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Messages - Kristian

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Role Playing Discussion / Re: Simple/Fun RPG Systems
« on: November 15, 2011, 01:40:22 AM »
Hey :D And sorry to reply and then stay away again for two weeks.

I'm in the process of moving back to Copenhagen from Luxembourg after having worked here for two years, and the amount of planning and paper work required to change countries, appartments, job, insurance, phone companies, and so forth, in one go, is just occupying most of my brain power at the moment. I'm just glad it's within the EU, because that at least keeps the administration to a minimum.

The Art of the Game Master / Re: Polytheistic faith and society
« on: October 28, 2011, 12:36:17 AM »
That's quite a bunch of questions. :) I'd be more than happy to try and answer them, but I need some specifics first, if that's alright. Because the context of your questions aren't really clear to me.

Are you talking about real life history here? Our own personal beliefs? A specific fantasy setting? Or general roleplaying preferences? Your questions could be directed at any one of these, but they'd have very different answers.

The Art of the Game Master / Re: Roll dice or say "yes"
« on: October 28, 2011, 12:24:40 AM »
Hey Drul. I'm still interested. Still struggling with doing this correctly, even after four years.  :)

As for your elaboration on the rule, sure. I totally agree. I think there was even a rule in DnD 3rd that was close to what you're describing, right? The take 20 rule, or take 10, or something. Basically, we're all agreeing that boring stuff shouldn't happen, and that you should just hand it to the player if it's just a question of time and effort, and nothing else is at stake. Nobody wants to sit there and go "You failed? Okay, roll again, please." twenty-seven times.

The specific quote in the original post is from the game Dogs in the Vineyard, where you only have conflict resolution mechanics. Meaning, there are no rules for task resolution. If you're trying to hit a can fifty meters away with your poistol, the game doesn't care. If you're competing to see whose best at hitting the can, or if hitting the can is somehow important to your proving yourself to someone else, then the game cares, and the mechanics come into play.

But this is a game that's very focused in its scope. The game is about conflict and not much else. When applying the principle to games like DnD, for example, where doors have hit points, and you have details for falling down X number of meters, I use it to cut down on the fluff. In the same way I try to eliminate endless shopping and haggling scenes, by just going "What do you buy? Right. Note it on the sheet and let's go," I try to get to the meat of the story, drama and tension by making sure that, when the dice come out, it's because something cool or important is going to happen.

But the root of this is actually one step earlier, I think. In the locked door example above, the door shouldn't even be there in the first case, if nobody cares about it. If I, as a GM, already know that the thief isn't going to have to roll to pick the lock, why are we even talking about the locked door at all? What I mean is, my example above actually assumes that you're trying to fix a broken situation, rather than illustrating what to do to avoid that situation. The rules for picking a lock shouldn't even figure into my considerations unless I know this lock will be important, just as I shouldn't focus narration on a door that's just going to be open in a minute anyway.

Role Playing Discussion / Re: Simple/Fun RPG Systems
« on: October 27, 2011, 11:08:13 PM »
Thought I'd awaken from my slumber to pitch in a bit here. :) I agree with your friends that DnD is too complex compared to what you get out of it. What it does really well, I think, is the dungeon-crawling, and the tactical, tactical combat. But that's about it.

A few things I can recommend, that are much more "light" in terms of system and material, but still give you action and roleplaying and drama, are the following.

- Apocalypse World. This is a post-apocalyptic game, where you play tough, self-sufficient characters that are trying to survive. You have gang leaders, psykers, medics, town leaders and others as characters. Action and play is based around the choices the players make and the consequences of their actions. That might sound like what every game is about, but AW is really well done, and designed so that even failure gives you interesting outcomes.

Also, there's a great, fan-made DnD hack available for AW, called Dungeon World. There is both the basic version, availbe for free, but requiring knowledge of AW's rules before you can really use it, and a full version, which hasn't been published yet.

- Spirit of the Century. This is a pulp game, and the default setting has a sort of super-heroish WWII feel, but it's very, very easy to do something else with it, as none of the rules are stricktly tied to the setting. The core of the mechanics are centered around traits and maneuvers. Everything has traits (characters, NPC's, places) and for a character they can be things like 'Strong,' 'Expert marksman' or 'Trained by the cult of Yahhnu' or what ever. Basically, when they (and your skills) apply to what you're trying to do, you get more dice to roll. Places can have traits like 'dark,' 'slippery' or 'full of dangerous and fragile technology' and you can take advantage of these as well to gain more dice.  A lot of the maneuvering consists of trying to put traits on your opponents (like 'off-balance' or 'hurt' for example) and then setting things up for you or your allies to take advantage of these. I haven't tried playing fantasy with this game, but I guarantee you you can make this fit whatever you want without breaking a sweat.

In the rules-heavy end of games I can recommend there's Burning Wheel. This game is just awesome. The default setting is a sort of Tolkien-esque fantasy (with a lot of room to do what you want), and the character creation makes it so your characters have interesting back stories that actually tie into their abilities and stats. There's a thread about the game someowhere here on the forum. Basically, if you give this one a go, I recommend (strongly!) to go slow with the separate sub-systems of the rules. The book suggest not using the full combat or duel of wits mechanics for the first setting and that is good advice.

Basically, this game has all the tactical stuff you could ever wish for, plus a set of rules and character elements that give you a game tzotally focused on what drives the characters, and what they believe in. Also, XP in this game is totally based on roleplaying your character according to (or against) their beliefs, while things like skills grow and get better with use automatically.

That's about it. There?s tons more, especially in the weirder, hippier end of the spectrum, but these three are the ones that seem most fitting to what you're looking for. Personally, I'd go for Apocalypse World. Though it might take a bit of getting used to - especially if, like me, you're used to more DnD-inspired games and mechanics.

EDIT: With Iron Heroes, Arcana Unearthed and Pathfinder, you'll more or less end up with the same stuff and the same amount of rules as in DnD 3.5. The first two are more or less just alternative versions of the game (although Iron Heroes does have some pretty cool combat), and Pathfinder was made to keep the D20 system alive after Wizards launched DnD 4th. It started out as close to 3.5 as it could come without breaking copyrights, but has since become more its own thing. But it's still pretty close, as far as I can tell.

Announcements and News / Re: Europe Trip
« on: August 19, 2010, 04:36:39 PM »
I figured  :)

I'm looking forward to seeing all the new pictures. Glad you're having a good trip so far.

And thanks for the welcome back, guys. I do read here from time to time. Just saw the Europe thing and figured I'd chime in.

Announcements and News / Re: Europe Trip
« on: August 15, 2010, 11:10:49 AM »

*wipes the dust off his forum profile*

If you are going through or passing by Luxembourg, let me know. Though I realise it's not really in the neighbourhood. :) I've moved here because of a job and have lived here since April. Anyway, I hope you guys have an excellent trip! Lots of great places to see in Southern Europe.

Role Playing Discussion / Re: Burning Wheel
« on: December 08, 2008, 07:18:53 AM »
 :D Exactly. And BW actually works really well with a game where the charcters have different agendas.

Miscellaneous / Re: It's awfully quite in here lately...
« on: December 07, 2008, 02:42:32 PM »
I don't write here a lot altogether, but I'm also very busy at the moment. A big project at school which is due in january, writing and a weekly game are taking up a lot of my time.

I really enjoy playing again. It's been almost a year since we last played. And writing is always fun. The school stuff is killing me, though.  :)

The Art of the Game Master / Re: Roll dice or say "yes"
« on: December 07, 2008, 02:35:55 PM »
Hey, guys. Sorry it's taken me a while to respond.

Delbareth, I think maybe I've said this the wrong way, and I know I didn't come up with the best examples above. I'll try and explain it a bit differently, 'cause I think I agree with you on most points. As I wrote, I'm not saying just give the players anything they want. That would get old pretty fast, as there wouldn't be any adversity at all. What I'm saying is, make every roll count and get rid of boring dice rolls, like...

Like... if a player says his character wants to climb up a tree to look around. I would never ask him to roll a climb check. I would just say “alright, you go up the tree,” 'cause the alternative would just be boring (i.e. he can't climb up the tree). But if the same player says he's climbing up the wall of the enemy baron's castle to get in behind the guards at the gate, or climbing down a steep cliff to save one of his friends that's hanging on by his fingertips – now you got something worth rolling for! Something's at stake. If he fails, it's got a real consequence.

Also, I think it's worth remembering that the GM is usually the one who creates whatever situation the characters find themselves in at any given point. I know that the players' choices have taken them to that point, but it's the GM who describes the obstacles and the environment (at least in most games), so if a situation turns up that requires the players to succeed at a certain check, then that's just poor GM'ing (at least it seems that way in all the examples I can come up with in my head – I might be wrong, though) and shouldn't have happened.

Does that make sense? What I mean is that, for example, when you as a GM do tests of chance, like you wrote, you're still the one who decides what the possible outcomes are, right? So, while it's still a test of chance, you decide what those chances are. So, whatever the dice decide it's still you, the GM, that's decided what happened. And hopefully whatever happens is cool, 'cause you chose cool stuff as possible outcomes.

This is the same thing I was trying to say in my first post – Namely, whenever you roll dice, every possible outcome should be cool, whether the characters “succeed” or “fail”. Otherwise, why are we even rolling? If success = cool story, and failure = endless rerolls, repetitions and boredom, why are we rolling? On the other hand, if success = cool story, and failure = cool story, we've got every reason to roll. Of course it should be better for the characters to succeed, but for the players and the story, failure should be just as good.

I realize I'm not reinventing anything here, :) just stating something I think needs repeating now and again.

Role Playing Discussion / Re: Burning Wheel
« on: December 06, 2008, 05:27:21 PM »
Exactly. I wish I'd seen these before we began playing.

He's also made a game called Burning Empires, which is basically a BW revised edition, in a science-fiction universe. It's a licensed game based on the (very good) Iron Empires comics by Christopher Moeller. The few changes made to the BW rules in this edition are all for the better, I think. There are several additions, too, in this game. For instance the World Burner let's you basically design your campaign from the start - a very cool system. Also, the book looks great. I recommend checking it out if you become a BW fan. It's like, you can see where he was going with BW when you read BE.

The Art of the Game Master / Roll dice or say "yes"
« on: November 28, 2008, 09:49:55 AM »
There's a piece of text from the rules of the game Dogs in the Vineyard (a really good game, by the way) which is also quoted in the rules book of Burning Wheel. I'd be interested in hearing what you guys think about this. It goes like this:

Quote from: D. Vincent Baker
Every moment of play, roll dice or say "yes."

If nothing is at stake, say "yes" [to the players' request], whatever they're doing. Just go along with them. If they ask for information, give it to them. If they have their characters go somewhere, they're there. If they want it, it's theirs.

Sooner or later - sooner, because [your game's] pregnant with crisis - they'll have their characters do something that someone else won't like. Bang! Something's at stake. Start the conflict and roll the dice.

Roll dice or say "yes."

This is a very hard rule to play by if you're used to traditional, DnD-style gaming. Or at least it has been for me and my group. The principle isn't hard to grasp. But when you use this concept for the first time it makes a radical change in your play style. The (by now) classic example is the locked door:

The characters come to a locked door. They have to get it open to continue, so the thief starts picking the lock. Normally, most GMs (including myself) would go: "Roll a lockpicking check. The difficulty is X" or whatever. The thief rolls and either he gets it or he doesn't. If he gets it, cool, the group continues down the hallway on the other side. If he doesn't, fuck, they're going to have to try and bash it in or find another way.

Here's the thing, though: Everyone at the table wants the characters to get the door open. Having them find another way is just a waste of time. So why are we rolling dice? Years ago, I might have just fudged that roll or told them they'd gotten it open even though the thief didn't roll high enough. Today, that seems kind of silly, but it wasn't until I read that little snippet of advice that I realized there was another way of doing it.

Using the "roll dice or say yes" approach to the same situation, you can either go "Right, don't roll. You unlock it" or you can go "Okay, here's how it is: The difficulty is X. If you succeed, the door opens. If you fail, the door still opens, but you set off an alarm further down the hallway. You'll be through the door, but you'll have a serious fight on your hands."

I realize this isn't the best example, but I think it works. I don't use this method all the time, but in key moments this is great for building up tension. The main thing, for me, is getting rid of all the meaningless rolls that fly across the table during a gaming session. A character is out gathering information about the orc king they're going to visit tomorrow, and fails his check. So he's spent a whole day doing nothing, and wasted game time. What if, instead of "Either you learn something or you don't" it's "You learn soething, but if you roll poorly, the orc king gets word that you've been asking about him." Suddenly the player has to decide whther it's worth it or not.

This goes double for a game like Burning Wheel where rolling skill checks is how you increase your scores, so in that game, every roll has to count.

I'm not saying, always give the players what they're asking for and just stick a hazard on it. And a lot of the time I still use the traditional method. "Oh, you wanna haggle? Roll your bargain skill vs. his willpower. If you fail you don't get it half price." Coming up with the right stakes for "roll dice or say yes" on the fly isn't always easy either. But when you do, it makes for some really exciting moments.

The Art of the Game Master / Re: Ten Commandments for GM's
« on: November 28, 2008, 09:09:51 AM »
Some excellent commandments, Golanthius. I would add

11. Thou shalt make sure someone bringeth snacks.

And this one goes for players as well

12. Thou shalt keep thy damned cell phone switched off. Real life can wait until the session hath ended.

General Discussion and Questions / Re: Living Khoras 3D Project
« on: November 28, 2008, 07:43:33 AM »
Hey, :) I hadn't noticed this thread. Thanks for the compliments, everyone. It's always great when someone's likes your work. If you ever want to see what I draw besides Khoras stuff check out my deviantART profile on

Role Playing Discussion / Re: Burning Wheel
« on: November 27, 2008, 04:41:26 PM »
You're welcome, Tanis.  :)

For anyone wanting to give this game a chance I recommend going to the BW forums for any and all questions. Most of what you could possibly want to know has already been answered, and there's a bunch of friendly, intelligent people there who're quick to answer anything else.

Also, here are a couple of Youtube videos showing Luke Crane (the designer) demo'ing "The Sword", an introductory scenario for BW. A really enthusiastic guy.

Video 1, part 1 - video 1, part 2 - video 2, part 1 - video 2, part 2

Role Playing Discussion / Re: Burning Wheel
« on: November 24, 2008, 11:11:43 PM »
I will say this, though: When talking to people at cons who've successfully switched to BW, it's like talking to someone's who's seen the light. Some people out there are getting a great deal out of this game.

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