Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Band Vs Audience Participation

I made a couple of posts over at reddit, as is my wont to put content somewhere else then I link the first here on my actual blog.

Strangely it got no upvotes - I'm not sure why given some more ephemeral topics near it got 26 upvotes. Weird, you'd think a more fundimental thing would get more upvotes than a thread on wanting more randomness? Maybe I don't get it? Anyway, here's the first post:

Coming away from the GM-nastics thread, I think it's probably good to outline a certain way of playing. I'll use a band analogy, because I think there's alot in common between bands of musicians and...well, atleast the way I run games.

Okay, now there are some musicians who will engage in audience participation. Maybe he gets the crowd to shout out some names or things and then this clever musician combines them all into a song. Okay, that's nice, the audience is a bit more than just a passively observing audience.

But in the end it's about the musician being the creative one in the whole thing.

The OTHER model is an actual band - where people write songs together. Not just one guy taking a few words from the others and then he goes and writes the song all by himself and how clever is he. They work on it together - roughly equal in creative value (sometimes they aren't that equal, but it's never allowed to become to unequal).

Part of this is compromise - you can't demand anything, because you're working with equals. And you can't demand to be entertained, because you are not some passive audience. If you just try and demand someone writes some lyrics about X (like you come up with the idea to do it...but someone else goes and does the work), that's a double black mark!

Frankly the majority of gamer groups seem to follow the former model - the players yell out stuff in some category the GM called out for, then the GM combines it all into something as he is the sole creative force. But these groups think of their players as very liberated, when they compare themselves to the now more rare groups where players are pure audience and merely observe the great GM's work. So obviously when they think of themselves as liberated, any GM who doesn't just grab yells from the audience seems to be blocking the audience (rather than wanting more from the audience than this fairly light amount of creative input).

Ultimately the band can actually look like less creative freedom, because you can't just scream out something and have someone weave it in (to whatever degree that person will decide to weave it in). So I get how it can appear.

On the other hand though when you suddenly realise you are not just waiting for the GM to subtely tell you how to follow his plot/story and instead how you play your character is what makes the story right here and now, then you might realise how constrained the prior liberty actually was.

Edit: Actually what might be fun is if anyone wants to present a player situation and I will attempt to give an example of BOTH methods of GM'ing responce to it, for contrast.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Non violent game world activity - target wheels.

Just an idea to generally test the actual combat abilities without having to go into actual combat to do so - scattered around various ruins are target wheels. These magic devices helped train soldiers when the ruins were fortifications and by their nature were very heavy or magically fixed. Now adventurers often find them and attempt their skills at the wheels. For ranged it's simply a target. For melee, it magically spins and one must hit the right spot with a weapon when it pulses at a certain moment with dim magical light!

An adventurer can learn a thing or two from these wheels, but not consistantly - perhaps they worked better in the old days, but now generally each adventurer can only use a wheel once. After that maybe in days or weeks they can use it again, perhaps after years (and since they tend to aid only those of level 1 to 2, they are probably no use after that). It's up to the DM! As best you can make them feel like they might never find another and this is a special moment!

Players can roll to hit with their weapon - if they hit and do 4 or more damage, they gain 10 XP! If they miss they can try again, but there is a 50% chance they will get no XP from it. You really want to hit on the first go. Also the devices give nothing to those who recieve help - they were made to resist cheats!

These wheels can be found in various ruins, so they become a kind of treasure to discover!

A note on XP - I'm planning for all non violent activies to grant XP. It depends - you may feel PC's have to have survived an actual combat to be worthy of getting to level 2 (if you're fine with it, no need to read this paragraph!). Ask your players if they think so to. If so, then set up a combat or three they could choose from and if they never go into any, perhaps they stay 1 XP short of level two in perpetuity! If they are okay with leveling without ever facing combat but you wish they had, atleast you now know that these are combatless level 2 characters - and so a different thing than those who survived combat to get to level 2! Possibly no one else but myself might be bothered by this - so just indulge this inclusion! :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Non violent game world activity: Making torches

This is in rough draft form, so forgive the stream of conciousness format!

This time it's making torches, either for sale or for personal use. I'm thinking maybe you roll a DC 15 check, with the GM randomly determining if it's a INT or WIZ check to find or dig up a pool of bubbling tar.

Once you've found one the GM randomly determines if you use INT, DEX or WIZ to make it. Ie, if you're figuring out the technical details - or if you're just juggling the components into place - or if it's a matter of working with what you have into a synergous whole.

Roll a nat one and you fail and the pool has been used up (whether that's forever or a few weeks is up to the GM)

These tasks assume this is not the end of the world stuff - your character is not pushing themselves to the limit, because frankly that's a sucky way to live. So you can make two attempts at torch making a day.

Must figure out a way of fitting various tasks with each other.

Also write them all up in a set format as well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ideas for non violent RPG activities (re D&D 5e) #1

I'm working on this post in regard to the sort of conflict between being forced to place a bet (as opposed to the excitement of making a bet when you want to) and a combat system being the only fun of a book. So you have to do combat to have the fun of the book, but that means your forced to make a bet (the 'bet' being gambling your characters life on dice rolls for XP and gold)...and maybe you can see the contradiction.

Anyway I wanted to have some ideas for play with the piece and although I can't think of a bunch, I thought I'd have some posts that include one at a time.

Lumbering - if you do this, you're okay! See, I want to keep with the gamble aspect, so maybe a strength roll DC: 15 and if you fail that, a DC: 15 con check or otherwise you are too tired to do any more lumbering today and you have to make a con check tomorrow to see if you're too tired for it then as well (if that fails you can try the next day without rolling again). If you're using a hand axe, you are at disadvantage on the strength check.

You can make 1 silver for a log at town or 5 copper at a village. Probably up to three a day (perhaps after a week it's just one a day as local demand diminishes)

Gamble aspect: Go to the blacksmith and you can get your axe sharpened by a blacksmith (for 1 silver in town or 5 copper at a village if they have one) - this gives you advantage on the strength check. However, sharpening only lasts for that day (sorry simulationists, this is for game purposes. Please don't argue. It's boring)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Who are the Dunyain?

Imagine a vending machine. Now imagine it has legs. It walks around, sloshing it's contents around inside itself as it waddles across the landscape, gathering more contents. You can go up to the buttons, press them - maybe put money in or maybe you put money in but you've jimmied the coin collector so it simply pops out again into your hand. It's rather like those beetles that have learnt to simulate the antennae movements that will prompt an ant to give up it's crop of food to a fellow ant, since that helps the collony - but since it's a beetle, one who takes while only aping the gestures of giving, the circle is broken.

Is that what the Dunyain are?

Oh no, that's how the Dunyain see you!

You better understand what they are by understanding how they see you! Because from outward appearance they are just another ant...sorry 'person'. All benign, all loving, all waving their antenae in just the right way for you to open your wallet to them. To hand over your children to them.

Also they are part of the speculative fiction (speculative fantasy fiction, no less) 'Prince of nothing' series, by Scott Bakker.

Here's the fan forum and the link, for a few more twisted perceptions on the idea:
http://www.second-apocalypse.com/index.php?topic=1363.0

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Looking into Stencyl

Found this tutorial by a user the easiest to get into, in programming with it for the first time

http://www.stencyl.com/help/viewArticle/102

It shows the tutorial in flash with the game at the end of the tute, so even if you're just curious you can load it up to see how it ends.

It's slightly out of date with newer versions of Stencyl, but I managed to muddle through. So if you have trouble post a comment since I was able to get through it I might be able to help you do the same.

Anyway, I kind of want the flash capability but at the same time if it's more of a struggle than using Unity is, then I dunno about pressing on with it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Watch Dogs : Did hacking just turn out to be a gimmick? Do all sandboxes suffer from gimmickdom?

So it appears that perhaps just classic old GTA style driving can get you away in Watch Dogs. And even if you do hack, you don't see it because it's behind your point of view, or if they show an exploding pursuer in slow mo it tends to make you crash because of the disorientation from the camera going from the explosion back to driving.

Do all sandbox games have this trouble? Dishonoured seemed to have this problem too, where just a few powers were needed to complete a mission and anything else was just getting baroque about the matter. And the sandbox - if it doesn't force the use of hacking, then hacking becomes a throw away, unnecessary gimmick. If it is forced, then you get less of a sandbox!

That's the thing about a sandbox - it tends to make everything not matter. Just another thing amongst many things. A bit like real life!

But seriously, do sandbox game makers need to start thinking about how they implement these things, giving a secondary layer of rewards for using hacking. So someone could be rated a supreme hacker if they wanted to, or maybe they might focus on conventional escapes and fighting.

But ultimately it's the audience that might have to accept that any new thing in a sandbox will, at best, have some incentives and ratings for it - it's not going to force gameplay to be entirely different, all by itself.