Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Discussion: Holiday Weekend Gaming

I apologize for the lateness of this post. It was supposed to be written and go up for midnight, but for some reason that didn't happen.

This week there will be no post on Friday or on Monday the 6th. The reason for that is because, while I will be running my normal L5R game I am otherwise taking the weekend off to go on a small trip for the 4th of July and see the Atlantic Ocean. For me this means less gaming than I would normally have, but that's ok. Gen Con is coming up, and that will be more gaming which is just fine by me too.

However, for some people holiday weekends means getting together with friends you haven't seen in a while, and believe it or not, barbecues make great gaming sessions too - provided that the people at your barbecue are gamers. For those in the US the 4th of July is a time for said barbecues (and explosives) which I know gets some groups together. So, do any of you have special plans for your 4th of July weekend gaming?

Even if you're not doing anything for the 4th, any plans for holiday gaming this summer? What games are you looking to play? Any particular characters you want to bring up?

Sound off in the comments with your plans, and we'll see you with new stuff next Wednesday!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Three Rule Zeroes...

When people talk about games and unwritten rules, frequently you'll have things come up and be referenced as "rule 0." In other words, it is a rule that comes before any of the rules in the book and thus takes precedent over them. Sometimes this is just a world advice or philosophical point for the game. Othertimes it can be something more. Strangely enough, from various conversations with people in my group I've come to realize that depending on who you ask what rule 0 is changes. Today I thought I'd share three of them, what they mean, and ask what other rule zeroes exist at your table.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Discussion: How do you determine Party Leader?

After two sessions talking about heavy and weighty gaming material, I thought it might be good to lighten things up a bit. Every group has a different way of determining party leader. Some groups don't even recognize that they do in fact have a party leader - even if there is a player providing guidance and leadership to the group's direction every session. When it is done officially how do you do it?

Do you talk about it Out Of Character around the table, comparing characters and deciding who would be the best to take the lead? Do you let it fall out naturally? Is there a player who regularly just steps into the leadership role because it is where they naturally fit - or where their characters tend to naturally fall?

I'm currently in too many groups to give one way, but I think my favorite determination came from one of the Star Wars games I'm in. The decision was reached in character, and without the consent of the player/character who was determined to be the leader. The reason for the decision was because that character is in a very real way the glue that is holding the group together. Now, no one in the group actively dislikes each other, but it has formed various cliques. My bounty hunter spends most of his time with the bodyguard droid character and the mechanic because that is where his interests lie. The droid spends his time with my bounty hunter and the defacto party lead - as he is her bodyguard. The mechanic spends time with no one except maybe my bounty hunter and occasionally the party lead. Same for the doctor. Same for the Bothan. It is possible the group would work without our party lead, but just as likely the characters would split off with the mechanic, the bothan, and the doctor going their own way while the Bounty Hunter and Combat Droid partnered up. However, with that party lead the group sticks together and is forming into a wonderful team.

How about your groups? Have a favorite way party lead was selected? Even if it just came from seniority because you were the only character still alive who knew where the quest rewards would come from.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Edit: This was supposed to go up at midnight, I am unsure why it didn't go through. Sorry folks!

Run character driven or heavy story games long enough and you're going to end up having a few intense sessions on your hands. Have players who like to delve into the psychology of what makes their characters tick and you're definitely going to have it happen. So what do you do when the metaphorical shit hits the fan and everyone's emotions spike? You ride it out, but you also take time after the scene and after the game to make sure everything is cool.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Betrayal, Failure, And Snapping The Ties That Bind

I'm not sure how much advice is going to be in this post. I'm not sure how much because what happened in my last L5R game was as much a natural byproduct of running a game with strong roleplayers as anything that I did as a GM to make it happen. In a real way it was like catching lightning in a bottle. It's terrifying and awesome, but you have no idea how you did it or if you could ever replicate it. That said, a lot happened in the session. Characters now trust each other left. We ended with a general feeling of failure. A loved NPC was almost killed due to a bad decision, and in return a PC was almost executed because of misinformation. It was a good session, I want to talk about it, but don't expect this to just work at your table either. With that said, let's talk about what happened.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Setting Goals For Better Character Depth

When making a character it is important to have goals. Goals help you give your character motivation, because they give your character something to work towards. They also help to define areas your character is interested in. However, if you're not careful when making goals you can inadvertantly shoehorn your character into being very shallow and one dimensional. Today I want to talk about that, and how you can spread your goals out to help add depth instead of remove it from the character.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Discussion: Your Favorite Disadvantage?

Full disclosure: I messed up. I got caught up working on a personal project yesterday and went to bed without having done a post for today. To solve that problem, I'm moving Friday's post to today, and will have another post for Friday.

Disadvantages are a key part in many systems. They help define your character by building in mechanical weaknesses. Sometimes they give you points at character creation. Sometimes they give you points during play. Either way, they're a way of telling the GM what kind of problems you want to face and how you want your character to be hurt.

But what is your favorite disadvantage that you've seen? In which system did it come from, and why did it work that way? What makes it stand out for you?

For me, my favorite disadvantage is "Driven" from the Legend of Five Rings RPG. Driven simply states that your character has a goal - it could be anything - that they will sacrifice anything to achieve. You get no roll to resist it. You just do it.

In action this means that if your character gets an opportunity to kill the Kakita Daimyo, and you have "Driven: Kill the Kakita Daimyo" your character will take action to kill that person then and there, the social consequences - or physical/lethal consequences - be damned. Whatever the goal is, your character will do it.

With one character I had the Driven: Prove You Are The Strongest. The character never turned down a challenge or perceived challenge for a fight. So much that when invited to a tournament to become Fu Leng's champion the answer was "yes" as soon as the person making the invite implied that the opponents would be stronger than the character. Said character then won the tournament and became a villain for a later story.

Another character, in a black ops type game, had Driven: Follow Orders/Protect the Scorpion. The Driven almost got the character killed on two separate occasions (not counting the end game adventure) and almost forced me to start intra party violence on three other occasions as people took moves that would either disobey orders or put the Scorpion clan at risk.

I love Driven because of the drama it brings into the game. Depending on the edition it gives you 2 or 3 points in character creation, but it is 2 or 3 points that will end with your character dead more often than not.

What about you? What is your favorite disadvantage, and why?