Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

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Archive for the ‘D&D’ Category

Gen Con Aught Eight (1)

Posted by Nathan P. on August 20, 2008

Sleep? Nah. Gen Con. Though, real life is pretty busy through the rest of the month, so I doubt I’ll be able to go into much more detail. I do have a ton of pics, though, which will go up ASAP.

Bullet points:

  • The Design Matters booth: business. Fuck but we did a wonderful thing. We not only hit our sales goals for the convention, we blew them out of the water with an approach and business model that was both experimental and, as far as I know, pretty damn unanticipated within our community. Also, to all the people that said “I’m glad you’re doing it, but you’re crazy” – that’s right. We are. Crazy like foxes. We will be publishing all of our sales data and results soon, so our experience will also be an actual data point for future efforts. Stay tuned for that.
  • The Design Matters booth: social. Holy shit, but I didn’t want the convention to end. Mad props to Kevin, Gregor, Eppy, Clint, Amy, Jonathon (in absentia, alas) and Shreyas for being part of this wonderful alchemy. I had such a fucking great time just spending time with all of you, let alone game, drink, party and hang out.
  • Old friends: always a pleasure to see you again. I miss you already.
  • New friends: One of my goals for this con was to meet and/or cultivate actual friendships with some new people, and damn but that went well. You know who you are, my new friends.
  • Gaming: I ending up playing Annalise three times, and running InSpectres once. All went well, for varying degrees of the word. Annalise continues to enthrall me. I learned something really interesting about InSpectres. Other than those games, my interest was primarily in social stuff, and I don’t regret it, though it sounds like much other rocking gaming was going on.
  • Buying: I picked up Kagematsu, Tales of the Fishermans Wife and Black Cadillacs from the Ashcan Front and Sweet Agatha and 3:16 from my booth. Also, some more cool red “broken” tokens for playing Annalise. I also got some slick biohazard goggles for dancing and some, uh, friendship bracelets for very special friends, which I’m looking forwards to integrating into my wardrobe. Hunter: the Vigil was waiting on my doorstep when I got home thanks to a birthday-related preorder, and that was just icing on the cake.
  • Eating: I managed to eat pretty well (not hard when you’re in the one-big-meal-a-day mode). The family-style Italian place is rocking (Buca de Beppo, or whatever), and the nicer Italian place kitty-corner to Steak-N-Shake had a delicious Kobe beef ravioli.
  • Jeff: Thats the bartender at the Embassy Suites, and he always treats us right.
  • Good conversations: me & Kevin & Clint talking about D&D and nerd culture; pretty much every conversation with Amy; “Smooshing” talk with the DM folk (thanks guys, I almost vomited in my mouth); stealing time with Alexander, even if only for a brief moment; chilling with Frank in the mornings before opening the booth; saving Eric from IPR; gossiping with Gregor and Clint (even if it makes me a bad person); talking to customers at the booth and feeling validated in our endeavors; catching up with Dro; giving Luke shit (dude, wheres the damn Pony?); catching up with Jared; seeing many others for only too brief a time.
  • Random coolness: Fireworks over the city, teaching Gregor to talk American good, getting bro-jobs from Eppy, geeking out about glasses, Project Runway discussions, drawing your character for Candy Creeps, driving for way too many hours but having productive conversations, Love is a Battlefield dammit, the sketchy Gyro place in Columbus, the ghosts in the hotel, getting taller over the course of the con.
  • Oh yah, sales: I only had 10 salable copies of Annalise, and I sold out of those, plus sold a couple more to friends willing to take a misprinted cover. Sold 4 copies of carry plus 6 to the Finns (apparently its popular with high school kids in Finland, who knew!) plus gave a couple away for charity auctions. Success in my book.

I’m getting all misty-eyed thinking about it. Next year, gonna be even better.

(Feel free to use comments to remind me of other cool things. I probably didn’t mention it cuz it’s all still swirling in my hazy brain, not cuz I didn’t dig it).

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Posted in Actual Play, Annalise, carry. a game about war., Conventions, D&D, Personal, Promo | Leave a Comment »

Character Effectiveness

Posted by Nathan P. on April 4, 2008

This turned out longer than I thought. Skip to the end for the point.

Characters are (usually, not always, but the vast majority of the time) the interface that the players use to interface with the fiction.

Character “effectiveness” is a good (and commonly understood, I think) phrase for talking about the way in which that interface works. A characters effectiveness may be because of the stats that it has, or it may be measured by a metaresource that is used by the player in order to change the fiction in order to “help the character out,” or whatever else. But it’s a trivial point to say that a 10th level D&D character is more effective than a 1st level D&D character, right?

Well, I’m not sure that thats a trivial point at all. Because, yes, a 1st level D&D character in the same party as the 10th level one will be overwhelmed – they just won’t be able to effect the fiction in a meaningful way through the manipulation of mechanics. They will not be able to hit any of the monsters, for example. Now, the person playing that character may be able to make them effective in a “soft” fashion – for example, someone plays a 1st level noble in that 10th level game, and he has social authority in the fiction that the 10th level barbarian doesn’t have. But, as a general statement, most characters in a given game usually have about the same amount of effectiveness, right?

Let’s keep looking at D&D. Whats the other measure of character effectiveness? Your hit points. When your hit points hit 0, you are no longer effective, because your character is dead.

This is the big thing that lurks in the background of most games, right? That your character, at some point, could die, thereby severing the players ability to effect the fiction.

Man what?

The point of a roleplaying game is that you are playing, right? So what is up with the constant threat of you not getting to play anymore?

Anyway, thats not what I actually wanted to talk about. Got sidetracked, sorry.

Ahem.

So, for a certain style of play, player effectiveness = character effectiveness. My GURPS character that I just made has a 15 in the Occultism skill, so I the player have a chance north of 90% of successfully influencing the fiction whenever I use him to find something out thats related to Occultism.

For another certain style of play, player effectiveness is completely disassociated from character effectiveness. My last GURPS character died because I talked to the GM and said “hey, I’m not really interested in playing Reyes anymore, and I know you think it would be appropriate for a PC to die during this mission,” not because Reyes blew any rolls.

My question to you, gentle reader, is whether it’s ever more desirable for thematic or genre-celebratory play for player effectiveness to be curtailed because the character effectiveness has gone down. Easiest example, why should you have to stop effecting the fiction because your character dies?

The problem that I’m seeing in some of my play is that I don’t want characters to be injured, because it makes them less effective, which means that their players don’t have as much ability to have input into the game, which make it less fun for me.

This is a genuine question. Is mechanically determined lowering of character effectiveness useful? Why? When?

Posted in Actual Play, Artistry, D&D | 10 Comments »

Piecemeal Armor Rules for D&D

Posted by Nathan P. on February 17, 2008

So I’m playing D&D with my monday-then-tuesday-but-now-wednesday group. It’s fun. My character is badass and emo at the same time. She’s a rogue/cleric, and so far she’s exploded a skeleton (by turning it) and stabbed a dude in the lung, but then she healed it.

Anyway, the setting is a world that the DM has made up, based very loosely on Dark Sun and some other stuff. There a mountain with a dragon below it, and there’s 7 Giants who spend all their time keeping the Dragon asleep, cuz if it wakes up everythings gonna die, and this whole thing is surrounded by trackless desert, and so on. So, we geek out about cool stuff from Dark Sun that should exist in this world, and piecemeal armor kept on coming up. Like, gladiators with platemail arms and chunks of chainmail, elven nomads rockin’ layers of skins with metal sewn into them, whatever.

So, with some spare time in my weekend, I made up some piecemeal armor rules. I really like them! They’re only a little more complicated than armor already is in D&D, and I think they lend a lot of flavor to the whole endeavor. There’s also a system for piecemeal armor getting destroyed in combat, which is easily extensible to being a general armor destruction system that doesn’t involve any new mechanics beyond what you already use in combats. Which is pretty cool.

Anyway, pending DM approval, we’re gonna use ’em in my game. I’m posting the 5-page PDF here also, in case anyone is interested in checking them out, especially people with more experience with 3.5 than I have (which is anyone who’s played it for more than 2 sessions, at this point).

So, the D&D Piecemeal Armor Rules are linked right there. Lemme know whatcha think!

Posted in Actual Play, D&D, Playtesting | 2 Comments »