Monday, December 16, 2019

Bad Decisions Not Stupid Ones

A friend once told me that you get good roleplay out of bad rolls. It is a good thing to keep in mind. Characters who win and succeed all the time are boring. There is a reason John McClane and characters like him took over the action movie genre over the action stars that preceded him, and the reason was because John McClane - in a RPG sense - rolled bad from time to time.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Discussion: Physical Book or PDF?

Do you prefer your books in physical format or PDFs for reading through the rules? Does it even matter?

As I write this I have 3 books for 3 different systems in easy reach of my desk. In specific Matt Colville's Strongholds & Followers, the GM Screen and Stay on Target for Age of Rebellion, and a L5R 4th ed core book. I also have shelves and shelves stuffed full of RPG books, and cupboards and bins as well.

I have a collection to rival if not dwarf if on my computer in PDF format too. Some of that purposely bought. Others bought through charity bundles via Humble Bundle or a few other programs. Of late I've found myself liking PDF copies more and more if only for the space concerns.

But I always want at least 1 physical copy for the table, just in case.

What about you? Do you have a preference? Do you find it easier to read one kind or the other? Do you like the look of a shelf full of gaming books? Do you prefer the ability for a tiny SD Card of space to hold an entire library?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What Is At Stake?

What are the stakes of your story? What are the stakes of any given encounter? Do your players know? Do their characters? Do you?

Having a clear eye on the stakes is important. To quote Mastiff Press and their new game Lancer:

It’s important to start a mission with both a goal and
some stakes established. Not only does this give the
characters clear motivations for why they’re
embarking on a mission, but it also sets up the
possible consequences of failure and allows the GM
to push harder if that should come to pass – after all,
you knew what the stakes were!

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.