Monday, April 23, 2012

AD&D: Difficulty selection

So, the dungeon level/depth is 4. What do I roll for the difficulty on a D10? 3!

It kind of feels a bit like a non choice - would you like to go to the marginally less dangerous dungeon?

Also since their are some party member objectives in there, I I realise I kind of have to hurumph that the objectives are in either dungeon. Also, what if they want to go to the other one? I guess I have to say it's a meta game choice - harder or easier is a player choice, not a character choice.

I guess one level of difference can make a difference. In rolling the level three stuff, if it was more powerful than the level four creature already there, I switched the two around. Also I only made the first leg of the dungeon have a different set of monsters for each.

On a side note, I have a series of treasure rooms in this one which are time sensitive (so is the end objective, but in more of a made up as I go way, not a written down time). Each has a marking near them that the players are told at the start of the dungeon. To see if they can remember when they come across the marking (not as easy as you might think). There are also four rooms where there is a way of getting the treasure without fighting. It's also possible to get to them without fighting.

Also have a bunch of other ideas I'm trying out in the dungeon, as I tend to do - looking to work out some special combination of effects!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

RPG/AD&D design: Naturalistic Difficulty

The first point in my last post might have seemed unsurprising: Adjustable difficulty.

But I'm actually excited about it. Because it combines a sort of Gygaxian naturalism...wait, let me define that a bit. The ol' Gyg. Nat. is whatever turns up is whatever turns up - if there's a goblin around the corner, then there is. If there's an ancient red dragon around the corner, then there is - what's around the corner isn't constrained to being withing -/+ one level of the partys average level.

The combination here is that you have that constraint, but you also ROLL a second option for how tough a dungeon they can run. Right now I'm thinking a D10, because the party is around level 4. Perhaps when they are around level 10, then I'd roll a D20, which makes the second option go right up to the top.

The thing I like about this is that I think it sucks that if you level and gain +1 to hit, the monsters you encounter will be forced to have +1 improved armour class anyway. What I like about rolling is maybe the roll brings up a level one dungeon - a level four party will tromp through it! And guess what, they've earned it!

BUT! What if they want a dungeon about their own level, for more XP and loot and general thrill of being harder? Well, now you've a choice between two option - go with the natural roll, or go with the dungeon that matches party level!

BUT, I hear you say, what if the natural roll comes up a 6 or 9 or something above the average party level of 4? Well, you can still take that option! Maybe you think you can hack it?

Or if you think its just impossible, well then here is Gygaxian Naturalism and tough! You're stuck with one option only of the dungeon at your level. But the more you level, the more of a chance you get of a dungeon below yours - ie, a cakewalk dungeon!

Only snag? Writing up two dungeons? Or use one and roll differing monsters for each room that has monsters (and since I tend to write the monsters on the sheet, there wont be much room for that). So I'll have to work out something for this.

But I really like the idea of a dungeon that is just WHATEVER! Just crazy comes as it will, instead of always being a tight, predictable power band (that essentially undermines the idea of leveling).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

AD&D: What I'm looking to include next time!

GM'ed a dungeon (the one shown in previous posts) the other night! Ended up granting each player over 5K of experience! It was a level 3 dungeon.

Now I'd like to touch on areas I don't think I quite got to with it. Some ideas are
  1.  A difficulty option.
  2.  Rolling attacks outside the DM screen. Physically this is difficult - I still want to have a screen. Maybe I can cover the map, lift the screen and roll? That might work. Oh, that reminds me - in advance declare that I will make up, based on judging the situation, who goes first (or if it's simultanious) on tied iniative.
  3.  Work out some way of distributing attacks on PC's neatly. I've been using colour coded (to each player) dice. Kind of handy, but if I'm rolling outside I need some distribution method for attacks? Perhaps I could just roll on everyone, then roll another die (equal to group size) to determine which attack did or didn't happen?
  4. I'd like to try out making carrying weight matter! I guess this'll most likely tie in with #5. Maybe add some exhaustion modifiers to combat, if they just try for 'oh, we just do alot of draggin of sacks of gold'. I guess in the end really it's just a question of whether they leave any loot unguarded and if some monsters come across it.
  5. I'd like to make time passing matter, instead of a dungeon that just sits and waits for the PC's. I'm thinking perhaps monsters who have attack animals (giant centipedes in a cage?) that they release at the PC's. Or a group of archers who do a hit and run attack. I don't want these to be a full scale combat engagement - they wont have treasure and it'll just take time away from the detailing I've put into the dungeon. How can I have some archers attack, but without the PC's manically chasing them down and having to dispatch them all utterly? Perhaps a spell that creates etherial archers? Or a portable dart firing mechanism - the patrol detects the PC's, sets the dart gun near a corner, then they scuttle away and activate it remotely (or it's on a short timer - yeah, I'll go with that). The dart guns mechanism makes it roll around the corner, then fire a bunch of darts. I guess the problem is the rogue will then grab this thing and try and use it against monsters? Maybe just make it less accurate when those who didn't make it (ie, the PC's) try and use it, and thus it'll have some use, but not a substitute for combat.
  6. I'd like to really figure out how to handle fleeing players, instead of simply erring on the side of the players because I had nothing made up. Movement speeds will be crucial to this, perhaps even the decider. As is, if you have somewhere to run to, then it seems to be a matter of calculating how many times the monster catches up to you (if you happen to be faster, then no sweat). If you have nowhere to run to (no door to get behind and bar, for example), then you are doomed - the monster would just keep hen pecking at you till you die. This feels odd though - it feels like you should play it out with dice, but it's also a foregone conclusion that you'll die, so why bother?
  7. Finally I'd like rogue backstab or sneak opps to be more prevalent. I'm thinking of designating some as being special, where the rogue can use flash powder (cost: 25 gold) if he fails a sneak roll to perform a backstab in order to pass (but there's a negative to damage equal to his backstab multiplier, just to make it that a passing roll is still the best thing). This is because it just gets a little lame when the rogue flubs his chance 60% of the time (it's fine for fighters to miss over and over because they get lots of chances to hit. A rogue gets one chance at backstab and if they fail 60% of the time, then 60% of the time their backstab is irrelavent). I'm also thinking of having spots where the rogue can drink a 'skill potion' (ie, just cross off 25 gold from his sheet) to make a failing hide in shadows or move silent into a passing one.
Okay, so that's enough for now. I'm kind of realising how much expectations I pile onto myself!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rules that provide a surprise for the GM!

As GM, would you like a surprise every so often "My players already surprise me all the time!". I mean the game world surprising you, just much like it surprises the players?

The idea for the rules is pretty simple, it's simply a matter of adding a bit more treasure (or gear, whatever you use in your RPG of choice). The treasure, for whatever reason (magical or mundane), after being picked up, has to be used that day and only works for one encounter. The treasure is a kind of weapon, always giving better bonuses than usual stuff - your rolling on a chart (say a D20), so if you roll high (say a nat 20) its pretty damn awesome gear (but remember, only works for one day or one encounter, whichever comes first - this isn't permanent weaponry). Make everything else on the list a bit varied, not just meleee weapons, some more powerful ranged ammo or such as well.

The thing is, the players secretly roll on the chart. Ideally you as GM go to the toilet or something when they do this, so they can discuss it. Because the idea is they are not to mention the item within your hearing. That way you don't know if they got the super kick ass item or whatever.

That way when/if it comes out (ie, perhaps just when the players are getting wooped by a monster), its a surprise for you as well! Suddenly out of the blue an awesome weapon appears!

Maybe that doesn't seem like a feature if you want to be able to see all game world events coming in advance...

If you want to be caught by surprise a little bit, though, that's one method of doing it!