Yesterday was another interesting chapter in my weekly game. Unfortunately, one of our players–Mike, or Stannis the Changeling Sorcerer–was missing, which left me in somewhat of a bind, because for various reasons I didn’t want to proceed too far in the story without him. But at the same time, we were just about to hit up some research at the Korranberg library, and after that the party would likely make a beeline for the cult they are investigating, as they have several clues as to where they are and can probably figure out ways of finding them. My solution? A procrastination tactic which worked for one session, but might not work for multiple ones: a flashback sequence!
Archive for May, 2011
When you’re running a mystery game or, well, pretty much any game in Eberron, your players are very likely to show up at a library at some point, hoping to find a critical piece of information or understanding over a topic that mere knowledge checks and footwork cannot explain. My players left off buying rail tickets to Korranberg, with the hopes of perusing the Library of Korranberg for information on a particular cult and the “Morning War.” So, for both next session and future occasions, I’ve written up some rules for how to conduct research at its most basic level.
Frequently during adventures, the best way to show a scene is to exclude all of the players who are not in the scene and simply talk to the player who is. The rogue goes off to investigate the crypt, and finds a bunch of necromancers; you narrate all of his actions, and describe what the necromancers look like and say, while everyone else sits and waits patiently. However, there is a second technique you can use to get everyone involved in that narrative: cross-cutting characters.
So, last Saturday me and my group had an excellent first session of a summer campaign. They’re playing a detective agency, based in Sharn, and I got to implement a number of the tips and house rules I’ve been using as of late to help bring this game to excellence. Of course, credit where it’s due, it wouldn’t have gone off so well if the players themselves weren’t so interested in the story and capable of assisting in its telling. Here’s my (hopefully weekly) report on our Dungeons and Dragons adventures.
For an upcoming game of Dungeons and Dragons, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to create a memorable villain or set of villains. And it’s Eberron, so the standards of moral ambiguity are even higher than in most games. Luckily, I have a few simple rules I always try to follow when creating a villain.
To me, the Essentials style of building classes is the best style, and should be used for all of 4th Edition’s classes. Why? Because Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t need a single, unwavering class structure; it needs different class structures for each class, in order to make each class feel unique. A fighter should feel like a fighter, rather than a wizard with knives. In the near future, I hope to be starting an Eberron Campaign Setting 4E Essentials game, and to that end, I have Essential-fied the Artificer. I dub him, the Infuser.
The sibilant rain lacked the agency to alter its world. It draped across the landscape, but left no roads too muddy to use, no rain barrels overflowing with water, and while the fieldworkers were damp at the end of the day, they were hardly cold and cranky. A light summer evening rain. The hearth of the village alehouse cast light through the street-facing windows, illuminating a pair of buckled leather boots shifting slightly in the mud. The elastic shadow of a man stretched out into the nighttime behind them. The boots had traveled for weeks in the country, and though they once may have been fine black and pristine, they were in the glow of the evening festivities cracked and worn. The clamor of laughter and clattering mugs from the tavern rose and fell in regular waves, the heartbeat of the town. When the door opened to deposit two young field hands onto the street, no music followed them into the outside air.
The boots walked toward the open door and slipped inside.
Recently, Wizards of the Coast published the Unearthed Arcana: Henchman and Hirelings article (and incidentally, I love the Unearthed Arcana series of articles) in Dragon 397. The article detailed exactly how to manage the hiring and battlefield-control of armies of hirelings, including soldiers. And it’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for. Finally, I can create an Animate Dead ritual, and have something canon to balance it against.
How do you create a time-sensitive adventure? Or campaign? Modern video gaming typically takes the route of having the timer only start when you reach a certain checkpoint–and, displaying that timer at the top of your screen. So it really doesn’t matter how long Commander Shepard takes to get to the Bahak system or rescue Dr. Kenson; but once he does, well, that’s when the Reaper invasion timer starts counting down. But, is that the only way to go about that sort of adventure?