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Showing posts from July, 2012

GM's Request: What Needs to be Made Easier

I am always looking for ways to make GM prep take less time and to make my game time job easier and quicker.  After all, a person has only so much time to put into game prep, and in game delays waiting on the GM are no fun.  Some of these I have found solutions for, and some of them I am still looking for.


Creature Stat Mobility -- There should be an easier way to bring creature stats into game plans.  Currently it means either copying creature stats into my GM notebook or scanning stat blocks out of books.  Why can't, for example, there be a common interchange format for Pathfinder stat blocks that come with all resources (including 3rd party ones) so I can drag and drops them into a plan.

Tracking HP for Large Numbers of NPCs / Creatures -- Tracking HP for a large number of NPCs/creatures can become problematic.  Stuffer Shack has a great set of markers for 'labeling' minis to keep track of them, but it still requires a separate sheet of papers. Litko has a nice set of cou…

RPG Achievements

"Achievements" have been a popular part of video games for a quite a long time.  I can remember earning medals back in X-Wing  back in '93.  Trying to get as many achievements as possible drove a lot of my game play in Dragon Age.  Likewise, StarCraft 2 has a lot of achievements that I unfortunately haven't had time to earn.

So, do "achievements" in the video game sense fit into RPGs like Pathfinder?  Severalotherauthors have certainly considered the topic for a while.

My opinion is that videos game are really good representation of role-playing games only without the role-playing.  Mostly, I believe this is the case because 1) Computers aren't advanced enough to provide an open-ended canvas for human interaction (Refer to the Loebner prize contest for examples of state-of-the art chat bots that still seem to be quite a ways from passing the Turing Test.) and 2) MMOs, the human-interaction version of video games, have yet to sway the players out of igno…

The Caster 'I Win' Button

There's been some discussion on the caster so-called "I Win" button, those high-level spells that can effectively allow a caster to end an encounter with one spell.  I understand the frustration with casters.  Early in the game they can be practically useless; however, by the upper levels they can be overpowering.  This is due to an inherent design flaw or feature, depending on your point of view, that allows most fighting classes to grow linearly while the caster classes grow quadratically.

When casters overpower and take the fun out of a game, it is not the fault of the caster or a particular spell.  It is the fault that the GM and/or the module writer did not take into account these new abilities properly.  The GM needs to design adventures and encounters to challenge the party that is playing.  Once in a while, this may mean allowing the caster to save the day with a simple spell.  More times that not though, it means engaging all of the players in a meaningful way.

Character Histories

I read some views lately on character histories and thought it would be good to toss my own two cents out there.

Character histories are a contract between the GM and the player.  A character history gives a player upfront to say this is what my character is like, this is the world around him, and these are the characters in that world.  It defines a line between the immutable truth to the player and the world that the GM controls.

As a contract, it can be negotiated.  A character history isn't really done until the player and the GM both agree to it.  From a GM perspective, this is a huge opportunity to fill in the world's backstory and give the players options for where they might be from and world-linking details that fill in the gaps in their creation, tying their character to the world.

As a creation linked to the character, it should be written from the perspective of the character.  The player doesn't ever get the luxury of an omniscient view, and this is especially tr…

Wubba Wubba

Switching Gears for a While

My allergies/asthma is giving me fits right now, so I am cancelling my two Pathfinder games for a while, until I can get back to my old self again. *sigh*  In the meantime, I am going to be working on my game world, my book, and my background material for Shadowrun and such.  I might post some of the stuff on here.  I also am working on getting a macro photography setup, so maybe there will be some new miniature photos.  I'll stick to whatever I can do inside in the filtered air.  I need to probably find some video games to catch up on too.  Maybe I'll even get my Java Initiative Tracker code cleaned up for a release.

Rigging Mechanic

When a ship is underway and not in combat, it moves at its waterborne speed.  While this happens, various crewmembers perform rigging -- moving the ropes and sails about the ship to optimize the use of the windpower.  It seems that this operation should assist the waterborne speed, so I am proposing this mechanic for that.

Rigging only works on sailing ships.  The amount of sails of a ship is measured in squares in Pathfinder, ranging from 5 or 10 for a small boat to 90 for a large sailing ship.  ( I exclude the 240 squares of the massive Treasure Ship, which is out of sorts for this sort of thing).Each ship gets 1 rigger position per 10 square of sails.  Based on that:Galley90 Squares9 RiggersJunk90 Squares9 RiggersKeelboat20 Squares2 RiggersLongship30 Squares3 RiggersRaft0 SquaresNo riggersSailing Ship90 Squares9 RiggersShip's Boat10 Squares1 RiggerWarship40 Squares4 RiggersEach rigger helps to make the ship go faster, if he does his job wellDC 10 Rigging Check (with modifiers fo…

Fremlin via Advanced Race Guide

One player wants to play a fremlin, so I've been working with the Advanced Race Guide rules and some of my own enhancements to see what I could come up with.

FREMLIN
Type:  Outsider 3RP
Size:    Tiny 4RP  (+2 Dex, +2 AC, +2 Attack, -2 CMB, -2 CMD, +8 Stealth, Reach 0)
Speed:  Very Slow -2RP   (Base speed of 5 ft)
Language: Standard 0RP (Goblin, Common)
Greater Weakness (-3RP)
  Dex +2
  Con -2
  Str -4
Damage Resistance: DR 10/  (12RP)
Pacifist: -10 to Base Attack Bonus, Cannot use weapons for -12RP
Flight: 30ft clumsy (4RP)
Improved Flight: +10ft (2RP)  TOTAL Fly 40ft Average
Beguiling Liar +4 to Bluff when Lying (2RP)
Sociable   Can repeat diplomacy checks that fail by 5 or more once in 24 hours (1RP)
3+4-2+0-3+12-12+4+2+2+1 = 11RP

Monday Night Pathfinder Pirates: Logistics

Tonight was disappointing.  I ran out of air quickly (darn allergic asthma) and starting losing my voice.  We ended after only a short while.

We did get a chance to cover some logistics.  We are going to establish who will be at the various duty stations during operation (important for who gets hit/killed by incoming threats).  We also talked a bit about plunder, infamy, and disrepute.

One mechanic to be added will be an increased waterborne speed with good rolls on rigging checks.

We talked a little about background stories.  Some folks are reading them.

Background Stories and Knowledge and their Role in Campaigns

I have always been intrigued by the role that myth and legends and storytelling play in building a world.  Maybe it comes from my fascination with Tolkien's Silmarillion or the greek myths I studied as a child, or perhaps it comes from years of pouring over anecdotes of famous historical figures, scientists, and mathematicians.  For me, to know history is really to know the personalities involved and how their unique perspectives on things interacted to make big things happen.

In an RPG setting (Faerun, being my favorite currently), stories, legends, and background stories seem like an important element that gets overlooked too often.  Backgrounds woven together out of people and places and things help ground the maps of endless names and give the deities of character a form and flavor beyond things written on a character sheet.  The greatest asset of Faerun, which to a GM is also a curse, is the abundance of material that has already been written regarding the history, societies,…