Most of Intwischa’s best traffic is sent to us by other gaming blogs, and several bloggers have been kind enough to provide commentary or links to one of our articles (and, by extension, grant us a traffic bump). With that in mind, I’d like to share with you five articles that I bookmarked from the previous week, as well as some reflections I have on the posts.
This week, we look at posts about GMs being good sources of information, both in terms of what the party sees and what they know. I also continue my obsession with initiative, and muse on the Kickstarter trend… fad… I don’t know what to call it.
The Days Before the Battle Mat
When I got back into gaming as an adult in 2003, I was shocked that D&D was now played with minis and a map. The game I remembered was one where the DM told you something, and if a player needed to visualize it, the player had to draw it.
I’ve grown accustomed to playing with minis, and concede that if it is difficult to play D&D 3.5 without them, it is impossible to play 4th. However, reading the thoughts of Derek, a DM who had a blind player join his game, made me realize how quickly I sacrificed what I enjoyed as a child. Furthermore, I realized that no one had asked me to make that sacrifice.
Next time I game with a battle mat, I’d like to try something out. I’d like to give the players the marker, and have them draw the room I’m describing. I know it’d work incredibly well for a game like Dresden Files, but I think it would improve on shared vision in 4e games.
No pun intended.
Link: How a Blind Player Improved Our Game from Dungeon’s Master
Taking the Initiative to Pun Again
For some reason, I’m fixated on articles about initiative.
This time, I’m reading about using initiative groups to speed initiative. Without exactly formalizing it, this is what I’ve done in my Dresden games. While I’m dubious of the three- to fourfold decrease in combat time, I can attest to the fact that combat is a lot more fun when there is less waiting.
My big takeaway from this article is to replace the surprise round, which never seemed to work very well, and simply replaced what should have been speedy and suspenseful action with rules references. Michael suggests that the lowest-rolling group simply not act in the first round. He gives a good example of how this works in the comments.
Link: Initializing Initiative from Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies
But My Character is Smarter Than I Am!
Contrary to what my mom thought that my friends and I did in the basement when I was a kid, no tabletop gamer has ever missed an attack because they could not demonstrate to their GM the proper way to swing a sword. But somehow, the most important attributes (ahem, Int, Wis, and Cha) seem to frequently rely on a player’s ability.
Vanhavoc at ‘Troll in the Corne’r talks about how you can can make sure your players are tracking with what you’re saying (hello, GMing for a blind player!). I particularly resonate with a point he makes near the end of the article, regarding how a GM can give tips to players who seem to be missing important information.
I’ve found that RPGs are more fun when players only do stupid things when they’re fully cognoscent of the fact that the thing they’re doing is stupid. Here is a situation with two outcomes to explain what I mean:
Gina the GM: Having talked your way past the guards, the party strides boldly into the throne room for an audience with the baron. What do you do? (The group looks around, then looks at Bob.)
Bob (playing Bashir the Bard): Bashir steps forward and states boldly, “My liege, we need your help abolishing the foolish tax on goods recovered from dungeons. You see, adventurers like us cut down on the monster population…”
Gina: (interrupting Bob) The baron looks at you and says, “Foolish law? I wrote that law! How dare you come into my throne room! Guards, seize them!”
Bob: But… I didn’t know…
Gina: Roll initiative!
Gina: Bashir has Knowledge: Nobility, right? (Bob shakes his head) Well, even so, as someone who knows this town and is diplomatically savvy, Bashir knows that the baron probably wrote the law. So, what you’re saying will be taken as a grave insult. You want to do something else?
Bob: Yeah, I want to do something else. After I talk about the foolish law, I want to slap the baron with my glove and challenge him to a duel for his throne!
Gina: There are, like, six guards in the room, and probably at least 6 more within earshot.
Bob: We can take them!
Situation (A) sucks. Yeah, it’s hyperbole, but it defines some horrible experiences I’ve had with gaming, and some horrible mistakes I’ve made. While Situation (B) need not be the way every game is played, I’ve certainly experienced it as fun–at any rate, more fun than screwing players when they don’t understand something.
Link: GM Essentials: How to keep a handle on clues, communication, and collateral damage from Troll in the Corner
Someone Kickstart Kickstarter’s Search
I love the idea of Kickstarter.
I hate how much stuff is there, and how hard it is to do a decent search. I want to say “Show me projects that include the term RPG, don’t include ‘video’ (because I don’t want video games), are 80% or more funded, and end in the next two weeks.”
Instead, I get to click on “games,” and browse through hundreds of banal things, or see stuff that has 322% funding, or… well, if you’ve used Kickstarter, you get the drift.
Keith Davies of ‘In My Campaign’ (who has, by the way, been a steadfast Intwischa linker–thanks, Keith) does what I wish more bloggers would do–post a handful of interesting Kickstarter projects, with some brief but helpful thoughts about them. I see that Kickstarter allows “curated pages” for groups (such as Wired GeekDad), but I can’t for the life of me find out how to curate a page.
Thanks, Keith, for taking the initiative. (Huh. I really didn’t intend that pun.)
Link: Links of the Week, March 19 2012 from In My Campaign.