Friday, September 29, 2006

Fortune in the Middle

I've been thinking a lot about the skill-based spellcasting method for d20 that I discussed in an earlier post - in particular, the manner in which I suggested applying metamagic in the comments. This amounts to a sort of hybrid fortune in the middle mechanic. The idea is that you'd declare the spell, roll the dice, and depending upon the result rolled you could fail, succeed, or even add metamagic effects.

It occurred to me that this could also be used in combat in a d20 variant. What if, say, for every 5 points you exceeded the number that you needed to hit a target by you gained a success level? Success levels could then be spent on things like a free disarm attempt, adding a status effect to the target (who might get a save), or even a critical hit.

In general, I like these sorts of mechanics. They give players an interesting sort of freedom to make their character effective in the manner in which they envision them.

I'm somewhat surprised at how few conventional/popular rpgs use such mechanics, however. The only non-indie rpgs I can think of which use these sorts of mechanics are Secret of Zir'an and (in limited situations) Unknown Armies, both of which somewhat out of the mainstream. Is there a reason that these mechanics aren't in more common use? Is it just historical momentum, or am I just a weirdo for thinking this is a good idea?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Two weeks and counting...

As of tonight, it will have been two weeks since I last roleplayed.

This feels like some sort of strange milestone, but mostly it has been frustrating. I've been miserably sick, and currently have no voice. I feel particularly bad about bailing on people with whom I have regularly -scheduled games, but there is not a lot I can do.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Campaign ideas I'll probably never use

I don't know why it is that I come up with ideas for campaigns that I will probably never run. I suppose that if I put them up here, someone might get some use out of them. In any event, in this edition of Campaign Ideals I'll Probably Never Use, I give you a D&D campaign:

Sigil, Hardboiled

Concept: The characters work for a private investigation firm in Sigil.

Explanation: There isn't much more needed than the concept. The Planescape setting does most of the work for you. Toss in a mysterious owner for the P.I. firm and blatantly steal plot elements and tone from Noir fiction.

Rule variants: You'd probably want to keep this fairly combat-light and skill-heavy. Extra skill points and/or a few free class skills wouldn't be out of the question. I'd suggest starting PCs at about 3rd-4th level and keeping advancement slow. Don't give experience points for killing things. That isn't the goal. XP should be given out for uncovering clues, solving problems, and resolving cases.

Variations on the concept: For a slightly more traditional variation, try Shadowrun in Sigil. Factions replace corporations. The PCs become troubleshooters and theives for hire, specializing in tricky jobs. Some of these could run a lot like traditional dungeon trap-fests. PCs would have to depend on ingenuity and clever use of resources.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Remember, remember the Realms this September...

I know almost nothing about the Forgotten Realms, the more-or-less default setting for D&D. I was always a Greyhawk kid, I guess. I never had any of the 2e FR products (books, modules, boxed sets) despite having a decent amount of other D&D things from that era. Until I played through Icewind Dale II a couple years ago, my largest exposure to the Realms was probably Elminister showing up in the pages of Dragon Magazine.

So why did I borrow my roommate's copy of The Dark Elf Trilogy?

I part, it is due to a morbid fascination... I mean, I mock the silly drow ranger thing on occasion. I should probably know what I am talking about. I'm also constantly mystified when I see R.A. Salvatore books on the bestseller list. Do non-gamers read this stuff? They must. I'm curious as to why. We'll see if I can get through it.

The other part is due to actual interest. I find the Underdark to potentially be an interesting setting, and I'd like to see what has been done with it. I've had a campaign concept in my head that is largely set there, but I haven't really fleshed out little setting details. I tend to find gaming novels to be good tools for getting a sort of holistic feel for settings. In most cases, I find that to be the only real good use for them.

So, how much will I regret reading these books?