Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crafting A Personal Plot - Involving The Other Players

On Monday we started talking about personal plots in your game, and where to start looking for the seeds and ideas for those plots. Today I want to talk about getting your other players involved, as well as how we're going to keep that in mind while we design the adventure itself.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Crafting A Personal Plot - Initial Design

As a GM you are going to want some of your plots to resonate on a more personal level with your characters. The grand adventure, saving the city/world, is all well and good, but sometimes you want the problems from home and life to come up. Where to start when you want to do this then becomes the problem. After all, you may want to build a plot around Sarah's barbarian, but how do you do it while still engaging the other four to five people (or more!) sitting around your table?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Discussion: Your Best New Player Moment

With this week focusing on new players in our games, I thought it would be fun to have a discussion about our favorite moments with new players.

In the interest of not stealing all of my current group's stories for this game, I think my actual favorite new player moment happened years ago during my first experience with Legend of the Five Rings. This was before I even fully knew what I was playing, but I knew enough about "Samurai Culture" to not have the same culture shock.

The moment was simple enough. Myself and the other new person trying out the game were in a market and had to pick something up. Along the way the other player decided his character was hungry and asked if there was a food stand around. The GM said yes. The player, for some reason, decided he didn't want to pay and instead tried to steal the food. They had a roll, the PC failed, and the GM described the merchant seeing the player, noticing his swords, and then looking away as he took the rice ball.

The player was confused, but also curious. So he took more things. Eventually he asked what was up and the GM explained that because he was samurai the peasants would not talk back to him. In effect they were honored to let him have those things. The player did not catch the hint in the GM's voice that it was still wrong and being noticed. Why would he? Now he was a kid in a candy shop that could take whatever he wanted.

And so the theft continued....until a passing Mirumoto saw what was happening and took offense on the part of the peasants. A quick argument/discussion on the role of the samurai and a sound trouncing later and the player's comeuppance had arrived.

Now, in hindsight, I'm not sure if the GM handled this the way I would have. I think I would have warned the player more bluntly that just because a peasant wouldn't say anyting didn't mean there couldn't be severe reactions. At the other end though, the way the situation played out was a great introduction to Rokugan and that kind of society, including the extreme difference between the classes.

Also, the player totally had it coming. The Rice ball they could have gotten away with, but by the end they were taking just to take. It is the kind of thing that gets noticed.

What's your favorite new player moment/story?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Players and Big Moments

The end of my last L5R session focused heavily on the newest player in our group and a plotline she was involved in. The event itself went well, but it also pointed out some things. Some of these things I already talked about on Monday with "Socializing a New Player" but I wanted to speak more directly about new players and big moments today.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Socializing A New Player

New players are a joy and wonder to have in your game. They are a necessary thing for the hobby to grow, and can breathe a whole new life into your game. However, they also present some challenges to your game that as the GM you should be aware of. This is especially true during any set piece moments, particularly those that focus on the new person's character.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Discussion: Do you like Advantages & Disadvantages?

Many games allow players to further customize their PC by adding in advantages and disadvantages. They go by many names. The titular ones from this post are the ones I've seen most often, but I've also seen: virtues & vices, merits & flaws, perks & flaws, boons & detriments, and so forth.

Variety is very rarely seen as a poor thing, but some players don't like it. There are numerous reasons. Some don't like having to "pay" for little quirks that help, others don't like the flaw stacking that sometimes happens as people gather points for power builds. In a few cases I've heard the problem is less with the idea of a Perk and Flaw, but more the execution therein.

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you like them? Dislike them? And what game do you think does the best job of incorporating them into the game?

For execution, I think the FATE derivative games often do the best job. The reason for this is because you don't get character points at creation for most of your flaws, but rather points in session when they come up. This helps curb the tendency a lot of gamers have (and, tactically, rightly so) of doing everything they can to mitigate their characters weaknesses if not avoid it all together, and encourages players to instead embrace that weakness, let it make things worse for them, and in doing so get more power for other things.

What about you?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Benefit of Defined Strengths and Weaknesses in a Character

When making a character for an RPG it can be hard to accept that you want to have weaknesses in your character. The impulse is to make someone who is self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves. The desire is to have a character like the main character in a book. It makes sense when you think about it. Most characters are adventurers who make their living travelling on the road. It only makes sense that they'd be able to take care of themselves, right? Well, maybe not. At least, not if you want to get the most out of your RPG experience.