Thursday, July 28, 2011

DCC review part 2

I do not feel inclined to play this system again. 

Starting with a handful of random names, numbers, backgrounds, even if allowed to customize each one, still inserts to much of a degree of randomness.  From a power-gaming perspective, there are effectively only two methods of character creation that should be followed.  Each player should create each of the four fundamental character types or each player should create multiple versions of what they want to play so that the survivors are most likely to cover standard party needs and be something the player wants to play.  I'm also not inclined to want to have a starting character (though proven to be indifferent in Hackmaster) trying to "run" with higher level characters - making the funnel just a mechanic for playing 0-level characters.

Both magic path systems provide interesting development options, but at a cost that is probably a little too steep at the outset and just irritating at higher levels.

Certainly having disapproval (or whatever the term is) of the divine spell casting path makes the cleric more interesting and not the standard heal-bot.  However, such limitations on spell-casting make an already underpowered caster even less effective when combined with the silly "turn everything opposed to you" mechanic.  If the mechanic were scaled back to a more limited target: undead, outsiders, beasts, etc. - it would make for a more directed (and possibly interesting) character and limit "wasted" turning attempts and reduce disapproval build-up.

Corruption of an arcane spell caster is a pretty common theme in media and makes some sense as it relates our generally perceived ideas of magical addiction.  However, using this type of rolled 1 mechanic is specifically punishing spell-casters.  Certainly, the ability to continue casting spells as long as you don't fail a roll is powerful, but so is being able to swing a sword or fire a bow indefinitely and there isn't much punishment for a thief or fighter rolling a 1 - saving dropping a weapon, getting it stuck or breaking a bow string.  To balance that playing field, why not have the weapon wielder remove a finger/toe/eye/ear leading to them being "freaks" in the same manner as the arcane casters eventually become?  I know, because magic is so powerful, but a one-eyed, hook-handed, peg-legged barkeep is a great NPC.

Luck dice are just an added complication that people will often forget about or misuse (cheat) because they don't fully understand the mechanic and/or if it does or does not apply to every character and does or does not apply to each roll.  I'm not saying dumb it down, but it seems there could be a more effective implementation of this type of "bonus".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Popping the Hardcore Cherry

We rolled up characters for Labyrinth Lord (effectively original DnD) last week.  The players agreed to go "hardcore", meaning 3d6 straight down the line.  I know that two of the players really enjoy this type of game, one of the players has played enough RPGs to appreciate this, but one of the players gaming experience is limited to 3.5/Pathfinder and WoD (old rules).  Initially, I was concerned that this style of game might be more than she would be comfortable with - she proved me wrong and jumped right on board with the hardcore style.  The one non-hardcore option I invoked was to give them more starting funds than they would normally have.  In retrospect, I didn't really care, but maybe I was trying to give them a bit more survivability - weakness in a DM for a hardcore group, it will not happen again.

So here's what was rolled up:

My plan is to run them through a series of the "best of" modules for DnD - starting with The Keep on the Borderlands, then The Temple of Elemental Evil, Tomb of Horrors and into Against the Giants.  Maybe overly grand plans for an every-other-week group, but a guy can dream can't he?

I'm thinking I'll use the Locks & Keys document provided by -C on Hack & Slash where appropriate.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Knights of Badassdom - umm, yes please

Well, since Dungeons and Dragons and Your Highness did so well at the box office, I guess Hollywood decided to try again to tap into the gaming market.

Thus, I present to you:
Knights of Badassdom

(as seen previewed at Comic Con)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Game Cobbling

So there are things I really like about various editions of Dungeons and Dragons.  There are things I detest about various editions of Dungeons and Dragons.  There are things I love about World of Darkness.  There are things I detest about World of Darkness.  There get the picture.

So how come somebody doesn't put together a game that actually uses all the stuff that is most liked and gets rid of all the stuff that isn't liked?  -C joking said that we should just cobble a game system together that includes all the stuff we seem to like - detailed lock picking methods, crit tables, exploding dice, HP kickers, trap searching descriptions, limited mini-use combat - just to name a few.

So how does one do this and still maintain some conformity of system?  I guess we could just use a dozen different rule books, or get the pdfs and print out the sections we wanted, combined into a binder, but damn if that doesn't seem like a recipe for disaster, not to mention rules abuse.  While I have confidence in our current group not having a problem playing appropriately, we've had so many players want to "lawyer-up" to "win" the game.  I still don't think they have figured out that RPG's are not about winning.

So what should we do?  Suck it up and deal with the aspects of a system we don't like?  Spend hours/days trying to piecemeal a system we like, only to find huge gaping holes once we start playing it?  There is no perfect system, but is there a perfect solution?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Serenity/Firefly = Cowboy Bebop

So a bit off topic post today, but having watched the entire Serenity/Firefly (S/F) series over the weekend while tending to my recovering wife, I came to the realization that S/F and Cowboy Bebop (CB) are the same.

Though S/F has more characters, they are effectively just split versions of the CB crew.  I'm not going to go into the specific details of exactly how everything breaks down, but it is pretty easy to draw the comparisons if you have seen the shows.  If not, get them, watch them, enjoy them and appreciate them for the decent shows they are.  Each is less than 20 episodes and it's pretty easy to watch multiple episodes in a row.

How does this relate to gaming, well, my DM/GM/ST (-C) has been watching Stargate and has a pretty well developed space-based campaign setting that he barely got started before the group fell apart - something about one of the PCs choosing to urinate on an NPC.  Anyway, once we finish up the DCC beta, probably at or just after the end of the summer, maybe we'll move into that environment.  I'd very much welcome a change of scenery from the high fantasy worlds we've been playing in for the past couple of years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A take on human standards

As I sit in the waiting area of a hospital, it gives the opportunity to evaluate people from an objective perspective.  Everybody here is here for somebody else, everbody here has their own things going.  Nobody is here for fun or just to pass the time.

The fellow next to me didn't get any sleep last night because of relationship issues.  He's in a relationship with a quote: "much younger girl", he can't be over 30 and he descibes the relationship as exclusive, but there's another man involved.

So why am I telling you this?  Because as a DM, crafting a new world, this is the kind of stuff you have to consider.  You have to populate your world with people you don't understand, doing things you can't imagine doing, in ways that don't make any sense to you.

I can't provide any special insight into humanity, only that the next time you decide to start crafting your world, spend a little time at an ER/surgery waiting room, the local VFW post or a local college student union.  Watch, listen, take a few notes, you'll be surprised at just how varied humanity can really be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quotes and Notes

I've been thinking back over some of the best at-the-table quotes from the numerous groups I've played with.  Thought I'd share a few:

DM: "You feel kinda funny."
Player (Husband of DM, mage): "Like ha-ha funny?"
Dm: "No, like you lost a level funny."

Player (standing on the back of a ship in middle of the ocean, druid): "If you are going to jump, jump now."  Proceeds to throw an entire necklace of fireballs at his feet.

Player (fighter): "They never put minotaurs on the first level of dungeon."

Player (mage): "I am unkillable."
DM: "Roll a save vs. death, you'll need a 20."
Player rolls - 20.
DM: "Damn you."

Other players around the table: "Why are knocking the lizardmen back into the water?!?!?!"
Player (druid): "And now, the dire shark."

Players (4 in horrible Scottish accents) in unison: "BEER!!!! and PICKLES!?!?!"

Player (paladin): "I take off all my armor and stand in the middle of the road waiting on the giants."

Player (druid): "How come I can't talk to the ogre about joining us before he attacks?"

Player (paladin to town guard): "Don't you know who I am?  Can't you see I'm wearing the hat!"

Player (monk): "Forget the stick, use the kick."

DM: "What's your AC?"
Player (fighter): "-8"
DM: "Bullshit, let me see your character sheet.  Plate +(inaudible), Shield +(inaudible), +Dex bonus and magic buff - shit, ok."

Player (berserker): "I challenge the hobgoblin chief to a one-on-one battle for leadership of the tribe."
DM: "Ok, he's about 4 levels higher than you."
Player: "Oh well."
Several dice rolls later...
Player: "My army is now at your service fellow adventurers."

Players: "Wait, we're level 3, that's a beholder."
DM: "Some of you should survive the encounter."

More to come as I remember them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Contestants to the front

Most of you who read my blog also read HackSlashMaster so you already know.  Those of you who don't, here ya go.

Design a dungeon room contest.

Only got till August 2nd (my birthday by the way).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Board Games - missed a few

While I understand the PC nature of advertising and marketing these days, wouldn't it be refreshing to see people not get bent out of shape over a game?  Here's a list of a few that just wouldn't cut it in today's market - though I'd like to give Ghettopoly and Bomber uber England a go.

Board Games

Speaking of non-PC games, anybody ever played Pimp: the Backhand?  I never got a chance to play it, I played Vampire: The Eternal Struggle some (collected quite a few cards).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classic - swirling down the funnel part II

In reflecting on the previous sessions and anticipating the upcoming DCC session(s).  I think I have come upon what irritates me about this - the complete openness of player options and the complete lack of player choice.  Yes, you read that correctly - I can't stand having all the options available without actually being able to make a decision that matters.

But I can do anything I want - yup, I can play a fighter with 7 str and 4 con; I can play a wizard with 9 int and 16 dex - the stats don't matter.  But they do matter, in that I have had 25+ years of games conditioning me to think that they do matter and 36 (soon to be 37) years of life telling me that you do what you are good at.  There's a reason I'm not a translator for the UN (not good with foreign languages) or a fighter pilot (poor eyesight).  There is a reason I'm a computer guy (I understand the logic of a computer) and practice kenpo (good coordination and physical ability). 

But ultimately, I'm not sold on the system because I'm not playing what I want to play in the manner that I want to play it (yeah, I know, boo-fucking-hoo).  I don't play a lot of console games because I didn't want to play Hero X who has powers Q, 7, Power Gleek and Flash Bang.  I'd rather play a computer game where I get to choose Defensive Power: Shield Increase or Offensive Power: Ice Spell Enhancement.  (Yes, I know that console games have moved more towards the latter in the recent years - I'm too cheap to go buy a new TV, console, extra controllers and games). 

So what to do about this issue?  Well, I don't know.  Any advice is welcome, but don't get butt hurt if I think your opinion or idea stinks.  In the mean time, let's see how the character creation of DCC plays out and this module -C is running us through: Malice of the Medusa.

FYI -C is holding back posting his take on the whole thing till it's over and he can evaluate it.  I'm taking the opposite approach and posting about how I feel at each step of the evaluation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What will happen?

For those of you who are unhappy with the performance of Blogger - you may just be in luck.

Blogger Changes

Not sure exactly what will change, but I'm probably going to like it.