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Showing posts from March, 2017

RPGs with Kids: The Birthday Party

I ran an birthday party-adventure with a group of 9 kids of mixed ages and various levels of experience with RPGs.
Favors
An adorable monster notebook to keep track of things, and a set of polyhedrals.

Mechanics
The rules were mostly Sword & Backpack/Fluid Fundamentals. That is, pretty much just "roll a d20 and hope it's high." I used the Fluid Fundamentals idea of Room DCs, which made keeping track of everything very easy (which proved vital, as the chaos around the table was high, and I'd have lost half the party if I'd ever stopped to look anything up).

There were lots of scrolls lying around, and the spells were Maze Rats. It was fun watching kids figure out spells from names like "ectoplasmic form" and "enveloping insect."

And I looked for lots of opportunities to make kids roll the different types of dice, so they could try out their whole set.

Chargen There were no attributes or classes (although several kids insisted that their charact…

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post, I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough.

In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game.

As follows:
Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM.

Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll.

2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10

If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage.

3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10

Because each character only has 3 ability scores (STR, DEX, WIL), it s…

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam.

In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization.



Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exchange that w…

Play-by-Post: Advice on Characters, plus Recipe

I love play-by-post. It accounts for the vast majority of my actual game-playing. The glacial pace is not for everyone, but it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule. And what you lose in the spontaneity and flow of spoken conversation, you gain in the richness of written language.

Given the depth and granularity of rpg creativity, I’m surprised how little is written to address PbP specifically. Shouldn’t we have rule-hacks that are optimized for PbP? Guides for how to GM effectively in this environment?

Well, I can at least offer some thoughts on how to play well in a PbP game.



Present yourself simply.
Don’t bother with elaborate backstories or text descriptions of your character. They won’t get read, and are very unlikely to contribute meaningfully to the game—even less so than in-person. Go for evocative fragments:

A moist and simpering scrap of humanity.
A pissy young satyr in threadbare brocade.
Brother Tom thinks he’s a cleric, but his god doesn't.
A gibbering mouther in a sweater ve…