Friday, April 29, 2016

Discussion: Do You Use Critical Failures?

Critical Successes are fairly ubquitous in RPGs, but critical failures, or botches, seem to be more optional. Not every game has them, and those that do have different degrees of it. A natural 20 is often an auto-hit plus additional damage, but a natural 1 might just be an automatic miss without anything else. In another game that same 1 may mean that not only do you miss but some additional bad thing comes to pass.

Does your game use critical failures or automisses? If not, did you add them in? If not, what about critical successes? For that matter, what game is it you're playing and how does it resolve dice rolls?

L5R doesn't have any mechanical critical successes in it, aside from the ones players call for themselves with raises.  Roll and Keep works by making a dice pool out of your trait and skill, then rolling them and adding up a number of dice equal to your trait. This gives you your total roll. It makes for a neat balance between skill value and ability value and works fairly well.

Esteren has both critical successes and failures. The dice system works by rolling a single D10 and adding your character's Way (basically an attribute) and skill rating. Higher the roll, better it is.

Star Wars by Fantasy Flight Games doesn't have Critical Successes and Failures, but it does have Triumphs and Despairs. I say these are different because you can get a Triumph without succeeding. You can also get a despair without a failure. As for how it works: you make a dice pool again based off trait and skill, but also off the difficulty for the roll and other environmental details. You then add up your successes, failures, threats, advantages, despairs, and triumphs and see what comes out of it. It works out well, better than it sounds.

What about your game?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Move Then Roll vs. Roll Then Move

One of the aspects of the new 7th Sea RPG I'm looking forward to is the rolling system. It's been under a lot of scrutiny for fans, and seems to be a polarizing element. Some people hate it, seeing it as making failure a thing of the past and overloading the GM with more to do. Other people love it, seeing it as an interesting way to take a game where failure may be optional, but that doesn't mean the hero gets everything he wants. Today, I want to talk about how the dice system works and how that is different from other games.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mandatory Moments of Small Victory

One of the rules in narratives, and one of the tricks you'll see a lot of storytellers reference, is that whenever you're stuck think of the worst possible thing that could happen, and then make it happen. The idea is that whenever your characters are starting to rest on their laurels, you spur them to action with something bad happening. Rebels escape from capture and now hanging around a small town? Have the King's bounty hunters show up in force looking for them. Gambler just lose his whole roll on a bad turn of the c ards? One of the people he owes money to shows up looking to get paid because now she needs the money, and right now. It's good advice, but when it comes to RPGs and longer narratives there's only one problem: if the characters never feel like they got a win - no matter how small - you're going to break them, or worse, you're going to break their players.

Today, I want to talk about this.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Does Your Group Have A Theme Song?

We've been chuckling around our table a few  times of late talking about theme songs for various groups. One of my friends posited that Bruno Mars's Uptown Funk was the theme song for our group during a Pirate Generation in my housemate's L5R game (3/5th of the party had Dangerous Beauty, one of the two that didn't had Benten's Blessing & Voice.)

Recently I figured that the song "Oh No You Didn't" was pretty appropriate for about 95% of player groups out there.

What about you though? Does your group have a song?

Oh, and for those who don't know the songs in question, click the videos at your own risk.





Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How Much Power Does the GM Have?

As the GM you have a lot of power. As a player, a GM can seem to have almost absolute power over a game. However, you might be surprised to realize that the GM's position is actually fairly fragile and their power quite limited. So how much power does a GM have? Today, I want to talk about just that.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fast Session Prep For Three Types of Sessions

Session prep can be a pain in the ass. Sometimes you don't have time. Other times you can't find your books. Maybe you're just wiped and exhausted from a long week or lingering illness? Well, fortunately, sometimes you can make session prep go a bit faster. Your players may notice, but as long as the session is still fun, who cares? Let's talk about that today.

Late Post

I apologize. This is a long weekend for me, and I completely forgot it was Sunday/Monday until like right now. There will be a post up later today (before 3:00pm). Sorry again for the mixup.