Friday, September 21, 2018

Discussion: Do you prefer Treasure Hunts or Heists?

With the talk this week being about the difference between Heists and Treasure Hunts, which do you prefer? Are you a fan of the clues, puzzles, and use of deep lore skills that star in Treasure Hunt stories, or do you prefer the games of Cat and Mouse where the roles change every little bit of a heist?

I personally prefer heists. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good treasure hunting story. I really enjoyed both National Treasure movies and Sahara. However, there is just something special, and extra, about doing a heist that really appeals to me. It might be the criminal taboo aspect. It might just be the opposition putting the stakes higher. You fail at a treasure hunt, you don't find the treasure. You fail at a heist? your arrested at best, and probably much worse.

What about you though? Do you have a preference?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Treasure Hunts vs. Heists

When it comes down to it, there are a lot of similarities between a treasure hunt and a heist. Both involve a big payoff at the end. Both involve death defying traps. Both involve puzzles, planning, and research. However, there are some big differences, and if you tell your players you're going to run a Treasure Hunt and you give them a heist, or vice versa, you can end up with a lot of disappointed people. Today I want to talk about that.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Elements of a Good Heist Story

Dragon Heist for D&D is out, and in several locations I've seen and heard people complain that the story is just not "heisty" enough. Beyond that, heists are a common thing a lot of groups want to pull off in their game, but they're tricky things. With that in mind, I want to go over some of the key elements of a good heist and how that can look in your game.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Discussion: How Do You Plan?

What does your session prep look like? How much time do you put in session to session? How much time goes into your game every day? What things do you need to have down and ready before you feel comfortable starting to run your game?

I tend to do big planning in bursts. I'll plot out an area, a plot line, or a few sessions of things I want to happen - or NPCs the PCs will meet - and then I go from there. Before a session I'll put in some indepth focus time for what I know is coming up, but most of my broad strokes planning is done well in advance of the actual session where things happen.

The broad strokes are also the big thing I need to have ready for a session or I feel out of sorts for it. I need to know where the major pieces are moving - or trying to move - and why. If I have that I can run the session, improv what I need to, and let the players take the reigns a little more. Without it, and I just kind of feel lost.

In regards to those broad strokes I more need to know the major NPCs and their plans. The environment around things I tend to not care too much about it. In general I'm not a very visual person and have a hard time imagining environment specifics. My games are better when I put the needed effort in for those visuals, but I don't need them to run the story.

What about you?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Remember: The Dice Can't Be Relied On

On Friday I almost wiped my entire low level D&D party because the high dexterity Wood Elf Paladin couldn't make a DC 10 Dexterity save to not fall off a suddenly vanishing floor. He failed the check, the following DC 12 strength save to grab hold of the ledge. The next person in line then failed a similar check to catch him, and before long it came down to the last member of the party - a halfling at that - managing to keep everyone alive by securing the last part of the 'human' chain with a rope.

On Sunday, our Star Wars game that a friend runs almost had a TPK happen because two characters who have built exclusively around one of two skills (mechanics and piloting) for 400+ XP couldn't make a check to save their lives (almost literally).

Beyond just being amusing anecdotes, both sessions serve as a solid reminder: the dice will betray you. And as a GM you need to be ready for that. Luckily, there are some safety tips involved.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Value In Reading Multiple Systems

As gamers some groups tend to fall in love with one game and that is the game they play. There are groups out there that have been playing AD&D 2nd edition for near 30 years now. They don't want to play other games, and that's perfectly fine. In other groups, they tend to play the same game but the GM - or another player - has aspirations of trying other systems out. Today I want to talk about how even if your group wants to stay with the same game, those other systems can still be of use.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Getting Back In The Groove

And we're back. I apologize again for the last week. A death in the family had me flying trans-atlantic at a moment's notice, and it ate up the whole week and change that I had. But we're back now, and so we can continue forward.

The big challenge I find myself facing after said "drop everything and go" transatlantic flight is finding where I was in my games. I never realize just how much of my GMing and my world is maintained in my head until something happens and I lose it. This most recent trip did a good job of shaking all the fantasy out of my brain as the real world needed the space, but now that I'm back I find I need to get back into the swing of things. So let's talk about that.