An alternate ending

29 10 2010

I’ve just finished watching Iron Man 2 on my iPad. And my point is?
At the end of the credits you are transported to New Mexico. If you haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil it, but it’s suffice to say that the final scene leaves you wanting more.
And that’s my alternative ending. I’m not advocating a strong clue that the main antagonist isn’t really dead. That’s not only a cliché but is also something that often leaves the players frustrated.
No, I’m suggesting that the final ‘scene’ reveals a clue that could – if the players want to – take them into the next adventure. It could be an item they find at the scene, or dying words or…well you get the idea.


Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide

26 10 2010

OMG. It may be old news but I love the APG.
For me, the old Paizo quality is there to start with. The number of pages, the quality of the artwork, the fact that they’ve listened to the fans. They all say Paizo to me in a way that other RPG companies don’t. Am I biased because of the system? Actually no. I was never a huge fan of 3.5 (don’t get me started on the attack of opportunity rule, let alone grapple). No, it’s the quality of the product and the enthusiasm of the publishers and fans – no, it’s the partnership of Paizo and players that hooked me.
Not every offering has been awesome. I’ve bought most titles since the core rulebook came out. The wins have certainly outweighed the losses.
What appeals to me about this book is in many ways that it isn’t complete fantasy. OK, I’d better explain that one. What I mean is that they haven’t introduced six weird races. Rather, they have given ways to make humans, dwarves and the like unique. Now, you don’t just have six races that aren’t really distinguishable. Now you can flavour your gnome in so many ways.
The classes we’ve seen before to be fair, but the variants on the core classes are another welcome way of differentiating your standard fighter without having to create a whole new class that becomes an oddity.
The feats are a welcome addition – and you’d expect new spells and equipment to be fair.
The prestige classes build on what I’ve already said. Good without being weird.
The new rules I’ve yet to form a strong opinion on, but at least we’ve not been overwhelmed with optional additions.
I think you’ll love this if you like the core game and want more of the same.
You’ll find it wanting if, in my opinion, you want radical new things, like weird and wonderful races, classes and rules.
It won’t take a genius to work out which side of the fence I sit on.

Beginnings, Middle & Ends

25 10 2010

Never let it be said that I’m not consistent. I’ve made the point before that GM’s should learn from authors – and this time is no different.
Rather than an in-depth review of a given subject, I’ve decided to offer a few ‘lite’ offerings – and I’ve decided to start with a title that I adore. It’s a Nancy Kress title and just like good RPG’s, it extols the virtues of a story having a good beginning, middle and end.
So, how do you need to tackle beginnings?
Well, just like a great novel, a great adventure or campaign needs a captivating opening scene. Don’t wait to hook your players…get them gripped from the outset.
The real trick to great beginnings is the second scene. Too many writers pour their heart and should into the opening and then drop the standard. The second ‘scene’ must be as awesome as the first.
And so on to middles. The key to the middle is to ensure it keeps the reader/players on track. The next aspect of the middle is that sit is typically the time that your characters really develop. Early on the players are just getting to grips with their characters. They are starting to use the skills the PCs will have been developing for their entire life. Once the story picks up, the players can really allow their characters to develop. Those skills are now second nature for the players and this is the time to acquire new ones.
The best endings do one simple thing…they deliver. Players should be allowed to do whatever it was they started the adventure for. Don’t cheat them with a clever ending – unless you really know the players and it’s a one-off. Alfred Hitchcock never cheated on film-watchers. As he regularly said, if you show the film-goer a loaded gun, it had better be fired by the end of the movie.
So there you have it – the recipe for a great adventure. Or at very least the recommendation for a great read for any GM that takes writing adventures seriously.

I a poor, miserable sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities

23 10 2010

I may not be a Lutherian (and I mean no offence to any faith) but I have a serious need to confess.
For you see it has been nine months since my last blog. Worst still, it has been over a year since my last table-top role-playing.
And horror of horrors, I have not written since I finished my first novel some two years ago.
Although this is not strictly speaking anything in particular to write home about (pun intended), it is at least words on a screen.
So my simple refrain for the day is to forget how long it’s been since you played, or blogged or tweeted and – in the words of Nike – just do it.
Action cures fear is a powerful statement and applies even when there is no apparent fear. It cures apathy. Even these few words mean that I have halted a break that has endured for far too long.
Next time, I will be bringing something of use to others to the table. For today, I was simply asking myself for forgiveness.