Friday, January 20, 2012

Google D&D

and this...


You can measure distance, draw lines, drop polygons, add places... In short you could run an entire campaign out of Google Earth, and use no other tools so long as you copy all your random tables into places or polygons.

My next post will be about how to do this

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

23 answers for Zak

So in linking to this post...

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

Googlemaps for D&D. I will someday write up how to do this.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

Sunday. Type 4.

3. When was the last time you played?

Like... Wednesday the 28th of December? Dark Heresy.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

Dark heresy... So you live on a medieval tech jungle-deathworld (think Pandora from Avatar, but not pretty if you aren't familiar with 40k) and then Tyranids invade and you have to fight a Lictor in the jungles.... and you only have swords and bows.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Listen intently so i know what the fuck it is they are exactly trying to do.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

I drink Mother (energy drink) and sometimes i eat chocolate.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

YES. Most the time, but also it energises me enough afterwards to keep me up.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

My Moritat Assassin in Dark Heresy (a space ninja with a lightsabre for those of you unfamiliar with Dark Heresy, with a vow never to use modern weapons, only ones with edges, so swords and arrows) went and got himself a custom-made compound bow with a laser sight and blades attached to the ends of it... So kinda like Hawkeye's bow except that it doubled as a double-bladed sword. 

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Make it unserious all the time but still take it serious all the time as well... if that's possible.

10. What do you do with goblins?

I haven't ever used them... yet.  In my game world they're traders, thieves and they steal babies and live in the ground, so kinda like your typical d&d kobolds, but more like proper Germanic myth goblins.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

Economics to do with the mobility of capital, that and photocopying.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

When the rogue tried to run away from the giant snakes in the jungle trees and ended up diving into the pond... Which had an anaconda in it.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

Type 4. Heroes of Shadow. Trying to see how a class, one of my players wants to play, works.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

Who-ever does the type 4 illustrations (i haven't bothered to check) or Todd Lockwood. 

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

Yes... i think.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

I have never run an adventure i haven't written, but i've only been GMing a year, year and a half.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

Circular couches. Big table.  Modular hirst artblocks to build anything and heaps of miniatures to represent everything, all painted.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

Type 4 and Dark Heresy.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

George RR Martin and Terry Practchett.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

One who isn't afraid to actually sandbox and who engages with the setting above the game mechanics.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

I had an NPC childishly break up with a PC.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

A book and CD set of a huge amount of data, including supply and demand spreadsheets and economic systems, weather generators, random NPC table etc.  Basically a complete, compact version of the best of Abulafia, with more modelling of real-world systems.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

My brother. Pretty well. He's played all the Bioware RPGs so he understands pretty much all of it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ramblings about 4th Ed Vertical Inflation

Forgive me if somewhere there is a better written and articulated article explaining this, but this is my re purposed ramble to my gaming group about the ridiculous vertical inflation inherit in Type 4 D&D.

Everything with a stat block in 4ed gets half its level added as a bonus (on top of special abilities, magic items and ability score bonuses) to its defenses, and to its rolls to hit and initiative and to skill checks.

Thus to break this down.

Lets say a level 1 peasant has say AC 12, Fort 12, Reflex 11, Will 11
This is from +1 of AC for padded clothes, +1 for Dex.
They have no bonus from level. They roll at +3 to hit (+1 for strength +2 for a poor quality spear).
They have 22 HP (Con +8).
+1 initiative

A tiger (level 6).
73 hp
AC 20 (+4 dex, +3 level, +3 natural) Fort 19 (+4 strength, +3 level bonus, +2 natural), Reflex 19 (+4 dex, +3 level, +3 natural), Will 17 (+2 wisdom, +3 level, +2 natural)
+11 for its bite attack. (+4 strength, +3 level, +4 for proficiency value of its teeth and natural).
+7 initiative (from memory) (+4 dex +3 level)

Now this may seem fine for your tiger and other beasties (which i don't necessarily disagree with) to have these stats but consider your standard level 21 Eladrin NPC "Ghaele of Winter" so a mage-like fellow.

HP 134
AC 33 (+9 dex, +10 level, + 4 natural/armour) Fortitude 30 (+6 con, +10 level, +4 natural) Reflex 33 (+9 dex, +10 level, +4 natural) Will 33  (+9 cha, +10 level, +4 natural)
Attacks +25 (+9 dex, +10 level, +6 natural [+2 implement, +4 enhancement/natural)
Initiative +19 (+9 dex, +10 level bonus).

This Eladrin also has +24 to diplomacy, +16 perception, +21 insight, and its untrained stealth is +19 - meaning particularly for perception and stealth that it is more perceptive than your average scout trained and employed by the military (by about twice as much) and is twice as stealthy as a trained footpad.

Which would be okay, if the Eladrin wasn't a frostmage.

My point is this can be remedied easily by scrapping every things + half level to bonuses.

This changes the game from being a vertically scaling arms race of points, to one in which player character growth is horizontal (by gaining new abilities and cool stuff) and focused into the areas where the character is good.  The difficulty class suggestions for tasks can then remain the same across the entire campaign, and not have to ramp up vertically to account for these ridiculous abstract bonuses. The barbarian who does not know much about arcana then does not get abstract bonuses to arcana because they got experience from killing things, that puts them ahead of apprentice mages who are are studying arcana. Similarly the bumbling professer-mage doesn't get abstract bonuses to stealth enough to sneak better than most of the footpads in the slums.  Characters will get better at their focused areas, but not necessarily at everything.

Even if characters won't get as many points across the board characters recieve plenty of vertical bonuses (magic gear providing +2 to something, skill training, ability score increases every 2 levels, feats and HP),

Thus at level 15 the peasants struggle to hit characters, not because they have an abstract +7 bonus to defenses because "oooh they're level 15", but rather because they have more abilities, better equipment. Even if it is more likely that peasant mob can hit and damage level 15 PCs, this should just force players to be more careful.  It has the added bonus of meaning that level 4-5 town guards are still a potential threat at high levels, if they bring they full force of the law down.

So philosophically there seems no reason not to do away with the  +half level to everything, as this removes the ridiculous vertical inflation, which seems to fufill little purpose other than indicating that certain enemies are almost impossible for characters to hit at low level, and that certain low-level enemies can be autohit at higher levels.

It also ads sense of a game world scale and progression that does away with the MMORPG ridiculous vertical value increases.

The vertical inflation just does not seem necessary at all, when it can just be done away with.

Oh and the best thing is that doing away with it on EVERY BEASTY and EVERY NPC or PC means that hey, everyone is at the same disadvantage, so the higher level monsters and characters are working on almost the same to hit and AC values, as PCs should have awesome magic.  It just brings lower level characters and monsters up a notch in  their ability to do damage and perhaps bring down higher level critters.

So yeah, that's my rambling.