Friday, November 16, 2018

Discussion: Does Your Group Determine Party Leader?

Over the years I've noticed that while almost every game ends up with a "party leader" PC that it is not always a conscious decision. Old school groups, and some others, will tend to elect someone to act as a party leader. Either this is because the character has seniority in the group, makes sound decisions, or has some collection of qualities that makes them a good leader (i.e. a good charisma to talk to people, and a good con to not be too squishy if ambushed.)

Other groups will deny and fight the idea of having a party leader, all the while the very nature of human social interaction will often result in one PC being the person making the majority of the decisions, or making decisions that everyone then follows, even if there was no cognitive choice being made.

A few groups will just work without a real leader and the players discussing/voting on things. This seems to be how Critical Role works for example, though at the same time if you watch the current season you may note that Fjord tends to have more say than most in which way the group goes. Likely due to the fact everyone seems to like him IC - not that they dislike any particular members - and his high charisma.

How is it for your groups? Do you like the idea of having a set leader? Do you like being the leader? Or do you prefer a more democratic approach?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Six Truths

Recently I stumbled upon a retweet of Sly Flourish's proposal/outline for a Level 1-20 D&D 5e Gnoll Campaign. Considering Gnolls are one of my favorite creature types in the Monster Manual - no idea why,  just like them - and that not using Gnolls when the PCs in my first 5e game were low enough level for them to be a real threat is one of my big regrets of the game, I clicked the link. What I found was an absolutely amazing layout for an entire campaign going from level 1 to 20 for a game built around Gnolls. One I want to run. One I may run should I get the chance to.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

One on One Character Creation

A lot of games talk about making characters with the GMs. Some games specify this should be done in a group setting - all the players plus the GM - in kind of a session 0 thing. Others are less clear. One of my favorite  ways to make characters, though it takes more time, is for player creation to happen as sort of a 1 on 1 between the GM and the player. Today I want to talk about that, and some things you should look to establish when doing so.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Late Post

The post for Monday will be up Tuesday this week. Sorry for the delay, but it was unavoidable.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Discussion: Preferred Lethality Level?

When it comes to RPGs what are your preferred lethality levels? Do you want your character to be safe from random death so you can tell their story and explore who they are? Do you want a high level of lethality where combat encounters have to be approached carefully, or you risk ending the whole campaign in any given session? Or do you prefer something in between?

This is one of the few areas where I find my preferences lie on the borders as opposed to the middle. While I don't want my character kept safe from any harm, if we're doing a story game I do enjoy being able to explore who the character is and tell their story. On the other hand, I also enjoy having combat be a complex draw where - by modern parlance - the game is almost 'Dark Souls Esque' where you need to plan and execute on that plan or bad things can happen - in Shadow Run terms, full Black Trenchcoat can be fun, if you know that is what you're going into.

I find games that try to straddle the middle - having highly lethal encounters, but also wanting to tell the story and explore characters - can have problems. Not because of something in how the game is run, but because once characters start to drop dead players stop being as eager to invest in their new characters as much. Yes, some people will - and that's great - but if someone is on Character #3 you are probably getting a much simpler and straightforward PC out of them.

What about you? Where do you like your difficulty/lethality curve set at?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Should Climbing Really Be A Strength Check?

Earlier in my RPG career I remember arguing with several GMs about wanting to be able to use acrobatics, or some other dexterity/agility related stat/skill. Every system I've ever seen - that has stats for your physical capabilities - disagrees with me on this. Climbing is always strength related, and several of those GMs were kind enough to explain it to me and how moving against gravity was an act of strength, not dexterity. Recently I came to the conclusion that I half agree with those GMs. Climbing should not be dexterity, but strength is also a poor way to represent it as well. Today I want to talk about that, and see whether or not you agree with me.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Adding some Awkward Makes it Real

This past weekend we gave my father to the Ocean. It was a good time for what it was, and in the end everything went over well. However, it also had it's awkward moments. Thinking about how it played out, you have the normal expectations vs. reality bit. You expect things to go a certain way. Everything goes to plan. It's a nice, quiet moment with deep emotional resonance. The viking fires the arrow and it hits the boat perfectly with the first shot setting the whole thing ablaze.

Thing is, that isn't how reality goes, and adding some of that awkwardness can not only increase the 'realness' of how it feels but also tell you about characters.

How do the characters deal with the introduction of awkwardness? Does someone stand up and just settle the issue to get it done? Does the awkwardness linger? Is it humiliating for someone?

It doesn't even have to be a major thing, or at a big event.

Give it some thought. It could be the missing piece that takes a great scene to the next level.

We'll be back to the regular schedule this week.