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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in GameMaster's Workshop's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
9:50 am
[Hero System Specific]
So, I've played in a lot of Hero rpgs, and run quite a few, and the problem that vexes me most is often the artificial Limits a GM is expected to set at the start of the game on abilities.

Usually this consists of setting Active point limits, Defense Limits, Damage Limits, Attribute Maximums and Combat to Hit/Defend Values (OCV/DCV) in all the various variations, as well as limits on how many points you can get from disadvantages etc.

Most GMs use this, the prescribed system. Ultimately players take these not as Maximums but required. So that inevitably everything is bought at the maximum at start to survive.

Which means that everything pretty much stays the same and nothing goes beyond X and there is little variation, except in tricks to get around opponent defenses etc.

Boring, and well, Unrealistic.

I'm thinking that one solution mechanically is to remove the top Active Limit on abilities, and instead limit in an interesting way. So that for say every 25 points of Active Power you put into a power you must take a 1/4 disadvantage on the power. You can put as many points as you want but you will have a growing compounding of cost down the line in when you can use it and how it will work.

Thus a 25 point power must have a single 1/4 limit, a 50 point power must have 1/2 in limits etc.

You want a super high powered attack? Sure, you just need to limit it, by say making it take longer to set up/prepare, or depend on a foci that can be broken, or which takes a lot more Endurance energy than a low power version, or which you need to spend more effort and concentration on (and thus make you vulnerable to attack as you can't dodge while preparing it) etc.

Then you can build the character that has a Pistol and the Guy who has the Shoulder fired anti tank weapon and you know the guy with the Pistol can quick draw and shoot it in a single round while the guy with the rocket launcher has to powerup, acquire target and fire a whole lot of pain at someone and that the rocket launcher guy might get shot while he's doing his thing. This makes the smaller fast combatant valuable in some situations that the rocket launcher isn't. Which is a bit more realistic than both of them doing the same amount of damage potential in the end (which currently happens in hero builds).

It forces players to be creative, and for more variation in designs of various abilities.

Am I making sense?
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
1:57 am
"You're so cold but you feel alive."
While this bit of magic is contained in the D&D manual Frostburn, I think it would make a great spell-trap in a “Warm” location (i.e. a ruined desert locale, a temple dedicated to evil Elemental Fire, etc.).

Then it becomes a race against time for the victim’s companions!

Flesh to Ice
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. 10 ft./level)
Target: One creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
The subject, along with all its carried
gear, turns into a mindless,
inert ice sculpture. If the sculpture
resulting from this spell is broken,
melted, or damaged, the subject (if
ever returned to its original state) has
similar damage or deformities. The
creature is not dead, but it does not
seem to be alive either when viewed
with spells such as deathwatch. Only
creatures made of flesh are affected
by this spell.

Material Component: Water and a
drop of blood.

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
11:57 pm
Giving back.
I came up with this to include in my D&D 3.5 update for the Against The Giants module.

I was thrilled with how it not only met but exceeded my expectations.


Rending Yeti
(The) Abominable Snow-slasher

(Multiheaded Cryo-Girallon = Savage Species, p.125 & MM I, p. 126-127)

Large Magical Beast (Cold)

Hit Dice: 9d10+33 (67 hp)
Initiative: +7
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares), climb 40 ft.
Armor Class: 17 (–1 size, +3 Dex, +1 due to extra head, +4 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/+17
Attack: Claw +12 melee (1d4+6)
Full Attack: 4 claws +12 melee (1d4+6) and 2 bite +12 melee
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Rend 2d4+9, Breath Weapon
Special Qualities: Darkvision 90 ft., immunity to cold, low-light vision, scent, vulnerability to fire
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +5
Abilities: Str 22, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 7
Skills: Climb +14, Listen +2, Move Silently +8, Search +2, Spot +8
Feats: Iron Will, Toughness (2), Improved Multiattack, Improved Initiative, Combat Reflexes
Environment: Cold mountains or Cold forests
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 9
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 8–10 HD (Large); 11–21 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment:—

This creature looks like an albino gorilla with a purplish tinge to its fur, but it has four arms and two heads. It also has razor-sharp teeth and long claws.

Slashing Yetis are savage, magical cousins of the gorilla. They are aggressive, bloodthirsty, highly territorial, and incredibly strong. When moving on the ground, a Slashing Yeti walks on its legs and lower arms (one head controls the upper pair of arms while the other head controls the lower pair). An adult Slashing Yeti is about 8 feet tall, broad-chested, and covered in thick, purplish-white fur. It weighs about 800 pounds.

Cold Subtype (Ex): Slashing Yetis are immune to cold damage and take a -10 penalty on saves against fire attacks. If a fire attack does not allow a saving throw, the creature takes double damage instead.

Slashing Yetis attack anything that enters their territory, even others of their kind. Their senseless belligerence is the one characteristic that keeps their numbers in check. Still, the creatures show some cunning.

A solitary Slashing Yeti usually conceals itself under a pile of snow and ice, with only its nose showing.
When it spots or scents prey, it charges to the attack. A Slashing Yeti picks up prey that is small enough to carry and withdraws, often vanishing into the frozen wastes before the victim’s companions can do anything to retaliate. Against larger foes, a Slashing Yeti seeks to tear a single opponent to bits as quickly as it can.

Breath of Hail (Su): Slashing Yetis can breath jets of frost 10 feet high, 10 feet wide, and 20 feet long. Both heads breathe once every 1d4 rounds, and each jet deals 3d6 points of cold damage per head; a successful Reflex save (DC 14) halves the damage.

Rend (Ex): A Slashing Yeti that hits with two or more claw attacks latches onto the opponent’s body and tears the flesh. This attack automatically deals an extra 2d4+12 points of damage.

Skills: A Slashing Yeti has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on a Climb check, even if rushed or threatened.

11:30 pm
Q & A
I’d love to use this as the coup de grace of a seemingly innocuous pit trap.

[This is from the D & D manual Sandstorm]

Mundane volcanic lands sometimes feature black sand
composed of ground-up cinders. Other than its striking
color, such sand is no different from any other. However,
magical black sand is a vile peril, whether on the scoured
surface of Minethys in the Tarterian Depths of Carceri
(where the Plane of Shadow overlays the Elemental Plane
of Earth) or in lands cursed by foul magic.
Black sand is infused with shadowstuff and negative
energy. A region of black sand literally swallows light;
magical darkness rises to a height of 20 feet over the
surface. Nothing short of a sunburst spell can disperse this
darkness, and even then only for a period of 1 hour per
caster level. In addition, creatures that come in contact
with the sand take 1d4 points of damage per round from
negative energy. Upon reaching 0 hit points, they crumble
and join the black sand.

Do you interpret the last line as flowery prose or that the victim’s remains become black sand itself?

[x-posted in other appropriate communities]

Monday, November 10th, 2008
8:07 pm
How Many Dice Are Too Many To Roll in a Pool system?
So the concept of dice pools has been hanging over my head in recent weeks, in part because I'm now playing in a short Shadowrun campaign, and a few months ago I was doing a short demo game (which failed to materialize) of 'Hollow Earth Expeditions'. Both are Dice pool based game mechanics.

Anyway, I really like the dice pool system used in HEX as it is the simplest I've seen, dice are rolled and all you have to note is if they come up odd or even. Even dice count as 'hits' towards success, Odd dice don't. Which dice you use is up to the GM or player, since the number of sides is immaterial to the results.

But, I've noticed in playing shadowrun that the number of dice one may comfortably roll at once could be a problem in a large pool game. It's not impossible to have 10, 15, 20 or more dice being rolled and checked at once.

I've seen this in other non-pool games as being a problem, such as Hero, but that's because you have to total the dice in many cases, and in some cases do so two different ways.

So, the question is, when does it become too many dice for the average player to want to deal with? What does the line best get drawn? And what scales are best for dice pools because of this?

What do you feel is best for you? What would drive you away as a player or GM (or does anything) when it comes to dice pools?

[Cross Posted to some GMing and Game design communities as well as in my own LJ]

Current Mood: okay
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
1:59 pm
Looking for party
Is there anyone who intends to play D&D 4th edition online?

I'd like to join a game and I'm guessing a few others would too. I think I have most of the basic rules worked out. I'm used to playing on IRC with my group, but only one is playing 4th edition at the moment, and he's doing it in person with a different group, not online.
Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
1:17 pm

Having just gotten a nifty new Macbook pro, I want to know what software folks recommend here for Game Master/Game Designer/Player of Tabletop RPGs for the Mac OS X system. I got a system with just Iwork added on to the full Leopard set, so I want to know what programs (Free or which I can purchase without selling off a major body organ) that are useful for gaming on the Mac.

This is my very first Mac I can use for gaming, so I really need to know whats out there and whats good.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
11:52 am
How Many Pages?

I'm crossposting this between a number of the game design communities and my journal so I can get a wide variety of response.

I'm trying to figure out how much is too much, and how much is too little, when putting together a roleplaying game from scratch.

My current roleplaying game project, which I've been agonizing over for this entire year, is combined System Mechanic and Setting.

This is not my first game, nor my last. I'm hoping to support the material in combination with an online wiki for the game (my previous project Zamani ended up as a combination of Wiki and a printed handout book for the players of about 60-70 pages which gave the basics for character generation and a Codex of World setting info, all of which duplicated information in the wiki. (And another 10 pages of handout that they received during the game based up expanded knowledge they found or created for the world.)

My current project, in regards to what will be printed, is likely to end up larger (I don't have a good grasp on how large as yet).

Looking at other recent published works out there, I see the recent Mongoose Edition of 'Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon' which weighs in at 164 pages. This has received mixed reviews, with a lot of folks saying the world info is too sparse, the borders too large as are the fonts. (There is one supplemental book in print at about the same size).

The recent 2nd Edition of Earthdawn, from Living Room Games, which also is a combination of system and setting, weighs in at 352 pages. (They apparently have plans for a lot of supplemental books for setting).

The Dying Earth RPG, from Pelgrane Press, runs 192 pages for the basic book (but they're publishing a lot of supplemental material for it as seperate books).

So, my question is, how much is too much to start players off with when introducing them to a new mechanic and setting? Does the number of pages others have needed to explain themselves in this way work as a good measure? Do you think players will balk at a 100 page book? 150? 200? 250? 300? 350? Since the industry has, from the examples, gone into these directions and seem to work their books these days more as serial publications, adding a few hundred pages of stuff every month or two, is it unreasonable for a GM producing an original system/setting combo to do things simiilarly? Or is it better to have it all written and in hand at start?

What do you consider reasonable?

Does setting up a wiki for more in-depth material to look up on various elements, rather than putting everything in a printout at start (like I did with Zamani) sound like a reasonable method of information delivery/availability with immediate overwhelm?

Current Mood: creative

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
11:32 am
RPG Design Thoughts

The concept of niche protection is one that every design and GM has to think about in their tabletop roleplaying games. This is the concept that there is a number of specific functions or nifty abilities that work best when they are rationed out so no more than one character in a group has them at a time as they either can become overpowering, or have a finite limited use and become moot if everyone has them, or they loose their shine and niftiness if they are duplicated.

The Rest behind a cut ...Collapse )

Current Mood: contemplative

Sunday, July 1st, 2007
12:59 am
IRC games of D&D
G'day, we're looking for players and DM's who are willing to play campaigns long term on IRC.

We're located on Austnet in #d&d.

We have a snazzy program created by one of our own DM's called "Combat Assistant", used to track combat details. It's simple and incredibly effective, designed not to be bloated like most D&D programs are. Using this for combat and using quotes to determine the difference between OOC talking and in-character talking, playing on IRC actually feels like a better experience than playing on pen and paper.

Character sheets, and Combat Assistant, are held and uploaded onto http://dnd.ballig.net. Take a look around.

We use text file character sheets - keep it simple, stupid. We have a template that you can use, or you're free to create one yourself as long as the DM is happy with it.

If you're at all curious, at least come in and say hi, and feel free to watch a game. We're based in Australia, but everyone's welcome. Come in (even if you're idling) to catch what goes on.

Our current campaigns generally play weekly on Friday nights and/or weekends. It's highly recommended you check out one of our games to see what happens, and you'll be able to sample what Combat Assistant looks like during a game as well.

If you have any questions, either come into the channel or leave a comment, or both.

Seriously, check it out: D&D on IRC.
Thursday, April 5th, 2007
10:13 am
Want To Offer Ideas : Magic Energy Recovery System

Ok, I'm working on the 5th Age Worlds game design. It has a spell point based magic skill system where folks are initiated in various paths of magic based on the major arcana of the tarot.

What I'm looking for is ways that characters will gain/recover magic points thru actions. I have a few but Ideally each pHath would have it's own recovery system (sort of like the recoveries used in Unknown Armies but in a Middle Ages to Renaissance kind of setting).

So a few that I have is:

  • Meditation In a Specific Location Or Time Period
  • Performance In Front of an Audience
  • Ritual Bath
  • Sexual Activity
  • Specific Ritual During A Thunderstorm
  • Traveling Along a Road (for the Chariot.... earning back a point per hour of travel)

So... anyone want to offer a few more ideas? They should be generally things that can be done in an hour or less, but would have obvious energy significance in a magic world.

Thursday, March 8th, 2007
10:43 am
Another Design Poll...
Folks, since I got such a good and useful amount of data from this the last time, I have a short little poll on tabletop roleplaying game design and Character Experience/Growth that I'd love to have you take.

Click Here, please?

Thanks to all that respond.

Monday, March 5th, 2007
1:21 pm
Number Crunching : What's the probability?

So, my favorite person to turn to do probability calculations on dice is currently immeshed in the depths of Tax Season (she works for a CPA and is dealing with getting various Tax reports, forms and filings prepared 6 days a week).

After my recent poll on game randomizers and other practices I have been looking for some data on dice probabilties that I'm not finding out there. So I figured there was a chance someone here might be interested in the math challenge and offer me some data...

If you have the answers, and the inclination, please pass along answers to the following (I'm sure others will find them useful).

Probability Needs Set #1

When you have an attacker and then a defender die roll you have a bell curve created in the process. So, assuming this what are the probabilities for: Each side rolling 1d20, with higher being better, and the defender winning ties. What are the probabilities of the attacker winning on each roll involved.

Advanced Version : Same as Above, but when either side rolls a '20' the die becomes 'open' for them and they can re-roll the die. What are the probabilities.

Probabiliy Needs Set #2

Just like Set #2, but instead of a 1d20 plotting it with 2d10 for each roller (and the advanced version with the open die rule).

If anyone can point me to a site where this sort of thing is already calculated out by someone with the appropriate math skills, then feel free to just post up a link to it, as that would work just as well.

(I know, I don't ask the easy questions).

Friday, March 2nd, 2007
12:08 pm
Poll Closed...

Ok. I closed my poll and have results and offering some analysis (and discussion) about it for those who were involved and wanted to see the end result. You can look at it in detail and discuss it by following this link.

Thanks again for everyone that was involved.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007
8:22 pm
11:58 am
Understanding The Pencil [Roleplaying]
Inspired by this post (http://community.livejournal.com/gms_workshop/44843.html) below and done in good humor...
Read more...Collapse )

Current Mood: curious
Monday, February 26th, 2007
8:12 pm
Thank You For Box Feedback

I wanted to thank everyone who participated in the discussion of "The Box" in game design, no matter which side (if any) that you found yourself in the discussion. I got some interesting responses and feedback on the subject and some food for thought to approach some of my current design ideas.

I've also been given some insight into a couple of systems that I am not that familiar with that I now need to go and investigate on my own.

I am also glad that, in many cases, this discussion sequence has breathed some life into otherwise dead quiet Live Journal communities. I hope that maybe folks here, now that they are actually talking and discussing things with each other, might continue to do so on other subjects. There's nothing so useless as a community where no one posts or comments to others.

I'm sorry that a few folks took my initial post as antagonistic - I know I came off a bit high handed on my own opinion, and I maybe should have toned my words a bit differently. But I also suspect that if I had I would have had a lot fewer, if any, responses. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets paid attention more than one that simply runs along quietly.

(If you look back a bit you should see I have made posts in recent months that pretty much went without notice, or very little commentary, which were worded in short simplistic ways).

10:34 am
Understanding the Box [Roleplaying]

I am having a hard time with the obsession in a large part of roleplaying game design of enjoying, embracing and desiring what is basically an extremely limiting, unrealistic and annoying concept. The Box.

The Box is what defines a character and channels their development once place begins in DIP systems, and is usually centered around a Class, Profession or Vocation. It limits what skills a character can have, what background they can have, what attribute values they may have, what unusual abilities they may have and how they will imrpove over time, even what their morality and ethics should be in some cases.

The Box is sometimes also used in other ways, such as a 'Clan', a 'Racial Package' or a 'Blood Line'.

Boxes are found throughout D20 based systems, as well as Rifts, White Wolf games (Exalted, World of Darkness etc.), etc. It is used to a lesser degree in Ironclaw, Iron Gauntlets, Ars Magica, HARP, Rolemaster and even Call of Cthuhlu, Runequest, and several other systems.

The Box limits. The Box Binds. People complain that the boxes are artificial. Yet there are people who cannot find a way of playing without this aspect of game system.

There are games that lack the Box : GURPS and Hero, for example, both officially lack the box.

The Box claims to serve certain advantages : Fast Character Generation, Reduction of 'Heavy Thinking' in character choices, System Balance, Future Growth Direction, Ability to Predict what others can do based on knowing their box, Quick Adaption of Stereotypes rather than having to be unique, easy understanding of who and what you are. System Balance. Niche Protection.

The Box stifles creativity, forces repetitive processes of action, limits possibilities in game play, encourages rules lawyering and reduces roleplaying.

It lies about system balance. The box structure as implemented in most games rarely actually achieves anything like balance, or even the illusion of balance.

It lies about Niche Protection, as there is no preventing someone else from choosing the same box. Or, in the case of D20 and other systems that allow taking multiple boxes over time, from adding the same box later.

Fast Generation? Well that depends on the player as well as the system. And how many boxes there are. In D20 with it's great mounds of Boxes that have been added along the way (Prestige classes, etc.) an inexperienced player can be just as overhwhelmed or even more so by a stack of books describing specific boxes as they can with a 2 page list of skills to choose from.

Predictability? Yes, it provides that... and stagnation.

Reduction of thinking? Yes, but other simple methods of such exist in non-box games. I know one player who's played the same character 5 times under 5 different game mechanics, with only the slightest of real variation, some of them boxed and some of them non-boxed. It's easy to reduce your thinking if you want extreme predictability, no need for boxes there.

So what do the boxes do? What real good are they? Why do they predominate the gaming market these days? If you prefer boxes, why?

I'm curious, as usual, as to why other people think the way they do. Talk to me. Why do you embrace The Box?

Current Mood: curious

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007
3:16 pm
Roleplaying Gamer's Poll

Please pop by and give me some input: http://unquietsoul5.livejournal.com/951227.html

Thursday, October 26th, 2006
9:34 am
Need Some Plots

So, I'm working on a 'Teen' champions game where the PCs are college freshmen at a university that has a secret program for supers to help them to adjust to society etc.

What I'm looking for are some good plot ideas for such a game... and was hoping that folks might bounce some ideas at me.

The PCs are all freshmen, all living in the same dorm on campus. The school has both supers and norms (about 1/4 are supers) and the norms don't know about the supers program. The PCs are supposed to maintain a secret ID.

Any ideas of plot lines that don't necessarily involve super villains etc but are more oriented towards a campus escapades kind of thing?

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