Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Impromptu D&D 5e games are going well

Basically monsters and traps in the game I've/we've run can be popped in at any moment, so there's been no prepping of the dungeon - just spontaneous 'I think a monster would be over there!' stuff.

Must write up some non violent encounters and suggest them into play, otherwise the violence becomes normalised and then it ceases to be of interest.

I've basically got two methods of dealing with non violent activities - each time you pass a skill check of 15 or higher (and sometimes on 12 or higher) you note down you passed a skill roll.

You can find target wheels or combat training animated mannequins.

With the wheels, if you have a skill point you can cross it off and make an attack against the wheel. If you hit it's AC 15 and do 5 or more damage, you get 10 XP. If you miss, you get nothing. As stated previously on this blog training wheels can be found in various ruins.

With the mannequins these were used for training troops and so can also be found in various ruins. Each is effectively a skeleton. You need five passed checks to animate one into combat. Getting a surprise round is very difficult to achieve: A dex (stealth) check of 20 or higher and they don't spot you and you get the surprise round. Probably only a rogue could manage this). And you need an amount of mannequins that would make for a medium difficulty combat. Remove that number of checks from your sheet. PC's can pool their passed checks for this purpose.

If they knock all party members to zero hp, they cease attacking but they will not stabalise you, so it's likely you'll die. OR if the GM says they do before the combat begins, in the event of everyone being knocked down they will attempt to stabalise you (straight roll vs 15) with their weird fingers but your HP maximum goes down by one until either you donate 500 gold at a temple of a god that favours you, or perhaps it can never be recovered (it's probably the latter, but were not going to make you feel comfortable about this result). The mannequins have, over the years, gone a bit chaotic and rogue, so they tend to attack anyone who is around - it's not really possible to have someone who is 'out of the combat' to just come in and stabalise the party if they all get knocked to zero - the mannequins stay active for some minutes after their opponents are laid low and will attack anyone else who comes into sight. Hopefully they are of the sort that stabalise their former opponents! Generally it's possible to tell which models will or wont do that by looking at them.

The manequins only activate if the players have sufficient skill passes to activate them and decide to do so. Over time the mannequins repair themselves and reform, but this can take some time (weeks or months, even - up to the GM). They grant the same XP an equal number of skeletons would grant.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gamble based RPG's and the urge to 'put the players to the test'.

Originally posted by me over here. In regard to putting the players to the test, an urge perhaps felt by people even as they use a largely gamble based RPG:

I'll give the background to this 'challenge the player' impulse.

1. D&D and many others have no option for not to the death of gaining XP, or little in the way of that.
2. So players are forced into potentially lethal combat in order to play at all.
3. Which is based around random rolls, which they can't affect.
4. Then the players get hissy when they lose (especially a beloved character perma dead) or threaten to get hissy or the DM just second guesses they will or might.
5. The DM then starts looking for ways to invent challenge for the player, so it's the player who screwed up if they die.
6. The dice are still there and get in the way of #5.
7. It all hinges on the fact that to play at all involves going into potentially lethal combat, whereas if there was a non lethal option then players could choose (that actually gained XP and gold) whether they go into non lethal activities or potentially lethal combats is their choice. Thus forfilling #5 by dint that they could have chosen non lethal/stayed in the shire, but didn't.

From someone who wrestled with this, each of those steps, for years.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

D&D 5e starter set, solo player

I'm thinking of running my daughter through the set. As intimated previously, I don't want to require violent play in order to play at all. Not to shield her from violent play (ie, killin' goblins) but because it makes being voilent not any sort of choice at all/not anything that can have consequences. So as per some previous posts I've got in mind some exploring of ruins. Some hunting for game to cook and sell the meal to those that pass on the road. It'll start near the start of the starter set adventure (wow, said 'start' too often there) so maybe she'll enter it by chance? I haven't drawn up the contents of the starting hex she'll be in - as said, it'll have some ruins. But not sure what else. I'm thinking one of the ruins will have some warning of a fell creature behind a door - and from behind the door the sound of slow scratching on the inside of the door will eminate. It'll be a skeleton. Don't have to fight it. Probably best not to if you're a solo player.

Might have a stirge in the distance as well.

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)