RPG a Day 2015 Challenge – Day 24

This is definitely a Monday topic for #RPGaDay2015, one of those things I rarely think of as “favorite”. Let’s try to answer it coherently…

Day 24 – Favorite house rule

I’m not BIG on house rules, I’ll tinker with the rules if necessary, usually to clarify or avoid problem areas, but I don’t enjoy taking rule systems apart, and tweaking them until they are unrecognizable. My AD&D 2nd edition campaign and my RIFTS games had house rules documents, but they were more clarifications than anything else. I’m much more interested in the story and the setting than rule details… It is REALLY hard for me to come up with a favorite house rule!

So for arguments sake let’s say my favorite house rule is giving out experience points, or some sort of advancement, to characters for player’s creating background for their characters. I reward for verbal narration of a background, for writing said background, for finding an image or drawing that represents their characters (or getting a miniature if it’s a game where they are needed) and for creating allies, creatures or opponent NPCs, lists of plots and lists of treasures or antagonists they wish to face. IT depends a lot on the game we are playing and I had out a table detailing the amount of experience they can get. It’s been greatly successful in many campaigns.

You think that qualifies as a house rule? Well I’m sticking to it… What is your favorite house rule? Let us know in the comments.

RPG a Day 2015 Challenge – Day 23

Another Sunday #RPGaDay2015 challenge entry, Day 23! Today’s topic is one of those over which edition wars are fought in the trenches of internet message boards, perfect game! Thankfully David Chapman (The creator of the challenge and whom I haven’t linked to back enough! Thank you for this idea.) added the caveat, for you. So here we go…

Day 22 – Perfect game for you

There may be those who argue that for the characteristics I’m about to list there is already a system out there that covers them, and I’ve tried many, but haven’t found one that meets all the requirements to my satisfaction. Let’s make a list of the characteristics of the perfect gaming system for me:

  • A moderately complex rules medium game that emphasizes role-playing and creativity.
  • If it is point based (doesn’t have to be!) the math has to be simple, preferably not greater than a hundred.
  • It uses a single mechanic, preferably roll high and the math complexity is limited to adding and subtracting.
  • The rules reward creativity and allow for players to have narrative control over aspects of the story pertaining to the characters, including resource management that allows rerolls or mechanical control as well.
  • It uses traditional polyhedral dice, no rare dice or dice with symbols that must be interpreted.
  • The rules are easy to pick up for a new player, but it allows for more complex options and rewards the player for learning the system with.
  • The major complexity would be in character creation, easy to follow and apply in the game, but with plenty of options to create the character the player wants.
  • The final character contains most of the information you’ll need to play in the character sheet, reducing the need for looking up rules.
  • When you play the rules applications and interpretations are easy to implement and follow.
  • The mechanics are applied uniformly to skills and combat, and there are sufficient tactical options to keep play interesting without it slowing down.
  • Combat works with a map and minis or theater of the mind, its ok if some complexity is available in the later and not the former.
  • It maintains the illusion of realism through the application of armor and damage, but action feels cinematic and fast paced.
  • The rules support short and long term campaigns, allowing for characters to grow at the appropriate pace of the campaign.
  • Leveling up ties into the options and complexities of character creation, but is not a chore, nor does it penalize players for not making the right decisions long term.
  • Preparation for the Game Master is easy and minimal.
  • It allows the Game Master to create encounters and opponents with minimal work that feel as complex as the player characters.
  • Pre-made adversaries are easy to re-purpose, re-skin.
  • Handling out experience, or however the advancement process is handled, is separate from the narrative or mechanical control, the players don’t need to decide whether they advance or use the experience resources for other mechanics.
  • There is no overreliance on outside factors for character viability, i.e. magic items, trinkets, they can add to the experience but are not integral to the characters viability.
  • There is internal balance between options in the game, avoiding some options to be suboptimal when compared with others whenever possible.
  • The game would ideally be able to handle multiple genres with little rule variation, but power scaling may be an option.

Those are the main points I can think of. You could argue that there are systems that do this, Savage Worlds, True20, Mutants & Masterminds, GURPS, even the Cypher System, but having played most of them, none meets all the requirements I’ve outlined above. And that’s a tall order to fill, I know, but as long as were are going with my wish list for a perfect system, I can dream can’t I?

Let us know what’s the perfect game for you in the comments. See you all tomorrow, hope you had a great weekend!

RPG a Day 2015 Challenge – Day 22

As #RPGaDay2015 continues we venture today into a topic I thought I could write about endlessly, and then I couldn’t. If I just allowed my imagination flow I could come up with all sorts of details, but deep down, most of what I thought about were bells and whistles. When you get to the very basics, this topic just requires the bare minimum.

Day 22 – Perfect gaming environment

Ideally a place with a large table, since I usually run large groups, one that can sit 8 to 10 people comfortably, with space for maps, books dice and snacks, nice comfortable chairs, and kitchen nearby with a microwave, stove-top and refrigerator. I don’t encourage drinking during games, apart from the occasional beer with moderation, so decidedly NO bar, but definitely a large erasable board on the wall for note taking, tracking initiative, etc.

I run my games from a computer so I got some tech requirements. A projector with which to, either project maps into a surface for combat and/or show images to the players projecting on a screen or wall. A comfortable space to set up my laptop, high speed internet connection, and a sound system I can hook up to the computer or an MP3 player to play music sound effects. And of course, since we play in Puerto Rico, a good air conditioning is a must here in the tropics!

But ultimately, the perfect gaming environment is a place where I can sit together with my friends and tell a story.

What is your perfect gaming environment? I want to know! Have a great Saturday and see you tomorrow.

PS – I once played at a friend’s house where they had taken a large erasable board with a grid and turned it into a tabletop. It was huge, and really allowed for large combats. That was a great set up, but it did require a lot of space. Here is a picture of a combat, back in 2007!


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