Friday, August 7, 2020

Where Is Your Villain Strong? Where Is Your Villain Weak?

Strengths and weaknesses are common things we talk about when making characters. All the best characters - heroes and villains alike - tend to have both in spades depending on the genre or medium of fiction. However, I've noticed when it comes to RPGs that I don't often spend a lot of time thinking about my villains strengths and weaknesses. At least, not directly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Sometimes They Find Trouble. Sometimes Trouble Finds Them

Not every problem gets wrapped up with a neat little bow before the PCs move on. Sometimes the PCs start to interact with a plot line or NPC group in an area, and then end up leaving before things wrap up but not before causing a world of trouble for said NPC. This can happen for a lot of reasons. The PCs think what they're interacting with is tied to a different plot, the PCs get bored in an area, they don't know how to follow up on a thing, or the cost of following up feels higher than the payout, or sometimes something else is just a higher priority. When that happens, one of two things can happen. The plot can return to normal - or as normal as it can get with Hurricane  'The PCs' having just torn right through a chunk of it. Alternatively, the NPCs pushing the plot can go looking for the PCs in much the same way PCs often go looking for the cause of trouble.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Mechanics Worth Stealing: Villain Strength from 7th Sea 2nd Edition

One of the things that's really cool about 7th Sea 2nd Edition is the way it handles its villains. Mechanically a villain is effectively one stat, and then has whatever abilities you want them to have. Why? Because villains are exclusively the domain of the GM, and since the rules tend to not apply to the GM - who can make and change them as they please - why bog it down with extra mechanics?

Some people may balk, but this is no different than making a custom monster in D&D or pathfinder, or building an encounter in any system. Yes, there are guidelines, but if you - as the GM - want brand new PCs to fight an epic level monster nothing is stopping you. It may not be fun for your group, but that is between you and them, not the rule system.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Discussion: How Often Do You Use Politics & Intrigue In Your Games?

How often do politics and intrigue happen in your games? I don't mean around the periphery. Any time you do someone infiltrating a kingdom, fake kings, possessed kings, etc you have some politics happening going on in the world. But how often do you have them come up center stage? How often can the PCs get involved, and play kingmaker? How often do they get embroiled in the struggles of resolving conflict and manipulating powers without the direct application of violence on that issue?

It is something that is rare in my own games - I've always felt I was bad at running them, and I'm not sure that feeling has changed. This is why I have been so fascinated with things like "need" vs "want" and the conflict of desires and dramatic poles. Because ultimately those are the things where politics comes from in a sense.

I would like to do it more, even if just hints of it here and there.

What about you? How often does it come up? How often do people dig in?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Levers of Power - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

As a disclaimer, this post will not relate anything to the book, or movie, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" as I have not consumed either in any format. I want to, but so far I have not.

As a second disclaimer, like so many of my GM thoughts, this one was inspired by the content of another creator. And this one is another of Matt Colville's "Politics" videos. If you haven't watched the video, you can find it here. However, the video is not necessary for what I want to talk about - though they are related.

Disclaimers done, let's begin.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Not All Campaigns Work - But Don't Count Them Dead Too Early

Campaigns, like any creative work - and whether you realize it or not, every campaign is a creative work - sometimes don't pan out the way we expect. Sometimes the idea doesn't carry through, or doesn't have the depth we thought it did. Sometimes the differing views of what could and should happen bring us to an impasse. Sometimes games go bad, even when everyone involved in the game has successfully worked together to make fun and interesting campaigns multiple times before.

If you think this is happening to a campaign you are running, it can suck. The thing to remember is that likely it is nobodies fault. Yes, small bits and pieces may be able to be blamed. Someone maybe didn't make a character that fits in with what the group discussed. You didn't communicate a point clearly leading to a misunderstanding. Often times though, it is just something that happens. A character goes a different way than expected, or planned for. Or there is just a place where in this game, at this time, with these people, you don't all see eye to eye on what is fun and what people want.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Making NPCs for Intrigue

Sometimes you want the game to go along a more social avenue than straight combat. Sometimes the PCs end up in a place where everyone is a chessmaster, or a wanna-be chessmaster, and you need a quick way to track them all so that when your PCs look into things you know how to go.

Like with so many things, I find having a template that distills the character down to the core things I need to have on hand works well here. And for intrigue we need to know a few things, but none so important as what it is the character is actually aiming for - in the long run - and what levers exists to try and budge or move them.