Monday, December 9, 2019

Fake It Until They Make It

Hypothetical: you're running a game in an established IP that has ongoing books/games/movies/shows coming out. You're using the official system for the IP, so you get official stat blocks for all the cool stuff that comes out. Only there is something totally cool in the episode of the show that dropped last week and you really want it in your game. So what do you do?

Friday, December 6, 2019

Discussion: Do You Do Downtime?

A lot of games I've been in have been fairly linear and constant in how they go. I don't mean linear in terms of plot, but rather in terms of time. The PCs start in one session, and then basically every day is accounted for and gone through session to session from then on.

This keeps the game going, but it ultimately leaves little time for the PCs to pursue personal goals that don't involve the other players - unless that is what a session is dedicated to. Even then, it has to be planned to match up because travel time and complications effect everyone differently.

But I've been in a few games that have done downtime. Shadowrun games where there is X weeks between jobs - because you have to lay low or whatever. D&D games where there is time between adventures as the PCs go their own way and do their own thing. L5R games where there are entire seasons where the PCs are not together because they have to go home for the summer or winter to deal with stuff.

This week though Matt Coleville's Running the Game video was on downtime, and it got me to thinking that downtime is not something I have effectively used too much in my game. The idea of using it for solo adventures, solo stories, and other things is a really cool use. Maybe it doesn't get levels or XP, but it can still push things forward and do stuff. Maybe it requires a break between when the campaign runs for a bit. Maybe it doesn't.

It is definitely something to think on. And for that reason - among others - I am curious if you do down time in your games. If so, how do you do it?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Splitting the Party!

The common advise is to not split the party. In fact, it often goes NEVER SPLIT THE PARTY. And you know what? Normally it is pretty good advice. It could even be considered a rule. The fun thing about rules though is that if you understand them, know why they're there, and why they work, you can break them.

Today I want to talk about splitting up the party.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mechanics Worth Stealing: Hero Points

There are tons of games that use Hero Points, but in my opinion every game can benefit from them. Hero points are a great way to add a small currency to your game so that you, as the GM, can reward players for playing to the themes of the games and their characters - even when it isn't mechanically optimal - and do a number of other things. They allow the players to be that little bit more awesome when they need to be in return.

So today let's talk about hero points.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Discussion: How Do You Handle Shopping Sessions?

Shopping sessions are a fact of life in most RPGs, and depending on your group and yourself you probably either love them or hate them. Lots of people talk about shopping sessions being some of the most boring sessions in an RPG - a necessary evil as it were. Others love them, seeing it as a chance to RP downtime and get to know who characters are when everything isn't on the line, and also because they get new stuff, new items, new toys to play with.

Because of this, I've seen a lot of GMs handle shopping differently, and sometimes on a group or game by game basis.

Today I'm curious as to how you do your shopping sessions? Do you roleplay out the shop keepers, making them their own mini-social encounter as the PCs go looking for things and get to roleplay and spend money on things? Or do you just have the PCs make some rolls, spend their coin, and get their goods?

There are strengths and weaknesses to both. RPing it all out gives a chance to add more flavor to the world, depth to the setting, and to draw out more of who the PC is as a character while also establishing a character in the world. Shopkeepers from GMs who RP out encounters have a tendency to quickly become beloved characters for campaigns, partially because the GM goes for full zaniness on account of how limited the NPC is supposed to be. Just look at Pumat Sol or Victor from Critical Role, or talk to any GM you know about NPCs that were never meant to become main fixations of a game except the PCs just would not let them go.

Not RPing things out on the other hand returns the PCs to the story and the 'main meat' of the game faster. This gets things back on track for what 'everyone' is there for so to speak. It also saves you from having to make up a bunch of random shop keepers either ahead of time as prep work, or on the fly while also determining what they do and do not have in stock.

I tend to flip flop between the two depending on my mood, the player, and what is going on. Some of my players really enjoy getting those scenes so I try to indulge them. Others will even preface the request as "I don't want a full scene out of this, but I'd like to find if possible."

I am trying to stray more to RPing because as a GM I feel I could do better RPing individual NPCs more and I am trying to fix my tendency to feel like any time not on the 'main' docket for the game is wasted when the only goal is for people to have fun. But sometimes people just want to roll some dice, mark off some coins, and get their items. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

But what about you and your games?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

For all those in the U.S. have a happy Thanksgiving! We'll be back on Friday with a discussion, and then decide what is going on for the next year.

Drive safe, drink responsibly, eat voraciously, and have a great time! Grab some game stories if you can and we can swap stories on Friday!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mechanics Worth Stealing: Enemy Threat Level

Over the weekend I saw this tweet on twitter. In it, Corey Hickson talks about a mechanic he really likes from Blades in the Dark. The more I think about the mechanic, the more I find I like it as a way to do encounter design and give certain NPCs a more threatening feel not necessarily by jacking up the mechanical threat they hold, but in how they are presented and how much initiative they have.

Today let's talk about it, and how to use it in your game.