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November 27, 2012

MET Revision

When I ran a Mage: the Ascension LARP, I wrote a version of Mind's Eye Theater that I could stand.  Actually, what I did was write a base system that was compatible with Mind's Eye Theater.  I'm going to describe it here.

Lots of people like the World of Darkness games.  The settings are fun and set up lots of hooks.  The hardest part of rewriting these games are that the supernatural powers that PCs have access to are all idiosyncratic -- they all have their own rules, and usually each level of each power has different rules.  Mage: the Ascension has 5 levels of 9 spheres with an average of 3 mechanically distinct rotes per sphere-level.  9*5*3=135.  That's too much for a rewrite.

Now, most of the powers' rules are passing-fair.  A minority need to be re-written or banned to make a playable game, and actually at that level of granularity, every GM is going to have different lists of what to ban and what to modify.  A lot of that can even be handled on a case by case basis by allowing a core menu of powers, and then allowing players to "apply" for a power not in the core set.

But the base system had to go.

November 21, 2012

House Rules

House rules are changes to the rules of a game that the GM sets.  They're helpful because there's no such thing as a perfect game, and even great games aren't perfect for every adventure.  GMs house rule games for various reasons.  Here are some common reasons:

  • The GM is very familiar with the rules, and there are a few places he wants to improve them.  This is common in popular games, and you can find some common house rules for popular games online.  For instance, a common change to 3rd edition d20 games is to make character death occur at [Level+10] negative hit points.  Another example: Critical fumble house rules have been cropping up in just about every game.
  • The game has supplemental and optional rules, and the GM wants to make clear which ones are being used.  This is a house rule even though it's part of the original game.  A storyteller running a LARP using Laws of the Night may say "we are not using any rules out of Dark Epics," for instance.
  • The game has inconsistencies or unclear spots, and the GM wants to clarify the problem.  This is more common in games that didn't get a lot of playtesting (that would be most games).  
  • The GM wants to emphasize elements of the setting specific to the plot he wants to run.  This commonly means character creation house rules.  A Cyberpunk 2020 GM might give extra points to starting characters to represent that they're experienced characters.  Or he might say everyone has to play a Cop because they represent a team of detectives.

November 16, 2012

Resource Management in RPGs

To continue the 80s flashback theme from earlier this week, I want to start a discussion about resource management.  Specifically, I wanted to remind my readers that in The Legend of Zelda, the bow was actually pretty awesome...

...but you lost a rupee every time you shot it!

November 14, 2012

Cut to the Chase

The players finally all get settled and focused on the game.  They've got their sheets out and dice ready.

"So last week we ended with you going back to the town of Landing.  You stayed in the inn.  What do you want to do?"

Five faces glance around in confusion.  You wait expectantly.  Then impatiently.  Then you start to get concerned.  They're on a quest to slay the Resurrected Witch King, whose mountain is in the North.  All they need to do is get a map of the Northern Territories (and that's even optional!), set off on the High Road, take the abandoned Ore Road at the fork that goes through the Diamond Pass, and it leads to the Valley of the Departed.  They know this!

"I guess we should sell some of these items we don't need."

"Yeah, and maybe look for rumors about the Witch King."

"Oh, I wonder if the Priest of the Lost God knows anything he's not telling us."

"Yeah, he seemed shady.  Maybe after we sell the loot, we can buy a scroll of clairvoyance and spy on him."

"Yeah, but how do we know when he'll be talking about Witch King stuff?"

"I can use a disguise spell..."

You sigh in frustration.  They know what to do, where the adventure lies.  Yet they decided to go off on this pointless side quest?  Sure, you made the Priest of the Lost God shifty, but that was a long time ago.  Any information the Priest knows the players know by now.  This is going to be a wasted session...

November 9, 2012

Slow the Pace?

Should I slow the pace at which I post here?  I don't get comments, and I don't really heavily promote this blog yet.  Once a week would be easier on me.  Please post your thoughts in a comment if you actually read this.


November 7, 2012


Last night we played a board game and one of the players ordered pizza to share.  It made me think about gamers and food.

November 2, 2012


Hey, you know I've been blogging for a while and never talked about format!  By that, I mean scheduling, duration, frequency and scheduling for your game.