Monthly Archives: April 2013

Random Stat Generation

I know that some people like the randomization that comes with rolling your stats.  There main philosophies boil down to:

1. Total Point Buy is as even as it can get.  You get full customization options and you’re never left behind.  This is the character-first method.

2. Rolling a character helps you build a character organically.  You create a character from what you’re given, rather than from some starting concept.  This is the stats first method.  A subset of this method believes that you should generate scores completely randomly, where the averages make you a normal person, so that you can start from humble beginnings or overcome serious deficiencies.

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First Draft: Races

I have some conflicting goals with the first draft of races.  If I make them ethnicity instead of races, I need quite a few to have a fleshed out area to explore in.  On the other hand, I want the basic build of the game to keep things simple with just a few races.  I think I’m going to write up about 8 races, and make 4 available initially.  I have 9 examples below, although the final draft may have more or less (if some don’t make the cut).

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First Draft: Ability Scores

The ability scores are tentatively set.  I think I will tentatively rate them on a 10 scale, at least for now.  If I move the core mechanic around, that scale might change.  I think that a 10 would be something like a Giant or a Dragon, and a high strength for a normal human would be somewhere around 6 or 7.  I don’t think of each step as an even increment, I think of each step as something closer to a standard deviation.  The average human score would be a 3 or 4, with standard deviations going up or down from there.

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The Work Begins

I have started to put together the guidebook for Lost Worlds. I already find that it’s a good thing I documented so many of my thoughts here on this blog.  Still, when I see the gulf of empty space on the page, I’m a bit overwhelmed.

I’m thinking through a rough outline of the sections now, and how they should be presented.  Here’s my initial Table of Contents:

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Skill in a Cooperative Game

In a cooperative game, you don’t often think about players being skilled. Even if a game doesn’t directly measure skill though, I think there is still a wide variety and range of strengths and weaknesses of RPG game players. In an RPG, a GM is often described as skilled or not, and certainly there is no doubt that one GM can be more skilled than another. In fact, the range of skill for a GM can be so vast, it’s hard for me to feel adequate to the job, and I can understand why anyone would be intimidated to try.

I think the same can be said for the players.

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Player Conflict

Conflict-photo

We had an interesting dilemma in our game recently.  A lawful good paladin was playing “bad cop” in an interrogation and threatened (a bluff) to execute a stranger (by all appearances, a peasant hunter) who was being less than wholly truthful.  The stranger’s companion was subdued after pulling a knife while sharing camp and stabbing the Paladin (inflicting a surprising amount of damage for a peasant).  As the party approached the second hunter, who had backed away from the scene, with clear intentions of detaining him, the second hunter drew his knife as to attack.  In response, the Paladin’s comrade (the one to whom he gave the bluff “execute” order earlier, attacked and killed the second hunter.

This escalation of violence caused a sudden tension between the party members. Some felt the order for violence, and the execution of the order, should be considered an evil act, and require atonement or loss of divine powers for the Paladin.  After all, the peasant was surrounded by high-level heroes whom he had little to no real ability to mortally threaten.  Others viewed the situation through a lens that did not include the game system’s relative immunity of heroes to people as weak as peasants (even if the peasant is holding a knife).  They were acting as though their friend really had been stabbed in the chest, and the possible threat of death that could accompany it.  They would not allow a second possible assailant to draw a weapon and attack before acting.

The result of this was a party where the players were suddenly not so sure how their characters would react to each other.  The party priest was initially inclined to immediately leave the party, return to civilization, and to potentially raise an investigation into the Paladin’s actions with the church and authorities for the act of ordering the death of another man (or associating with a man that killed him) when that man didn’t offer any real risk to the party.

Some people like these moral inter-party conflicts, and others hate them.  It started to look like sides were being drawn up among the party, and it seemed in that moment as though the night of gaming would be derailed by players trying to figure out what their characters would do, if they would be willing to be led by the Paladin anymore, and whether they would retire their characters, etc.

Why have I described all of this in detail?   Continue reading