Sunday, April 28, 2013, 6:34 AM
My friends and I have learned to appreciate how much richer a campaign and a gaming circle can be when the players are encouraged to write journals, illustrate adventures and do other creative things. To encourage this, we give bonus experience for it. We witnessed an explosion of art and a regular chronicle of diaries for all of our games.
However, some players are more artistic, literary or otherwsie creative than others; and some players have much more free time than others. This leads to an imbalance in expereince points, some unspoken resentment from the other players, and a even some pressure on everyone to produce what should be just for fun.
My solution for my own campaign is that I grant bonus experience to everyone in the party, so that no one falls behind or feels obligated, but at the same time, the creative and the committed feel rewarded, because they are helping their own character and their party. This means that I reverted to group experience for my Fourth Edition (as per the rules written, but alien to most players of D&D out there who are used to the personal experience of Old D&D and other Editions).
At the same time, I feel liberated, because I can reward players for roleplaying, clever ideas and other imaginative things, because it will not unblanace the party.
Another problem I have addressed through this bonus system is the parcel-and-build oriented nature of magical treasure in the Fourth Edition. Who would ever pick a piece of Everlasting Chalk for their magical item when it means forgoing necessary weapons and armour? Now of course, I could be a prick and just give the players cool crap which tickles my fancy; but being a player as well, I sympathize, and I have decided that I will award all of that minor, forgettavle but fun loot as part of the bonus rewards for creativity.
Here are some of my Houserules therefore from my Houserule document:
4. I will additionally bestow arbitrary and spontaneous minor treasure, so that the game does not seem too oriented towards builds and gear. Probably potions, herbs, ritual scrolls and components and the occasional weird wondrous item.
7. Every character in the group can get 100 experience if any player makes an illustration, writes a background story, writes a record of an adventure or draws a map. Other creative contributions include a description of one’s mentor, one’s hometown, a song or a poem. Designing the mechanics of a trap or an encounter is also worth experience. So is roleplaying between sessions on the Facebook page. Generally there is a maximum of 300 bonus experience per character per session, but I love creative stuff, so I can be easily persuaded to ease that limit from time to time.
Friday, September 21, 2012, 6:36 AM
Monday, September 3, 2012, 11:44 AM
I feel that I have already spoiled the plot, but I here present the children’s journals for the adventure thus far. We are in the middle of preparing for a speech contest, so I did not assign the journals as homework as previously intended but rather had them quickly write something at the end of class. (I told them that children who wrote quickly and fully, their characters would get a free attack on the Crab Monsters. Those who fooled around with their classmates instead of working, their characters would be bitten freely by the Crab Monsters.)
Someone Ate My House! by Sunny.
When I woke up, there was a big hole in my wall. I think someone ate a big chunk of my cookie house. I wanted to make a jelly protection for my house. I fixed my house perfectly, but I am not sure about my protection, because I never did that before.
I helped Panny to find who was eating her friends. I used my magical bracelet to control a mouse, but there have been no good answers so far. I went to Panny’s forest, and she was upset about it, so I wanted to help her more. We went around the forest and started to fly. We saw a deep hole and there were the boys. We started to go into the hole.
In the morning I found out that someone was eating my animal friends, including some mice and puppies. Luna helped me to look for the person who ate my friends. Luna controlled a mouse, and I talked with the mouse about that person. Then we saw a deep hole and heard the Crab Monsters.
The Story of Luke.
Luke woke up and the water in his swimming pool was all gone. He used his owl and called the police [this is civilized Sharn after all] and they promised to come. He came out and saw that Phantom and Handsword’s tower was slanted. He pointed that out to Phantom.
Phantom woke up and his building was leaning. He and Handsword went outside and found a hole.
Handsword woke up and the tower was leaning. Handsword and Phantom went into the forest and found a hole.
Dungeon Master’s Note: the Crab Monsters started pinching and biting Phantom and Handsword.
Monday, September 3, 2012, 4:54 AM
Here are the children's paper miniatures which they made for their characters. I also had them make some miniatures for the Crab Monsters which they found when they investigated the tunnel opening near Phantom and Handswrod's now leaning tower.
Luna the Enchantress, played by Alice.
Luna from the backside as she goes to visit Panny in her bamboo grove.
The other two girls decided that they would rather portray their characters with symbolic icons on such small miniatures. Sunny played by Elly, and Panny the Panda played by Sunny.
Luke the Cannoneer (played by Harry), Phantom the Wizard (played by Brian) and Handsword the Puffling (played by Kevin).
The Crab Monsters lurking in the tunnels underneath the town. Some are scary, some are cute and some are delicious.
Monday, August 27, 2012, 5:11 AM
Luna decided that she would use her mind-controlling bracelet to instruct a mouse to wander around the bamboo grove conspicuously and then run back to her once it spotted anyone suspiciously hungry and violent. She asked Pani to help her because Pani can talk with animals. Luna rolled and easily dominated a mouse. However it took Pani a couple of rolls to make the mouse understand what they wanted it to do.
Meanwhile Sunny had repaired her house. Now what will you do? “I will wait, and if someone eats a hole it again, I will repair it again.” Will you just keep doing that? “No, I will cover the wall will some kind of jelly that looks like jelly, but it will protect the house.” Perhaps it will actually taste yucky? “No, it will allow only me to pass through it.” That sounds like powerful and specific magic. You are intelligent but you said that you have specialized in disappearing magic and shooting enemies with your wand. Perhaps you can find someone else who can do that for you. How about asking your friends? “All right. I go to the forest to talk to Pani.” The girls’ characters all meet in the glade and tell each other what they know. “I think the same thing is eating your house and these puppies and mice.”
Phantom and Handsword, what will you do about your subsiding Haunted Tower? They could think of nothing. Phantom, you are a clever wizard: roll to see if your studies and mental discipline offer you some sudden inspiration. 18+1 for level +1 for intelligence +1 for wizard. You think that there is probably digging under the ground near your tower. What will you do? You can investigate the ground nearby. (Then I threw a few tiles on the table, a circle ten squares wide and some sandy tiles and paved tiles for a background. The boys put their characters paper miniatures on the map, Handsword putting himself inside the tower.) Indeed, you can study the floor inside as well. They each roll very high, and are completely assured that there is no hole or crack appearing in the floor. Subsequent investigation of the ground around the tower reveals a small hole leading down into the earth.
The girls waited for the mouse, but the entire morning passed by without the appearance of any devourer. “What? Why not?” That is a good question. “What about the afternoon.” Still no result. Luna said, “I fly up and look around.” You can fly up as well, Sunny. “And Pani.” Unfortunately the panda does not have any ability natural or magical for flight. However we could say that she is acrobatic and can climb to the tops of the trees and jump from treetop to treetop. “What is she a ninja?” Like Kung Fu Panda. (Pani makes one of her broad traits Acrobatic.) Each girl rolled for flying and jumping, and Sunny scraped the tops of the trees, while Luna soared high and Pani bounced nimbly from tree to tree. Then they rolled to see significant sights. Sunny rolled a 20, and she drew everyone’s attention to a suspicious trail of beaten bamboo and grass and even tracks in the wet spots which leads off to a hole in the ground. The girls saw the two boys standing puzzled at the edge of said hole. They flew and jumped thither, and now the whole group is joined together outside the suspicious hole in the ground.
Once again we were interrupted by the school bell. The next session should see some action.
Saturday, August 25, 2012, 12:49 AM
The sun was shining today, so I figured it would be a good chance to sit outside at the café and make a dungeon master's screen for my children. I think they might also enjoy making their own customized screens.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 4:08 AM
The children finally got to play their characters and begin an adventure. We had less than fifteen minutes at the end of class, but I was able to set the stage. They seemed to enjoy it and laughed good naturedly at each of their misfortunes.
Phantom, you wake up and you tumble out of bed. Your whole bedroom floor is tilted dramatically. What do you do? “I go downstairs.” Roll to see if you notice anything else. 3 on a d20? Nay.
Luke the Cannoneer, I see that there is a swimming pool in Pizza Tower. Do you often swim in the morning? Indeed. Then you see that your swimming pool has entirely drained of water. “I call the police.” You are an orphan prince, so they could be very deferential and eager to help. The player rolled an 18 +3 for being a prince. Yes, they promise they will do everything in their power to solve this problem for you immediately. “I go outside to visit the Phantom in his Haunted Tower.” Roll again. 11. That is enough to notice that your friend’s tower is subsiding as surely as the tower of Pisa.
Panny the Panda, what do you do when you wake up? “I eat.” Bamboo? “Yes, in my bamboo grove.” Who are your friends in the forest? “Kung Fu Panda.” Very well. Kung Fu Panda is there already, but he is not eating bamboo because he is extremely distressed. Something has been eating your little forest friends, for you see the tiny bones of mice on the forest floor. (Not much sympathy for the mice.) And of puppies. (Now all the girls are aghast and upset at whatever did this heinous deed!)
Sunny, you live in a city of candy and sweets? You wake up and see a big hole eaten in the wall of your gingerbread house. “No, my house is very hot, like the sun, since I am the sun. It is too hot for anyone to eat.” That is an excellent observation. However something was indeed able to eat a hole in your scorching hot house. “Wow! That’s impossible!” Indeed it should be. “I build it again.” Roll to see how well you do that. 3, +1 for Intelligence. Hmm. You make things worse. “I do it again. (Quickly rolls an 18)” All right. You spend more time and fix everything very well.
Luna the Singer, nothing wrong in SHINee World. Do you usually visit your friends each day? “Yes, I like to play with Panny.” Panny said, “I tell Luna what has happened in my forest.” Luna promised to help her solve the mystery. They also told Sunny, because they want more help.
Suddenly the bell rang and the children had to run to catch their buses.
Monday, August 20, 2012, 4:23 AM
Thursday, June 28, 2012, 3:09 PM
One of the girl students in my English class clearly ought to be the dungeon master! Here is her description of a fantastic place.
“First of all, my imaginary city is very big and surrounded by glass. There are crystals in the glass instead of stars. My city is in the sky, so one of the characters should be able to fly.
“In the city there are many buildings and rooms for people who come. I really love SHINee, so I made all of the things about SHINee. The main building has rooms with names associated with SHINee, such as Amigo and Ring Ding Dong. In this way, there are many rooms and their names are all the names of albums or group members.
“There is a magical tree in my imaginary city. Magical fruit will grow on it. When you cut that fruit, there are many different things and kinds of food inside the fruit. For example, if you say, “Water!” then there will be water inside the magical fruit.
“There is an elevator with which you can go down. If you go down, you can go into the SHINee museum. However, there is a secret door in the ceiling. You cannot find it easily, but if one of the characters is able to see very well, then he can try to go in. The door has not been used for a long time, so all of the characters should attack with their magic. Then the door will break, and they can go inside.
“Beyond the secret door, there are gates which have different symbols. Each character should go through the gate which has his own symbol. Then three of them will fall down and four of them will go into a clean place of nature. They will all meet in a strange place, which is another planet near the city. It is all red and there is nothing living. In the middle of the red planet is a special gate to go back to my imaginary city.”
Of course, some players prefer a more humourous approach to roleplaying. Here is the work of one of the boys:
“Our city is called Pizza City. The main building is a big tower made out of pizza. Many people live inside or near Pizza Tower. It is as tall as the clouds and very wide. Dragons guard the tower. The entrance is very high. The city is very big too, and many things live there. There are markets and an entertainment zone, schools, houses and many more buildings. There are pizza UFOs and pizza balls. You can enjoy playing dodge pizza at the pizza-shaped stadium.”
Saturday, June 23, 2012, 1:21 AM
Fantasy for children needs to be more eclectic and zanier than the grounded worlds in which adults roleplay. Even Sharn, the city of towers, seems too dark and limited for the carefree imagination of children. (Or perhaps I myself am too grounded to present Eberron as an amazing place.) I decided then to give the children free rein to design different parts of their own world.
The students were very excited by the idea and immediately divided themselves into small groups according to their mutual interests. The first two times in class, I just let them draw pictures and talk freely. Then I assigned some short writing as homework.
Here is what one girl wrote: “My imaginary place is made of many kinds of candy. In the middle, there is a river which tastes like iced tea, and on the left bank there is a forest of chocolate trees. On the right bank, there is a city. The cars are made of jelly and the exhaust that comes out of the cars is made out of flour. Lastly, the houses are made out of candy and cookies. Pani lives in the forest, and Sunny lives in the city. The exhaust fumes are flour, so there is no pollution. We have two places in one country: the forest and the city.”
Two of the girls decided upon quite a different approach. They would construct a sort of Graceland for their favourite Korean boy group, SHINee (pronounced shiny). Here is one of their journals, entitled “SHINee City.”
“In this city, there is a big round museum made of glass. When you go in, there is a long red carpet at the bottom of the stairs. On the first floor, there are seven rooms, which are decorated after Shinee’s album concepts. The first through sixth rooms are labeled with the names of Shinee’s albums. The room’s names are Love like Oxygen, Amigo, Ring-ding-dong, Lucifer, Hello and Sherlock. The one room which is left has a movie screen, and it shows Shinee’s concerts and music videos. Also you can listen to the music on a CD player.
“There is a shop where you can buy CDs, stickers, bromide and other things about Shinee. [I did a Google for “bromide” in Asian culture and learned that it has quite a different meaning from what we would use: it is an originally Japanese term for photographic portraits of celebrities.] There are updated profiles for the members of Shinee, and you can also watch the television programs in which Shinee has appeared.
On the first floor there is a machine on which you can play a game in which the members of Shinee are the main characters. You can have a great time in this museum.”
This on the other hand is the product of one boy’s imagination: “In my imaginary city, there are many monsters and buildings. Those buildings are made of strong rocks.
“Inside of the highest tower there are many rooms. There are kitchens, fighting rooms, resting rooms and playrooms. In front of the door, there are two ghosts, a Sprite ghost and a Cola ghost. Also there is a dark dog and a white dog protecting the buildings.
“In the sky, two dragons are fighting to see who is stronger. The owners of this twoer are Phantom and another person who can turn into a devil. It is always dark in this place. There are some airplanes and cars for the monsters. My imagimary city’s name is Hell.” (I guess the gothic penchant for contrary morality occurs in almost every youth.)