Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Evolving Encounter Design

Almost took out two
players with this one.

A while back one of my friends asked if I could make a post about encounter design.  Riding high on a couple views here and there, I guaranteed that would be the next post though I wasn't entirely certain what exactly I would be describing.  Five posts and several months later, I'm finally getting around to it.  Trying to put together my planning method into a coherent design post, I've discovered something interesting.  I've been making some pretty awful encounters.

Now this doesn't mean that I think of myself as bad at DMing.  Indeed, this exercise will hopefully make me a better one.  Having had time recently to play on a regular basis has, of course, done some of the same.  What I intend to do (and what I will describe) is how I plan to change how I make encounters and my reasons behind that.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crit-Failed Craft (Blogposts)

Apparently this is a thing!  Who knew?
My last post was way back in February and I'm rather embarrassed about that.  I'd like to pin it on the demon of not getting enough time to game, but I've actually had the chance to play pretty consistently since then and am on my way to a TableTopDay game with my old home crew.  My plan is to begin posting again in a more focused way as I've now got several things I'd really like to talk about.  For now though, I just want to make a quick recap of recent gaming to kind of center my thoughts.

The game I've been playing the most has been using Pathfinder rules with the game world of Ecletia that I've partially described.  It's been fantastically steampunk-y and quite a lot of fun so far.  I'm still working out a couple of kinks (such as deciding whether having a player Skype in is useful or distracting) and getting a good working schedule.  The main structure I've been using is a plot-line (which unfortunately has been a little railroady to start) which culminates each session in an interesting battle of some kind.  I'm really not sure how this hasn't been something that I've done from the beginning.  There's really no excuse for the Boss Encounter at the end not to have something cool or interesting to change the flow of combat.  The first session of Ecletia I put the battle on two airships careening down out of the sky which worked very well, but I think I dropped the ball on the second.  I simplified an element at the last minute to being just a boon for the players instead of the threat/boon I'd originally planned.

I'm now about to head over to a friend's to play a one shot of some kind.  We're looking to use the Wushu rules to keep things simple but haven't actually decided upon a genre to play in.  In all honesty, this plan came together approximately two hours ago total so not a whole has been discussed at all.  I'm realizing that although I spend quite a bit of time and effort planning plots and ideas for my ongoing campaign, I'm just about never totally ready if something unexpected comes up as a chance to play something.  It won't do any good for today, but I'm thinking it could be worthwhile to write up some interesting genre-generic plots that I think I can cover in a single session for times when I don't get the chance to plan things.

In any case, happy Easter and wishes of good gaming from Culture Loot!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The World of Ecletia

When we sat down to play Dawn of Worlds the intention wasn't just to play the game for the fun of playing, but to make a world we would actually want to make.  A couple of things were decided ahead of time.  We were going to make a world with all new non-human races, at least a hint of Steampunk, and a focus that isn't on humans.  I am currently in the process of using Eclipse to make the races to be used with Pathfinder rules which actually doesn't seem like it will need a lot of houserules beyond the races themselves.  This post is just attempting to describe the world as a whole and give a listing of the races.  I'm going to order this in the order that the races came to be so as to follow the narrative as it was written.  Some things remain unnamed as we are still working out details.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Undiscovered Loot Info

I often bounce between quite a few different computers when I'm working on things and oftentimes am not especially well organized.  I've decided instead of keeping it all packed away behind private Google documents that I'll toss some of my in-progress blogging and worldbuilding into a link here on the blog.  The content there will likely be even more loose and disorganized than normal posts with little in the way of formatting.  The good thing about this is that it will allow me to post things without needing to spam any RSSers (beyond this initial post.  Sorry).  

If you are interested in the undiscovered loot check it out here or follow me on twitter where I will be posting when there are updates.  Thanks for reading and good gaming out there!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Relative Evil Scale

This guy didn't multiclass paladin.
During my undergraduate years I wrote for a detective radio drama that aired once a week with a brand new mystery.  When it started out things were pretty simple; bad guy shows up, detective figures him out, bad guy goes to jail.  As this started to slowly begin to feel stale the other writers and I played around with adding longer lasting characters and plot lines without a whole lot of concern for tone.  Then we realized that we had made a terrible mistake.  As the episodes went by our villains kept getting meaner and meaner as our main character started getting more and more humanitarian.  We can't have a sparkly clean hero!  This is a 1930's noir for crying out loud!

We sat down one day to discuss this weird change in tone and to try to figure out how to fix it.  What we came up with then is something I now do every time I am running a campaign.  It does an excellent job preventing alignment creep and can even be used to avoid stereotyping a specific class of character as being always good or always bad.  I have come to call it the Relative Evil Scale.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dawn of Worlds: Dear Game Makers, Make This

Our Rough-Draft In-Game Map.
I mentioned in my previous post on 4e that I also got a chance this week to play the free world-building game  Dawn of Worlds from the apparently long defunct Legends Games.  I mentioned as well a decided contrast between the two games that I think goes beyond the different group composition or the method in which we played.  While I enjoyed both of them immensely, I think that where we got lucky with Dawn of Worlds is that we played it with a nearly perfect setup: playing through Google Hangouts using Tabletop Forge with a group that hadn't discussed too many world specifics ahead of time.  I'm going to likely be making more posts soon regarding what we actually created, but for now I want to look more at the process and why you should already be getting a group of people together to make your very own world.

Friday, January 25, 2013

D&D 4e Play Report: Lots of Fun, Not Lots of RP

This past week (while I was fastidiously failing to post anything here) I had the opportunity for the first time ever to break out my gaming stuff twice in one week. Well, to break out my gaming stuff twice in one week with other people. I'm going to be giving each of these an article separately (as I can't manage a short post to save my life) but I think that it bears mentioning the second game simply because it will contrast so much with the first. I played a mostly core-fantasy D&D 4e game in person with my hometown group and then a couple days later played made a steampunk kind of world using Dawn of Worlds through G-hangout with some members of the new group.

Character Generation and Setup

My first gaming experience was with the 3.5 rules of Dungeons and Dragons and from the beginning I found most of that pretty intuitive.  Sure, there can be some weird things with grappling and character building can be something of an enjoyable challenge, but it more or less makes sense the majority of the time.  If there's a build that doesn't work out well I feel like I can look at the sheet and quickly know where the problem is.  When 4e came out I assumed that my previous experience would carry over in a meaningful way.  Unfortunately, it really hasn't.