Thursday, May 31, 2012

A new "one page dungeon"-like project

For those of you who have missed it, the excellent podcast Happy Jacks RPG Podcast are having a contest in the style of the One Page Dungeon one. It's called 2 Sides: 1 Epic, which I personally think sounds fairly bland, but the idea is solid. You have one sheet of paper, now cover both sides with your generic adventure and tag it with genre tags, and your name and send it in.

I'm pretty sure Stu and crew would love to see some more contributors. I'm trying to come up with one myself. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D&D Next epic fail

I still have not been able to download the next version av D&D, have not gotten any new link as a replacement for faulty links (which I found out abouf of their existence from a podcast) and still a HTTP error when I try to access the tab to contact WotC to tell them it does not work.

The guys who work with computers at WotC: epic fail, guys!

Should the documents happen to find their way to me some how, I would love to take a peek. The likelihood of WotC getting even a cent from me is now pretty slim, though...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Forgotten Dragonquest

I have gotten this idea, that I want to use DragonQuest for something. Since I have just been re-reading the grey box Forgotten Realms the first thought that struck me was to combine the two. Have anyone out there tried it?

Somebody, I have forgotten where I read it, wrote that the feel of that early FR is very much like the Old West. It's a borderland where civilization is slowly being established, and the daily experience of the encroaching wilderness. I happen to be a big fan of Westerns, so I'm totally buying that depiction of the Forgotten Realms. But, this also made me think about other settings where the "feel" have suddenly clicked for me. Forgotten Realms was never presented that way.

One day when I was browsing the setting book for Kingdoms of Kalamar, I suddenly realized that the schtick this setting had was not to be special at all! The special about it was that it was just a quasi medieval setting presented in as a clear and "realistic" way as possible. No oddities or specials like Talislanta or Tekumel. Take apeek at the books and you will find that was exactly what was described on the can. God knows why I hadn't understood that. This was kind of the inverse of the experience of FR.

I still haven't gotten that feeling for Greyhawk.

Friday, May 25, 2012

D&D sure is popular too...

I have gotten my download link for the D&D Next play test, but it is broken, and the page where you can click to email WotC is also broken...

Really solid impression your give me, guys!

Monday, May 14, 2012

T&T sure is popular

Dave Arneson's personal copy of 2nd ed T&T just sold on eBay for $347.00 and I guess that is a sign of a popular game. Yes, I did bid. No, not $300.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

T&T hacks - D6 Star Wars

Some people likes their games wild and crazy, some want it more downplayed and subdued. If you like me have looked fondly on DARO (Doubles Add and Roll Over, the exploding dice mechanic of T&T) results in the stratosphere, you probably like it wild.

Maybe T&T does not need any more of that juice? Well, let's take a look at another way to inject some unpredictability in your game. Let's take a cue from the WEG edition of the Star Wars RPG.

In SW, you used a dice pool system. Traits where rated in dice and you gathered them all up and rolled and summed them. Kind of familiar territory so far. There was an additional quirk, though. In addition to the dice from your traits, you also rolled a Wild Die. Since I only have the 2nd ed. of the Star Wars game, I am not 100% sure if this mechanic was there from the start, and I know it was tweaked in later editions of the rules. So, what use is the Wild Die? Simple. It makes a situation a little more interesting.

To incorporate the Wild Die in your T&T game, just take one of the dice you use and make sure it's special. My T&T dice used to be the black ones with a troll or the T&T logo instead of a one, but I gave all those away. Nowadays I use ten white Gamescience dice. For a Wild Die, I use my blood read die with the Minotaur logo from my former FLGS. Make sure it stand out!

When you roll your dice, keep an eye on that special one, the red one in my case. If it turns up a six or a one, it's time to rumble.

1. Something just happened, and it is not to your favour. If you made your roll, you still made it, but another complication shows up. Say that you rolled a SR on DX to jump over a chasm. Maybe you got over safe, but that belt pouch of yours dropped down into the depths! Say that you rolled a SR on CHA to intimidate those hyenakin you let you pass, but now they insist on accompanying the brave adventurers and making a nuisance of themselves and making it impossible to sneak up on that dragon. I don't think I have to give any examples of what happens when you fail and roll a 1. Bad stuff. You'll have to determine before the game how harsh you want to be.

6. Some just happened, and it was to your favour! If you failed your roll, you still failed, but something happened that opened up new venues to approach the problem. Say you failed to intimidate that hyenakin chief, but he instead haughtily proclaim that such an insult to his honour has to be answered the traditional way, with a duel. At the chess board. Maybe you'll win that challenge? The icing on the cake that a success and a 6 is combined need to be elaborated. We all like cake, or pie. Maybe both.

Optional: I think the Wild Die is used to best effects on SRs on stats, but feel free to add it to combat as well.

I hope you think these hacks sounds interesting and inspire you to try them, or your own variant thereof, in your next T&T game.

Fight on!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

When horror hits home - an experiment with Unknown Armies

So we have just finished a session of Unknown Armies, and it really left the players feeling confused, and a bit freaked out I think. Was that good or bad? I'm going to think out loud about some of that.

First impressions from behind the screen is of satisfaction. I finally got to run a game that reads great, it's the best written RPG bar none, and even though I had to flip through the book a lot, it worked out ok.

We played one of the scenarios in the back of the 2nd ed rules, called Bill in Three Persons. This is a scenario full of weirdness, and also some really twisted NPCs and lot of opportunities to trying to cope in a world full of hard knocks. I thought it had lot of potential, and it had the excellent qualities of working fine with characters (and players!) that know nothing of the setting and don't know each other beforehand.

Once again, my players surprised me by not interacting with the NPCs. I guess I should have learned by now that these players wont actually approach and talk to everyone they meet, like I do when I play. When I asked them after the session, one of the actually said it was a weird scenario, where they was whisked from place to place and didn't have much people to talk to. How does that jive with their efforts to avoid interacting with the NPCs in the game? Maybe they were too freaked out by them? Let me take an example, with spoilers for the scenario, so be forewarned.

The scenario is in three parts, and is about how to three times encounter the person Bill Toge, and maybe put him on a different path in life than the one the PC encounter in the starting scene. Bill is not a very nice person, or at least a person who has been roughened up by life quite a bit. In our session the first part ended with Bill shooting one PC in the chest before being shot to death by a police sniper. I guess that established him as dangerous, and so dangerous that the players stayed out of his way in the rest of the session! That kind of puts a damper on the NPC interaction opportunities when he in the main NPC in every scene.

Mood wise I think the game worked perfectly, though. After the first 10 minutes everyone was already feeling freaked out and everyone could see their world trying to burst its seams. It was very David Lynch, so to speak. I loved it, and I those who commented said they loved it as well. That brings me to another point. How does it compare to Call of Cthulhu we played the session before that?

CoC ended with everyone mad or going mad in the alien city of Carcosa after seeing some alien monsters grabbing them and flying through space. In UA on the other hand, they had seen low life crooks getting shot, child molesters being harassed and drugged cultist being taken out by police. And getting shot. I think it all felt a bit more real.

It will be very interesting to compare when I finally run a modern CoC scenario, if it hits closer to home that way. I know that the idea of alien non euclidean angles and books about arcane non human knowledge doesn't sound horrifying to many modern people, as my players. Modern horrors, and modern non-Lovecraftian ones, feel more real.

After this run, I think it's time for something of a different genre. Horror wear out, and post apocalyptic gaming beckons, or Old West, or science fiction, or something else. But, I will run more Unknown Armies in the future, now I know for sure!

Friday, May 11, 2012

How dynamite solved the problem

\The last Saturday was the final session for my Call of Cthulhu game. I say final, and I think you can guess what that means?

All in all, Tell me, have you seen the Yellow Sign? was a very good scenario. It was well structured, and had enough support for the Keeper to keep focused on what was going on in the setting. I liked the story and plot, and how it had a strong theme that came out in play. So how did it feel in play, after all was said and done?

Our intrepid investigators finally decided on a trek out in the swamp lands after finding the occult bookstore, and seeing too many signs and needing someone to tell them what the relation to the raid of 1907 was. It turned out they found the gate, the site where the coronation and the calling of Hastur would take place. They spent some time debating the best cause of action and finally decided to build bonfires and use heat and cold water to break up the standing stones at the ceremonial site. Not too bad an idea.

The next night they were woken in the night my thugs dragging them away to the main cultist, Papa Screech, and taken to Carcosa via Byakhee. The experience made them all really shaken, and the poor journalist who was formerly experienced temporary insanity turned totally bonkers. There we left them, having saved the world but having lost themselves. Very Call of Cthulhu, I'd say.

It was kind of telling that in the end what they needed most and couldn't get was dynamite. Very Call of Cthulhu I'd say.

I loved being the Keeper of CoC, and hope to do it soon again!

Now it's time for a one shot of Unknown Armies before the big summer mess arrived and everyone travels around and have no time for gaming.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why some games are hard

I just read the following by Justin Alexander about why the Transhuman Space game is known to be hard to get into.
To make things worse, Transhuman Space was primarily designed to be an interesting setting for the sake of having an interesting setting, without any real consideration or focus given to the types of stories/games that can be told in that setting.
This struck me as quite insightful on the specific setting at hand, but also a key to why I find some settings and games to be hard to get. I have never managed to get enthusiastic about Harn and sometimes I think this is also the problem with the original Mage game. It's especially true for the latter, where clearly even the designers didn't know what to do with it, but it became boring in later editions when they got a clue. I'm quite sure there's a lesson in there, for both scenario and world creation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Old and new together

I played D&D 3rd ed. yesterday, and it was a very interesting mix of old and new. Most of the players were older than the hobby, which is not always the case these days!

We don't need no stinking character sheets! Graph paper works just as well for us!

When I was your age we didn't have no metal miniatures! We used sticks and pinecones and, and... pieces of plastic!

My dude is the d12, since I feel they need some love...

During a trek through the wilderlands of the southlands we were beset by a pride of lions! Six lions attacking a crowd of humans, arguing over whether playing the pipes raises or lowers the morale. All the while birds are circling us, and out in the sea are the mysterious ships of iron, travelling under the surface. Will we get the help we need from the tower of the iron fortress? Never ending drama.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Persuading people for fun and profit - redux

I listened to an episode of the Happy Jacks RPG Podcast when they talked about how to convince another PC, while still keeping that free will. I liked the idea voiced there and decided to put it up here for keeping.

When you want to persuade another PC, make you roll for whatever ability or skill you use. If you succeed, now ask the player of that character what they might be convinced by, and what buttons pressed might give them the idea to change their minds. Now role play out the scene, with that newly gained knowledge from the meta level.

You might not convince them in the end, but you gained something from having a character that was more socially experienced or convincing than you are. Also, nobody was robbed of their free will be a roll of a die.

I might work out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Old School Forgotten Realms

I have been reading the grey box Forgotten Realms lately. Yesterday I also took out the first supplement, Waterdeep. Apart from some very interesting art in that book, I suddenly realized that these books differed to some extent from other old school gaming books.

In the FR cyclopedia of the realms, you get a sketchy view of many kingdoms and different landmarks like bridges and villages. There are many opportunities for adventure and I felt like I wanted to start a campaign there. But, there was that other chapter that felt different. There's in both the cyclopedia and the Waterdeep book a long, really long, list of personalities of realm.

In the cyclopedia, there are some personalities that are of a different class, namely the Powers. I think this is interesting, for Ed Greenwood does not call them gods, but Powers. That and the list of NPCs makes me thing that the powers are just heroes of old that have ascended. You get the distinct idea that adventuring in the realms you will interact with many of all these personalities mentioned, god or mortals. Is this a peculiarity of the Forgotten Realms?

Thinking back on other distinctly old school game books, I don't think there as are many NPCs listed there. I remember thinking a way back that a dungeon, whatever it was I was reading that day, felt kind of empty, since there was no named personalities in it.

I know some people dislike FR, and anything touched by Ed Greenwood. To many it makes them think of Elminster, the deus ex machina, or heavy handed "story" based game mastering. Even though Ed is not to blame for those practices, it feels like his FR is slightly more about people than monsters. Even though I love the explorative part of the game, and some good exhilarating fights with foul beasts, I can't but help feeling a lot of sympathy for a game where there are heroes and personalities around. It kind of makes the world feel like a real place. Someone lives there, and are doing heroic deeds.

Maybe this subtle flavour difference of the Forgotten Realms it just my imagination, but I'm wondering how important interaction with named personalities is to my and other peoples expectation of fun. Anyhow, if you are having fun, you are doing it right. Right?
Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Andreas Davour. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Blogger.