Sunday, 28 June 2015

"Unfriendly" Races

One thing I enjoy doing in my game is turning the general perceptions of races askew for my players. It makes them think more and they are less likely to hit first and ask questions later. Of course I still leave them a few races that hold up to their tropes, in this case the player races, goblinoids and kobolds. This is important as well so the players have something familiar to ground themselves in.

I think that challenging the perceptions of the players in this way is important. It makes the world more memorable as they rally an orc army to help defeat the goblins. They are currently negotiating with a tribe of minotaurs and will eventually be fighting/negotiating with a city of ogres of the right for a tribe of centaurs to live in the area. All of this  while trying to prevent the hostile take over of the world from an army led by kobolds who worship dragons, as is typical of them.

This is not to say that every group of orcs in the world has become good. There is a chaotic evil nation of orcs waging war in a different part of the world, that my players and the general public know of. Same with the centaurs. The adventure comes from having to first convince people that these guys aren't bad like those guys, and then dealing with the repercussions of trying to end interracial blood feuds, carve a niche out of regular society to help everything work more cohesively and, in the simply try and have very one not kill everyone else.

This leads to many adventures ideas, and the players generally create them on their own, all I have to do is listen as they plot. When they debated a method to get the centaurs allied and peaceful with their own nations, they came up with a multitude of complications I would never have thought of, simply as they have a different perspective then I do as DM. I simply write these ideas down and flesh them out at a later date. It also leads to a lot of varied encounters, ranging from combat, politics, stealth missions and the occasional public speech. The variety helps keep the game from becoming stagnant, and I would never have to create the basic idea for anything if I didn't want to, the players generate enough content on their own.

So here is something that I think you should try. Create some form of problem that is to big for the players to overcome on their own, or with their regular allies. Drop some hints that an unlikely ally maybe found in one of the neighbors that the players would generally just slaughter, orcs are a good one for this. Have them try to get he orcs to ally with them and get the humans/dwarves/elves etc to accept it. As they plan listen to the complications they come up with and write them down. Also make sure that the orcs don't give in to easily, I mean the players must prove themselves trust worthy. Then simply flesh out a few of the complications in an imaginative way, potentially on the fly if you need to. Your game will be better for it if you can do something like this. Not to mention its always great to hear the Dwarf in the group go "Stay a way from my orcs".

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Adventure Hooks

Stepping away from combat for a post or two, at least until I can get some play time in with the new rules, I figured I would talk about adventure hooks. Now, from what I have heard of other games, it seems that there is generally a low number of adventure ideas thrown out at any given time, usually 2-3 at most, and that basically as one is used it is replaced by another. This is not a bad way of doing adventure hooks, there is a manageable amount of data for the DM to work with, and minimal prep time as there are only 2-3 ideas to fall back on each game.

I however find only having 2-3 options boring. If I am going to run a game and make it feel realistic, then there must be a multitude of options for the players so that they feel they can go do anything they want, as my Paladin Luther once said "Our quest list is bigger than Skyrim's". Along with this is the dynamic state of adventure hooks I strive to achieve. Nothing is static and if they leave the hook for long enough when they come back it will have changed, sometimes worsening and sometimes solving itself. This dynamism is necessary to stop the world from feeling as if its waiting for the players, making it different and more engaging than the aforementioned video game.

As for the style of adventure hooks, they are generally in the form of travelling information, a request or learned from investigating something. Though they do generally boil down to "Have you heard of the illness town X is suffering" or "The raids in the east have gotten larger recently, but they refuse to send the army". Not subtle but I find that getting much more subtle than that and players go "Well, there's not much to go on, must be info to save for later".

Now that I have given a brief explanation on how I use and deliver adventure hooks, here are my steps to creating them. I both pre-plan and spontaneously generate adventures, though most adventures are pre-planned. My spontaneity I use to make scenes to fill the adventures in. So,

Step 1 : Develop a premise or multiple premises

This can be as simple as "Orcs are rading a nearby town" or as convoluted as you wish to come up with. The premise should be simple to state though and easy to remember. It should also be fairly general. The premise is what the delivery will be made out of so you do not want to have to much detail in it. Another reason for a simple premise is that the adventure hook may never be used. Do not sink time into an adventure until after the players embark on it, many of the adventure hooks will only every be thrown out there for the players to turn down or come back to later, but this helps add to the dynamic feel in the world.

I personally went with "An army is invading so as to find the location of their long dead god and raise it" and added a few other small adventure arcs on the sides based on the characters back stories and some side arcs that can help with the main arc. Properly layering different adventure hooks together to add variety to the game helps give the feel of a dynamic world. Trudging along on one single quest is fairly boring, and we can look to The Lord of the Rings for this. The story of Frodo and Sam is straight forward with minimal plot twist or thought behind it. The real adventure actually happens far from the ring with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas as they embark on a multitude of different adventures from save the hobbits, to save the king of Rohan from being a mind slave, over thrown Saruman, gain the alliegance of the undead etc. Similarly Merry and Pippin have an interesting story as well, due to the variety of adventures they go on.

Step 2 : Create 3 points to over come in the adventure

Lets go with the easy premise of "Orcs are raiding a nearby town". Lets call the town Digsby. So orcs are invading the nearby town of Digsby. There needs to be a bit more to make an easy to use adventure here and so we come up with three points the players must over come which will also help generate some background for the town of Digsby. The point to overcome is in italics and the rest is background generated from it.

Point 1 - When they arrive the town is either under attack or about to be under attack. This is one of a multitude of raids and as such there are limited supplies in the town so the players will not be able to resupply here until the orcs are defeated. The people are also wary and exhausted. Some are filled with grief for those recently killed and some are past that to a state of hopelessness.

Point 2 - The players must find the orc camp/base. There must also be a reason that no one else knows where it is, or that no one has gone to remove it. Maybe the terrain is to forested or there are fierce wild animals. Maybe the towns folk are all pacifists and refuse to fight. Maybe the Lord does not care or has actually hired the orcs to raid his lands. Plenty of options to add background here.

Point 3 - The players must make the orcs leave Digsby alone. Note I do not say slaughter the orcs. They can just as easily petition people to raise and army to kill the orcs or talk the orcs down through some means. Or simply show such a display of might that the orcs leave or pledge to follow the characters. To add background here, we get stuff like the orc encampment is well defended with palisades and an extraordinarily strong leader. Or a sorcerer is controlling them all and coercing them to raid towns so far from their home. Or the simple one, that the orcs simply enjoy killing other people. It really all depends on what you want to deliver.

Step 3 : Create a way for each point to deteriorate( or improve if it suits you)

With the three points made, create a way for each one to either get worse or better, and assign a number of in game days to it. The number of days for deterioration do not happen simultaneuously, but stack. I am going to go with deteriorate and at a fairly fast rate.

Point 1 - When they arrive the town is either under attack or about to be attacked. For this point I would give probably two stages of deterioration. Stage 1 is that the town is largely uninhabited, the people fled or slaughtered, and it would happen after 5 in game days. So if the players are on their way but slow in getting there they may still come upon a devastated Digsby. Stage 2 would be that the orcs have moved on to terrorizing the region instead of just the town. This would happen after 10 in game days. Note that the stages can go in either order, and it would take 15 in game days fr both to happen.

Point 2 - The players must find the orc base. This could go a few different ways. Having heard of the orcs success in the area more come and beef up the current base. The base is built in a stronger fashion as the haphazard war band becomes more disciplined. Multiple bases begin to appear as other war bands come to prey on the area. I would probably assign a time of 15 in game days to this.

Point 3 - The Players must make the orcs leave Digsby alone. This point probably doesn't really need much of a deterioration as Point 2 deteriorating makes it much harder already. However, you could go with some thing along the lines of the orcs taking hostages to make the towns folk more pliant, or to ensure the payment of a tithe. I would give this a 20 day time line, and make sure not to do stage 1 on point 1.

So, for everything to really go to shit would require 45 in game days. Plenty of time for the players to finis up what they were doing and go investigate, or even do something else first then investigate. It all really depends on the players. Hell if they never go look at the situation then they may have allowed a small orc nation to form in the area, or the Lord in the area would be forced to commit men to a war here and leave the country open to attack else where. This is why dynamic adventure hooks make the world more alive, and even simple ones such as "Orcs are attacking a town" can lead to big changes in the world. And all of this only takes nine bullet points.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Trimming the Fat

So as mentioned previously, I plan on trimming down the combat system in Pathfinder. I started with the low hanging fruit of removing the delay action, theoretically reducing the wait time during some combats. I have yet to try it though, my last game was entirely political in nature and the players avoided combat in the city. Next game however there should be a fight.

So, with that rule still needing play testing, I plan on simplifying another part of the combat rules. Namely the Combat Maneuvers section. In the core rules there are 6 combat maneuvers, Bullrush, Disarm, Grapple, Overun, Sunder and, Trip. There are an additional four in the Advanced Players Guide, Dirty Trick, Drag, Reposition and, Steal. All of these maneuvers use the same bonus (combat maneuver bonus, CMB) and target the same threshold (combat maneuver defense, CMD). They also all have the same basic rules set of: meet or beat CMD with your CMB check. For every 5 you succeed by they can be moved/conditioned for one more square/round. If you fail by 10 or more then the maneuver backfires and is done to you.

These maneuvers also all have an individual feat tree, meaning that it is impossible for a character to become proficient at more than 2 before 8 level, other than the fighter. So the burly, behemoth of a barbarian can be good at bull rushing people and dragging people, but not at repositioning them. He also can not Overrun them well. This is odd since they all use the same bonus of Strength modifier to the CMB. Yes special training from feats would help but at such a slow rate that by the time a Barbarian/Ranger/Paladin/etc can easily use three different combat maneuvers casters are bending reality. I plan on changing this both by boosting melee options while toning down caster options. Since Pathfinder is basically a power trip fantasy, doing both of these shouldn't be to difficult, there is a lot to cut from casters while still leaving them very powerful, and options/ease to add to melee to make them more versatile.

So, after side stepping the point a bit, here is what I plan on doing with combat maneuvers:

Bullrush, Reposition, Drag, Trip and Overrun will become one maneuver named Positioning. Positioning covers your ability to move opponents and yourself about the battlefield. Your opponents movement does not provoke an attack of opportunity unless you have the Greater Positioning Feat. You may move with or through your opponent if you have enough movement left in the round to do so though you may not exceed your total speed in the round of combat, and your movement does provoke an attack of opportunity, unless you have the Greater Positioning Feat. For every 5 that your CMB check beats the opponents CMD check you may move your opponent 5 additional feet. If this movement is in any direction other than directly backwards, you may not move your opponent out of your reach except for on the last 5 feet of movement. If the opponents movement is straight backwards then they may move as far as the check allows without you following them. This maneuver also allows you to knock the target prone, but at the cost of all potential movement in maneuver. If the check is 10 or more lower than the CMD you fall prone. The intent of the maneuver must be stated before the roll is made.

Sunder will remain as it is. Grapple will remain as it is.

Dirty Trick and Disarm would become Dirty Trick. This would cover any underhanded methods of combat, and allow you to apply one condition of the following, blinded, dazzled, deafened, entangled, shaken and, sickened or disarm your opponent. The condition last for one round plus one for every 5 you exceed the CMB by, unless you have the Greater Dirty Trick Feat, in which case is lasts 1d4 +1 round for every 5 you exceed the CMD by. When disarming an opponent, their weapon lands within 5 feet of them plus 5 feet for every 5 you exceed the CMD by, unless you have the Greater Dirty Trick Feat, in which case it lands 1d4+1 square for every 5 you exceed the CMD by. If the check is 10 or more lower than the CMD you drop your weapon or randomly contract one of the aforementioned conditions, based on a d8 roll. The intent of the maneuver must be stated before the roll is made.

Steal will simply be taken over by the Sleight of Hand skill, since they cover the same basic thing. The only difference is that the opponent will know if something is stolen immediately unless you exceed the CMD by 10 or more. EDIT - I may also roll it into Dirty Trick, going to get some feed back first.

So there is my take on combat maneuvers. Instead of having 10 maneuvers, with 20 feats. I will have 4 maneuvers with 4 feats, as in my game any feat that is an Improved feat, such as improved Trip, automatically progresses to the Greater version one the prerequisites for it are met. And we get a little more use out of the skills in game by combining the steal maneuver with sleight of hand.

Hope every one enjoyed this after my week long break from posting, I hope I can be a bit more consistent in posting in the future, but no promises.

Monday, 15 June 2015

A Thought On Combat Actions

As mentioned previously, I have decided to begin trimming some of the rules from Pathfinder. Well trim and alter and add. Game design and world building are two of the key reasons I enjoy DMing so much. As such I have decided to target the combat system, where the rules bloat is greatest. It is also the reason I enjoy Pathfinder combat so much, as it allows you to be very detailed in your actions.

Now, while detail is important, I believe that play ability is more important. And more streamlined combat rules are a huge deal for many players, or so I've heard from everyone who has tried 5E.

Most of the time in combat comes from communication and deciding on actions. My previous post here tells of my simple and as yet untried solution to the communication problem. Once I try it out I will let you guys know how it works. The other problem of deciding on actions is a larger problem to tackle.

For those unfamiliar with Pathfinder, each round a player gets a move, a standard, a swift, an immediate and, unlimited free actions. Or they can take a full round action at the cost of a standard and a move action. An immediate action can be taken at anytime in combat, even in the middle of another characters turn. Players can also ready actions to prepare an action to happen under certain conditions or simply delay their turn until later, permanently changing their spot in the initiative order.

So, there are really too many possibilities for actions here. Especially considering the character only has 6 seconds in a combat round to decide all of this.

The one action of those listed above that sticks out the most is the Delay Action. All the other actions set up some form of commitment to a course of action, either by carrying out the action on the spot or by preparing a specific action for use in the near future. On the other hand, delaying is simply saying "I will sit and wait for a better opportunity to decide what I want to do". There is no commitment, only avoidance. And the worst part is that delaying generally happens after all other courses of action have been examined and decided to be sub-par.

So my solution to this is to remove the ability to use the delay action in combat. Every turn you must commit to something, even if it is simply to commit to doing nothing this round. There will be no wait until a better moment option, that is what readying an action is for.

Hopefully this will help remove some of the waiting in combat and bring a bit more action oriented spirit back to it. Hopefully it will make more "screw it i'm going to do this" moments happen, since the one thing that most players seem to hate the most is doing nothing.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Combat Communication

As pointed out in this post, the tactical communication most groups of players go through during a combat is detrimental to much of the feel of the game. It moves them out of character and into tactician mode, with the group of them playing chess as best they can. Well, maybe it doesn't become quite that dry, but it is still far removed from playing in depth as your character would.

The disconnect from playing as your character in combat is understandable though. Having become attached to the character, the player wants to keep them alive, and so for combat, they become a group of arm chair tacticians instead of a team of people fighting for their lives.

So, to aid in bringing players back into character, I am going to propose a simple rule to them, which follows the constraints listed in the linked post. The rule is aimed only at dealing with over abundant communication during combat, in a more elegant way than how Pathfinder currently does, which is simply via DM discretion and means I need to act as the talking police, not a job I really want.

So the proposed rule,

"Per round of combat, a player may say no more than 3 sentences pertaining directly to the combat. They may bank 1 sentence from the previous round to use later"

So its a very simply rule, but alone it does not make combat more involved, it only makes players think longer on what they want to say, and deliver it more concisely. I do have a plan to augment this rule with others that will make the combat system hopefully more engaging. Nothing to do but try at this point.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

I Take A Moment and Pause to Rest

Continuing from the last post, which was a few days ago sorry for the wait, I am first going to tackle the proposition of dealing with thirst/fatigue, which I realized can really be combined into one for simplicity. So, what are the key aspects that I want to capture with this new house rule,

1 - I want the players to feel like they need to time their actions properly. Having to take a round of rest where they can say only have a move action, brings better tactics into play. You can no longer simply sit at the front lines hacking away at your enemies on one front, then sprint to the other side of the battle field to help your caster, then back to the front lines as my players are won't to do, if you need to make sure you can pause to take a one round break at some point.

2 - Simplicity, a simply chart with a number or two to reference would be ideal. I personally am going to try to have a chart referencing constitution vs weight carried, or something similar. The chart would simply give a number of rounds to count down before you need a rest.

3 - Engaging. There needs to be some risk involved as well. Simply forcing a player to not take a turn is boring. Giving them small side effects that accumulate over time would be nice and realistic, but to cumbersome. Having them roll for a small status effect is interesting, especially if they get a small bonus if they succeed by a good margin. Some incentive is necessary for them to feel like the system is a good trade off.

So here is my first attempt at the rule, made up as I type. I hope it is not to much of a mess,

"A character can easily fight for a number of rounds as given on [chart as yet to be made]. Fighting for more than this number of consecutively means the character must make a Fortitude save every round. The DC is equal to 10, plus the number of rounds the character has fought for without rest. If the save is failed, the character is Staggered (can either move or attack, not both) for a number of rounds equal to the number of failed saves since they last rested for a round. Every time the DC is exceeded by 5, you gain a +1 to damage. All of these +1 bonuses stack. When the character takes a full round to rest, all bonuses and penalties, as well as the number of rounds fought consecutively, is reset to 0. A character can not rest for a round while staggered from the effects of a failed save"

There, 153 words. One number to keep track of and one die roll to make. No math at all, unless you count having to calculate whether you have succeeded by 5 or not. I've run through this with one player already (they are sitting beside me as I type), and they said they like the idea of it for a grittier campaign I plan on running as a break between sections of my current campaign.

So what do those of you who are reading this think? Does it go to far and make a clunky system to much? It may and I will have to check when I try the rule out eventually. It also reminds me that I should really look into cutting down on some of the crap in the Pathfinder rule set sometime.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Putting Some LARP in Your RPG

Today I went to Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg and played Amtgard, a rule set of Larping. As per usual, it was very fun, running around hitting people with sticks holds a lot of charm. And it also holds a lot of potential for inspiration.

The first few hours of every day are taken up with Battle Games. Generally different variances of games like capture the flag, move the bomb, heavy object and, caravan raids. All of them have different objectives and different ways of arranging the player classes in order to get the most out of the players.

One thing I have come to realize, is that communication during a Battle Game is chaotic at best. Impossible at worst. And this is with foam weapons and no real risk to ones self. The extra stress of combat with real weapons in a real life or death situation would make communication, planning after engagement and, team work incredibly difficult.

Also, the strain of combat with foam weapons does begin to tell eventually, especially on those who are not in peak physical condition. Those of use who are athletic can play all day, though after 4-5 hours we also begin to slow down. Combat in Full Plate with a sword and shield, or a giant axe, or even the repetitive drawing of a bow would cause fatigue extraordinarily quickly.

The final point I would like to make here is the amount of thirst generated by running around a field. In 4-5 hours of play I generally drink 3-4 litres of water, ans should probably drink more. When was the last time a lack of proper hydration made a difference in any combat you've run? For me, it has never happened.

Now, what I want to do from here is find a simple, yet elegant, way of making these three things matter in RPGs. More difficult communication, a better representation of fatigue, and a better representation of how dehydration quickly becomes a problem would all make the game a more exciting endeavor, so long as the rules don't get in the way of things.

Over the next week or two, I plan on trying to tackle these problems in my Pathfinder game. I will have three constraints on each set of rules,

1 - The rules may be no more than 350 words long. Like I said above, the rules can not get in the way of play. For every bit of depth you add you also add rules, and the trade off must be worth it.

2 - There can be no more than one thing to keep track of during game play. As above, simplicity is the key here. I will decide upon a single thing to keep track of, preferably the same thing for all of them, most likely combat rounds, though maybe not.

3 - No more than one die roll and one calculation. Quick and easy is the theme here. Preferably, it will come down to just a die roll and no math, but I need the lee way to put a single calculation in just in case.

Having written the above three constraints, I have decided to actually use them for most/all of my house rules in the future. It will help things from becoming to unwieldy, and will test my problem solving skills more.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Harder Stuff... and Eggs Apparently

Over on The Tao of D&D Alexis has made this post about the allocation of energy, time, etc in relation to the things you do in your life. He also mentions that finding time for something requires taking time from somewhere else.  All of this makes sense, but he neglects to mention that all of us have in every day what I like to call Dead Time.

Dead Time is when you are doing something necessary, that only requires part of your attention (driving a car, cooking food etc) or requires none of your attention (sitting in a waiting room). This time is being spent, but not very profitably. And the best way to make your sacrifices is, in my opinion, to make them during this time.

So, on to question number 2 : Name 5 sacrifices that you would be willing to make to gain any of those skills.

1 - Spend the first 10 minutes of my 45 minute drive to/from work practicing the delivery of scenes, descriptions and anything else that requires a verbal delivery.

Normally, my drive to work is spent either thinking about what I need to do when I get there, what I am going to do when I leave, or singing along to the radio. I also plan my Pathfinder campaign as I drive but I do not intend to reduce the amount I do that. Instead, I will reduce the amount of time I spend singing and day dreaming, the two parts of my drive that are there only to fill the time. How I will do this is to think up a scene/atmosphere or what have you and describe it. Then pick apart what I didn't like about the description, asking why I didn't like it. Narrow it down to tone, word choice, delivery speed etc, then try again. Next time I do my drive I think up a different scene and repeat. In this way I get 20 minutes a day 5 days a week of practice, without really sacrificing anything overly important.

2 - Be more open about my past times with others.

This one is aimed at recruiting more players. Many times when asked "what are you doing for the weekend" I reply with a "not much" or a "nothing important" or I say something else to that effect and shrug off the question. Instead, I will make the effort to say "Playing Pathfinder". That's it. I won't start describing what it is. I won't bang them on the head with how fun it is. I will simply put it out there as if it were any other socially acceptable hobby. If they bite, then I will follow with short, simply answered and description to questions. And no war stories. Eventually, I will end up having a new player.

3 - The inner peace of never pulling the trigger

This is a sacrifice I need to make. As a new DM I have yet to kill a PC. Not that I should go out of my way to do it, its just that not killing the PC is much easier, much less gut wrenching. Having been unable to pull the trigger on a grand total of 3 occasions, all with the same PC doing something reckless that should have got him killed. This will stop the PCs from becoming complacent. It will also make me more comfortable with front loading encounters. Making them extremely dangerous in round one will make the rest of it seem threatening, and more exciting. It doesn't matter if the combat only lasts 3 rounds because the NPCs have very little health. It does matter that the PCs are glad its over because of how worried they are about the NPCs getting in another round of massive damage,

4 - Get out of bed on Saturdays when I wake up, not an hour later

I think everyone wakes up on the weekend and lays there struggling with the though of getting out of bed. I know I do. So I will make the sacrifice of getting out of bed on a Saturday, no more than 20 minutes after I wake up. I will then spend this time on my laptop mapping terrain and improving my skills in that regard.

5 - Be prepared to have my players dislike me for a moment.

This one comes down to needing to be the bad guy sometimes, and not as an NPC. Telling the players to only have the necessary dice out, and not a giant bowl of them. Telling them to not dig out a new D20 for every roll. Telling them to pay attention and put the phone down during game play. Basically taking responsibility for the environment that I am trying to create.

Those are my 5 sacrifices, none of them are big, but they are all actionable, and all manageable. It is better to be able to do something, than to talk about something while doing nothing.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Hard Stuff

So, over at The Tao of D&D the author Alexis Smolensk has delivered to us aspiring DMs some homework, it was actually this post that clinched it for me and made me want to start the blog I had been thinking of writing. Anyway, back to the homework,

Question 1 : Name five skills you wish you possessed that would make you a better DM.

Skill 1 - The ability to more eloquently deliver descriptions of the terrain or the surroundings the party is in, without detracting from what really matters in the situation.

This is the first skill as it is the one I struggle with the most. As an engineering student, I am constantly taught to describe things clearly, concisely and accurately. Extra description gets in the way of the message being delivered, it creates noise in the transmission that the receiver has to filter out, generally not as successfully as the transmitter would like. A good example of this is players getting hung up on some unimportant piece of the description that is just there for extra depth. They did not properly filter what you were giving them so they think it is important.

Skill 2 - The ability to better manage players who take to long in combat due to distractions, not paying attention, or disinterest.

Many of my combats have lasted over 10 rounds in the 15 games I have run in my campaign. These usually take about 3 hours, maybe 4 hours if it starts pushing 14-15 rounds. One of my main problems is not being able to tactfully bring players to act faster. If they are distracted, and need to look over the map before playing every round it slows combat down a fair bit, even if there is only one of them doing it. Also, I am in need of a better way to prompt players to action instead of thinking everything to death before commiting to an action.

Skill 3 - The ability to make dramatic combats short, without resorting to super powerful monsters

As stated above many combats go on for a few hours. And this is largely because I choose to use a larger number of lesser creatures such as orcs/goblins/kobolds than to simply use more powerful monsters. I need to work on using these creatures in a way that is both realistic in terms of their behavior but which would also make them deadly in small numbers so that there can be many quick, exciting battle in a game session as opposed to one larger battle.

Skill 4 - The ability to design maps with greater speed

I need to improve my speed of mapping my world, without sacrificing detail. The maps are the back bone of my campaign, with a key set up so that if there is anything interesting in a hex I know of it before the players get there. I rarely make up significant encounters on the fly, they are generally spawned by the players travelling to close to an area where danger is.

Skill 5 - The ability to recruit more people

One thing that I have found is that having new people play for me greatly changes the dynamic at the table. It shakes things up and makes me have to think in different ways, not to mention lets me introduce a new player to the game. If I had my way I wold be able to recruit a new person a month until I was at 6-7 players, and then have a roster of 2-3 people that would drop in on occasion to play an npc or a follower or some random for a game, just to bring a bit more variety to the table. 

Those are the 5 skills I wish I possessed that would make me a better DM. Those are also the 5 skills I plan to work on the most over the next few months. As my priorities change, say I become better at mapping or descriptions, I will start working on other ways to improve myself.

The second part of my homework will get done later this week.

You Have To Start Somewhere...

So, this is the first post on The Long Haul. With this I should promise you a life time of blog posts to sate your need for more, but I promise nothing. I only hope the name doesn't turn out to be to ironic.

I plan to blog about my preferred gaming system, Pathfinder, though it is the only system I have really tried out. I have read the rules of others, but none of them seemed to catch me the way the Pathfinder rules have. Though I will note that I plan on changing many of the rules and will hopefully experience much more in the world of gaming than I already have.

For some background in my gaming experience, I have been playing for just over 1 year. I have played in 1 game, and have run 16. 1 as a one shot and 15 as a running campaign starting last September, and fit in around doing an engineering degree.

I also plan to post about Larping, specifically under the rules set of Amtgard. I play in the shire of Wildgard, in the Principality of Rivermoor, in the Kingdom of the Iron Mountains. Not that that would mean anything to most people.

So here goes this experiment of a blog, and I hope it helps me to work on my GMing more.