Monday, November 26, 2012
So once the player character creation was established, we had to figure out what the NPC creation would be like. For most of us long time players, think back to the roughest, toughest fights you had as a party when you just started playing. What were the most difficult? Other parties, right? Facing off against rival adventurers was always the most difficult. That was the level of challenge we were trying to put forward. Not a dungeon crawl mentality where there was room after room of variable monsters that made no sense and could be wiped out fairly easily. Most dungeon crawls are battle of attrition: how far can you go before your priests’ spells run out. There was another aspect to this too: Rule lawyers. The guys I played with were typically intelligent (well, me too), and we all new the monster books. Face any one of us off against something that was in the books, and we could tell you its points to kill, its strengths, and its weaknesses. I hated that as a GM. Also, and I’ve used this example before, not every tiger is the same. Some are aggressive, some intimidators, some stealth fighters, etc. Why not give the enemies skills too? It is simply this - a tiger with move quietly is different from a tiger with intimidation which is different than a tiger with only attack skills. And none of them are predictable. Players of LQ still count damage points with a decent idea of how much damage it is going to take to drop a bad guy, but in many ways that’s sort of like looking at the guy to see how bloody he is. Some parts of gaming can never completely match real life or the movies. What else can we tell you about LQ “monsters”? Well, they are far more likely to be based on the original myths and not a modern book series. Dwarves and trolls are related, just like in the Norse myths. I still cannot figure out where this concept that trolls regenerate came from. Anyway, there are a lot of tweaks along those lines. Also, I think some of the deities in some of the original games cast such a huge and strange shadow over the monsters. Take the dragons. They all worship one side or the other, have strange colors and are very limited in their use of breath weapons. Fighting dragons was less a battle and more a challenge of figuring out how we were going to get it to waste its three attacks so then we could finish it off. I get the game balance issue, but really? three shots and it’s done. Every dragon - three shots and it’s done. They are all the same, they are all predictable. There’s that word again. So, in summary - Legend Quest monsters and bad guys - NOT predictable.
Monday, November 19, 2012
We feel we need to explain Legend Quest. No, not really the game itself, but why it came into being and why (for those reasons) it works the way it does. First, as many who have read this blog for some time know, I was plagiarized. A game company I was beta testing for stole a handful of my ideas and published them. I wasn’t flattered; I was pissed off. But as I nursed my beer(s) at GENCON that year, I came to the realization that my ideas were clearly good enough to be published. Thus Legend Quest (which was named something very different at the time) was on its way to actually leaving the basements, cafeterias and other places where it had been played. So why go with a completely point based system? #1 - I am very unlucky, at least when it comes to cards and dice. (Unlucky in cards; lucky in love! worked for me and I can’t be too upset.) I could never roll well enough to get the characters I wanted. and I always felt that whatever means we used to skew the results, 4d6 or place them where you want, felt like cheating. I didn’t want luck to determine a great character from a lousy one. It really was about the attributes and not even the skills that the character point generation system was a requirement for me. Stay tuned and we’ll go through the other factors of LQ and why it turned out the way it did.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
You know you’ve seen it! The published module has “clues” in the public (typically known by the people sitting in the local tavern). By asking folks in the bar, you learn a random clue. Too often, they are either false or true, but always related directly to the mission the players are on. I hate that. Where are the red herrings? Where are the clues that are true, but have nothing at all to do with the mission? Are these towns and taverns so boring that there is never anything happening that doesn’t relate? Wait chaotic life - Only one mission concept at a time. Yes - Red herrings can take up valuable game time by making the PCs go off in the wrong direction. Yes, typically the GM has not fully developed that line of adventure. So there’s more GMing off the cuff. But not doing it is actually treating your players like children. Hey, if they are children, maybe they can’t juggle diverse clues and you need to make things a little more straight path. But if they aren’t ... I work really hard to make my campaign world(s) seem like living entities. Things have to be going on “in the background”. These things do not have to relate to what the players are doing, but often times, they will intersect. Deciding to not do this really seems to be a cop out. Then again, some of these published adventures I’m complaining about have dangerous creatures living 60 yards away from a town of civilians unable to fight. I probably have a lot more to complain about then not having multiple story lines.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
This one might get a little controversial. What’s the value of a soul (in a fantasy role-playing game)? In literature, we always hear about some foolish mortal selling his or her soul to a demon. This is considered bad. Sure, he gets power in the mortal realm, but he is tortured for eternity. Sometimes, he sells his soul a couple of times over, and the demons rip him to shreds when he dies. What do you get for a soul? and is it always bad to sell it? If you “sell your soul” to a good god or angel, do you earn heaven? I mean - if the missionary spends his entire life dedicated to bringing new folks to the religion of a good god, wouldn’t he earn a spot in heaven? In a FRPG, wouldn’t that missionary be gifted with priestly magic? Did he sell his soul for his magical powers? Reverse that. Bad guy spends his life toiling to corrupt the foolish to worship his demonic lord. The demon gives him power in life. Wouldn’t the demon reward the mortal on death? He might still go to hell, but wouldn’t he be one of the tormentors and not one of the tormented? So then he sold his soul and still sort of wound up on top! What about sacrifices? Can you buy yourself a better afterlife? In our modern Judeo-Christian culture, we see the concept of sacrificing as bad, but if it grants any benefit to the pagan gods (who actually exist in FRPG) then couldn’t they be bought? My campaign allows one side to sacrifice folks from the other side to their gods, and this binds the soul of the sacrificed. This usually lasts about ten years, so eventually, you get to go enjoy (or suffer) your eternity, but for ten years, you are a slave to the god you were sacrificed to. What about a more figurative view of sacrifice, such as toiling on behalf of the god. Well, go back a couple of paragraphs. But what’s it worth? These are games where divinities can have a certain number of points at which point they die. (I hate this! but a lot of games allow it) How do we put numbers/stats on the value of a soul? Game balance is the big question. and wouldn’t characters that were more powerful sort of be more valuable? So would you get more for your soul if you waited, or do you get more soul coinage as you advance (gain levels)? I think it matters if there is a form of purgatory too, but now I’m probably getting WAY too complicated. I’m wrapping up Gods and Demons, so you can see where my mind is at. Still, I’m weighing different ways. I think the most important part is going to be if eventually you run out. In other words, at what point do the divine creatures decide there isn’t enough of your soul left, or they have you anyway and don’t need to bargain? Tied to this is whether the other side will be forgiving. In the Judeo-Christian culture, last minute, honest repentance can work. I don’t think I’ll allow that in game!