Saturday, November 30, 2019

Just Out of Reach

I found it extremely difficult to blog this November. 

There are many reasons, not the least of which is a [more than] mild dissatisfaction with my gaming this past year. Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, kind of silly.

I feel like I've played and run a lot this year, especially over the past few months, and many of those sessions have been really good, great in fact. Unfortunately that doesn't change the feeling that quantity hasn't equated with quality. 

ALIEN FRONTIER, my six month old ALIEN RPG campaign hopefully benefiting from 30 years of prep-work, has been really excellent. I am quite proud of it. 

My Star Trek: Prosperity game, using Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius, is now four years old (give or take). It continues and, thankfully, continues to be pretty darn good. I really enjoy it and it seems the players do as well. What more could you ask for?

What more indeed.

I am playing in a regular, ongoing Harry Potter/Hogwarts/Wizarding World campaign that is likewise around four years old now. It is run every two weeks, alternating with the Star Trek game. It is truly fun and fantastic, notable for, among other things, the fact that I really love my character. 

There are other games I've run and played as I mentioned in the opening of this post; a great many one-shots and even short campaigns have been explored in 2019 to varying degrees of victory and loss. 

As the year draws to a close, I am feeling an overall sense of...ennui perhaps? I am not entirely sure how to describe it. Something is definitely missing. It's as if the brass ring is out there somewhere, just out of reach and I am getting frustrated trying to grab it over and over again without complete success. I say 'complete' because I've gotten close. The tips of my fingers have touched it, grazed it, but a solid grab has thus far eluded me. 

Writing it down, getting it out there, I feel I am getting closer.


Barking Alien

Monday, November 11, 2019

Initiate This

I ran a one shot just the other day of one of my favorite Japanese tabletop RPGs, Wares Blade. While gearing up for the game (pun intended) I was reminded of the games somewhat unusual Initiative rules and thought I'd share them with you.

Initiative, as I have discovered over the past ten years or so of blogging, is an extremely popular subject among the participants of the gaming blog-o-sphere. Good grief! It seems that gamers, especially D&D types, are absolutely obsessed with Initiative. I see more posts and articles about that aspect of the game than any other single element.

This has lead me to the conclusion that A) those who have created and worked on D&D over the years have no clear idea what they wanted to do when designing the Initiative system B) since the rules they designed are absolutely daft! Just terrible. C) Those who play the game and blog about it on the internet definitely feel this way. 

Wha...? I'm wrong? How could this be? I am merely an outside observer taking in what I see. If the Initiative system isn't woefully flawed why is it modified and remade so often in so many ways? 

Humans are so confusing. 

Back to the Initiative rules from Wares Blade. I simplified things a little and will try to keep the description of this idea pretty simple as well. 

Basically, Initiative is a number on your character sheet. You roll one 10 sided die, add the result to the number on your sheet, and you get your Initiative for the combat you're about to be in. Now here's the fun part...You can take away points from your Initiative Number and use those points to 'Avoid Attacks'. 

Imagine you have a 5 Initiative, you roll a 5, and now your Initiative for the battle is 10. You take away 4 points and now have an Initiative of 6. Your 4 points buy you two Avoids. Twice during the combat, you can say that your PC avoids an attack that would have hit them. 

In game, the idea is that you are quick enough, perceptive enough, and skilled enough to predict an enemy's move and dodge or deflect it. Mechanically, this gives characters with low Health Points and poor Armor a better chance of survival. In Wares Blade, where early stage Wizard and Clergy PCs have more support style abilities and magic in addition to being rather fragile, having the capacity to Avoid a good number of attacks while going last each round is a pretty fair trade off. 

Anyway, I just thought the idea was interesting. In play it worked pretty well, with the Avoids giving the feel of a fight where blows and slashes were deflected by the Warrior's sword, the Wizard's cleverness, and the Professional's skill and agility. 

Are there any other systems that use something similar? I'm curious as I am still planning to devise a Dark Crystal game. 

Barking Alien