Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Pro From Dover

There is a tendency among GM's, Myself included to forget basic things. It's only when we have an opportunity to play that they get brought back into our minds with an amount of harshness.

Lately, I have found that I am in a game where I am getting swiftly fed up.
I am getting fed up, because the GM won't allow me to actually be good at the thing my character is good at.

Most of the time, when a player creates a character, they make them with the idea in mind that the PC is some kind of expert in something. (unless of course the PC is obviously built with the idea to be more flexible than specific.)
Whether it's combat, roller blading, or underwater basket weaving, that PC has spent the time, paid the dues, and worked to get himself some kind of mastery in his field.

So, why do we, the GM's want to take that away from them? Why do we want to show them they aren't such hot shit after all?
Part of the problem falls under the rubric of game balance. If you have a PC who has statted himself to be some kind of combat bad-ass, then you can't exactly let him steam roll every combat situation he encounters can you?
But on the other hand, it's hardly fair to give the same suite of powers to every antagonist who crosses his path. It's the same sort of impulse that makes uber-NPC's just as aggravating. This is not to say that you can't create an NPC who is an expert in some field, it's just imperative that he be an expert in a field other than the PC's field of expertise.

You might do yourself a favor, Look over your players sheet and see if you can tell what your player is getting to be good at or they're aiming at some point down the road. Make a few notes as to what those things are. Do you have a player who is loaded up on survival and tracking? Then it's fairly obvious that as long as the party is together in the wilderness, they aren't going to get lost or go hungry. This is simple enough to figure out. If you have a character who is a social monster, then as long as he's on the job, the players can wrangle things out of the political machine or the social machine.

It's important that for the most part, the GM refrain from screwing with the PC's self image by crabbing his action. I'm not saying that you can't ding the player every once in a while. In fact, you should make a schedule of how often that you plan to ding them. Make the guy who is a bigger bad-ass in that field a bit rarer and he becomes scarier thereby. If every antagonist that comes down the pike is capable of beating the PC down, the player is going to get demoralized and stop playing.

Want to make a combat character sweat? give him too many thing to do in the middle of a combat. Or set up a situation where the bad guys show up in stages, or come at the good guys from a couple of different directions. This can be a tactical nightmare if the players overcommit their forces.

Another thing that might help you as the GM is to make a simple list of things that your players are good at. Is one of your characters the sort of person who finds it near impossible to get lost? Then don't create a plot predicated on the party being lost. Is one of your players a financial genius? Plots and situations based on this simple fact will seek your player out. Is one of your PC's the Fastest Gun in the West, There are going to be a number of people who are going to want to challenge that title. There are downsides to being one of the best, but the trick is, it's important to remember that there are upsides too.

Sono Finito

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Things that are not immediately obvious about the New World of Darkness MET

With the advent of the new MET system, comes some troubles and growing pains and a few other weird symptoms of the changeover. With this will come the inevitable misunderstandings and changes in thought. Also, you'll have people doing dumb stuff and then complaining "But that's how it works in the OLD System..." This of course makes me want to hit those people with a brick. It also makes me want to hit myself with a brick when I realize that i'm doing something dumb based on old rules.

Maybe i should learn some fucking tolerance, ya think?

In any case, i'm starting to notice a few things about the new system, especially, how it collides with the old system.

1) Point costs;
New MET is more based on the tabletop model to the point of having nearly everything cost the same. (there are some exceptions, but not many)
As a result, much of the point based economy of the old system needs to be thrown out. In old MET, a single trait of experience could be used to purchase a lot of things. In fact, if your larp met often enough, you could see the time compression of characters with active lives versus the advancement of relatively static NPC in action. I've been in a larp or two that could boast 13th generation vampires with 5 dots in certain clan disciplines. The only thing halting their advancement was not having diablerized someone. A single point could go a long way. a batch of points, doubly so.
This is not true under the new system. a single point of experience won't get you dick. The break point on costs for things is usually at the point of 3 dots. Costs for objectives over three dots are sufficiently expensive that they'll take you a number of games sessions to acquire. and even if you meet twice a month, you'll advance no faster than if you participated in a tabletop game that met twice a month. As a result, GM's need to re-wire their expectations about giving out EXP to players, and how generous they can actually be without breaking their game.
Important Safety Tip: If you need to buy something high and you have a batch of EXP to make the character, Then you are better off purchasing all the things you need to purchase high with your base points than you are with you Exp. Use your EXP to fill up all the cracks in your character sheet.
For instance, If you want your Mekhet to really good at his Auspex, You might want to use all of his base discipline points in order to get Auspex 3
and then use EXP to purchase his Celerity and Obfuscate. If you were to spread your base evenly and then purchase Auspex up to 3 with your experience, it would cost a LOT more.

2) Expectations of new products
It is my considered opinion, that once a Core book for MET comes out, there will be no further books for it in the MET line. The reason for this is, nobody wants to buy the same material twice and since the character sheets are the same, you can effectively use the tabletop books as reference for the MET game.
This is not wrong. But it is not altogether right. There will be things that won't translate well to MET. Some won't translate well because they don't fit in as well well with the basic framework of how a larp story differs from a TT story. Certain things won't work as well because they call for a more intimate form of setting than a Larp allows. Other things won't work so good because they just don't seem to work as well ( I have never seen Animalism work incredibly well in a Larp. a 3" by 5" card with the words "Pack of Wolves" just doesn't seem to cut it.)
It's a good idea to be on the lookout for things that don't translate well and to weigh each new thing that comes down the pike in terms of how well it will intergrate. And occasionally, it's okay to say "No."

3) The TT Room
On the other hand, certain things in a larp are now facilitated by dint of a more TT structured system, as long as the GM sets aside for himself a room for handling such things. For instance, you tell a GM you intend to follow a character or NPC back to his lair. A car chase ensues. How many times have you ever seen a car chase run in an older style larp? I can't think of one i've seen, much less been in.
However, in the new system, if you want to do something outside the scope of, "I take 3 steps and then shoot" You can. You can retire to a room set aside for running things TT style and knock those things out. You could even run LARGE scale battles in this way as long as you can get everyone involved in the room. You might lay in a battlemat and some figs and some dice for these times.

4) Different Strokes for Different Folks
Some folks like fingers. Some like drawing the cards. Some like Dice. I like Dice, they're faster in my opinion and require less math. One die is easy to carry. you can hand another to your GM and save yourself some grief and he digs out his cards. Fingers are better for conflicts that go on at range and can be more easily read unless it gets too dark. Cards are best when a nearby table is lacking. Any confrontation in a hallway is likely to use cards. Multifunctionality in conflict resolution is a positive boon.

Sono Finito

Saturday, October 08, 2005

An end to things better ended

I closed down the T.I. Research Blog.
It wasn't making me better i was only using it to make me worse.
There are far too many people capable of commenting on politics and religion and with far more of a sense of humor about these subjects than i can presently muster.

Rest assured though. I have been writing the Crank report for YEARS and i don't expect to stop short of brain injury or death.
Peace out yo.