Thursday, August 17, 2017

Gen Con Day 1 Recap

Today felt like a really quick day, but I also feel like I accomplished like 90% of what I really wanted to do this convention. Namely, I managed to play some 7th Sea which was fun, and I acquired a copy of the L5R boxed set.

The boxed set was most of the day. My friend and I weren't lucky enough to be among the 700 people able to get into the tournament, so we grabbed some generic tickets and set up camp around 9am for a waiting list. Even with that we were about 25th in line. Three and a half long hours of waiting later and the waiting list started to move. Then it stopped with us still about 10 people back. The judges started talking to each other. The number twelve was said. We counted down.

Fortunately the line was self policing and honorable. We were split in two lines but the people technically ahead of us in the other line flat out volunteered that myself, my buddy, and the two people behind us were ahead of them before. That rounded out the count to 12. We were in...kinda.

They didn't have enough seats in the tournament for us to play, which sucked. But they were willing to give us the game and the promo deck box in exchange for the event cost. Considering rumor is FFG sold out of the boxed sets inside of 90 minutes of the Exhibitor Hall opening and it's a sweet deal. So we took it. I'll have to check tomorrow if FFG has more of the boxed sets available.

All in all, I'm happy with how it worked out and the game is beautiful. I have some unboxing pictures (just quick snaps with my phone) I'll put up later when I have more time.

The 7th Sea adventure was standard fair by comparison. We showed up early, explained we had generics, and waited. Turns out they had some empty seats and so on the advice of one of the GMs we took seats for "Release the Kraken".

The adventure here was a blast. Hats off to the GM - Brian - for running an amazing adventure and handling all the hurdles players were throwing at him with Spider-man like grace and ease. The guy handled social knacks and seduction rolls mid-ship to ship combat, for just a sampler of what we put him through, and it ended up being a fun, funny, and thrilling bit of high seas adventure.

Between the two events ended up clearing the day. Normally I stick around for the night scene more, but I've been fighting a cough and I'm hoping to ditch it for more fun tomorrow/Saturday.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Getting The Money Home

There is a reason stories often end when they do. You know the moment: the dragon is dead, the evil army defeated, and the heroes are standing in front of a giant pile of treasure that's bigger than any could hope to spend in ten life times. It's a happy ending. Other movies will gloss over what happens next. They'll just cut to months later, a year later, perhaps longer. You get to see how the riches have improved the plucky protagonist's life. But why skip it? After all, getting the treasure home can be an adventure in and of itself.

Money Has Weight
People often don't think about it but money has weight. This is more true the more 'historical' your setting is. How much weight? Well, certain denominations of cash have specific amounts to the pound and so drug cartels and other organizations that do a lot of cash exchanges will deal with money by weight. In the future credit sticks solve this for most people. But in the past where currency wasn't paper but coin?

In D&D 5e the system, as a blanket rule, states that a coin is .02 pounds of weight. That means 50 coins of any type is a pound. 500 gold coins is 10 pounds. 5000 is 100 pounds. 500 gold worth of value could be as little as one pound of platinum or 10 pounds of gold. Or it could be 100 pounds of silver. Or it could be 1000 pounds of copper.

This can get so ridiculous that if you're even paying attention to weight a little it's not unusual for D&D groups to just dump all the copper, and sometimes silver, just to make transporting easier.

How Much Can You Actually Carry?
A lot of times weight management and encumbrance gets thrown away because it's not fun. Sometimes this is done because - to be honest - most encumbrance systems aren't realistic at all and don't account for the distribution of weight making things feel lighter than perhaps they are. Still, even with that, how much can a person carry? How much can a man or woman with a maxed out strength carry?

What does that even look like? I mean, cartoons are fine with a strong man loaded down like a triple stacked wagon. But is that what you want in your game? And where does all that stuff go when the party gets into a fight?

A Self Made Escort Quest
I wouldn't recommend doing this all the time. But it can make for a fun "between" quest. How does the party get their hundreds if not thousands of pounds of loot back to their home base? The traditional way would be to load it into a wagon and bring it back along the roads. And yet, well, adventurers cut their teeth fighting the bandits that rob those caravans.

In effect, your party becomes a wandering raid encounter for bandits and other things on the road home. They get attacked, they defend their caravan. Maybe they lose some of their money. Maybe they don't. The point is, they get to see things from a different perspective.

Of course, if your party is prepared for this, let them have their easy trip. But if you need some filler, why not have the trip home be an adventure of its own?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Next Week On Hiatus

As I said on Wednesday, next week is GenCon. If nothing else that means posts here become even more irregular. While I hope to have an update up on Monday, and maybe some final thoughts going into the event for Wednesday, I make no guarantees.

After that, there will probably not be the normal Friday post - though historically I do manage to get some stuff up during the event - and the following Monday will be suspect at best. We tend to leave the Con a little after noon on Sunday, and get home between 4 am and 9 am on Monday morning....then it's time to sleep.

So here's hoping for a fun GenCon, and just another good time in Indy!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

1 Week 'Til GenCon

It's 1 week until GenCon. The show is sold out too. I'm not even sure what that means, aside from it's probably going to be croweded. There are literally thousands of games being run and everything from table top RPGs, to LARPs, to board games, to card games, to video games is going to be on display. So what are you looking forward to? Do you even go to cons?

GenCon is always kind of weird for me because as a rule I don't like, and don't do well in, large crowds of people. However, at GenCon I usually manage just fine. The crowds aren't as much a bother, and I think it's because while the rooms are full to bursting, the con staff have everything setup so you still always have space.

We'll see if that holds true this year for me as well, but I have no reason to believe it won't. As for what I'm looking forward to, I have no clue. Finding things I want to pin myself down for is hard this year. It might be the year I take the test and see just what GenCon has to offer without ever sitting at a table. I expect it's a lot.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Short Sessions Are Ok...But Don't Make It A Habit

I feel like over the past couple weeks several games I've been in have had short sessions. This isn't a problem. I'm going to say this game: this is NOT a problem. However, I'm not so sure the GMs themselves know that - at least judging by the number of times they've apologized for the short sessions.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Discussion: Your Favorite Mechanic

RPGs have a lot of mechanics to help power their games. However, not all these mechanics work out as well as the designers intended. Some fail to do their job, or do their job but are more burdensome than helpful. Others are great fun, but maybe don't do what they were intended for? Some though, do the job and t hey do it well.

So what is your favorite?

For me, I think I have two.

The first is Raises. Raises is basically the system allowing the player to call their own critical hits. If you're good enough to do a task well, you can call raises and get more impact out of the GM. It's the difference between needing to hope for a mega good roll that is a low percentage chance of happening, and being able to make those moments happen when you want. Sure, it robs the joy of a nat 20 at the right moment, but it also lets you feel your character's superior skill when you can do things better than other people not because you luck out on the die roll, but because you can call more raises than them. You can find this mechanic in Legend of Five Rings and in the original 7th Sea.

The second is actually another John Wick game. It's the "team bond" mechanic found in The Aegis Project. The mechanic is simple: for every mission a PC has survived with the group they putt 1d6 into a communal pool (up to 5 max) at the beginning of the session. If the PC wants to keep some for themself that's fine too, but it's holding back from the group. Then, during play, any Player can pull one or more dice from that communal pool at any time (without group permission) and spend it to help with an action. At the end of the session, every unspent die is becomes an alotment of XP that gets evenly spread across the whole group. Remainder dice are lost.

I love this second mechanic because it very aptly represents a group cohesion in a stress situation. It makes the whole group feel it if someone dies, because suddenly Tom isn't dropping 5 dice into the pool anymore. He's dropping 0. Only, Tom is still spending from the pool, and Tom's new character is still getting a fair cut of the bonus XP even though he didn't put anything in to it. Which means you also get the feel of the FNG and having to accomodate getting this new person not only into the squad, but meshing with the other members.

It's a wonderful mechanic, and one I try to use anytime I'm doing a war game where the idea is the story of a squad.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sub-Optimal Builds and You

I've been playing a lot of D&D lately. Or should I say, I've been playing a lot of D&D for me lately. After about a 15 year dry spell of no D&D I find myself running a bi-monthly campaign and playing in a separate one with random one shots to boot. I've also done Adventurer's League stuff at GenCon which is much like Pathfinder Society, just for D&D 5e.