Showing posts with label #RPGADAY2020. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #RPGADAY2020. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Tek - August 2020

 My stats for DriveThruRPG were fine. 

 AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana: 4
 Compass Rose Inn Minisetting: 2
 Kobold's Folly: 1
 Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D: 5
 These Old Games Presents: The Hex Pack: 5
 Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners: 7

August marked two years since Zero to Hero launched. 

AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana  113
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting: 152
Kobold's Folly: 140
Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D: 104
These Old Games Presents: The Hex Pack:123
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners: 279   

Unfortunately, spending was greater than DriveThruRPG income for August. :) I picked up some great books, though. 

In August, I got back up on the horse and brought my webstats back up. 

Google Analytics Pageviews - 1,693
Google Analytics Sessions - 1,034
Pageviews per Session - 1.63

I participated in #RPGADAY2020 which was big help. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 31. Experience


Well, this year's RPGADAY was quite the experience. I got to revisit the forest where my kids and I camped and hiked. I now understand the connection between my love of roller coasters and D&D, and finally wrote down my table rules for magic weapons, in three parts. (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.) 

It's been great. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 30. Portal


My first blog was a Myst fan site. Nothing says portal more than Myst. Except for maybe the game ah... Portal, which I have never played. 

Anyway, I was fascinated by MYST, both the games and the books. I bought all the hard covers and read them to my kids. 

One day, my son Paul got into some trouble online. He must have been seven or eight at the time. He jumped on my online account and ordered himself copies of all three Myst novels in softback. We were short on cash, as always and this was kind of a headache. 

At first, I thought it was a computer glitch because they were the same titles I had already ordered in hardcover. While my wife and I talked it over, he happily chimed in that he ordered them on my account. I told him we was welcome to have or read my copies any time he wanted and he didn't need to order new ones. 

He said, "Dad, they're linking books," and held up up soft covers next to the full sized novels. 

My wife was baffled by this statement, so I had to show her this video from the game.  

I can't say she understood, but she at least understood our son was reading. And from that year forward, we struggled to find him enough books to read. He was consuming books almost weekly. Myst was his portal into fantasy and reading. 

When I was a child, I felt the same way when I saw the D&D cartoon. Yet another portal. 

I love both D&D and roller coasters and never made the connection until this prompt. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 29. Ride


I play a mash up of BX and AD&D. Both systems introduced the idea of skills, but other than a vague mention, did not elaborate. In BX and AD&D there was the idea that characters sometimes came from a different background and would have some of the abilities a professional, skilled laborer. Exactly how that worked was unclear. AD&D did have a list of professional hirelings, but didn't give any statistics. Unearthed Arcana brought in a fleshed out version of weapon proficiency and mastery, but didn't spell that out. 

In order to correct that for my campaigns, I wrote a book called "Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners" which provides over 50 different professional "classes" you can use with characters. 

Obviously, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what characters can and can't do. However, I never meant to create or even utilize campaign specific skills. For example, ride or swim. 

A campaign takes place with in a particular setting and that setting needs to have some default skills. Like ride. All characters know how to do it, just like swimming. Skills should be an enhancement, not a detriment. An ability to do more, not less. Now, if my setting was in space, perhaps characters would not know how to swim or ride ride a horse. That makes sense, but then again, I wouldn't expose the party to a horse ride by a lake because they're astronauts.

But if they are crew of the Firefly, obviously they know how to ride a horse through water while wearing a space suit. Skills like ride should always be an enhancement, something creative and interesting that makes the session "different", while not posing a barrier to play. 

I think where this gets gummed up is when a skill is presented as a "get out of puzzle" event. Yes, skills solve problems but shouldn't ever provide a dice roll to get out of a particular situation. That is "gotcha gaming" and I dislike that style of play. (Click here to listen to my rant against Tomb of Horrors, the ultimate gotcha gaming experience.) 

World building is hard, sometimes you have to give the players a free ride, as dictated by the setting. It only makes sense. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 27. Favour


I love mystery and exploration. It appears in all of my games, no matter the genre. It probably goes back to being a kid and raiding my parent's LP collection. 

I would pour over records and try to guess if it was Mom's or Dad's. If it was show tunes or sound tracks or classic, it was my Dad's. If it was Iron Butterfly or Jefferson Airplane, it was Mom's. 

But one record threw me for a loop. "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" by the Moody Blues. Was it Mom's or Dad's? Why did with have two copies?

It didn't trouble me too much as my parents let me listen to it over and over again. They had a lot of great music which rubbed off on me. 

The song, Procession was a clue, but one I could not decipher until 2001, 30 years after it was released. In August, 2001, my wife and I got married and finally moved into together. Anyway, we moved into a tiny apartment and didn't really didn't step foot outside until January of 2002. 

9-11 happened. I was working non-stop at Mattel, Kitty worked nights at the hospital. A December snow storm shut us up for weeks.  

Dec 2001. This picture was taken from our upstairs apartment. It doesn't look too bad
but the weight of the snow collapsed the porch roof and metal awings trapping us inside. 

My wife and I really got to know each other on a couple of different levels. One of those was through music. 

We both love music and our combined CD collection was over 1,000 discs. There was only one duplicate: Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell". 

This answered the question of who owned "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour". Both Mom and Dad. That was their duplicate CD, in vinyl form. 

While this is supposed to a post about games, I find there is an incredible parallel between "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" and "The Division Bell". A lot of the same ideas run through both of them. Communication, destruction, feedback, discourse, discovery, creation, sharing. 

I've never played both albums back to back, but each favours these ideals. And they mirror my main themes and goals of game play. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 26. Strange


I love the unexpected, so strange is hard coded into to my game play. 

I like to introduce mini-games and new concepts into my campaigns. I have missile fire procedures which are stolen right from Car Wars. I have a system of rules to set up weaponless chases, a la Indiana Jones. And silver is always magical

Do you have any strange things going on in your games? Let me know in the comments. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 25. Lever


Not sure where to go with lever, except to give a session update. My kids are playing B2 = Keep on the Borderlands with me. All three of my kids are of the age where they make adult choices for themselves.

This tendency is playing out in the game. They took down the ogre in area E, moved into his cave and started playing house. Other than fix up the cave and spy on the other residents, they didn't want to do anything else.  

The characters are aware of the orcs and kobolds, but haven't discovered that there are two orc lairs. They know about the goblins, but don't know where they are coming from. They can hear their voices from the east and sometimes see them out and about but don't know their cave is connected to the goblin's home. 

Time for a lever. 

I had the orcs from area B attack the goblins. The goblins were overwhelmed and ran to the secret door yelling: " BREE-YARK!" The party was surprised when the door opened and bag of gold was thrown at them. After a moment or two, the party found how to open the secret door and unloaded a bunch of arrows into the orc's backs. The orcs charged them, but the party hid using the secret door and water barrel. When the orcs ran down the long hall, the party hit them again. 

The party retreated back through the secret door, leaving the goblins mystified. They have no idea the party is there and believe the ogre got his hands on a bow. 

The orcs lost 8 of 12 attackers and are thinking of pack it in and joining the second orc group. The characters were able to track them back to Area B and are thinking of attacking them. However, they are a little nervous with the goblins so close at hand. 

That was a nice lever for inaction. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 24. Humour

Or #Humor

I love laughing at the game table. However, I try not to force levity on the players. Often, I set up scenarios that are very funny, but almost always require the players to do something to cause it. 

For example, I am a big fan of the antagonist party. Done right, it creates drama and intrigue. Done wrong, it's just like high school.

In one campaign, I had two parties hostile to the party and the players manipulated them into a brawl in a bathhouse. It was hysterical. 

Sometimes, the players themselves are just comedians. As a DM, I gave a druid a magic charm to communicate with animals. The party's thief stole it and started talking to every animal they encountered. That was pretty funny, but then I gave him a talking donkey, so everyone could both sides of the conversation. The thief decided to play it as if he was oblivious to the fact that everyone could understand it. While this seems like a copy of Shrek, years before Shrek was a thing, the thief player behaved more Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy, with the donkey providing lots of bad ideas which would be warped into something more zany. 

Good times. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 23. Edge.


I'm a huge fan of coming up with outrageous scenarios for my players and their characters, but I always try to think of three game changers that the characters could use for a significant edge over their enemy. 

It's kind of laughable, because I'm batting exactly zero when it comes to predicting how the players react and what they will use to get an edge. 

The benefit of thinking about how the main antagonist's plan could fall apart is not putting things on a platter for the players, but being able to react appropriately when it happens. Because he or she isn't the hero and the default winner, the party is. 

In the Avengers film, they nailed Thanos's reactions. He told the heroes that their knees would be weak when they failed. Sure enough, Tony went down when he lost. When Thanos failed, he too sat down, weak-kneed. 

That's good for a movie with an necessary ending, but the party's adventures don't always end with the defeat of the bad guy. Very often my Big Bads are made completely irrelevant by the characters and the mechanism of how that works is often tied to whatever edge they had in the conflict. 

In one campaign, I had the party endlessly antagonized by a ghostly voice that whispered, "Silver is your enemy." The paladin made a very good leap of logic and asked if the voice sounded like their antagonist. I totally mean it to be the voice of their enemy, but the paladin pointed out that those words were only said after whatever ominous threat was given. In his mind, it sounded like a retort. I had meant it to be a tag line, but could those words be spoken by someone other than their enemy? 

Well, after hearing a rather well reasoned argument from the paladin, I decided that it could be someone else speaking. So who's voice was it and what was it talking about? The paladin surmised that his god didn't like his minion threatened, so his god was issuing a threat to their tormentor. 

"Silver is your enemy," did actually refer to many traits the paladin used to define himself. A silver decked horse, a silver sword, a silver symbol. Since their antagonist was extraplanular, silver was an effective defense. 

Originally, I had meant for this extraplanular enemy to have an immunity to silver, at the cost of having a weakness to iron making the party's obvious strengths a weakness. But, once I had the player's input, I dropped that idea. It was going to be a straight up slugfest between the party wielding silver and demonic forces harassing them. 

The demon was supposed to punch through into this dimension, but I flipped that around. The characters would be going to the demon's dimension AND they would possess all of the nasty, dangerous attributes of a demon on the prime material plane while there, with the Silvered Paladin acting as a locus of the power.

The party used that edge to the fullest, dishing out horrific damage on the forces of evil. But then they lost the fight and were dispelled back to the Prime Material Plane, forbidden from entering that dark realm for 999 years. They were startled to be back home, whole and healthy while the demon was horribly weakened and unable to strike at them directly. 

That turned the whole adventure into a detective story, where the party had to figure out who the demon was using to continue it's attack. They managed to neutralize the demon at the cost of all of their levels. I had thought they were going to find away to pursue him home or lure him out, but instead they picked a different edge and tactic. They used their knowledge of the campaign settings as an edge to speed run experience to get back to level. 

That was super fun. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 21-22. Push and Rare

#Push and #Rare

As mentioned in my last couple of posts, I like to push my player's buttons. Not for a rise, but for rare and unique gameplay. 

Yesterday, I posted on Investigate. Basically, the thing that every DM and player needs to do in a new setting. But it never stops. There is always the question of "what makes this tick". Once you have it, you usually end up with the answer to what is rare and what is not, which also answers the question of what pushes boundaries in a game. 

As the DM, usually I'm the one setting boundaries. But in some cases, the players do. Personally, I'm afraid of insects so I made a campaign where the main antagonists were insect like creatures. That set my players on edge. 

Too much. I was able to describe these creatures in such an eerie fashion, the players, by word and action refused to go up against them. I could have pushed, but being uncomfortable with insects myself, I did not. I created a new storyline and we ran with that. 

Ironically, the players hired a new band of heroes to go handle the insect creatures while they explored other avenues. I found that hysterical and of course made those heroes the alternate heroes, that received a more credit than the party. Oh, the burn... and the joy when the party finally found their groove and knocked them low by bringing them back into the action as hirelings and henchmen. 

It's rare that I have to scrap everything, but it happens. 

Speaking of rare, if the party comes up with an idea that makes sense, I will often push it to the limits. Not to steal the party's thunder, but to highlight how rare such a turn of events is. 

In one campaign, the heroes found a series of stone horses. If the characters touched them, they fused with the horse and could control it like a living creature for a price. These stone horses allowed them to travel very quickly and safely. They, of course, got into trouble goading a near by kingdom into attacking their hometown. 

Again, the urge to push came back, as did the urge to use something very rare. I had been hinting that these stone horses were not unique, not all that rare, as their hometown had a collection of wolf statues. The players utterly failed to noticed this until the final moment where the town walls were breached and the citizens were corralled into the temple and cemetery, where hundreds of these wolf statues existed. 

I have lots of figurines and decided to wow the party by stepping out of the theater of the mind and arraying hundreds of opponents on the table. Once they discovered the purpose of the wolf statues, they went wild with glee. And this explained why this one town existed outside of any kingdom, a very rare set of circumstances, indeed. 

That was a rare moment at the table, I don't think I could pull it off again. And I don't think I will try, so that it remains one of those rare push moments that worked. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

#RPGADAY 20. Investigate


The idea of investigation is hard coded into all of my RPG play. People do things for reasons, good or bad. When I have a bunch of people sit at the table, I don't have any idea of what they mean to do. I have to investigate. 

Coffee or Pop? Pop or Soda? Lots of role play or lots of dice? I have no idea at the first meeting. Once I start to feel out the players, investigate them, I then know. 

For this reason, I tend to put a lot of features into my world building. I offer some details but not all. The players, if they are so inclined, can investigate any or all or none of them. 

If I present an evil cleric at the head of an undead army, it is on the players to figure out the best course of action. If they are all hack and slash, investigation is limited to what weapons work best on undead. On the other hand, I have already thought of a goal and reason for this tactic used by cleric. It is equality valid for the players to figure that out, too. 

Role play is investigation, of both the real and imagined. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 19. (The Dark) Tower


Tower is easy. 

The Dark Tower, by Milton Bradley. My dad came home with this game and it became a fixture at the dinner table. We'd eat and the game would come out. No one fought over the pieces, because the Tower was the goal of every player.

My Mom, Dad, and sister all played this every chance we got. I wish we had pictures because those were good times. I did a retrospective post on it, since I don't have an actual game to review. 

Game play was easy and it left a great impression on me. While it isn't an RPG, it reminds me of Barbarian Prince by Dwarfstar Games. 

The mechanics were easy. Move a piece on the board and the electronic tower responded. Each turn cost food, some ratio of food to solders. You fought brigands from time to time, got lost or walked into a plague. If you collected up the 3 keys, you could mount an assault on the Tower itself. 

There were some special events, fight a dragon, find a Pegasus, or a magic sword. The sword automatically defeated the dragon, but you lost the sword. A Pegasus would allow you to hop across a single kingdom. Checking in at home gave you more soldiers. 

You could hire a beast, a scout or a healer to offset some bad events. Records were kept with simple cards and a sort of pegboard tally sheet. It was so simple. 

One of the standout features was the artwork. It was weird and cool at the same time. Each image appeared on the side of the tower, lit by an small light bulb. Recently, I was able to figure out that it was done by Bob Popper. There is even a brief interview with him over at In that interview, he imagined the characters or teams going on endless quests. His unique style did that wonderfully. 

I can still hear the win condition music from the game, which is of course linked to the images. 

Tower... the timeless setting. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 18. Meet


Ok, meet, in respect to RPGs. Usually, "Meet" is all about how the party gets to know about each other. There are some classic tropes for meeting: 

"They all met at the tavern." 
"You're all locked in adjacent cells." 
"The lord has called upon you for secret mission." 
"The offer seems intriguing, so you make your way to the table." 

As good as all of those are, that isn't what actually happens. I'm my mind, we do not need to meet the characters. The characters need to meet themselves and show what part they have in the party.

When you meet someone in real life, by virtue of your senses and expectations, you go in with information about someone else. Whether you are right or wrong helps you formulate an opinion and hopefully, a relationship if only limited or transactional. In the theater of the mind, none of that exists (unless a player is an artist and has a picture of their character). 

At the RPG table the party isn't meeting each other so much as themselves. Wherever or how ever they meet, you, the DM need to be a good host and allow the players time to interact. I know it seems like a great time to throw them into the action, but just a few minutes of engaging each other helps the players get to know not only the other characters, but themselves. 

I've had players show up with five page thesis statements on their character. I don't care what you dreamed up over a period of weeks and many drinks. I want to know what you'll do now, with the resources given. "The Templar Knight of our Lady of Death" is not going play real well will singin' dwarves and a boozy cleric. 

As you can imagine from my prior posts, I can't resist hitting the big red reset button. Usually, right from the get go. My intent isn't to disrupt the player's idealization of their characters, it's to stop them from imposing their ideas on each other and whatever story I have dreamed up. 

I do have some stock buttons to push for the players if they start going to far into themselves, vs how they are going in be in the party. A fight from the get go is usually too murderous or too contrived, so I avoid it. 

The whole idea of their first day in a new town, at a bar they should have never seen is loaded with jolts and tricks to make the players describe how their character will function in the party. Nothing makes someone explain themselves more than a deviation from expectation. Think about the following scenarios and what they would do for your character development: 

  • The innkeeper brings you your key and states: "No one has been in your room, as you instructed." (When did I do that?)  
  • A messenger show up with a sword or holy symbol with your name on it, except you can't draw the weapon or touch the symbol. 
  • A cleric bursts in and says, "We didn't bury enough of you to resurrect. Why did you come back?" (Not, "how?", but "why?") 
  • If all of that seems like too much, a death threat from a seemingly overpowered team of competitors might do. 
When you meet, the point isn't to tell other people about your character, it's about showing how your character will act in the group. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 17. Comfort

I feel pretty comfortable running ahead a day. The 17th prompt is #Comfort. 

For me, comfort is drawing. 

The paper is a kid's drawing pad and the pen is from Walmart. I'm going without my glasses, while holding a phone. I wish I had started filming at the beginning. Not optimal, but whatever is? Gaming and play is never optimal until you look back on it. 

The idea came and simple tools made it flow freely from brain to paper with no constraint. It's not perfect, but I like it.  

Finished? No. Completed, yes. 

#RPGADAY2020 15. Frame


I wish New Blogger wasn't so glitchy with positioning pictures alongside text.  Anyway, today is frame and I only have 12 minutes to write this, otherwise it will be tomorrow and that is dramatic. 

Frame, is the border of something. In RPG's the frame is the divider between you, you players and the rules and what happens in the game. If the frame says "fantasy", you get hobbits and dragons and other stuff. If your frame says "sci-fi", it's all bullets, gees and no aliens. 

Wait... no. Yes, that is the wrong definition of "sci-fi", but it is one of many frames. 

In my campaign, the players exist in a damaged world. For the most part, magic has over taken technology, but technology still exists. To a degree, anyway. I have marines and elves living in the same place, thanks to the frame I have developed. It really doesn't matter that I play a mashup BX and AD&D, it can simulate fire arms and technology. 

I find it interesting that as a DM, your frame is portable. My friend Doug had all of us living in Naria for a time. Mark, had a shadow-world campaign, very similar to I.C.E. rules on Middle Earth. What made all of this interesting is, the three of us shared DM duties and our players assumed that our collective campaign was the same place. Mark and Doug disagreed, but I said, "yes, it is." 

The non-DM-ing players took the logical next step. My game allowed for styles that encompassed other two DM's style of play, which made it a transitional frame between Mark and Doug's worlds. They believed in all of us like these were real places and things. 

It was pretty obvious that I enjoyed Mark and Doug's world as much as my own. The way that they personally framed their stories made me not care that I wasn't participating in a world of my choosing. 

Framing is a powerful tool. Better yet, if you can make a DM want to be a player in your framed world, that's an amazing skill. 

So, if you made a DM want to play in your world or there was DM that made you want to play in theirs, you've had some amazing table mates. 

Friday, August 14, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 14. Banner


The word banner makes me think of one thing. My wife, Kitty. Er... Meant to say "two things. My wife, Kitty. And Farscape". 

Kitty does not do science fiction. Aside from the first three Star Wars films and The Fifth Element, she hates all science fiction. On the eve of our 19th anniversary, I am thankful that all movie theaters are closed and we have exhausted all mutually enjoyed movies on four different streaming services. There will be zero awkward moments where I stomp into a theater because I wanted to see something cool and my wife made me see something not cool. 

Wait, the prompt was "banner". 

Right. How does banner play into this? And more importantly, what about Farscape? 

Back in 1996, Jennifer and I started dating. She didn't have her "Kitty" nickname yet. Just a few months in, I suggested we see The Fifth Element. She went along for the ride, but as the credits rolled she said, "Aside from Star Wars... and this movie, I hate science fiction." At the start of relationships, I guess you just roll with a lot of crap. 

By the end of 1998, we had seen dozens of movies together. Virtually all of them were not science fiction. I guess a man has got to grow, eh? 

In late '98 or early '99 tragedy struck. One of the trailer was a commercial for Farscape and I said, "That is so cool..." 

My not-yet-wife said, "Ick." She was horribly disappointed to find out it was TV show. Every Friday night on Sci-Fi channel. Kitty would powernap during Farscape before we went out the bars. One evening, she woke up in the middle of the show and said, "This isn't as good as the ones with The Walkers." 

Shocked, I said, "I thought you slept through all of Space Above and Beyond." 

"I wish," was her response. 

Fast forward one wedding and three children later. Kitty and I stopped going to movies. We were as broke as broke could be. Out family budget for entertainment was parks, drives and buying a paperback book that I would read to everyone at bedtime. We barely had cable and the internet was still dial up because we couldn't afford better. 

One day, I picked out The Last Unicorn book at Barnes and Nobles. It was $2.99 on closeout. However, I also spotted a copy of Farscape the Roleplaying Game, also on closeout. At $5.99, it was way over our budget. 

Kitty asked what happened to the show. I said it had been canceled. She nodded and said, "You should get that game". I nodded and we walked out with our closeout copy of The Last Unicorn. 

Any sort of misgivings or bad feeling I had were wiped away when I read the first lines of the book and I could see that my wife and kids were entranced, 

"The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did
not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow..." 

(Click here for the Almost Ugly, Unicorn Princess Story to see how much of an impact this book made.)

Ok. The scene has been set. The Banner, right? 

Kitty, like her namesake, may disapprove of something, but she never forgets. That Christmas, she bought me the DVD set of Farscape and it came with a copy of The Last Unicorn.  

"Did they ever get that show back on the air?" I explained that they did not. 

"Will there be a movie?" she asked. 

I said that the show went off the air so long ago, that a movie was unlikely. I was very careful not to mention The Peacekeeper War, which was not a part of the boxed set. That would be ungrateful. 

My wife said, "Gee, that's weird. There was that huge campaign on MySpace..." 

"Do you mean Facebook?" I asked, "no one really used MySpace anymore." 

"Oh, no. It was just a little while ago... On MySpace." 

Intrigued, I dug around for my MySpace password. Then I had to dig around for the email address that I used to register so long ago. After about an hour with tech support resurrecting my old email account I reset my password and logged in. 

I'm sorry to say, this has got to be theater of the mind. If you can remember how gaudy MySpace used to be, imagine how it would look if your wife spent weeks, no months, adding animated BANNERS to your page, all of which read: 

"Bring back Farscape!" 

Sometimes, you don't know why someone likes, wants, or believes in something. But you have to wave their banner. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 13. Rest


Easy prompt. 

There is always a need to rest but not always an opportunity to rest. Everyone needs a break sometimes. 

I have this great post about how I let myself and my players get tired at the table. I'll let you read that. Or I'll suggest that you take a break and read that novel you picked up last year or if you are like me, the three zillion free downloads from DriveThruRPG. 

Me? I'm going to take the day off and reread BSOLO -  The Ghost of Lion Castle. Maybe, I'll map it out like I did Star Smuggler. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

#RPGADAY 12. Message


What to do with this one? 

Have you utterly sent the wrong message to the players? Have your players misinterpreted a message and decided to play another game? 

As a DM, this is frustrating because usually a message, especially a written message is supposed to be super clear, totally unambiguous. 

My last campaign died of COVID-19. We have no particular plans to start up again. But it was suffering from a horribly ambiguous statement I made. I gave the characters a note which said they were to receive 5,000 pounds silver. I actually wrote it down for them. 

This one was special, I cribbed it from history. I pieced together details from a couple of manuscript and books on the death of William the Conqueror. The oldest son, Richard received all of Normandy and the William Rufus, the middle son received the Throne of England, 

"...while Henry received five thousand pounds in silver, which he hastened to secure, having it carefully weighed out to make certain that none of his appanage was denied him." 
~~Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Peterborough MS)

So Henry ran off to count his money. These documents have a biting edge that amused me and I thought that it would amuse the players to see something like this. 

It did. 

Except for one little thing. As I pieced together several documents to get the flavor right, but forgot the actual message because this often occurs in these historical writings. You have to piece together several to get a good read on the actual message of the author. Clearly, they are taking pot shots at their leadership. They also have pretty low opinions of them, because these families are clearly fighting with each other. 

William the Conqueror left these funds to Henry so he could purchase his own lands... but only left Henry enough silver to purchase about 1500 acres or 2.3 miles. So, Richard got Normandy, William Rufus got all of England and Henry got some silver, which is nothing when compared to what his brother's got. Talk about sending a message! 

Unfortunately, just like the Chronicle above I forgot to name the purpose of the silver, leaving the party with a ridiculous sum on paper. They were to buy or rent a ship with it. Worse, the way I phrased it, the players never actually got their hands on the physical silver, just a letter from the Emperor promising the silver to whoever was reading it. So, the party could show the letter saying they were to have access to 5,000 pounds silver worth of goods and then nothing... For relatively small purchases, no one would take this letter from the party. The party wrote out an IOU from the Emperor's treasury, which is hysterical when you think about it .

And boy, did they use it to the fullest. 

The message of this post is, don't forget the message. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

#RPGADAY2020 11. Stack


I like this one because it flows from the last entry, "want". 

When I design my campaigns and sessions, I stack the deck in my player's favor. My players are more likely to be wiped out by a bad die roll than any creation of mine. 

When planning, I use the rule of three to stack the deck in their favor. At the table, there are three ways to complete a task: Conflict, Parley, Escape. Usually, they end up being called: Combat, Talking and Flight. Under those three categories, I think of three ways to be victorious in a fight, three things the characters could say that would end the conflict and three ways to escape. 

Of course, my players are smart and they end up doing the exact same thing, with completely different answers and completely different outcomes. By working with the players ideas, the game flows naturally but no one can say where that flow will take us. 

Of late, I have been playing D&D with my family. A lot of one off modules, sessions and different rule sets. Last weekend, we tried playing Keep on the Borderlands with AD&D characters. It's a favorite of mine. 

This time, my kids found a game breaker in their first expedition to the caves. In all the times I've hosted or played "The Keep", this one possibility never occurred to me. And I look for game breakers. Mainly so I don't accidentally kill the party or allow the party to kill themselves. This solution to "Keep on the Borderlands" is pretty cool. I'll post about that separately, but the point is, by stacking all of the possibilities with the players capabilities in mind, you get an enjoyable game which does contain risk, but doesn't come off as "over-powering" or "loaded" against the people playing. 

#RPGADAY2020 10. Want


I want my players and I to have a good time. That's all. 

I could go into all of the other wants I have in life, but that would be a wordy list of things that would all point back to having a good time. 

"A good time" is a complex thing, at the table or in real life. It doesn't necessarily mean "you had a good time", it means quality.

A flat tire sucks. Having a flat time at exactly the moment you have a young driver in the car, who will need to know how to change a flat, is "a good time" because of the quality of the experience. Spending time with a child, teaching a skill, learning a skill are all quality events. 

That's all I want.