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.
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