Friday, February 21, 2020

Discussion: Favorite Thing to Explore

When it comes to Exploration in games do you have a favorite setting or thing to explore? Do you like delving dungeons and exploring the bases and towers of wizards both ancient or current? Do you prefer to explore the wild wilderness, in something that could be done as a hex crawl or otherwise involves being on the frontier? Do you like space age exploration like in Star Trek, visiting strange planets and stellar phenomenon?

I don't think many games I've been in have had much in the way of exploration aside from dungeons. But I've been tempted on numerous occasions to do a more space type exploration. The type of freedom it gives is very nice, and you can literally do a bit of everything as you please. In a Star Wars game I'm in, the GM does write ups for systems with all sorts of details that may not be super relevant to the game but are fun to have and can be pulled in by the players. It gives a sense of what the system is dealing with, and I always appreciate that.

What about you?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Exploration Mechanics Part 2

On Monday I talked a bit about exploration mechanics and how surprised I always am with games not having more for exploration considering how important it is to the game. I laid out three goals I have for exploration mechanics. Those goals are:


  1. Everyone gets a thing to do, even if it is just them choosing to assist another player with their area of expertise
  2. Mechanics need to be involved in someway. This is the Characters exploring, not the players.
  3. Mechanics can't be so involved as to bog things down.
With those in mind, 5e gives a number of options. Some of these options translate to other games cleanly. Some do not.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Exploration Mechanics

Exploration is an aspect of a lot of games. It is one of D&D 5e's "three pillars" of play. It is a big part of all the D&D-esque games. In fact, I'm having a hard time thinking of a game - except for some Powered by the Apocalypse games - where Exploration isn't a major part of the game. If you're ever delving into some weird place full of unknown things - be it an office building, a literal dungeon, or the great frontier, there is some exploration.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Discussion: Your Favorite Villain

Who is your favorite villain, or villain type? Do you even have one? Does it differ from your favorite kind to use as opposed to your favorite kind to see?

When I'm GMing I don't think I have a normal or favorite type of villain that I employ. I try to hit the full mix in order to keep things moving. However, as a consumer of fiction I really like villains that I would categorize as being "Lawful Evil."

In essence, I like villains with a code they live by. A villain that has rules. That could be a hero if only the world, or problem, were a little different. The kind that are prone to making Heel/Face turns as the story goes on and you see how bad the 'bad guys' are actually going, but who sometimes don't because even if things are that bad - and they don't agree with it - they are bound by their code and their way to that side of things.

I like the drama and tension those villains bring to the table. The emotional stakes as the hero sees part of themselves in the villain, and the tragedy of how things could be so different if just one or two minor facts were set a different way.

On the other hand, while there are some individuals who do it well I find most takes on a 'Joker' esque villain who just does bad things because they're bad just kind of bores me. Jamie Foxx's character in Baby Driver is a good example of this. It's just violence, murder, and cruelty as a way of life for the sake of it, and I don't like them  because villains like that shouldn't last in the worlds we're shown. They're too dangerous to everyone for it to be only the heroes trying to deal with them.

How about you?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Villains As Proactive Heroes

There is old advice for writing that says "A villain is the hero of their own story." I used to think this was one of those 'always true' things, but my thoughts on it have grown nuance. At the surface level essentially it just means that from the villain's perspective they are the good guy trying to do a thing, and that is fair. However, there is room for villains to be good villains that break that.

As with everything there is variance, there are exceptions, and there is wiggle room to be found - especially when it comes to how you define terms. Which means, to go forward I need to define a term and for the purpose of this the term in question is "Hero."

Monday, February 10, 2020

Villain Points

I am a huge fan of Hero Points in almost every system that uses them. I love having tokens that the players can have and spend to help them be more awesome. I love how the economy of them allows me to flat out bribe the players for playing to the theme and genre of a game by rewarding heroic actions. I also love that they let me 'pay' the PCs when I do fiat against them specifically to make things more interesting.

One thing I really like about Hero Points though, is that if the 'heroes' get points to help them be more heroic why can't I give the Villains 'Villain Points' to help them be more villainous?

Friday, February 7, 2020

Keep Your World Scale In Mind

One of the things I don't like about Dungeons and Dragons - any edition really - is that it is really easy to lose the sense of scale for the world. Your PCs are a group of 4-6 people who go around, crawl into dungeons, and come out bristling with magic items and weighed down with money. That's fine. You can have an idea of wealth.

What you lose though is just how ridiculously strong they are compared to normal people.