Saturday, 30 March 2013

D&D House Rule: Cooperative Monster Effects


  Firstly, while I’ll be using D&D 3.5 as the main mechanical example, it can be easily used for any version of D&D with minimal effort. With that out of the way…
  I was looking at the stats for the Allip earlier and read about its ‘Babble’ effect. Basically, you have to roll a saving throw to avoid being fascinated/hypnotized/take-your-pick-depending-on-what-edition-or-variant-of-D&D-you-play-with.
  I remembered this encounter I had as a player where we rolled a lot more dice than one usually rolls during an encounter… There was a mind-controlling demon and a room full of Allips. (I’ll probably tell that story in one of my upcoming videos!) Anyway, we were playing D&D 3.5 and every single round we had to roll against the Demon’s mind control, against every single Allip’s Babble, and then roll our attacks if we made those saves. Oh, wait, actually we ALSO had to roll the 50% miss chance even if our attacks would have normally hit the Allips, since Allips are incorporeal and our weapons were not Ghost Touch weapons! And my Urban Ranger had four attacks per round, that was a lot of confirming to do. (Saying “%, %, %, %, %…” is still an inside joke in our gaming trio.)
  Anyway, every round needed a lot of dice rolling is what I’m saying. So earlier as I read the Allip section of the book, it occurred to me. Perhaps a way for GMs to streamline such encounters and minimize die rolling would be to simply combine all similar effects into a greater effect instead. What do I mean by that?
  Well, first of all as a rule of thumb, you’d have to combine monsters that are all the same and/or have the same type of attack/effect at the same (or similar) Difficulty Class (or challenge base, or whatever other term your favored game uses). Then, instead of having players roll against each monster’s effect individually, you just combine them all into a single, harder roll.
  For example, if using D&D 3.5/Pathfinder and the Allip’s Babble at a DC of 16… Instead of rolling a Will Save at DC 16 for each Allip, you roll it once, but at +2 DC for every additional Allip. (DC 18 in the case of two, DC 20 in the case of three…) Basically what you’re doing is trading the odds of a player failing his save by added rolls with the odds of a player failing his save because of a higher DC.
  While it’s a hard rule to put into ‘fixed’ terms, I think a DM’s rule of thumb and common sense will have to reign supreme if anyone is to try this. For example, if there are so many monsters that a previously feasible saving throw has now become literally impossible for the players to succeed in, or if the trade-off between ‘risk of failure via repetition’ and ‘risk of failure due to higher difficulty’ is no longer equal, then you need to either use the normal rules, or split the single group of monsters into two groups. (So two die rolls instead of one, but still less die rolls than what would have been initially) That group could also be split more than once, but let’s keep the explanation and examples as simple as possible with two groups of monsters.
  As a side-note, I would discourage this house rule with effects that cause actual damage of any sort unless you’ve really considered what would happen in the case of a single failed roll and think it’s acceptable. I think that ‘Cooperative Monster Effects’ should not be used with stacking results (such as HP damage as the most obvious example) unless you really know what you’re doing.
  What do I mean by that? Let’s go back to using the Allip as an example. Its mind-controlling Babble affects a character (in D&D 3.5) for 2d4 rounds. It’s not really something that stacks in any important way. In other words, if there are six Allips in the room and one has affected a character, it’s pointless to continue rolling against the other ones and then rolling 2d4 for every other time the player failed his roll, then seeing which one lasts longer. It’s not an effect that stacks, but rather one that ‘replaces’ the previous one if a higher number is rolled.
   Let’s see how this could play out.
  Billy the Barbarian (awesome name, am I right?) enters a room with 6 Allips in it. Evil DM, a huuuuuge fan of my blog (of course!) has decided to try out my cool little house rule for this encounter! However, a DC of 16 + [2 per additional Allip] would result in a DC of 26!!! A bit too harsh, even by Evil DM’s evil standards. Thus, he’s split the Allips into two groups of three. In other words, Billy the Barbarian will have to make two Will saves at DC 20 to resist their Babble effect. (3 Allips using Babble cooperatively = 16 +2 +2)
  Billy succeeds at his first saving throw but fails the second. If the group had been larger and there had been a third group, Evil DM would decide another roll is not needed, since the whole goal of using this house rule is to minimize die rolling in a round. Evil DM rolls 2d4 and gets a 3, so for 3 rounds, the Babble effect will affect Billy. Of course, it’s supposed to be centered on one Allip, so Evil DM simply rolls randomly with 1d6 to determine which of the 6 Allips from the second gorup has affected him. (A new die roll, but still less in total than if Billy had to roll his saving throw six times and then Evil DM had to roll 2d4 for each failed roll!)
  Now, under D&D 3.5, once a character has successfully saved against an Allip’s Babble, he can’t be affected by the same Allip with that effect for 24 hours. Let’s say the rest of the party catches up with Billy in that room and the Allips are now distracted by these adventurers and don’t finish Billy’s off (or at least his Wisdom score). Billy’s three rounds of being under the effect pass and he’s in control of himself again. He still has to save against the Babble effects of the Allips once more though. However, he’s now immune to the Babble effect of one Allip. In that case, simply remove that previous +2 to one of the rolls. (Thus, one save at DC 18 and another still at DC 20)
  The reason why we kept track of which Allip Billy managed to save against earlier, other than for the obvious role-playing and strategical reasons, is because if the party destroys an Allip, it’s important to know if it’s one that can still use Babble on him or one that can’t affect Billy anymore. In the latter case, the DC would go down again by 2.
  It would also be possible for an Allip being the sole ‘survivor’ (Not that undead have actually survived!) of the initial group of three to join with the still-intact second group of three to go for a single DC of 22, but maybe that would be too harsh, depending on Evil DM’s bias and the saving throws that the PCs have. It’s always important for the DM to know what DC should be the ‘ceiling’ for this house rule.
  I’ve used 3.5 as my main example for this article, but it can easily be used for other versions of D&D, just use your judgment on how each additional monster would modify the saving throw.Don’t forget that in the case of effects that have to be aimed at specific enemies, you need to split up the groups even more if they aim them at different targets. In some rounds it might mean that you run the rules as they would be officially before switching back to this house rule if they decide to concentrate on a single target afterwards.
  I’d like to thank Thauriel_Nerub from the Lamentations of the Flame Princess forums and Mbeacom from the Troll Lord Games forums for their feedback.
  And if any of you use this house rule, please let me know how it went! ^_^
(This article has been edited since it was originally posted for clarifications and errata.)

How to Find RPG Players


D&D Variants


How to Not be a Bad Roleplayer! Episodes 1 & 2


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Of Beholders and Daleks

  There’s something that I had to share, as a fan of Doctor Who and D&D… While it wouldn’t seem like that at first glance, Doctor Who’s Daleks and D&D’s Beholders are extremely similar!!!

  How so? Well, let’s go with a list, shall we?

1. Xenophobic, Insane and Murderous: Check. Both species are highly xenophobic and evil, to the point where they won’t even tolerate different versions of their own kind and will think of those as inferior, no matter how small the differences!






2. Death Ray as their primary attack: Check!




3. Aberrations: Check. Both are aberrations, unnatural creatures that have nothing to do with what a natural creature should look like.








  Also, I am sorry for using an image from the first D&D movie. I am so, so sorry!

4. They don’t use their limbs to move around: In fact, both creatures can fly. (Although in the Daleks’ case, it’s a more recent development in the stories. But still, they’ve been swagging for decades without the use of arms and legs!)








5. Both have a creepy central eye/main eye: While the Beholder actually has many eyes, both creatures have a thematic central eye that is more ‘focused’ when the monster is visually represented.




6. Both are the most iconic monster of their respective franchise: Well okay, dragons are probably the most popular monster in ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ to the casually interested person, they’re in the title after all… But putting them aside, the Beholder, being a monster created for D&D, is the one that most long-time players will think of as the most ‘D&D-ish’ monster. As for Daleks, do I even need to explain myself?
  They are both used for merchandise, spin-offs and conventions, with a loyal fanbase always asking for more of these awful, terrible monsters that would kill us… on sight. (Get it, get it?)




Thoughts and Advice on Using Beholders for D&D


  I’ve recently become a huge fan of the Beholder. I’ve known this D&D monster for a long time, but only now do I consider myself a fan of it. Is it because, as a fan of Pathfinder, I think the Bestiary is missing something without the famous Eye Tyrant and the equally aberrational Mind Flayer being in the book? At this point they’re the only reason why my Monster Manual 3.5 is not put away in a box.
  An interesting aspect of Beholders is how they will hate other Beholders if they look different from them, even slightly. And there are quite a few variants of them, even ignoring the differences between editions. So that got me thinking… A crafty DM should make the most of that!
  Beholders are scary creatures! They can kill you with a single glance! (Well, sort of.) But they’re such a classic monster that many adventurers might know what to expect from them. I’ve been thumbing through the ‘Lamentations of the Flame Princess’ three main books a lot lately, because they offer some great advice for role-playing games. Some of that advice works better for certain types of games than for a more ‘classic’ type of D&D. For example, the idea of only using original creations as monsters. I would do that when playing a more horror-based D&D, especially when using a more rules-light system like LotFP. But if I’m playing a more ‘classic’ game, and especially if it has a lot of crunch/rules and creating a monster from scratch is a lot of work from concept, to stats, to balancing, I’ll certainly use monster books!
  And while I love the LotFP boxed set, it is also a bit unfair towards some of the classic D&D monsters. In my opinion, some of them are SCARIER because players are familiar with them, at least to a certain extent. I can think of many D&D players who would suddenly straighten up in their chairs if they were told their characters entered a room and came face to face with a Beholder! They would know things got serious! For decades, D&D has treated these monsters like a very, very serious threat and players have paid attention to that, or even have had characters disintegrated by one of their eye rays.
  But on one aspect, I would agree completely with LotFP even in the case of the Beholder. For example, if players know in advance that they will face a Beholder and start preparing intelligently for that fight… Nothing wrong with players being smart, but at the same time, the Beholder has lost some of its mystique right there. So LotFP’s advice on monsters can actually pay off if you apply it to known monsters. Make them unfamiliar. (To be fair, in another section they do advice the GM to avoid the familiar aspects of a game or use them make it be something else and catch players off-guard.)
  In the case of the Beholder, it couldn’t be easier. These guys have plenty of eye rays, and long-time players will know what every single one of those do. In that case… change the eye rays and have them do different effects. You could change one, or you could change all of them…
  Think about how players might react if they come across a Beholder surrounded by freshly killed corpses, and suddenly it uses an Animate Dead  eye ray on the dead bodies. Or what if a particular Beholder’s bite has a Vorpal effect and it can potentially bite an adventurer’s head off? (And if you really want to be gross, then spit it back out at another adventurer like a missile?) Or maybe its chitin surface deflects spells, or the Beholder has a Warp Magic effect like the Flail Snail?
  It’s not because a monster is an icon of the game that it should be predictable. In fact, tweaking them from time to time (or every time, if it fits your campaign!) can keep them scary and fresh. Remember that Beholders are Aberrations, there’s no natural logic behind how they are. And if you’re using a game like 3.X where a close eye is kept on challenge rating/balance and you’re not sure how to approach tweaking a monster, simply replace one eye ray’s ability with another effect of the same equivalent spell level. Of course, 3.X templates can also go a long way to surprise players. Just remember, there’s many ways to keep a well-known monster scary beyond just inflating their HP and/or increasing their AC up to insanity.
  Another thing I’d like to mention quickly, is that you should always remember that Beholders fly around. It’s been stated in D&D supplements already, but it bears repeating; Beholder lairs don’t need to be made with walking creatures in mind. The passages and tunnels can be completely vertical in places. Think of an ill-prepared group of adventurers who are running away from a particularly tough Beholder, only to find themselves stuck at a dead-end for them, since the following passage is too high to reach and goes upwards anyway! Or a group of adventurers climbing down one of said passages and suddenly being attacked by a flying Beholder in the middle of the climb, at a deadly height! The Beholder could simply float at a safe distance and blast them from there! That’s another way to make monsters scary, keep in mind that they are often found in their own environment, not in the player characters’. A smart party who goes into a Beholder’s lair should have access to the Fly spell, or a similar effect.
  And don’t forget, if you include a Hive Mother in your game, you can have plenty of Beholder variants in a single, deadly encounter…

It's a Catastrophe!

  Let me tell you the odd tale of…Grok the Half-Orc!!!

  This was a one-time game session I ran with one of my friends as the only player. His girlfriend (the current DM for our Kelleck & Aerynn game) was next to us playing video-games though, and she would often sigh or giggle at the silliness of it all.
  So me and my friend intended to just do a short game for the heck of it. A ‘soda & pretzels’ type of session, we weren’t going for a great story here. Just rolling some dice and having fun. My friend created Grok, a D&D 3.5 Half-Orc Fighter with amazing Strength and unfortunate Intelligence.

  The story was plenty of silly. The mayor of a town hired Grok to fight off the invaders, who happened to be actual sci-fi aliens from outer space with disc-shaped spaceships and all!

  Grok managed to infiltrate the ship and started hacking off aliens left and right with his mercurial greatsword. He then grabbed a raygun and the game started looking a lot like a Star Wars RPG session.

  After having killed all the aliens inside, Grok stepped out of the ship just in time to deal with a second incoming ship. The mayor had installed a catapult to deal with the flying saucers and asked Grok to be the one to fire it. Problem was, Grok didn’t know how to nor did he have any ranks in the skill used for siege weapons. As the DM, I had to come up with a potion of temporary intelligence and knowledge that the mayor had supposedly acquired at the same time as the catapult. Like I said, this game was being played fast and loose.
  Despite the boost to his mental abilities (which still left him well below average!) and the temporary knowledge of how to operate a catapult, Grok needed an extremely high roll on his d20 to hit the ship. As the flying saucer began to destroy the town with its beams, Grok launched the first catapult attack… and missed, the huge rock landing on the mayor’s office and completely destroying it!
  “It’s a catastrophe!!!” I had the mayor exclaim as he placed both hands to his head.
  “No.” Grok bluntly stated right away. “It’s a catapult.”
  After wrecking a few more houses in the process, I forget how many, Grok managed to bring down the alien ship and moved on to other adventures (that were never played) with his newly acquired alien weapons and gold coins.
  It was a silly game session and we never did continue Grok’s story, but he is sometimes fondly mentioned in conversation. What made that pun so funny? The fact that Grok was, in his mind, genuinely correcting the mayor. He just didn’t know the word ‘catastrophe’.

Rudolph Van Richten stats for ‘Castles & Crusades’


  Here are some ‘Castles & Crusades’ stats for the character of Rudolph Van Richten (basically D&D’s answer to Van Helsing for their ‘Ravenloft’ setting) based on those given in Wizards of the Coast’s 3e material and ‘Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Ravenloft Boxed Set Real of Terror Manual’.

   2e had him as a 3rd level Thief and WotC made him Expert 5/ Rogue 5/ Scholar 5.

   The reason why the 2e version of Van Richten had such a low level was because level losses from undead attacks were permanent. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong about this, I’m not extremely familiar with 2e.) In any case, both in 3e and C&C, Restoration can take care of that and I’m sure Van Richten was a resourceful enough person to manage access to that spell via some contacts or allies.

   Making him level 15 for C&C didn’t seem right though, since characters in 3e level-up much faster than C&C and despite the reason for his low level being gone, it felt drastic to give him such a high-level in a game where the typical class chart ‘stops’ at 12.

   I decided to take the difference in levels (despite that the Expert and Scholar 3e class and prestige class are not combat-centric) between the two versions of the game ( 15 - 3 = 12 ) and averaged it by splitting that difference in two ( 12 / 2 = 6 ). I then added that to his ‘minimum’ established level of 3, therefore 3 + 6 = 9.

   This seems about right to me, it’d make him very skilled and Decipher Script really fits with the character concept of the researching scholar who hunts monsters, without making him a ‘combat monster’. (He is however someone who combats monsters! O.k, sorry about that…)

   His 2e stats were Str. 11 Dex. 16 Con. 10 Int. 17 Wis. 16 Cha. 13. I’d say his Primes are Dexterity, Intelligence and Wisdom. He requires Dex to take the Rogue class but it also makes sense story-wise that he’d be agile as a doctor performing his work and as an adventurer. He’s also a wise and educated man, so Int and Wis are obvious choices.

  So, here are the stats I assign him for C&C.  All of the text found below is from ‘Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Ravenloft Boxed Set Realm of Terror Manual’.


Dr. Van Richten
Level 9 Rogue
(Through experience and necessity, Van Richten has mastered some thievish tricks.)
HD: 9d6

Str : 11
Dex* : 16
Con : 10
Int* : 17
Wis* : 16
Cha : 13

   Van Richten always carries a holy symbol, a vial of holy water, a small mirror, a silver dagger, and a wooden stake. When hunting prey, he carries other appropriate items, too. He rarely faces an opponent in direct combat, preferring to outwit the evil creatures and use their inherent weaknesses against them. 

(Originally posted here)

Bruno's Geek Reviews: An Interview with Andy Hopp!

  Andy Hopp is an illustrator, writer, web designer, graphic artist, art director, convention organizer, and game designer! He’s also the guy who created, illustrated and wrote that ‘Low Life: Rise of the Lowly’ book I keep talking about here on my blog!
  I am pleased to welcome Andy Hopp for this interview!

‘Low Life: Rise of the Lowly’ is a very different RPG setting from what one usually sees. What were your intentions when you created it?

    Well, originally, I thought of the name “Low Life” as a d20 book about slimes, molds, oozes and other lowly things back when I was doing the Wanderers Guild with Goodman Games. That never happened, so when Shane Hensley asked me to do a Savage Worlds book for him it came to mind. My first concept was about a bunch of critters that lived in your plumbing. Like a whole fantasy world centered on what was under the sink and in the pipes. That kind of evolved into a far-future post-post-post apocalyptic Earth (Mutha Oith) where humans are extinct and everything evolved from the dredges that survived. But, you know, in a funny way.

You’ve got the first ‘Low Life’ supplement in the works. Can you tell us a bit about it, along with some hints as to other future sourcebooks?

    The Whole Hole are series of guidebooks that describe and expand the various realms of Oith. The first one is The Whole Hole: A Gadabout’s Guide to Mutha Oith, Volume 01: Keister Island. Or the just The Whole Hole: Keister Island if brevity is your thing. It’s a 224 page book that goes into a lot of detail about snazzy places on Keister Island, such as The Keister of Gawd, The Soul Patch, Stan’s Rug, and many more. From there it talks about the Garden of Smellemental Glee, the nature of smellcasting, and a bunch of other stuff. Then it’s off to the Bitchin’ City of Floom for a very in-depth look at a few hundred local businesses and the peeps who hang there. The next chapter covers twenty or so other burgs, followed by a bunch of appendices covering new PC races, new Edges and Hindrances, a glossary, new magics, new religions, and a 22 page bestiary. Also other stuff.
    Next on the pipeline is Dementalism, a really fun Low Life themed card game. After that a book of Low Life adventures and a book called Holy Crap, which goes into depth about teh faiths and religions of Oith. Then, the next Whole Hole installment.
    I just played with my daughter’s pet tarantula and now my fingers are going numb.

‘Low Life’ uses the ‘Savage Worlds’ rules system. Was there a specific reason for choosing those rules instead of another available system or creating a new one from scratch?
    I really enjoy Savage Worlds, and I’m very excited to be a part of it, but the main reason the first Low Life book uses Savage Worlds is that it’s an official Savage Setting produced by PEG, Inc. They hired me.

Speaking of systems, you’ve mentioned online that your next supplement will eventually have a PDF to use the ‘Pathfinder’ rules for ‘Low Life’. How much of the main ‘Low Life’ book will those rules cover?
   I plan to eventually release a deluxe version of the original Low Life book, with new artwork and updated rules. If anybody out there wants to help with a Pathfinder conversion (or any other system) I’m interested.

Could you imagine people bringing ‘Low Life’ races into regular Pathfinder games?
    Some of them might work, but they are pretty specific to the setting. Low Life is a silly game, but it doesn’t know it’s silly, and that’s why it works.

When you think of the ‘Low Life’ game sessions people are running at home, how do you like to imagine them?

   Low Life is all about attitude. It’s ridiculous, and the characters are absurd, but because they don’t realize how absurd they are they make it work. They aren’t silly for the sake of silly. They’re silly because of the context they’re in, which makes perfect sense to them. I hope other people feel this as well and it comes out in their games.

I’m curious, have you ever had someone run a ‘Low Life’ game where you were a player and not a game master? If so, does it feel weird to have someone else referee what happens in a setting you created?
    I have, and it does feel weird. It’s sometimes challenging to fight the impulse to say “But that’s not how I imagined it” because everyone’s imagination is different and everyone interprets things differently. I love to see what other people grow from the seeds I sprinkle.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you encourage players and game masters to come up with their own crazy ideas for characters, their equipment, the locations of the setting and the monsters they can encounter, to the point where members of a same race/species in ‘Low Life’ can look very different from one another. Do you think this would have been more difficult to do in a more serious setting?

   In Low Life, for example, you can make a weapon out of anything. A rubber chicken full of nails? Sure. A giant pair of barbecue tongs? Why not. I can’t really imagine a D&D paladin wielding a rubber chicken full of nails or a bowling ball on a chain or a giant turkey baster and a bucket of poison and still being taken seriously.

Any chance of someday seeing ‘Low Life’ novels published?
    Anything’s possible. My issue at the moment is I have my hand in many cookie jars and I have trouble finding time to get everything done when I want to. I go for quality over speed, which is why this book took two years. I’d love to write novels, so we’ll see.

Would you like to see ‘Low Life’ miniatures in a hobby store in the future? Many tabletop roleplayers use maps and minis to manage combat scenarios.
    Armorcast produces a couple of Low Life minis. I’m currently in talks with them and another mini company to produce a larger cast of characters. They’ve been the number one fan requested item for a long time.

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Andy’s Kickstarter Project (Hurry if you want to participate, there’s less than a day left as I write this!)

Andy’s official web site

Mutha Oith Creations

Armorcast
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To read more of my interviews, click HERE!

(Originally posted here)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Dungeon Broker

  

   So here's an idea for an NPC that players can meet in a city environment (often a tavern)... The Dungeon Broker.
  This character will only fit in a campaign where there are plenty of dungeons to explore from many past civilizations and old powers. In other words, a world where dungeon running is as much a trope for the inhabitants of the world as it is for the players themselves.

  The Dungeon Broker could be a businessman without scruples, a crime boss, or perhaps even in some settings, a Dungeon Broker can do just that full-time; dungeon brokering. (Up to you to decide if there's only one Broker in a city or even a setting or if there are many to the point where it is a profession as common as city guard captain or crime boss.)

  Now, what is a Dungeon Broker exactly? Simple. In a world filled with clues, old maps and legends to ancient dungeons and other places reportedly full of treasure for those brave enough to go there, the Dungeon Broker is the guy who hands out said maps and clues... for a cut of the final treasure.
  Reasons for the Dungeon Broker to not go after the treasures himself can be many. Some possibilities could be (but are certainly not limited to):

- It's more profitable for him to distribute many maps and clues and then collect his share from returning adventurers than it would be to spend his time going into one dungeon after the other.
- He is too busy with his main business to go exploring. Maybe a crime boss doesn't trust his men not to take over if he leaves the city for too long, or maybe he needs all his men for a war against another gang.
- He simply has a distaste for the danger it involves.

  There are many ways a Dungeon Broker can ensure that the adventurers will give him his share of the treasure once they're back. While some might work with legal contracts, trust and a handshake, or good old coercing, most Dungeon Brokers who aren't spellcasters themselves will want to hire one. The Geas spell is often the most used, and normally adventurers who deal with Dungeon Brokers regularly will come to expect and agree to being put under the spell. If not, that's fine, but the Dungeon Broker will keep his maps and clues for himself. That also means that a Dungeon Broker needs to spend a significant amount of coin in protection to avoid having a group of adventurers just rob him. (Which is no guarantee for stopping such events from happening of course.) When all is said and done, a smart Dungeon Broker NEVER keeps maps and such on himself, and even less in his known place of business where everyone will expect those to be. But not all of them will necessarily be smart.

  Broker shares will depend on each Dungeon Broker and each specific setting.

  Dungeon Brokers also afford an easy way to offer different possibilities to players while also scaling each place according to the group's average level, if such things matter to you. At first, a Dungeon Broker would not trust his best map to a group he just met, so he'd send them to some unimportant dungeon with perhaps a few worthy items to be possibly brought back. As the adventurers continue doing business with the Broker, he'll trust them with more and more promising locations.
  A good way for a DM to use the Broker would be to have many dungeons/adventures ready. The Broker then tells the adventurers what jobs he has available (while leaving enough details vague so the adventurers cannot guess where that would be before making an official deal with the Broker.) Once the players pick one of the adventure hooks, you'll know which dungeon/module to run for them.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cross-Playing



  Read this first if you're wondering what 'cross-playing' is.Or I can simply tell you that it's portraying a character in any sort of game who happens to be of the opposite sex of the player's.

  Anyway, my new roommate and I have discussed the possibility of starting a D&D game sometime soon, a one-DM/one-PC campaign. When I asked her what kind of character she wanted to play, she went for the Rogue/Thief class again, she always does. When pressed for details, she added "Well, I've always played women so far, so this time I-"
  That's when I cut her off and went on about how playing one's opposite sex never works out because the people playing keep forgetting the character's actual sex (according to me at that moment). I even mentioned an ex of mine who was really small and had the softest voice who had tried to play a male Dwarf and it just hadn't worked. I also noticed my rant seemed to have somewhat discouraged her. After some thought, I mentioned it and admitted I had just ranted (as I'm prone to do at times) and it was fine if she wanted to play a dude. After all, if I have no trouble with seeing an overweight player portraying a lean, agile elf, why should it be a problem for a girl to play a male adventurer? Would I have gone on a rant with that overweight player about how his actual physique would make me forget he's supposed to be playing a skinny elf? No. Because when I thought about it, I realized my reasons for being against it were nonsense.
  I was letting what I prefer doing as a player (always playing characters of my own sex) affect my opinion of what other players should or shouldn't be doing with their own personal characters. Which is the last thing any DM should do, really.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Getting Old



  I've been playing RPGs for about 10 years now, both as a player and a GM. And I have yet to grow older in the hobby. In-character that is!

  You see, I'm somewhat jealous of players who, through a mixture of having played them long enough and of keeping track of the in-story time that passed, have characters who have grown significantly older than the age they had when they were first created.
  I mean, sure, I had a character start at 18 and stopped playing him at 23, but at that age he was still in his prime. He never got to Middle Age or older. His Ability Scores never saw any change.
  Part of me wants to experience that, playing a character through his long adventuring life until he dies many years after the beginning of his career or even from old age. And not in an artificial way where it's done on purpose with exactly that in mind, with the DM setting the next adventure 5 years later or things like that... No, just by keeping track of travel time and all that. If the character has to cross the ocean via boat, if they have to wait a week or two for a NPC to return for some reason, etc, etc.

  In fact, I'm sure a lot of gaming groups would be very surprised of how old their characters actually should be if they had kept track of time spent during their adventures.
  My current character is Kelleck Mage-Hunter. He is in his early 20's, a D&D 3.5 character in a two-players campaign that uses the fixed XP amount for monsters from the 3.5 version of Unearthed Arcana. The DM throws really nasty encounters at us and we somehow manage to live through them every time. I'll share some of those stories in future posts, but before anyone rolls their eyes, I'll let you know that she rolls her dice in the open. Anyway, I'm stating these things because the amount of XP our two characters gain after every fight is insane. We managed to win battles we should have probably run away from if we had been more sensible. It's not even that we're lucky with our dice, we just play smart in a fight. And since we know that this particular campaign will end when(if?) we reach level 20, I know that not even with my favorite character will I get to live a full adventurer's life, since we're already level 9 and not even a full year has passed in-story. (I speak with the best-case scenario in mind that he lives to see the end of the story!)

  So yeah, hopefully one day one of my characters will get to have gray hair. It'd feel fulfilling somehow, knowing I've gotten him that far.