Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Semi-weekly maunderings.

So today is (likely) B's Game, meaning that there's been one episode of the same, a Chessenta game, and an Eberron Game since the last time I posted on tabletop. Also a session of mine. And yet, my thoughts on such are all that is scattered and lame. But.

A thing to which I wish to give more thought-- probably aided by intense scrutiny of the monster manuals-- is keeping controllers alive. In my last game, I wound up doubling an encounter because (though they had very good plot reasons to do so), the players pretty much alpha struck the Controller before she could do any of the cool things she could have done to wreck them. On the one hand, this is good-- do the players really need to know how awful the controller's stuff is? This being something that my players ran into in their very first encounter, when they let the Goblin Hexer hang out and do horrible things to them through its allies. Alpha striking necromancers = absolutely the right thing to do.

On the other hand, there's something... I dunno, weak? About the alpha strike being too easy to pull off. There's a balance there, or a right set of additional baddies that are just nasty enough to protect the Controller by drawing off aggro, without just rolling the party hard. As last weekend's LARP reminded me-- if the GM wants dead players, they can always have them. It's not that hard. What's hard is live PCs who feel like they were actually at risk of dying horribly.

Anyway, it's a lowby something to think about, but something I am thinking about RightNowThisMinute.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Running around in the woods beating up your friends with foam weaponry.

So, I've some maunderings about wandering monsters and 4e that I haven't yet put into coherent form, but nu, the main thing that has been occupying my time of late has been boffer LARPing, which, as you may recall, is a Thing That I Do. It is perhaps the very breath of the obvious to say that woah, this kind of game is Completely Different from tabletop-- frequently, the things that you can get away with plotwise and characterwise in one would simply not work in the other. Now, admittedly, I am very spoiled when it comes to LARPing-- I never played Old School NERO, and the joys of counting down, as a monster, from 250 by seventees are largely unknown to me. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Lemme 'splain.

The two games in which I play (King's Gate and Eclipse) and the game that I shall be helping to run (Dust to Dust) are what are known as a) Hit Location Systems and b) SI/Chimera style.

Hit Location means that there is no concept of 'body', or ever upward spiralling hit points, that eventually reach 0, killing you. Through magic, a pc may have 'skins', usually not more than 5, that work about the same way, exceptional cases in really high build games may have 8. You can also have protectives like 'wards', 'resists', and 'shields' that block single attacks. NPCs have 'toughness', which /is/ like Hit Points in that it can be healed, though once again, this is usually a fairly low number-- 10 is a really beefy monster, even several years into a campaign. Compare with Nero/Solar style, Hit Point games, where one may have as many as 100 HP as they advance in level. I'll get to level in a minute.

Also, all one-handed weapons swing a base of 1, 2-handed weapons swing a base of 2, if you are trying to use a 3-handed weapon get the fuck off my site. This can be increased temporarily (usually 3 swings a combat) through wounding blows (a plus to damage, implying martial skilll) or strength effects. Base damage does not increase, and you never have to call damage for a base swing with a one-handed weapon. You should call '2' for a base swing with a 2-hander.

The other difference is that in Hit Location, well... where you hit the person matters. After you've blown through all the protectives you might have, you start taking wounds. A wound renders a location useless. You can take a wound to each leg and each arm, and also the torso. A torso wound renders you unconcious, at which point you have 5 minutes to be stabilized or healed, or you bleed out.

Now, the SI/Chimera difference. In NERO, you have levels and classes. In SI/Chimera, you have neither, exactly. You have build, which you get as a blanket after an event, which you may spend on various skills. Some skills lock out others, but this means that you can be a fighter and caster, and indeed, most people one would think of as primarily brute fighters have some kind of magic/psionics. You may advance in level in specific skills, but your character doesn't have 'level', like in D&D. What you have is a build total, which gives a rough idea of how many skills you may have purchased.

Further, you do not have 'mans', or lives, or souls, or whatever. When a character dies, the death is logged with plot, and the other characters attempt to ressurect them by whatever means makes sense in world. This may or may not succeed-- a fate is drawn from a specially made-up deck of cards, and bad cards = a permenant death. NPC the rest of the event, and roll up a new character. Yes, this means that you can perm on your second death or so-- usually you cannot perm on your first draw. However, you /can/ perm your first death-- if you were to remain dead, say, past sunrise or sunset, which are the in-game markers for when dead spirits leave the world.

NPCs, of course, do not work this way-- generally if you are killing blowed, you are ded. Fortunately, you can ressurect at a spawn point and get your crunchy killing on as much as you like.

Everything beyond that is pretty much flavour of the individual game, though there's some standards for magic that are /usually/ true, like having a single mana pool, and damage causing spells being called darts (1pt), arrows (2pts), lances (1 wound), blasts (1 wound to every location), and infernos (you are ash, everything you are carrying takes a destroy effect). LARP magic is handled typically by throwing packets-- cloth bundles full of birdseed-- or through voice and point effects. Most spells have multi-syllable verbals, where the length of the verbal indicates the strength of the spell.

Which is my basic-- very basic, leaving out a ton of stuff-- run down of Boffer LARP combat. I shall actually venture opinions of various topics LARP related anon, but felt that a basic overview of what I mean when I am talking about LARP things may yet prove useful. To someone. At some point.