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Showing posts with the label GM

Power of the Set Bonus

One popular thing in digital games, particularly in RPGs where items abound, are set bonuses. I have fond memories of playing Heroes of Might and Magic II as the undead, seeking out the Amulet of the Undertaker, Dead Man’s Boots, and Vampire’s Cowl to form them all together into the Cloak of the Undead King. My armies may fall, but now 30% would rise as skeletons to do my bidding! Who would rise to stop me?!?!? The power of the set bonuses isn’t strictly limited to fantasy games either. You’ll see set bonuses in games like Mega Man and Ratchet & Clank . As long as you’re including equipable items (or even just items) in your games, set bonuses can be included, no matter the genre. Why don’t we see that same thing in our tabletop games very often? This week, let's ponder that question and discuss the good, the bad, and the stupid of Set Bonuses. Strategy It's no secret that a lot of what has to do with tabletop games today is rooted in the history of strategy games. Incorp

Time for Practice

If you want to become proficient, or even competitive, at games it is likely going to  take a lot of practice. You aren’t likely to win the first game of chess you play (unless someone is letting you), and of course there is strategy to learn after you get the basics down. The same can be said for many kinds of games. Certainly the skills required in sports need practice to become good at them. Dribbling, passing, catching, scoring. You might have some innate abilities, but there is always something to improve. If you don’t, you might embarrass yourself when you get out there on the courtfieldpitchrink. Sometimes even seemingly simple games like Go become deceptively complicated when you start digging in. Can the same be said of tabletop roleplaying games? Do we need to practice them, and if so what do we practice? Ponder the answers as Never Say Dice discusses practicing TTRPGs. Isn’t it just "pretend with rules?" What is there to practice? One simple description of tabletop

Misalignment

Alignment, as a concept, has been in tabletop roleplaying games, original Dungeons & Dragons from 1974 . It was different back then, a choice between "honor," "chaos," and "neutrality." What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were they just born with a heart full of neutrality ? In the 1977 reorganization into " Advanced Dungeons & Dragons " and the " Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set " , a second axis of "good vs. evil" was added (allowing for the worst character, the neutral neutral , or "true neutral.") Of all versions, D&D’s third edition probably sees the most recognition today, with nine-box "alignment chart" memes made up for any number of media ventures. The oft-maligned fourth edition changed things yet again, reducing alignments to five options: "lawful good," "good," "evil," "chaotic evil" and "unaligned." Again, Wiz

GMing on the Cheap

Let’s say upfront one thing we lifers tend to take for granted: TTRPGs can be an expensive hobby, especially if you prefer (or need) printed editions of materials. To be fair, a well-made book can last for years or even decades, and the costs can be spread across numerous purchases. But, as is often described via boots and toasters [find appropriate link or alternate metaphor], it doesn’t matter how much one saves over the long term if you can’t afford the initial investment… not to mention that beginners are often only aware of the most prominent (and, thus, expensive) RPGs on the market. While old-timers like us know well how to navigate and/or mitigate costs when it comes to our TTRPG purchases, it can seem like a wild, pricey world out there for newbies. So this week, we thought we’d talk about the different ways to battle fiduciary gatekeeping, whether it be for yourself, or any newcomers you know looking to break into the hobby. - B B : If there's a standard baseline form for

100%: Completionism in TTRPGs

In the world of digital games, there's often a final goal of completing everything the game offers. On a modern gaming platforms, you'll probably even receive a “trophy” or “badge” for doing this, and we’ve previous discussed bringing these kinds of achievements into our tabletop worlds. Certainly, one might feel a sense of accomplishment from having reached platinum status in Spider-Man or a feeling of regret when you just can’t finish everything in a GTA game and need to move on. Personally, I’ve been in both these scenarios, and still may re-play San Andreas yet again and finally make it to 100%. Generally, though, this is a situation that can leave you with feeling either very satisfied or with a sense of longing and missed opportunity. Both ends of the spectrum, and all points in between, can be seen in tabletop gaming as well. How can we identify different forms of completionism at our tabletops and how can we tackle them as a team? Quarrelsome Questing Your tabletop

Look Before You Leap (Day)

While someone born on February 29th in the year 2000 would be 24 in regular calendar years (they'd use March 1st as a birthday) they’ve technically only had six birthdays. While "technically correct" is the best kind of correct , we still can’t stop the ravages of age. Leap days/years are of course necessary with how we’ve set up our calendar: due to some large egos (and poor math), we need an extra day every four years to keep things like the solar year, equinoxes, and solstices on track and synchronized. While keeping track of calendars is something many of us neglect in our games, and those that do are likely try to keep it simple, adding a special “leap day” to games can provide an opportunity to include new adventures, events, items, or quirks. So in honor of our real world’s Leap Day 2024 , take a few moments with Never Say Dice to ponder some of the possibilities of this rare inspirational event. Character Changes Plenty of people are born on leap days. As mention

AI DM: Olyphants from Gemini

How far can we travel down a solo-TTRPG path with AI before we’re stopped? We’ve talked about the ways people solve solo gaming in previous posts . What we’re doing in this series , though, is using AI to create a solo RPG experience that's less bound by the limitations of pre-scripted offerings. While AI has been around for awhile, we’ve really only recently started to see big advancements become available to the general public. In our first post , we used Google's AI Bard to get suggestions on setting the scene, provide feedback on actions, generate random events/encounters, and give prompts to help with brainstorming. We’ve also worked with Bard and randomizers to create a new PC - a bard tiefling Echo Shaw, and even the generalities of an island forest area of Whisperwind. This week, let's address a potential major issue with this project and then focus on creating a particular point of interest in this town. The Olyphant in the Room A funny thing happened when I sat

Enter... the Entrance Theme!

It happens in all sorts of media that incorporates music: movies, TV, plays, audio dramas... a few notes play and, at least if you’re a fan, you know who's about to show up even before they actually enter. It even happens in other live activities such as sports - that song starts, the crowd gets pumped,  and you know exactly who's coming out onto the field or into the ring. While we’ve had posts about music in the form of Never Say Disc , and even a few posts that mention choosing music to set the scene in your tabletop games, we’ve never focused on music for a particular group or character. Something to bring you into the game, get you pumped, put you in the right mindset and/or set you up for a good gaming session. So this week, let’s do just that - discuss using music to bring you into the game and increase your immersion at the tabletop. - A A : Picking intro music for a group can be an easy task, depending upon what you’re playing. If you’re sitting down to a Star Wars se

...And Services

Twenty dollars?! I wanted a peanut! Twenty dollars can buy many peanuts. Explain how. Money can be exchanged for goods and services.   When we talk about tabletop roleplaying games, one thing often featured prominently (usually via tables) is all the things you can buy in-game. You’ve got standard adventuring gear such as rope, backpacks, and bedrooms. You have arms and armor from rapiers and plate mail to blasters and jumpsuits. You can find specialty consumables such as scrolls, potions, ammo and energy packs. You might even have magical, or mystical, items such as bags of holding or kyber crystals. There are also the purchases that almost split the difference between "good" and "service" - for example, the meal you might eat at an inn includes the not only the food itself, but also its preparation, having it served to you, and the clean up. So for all the talk about purchasing goods, you ever hear about other services far less often. (And no, we’re not talking a

DMs, GMs, and AIs (Oh, My!)

Playing TTRPGs solo has been around almost as long as TTRPGs have been a concept. While a traditional TTRPG is a social group activity, solo roleplaying games can be more like a journaling experience or guided storytelling through a gamebook (some of which involve dice and stat-tracking, and even modified versions of rules from group-centered games). We’ve talked a bit about solo-tabletop RPGs before - the trouble with solo gaming when want to go beyond the limits of what's been written into a gamebook or published electronic RPG is the GM/DM. There are, of course, many ways people have attempted to solve this . There are the Mythic Game Master Emulator books . There are storytelling dice if all you need is a nudge in a direction. There are even systems that attempt bring in a few different approaches into a single package like RPG Solo . While these are all fine solutions, they all came out before we had AI, or at least before we had what we currently refer to as "AI"

Dual-ing Personalities

Playing in a tabletop game can be challenging, even when you have just one character to control. Your options tend to open up much further when you can add even just one more to the mix, a nearly overwhelming feeling most GMs know all too well. Almost all of us have run into the situation where we have a friend who can’t make it to your gaming table that week, and we've all had to come up with ways to mitigate that absence. You might cancel the session, have the missing character off on another mission, etc. We’ve even mentioned those options in previous posts . We could even duel over which solution is the best - the answer will change from person to person and table to table. This week, we'd like to talk about one solution: dual character playing. As we said above, one character is challenging enough, so what issues can a “second personality” cause, and what are some tips to make things run a bit smoother? Buddy up with Never Say Dice as we discuss just that. There are a lot