Posts Tagged ‘skill challenges’

More musings on 4e and my apparent software/hardware mismatch.

March 19, 2010

I usually don’t read gaming blogs (present company excluded), but a friend on LiveJournal (badlydrawnjeff) linked to a post this morning about 4e combat, I thought it articulated the reasons 4e probably did not click for me the one time I played it, and I thought I could boil that post down into a simple mathematical formula:

A) Powers: “we’re playing a card game now” +

B) Positioning minis: “we’re playing chess now” +

C) Too Many Choices: choices for movement, choices for hitting, choices for encounter/daily/etc powers… it leads to boardgame over-thinking and stagnation =

D) Combat is just too damned long.




[4e] Skill Challenge – It’s A Trap!

March 10, 2010

I’ve been in the situation before. The Planning Session. The party needs to do X and you spend an entire evening bouncing ideas around of how to do it. Eventually you end up with a plan and there may be some good actual role-playing in there but to me at least it usually feels frustrating. And whether there’s any kind of quantitative benefit tot he planning is usually entirely in the hands of the GM.

In the game I’m running we’d hit this situation. The PCs had in the previous session encountered a Githyanki skyship and had fled from it, killing the captain and first officer in the process. For various reasons they knew that they needed to either capture or incapacitate the ship. But there were 4 of them and the ship contained a crew of 40 Githyanki and 100 Warforged soldiers, not to mention having the advantages of flying and possessing lightning guns. Seemingly insurmountable odds but the lives of thousands of NPCs were at stake here. A frontal attack would be stupid; they needed to plan an ambush that neutralized as many of the Gith advantages as they could. So I whipped up a skill challenge. Four, actually.

In some ways I was borrowing from my friend John’s game Caper and from the tradition of heist films where the planning and the implementation of that plan are not in strict linear time and may actually be coming together during the “action” itself.


Have “No” Be Fun

June 2, 2009

That was Rob’s advice for dealing with the Tyranny of Yes, and as always it’s spot on the money.

See, I like failure. I think it builds character and the sense of heroic effort. Probably the most memorable chain of events in my gaming life was kicked off by a colossal failure of judgment on the part of the PCs (okay, truth be told, it was entirely my poor judgment and I somehow convinced the party to go along) which led to a whole mess involving a chaos god and releasing an ancient nether drake and…you know what, let’s just draw the curtain on the whole sordid affair and simply say it was eventful and never again discuss whose fault it was.

ANYWAY yeah, failure that is just failure is stupid and a bummer and grinds play to an unsatisfying halt . Failure with consequences is awesome story fodder. This isn’t a new insight – Paul Tevis had a bit to say on the topic recently, and so has pretty much anybody who has written anything about setting stakes and good use of Skill Challenges. A failed skill check or challenge should never be a “no” or a “try again in 10 minutes”. Unless it’s an absolutely ridiculous request I try to never say an outright “no” to the players but instead to always use the “yes, but.” Again, nothing new here. (more…)

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