Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DM Tips: Combating DM Burnout

The players have finally broken you. You have essentially given up on the game, for what is the point if you are not having any fun? Just like every other roleplayer, you are not a robot (unless you are, in which case I welcome my future overlords to the blog). As a human, you cannot last forever. If the demand of a game is starting to become too much like work, you begin to get weary of it. The hobbies you do for fun should not drain you. You fear the end if nigh. You, the Dungeon Master, have burned out. But fear not! There are methods you can take to save your game from certain doom.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quick Note: Passing GO! Delays

"Hey, RobedGuy!"

Yes, strange voice in my head?

"Weren't you doing a video review show of non-digital games?"

Ah, yes. Yes, I was. And I still plan to continue creating the show. But...there have been factors holding me back. Allow me the opportunity to explain.

Friday, May 20, 2011

DM Tips: Organic Skill Challenges

There comes a time in all good roleplaying games where we must take a step back from combat and accomplish something that does not require swinging a sword or firing a crossbow. There is always a cliff face that needs climbing or an outraged paladin that needs to be talked down. In Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, you can complete such tasks with a Skill Challenge. But, a lot of people find that the Skill Challenge itself is a mechanic that needs not exist. They say it "kills roleplaying".

There has been much debate on the subject and many attempts at "fixing" the problem. There are those that say you should announce when a Skill Challenge presents itself. There are those that say you should abolish the whole idea and just make a skill check when appropriate. I, for one, use a third, more organic, option.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DM Tips: Combating Newbie Disease

Do you remember what it was like during your first roleplaying game? You could do ANYTHING. The world was your burrito and damn the consequences! And then you look up and see your Dungeon Master, red faced and fuming. Maybe you later found him crying in the bathroom, flushing his notes down the toilet. In any case, there is a reason from this and no, there is nothing wrong with him. It's you. You are suffering from none other than Newbie Disease.

Friday, May 6, 2011

DM Tips: Realigning Alignments

I have the unfortunate pleasure of having a party full of uncaring bastards. To be more clear, all the PCs in the game I am running are Unaligned.

The current game I am running has four PCs, all with the Unaligned alignment; a Gnome Warlock, a Dwarven Fighter, a Human Slayer, and an Eladrin Bard. In the Warlock's defense, dark characters are his strong suit and usually come with a redemption story of sorts. I attribute the choice of alignment with the other players to Newbie Disease; the realization that you can do anything in a role playing game without any real world consequence, other than frustrating the Dungeon Master.

I got to thinking about why these players are acting out, bordering on evil at times. I am convinced that the vague nature of the Unalignment is one of the reasons for this acting out...other than Newbie Disease, a topic I wish to tackle in another article. In comparison to 3.5e, the Unaligned alignment in 4e essentially encompasses the Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, and Lawful Evil alignments from 3.5e, making Unaligned a rather vast alignment as compared to, for example, Lawful Good.

I can't decide if creating an army of undead orphans is Unaligned or not.
While I admit that I haven't done a thorough search, I have yet to find any mechanical use for alignments in 4th Edition outside of which gods to worship and frankly, that seems more flavor based than mechanics. So, without any strong mechanical use for alignments, then why don't we just revert the alignment system back to 3.5e?

If we return the alignment system to what it once was, then players that align in the gray could have a stronger focus. When it comes to moral choices, a PC in the Lawful Neutral alignment will have less difficulty considering what to do as compared to someone who is Unaligned. A character with a more focused alignment will also be subjected less to debate about what is in character or not.

As I end this article before I risk restarting the Alignment Wars of the '00s, I think the 3.5e alignment system will be making a reappearance at my gaming table soon. Next order of business, see if I can get these uncaring bastards to stop chopping off peoples' delicate body parts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Media Inspired: Messages in Time

I have recently been watching through Stargate SG-1, mostly just so I know where certain stories fall in the series continuity, and as usual find myself thinking about its applications to role playing. One particular story element caught my attention with the episodes entitled '2010' and '2001' dealing with messages from the future.