I’m beginning to toss around thoughts on my next game after my current one (D&D 4e converted to 13th Age) wraps. I’m pretty firmly settled on some kind of historical fiction. I’ve never really done that before but I work better either in a licensed setting or when stealing someone else’s intellectual property. I’m a better synthesizer than I am a wholesale creator; I know this about myself and it’s where I have more fun. And history gives me that. (more…)
Archive for the ‘General Grousing’ Category
1. Session 3 of my one-shot went very well. It was an evening of almost entirely combat – 2 encounters plus some stuff in the middle. The encounters went very nicely and there was some sweet improvised stunting.
At one point the characters were on an airship that was plummeting to the ground, out of control.
Len (whose character had taken the ship’s helm and was looking for a place to crash land): “Is there a body of water nearby? or some woods?”
Me: “Well, there’s the Queen’s Wood…”
Len: “Do you think she’d mind?”
Next up for us is converting the characters from our 4e game!
2. Support the Kickstarter to fund the first supplement (which will include the Monk, Druid and Chaos Shaman classes as well as some really sweet setting stuff like Living Dungeons, which are awesome).
3. One thing my players didn’t like was the character sheet. The defenses are on the front (or page 1) but the basic attacks are on the back (or page 2), leading to constant flipping. So the redoubtable John O’Brien cut and pasted up a one-page version from the one that was provided. Since it was directly derived from their sheet I checked with Rob Heinsoo before posting it, and he said okay, 13th Age- New Sheet!
4. Dan – you remember Dan? From the last post? – played a demo at GenCon. Here’s his report:
Yes yes, I know it’s all Descent and 13th Age all the time here lately. They’re my 2 current obsessions. Give it a week. And this is useful for other games as well, so get off my furry feathered ass. (also, I’m totally stabbing in the dark on the Latin up there.)
ANYWAY, Descent second edition uses different dice than the first edition. Which made me a sad owlbear, because I’d bought a bunch of extra sets if 1e dice. Also, FF isn’t selling extra sets of 2e dice (yet. If there’s a penny to be sucked out of my pockets, FFG will find a way to do it).
So I poked around online and the folks at the Board Game Geek forum had the answer, at least for a digital replacement. (more…)
Last night I ran the first of a 2-part session of 13th Age, a game that is a strong favorite to be the system I convert my 4e campaign over to. It didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped but I still have faith. This system still “feels” like a right fit to me.
13th Age is a d20-based fantasy game. What another one? Yes, but this one is by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, two names with strong game development kung-fu. Right now the game is in “pre-release” stage; you can pre-order it from the link above and you get a draft pdf. It’s gone through a number of extensive playtesting rounds but its far from finished. Still I couldn’t wait to get my mitts on this game. It’s closer to 4e than other d20 variants in a number of ways but strips out a lot of the complexity of other versions and replaces it with a shot of indie game narrative control.
For example, where other games present players with a fixed laundry list of Skills, 13th Age uses “Backgrounds”, which are free-form player-created short phrases, much like Distinctions in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game or Tweet’s own Over the Edge. The result, I think, encourages players to be more creative to solve skill-based problems and requires that they think a little bit about their character background/values.
For this two-shot I statted up characters beforehand but left off the Backgrounds, the Relationships (connections the character has to the 13 most powerful NPCs/factions in the world) and the character’s One Unique Thing. Every 13th Age character has a Unique Thing about them, and developing these can help to shape the campaign world as well as defining the character and what makes them special.
(more behind the break, but hey you can download the actual audio of our session here! (please please right click and Save Link As instead of just streaming))
My 4e D&D game has now passed its third birthday. What started with three players in May 2009 dealing with mysterious zombie uprisings and hostile tribes of Shifters lurking in the woods has transformed to a cosmos-hopping six player epic scale beast with all of Creation at stake. I’ve never had a single game run this long, nor been running one system pretty much exclusively for this length of time.
But a couple months ago I started to feel burnt out. (more…)
As a D&D child of the 70′s and 80′s, I’d never questioned the rule of the DM. It’s our shared game, but the DM is the glue that holds it together. The DM makes up the adventures (or prepares the published modules) and runs them, adjudicating both the players’ actions and what response the adventure has in store for them. Players know the rules, but don’t have perfect knowledge of how those rules are applied in the game world for any particular situation. In other words, the role of the DM is to rule.
But that’s not necessarily true these days. (more…)
My gaming options have been fluctuating widely this past year, and not for (just) the usual scheduling issues we all seem to run into. In short, the economy sucks.
While I still regularly game with the same two groups I have written of previously, the composition of both groups has varied several times over the past year, and there has been consolidation. Instead of groups of 6 and 7 with an overlap of two, the groups are now 4 and 5 with an ovelap of 3 players (myself included). The changes are due to loss of jobs, and the subsequant consequences some of which entailed players moving away to other states, or taking shifts preventing them from making traditional game times. Included in these personnel changes have been the other regular GMs for the groups, so I’ve been running more, and more regularly, than I perhaps ever have. Given all of the ideas I have for games, this should be a good thing, right?
-Tomb of Goddamn Horrors continues apace. Today went much better than last week. Although we left off in the middle of an encounter with an Elite or Solo thingy that looks mighty grim. Interesting encounter as it shell-gamed us: some nasties popped up, one of whom we assumed to be a Big Bad so I started dropping Daily powers on it, only to be puzzled at how easy it seemed to be to hit. Then a round or so later the real Big Bad made its presence known. But in the two and a half encounters we did today, we didn’t come close to wiping, so go us. Special thanks to my brother Drew for guest-spotting in with a Minotaur Barbarian from Southie and helping to keep us alive.
-At the local store where I got the Essentials books tonight I also hefted/looked at the Castle Ravenloft boardgame. Woof! That’s a hefty box! For those of you who judge games solely based on weight, this is a must-have! I’ve heard nearly universally good things about it (likening it to both Descent and Betrayal at House on the Hill, which places it firmly in my wheelhouse). Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to see it’s a full $15 less on Amazon than it was in the store, and I don’t actually like that store very much*, so onto the Wishlist it goes. Ditto (including the $15 less) for Green Ronin’s DC Adventures RPG, which is similarly directly marketed at me.
*Anyone wishing to write a screed about how Amazon is killing the Friendly Local Game Store and destroying the hobby/gamer culture as a whole is invited to do so elsewhere.
I recently found I was in an unhappy place with my 4e campaign. We’re a year and a half in and have pulled down maybe 15 or 18 sessions. We seem to end up canceling due to conflicts more often than we actually run a session. I’d taken to running one shots from LFR and Dungeon on down weeks but the main game was suffering from severe lack of momentum. I suggested wrapping up the game in 2 or so more sessions, but some of the players have expressed interest in continuing. They’ve suggested adding a couple more players and just going ahead with whoever can make it that week. Which would work but would require a major retooling of my plotting and GMing style.
I tend to run “tight” games – the events take place over a brief time period and have some sort of urgency. Stop the big bad before X happens, get to the artifact before someone else does. One session directly leads into the next with not a lot of down time in between. Because of this structure the PCs always are together and someone entering the picture or vanishing is jarring to continuity.
There are a couple of different directions the campaign can go in the Paragon tier (we’re meeting tonight to talk about that) but it looks like I’m going to need to set things up in a more modular or episodic format. Make each session a bit more self-contained and allow the PCs to go back to HQ between each adventure, all while moving toward an overall larger plot goal (to be determined by the players. I can provide more info about the 3 “paths” for the game that I see possible if anyone wants). It’s not how I’ve tended to think in my games over the past decade or so – I think the Crusaders supers game in Columbus was the last time I ran an “episodic” game.
I’m trying to think of models to use, and of course turn to television, and specifically geek tv. I’ll need to be more Torchwood season 2 and less Children of Earth. More mid-run DS9 than season 7. Anyone have any other good “episodic while still touching on larger plot progression each session” examples? I definitely don’t want a pure episodic thing, like TNG or the majority of X-Files. Has anyone run a game that was structured this way and has any advice to share in de-compressing the story arc?
(this is all assuming the PCs survive the war against an aboleth and an upcoming Githyanki invasion, of course)