Archive for the ‘General Grousing’ Category

13 First Dates

August 4, 2013

A word about why I’m reading Dungeon World.  I had an idea that I proposed to my local group (the same bunch from my 4e/13th Age campaign) – we would do a series of one-shots of systems we’ve wanted to try out for a while, rotating who GMs, using those to build a world history for an eventual main campaign. Kind of a longer-running variant of a lexicon game.

I have a handful of systems I want to try out for this. Dungeon World, Burning Wheel/Torchbearer, Sorcerer & Sword, and of course my beloved Rolemaster (or a d20-ish mashup of it that may be more palatable to the group). Others have thrown in 3.5 or Pathfinder, Sons of Liberty, Falkenstein, Agon, old school BECMI D&D, and who knows what else is to come.

The eventual goal is a 13th Age campaign with a fleshed out history, with legends epics of the past and different Icons for each age, all fleshed out by the group. We may well end up with a very different picture than the established Icons and “modern” setting of the 13th Age core book (the presence of Sons of Liberty and Falkenstein in the lineup suggests rather more steam-power than canonical) .  We may well have a one-shot for each Age (I’m planning on kicking things off with a 0th Age Sorcerer & Sword session around the fall of the Wizard King). And if we do one game a month (one session for character creation and basic grasp of the rules, one for play) we may well be looking at a full year.  It’s exciting, challenging, ambitious, and likely to end in calamity. We’ll see where it goes.

A Whole New World

August 4, 2013

A quiet day with tacos, hot wings, the Shaw Bros. and a pile of rpgs to read. Pretty perfect.

On the last note, I’m currently reading Dungeon World and I think I’m missing what makes people fall in love with the game. The Moves seem to be regular D&D-esque class abilities, the triggers are just explicit statements of how the abilities are to be used, the DM moves seem like basic techniques. Maybe once again I’ve been blessed with outstanding gaming groups where this kind of play is the norm and not completely revolutionary. I can’t even imagine what most groups must be like if that’s the case.

I do like the resolution mechanic of 10+ being a success and 7-9 partial. That bit I may want to steal. And the Bonds that connect the PCs together. Fronts seem like a good way to organize and do larger picture prep – I feel like I do a lot of this already but not in a structured way.  The directive to “begin and end with the fiction” is a good one, and one I could bear to keep in mind more often. So there are very nice bits in here without question.

If you’ve read or played Dungeon World or any of the other Apocalypse World hacks, what makes it sing for you?

Gentlemen, to evil!

July 7, 2013

This summer I’m running a game of the late lamented Marvel Heroic RPG. But with villains. It’s an angle on supers that I haven’t done and I think allows for more sandboxing than the usually responsive hero mode.

John and I whipped up a Pathways system based on the Smallville RPG, and out first session was to follow the flowchart and make the relationship map. It was a lot of fun, and it created a lot of interesting twists the players hadn’t considered, but we should have talked more about themes and directions before setting off into it. And we made some assumptions/mistakes – we left out the step from Smallville that everybody defines their connection to all the other PCs. I’d said (but perhaps not very clearly) that I’d wanted the group to be an already established crew. It turned out very much not that way and the first two sessions have almost entirely been trying to get the PCs together.

I also wouldn’t recommend this kind of approach to a GM who has a firm story that s/he wants to tell in mind. I went into the session with only the vaguest notion of an overall plot for the game, and have since completely discarded that.  Too much good stuff on the paper to just ignore it (and why ask the players to do all that if you’re not going to use it?).

Regarding MHR itself, I still really like it but I feel like I don’t fully get it. I have no idea if I’m managing my Doom Pool correctly. I don’t have a good sense of what’s an appropriate opposition level for my group. I feel that the differences between Assets/Resources/Complications are fuzzy at best. It’s hard to explain but it feels like a better game in theory than in practice to me.  I’ll keep keeping on – this game has 4 or 5 more sessions theoretically – and see how I feel at the end, or if I can explain the problem I’m having with it any better.

Also, note to self: 4-5 players, max. Always. I love my friends dearly and love that they have interest in things I want to run but 7 person games are going to drive me to drink.

 

Planning Ahead

November 30, 2012

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…)

A couple more 13th Age things

September 6, 2012

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:

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[Descent] Pixels iactae sunt

August 25, 2012

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…)

Changing Horses Pt 3: 13th Age Part 1

July 26, 2012

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))

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Changing Horses Pt 2: Savage Worlds

July 15, 2012

This past Wednesday the group kicked the tires on Savage Worlds as a possible contender as a new system for our D&D campaign. I was really in my heart of hearts looking more for a d20 based game so it wasn’t such a system shock, but I liked what I saw in SW and decided to give it a whirl. (more…)

Changing horses midstream, pt 1

July 15, 2012

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…)

The DM’s Role/Rule in 4E, Organized Play, and Beyond

February 27, 2012

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…)


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