting one of the oldest GM techniques I ever learned: the recurring opponent.