Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Raising An Army

Unless you're a necromancer, or something like the Geth in Mass Effect, there is more to raising an army than just building troops. And if you're running a game where things are getting political, it can be good to know what types of armies may be in play. After all, politics can turn to war very quickly. So today I want to talk about a few considerations to keep in mind when looking to building armies for your game.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Preparing To Improv

Some sessions you know what is going to happen next. The players left off about to start the climactic battle, or you left with them entering a city for plot items and quest progress. Maybe you're just starting something new. The point is, you have a good idea of at least what the majority of the session is going to be. Sometimes though, you don't have a clue what is going to happen. When walking into those sessions it can be near impossible to prepare properly. After all, the game could go anywhere. Instead, you need to prepare to improv.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Discussion: Intrigue, Combat, or Adventure?

D&D 5e is built around three pillars: Combat, Exploration, and Social Interaction. I like this approach, but I think for running a game it is better to think of it as Combat, Intrigue, or Adventure. The difference being that both Intrigue and Adventure have more of an active and interactive sense to them than just "talking" or "looking around."

The question though is, of the three which pillar do you find you like the most?

Combat is something that I like a lot. Done well it can be a lot of fun. But if I had to choose I'd probably say adventure. I like how fast adventure can go, how action packed it can be, and if a system can do adventure well - like 7th Sea 2nd Ed - the game can just be a real hoot.

Intrigue is something I love, but I'm not super great at it. I wish I was. A well done intrigue is amazing, but no intrigue tends to be better than bad intrigue so it loses points.

What about you though? Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Scale and Scope

A game I've been interested in for a long time dropped yesterday. The game is called A Plague Tale: Innocence Lost. I'm only a little way through, but you play a teenaged girl named Amicia who is traveling with her brother in France during the Bubonic Plague. One of the things I like about the game is the sense of scale and scope the game delivers on very powerfully.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Plotting vs. Pantsing as a GM

Writers tend to come in one of three types: Plotters, Pantsers, and Hybrids. The terms basically are how they approach their writing. Plotters plot. They have outlines, character notes, details, and all that stuff before they write a single word of their story. Pantsers go 'by the seat of their pants' and improv a whole lot. They make things up as they go along, and let the story sort of naturally create and resolve itself. Hybrids are somewhere in the middle (where most people really are.)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Discussion - Point Buy or RNG for Stats?

When it comes to stats many RPGs seem to go with either a point buy system - you get a certain number of points and use those to buy the stats you want - or an RNG system - you use a RNG to determine your stats. The RNG is usually dice, but not always.

The question I have for you today is which do you prefer?

I find it depends for me. I like the character variance you get with RNG where some people get great stats, some people get mediocre stats, and some people get poor stats. It has a way of making characters feel different, and differently abled, even across their professions/classes that can make for some interesting dynamics. On the down side though, it can make characters with god rolls outshine others, and it really sucks if someone gets really crap stats across the board - though you can always correct for that with minimum limits.

Point buy on the other hand can be very useful if done right. Give too many points, and you end up with characters who are good at everything. Give the right amount of points though, and choices have to be made. Where is the character strong? Where are they weak? Or do they have smaller strengths in exchange for less weaknesses? I recently had a GM use the point buy system for D&D 5e for the first time, and I have to say I like the mix of freedom it gave me, held back by tradeoffs. The overall lower power level (5e caps stats at 15 not counting racial bonuses) is also making the game play differently than the rolled stat games I've done which is adding tension and bringing tactics more into play.

What about you? Or do you prefer another system all together? L5R tends to have everyone start with uniform stats, and then your family and class bump up specific stats to show where you've trained. Shadows of Esteren gave you specific stats, but also made it so low stats could be just as good as high stats (and high stats just as dangerous to have as low stats).

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Other Systems Have A Lot To Teach

If you have the time and means, it can be very helpful to read other systems than what you are running. Even if your group is a dedicated one system group - as many groups can be - there is still value in reading other systems. Today I want to talk about a couple benefits you can find, and why it may be worth your time.