Wednesday, October 21, 2020

How Does the BBEG Feel About Your PCs?

 How does your villain feel about the PCs? Do they even know they exist? Are they aware of who is thwarting their plans and killing their lieutenants? Are they trying to stop them? Adjust for them? Recruit them? Do they think of them at all?

If not, maybe they should.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Running Large Battles

 Most fights in RPGs are small skirmishes. The 4-6 PCs versus maybe up to 10 or so enemies. The fight can go through quickly, as the system is built around making those types of fight happen. However, sometimes you want to do a bigger fight. Sometimes you want a mass combat with armies, or you want something like the Siege of Helms Deep from the Two Towers. A prolonged battle with a massive enemy force and plenty of time for thrilling heroics from the PCs to keep the light of hope alive.

The problem is when it comes to those fights, the combat system as presented in the book isn't meant to handle that. Your choice then being to take multiple sessions doing a fight round by round such that you'll likely spend several sessions getting through just the opening moments of the fight. Or to mix things up, change up the rules, and rely on some more abstract representation to move things along. Today I have some ideas to help with doing that.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Discussion: Do you theme sessions around holidays?

 I know some people aim to have a 'spooky' session around Halloween, or a holiday session around the holidays. Other people have worlds with holidays of their own which can and do come up. And other times the game world has no real holidays that come up, or references to real holidays. None of which is wrong. The question is though, given the choice, which of the three would you prefer?

When I can do it, I like to take influence from the time of year for certain sessions. Having ghosts and a horror/mystery around Halloween, or finding a reason to have a session around a large gathering for Thanksgiving can be a lot of fun. It also lets you tap into energy already going on around the players.

Sometimes that doesn't work. And sometimes people have bad relationships with a holiday so it is better to avoid it. Still, when able, I find it adds a fun extra layer to the game.

How about you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What Do The Alignments Mean?

 One of the fastest ways to get in an argument on the internet is to talk about alignment. A lot of people have very strong opinions on the subject, and if you're playing in a game with those people - especially if they're the GM - it can be good to ask for their guidelines for how each of the alignments work. Just remember that guidelines are exactly that, they are guidelines. In fact, with that in mind, let's get into it.

As a disclaimer, for ease and breadth of use the alignment system I am going to talk about most here is the classic D&D Lawful Good -> Chaotic Evil alignment matrix. This is not only the system used by two of the largest games (D&D and Pathfinder) but also the one most found in memes. It also gives us a system to talk about alignment as a whole and what it means.

Monday, October 12, 2020

It's Ok To Be A Little Silly

 Even if you're running a serious game. Even if you're in a serious part of the game. Don't forget that it is ok to be a little silly, and that silliness might even be something that just happens. Some players - like myself - will occasionally make jokes to lighten the mood when things seem to be getting too tense or dour. It doesn't mean they're not enjoying things - if anything it means you're having the desired effect.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Don't Skip Opportunities To Show What Is Going On

 When watching a movie or otherwise enjoying a story, it is easy for the work to cut away and show what is going on with the villain. We can get a grand reveal of the villain's whole plan as they are preparing it. This can even be used to set up tension if we know the villain is laying a trap, but don't know when the trap will spring on the hero - who we want to win.

In a RPG though it is harder to do this. Sure you can do a cutscene showing what is going on with the villain, but a lot of GMs feel silly playing with themselves (phrasing!) in that way. And sometimes players don't keep up or catch on. More often, the PCs are only getting half the story - the story they are present for - which means they don't get to see the nuance to the villains plans. This also means that sometimes a plot needs to be kept simpler because without the foreknowledge of seeing the setup, the twist feels silly and off - coming out of left field to to say - or worse, as a cheap trick to screw over the players.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Races & Chases Aren't Just Speed

 Races and Chases make great action sequences in books, comics, movies, and tv-shows, but sometimes feel flat when it comes to the gaming table. Part of this is that it is hard to get the sensation of speed and danger that comes naturally with a high speed chase - or the direct competition of a race - when you're sitting around a table rolling dice. And part of it is because while RPGs have a lot to say about how you swing a sword or shoot a gun and hit someone, they have less to say about the nuances of movement.

This is forgivable for the most part. Imagine having to determine a character's unique speed, how quick they can turn, and how fast they can accelerate. Quite a lot of systems will just say "a character moves X units." Some get more complex and do it by size - small creatures move slower than medium or larger creatures. Some will derive your speed from other stats, but not much about the rest.