Monday, January 16, 2017

Pre-Established In Character Relationships

Pre-Established relationships between characters is something coming into play with more systems. The understanding behind it is easy enough to figure out: if the PCs know each other already it is a lot easier to get the party together. As a GM I've used this and benefited. As a player I've done it. Still, it always makes me wary. Today I want to talk about why.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Discussion: When Do You Call For Rolls?

When do you call for rolls? What guidelines do you use? This week I've broken down my own philosophy into a few points (repeated below) but what about your game? Do you do the same thing? Do you call for more rolls? Less?

For me, a GM should call for rolls when the following items are all true:


  1. The character is under some form of duress (i.e. in combat, being heckled, gun to head, very short time limit) that makes them doing the thing now important.
  2. The character has a real chance of failure (i.e. it's not a check you expect them to make 95% of the time)
  3. The success or failure of the roll has significant consequences for what is going on in the game, or the characters involved.
There is also one other rule but it is a "or" and that is:

  • The character is being directly opposed by another important (PC Level) character
So contested checks are always rolled when two PCs go at it, but otherwise the roll has to be important and the character under duress to come up. This means that the thief trying to pick the lock of a room in an empty house doesn't need to roll. If it is possible for him to succeed he will eventually because there are no consequences for failure and no real factors that could prevent him from trying until he gets it right.

At the same time, a thief trying to pick the same lock while her friends are in combat, or because a guard is walking down the hall and will find her, will have to roll because now there are other factors that are important. The limited time causes duress, the character might not be able to pick the lock. Getting caught in the place at night with lock picks in a lock is also going to be very bad.

What about you though? How does your game handle it?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

GM 101: What Rolling Means

On Monday I talked a bit on when to roll dice. Today I want to break down what a roll actually represents. Without further ado, let's get into it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

GM 101: When To Roll Dice

Over the holidays the friend of a friend regaled a group of us with a tale of GMing woe. A friend of his wanted to GM, and so they gave him the shot. It was the person's first time, and he went through and did all the prep. The players made characters. Everyone was gathered. Things looked like they'd be good. Then, one of the players said their character went down stairs and the GM told him to roll.

Confused looks crossed the table. The GM took the stance that since the player had declared an action he had to roll to see if it succeeded. And that's what I want to talk about tonight.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy 7th Birthday, Reality Refracted

Technically the birthday isn't until January 10th. That's when, way back in 2010, I started this blog on livejournal under the name  artofgaming. Some of the original posts are still there too. But...

Well, like I said, the birthday is technically the 10th, or 9th, so Monday would be the better post day for it. However, I want to get started with some new ideas I have for series on gaming - starting with a very basic break down of base mechanics we all take for granted in the hope of finding better understanding.

So, with that in mind, today we celebrate the 7th birthday of the blog. Have at. Hope everyone has found it at least somewhat educational!

If nothing else, I guess I'll leave off with the most succinct advice I've ever received about running games, or playing in them.




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Goals For The New Year

This was originally what I was going to have as the first post of 2017 but the TPK on Sunday kind of changed that. Still, it's worth noting and having the conversation. It's also worth putting goals down so I can look back at them and remember what they are. Also, having it stated publically kind of puts an extra onus onto me to fulfill them. With that said, shall we?

Monday, January 2, 2017

I Started 2017 With a TPK

I was contemplating how long it had been since I had killed a player, and then I started off 2017 with a TPK that ended my 2 year running Star Wars game. Whoops?

Long story short, after 2 years and with PCs pushing on 1200+ XP, I gave them a shot at Palpatine to end the Galactic Civil War. The PCs took it. They knew the stakes, and they knew the risk was worth it. They did well. Incredibly well if I say so. And then, tragedy struck. In a weird twist, tragedy didn't strike in the form of a bad roll or a plot twist, but rather from one of the PCs deciding that he wanted to be a Jedi and that meant bringing Palpatine to face a judge/jury.

This decision gave Palpatine a chance to recover from his wounds, and with him refreshed and the party 1/2 dead...well, it was a one way show from then on.

Still, I'm proud of my players. Their characters came a long way in the game, and they came so close to winning before it went away from them. Even so, no one balked. They all took the ride for what it was, and as a GM who has faced so many tears in those situations, that was refreshing.

Now I just need to figure out where we're going from there. How has your 2017 been so far?