Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Identifying Combat Bloat

Monday I talked about slogging through combat. In a comment one of our readers mentioned trying to streamline combat slog in a game he or she is designing. I like the idea. I also agree that about 10 minutes for a combat round is ideal, but not one that is easily reached even with experienced players. Before we can make solutions though, we need to understand the problem. So, let's break down combat and find where it slogs.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Faster Combat?

We're 90 minutes in to our 180 minute bi-monthly session. My plan, my hope, was for the PCs to be well out of the prison camp they were being brought to by 60 minutes. Instead, we're on round 3 of a combat that started at the 30 minute mark. The fight is still going at 120 minutes, and even at 180 minutes. 6 Players + some NPC help vs. a sizable force of NPCs makes for slow going. Obviously there are other factors involved too, but I also can't help but feel that combat - in this session - isn't exciting, enticing, challenging or anything. It feels like a chore. A drag. It feels like a problem that is slowing my game down from all the fun that could be going on, not being the cinematic and climactic piece it could be. So, isn't there a better way?

Friday, September 23, 2016

[Discussion] Your Character's Favorite Food?

One of the fun questions I see featured a lot when trying to add depth to a character is about their food preferences or their favorite food. The mundane activites of life often get forgotten about when playing RPGs. Food is a multi-sense experience, and not one that can be done vicariously through the imagination. I mean, there's a reason "steak dinner" was a thing in the Matrix movies.

With that in mind, have you thought about what your character's favorite food is? Is it a meal? A dessert? An entree? A specific thing from a specific place?

My 7th Sea character had a thing for a spanish pastry I believe is called a Montiguelo. Knowing this was awesome when the GM randomly had some available in a scene and I got to comment on it - then steal them all from the table.

My current L5R character I think really loves green tea mochi when she can get her hands on it. Which is never right now because the Third Day of Thunder is happening.

I, personally, don't like fish and won't eat it except in sushi (weird, I know. Best theory is it is a texture/oil thing rather than a flavor thing).

What about your characters? What food gets them excited? What won't they touch if they can at all avoid it?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Approach Vs. Power

This post was supposed to go up Wednesday, but I was sick Tuesday and forgot that meant time passed. Sorry!

My L5R game has an upcoming problem. Right now three of my players are reading this post and wondering what they did. I'm not going to play coy about this either. There is an interesting problem, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out. To ease the tension of who is to blame, it all revolves around a messy little disadvantage called Sworn Enemy and how it's mechanics tie into the problem of Approach vs. Power.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What Is The Team Comp In Your Game?

Today I want to talk a bit about team composition. A more table top friendly term might be "Party Composition" but I'm specifically talking about in combat - however mechanical your game of choice makes combat - and how your players act as a team and what that means. Mostly this is about a few things to look for to know when you can ramp up the difficulty, and when you want to tone it way down.

Friday, September 16, 2016

[Discussion] Do You Track Time?

Simple question for today. In your games, do you track the passing of time? Do you count years and age characters? Track seasons and bring appropriate  weather to the fore? Or do you leave it alone, having the adventures all take place in a sort of nebulous time where days, weeks, months, and even years can pass but no one really ages?

I track time in my games. L5R has enough politics in it that tracking years is good. I also like the idea of characters growing older and being able to look back on their past, see the next generation coming up behind them, and feel like they've made an impact on a world that is growing. However, it is a lot of work and doesn't always pay off.

What about you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gathering Feedback

If you're serious about improving as a GM, or about making your sessions better for a particular game, you need feedback. Feedback is tricky though. After all, you have your vision of what the game is, and your players each have their own. It wouldn't surprise me to find that in my L5R game with 6 players and me each person had their own unique view of what the game was, and what it was really about - aside from the obvious stuff we talked about in the beginning. Today I want to talk about ways to get the feedback you need, and it's not just about what and how, but when too.