Monday, July 28, 2014

GenCon - First Time Going

This summer myself and my oldest friend are making the trip to Indy to go to GenCon. We've got our badges, our hotel reservation, and just confirmed the car rental for what we're going to drive down. I'm looking forward to it - though it's scary realizing it's less than 3 weeks away from today - but I've never been before. Heck, I haven't been to a convention since I went to a small local con here when I was like 16 years old, and that is some time ago.

So, any tips? Things I should definitely make time for? Things I should definitely avoid? The living dungeon thing seemed neat, but the more I read about it the less it seems worth the price of admission or the wait. I've signed up for some lecture/seminar/panel things (mostly writing related, but go figure I'd be interested in storytelling ;)) and sadly couldn't register for any of my first choices of games but I figure that's nothing a double handful of generic tickets can't solve, or just wandering around and being like "umm, wanna game?"

I'm not sure how keen I'm going to be on meeting folks sadly. Nothing personal, I just am already going to be strained/stressed from the crowds that adding deliberately meeting internet folks might make me a bit nuts. Still, if there are fun events going on I'd hate to miss it. So any advice is welcome.

I will be taking pictures and post my thoughts/roundup after the fact though. I couldn't not do that. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Discussion: Lessons Learned The Hard Way

Life is, in a manner of speaking, all about learning lessons. Some of these lessons we learn the easy way - it is taught to us directly, gently, and in a manner we're comfortable with - and some of these lessons we learn the hard way - fire is hot, for example. This is no different when it comes to GMing and Playing in table top RPGs.

Today I'd like to hear about some of the lessons you've learned the hard way as you've gone through your various games. Was it a positive lesson? A negative lesson?

For me I figure I'll stick with a fun but basic one. I learned, the hard way, that try as you might an early and dramatic reveal of a big villain will often end with that villain dead or wiping the party.

The scenario was simple enough, an AD&D game that I ran for some friends on weekends. I had this great and original idea (super original, I can't emphasize the originality enough) that the wizard who would appear to be helping the PCs was actually one of the big bads. However, I wanted this to be an awesome reveal. One where I could point at things later on and show how the wizard had duped them. Only, I never got that far and I'm really not THAT much smarter than my friends to pull a con like that off with little prep time for real engagements.

So the first meeting with the wizard happens and sure enough the Paladin more or less starts things off with Detect Evil. Now the wizard is evil but I figure he needs a way around that (I figured the Paladin would do that, because why wouldn't you?) and gave him a charm that prevented alignment detection. I wasn't prepared for, after spending a few hours with the wizard, the party spell slinger to cast detect alignment. Baffled I said the wizard didn't really have a detectable alignment (the charm warded the spell as opposed to lying about alignment which would have been smarter.) The PC nods, gets the players together, and says he thinks the wizard is up to something because why else would a good wizard hide his alignment from the heroes he is looking to help?

One thing led to another, and I was also taught how quickly a group of PCs could dismantle a wizard when they caught him by surprise before he prepped his daily spells.

Looking back it was a good lesson to learn (be faster on your feet, don't assume you can outcon 5 people who know you, and have a plan in mind if you need/want an NPC alive after meeting the PCs) but at the time it was pretty much the end of the session for the night..and the next I had to completely re-think the whole adventure.

Good times...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Political Game

It's funny in a way how your tastes change as you grow older. When I was younger and first saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I didn't like it. It seemed too floofy and silly to be taken seriously. On a more recent watching I could see a lot of the points people made about the movie and it was a much more enjoyable situation. At the same time, while the idea of a political/court game intrigued me, but I figured they'd be impossible to really run and I knew for a fact I'd never be able to do that. Now I'm not so sure.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the nuances needed for a good political game are going to make it harder to GM than a "normal" game, but I think I've picked up on a lot of things lately that would help with the running of a game based around politics and the courts, especially in Rokugan. So, what is needed? After the break we'll dig in to just that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Be Heard! Vote in the 2014 ENnies!

Alright folks, it's that time of the year again. No, not the time when we gather to perform the Great Ghost Dance and make Shadowrun a reality because we're all masochists. No, this time is the time when we go over to the ENnies site and vote to support our favorite games and make them award winning games.

So head on over to the ENnies site (this whole line is a link) and start voting.

We'll be back Wednesday with our regular updates. Today, go and vote.

Oh, and while you're there click this link and vote for the judges too!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Escalating Conflict

My L5R game is going to be getting into some high stakes action over the next few sessions. It's not that the players have done anything wrong. In fact, the players have done quite a lot right, but as the Empire gains the tools needed to make a push and reclaim her land the Shadowland Forces have no choice but to make a push of their own in an attempt to secure their hold. Today I want to talk about how this conflict is going to escalate, and what I am hoping to get out of it. Come game time, we'll see how close to the mark I manage to get.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Perils of Mass Battle

On Saturday in an L5R game that my housemate runs - yes the one I talked about on Monday - we had a mass battle. In my own L5R game that runs this Friday, sometime in the next two to three sessions, there is going to be at least one mass battle. It's not a surprise that these battles are happening. They're  abig enough staple of the genre L5R wants to be in that the rules for mass combat are in the core system, and they're as nuanced and varied as the core combat mechanic and the dueling mechanic. Narratively mass battles are huge moments of drama and tension, but they also bring out the feeling of "epic" when we're talking about Epic Fantasy. After all, how epic can your story be if at some point you don't have two armies duking it out, right? However, with all these there are some down sides to Mass Battle, and you need to be prepared for them. Today I want to talk about that.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Character's Objectives Are Complete...Now What?

Saturday was a hell of a day for the L5R game that I am a player in. We resolved the first major story arc of the current generation we're in, which involved a Mass Battle with our force of 60 troops attacking a force of nearly 300 in the dead of winter, at night, during a snowstorm, across a river, and under the cover of cannon fire. Yes, cannon fire.