Thursday 24 February 2011

Task Resolution

As I jump from one system to the other - over two nights earlier this week I GM'd the WFRP 1e starter scenario 'The Oldenhaller Contract' for my wife and my mother (is that a weird gaming group?) - I'm always keen to find ways to minimise any 'look up' time. Browsing the gaming blogs I came across this post on In Like Flynn. It seems to be a fairly straightfoward suggestion that should lead to fun games by virtue of more fluid and collectively understood play, while at the same time allowing the mechanical resolution of a whole variety of actions. As players do like to roll dice, every now and again.

Pop quiz, hotshot. What is the task difficultly of disarming a bomb on a moving bus?

Saturday 19 February 2011

Random Monster Bashing

Ever feel the need for some old-style room-to-room random monster bashing? Populate your dungeons using the Wizards of the Coast Random Dungeon Generator (warning - post TSR D&D within!). Okay, it produces a dis-integrated dungeon, and the adventure 'hooks' are laughably generic and have nothing to do with the way the dungeon has been populated, given that you can click up a series of dungeons in the space of a few minutes, I think it might be an interesting way of throwing together some ideas for a few level-specific small-scale ruined temples and 'haunted' tombs; a wilderness random encounter with a little bit more 'oomph'.

Of course, you could just use the random monster tables from the Basic and Expert sets, a handful of stock temple/cave/barrow/manorhouse maps, and a bit of DM judgement . You know, do things the proper way.

Holmes' Wandering Monster Table

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Fighters and Fanzines

Soon, I might be able to write a little about my first experience of Play-By-Post roleplaying, having joined an ambitious Pendragon game on Roleplay Online. I'm not sure quite how roleplaying will work by this method, but I'm looking forward to getting up and running. Or riding - I'm playing a knight, of course.

Brainstorming with the GM and the other players, I'm trying to give my player knight (PK) a set of traits that will give him a suitably Arthurian tragic-hero trajectory. At the moment I'm thinking of creating a PK whose father was (accused of being) a coward. In questing to demonstrate his own valor, to redeem the family reputation, the PK risks undoing the traits that his father did bequeath him; perhaps from his father he has inherited mercy, forgiveness, or modesty as well as cowardice.

Brave Sir Robin

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has used game mechanics such as Pendragon's traits and passions in order to give concrete shape to the extremes of PC personality in games such as D&D. Was a PC the only survivor of a near-TPK at the hands of Ogres? Create a directed passion - Hatred (Ogres) - to be rolled against during encounters involving Ogres. Or has anyone used a similar system in order to surrender some control of NPCs to the will of the dice. Will the clan chieftain accept the PCs' apologies for their trespass? Make a roll against his forgiving/vengeful trait to decide.

A couple of links:

Anyone who finds this blog will probably already be familiar with Meatshields! the henchmen and hireling generator. As it nears its one-year birthday, the blogger at Discourse and Dragons, one of the creators of Meatshields!, has posted a discussion on the way that he uses this neat little application in his own campaign.

If you are British and in your 30s, then it is likely that your introduction to fantasy gaming came through adventure gamebooks. It is nice to find, on the web, that I'm not unusual in my love of this classic mode of gaming, seemingly superceded by CRPGs and MMORPGs. Via the Fantasy Game Book blog, I found this enormous fanzine - Fighting Fantazine (pdf) - which includes a short preview of a new edition of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG, including re-releases of Out of The Pit and Titan - the best fantasy world to fit into a moderately-sized paperback book.

And there is one addition to my blogroll - the excellent Hill Cantons.

Tuesday 1 February 2011


I've recently got myself a copy of The Great Pendragon Campaign. In hardback. Wow. What a book. And what an interesting game Pendragon is - the mechanics of character traits and passions, of chivalry and culture bonuses does appear to build the world into the system. No intelligence or wisdom statistics - I have blogged about the problem of playing characters that are smarter/stupidier, more charismatic/more socially inept, etc. than the player - but instead personality characteristics that can be tested, 'checked' in the Basic Roleplaying method of character development. Want to resist the seductress? Make a Chaste roll. Reading the GPC it is impossible to not be overtaken by an urge to get a game of Pendragon up and running, learn to handle the basics and capture the right tone, and launch into an 80-year dynastic campaign.

However, what I want to bring to the attention of anyone who hasn't yet seen it is a lovely little utility that I found while browsing outwards from one of the excellent Pendragon fan-pages: Brandon Blackmoor's Domesday Book. If you are building a homebrew fantasy world, this tool will generate some rough 'facts' of a medieval-level society, based on the population density and the area that you provide. Just two variables does make it a little rough, with no possibility to feed in differential trade or resource levels, but it provides some good guidelines to avoid building overpopulated, overdeveloped, impossible to feed, faux-medieval societies.

Of course, if you find yourself a copy of the GPC, and it is now 'print-on-demand' at RPGDriveThru, you don't need to do very much world-building at all...