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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Big Political Event

My L5R game has ventured into the realm of politics as the PCs, now big damn heroes for standing the line against a large shadowlands army, are being used to recruit more troops into the Imperial Legion. Now, while going to the Legion is an honor and every clan is happy to sere, the numbers the Legion are looking for are where the problem comes in. It's one thing, after all, to give sixty men to help bolster the legion and do one's part, it is another thing entirely to hand over several hundred - or several thousand - men and weaken your own armies for the coming summer.

However, while I've had in my head that this session would be the first big "political battle", I'm not sure how well that is conveyed and it has me thinking on the differences between politics and combat when it comes to set piece events.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Boost and Setback Dice

If you remember back to when Fantasy Flight Games was just talking about their new Star Wars system, one of the things that generated a lot of discussion was their dice system. For those who don't know what I mean, FFG uses custom dice for their Star Wars line of games. The dice all generate some combination of six potential results, with the results being: Success, Advantage, Triumph, Failure, Threat, Despair. However, the more I play the Star Wars system the more an aspect of it grows on me. That aspect is the boost/setback dice, and that's what I want to talk about.