Monday, November 30, 2015

Rolling when it matters

Just a brief thought today, occasioned by Doug:

When you roll the dice, make it matter

Pretty much, that. Especially this:

"But bringing out the dice should either mean enabling something good, or inflicting/avoiding something bad. Otherwise, just keep moving."

What I said in the comments way:

"Yeah, this. Roll when success matters and/or failure matters. Preferably both. If nothing interesting can come of the roll, skip it. And if something interesting should come regardless of the roll, just go with that."

The first part is pretty self-explanatory - use the dice to settle things that could go either way, when having them go one way or the other has consequences.

This means:

- no "roll until you succeed" rolls unless the number of rolls matters (time costs, energy costs, consequences outside of the roll itself.)

- no "roll until you fail" for the same reasons. If you've got 100 death checks to make, you're going to die. But if it matters how far you get before you die, well, get rolling. Maybe you'll hold on long enough.

- ideal rolls are interesting no matter what happens - they're determining which of a range of interesting outcomes will occur.

But that second bit needs a little explanation, I think.

It boils down to don't roll when only one interesting possibility exists. Don't roll for Wandering Monsters if the game will be far better if something shows up - just have it happen. Chandler didn't roll to see if a gunman would burst in and give Marlowe the business and advance the plot from a stuck point. You don't have to either. Just make it happen.

If the bad guy falls off the cliff and his dying or surviving both have cool outcomes, roll. If only him living has a cool outcome, just select that. And vice-versa.

That way you get a nice mix of narrative interest (of course the daughter of the evil high priest has a weakness for one of the party members, don't make a reaction roll!) and random effect (and that party member is [roll, roll] the horrifyingly ugly half-orc assassin!)

Remember that dice are tools. Die rolls are tools. Rolling the dice doesn't commit you to accepting their outcome (although general, it's worth doing so.) And having dice doesn't commit you to using them to determine everything. Keep it moving, keep it interesting, and use die rolls as a tool. Bust them out when it matters, not just because you've used them in that situation in the past.

Nothing new there, but I felt like I needed to get that out in words.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 6 - Sweep & Clear & Crows

Busy game session - we got a lot done in this one. I probably missed stuff in the summary - details, mostly.

"Hillbilly" (me) - medical specialist
"Short Bus" (Mike D) - computer programmer
"Fatbox" (John M) - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" (Tom P) - computer programmer
"Love Handles" (Vic L) - demo/EOD

Present but NPC'ed:
"Caveman" (Jon L) - demo/EOD (back at Bal'Kree)
"Barbie" (Mike H) - demo/EOD (MIA)
"Princess" (Andy D) - cryptographer/sniper (with us but NPC'd)

My Gamma Terra t-shirt

This is the shirt I bust out when we play Gamma Terra, like we're going to today:

Admittedly I own (and wear) a lot of WFMU t-shirts, but that one is my Gamma Go-To.

I'm hoping my PC doesn't end up resembling that guy too much.

As for our GM, he comes head-to-toe in Vault Tec apparel. There is no out-doing a person like that.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Five More Monster Cards

I've been methodically cleaning and reorganizing my gaming materials as I try to neaten up my office.

I found five more of my monster cards. I have all but one of these collections at some point.

Here are the bugbear, stone giant, merman, sylph, and hybsil. I wonder if anyone ever uses the hybsil?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Rolemaster C&T in-joke

I busted out the Rolemaster Creatures & Treasures book this morning because I was reminded of one of their oddball treasures.

I figured I'd look it up and see if I could use it or a variant in my own games. But I stumbled on this:

"Rune of Illiteracy: All within 50' cannot read or write for 1-100 days. (Also known as the Rune of Fluvanna.)"

Pre-internet, that was meaningless to me. No longer. Fluvanna is a county in Virginia . . . and the writers and producers of the book were based in Virginia.


(My old home town gets slammed repeatedly in Futurama, so I'm still one up on the Rolemaster guys.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Old School Grappling Revised/Revival

There have been a few articles about grappling recently that I'd like to link to:

First is a grappling system for a DnD-based game still in development. The original rules are over at Goblins & Greatswords:

Goblins & Greatswords: Grappling made simple(ish)

And before I could even link it over to him, Doug spotted it and wrote up a really nice look at it:

Grappling at The Flagon

Doug is the man when it comes to grappling rules. He's got a very solid grasp of what's needed and how things work. Not only that, he's simultaneously the guy that made GURPS grappling much more complex and made the core of the rules much more simple with GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling.

Meanwhile, here is a nice spin on the DnD/Clone friendly grappling article Doug and I co-wrote for The Manor #8.*

Dynamic Grappling

It's both flattering and inspiring when someone takes what you've written and gone and worked on it more.

In theory, that's how Doug feels about all the emails I send him saying, "I made TG simpler again by ditching all of your hard work. What do you think?" Heh.

* Standard joke: Doug writes something awesome but complex. I saw, "Make it simpler, like so." Doug fixes it. I claim half the credit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vic's D&D 4th and D&D 5th Session Summaries

One of my players - Vic - is also a GM. He's got session summaries up of two campaigns.

The Unlikely Heroes of Nentir Vale (D&D 4th, completed)

Greyhawk's Lesser Known Heroes (D&D 5th edition, current)

Folks familiar with Caravan to Ein Arris will find some of the second group of summaries quite familiar . . .
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