Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Skill20: Margin and Damage Spikes

I recently started a new sandbox campaign for my alpha testers and saw in practice how much damage can spike due to my Margin of Success rules. An opponent that has a 50% chance to hit can spike up to an extra 10 points of damage and average about 5 extra points of damage. This led to some ugliness when a handful of goblins with d4 damage weapons got a couple of lucky hits.

Characters with 14 or 16 hit points figured on being able to take a few d4 jabs over the course of the fight, none of us realizing the average damage going to be 7-8 and possibly as high as 14.

While I managed not to kill off any characters (though one player got to try out the dying rules), I realize I might need to mitigate damage a bit, even though the spikiness is, IMO, more realistic. And I need to do it in a way that won't overly complicate things.

Go On The Defense
My players had asked if there was a way to go all out defensive when they realized they were in trouble. Using a defensive maneuver that gives +4 Melee Defense reduces the odds of being hit and the margin. Assuming a 50% opponent, an opponent that hits now would have an average margin of 3 and a max of 6. I am debating halving the margin damage done to a character using this maneuver, though I may make that a feat.

Improve Armor
Right now, armor is pretty straightforward. It gives DR, ranging from 1 to 6 DR. While upping the DR would be easy, I don't want plate mail tanks clanking about the battlefield immune to harm. I'm considering adding a bonus to Melee Defense, as that would reduce the margins. But I don't want it to get too high... see aforementioned tanks.

Cap Margin Damage
Another idea would be to limit margin damage to the maximum of the weapon. That would cap a d4 weapon to +4 damage, and a d8 to +8. So far I like this idea the least.

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Gen Con 2011 - Day 4

When I signed our group up for events, I didn't bother with Sunday. Usually between the previous days and late night Saturday, a lot of people are burnt out by Sunday.

Having stayed downtown and needing to be out of my hotel room by 11 actually got me going earlier than I might have if I had gone home. Instead I put on my Ren Faire garb and headed back to the ICC.

Sunday I took in a couple of seminars. One was about starting your own game company. While that's not on my to-do list, I love seeing "behind the curtain" of the game industry and the panel had variety of perspectives, from the guy who started a one-man company to one of the founders of Cryptic Studios.

The other seminar was about steam punk. The panel talked about the history of steam punk as well as various iterations such as diesel punk.

One of my annual traditions is to be in the Exhibitor Hall is closed. I went around and said good-bye to some folks and looked for any end-of-show bargains. Once the closing was announced, I made a last quick circuit, then headed out.

Dinner plans (that ended up falling through) gave me a couple of hours to kill downtown, so I went over to Scottie's and had a couple of beers while things wound down there in preparation for a private post-Gen Con party (that I wasn't invited to :( ).

Finally I headed home, ending another Gen Con. Time to put in my request off for 2012.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

GenCon 2011 - Day 3

The big event for Saturday was the Steampunk LARP in the evening. That left me a lot of time to kill during the day. I was lucky enough to be able to check into my hotel early, then headed over to the Exhibitor Hall. It seems like no matter how many times I walk the XHall, I find something new.

I met up with Nicole for a bit, who was also in costume for the LARP. We had our pictures taken a few times, though I don't think it was for my dashing bowler. :)

Normally on Saturdays I take in the costume contest, which eats up a huge chunk of the afternoon between the actual event and the long time spent waiting in line. This year going to the contest would have left me no time to eat before the LARP (and it turned out the contest ran long). Other than taking a few minutes to watch the pre-contest parade, I found myself with a few hours to kill and wandered the Con.

The LARP itself was a hoot. It was the best run LARP I've played in, the players were all great, and it actually had a set. Who knew playing a Steampunk Amish Mushroom Expert could be some much fun (even if my Amish accent devolved into full-blown German)?

In previous years Saturday night was dominated by the White Wolf Party. This year White Wolf opted to have a small suite party that was invitation only. Needless to say, I'm not cool enough to merit an invite. My friend Jason and I decided to check out some of the post-parties running downtown. We'd seen advertisements for a couple of them, and after hitting the House for a beer headed out.

It's always funny to see the reactions of "muggles" to Gen Con attendees in costume roaming the streets. Jason and I both still in costume from the LARP, and at one point ran into a couple of other players that had been in the same LARP. Our conversation drew a lot of curious looks from the downtown regulars.

We recognized several people from previous White Wolf Parties at the Ugly Monkey. We debated whether the $10 cover charge would be worthwhile, decided to give it a go, and left within an hour.

We returned to the Blu Lounge (it was almost empty during our first stop) since there was no cover charge for anyone in costume. At the door, some gangsta wannabe was being refused admittance over dress code. Jason and I were waved in past him.

Bowler hat $65
Vest $55
The look on some rap-thug's face when I get in a club and he doesn't... priceless.

The crowd had picked up and we ran into one the the GMs from the LARP and a lovely young lady who was a regular at the club and had attended previous Gen Cons. Fortunately there is no video when she, with the help of a few beers, got us on the dance floor.

I ended the night with the long walk back to my hotel, the JW Marriot. I think next year I'll pick one that is more centrally located.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gen Con 2011 - Day 2

Every year @knharter and I take in a mini painting class. It's always a roll of the dice, as we need to find one that will fit in with our schedule as well as be within our skill level. We ended up with the same instructor as last year, the very talented Mrika. I was a little concerned that we would just cover the same topics as last year, but thankfully there was plenty of new info to absorb.

The second event of the day was a 3.5 DnD game, Dinner With The King. We had a bunch of great role-players at the table, which was good because it was a RP heavy adventure. Early in the session my gruff barbarian voice drifted into Cookie Monster territory. "Bring me mutton and ale! On nom nom nom!"

Seeing as my chaotic evil barbarian was out to take the throne, it wasn't all polite dinner conversation. I lured the heir to the throne off to another room and let loose my war-cry "With Steel!" Half the ballroom silenced as heads turned our way.

After the game some power shopping ensued so that Nicole and I could finish our steampunk costumes for the Saturday LARP. After that was dinner, a few beers at the House, then home to rest up for Saturday.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Gen Con 2011 - Day 1

I think this Gen Con I was signed up for more events than ever before. I feel like there was the right mix of free time set aside to hang out with friends and troll the XHall (Exhibit Hall) and time committed to games/events.

The big "thing" on Thursday mornings at Gen Con is the opening of the Exhibit Hall at 10 a.m.. I decided to wait a few minutes and avoid the pressing crush of gamers and backpacks before going in. The odd shape made it hard to judge, but it looked like the XHall was roughly the same size as in the old part of the convention center. Given that the vendor spots sold out, I wouldn't be surprised to see them open K Hall in addition to the ones used this year.

Two other differences were the lack of media guests and computer game companies. I would have thought Turbine, with D&D Online and Lord Of The Rings Online would have been there (then again they skipped last year also) and BioWare with The Old Republic coming out.

The first game of the day was a Pathfinder game, "We Be Goblins". Nicole, Mike , Weasel and I were all in the game and none of us had played Pathfinder before, but enough 3.5 had been played between us it wasn't a hindrance. Mike and I both ended up with pyromaniac bomb-flinging goblins. Our troop of goblins fought spiders, dogs, a horse (a which point we started making Bad Horse comments) and a goblin witch. When we found the witch's hideout we spotted a smokestack and I ended up dropping a bomb down it (while standing on a ladder leaning up against said smokestack - no one said goblins were bright).

The second game was Abney Park's Airship Pirates, a Steampunk RPG.

The system is pretty straight-forward and from what I heard is pretty similar to the FATE system. I ended up playing a character that was a what you would get if you took Inara from Firefly and added Saffron's conniving. The GM offered to let me switch the gender, to which I replied "that's okay, I can do dice drag."

One of the interesting aspects of the system was that each character had a pool of fate points to modify successes or change the plot. We each had eight points, and for six we could pretty much rewrite the plot of a scene which led to me taking the game off the rails when my character's twin sister sprung a trap capture all of the players. I told the GM I was spending 6 plot points to make the 50 guards sent to capture us that I was my sister and she was posing as me, so they arrested her and carted her off. To give the GM credit, he was pretty quick on his feet in adapting and figuring out how to get us to keep going through the plot now that we could no longer be coerced.

Greed is wonderful for motivating players.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Gen Con 2011 - Day 0

While Gen Con is touted as the best four days in gaming, over the years activities have become increasingly popular on Wednesday, the day before the Con officially starts. Between open gaming both at the convention center and nearby establishments such as Scottie's or the Ram and events such as the annual Stink, there is stuff to do on the day before Gen Con.

What wasn't popular this year was the will call line and construction.

The will call line, used by those who order in advance then pick up their badges at the convention, was out of control. It stretched from the badge pick up area almost to the food court in front of the old Exhibit Hall. I thought about using my phone to video the length, but I haven't messed around with posting video.

While I know the Super Bowl is coming, the week of one of the biggest conventions of the year is not the time to tear up the street in front of the new entrance to the convention center. What the frak were you thinking, Indianapolis? (The answer: they weren't).

My big task for the day was collecting and transporting swag to Union Station for the Stink. We had three vendor donors - Midwest Clerics, USAopoly, and WarMage. In addition, Gen Con donated the usual stockpile of t-shirts in addition to other items.

Fortunately I had scouted out an indoors route from the convention center to Union Station. However, it was still a long haul that I had to repeat a few times. One cool thing was that I got to go inside the XHall (exhibit hall) during set-up. I love getting to see behind the scenes.

The Stink itself went well, finishing with Nordic Distance Dice (throwing huge dice). Afterwards I bolted for another Wednesday night before Gen Con tradition, N-Con. My friend Nicole plays host to some out-of-town exhibitors and on Wednesday there is a get-together for gaming and hanging out, a great warm-up for the four days to come.

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