Monday, June 25, 2012, 5:06 AM
There's a reason I enjoy running home-brew campaigns over pre-made adventures, is for me they are easier. Even though I write a huge amount of information and when I am done they look like a store bought module, but they are still easier. The reason for them being easy is that I remember most of what I wrote, and only have to refer to my notes during a game. My players have always enjoyed them, and I have always gotten good feedback on my sessions.
What makes the game enjoyable for my players is that I use a method of writing that is similar to what novels, movies, and TV shows use. I call it the roller coaster method, because there are a lot of ups, downs, twists and curves. my goal is to always build tension and suspense and then give the players a release. The anticipation keeps them on the edge, buy the end of the game thier heart rates are up, and they look forward to the next session. You know you've done a good job when at the end of the session you leave them in a cliff hanger and they would rather continue than wait a week to find out what is going to happen.
In its basic form, the roller coaster method means that you as DM provide situations where the PCs face real threats, whether it is a puzzle, a guest, a trap, or a monster guarding the treasure. Push the players towards the precipice and let them decide whether to jump or figure another way out (you have to provide them the opportunity to not jump or it doesn't work). In a hack n slash game, the rules are still the same you overwhelm them with seemingly over powerful enemies. Using waves is effective, your goal should be to lower their moral, not crush them. Then when all hope is lost, there is a break. They find a powerful weapon, an ally appears, or they just get lucky.
It is this type of game session, where at first glance it appears hard, but in reality it isn't that have kept my players coming back for more. For you as a DM and your gaming group, you have to figure out what combination works best for you. Do you as the players reach the end trigger a trap, or do you create a diversion to allow the target to escape. Your options are limitless, but be cautious at the same time. Taking it too far and making it too hard will discourage your players and they will not want to come back for another beating. ( This is the reason i don't play console games, I just suck really bad at them and get hammered every time I play).
The other thing I do, is provide flexibility. Some of my games are pretty linear, and resrict the directions the players can go. I try not to be too restrictive and have options set up for those times the players decide to go off mission. There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of game play.
The advantage is that the players feel more freedom, and feel like they have a choice in what they do. This is beneficial as players can stop and turn around or do something completely different. The disadvantage is that it requires a lot of work to prep for this kind of campaign. It usually requires a 4 or 6 inch binder with many, many , many tabs.
I know from experience that each DM tends to write for their players, I tend to write towards the lighthearted side in the vein of a Midsummer's Night Dream, or Taming Of The Shrew, with a touch of Othello tossed in for good measure. I like drama that has a sense of humor. For me it works, and for each DM they need to determine their best style of gaming. But, the roller coaster method is a great foundation for any game, even hack and slash.
Until the next epiphany, keep the dice rolling,
Kauldron (aka Carlos)
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Saturday, June 23, 2012, 10:33 AM
Recently Chris Perkins of Wizards of The Coast writes the column “The Dungeon Master Experience”. In a recent article “Moral Compass”, Chris talks about how one player in his group was the moral compass for the party. When this player left, due to moving out of state, he discusses how the actions of the PCs changed. However, like most PCs even the most moral do not always point north. This got me thinking about several things.
First, when you build a character, you attach an alignment to that character. In many cases, a player chooses undefined (in 4E rules) or “neutral” in most other rule systems. This is a kind of cheat, where a player can commit acts of either good or evil. As a DM, I really do not like this. One of the things that helps define a PC is their alignment. It means they have a code that they follow. A paladin may be lawful good, and follow strict rules about combat, tavern hopping and so on. While a thief or assassin will be neutral evil or even lawful evil (I have had players stretch definitions pretty thinly and have had chaotic good assassins). A barbarian or a fighter might be chaotic good, because who doesn’t love a little chaos in their game. Alignment is a beneficial element.
Alignment helps players define their character and it provides for the opportunity to challenge players during campaigns. A lot of PC drama can be pulled from just playing on their alignment. The alignment is supposed to be the moral compass for the player, which helps define the characters and their actions during game play. Now, it is just some words on a character sheet with little or no meaning.
Years ago, when I was a young and evil DM, I used to develop campaigns and encounters that would come in conflict with a PC’s alignment. Maybe, set up a situation where a paladin has to decide between the fate of a companion or torture an innocent. Players would sometimes enjoy solving the problem, while others would almost cry. To me this was just another tool in my DMs toolbox. To add to this I would track the actions of all the PCs to see if their actions met with their alignment. Each time they did something that fit their alignment they would get a (+) by their name. Anytime they did something contrary to their alignment they would get a (&ndash by their name. Now, this might seem a little arbitrary, but it was a useful tool. If a player did too many actions that were contrary to their alignment, I would shift their alignment. Nothing is more entertaining and heart wrenching when you tell a player that their Assassin is no longer chaotic evil, but chaotic good, or a Paladin has become neutral evil. This can have a damning effect on paladins.
While what Chris said is true, each party has that one moral compass; it should not absolve the other parties from straying from their chosen paths. Like life, I show my players that the choices they make have consequences. For making choices consistent with their character, they gain bonus experience, and since I generally run players through my own world, they build reputations, that can benefit or haunt them. While some players choose to play hack n’ slash campaigns, which I enjoy as well, there needs to be more for me and alignment is one of those things. Instead of just using it as a word on a character sheet, it should be raised to the status of a skill or ability. At a minimum, it should be a tool that a DM can use to build conflict into a campaign. Besides, why have a dark knight or anti-paladin if you are not going to be bad?
See this and more at Geek Corps Productions
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Saturday, June 23, 2012, 6:17 AM
Geek Corps Productions is giving away a deck of critical hit and fumble cards, to find out more go to thier website.
Critical Hit and Fumble Deck Give Away
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 8:47 PM
Well, it has been one of those back to the grindstone kind of days. Now that the testing of Assassin's of Ordenell is complete, it is time to finish up Mordakai's Madness. to which I must say the feedback we got from Assassin's had a lot of influence in the edits we have done.
Now I have to ask a questions, but first the reason for this question. I like to write, I enjoy coming up with stories. When I make my home campaigns I try to make it flow like a story or movie. With that said, I want to know what Players and DMs feeling are on storylines. I generally start with the storyline and add a little with each encounter. I use the story to give the PCs something to imagine, but try not to overwhelm them. the first 2 or 3 pages are story line with some interaction for the PCs, after that the story is determined by the PCs.
What is your opinion on this matter?
p.s. we post updates on twitter and facebook (Geek Corps Productions). Follow us to get the latest news on products and happenings.
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Sunday, June 3, 2012, 4:35 PM
Well, finished the last session of Assassin's of Ordenell, I took it to the extreme and made the assassins all minion, but there was a catch. The minion exploded when they were killed. It made the players think and caused a lot of second guessing until they decided to just smash through them.
We got great feedback from everyone that participated and a great deal of thanks goes out to everyone. For those that particpated send me a message with your name so we can give you credit for all that you have done.
Keep a watch, I am going to start testing Mordakai's Madness in a few weeks and it will be on an odd schedule due to my odd schedule. There will also be a marathon session with it as well.
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Wow, just finished up session 4 and starting the final session. The encounter almost decimated the PCs which told me the encounter was too powerful, and need some adjusting. Got great feedback and a big thanks to all that participated.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012, 9:50 AM
Well, session three was a wash, unfortunately it was because a few players who joined the table didn't show up. Thanks to Azurel and Justinbass for showing up on the VT.
Now for my rant, why would you join a table and then not show up. That takes a spce away from someone that might want to play and is rude. If you don't think you're gonna make it then withdraw or let the DM know of a conflict, something might be worked out.
It irkes me more, because i live in an area that doesn't have very many gamers if any at all, so the only place I can actually play is on the VT. So when someone decides to join, I expect them to show up, or let me know if they are going to be late. It is just common curteousy.
I am done, and getting off my soap box. I still have openings for the sunday 2pm game, if you are interested send me a message or email and I will send you the invite.
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Friday, June 1, 2012, 8:12 PM
Wow, had a blast in the first two sessions for Assassin's of Ordenell. Got great feedback from the players, I have to thank Scamman, RedShoesJeff, Psalms, warior4356, justinbass, and everyone else who participated in it. You all did a great job, and threw me a few monkey wrenches which made it even more fun. Beware of the double vortex.
I also have to say that from my position they enjoyed the critical hit and fumble cards. Next session is tomorrow at 11am. I really enjoyed it and will definately be doing more single shots and hopefully a full campaign.
I am sorry I missed warrior4356 single shot session, I hope to catch his next one.
Till the next time.
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Thursday, May 31, 2012, 9:13 AM
So we have been working on publishing an campaign, but we need some feedback on what we have. We would like to see if our design format is usable for other DMs. It is a format I have used for years and we are curious if it will translate well into published adventures.
With that said, we have a single encounter that we would like others to playtest. it will be in pdf format. Starting tomorrow June 1, 2012 we will send out upto 10 copies to whoever would like to take a look at it and play test it.
We do want some honest feedback on it. If you are interested send an email to:
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Monday, January 30, 2012, 11:03 AM
We have finished up with the cards. The official release date will be February 10, 2012. We have decided to let you the players have a chance to look at the final product. We are giving away 10 free cards as a PDF file. It will include 5 critical hit cards and 5 fumble cards. These cards will not be included in the 50 card deck.
The full card deck will have 50 cards, 25 critical hit cards and 25 fumble cards in a PDF file. All our products will be available at RPG Drive Thru. All we ask is that you let us know what you think. We want feedback so we can make better products.
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