Tag Archives: Pathfinder

Choice of N: a simple but effective GM technique

Scotty: How thick would a piece of your Plexiglass need to be at sixty feet by ten feet to withstand the pressure of eighteen thousand cubic feet of water?
Dr. Nichols: Oh, that's easy - six inches. We carry stuff that big in stock.
Scotty: I noticed. Now suppose - just suppose - I were to show you a way to manufacture a wall that would do the same job but be only one inch thick? Would that be worth something to you, eh?
Dr. Nichols: You're joking!
-- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Say a character in one of your games is going to do something offscreen, or perform some complex task that could have a number of possible interesting results. Or maybe the player just missed a session and you want to find out what happened to them.  What do you do?  You could spend a bunch of time having them make rolls and play out solo scenes, but that's boring for the other players and not very creative.

Now suppose - just suppose - I were to show you a technique that would give you all the benefits of playing out a montage or flashback scene but require only one roll?

Would that be worth something to you, eh?

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Applying "indie" principles to "trad" games

This is another good gaming post I've salvaged and cleaned up from my old blog.  Independent games are breaking a tremendous amount of new ground in RPG design but most gamers still play the old standards: D&D, White Wolf, etc. If you like what indie games do but still love traditional tabletop RPGs, what can you do?  As it turns out, lots!

These are some principles you can use to spice up your traditional RPG experience.  I'll be mostly using D&D as an example, they should apply to any game.  And note that these are techniques I use - they're not just theoretical.

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Character-First Character Design

When my friends and I play traditional RPGs like D&D we have a maxim: figure out who your character is first, then build them.  Alternately: make your PC a character in need of a mechanic rather than a mechanic in need of a character.  Or to put it even more straightforwardly: you are not your feats.  From here on, I'll call this principle character-first design.

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