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William Arnold
My mission is to help people experience the joy of spontaneous music making!
My mission is to help people experience the joy of spontaneous music making!


Thinking about doing a sci-fi game with my high school RPG group sometime in the next school year. What do you guys recommend? I'm leaning toward Fantasy Flight Star Wars, but have always heard about Traveller and curious about it. Thoughts? Other suggestions?

I don't know if this is the case in other games, but in D&D 5e, players can only select certain skills based on their starting class. I understand the skills listed are skills that would generally make sense for a specific class, but why not just let the characters choose? What if a player wants to have a barbarian who is great at investigation? How about a wizard who has spent lots of time with a life coach, learning to be extra intimidating?

I'm starting a campaign with a new group of high school students and I've decided to do away with this restriction. Everyone picks two skills, whatever you want. Bards and rangers select three and rogues select four.


+Jason Hobbs's post about rare characters made me curious. What's the most unusual character you guys/gals have created?

I recently created a goliath wizard, but haven't had a chance to play him yet. I used the standard array for stats and purposely did not make intelligence his highest number (STR 17, DEX 12, CON 15, INT 13, WIS 8, CHA 10 with racial bonuses). His deal is that he carries around a big maul, which he pounds on the ground when he casts thunder wave (his "go to" spell). He'll tell you he doesn't like to resort to brute strength, but his actions tell a different story when he gets frustrated!

My quick review of PAX Unplugged:

I applaud them for doing it because there is finally a big, tabletop-related convention near me. I live in northern New Jersey. It took place in Philadelphia, PA.

I commuted two hours to it for all three days. Parking was $32/day. I didn't love spending almost $100 just on parking, but at least it was right across the street from the convention center.

Representation of exhibitors was good and I enjoyed being able to play test lots of games without necessarily playing all the way through. I playtested an RPG called Beyonder, which had great art, but I didn't care for the way it played. It's 2d10 with a table for levels of success. Seemed like too much new lingo to learn without much of a payoff.

I also playtested Fate of the Noorns: Ragnarok, which I'm really excited about. I had a little trouble following the system, but I think once I get it, it'll be great. I was a little annoyed because some of the guys I was playing with had already played it at Gencon. Why waste the poor creator's time and energy by having him demo a game for you that you already know you like? Anyway, the game looks really cool and I'm wondering if any of you guys/gals have tried it.

The big disappointment was that I wanted to play some D&D, but they were woefully unprepared for the number of people who wanted to play. I waited on a line for maybe an hour one morning only to find out that they were already capping all of the games for 11:00. Okay, we all thought, we'll have to settle in and wait to get spots at the next time slot. No, they told us. You can't wait in line now. You have to come back at noon to wait for the 1:00 games. WHAT?!? How does that make any sense? So I kinda gave up on that idea after that. Hopefully they'll learn from their mistakes and do better next year.

Next year, I may just prepare a one shot and sit down in the free play area (or maybe even out in the hall) with a sign that I'm looking for players. I know there were a ton of them looking for a game.

Considering trying something new with my gaming group. We've been trying to meet twice/month, for roughly 4 hour sessions. In reality, we normally only meet once per month and even that feels like pulling teeth to arrange sometimes. We're going to try playing on Roll20, once per week, instead...but only for two hours at a time.

The idea is that a 2 hour block is a minimal enough commitment, with no travel time, that it will be doable for everyone in the group most weeks.

What do you guys think? Anybody ever try doing sessions that are that short? I know it's hard to accomplish much in that amount of time, but my thinking is that the regularity of meeting every week will establish a sense of flow that has proven difficult to attain with our current schedule.

Anybody going to PAX Unplugged?

Thought of a possible topic just now: a brief overview of each of the major RPG systems of today. I just got started in the hobby last fall. I currently only play D&D, but have learned bits and pieces about other games through listening to shows like yours and a bit of online research.

I think it would be interesting to hear a brief rundown about various systems, plus some discussion about your experiences with them.

Have you ever had an NPC fake their death after a battle? My group is currently hunting down two warlocks that stole something from them. They have what appear to be suicide pills, but the pills really just make them appear to be dead for 10 minutes.

I'm hoping the party "takes them down" and walks away from the bodies for long enough that they can make their escape.

My problem will be how to word it when they "die." The group already fought some creatures that had regeneration powers a few sessions ago, so they may be wary depending on how I word it.

I feel like it would be too misleading to simply say they're dead, so not sure how I'm going to word it.

Starting a new D&D 5E campaign with a new group next week. I'm planning on making it fairly deadly, especially toward the beginning. I had an idea I'm thinking about trying with them. If your character dies, you have the option of taking on any NPC the party encounters. If the player needs to know something important about that character's part in the overall plot, I will take them aside and let them know about it at that point. So, it's possible they will have a secret or even an ulterior motive the rest of the party won't necessarily know about. They will be relatively free to play the character however they want, though. Maybe the NPC was originally conceived as enemy of the group, for example, and the player changes that over the course of play.

I think this could be kind of fun. What I haven't decided is whether the player should roll up attributes for their new character, keep the same XP they had, etc. or if they should have to accept the NPC as pre-defined by me. One thing I'm considering is making it so that the new NPC is always within one level of the PC they were playing. I could also make it a rule that they are not allowed to take over an NPC that is more than one level higher than them, which would keep them from taking over one of the "big bads" in the story, for example.

What do you guys think?

I currently have a party (D&D 5E) with two very persuasive PCs (+6 and +7). There have a been a couple situations where they are trying to talk an NPC into doing something they would have strong feelings against doing. Even though the PCs rolled well I still had them fail, but tried to give them some kind of advantage, i.e. they learned something new from the conversation.

I think this is a legitimate way to handle the situation, but I'm concerned they will get annoyed if this happens too many times. I'm planning to have a frank conversation about this at our next session. I know they want to play their characters as amazing "smooth talkers," but I want them to understand that there has to be limits to that ability. Any thoughts?
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