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Robert Donahue
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Computer is back up and running.  It had a USB over current error.  After some troubleshooting, including bench testing the motherboard, I decided it was a faulty controller chip.  I don't have a chip, nor the skills to replace it (if possible), so I bought a new motherboard.  Sadly, the cost of a mobo with an obsolete socket type was the same as a new one.  But I was able to just replace that one component.  Hopefully this will last me until I have a new job. 

Ended up running 5e rather than a lite system.  5e has a better feel than 4e or even 3.x.  The large campaign paths are nice.  If I hadn't already bought the book and art assets (from the original artists) I would have looked into that D&D software.  Roll20 allegedly will be getting the newest adventure materials, should I ever run it.  I'm doing Out of the Abyss right now.

Has anyone included Zellix and its asylum in Out of the Abyss?  What did you do?  I was trying to think of a way to include it, Orcus, and the Mind Flayers.

I was wondering why I wasn't getting Savage Worlds posts, they disappeared from my follow list.

I'm sitting here waiting for 100K MARC records to process so I can split & edit. We've noticed it's faster to delete the entire collection and reload the newest release than go in record-by-record and delete the books they've removed. I continue to look wistfully at WMS as a nice cloud based solution we can never afford. sniff

Friend is doing Savage Fallout right now. It's a neat hack of SW, talking to him I get an appreciation of how he's trying to balance the stuff that makes the wasteland so miserable with the "fast, furious, and fun" rule of SW. We disagree on a few finer points. He made a skill called "scavenging" that you use to find junk as you explore. It determines the quality of what you get and whether bad stuff happens. Personally I'd have gone with notice and a random loot table (if that). Another thing, I like having to risk suffering radiation poisoning from food, but I think we roll too often. We could just do once per day and have that reflect all the rations and water we've eaten.

I watched Jerod Gunning's ETU actual play since none of my group has a lot of experience in Savage Worlds. His games look like a lot of fun. It was interesting to see, again, just how DIFFERENT SW is from D&D. The story is pretty tight and game lasted 2.5hrs from intro to climax. Again, there's stuff to do but not really any "filler" needed. The frat house survival, the fetch quest, and the trailer park survival session seemed very short from the perspective of a DM that used to run 8hr sessions with 14 encounters/lvl. The combat was especially interesting, only a couple of "planned" conflicts and the rest being player-initiated. The tone of the game was also great. A nice mix humor and horror.

We're also doing Pathfinder, which is a decent system. It can be broken, but no one is really trying to break it or make one of the really bad combos. I'm thinking of my next game being D&D 5e's Out of the Abyss. I have the books and I like the tone of 5e over 4 or 3.x/pathfinder. Adventurers are less videogamey, magic items are back to being treats rather than expected stat bonuses.

Why do we play DnD for hours on end?  Because fights take forever.  Imagine if you had to run a game where those three battles you planned out only took ten minutes tops.  Imagine if you played a system that didn't award XP by accomplishment, but session by session.  How would that change your planning process? 

First of all, a complete story doesn't have to take weeks of sessions to get through.  A short one-night adventure could take a few hours from start to finish and have an actual beginning, middle, and end.  It's a little weird, frankly.  When I make a dungeon or some other adventure, it's with the knowledge that I might average three encounters in a normal session, five to six in a long one, or just one fight and some dialogue in a short session.  Rethinking that to the idea that players might be able to ride into town, find out that a demon-possessed tree is killing people, and burn the tree down in a climatic final battle all in ONE NIGHT will take some getting used to. 

Second, I can make a tight adventure without worrying about XP (some DnDers already do this but it unbalances item creation and such unless you really plan it out).  You don't need random encounters to flesh out the adventure to hit the next level.  You can throw in random encounters if that helps set an atmosphere for your game (hobos stealing your wallet, giant eagles trying to munch on your pack mule) but it's not required.  It also means players won't have to find an excuse to wander out into the woods after the adventure is over to beat up some boars for those last few points.

Fights are more dynamic in SW if you read through the rules.  There's options in DnD but they're usually reserved for oddball characters and one-trick warriors.  Disarm, item destruction, grappling, feints, most people just don't do this because it's more efficient to smack the bad guy until they submit.  In SW everything moves faster and the tricks can really tip the scales in a close fight.

Battling aside, trying to think about other encounters.  In my King in Yellow Idea I'm anticipating some research, talking, investigating, etc.  This also doesn't have to take all night.  Nor do I need to have it limited to a single "pass or fail" skill roll.  First, with a faster fight time the time spent here won't feel as short.  Ten minutes for a fight, ten for researching the history of an old play or suspicious character.  It SHOULD flow better.

Still not a fan of Hangouts or playing online, but what can you do in rural Nebraska?

Hey everyone, I'm new to Savage Worlds so please bear with me.  I tried running a dungeon crawl based off The Tower of the Elephant and quickly found out that dungeon crawls don't work like they do in Dungeons and Dragons.  There's less management of resources, battles can be more dynamic, and what makes for a good challenge in DnD might be only two minutes of play time in SW.

So for my next game I figured I'd do Realms of Cthulhu.  I wanted to set up a golden-age Hollywood studio filming The King in Yellow.  I'm not sure how to set up encounters in SW or if that's even the best way to approach the adventure.  Any advice?

CoC, the game with a dash of "nothing you do will make a difference in the end. all is lost and your existence is meaningless."

Honestly I think that's what turns people off on CoC games these days. We live 86 years after Lovecraft started writing. We're all familiar with the concept of humans being nothing more than an accident of evolution in a universe of the incomprehensible. So the horror of that is lost on us. All you're left with are a bunch of weird monsters that only a Lovecraft fan would really appreciate. Everyone else would be like "and how is this thing more scary than a pit fiend?"  

In the end, Call of Cthulhu (the RPG) is a campaign setting.  It has its own gods, powers, monsters, locations, and implied tone.  For any campaign setting to work, you need players to buy in to it (see post on Darksun).  Otherwise you’ll have someone wandering around with their detective character asking why they’re fighting a barrel-shaped thing with starfish feet, tentacles (because of course tentacles), and withered batwings.  And possibly asking when the vampires are going to show up so they’ll have something they can realistically kill.  Also, probably bitching about how everything interesting makes them go crazy.  

Thankfully, Savage Worlds has Realms of Cthulhu.  This comes in two flavors, realistic horror and pulp horror.  I’ll probably go for pulp with my group, the hardiness will ease some of the frustration and pulp is more in line with our interests.  I bought the book so I’d like to use it too.

One sentence pitch: They are filming The King In Yellow during the Golden Age of Hollywood.  

I’m leaning towards the 1950’s instead of 1940’s.  Anything I wanted to do in the 40’s can be moved to the 50’s and I like the angle of McCarthyism for at least the first campaign.  Then again, dates and places can be fudged in a world where dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.  

I know investigating the paranormal is an old trope in these games but it works so well.  Your players need a reason to go out and look for weirdness and danger.  So if it’s not a suicidal level of curiosity then it’s going to be mad uncles, missing cousins, and mysterious old buildings.  

Back to the pitch.  The players will come in when the filming is already going on.  Craziness has already ensued to some degree, which is why the players are there.  They can get a taste of the filming process, understand that there’s something dangerous going on here, and then have a chance to research what’s going on.  The players likely know that the King in Yellow is one of those nasty books from the Mythos.  But, I’m pretty confident no one’s read Chambers (except me) and their players still need to learn the details.  This can be the second act of the game, the first being filming.  Final act will partially depend on them but I have something in mind too that I’d probably do if I can.  I don’t want to take away the player’s ability to influence things but I’m not going to let a clandestine murder or structure fire stop me either.

I’m not very experienced at event or time-based adventures.  I’m more at home building dungeons and wilderness encounters and plopping them in the character’s path as needed.  And for the player that says “screw this cave, i’m going to the city!” I’d just change the dungeon dressing and get ready to have whatever they want to do somehow involve dungeoneering.  Making events for filming shouldn’t be too hard, just have to make sure I don’t spend too much time making scripted lines.  If people wanted a cutscene, they’d play videogames.

I really hate G+ sometimes.  No saved drafts unless you make a drafts circle and share your post periodically to it.  Or else you need to write a post in Word (or Docs, or whatever) and then c/p it over when you're done.  I can't remember the last time I lost the contents of an email or a word document because they fixed that issue.  With G+, if you refresh or back out of the page it's gone.  No saving, no popup asking if you're SURE you want to leave (thanks FB!).  So why am I still here?  I hate FB's character limit and I like selecting what circle I share to.  I'm sure FB does this too but it's easier in G+.  But I'm probably one or two disappearing long posts away from saying "screw this" and finding another site.

Ultimately, people run the games they'd like to play in and players play the game as they prefer to run.  If everyone likes the same settings, systems, and play styles it's great.  If they don't, it's a disaster.

I think the worst games are when your players try to humor you.  I could handle them awkwardly telling me that they don't really want to do a Darksun game (don't like reading the material, think it's grimderp, etc).  What really kills my enthusiasm is people going along but not putting in any effort.  Like, they are just doing it because it's what you are offering to run.  They don't care about the setting, the story, the challenges, they're just going through the motions.  They are just waiting for you to get it out of your system so you'll run something else.

It really does bug me.  I ran a game set in medieval Europe and had players come to me with: a ninja, a Shaolin monk, a native american shaman, and a Rus barbarian.  That didn't bug me as much as apathy, because at least those guys learned enough about the setting to build stuff outside the limits set.

A lot of advice I read for gaming has to do with the DM learning to accommodate players.  If the players want to try something outside the box, let them.  Don't say no.  I don't see a lot of advice for players to accommodate the DM.  I suppose this is where I'm supposed to be a hardass and end the paragraph telling you that the DM is not your bitch.  Well, I'm not.  I'll say that the DM is a participant in the game too, so make sure everyone at the table is having fun.

I'm not saying bend over backwards for the DM, putting up with everything the little tyrant does.  But keep in mind that if you want a DM who looks forward to game day and is passionate about the game you're in, someone who'll go in for the long haul, you'll need to meet them halfway.

One thing my friends and I seem to do is steer the game as a player.  As a player, you're in the setting but you incorporate what you're interested in into the narrative.  I've tried doing it subtly, asking leading questions and showing interest in certain things.  I've found honest communication is better.  Just tell the DM what you'd like to see, but while also going along with whatever content they've spent their time preparing.  Offer to help generate the content if it would require a lot of extra time (not just some romantic subplot or desire to have a particular monstrous pet).  You wouldn't believe me, but it's kinda fun to see your monsters, dungeon, etc in someone else's game.  YOU might know what's going on, but it's actually really fun to see how the other players react to it.  And as a player, you can help keep things going since you know where they'd need to go next.

It can backfire.  If the DM just doesn't know how to run with that, or doesn't want input.  Communication will help.  An open-minded gaming group helps even more.  With an accommodating DM and willing players, a truly collaborative game can be made.  One that doesn't have one side dancing like a circus monkey to the other's tune.

You know, I used to be a great DM.  Well, at least my groups seemed to think so.  They STILL talk about some of the games I ran.  But I've been in a creative funk for years now.  Besides one or two short stories and some half-baked concepts I can't seem to drum up any good ideas or bring them to fruition.  And when I run, it seems I've lost the ability to make the game interesting or manage the group (keep them from going off on tangents, bickering, etc). 

Partly I blame the internet.  I just don't like playing online, it takes away a lot of the social dynamic you get when you play face-to-face.  And it's too easy to just surf the web until it's time to say "I attack" and just not get engaged with the game.  But I'm sure it's also me, at least to an extent.

I'm trying to recall how exactly I did things in the past.  One of the factors that played in to my DMing style was lots of free time.  Time I still could have, to be perfectly frank.  Less video games (always killed my creativity) and more quiet time in my wife's office with a notepad, graph paper, and some rulebooks.

Second factor, I was an evil bastard.  As DM it's your job to bring chaos, misery, and death to the world (i.e., giving players something to do).  Players got misery heaped upon them, favorite NPCs were put in danger, all that stuff.  There was some EVIL to triumph over, not just a speed bump on your way to lvl 20.  This leads to the third thing I think made my games good.

If you wanted to do something suicidally stupid I gave you a shot at it, but didn't hesitate to punish failure.  I think there's too much emphasis on letting players get away with whatever comes into their heads.  I remember Forge of Fury, some players decided to charge the front gate screaming bloody murder.  They were shot to bits by the crossbowmen behind murder holes.  End of game, would you like to play again (they did, and found the chimney the second time).   Also, bad luck was bad luck.  Sorry your character died, the dice are fickle.  Somehow the game feels defanged when you give players too many ways to escape harm.  Like you're playing a game with an 8 year old where the unspoken rule is "let them win."

Some might point out there's no winning to RPGs, it's a collaborative effort between players and DM to create a story.  Yes, that is true.  But someone has to play the antagonist.  I was the source of the things they needed to overcome.  And it was also by me that they overcame things too.

So how does the DM get his groove back?  I suppose we'll find out, because I miss the joy that came from creating and running games.  Playing is fun and I've had some good times, but I think I prefer being on the other side of the DM's screen.

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