Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random random roll

I am reading World of Cynnibar review written by Darren McLennan (you find it here @ and there was this funny thing in Cynnibar example adventure.

First roll D100 to determine a change then roll D100 again to determine success or failure. Isn't that truly a random roll?

Roll D100, get a result of 53 what means that there is 53% change of [what ever is in question]. Then roll D100 again to see what happens based on that randomly determined % change.

Isn't that wonderful? Okay, that is totally unnecessary and really, it is too random for anything more important than what change the random flower is blue or red. In my opinion.

But still, I remember when being a kid and GMing I did use that double-random roll. For example if characters were sneaking and I had to determine does a guard detect them -that game didn't have rules for sneaking- I first rolled the percentile for guard's detection and then re-rolled against that first rolled to see were players detected by the guard.

Yes, those were very simple times. But still, back then there was this rule of thumb always present:
If you don't remember how the rules work, adapt."
And that was adapting. Instead of figuring out what ability against what should be used in what manner from really narrow list without rules was determined more simple way. Roll - roll - done.

It is not realistic, but it was fun and easy. Naturally later on solving these small problems of rules and game situations developed a lot and it was easy to create hastely rules that were similar enough with the core game.

But still, I remember telling players:
"You see the guard up there tower. He has a spear and he's looking at in various directions." Players agree to sneak. Behind my GM screen I make a secret roll and I see players' nervous looks. They wait for the result, but then I make a second secret roll and after that tell the result.

Imagine. Secret rolls in high tension situations were bad enough. But double-secret-rolls? Killers! Same I used sometimes when rolling for players. Player doing something with really uncertain result. Sometimes GM makes rolls in these situations as player don't always know what stats to use. But use a double roll here? It's a killer.

Naturally that double roll can be a game killer and should be used extra rarely with caution. It is random roll. Really random roll. Unless you absolutely want to make a random roll, do it. If you are unsure how to response and what happens, I am not sure if it's that good. Like does inn keeper know something important? Why bother. Just determine the % he could know with a little bit imagination where this % comes (inn keepers know the rumors, target easy to point out from a crowd, well known rumor etc. affect the %).

But sometimes, do a random random roll. Just for the fun of rolling dice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Experience points - I allways forgot to give them

For some time I have had a major problem as a Gamemaster. I forget to give experience points during and after a session. It's just that I get sucked in by the story and forget this important mechanism.

Experience points are naturally essential to make characters more powerful during the game. They do deeds and learn, get better to do even more challenging deeds. But also I think that experience points are a reward for player. By giving experience for character I also notice player. "Wow, that was witty to resolve that problem. Here, take a reward." Experience points are good way to also show players that they did well. Good ideas, good roleplaying, completing challenges and stories are a reward for both player character and player himself.

But I just forget it. And my current player for some reason never reminds me. Well, rarely she does. Sometimes when we start playing or during the course of session she says: "um can I have some experience points for last five sessions?" And I feel bad that I forgot them!

Then I try to fix it. Rewind all these sessions experience was not given and try to calculate how much player character would get them. It works that way but somehow giving experience late feels a bit artificial. I mean it is not direct response for player for doing good, or his/her character performing well. So it feels a bit silly not to give some experience when it is deserved but to give it as a pile. It feels a bit random and not as a direct response for player's actions.

I started a topic about this problem of my GMing in forum and got some responses. Best idea I developed is that I have markers which represent experience points. It's easier just to take one marker automatically when I feel player acts well, comes up with a great solution or character performs great. No need to think, just take a marker.
After a session I just calculate the markers and say how many experience points character gets.

This method is good for example White Wolf games where there are not that many experience points give. One or two points at a time. Well, you should give experience after an adventure but I like rewarding them during the game. This makes character advancement slightly faster and is direct reward for player after a successful act.

For games like D&D where experience points are determined in rules how much they are given (after a combat or encounter) it's easier to remember giving them as encounters and opponents have certain number of experience points to give. But for games where conditions giving experience points are like: "performed well, character learned something new, adventure or scene completed" etc. it's harder to remember.

But experience point counters help me to visualize experience points and help me to reward them when they should be rewarded.

Now I need to find some special experience points counters. Maybe some small nice decorative stones or something.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Here, let me mark it on your map." Fantasy game maps.

That sentence or similar is from Skyrim. You talk to npc who gives you a quest and marks the location on your map. Simple? Few thoughts about fantasy roleplaying games.

I like games where there is a map. But map is more empty than filled. Naturally main locations are there what GM has written pre-game but otherwise it's a sandbox where GM can fill things. For example in Skyrim you see major locations but when you travel from A to B you can find one or even several different locations. Smaller villages, farms, dungeons, camps etc. etc.

So, in roleplaying game you give players rough map of the game world or area their characters are in. Little details or bigger places you can fill up later when player characters discover them. That gives GM freedom that not every thing is set in the game world and you can add things up as you like.

Let's say, player characters are in a major city marked on map. They talk to people and jarl (Skyrim inspired as this is related to Skyrim) tells that city's mine has a problem with spiders (basic fantasy rpg adventure, isn't it). He marks its location on the map (and GM marks it on players' map. New location added.

Also if players travel from A to B they can find locations in between. Small hamlets for example.

This kind of sandbox gaming is fun, as while playing their characters and doing quests the world is a big playground to explore. Also productive GM can make locations pre-game and mark them on his secret GM map to be discovered or GM could even describe locations but put them in places during the game. For example players walking in wilderness and GM wants a bigger encounter. He shuffles his notes and decides to put his Fang Tower there, where evil necromancer cult is known to be. Just a random encounter. With a tower. And now it is a location, part of the map and game world also.

Now it is easy to use that random encounter Fang Tower. After clearing it from bad necromancers players might find a note or a book what gives another quest. Or they might re-visit it later in different business.

Basically what you need is to draw a map. With rivers and lakes. Mountains and deserts and what ever suits that location or world. Then you need to work with main cities and other big generally known places. These could be more or less detailed. With less detailed ones you might want to use some of the several create-a-city toolkits from RuneQuest Fantasy Cities (what's it in English?) to Vornheim Complete City Kit. With Vornheim's help you can even create a city while characters are there.

And also using pre-made quests is easy in this kind of map/world. Just put the place or places of the adventure where you see fit in your own map. Your map can be mixed with Glorantha, Middle-earth, Old World etc. but still it is original and fun to discover.

And with a map/world like this gives you as a GM more freedom and less stress. You don't have to write every detail creating a world. You can fill it up later. Get a neat idea for history during the game? Let players find that detail from books or someone to tell them and so on.

If you start to GM your own sandbox world you need some details to start with. Maybe only one area where characters start. Or whole place can be unfamiliar if players aren't not local at all. Take Elder Scrolls series for an example here.

Some players and GMs might want to have their gaming world deep and detailed, but sometimes it could be fun to explore and fill it up while gaming. Also it can be fun to GM to be creative also during the game and instead of using half a year creating a game world you can create details to it in between game sessions. Last session ended when player characters were travelling to a desert city. Create surroundings, some interesting places etc. there focusing on it instead of whole world. Players are heading to deserts not to the mountains, so mountains you can keep untouched as players are not going there nor are familiar with the area. Or you can naturally create in one evening some place to mountains, some to desert, few smaller cities, tavern to marshes, a couple of random encounter places to be used later etc. what ever inspires at the moment. And if you got a neat idea for a location but don't know where to put it create it and place it later!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Few words about every game I own

I own more games that I have played or even read. But what would be a better start for blogging in the beginning of a new year than going through my collection this far? You can find my collection here. This list is in alphabetical order.

Cradle of Rabies' year 2012

I am a little late with new year. Well, obviously my year turned the same time as everybody else's but in this blog. I am not a fortune teller, but here are few ideas what year 2012 of this blog and my roleplaying could be.

Vampire: the Masquerade Chronicle

Chronicle is at its final. Last weekend it was 99th gaming session and I try to wrap it next Friday with session number 100. Quite a lot has happened involving prince cameo in different identity bugging city and most of all main Character Amanda. Nosferatu Amanda and city's clan Brujah are allies and Amanda is not so sure about how she feels about clan Nosferatu. She is from unique bloodline family D'arc who are different. Also werewolven were included heavily.
When this chronicle is over I will write an overview of it.

Opening Mutants & Masterminds

I have owned this game for some time but haven't played it. Still reading it but reviewed half of the book. So other half needs review and after reading it and after the Vampire chronicle it will be played. Style will be something like movies Spirit and Sin City maybe with some Gotham City influence. Planning not to run a mega long campaign but shorter to get my hands on other new for me games. If I can end Vampire chronicle this Friday Saturday will be M&M.

Call Of Cthulhu Is Fun

Call of Cthulhu I have had so much fun playing. With this player only two games though but both were success. I have idea for my next 20s CoC game what I want to run this year. It will also be shorther game thus easier to run and get time for.

Lamentations Of The Flame Princess Grindhouse Edition

Haven't completed reading it yet but this seems to be the OSR fantasy game for me. I most definately want to run it! And somehow I feel that it will be the game I want to write my own material to. Looking forward to use this for both gaming and writing.

Reviews And Interviews To Blog And Forum

Reviews are fun to write but take time. I want to do more reviews and if I find interesting people from roleplaying scene (well, there are plenty of interesting people but different thing is to find time to interview them) I will do them. Already did two reviews for Sami and Ville what was fun.

Movies Give Me Inspiration And I Blog About It

I watch a lot of movies before closing my eyes in bed and almost every movie gives me some kind of inspiration. I will quick review movies from the point of view of roleplayer. Problem is I watch a lot of movies so I might wrap several movies into one blog post at a time. That saves space and also I can focus more on roleplayer's view than ranting about the movie itself.

Computer Games Move

I am a gamer. Not only roleplaying gamer but also computer and video games gamer. That's why I put up another blog I can focus on video games so I don't have to think how I can melt them here.

New Games?

If I find games in good price, I'll get them. I love collecting games and gaming material even if I wouldn't ever use them. They are neat in my shelf and the anticipation to wait the product and then shuffle it through is awesome feeling. So, trying to collect at least few pieces this year. Maybe I even find something worth to try out or even new favourites, who knows. There are few games on my must have list, but let's see if I get them in a decent price.