Friday, August 28, 2015

#RPGaDay Challenge - Day 27 Through 31

The appeal of the RPG a Day Challenge has slowly lost its luster for me. Since the next few days are going to be rather hectic, I've decided to just lump the last five questions into one post to get this over with. Yes, I know that means that I'm not technically completing the challenge as designed, but I already screwed that up with my first post.

#27: What is Your Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games Into One?
I'll admit, this is probably the most difficult question for me to answer because I have never thought about merging two different games into something else. I've done it with different genres, but actual games. I guess if we go with genres, my favorite is an idea that's been doodling around in my head at the moment, Techno City Blues. It would be a Detective Noir game set in a gritty, cyberpunk future.

#28: What is Your Favorite Game You No Longer Play?
That's an easy one. My favorite game that I no longer play is probably Rifts. I enjoy the setting's Gonzo nature, but greatly dislike the system tied to it. I'm happy that we'll be seeing a Savage Worlds version of Rifts soon, which will allow me to play it again.

#29: What is Your Favorite RPG Website/Blog? 
My favorite website/blog is probably the Alexandrian. It's definitely the blog I check the most often and I've taken a lot of his GMing advice to heart. Also, I really enjoy reading his reviews, especially the recent ones on the FFG Star Wars game.

#30: Who is Your Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity?
Another easy one. I could go with the obvious choice of Wil Wheaton, but my answer is actually Judi Dench. Yes, famous English actress Judi Dench. Apparently, she plays D&D with her grandchildren as the DM, which is all kinds of awesome.

#31: What is Your Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of RPGing?
This is going to sound corny, but I think I have to go with the friendships I've made through gaming. The people I consider my best friends I met through gaming, and I'm incredibly thankful for that.

Well, that's all the remaining questions. Next week, I'm going to be taking a break from the blog, mostly to take care of some stuff in real life and work on some stuff I'm planning for October for the blog.

See you all on the 7th.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5e Musings: Ability Checks & Pushing Your Luck

Personally, I enjoy games that offer you the option to give yourself a penalty to gain some kind of special benefit in some situation. A great example of this would be FATE and the choice to compel an Aspect to gain a fate point.

I've been toying with an option for 5e that would allow one to "push their luck" on an ability check, receiving a temporary penalty in order to gain an additional benefit from the check. The exact nature of the risk and what would be gained from taking it would be decided upon by both the player and the Dungeon Master, however the mechanic for doing so would be the same no matter what.

When pushing one's luck on an ability check, the player receives Disadvantage, but happens to receive an additional benefit or helpful result if the check is successful. For an example, let's imagine we have a player named Jennifer who happens to be playing an elf ranger who's attempting to climb a rather steep cliff.

Jennifer knows that she could probably do this feat relatively easily, but worries that it might take a decent amount of time and she remembers this area is known for wandering monsters. She turns to her Dungeon Master and asks if she can try pushing her luck to climb the cliff faster, which he allows. Jennifer makes the Strength (Athletics) check with Disdvantage, which they decide represents her not being as careful as she should be. Success means she climbs up the cliff at a much quicker pace then she normally would.

Those who feel Disadvantage might be too big of a penalty can go with a simple -4 penalty instead. Either works fine. I elected to use Disadvantage because it's much easier solution. However, use whichever method works best for you and your group.

#RPGaDay Challenge - Day 26: What is Your Favorite Inspiration for Games?

Another day, another easy question. Due to me being a big film nerd, it should be obvious that movies are my favorite inspiration for games. Although I've recently started taking more influences from books and comics, movies still influence me the most. Whenever I see a new film, I find myself thinking about what stuff I could borrow for my games, especially when it comes to adventure ideas.

Because that response didn't take very long and was pretty short, I'll go ahead and specify which genre of film influences me the most. Without a doubt, my favorite genre to borrow ideas from has got to be Horror. Yes, horror films even inspire my fantasy and science fiction games. I can't help it, I enjoy adding spooky stuff to all my games.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#RPGaDay Challenge - Day 25: What's Your Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic?

I had very little trouble figuring out what my answer would be for this one. As soon as I looked at the question, I knew what it would be. My choice for my favorite game mechanic that I feel is pretty revolutionary is Dread's action resolution system. 

Dread is an horror roleplaying game published by The Impossible Dream. The players are handed sheets possessing nearly a dozen questions they must answer to create their characters. Most of these questions are loaded ones, and the only rule you must follow when answering them is to not contradict the question with your answer. There are no skills or talents within the game, so characters are represented purely through roleplay. 

With that in mind, you might be asking yourself, "How do you resolve actions within the game?" That's pretty simple: You use a Jenga tower.

Whenever a player attempts an action where failure has dire consequences associated with it, they must pull a block from the tower. They can only use one hand and the pulled block must be placed atop the tower. The action succeeds if the tower remains standing after the block has been placed. However, the action fails if the tower collapses and the character is removed from the story. 

The reason why I love this mechanic so much is that it models the suspense and tension of a horror tale perfectly. Each time a block is removed from the tower, it gets less and less stable. You know the tower will eventually collapse, but you don't know when. This makes each pull incredibly tense, wondering if you will be the one to knock it over, or will you succeed and live to make another pull. 

When the tower falls, it represents that drop in tension that happens within a good horror tale, giving you a moment of relief before it is rebuilt and the game continues, the tension building once again. This is the reason why Dread is one of my favorite horror games and my go to game for one shot sessions. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Power of a Great Gaming Group

During my time within this hobby, I've heard numerous horror stories about utterly atrocious games. Browse through any tabletop gaming forum and you'll find at least one thread where people are sharing their awful experiences with bad game masters, bad players, and bad groups. Reading these tales caused me to realize something.

I'm one lucky bastard because I currently have one of the best groups a gamer could have.

The group is on the smaller side, possessing three key players at this moment (not counting myself). Thankfully, the four of us happen to exist on the same wavelength when it comes to gaming. We currently have four different games at the moment, with each of taking the GM helm for one of them.

This might sound like an exaggeration, but the sessions I've had with these guys have been some of the best I ever had. I love how the four of us seem to work off each other so well and feel comfortable enough to include touchy topics, like romance or depression. I enjoy how we make each other's job as game master so much easier because we all enjoy telling stories and want to see said story furthered, even if that means bad stuff happens to our characters. Finally, it feels good to being in a group that can keep going into the late hours of the night without even realizing it because we were having too much fun.

Earlier this month, I talked about Goldilocks Groups, The idea behind the term is finding the group that's just right for you, allowing you to optimize your enjoyment at the table. I believe I've found my Goldilocks Group and I'm glad I have. I would like to thank David, Logan, and Robyn for easily being one of the best groups I have ever had and I hope to have many more great sessions in the future with you guys.

Without these guys, I probably wouldn't be playing as much as I am right now. They keep me coming back to the table week after week, and I'm happy to do it because I know each session with them will be a blast.

#RPGaDay Challenge - Day 24: What's Your Favorite House Rules?

My favorite house rule is actually a pretty minor change I made to one of the classes in Pathfinder. My House Rules Document for Pathfinder is filled with a number of alterations that hopefully make certain options, like classes and feats, much more appealing and mechanically better. The following alteration was made to the Fighter and how certain Combat Feats work for them. 

Within Pathfinder, there are a number of feats that require you to select a specific weapon to receive the benefits of said feat. For example, a player must select a single weapon to receive the Weapon Focus' +1 attack bonus benefit. These feats tend to create a situation where the characters are overly specialized with a single weapon, meaning they will be significantly weaker if they ever lose access to that weapon. This especially hurts the Fighter, who is the most likely to take these feats.

I wanted to create an exception for the Fighter, allowing them to gain more benefit from the extra amount of Combat Feats they receive throughout an adventure. The exception was very simple. When they select a feat that requires the choice of a specific weapon, the Fighter can select a Weapon Group (Core Rulebook, pg. 56) instead. As an example, a Fighter could select Heavy Blades with Weapon Focus or Improved Critical instead of just a Longsword or Greatsword.

The reason I like this house rule so much is that it allows the Fighter to be more open to using different weapons and it gives them a special way to use their Combat Feats. Everyone can select these feats, but only the Fighter can select a Weapon Group with them.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#RPGaDay Challenge - Days 22 & 23: What's Your Perfect Game & Gaming Environment?

Once again, Saturday was a busy day for me. Because of that, I had trouble posting my answer to yesterday's question. With that in mind, I decided to combine that entry with today's entry. I figured they'd both be short responses anyway, so that's probably for the best.

My perfect gaming environment would be a room built for the purpose of gaming. It would have a large, Geek Chic table sitting at the center of the room, with a large book shelf filled to the brim with different game manuals and board games. The seats would be nice and comfy, and a big dry erase board would be present on the wall. All the gaming supplies would be within arm's reach of the table, everything organized and ready to grab at a moment's notice.

My perfect game would be one where the rules possess a good amount of depth, but are still simple enough to learn and teach. The game would put story first, and offer mechanics to help further that story. The genre of the game would most likely be Fantasy, but possess a lower power scale.