Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Filling in the boring parts

When I posted about empty dungeons, Joshua had an interesting idea in the comments.
You can have interesting rooms be miles apart, as long as you're willing to let the players traverse those miles without playing out each 10' square in between. Tell them how long it takes and the resources consumed, and dial it back in when it's time for the next important decision.
 This reminded me of something I heard on the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast. Robin talked about how he did when his players were just passing through some terrain, like those miles mentioned above. He suggested you ask the players how they did pass through that terrain. They got to narrate, and establish colour for their character and the question is never if they are going to make it through those miles, but how it looks. He also suggested you could have them roll for it, but ot to invalidate their narration, but to see how much resources they used up.

Pair this with the idea of Saturday Night Specials in the dungeon, and the new school idea of shared narrative power and I think we have a winner. Everyone get a chance to look cool, and those who crave detailed crawling can narrate it as much as they like, even to the extent of pulling in other characters and making rolls.

Personally I never managed to make wilderness travel very fun. It's either a few rolls on survival skills or something improvised if there are no skills around, and then it's done. Neither suspense nor a feeling of trekking in the beautiful and dangerous outdoors. Next time I'm letting they players talk instead.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Using weapon speed factors as recoil

In Mongoose Traveller, some weapons have a recoil number. I like that implementation, since it allows you to fire a big gun and then that recoil number adds to your initiative next turn. Simple, and effective. Now imagine if there was an easy way to use those pesky weapon speed factors from 1st edition AD&D? Maybe there is.

How about you do the same thing? Sure, initiative is a very different beast in AD&D but considering how many hacks of that system there is, yet another wont make much of a difference.

So, roll 1d10 for initiative. Then add that weapon speed, and count up from 1. You could probably use it both with individual and with group initiative. One size fits all, eh?

Let me know if you try it, or have already tried it out. I think is sounds neat, on paper at least.

Looking for inspirations? Look no further

This morning I read the post about the Banner of the Seas on the Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets blog. I just needed to share my enthusiasm.

That blog is so full with wonderful inventions and funny glimpses into the world of adventure where the items, gods and monsters of the blog live and appear. If you read no other blog than that, you will have fodder for games from now until the end of time. Damn is it good, or what? Thanks for sharing!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Some crowdfunding insights

I started to post a comment on Joseph Bloch's blog, and realized it was a post unto itself. Here it is.

I was never a supporter of Dwimmermount, so for me some of the noises coming from people have been hard to understand. But, I have now at the start of the year been reviewing some of the crowdfunding campaign I have been contributed to and contacted some of them for news. I think I have realized a few things.

First, if you set up such a project, thing long and hard on how long time every step will take.

Secondly, review that time estimate with a critical eye. Now double the time estimate. If the estimate is more than one year, try to find ways to do most of the work ahead of time, before going public.

At this stage I think you should probably re-think the whole gamble if you can't push it down below one year. I gave Chaosium the benefit of the doubt, but I would not do it for some random dude with a blog.

Thirdly, make sure you update regularly. Those who are stakeholders after the campaign have finished should be able to see what's going on after you took their money. Preferably, keep everyone posted on how close you are to the planned schedule.

Fourthly, make sure everyone else gets update too! This is something very few do! The thing is, for some high profile campaigns, even those who did not chipped in will hear some of the Chinese whispsers that spread on the net. If someone hears the wrong thing, rumours will spread and the next thing you know "facts" about you taking the money and running is all over the net. Regardless it will probably hurt you.

Now, sitting on the first row, without being involved in crowdfunded publishing myself, it's very easy to have opinions. Take these my thoughts for whatever they're worth.

Lynn Willis has left us

I just read on Michael Curtis blog that Lynn Willis is dead. I remember reading on Chaosium's webpage Charlie Krank posting that Lynn was ill and that he had stepped down from work. It was a reminder for me that even people that have been in the business since I first started gaming are mortal.

Those names on the credit pages on the games I handled at a young, tender and impressionable age were names of demi gods living in a far off realm. Thanks to the net, it has become easy to get in contact with all those people and see how many of them are friendly and communicative individuals. It pleases me no end to sometimes be able to say "Thanks!" to those who have shared the dream.

Now I wish I had taken the opportunity to say thanks to Lynn. His name is one of those I've seen on the games I've played since way back. Memento mori.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Non-Antagonistic play - DM vs Players the other way

I was listening to the Narrative Control Podcast, and they talked about how to generated interesting conflicts in a game. Basically, regardless if you believe the game master's job is to create a story for the player characters to participate in, or creating interesting situations for the players to create a story from, you will still need conflicts.

This reminded me of the old question of to what extent you should have any element of antagonistic play, i.e. to what extent the GM should make it hard for the players. Note, not the characters. The thing is, some players might take it like it's targeted towards them, even when the figure in the cross hairs is their characters. Now, let's assume "interesting" conflicts means something that makes it hard for the player character.

The neat little trick mentioned on the podcast was attributed to Rob Donoghue, and I thought it was quite neat.So, the idea was to not attack the PC, since some players will take it personally and attack back! Instead, attack what the PC is invested in. I thought that was quite cool. Among the really smart game masters this might be yesterday's news, but to me this was something new worth pondering. If in the emergent play one character has started to be involved in something like a mercantile organization, or a church, you put them in dire straights and see what happens.

My experience with the kind of players that might take troubles for their characters like a personal affront is luckily something I have been spared. I have not had that much experience with a wide open sandbox either (I always had the dungeon walls limiting the player choice somewhat), so now I'm catching up and learning the tricks. I think Rob is onto something good. I will try to use this a bit more consciously in the future.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

dT&T, just saying

You have noticed that there's a Kickstarter for a new edition of Tunnels & Trolls out, right? Yeah, I thought so. I put up my two yatmas for a hardcover of the new book, and after that there will be fewer Kickstarter pledges from me for a while. I need to wait in some deliveries.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sorceror is on Kickstarter!

I just today decided that I probably should get Sorceror. Yeah, I know it is kind of odd that I don't own it. Now I decided to remedy it. But, guess what? I now know why I think you should  join this funding project as well. Let me quote Ron

If 20 people pledge for this reward, then Jim Raggi and I conduct an unrehearsed, topic-unlimited, candid, and complete conversation to be posted on-line.
Come on! I put my $50 on the line, since this just has to happen! I mean, two smart, opinionated and passionately creative individuals like Ron and Jim, what is there not to love? Victor Raymond and Ron Edwards were having a conversation on The Walking Eye podcast and that was great.

You also get some really interesting game books which have been highly influential in modern game design. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The closed nature of the conversation

I have been thinking lately about the way we talk about games. Many have said that the gravity of the conversation in the OSR scene have moved to g+, and away from the blogs. Maybe it's kind of telling that Fight On! Magazine is looking to be dead in the water at the same time.

It used to be that you were talking about games on usenet, or mail lists. Then the web revolution happened, and web forums became the place to talk games. Finally we had the blogs and lately, g+.

There's one thing in common with these first techniques, and something which differ strongly with the last one. Getting on usenet and getting in on the good stuff you just needed to look in the gaming groups. The forums and the mail lists needed you to sign up, but most of them were  easy enough to sign up to. You know how blogs work, don't you?

Here's the deal. In order to get in on the juicy conversations on g+, it's not just enough to go to  web page and click around, maybe traversing the universe one link at a time. No, in g+ you have to know the right people. Add them to your circles, and have them add you back. Also, you need to figure out what the heck that guy whose blog you have been following for two years is actually named! It has become much harder to get in.

I don't think this is a good thing.

In order for a community to be vibrant it has to be easy to get in to, and it has to be welcoming. I have been quite involved in these blog conversations we have been having, and I have found it is not as easy any longer to find the conversation. I don't want to be a total Luddite, but I think you see what I'm saying. Is this progress?
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