Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pen and Paper First Person Shooter

I’ve been thinking of how to mix it up when it comes to missions and I have a couple of ideas: First - There’s a reason that run and jump games are fun. Even if you’re too old to remember Pitfall, you have likely played or at least watched Lara Croft or Prince of Persia. Running, and jumping and killing bad guys - It’s fun. (Yes, yes, we role-players are a sick and twisted bunch!) How to do that in a pen and paper RPG - Well, it depends on your rules. In nearly every RPG, the characters have speeds and jumping distances. If not - get a new game. OK, we don’t really mean that (but we kinda do). In any case, as a GM, you probably know what they can and cannot do. If your game does not apply percentages to those skills, you can figure them out yourself with a quick modifier. Let’s say that a running long jump is Strength + Endurance + Agility (in feet - Attributes for humans are on a 1-10 scale). So your decent warrior is going to running long jump about 20’. Modify that for armor and any extra equipment he might be carrying. So if he needs to jump a 20’ gap during an adventure, make this like a 75-80% chance of success. Why? Read the post about rolling dice - nothing is certain in combat. Maybe he misses his step, slips a little, twists his foot as he leaps - whatever. If he has to go 24’, well maybe each extra foot is -10%, so 35% chance of Success (CoS). Maybe if he misses by less than 15%, he has a chance of grabbing it with his hands - probably a Climbing skill. So what do you do with all this? Urban adventures! Either they are chasing a thief across the rooftops, trying to escape from an invading army (across rooftops), etc. Maybe it could be a chase over some uneven mountain tops or bad lands. They’re running, they’re jumping, they’re killing bad guys when/if they can catch them. They’re fighting bad guys that catch up to them. Imagine the difference between a “open the door - fight monster” dungeon adventure, and a leaping across buildings, chasing the bad guys urban adventure. If you can’t get the heartbeats of your players going with that kind of action - and not all of it violent! - then you are clearly doing something really wrong as a game master. OK - the rest of these are not as well thought out, but should be good to go in any case: 2 - There is some sort of alarm that goes off if it detects any sort of magic item. So you need to leave all your magical equipment behind and go in “naked”. Maybe spells don’t set it off, but any items would. 3 - The bad guys are tiny, but dangerous - think pixies or fairies, probably spell casters. Sure a dagger hit will kill one, but how many are you going to get. It turns the logic of most characters (how much damage can I do) around. Now they have to think - how often can I hit? Maybe they’re mostly immune to magical spells too, to avoid one fireball clearing the room. 4 - A military mission where an infantry unit is assigned to the party. They will act primarily as meat shields, but should add to the drama. Most players are not use to characters dying around them, and the constant death toll will change things up. They cannot be wasted either, or there won’t be enough of them left at the end to accomplish the mission or shield the party during the final epic battle. A twist on this might be the infantry guys constantly pulling the “You go on, I’ll hold them off as long as I can”. This twist should make the adventure more of a chase too. We all know that combat takes a while. It’s one of the benefits of playing on-line games - the computers do all the math and just say the damage or miss. If you need to pick up the pace of your game, drop some of the combat and put other action in its place. Everyone rolling together to see if they jumped the alleyway will still be suspenseful, and take a lot less time than fighting through three or four enemies.

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