Monday, July 23, 2018

Failing the roll isn't always bad

During the course of the adventure someone fails a roll, be it a roll to disarm a bomb, or reset the security system, or shut down the killer robots.  But that doesn't mean bad things have to happen.

If the system you're using is player/story driven this failure might just means the story gets exciting.  Failure in this case should just mean detour.

To illustrate, think of the story as a starting point and an ending point, with many paths leading from the start to the end.  This failed skill roll means that we're on a new path.  Perhaps with less time, or with new threats.

As long as the players know they can trust you as the GM they won't worry about failing a roll.  In fact, if they know they can trust you, they'll be excited when they fail a roll.

This sort of trust comes from not being an adversary to the players.  You hear this sort of thing all the time, about how some GMs are out to GET the players.  That's one of the many reasons I hate people, but there are plenty of GMs who are the ally of the players, and are willing to let them fail and admit they failed so that together they can tell great stories.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be consequences for failure, there totally should be.  But they should rarely be instant player....er I mean character death.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Go ahead, write your own game system, you know you want to...

It starts with house rules for your game.  The game engine doesn't handle a particular situation or maybe it does, but it handles it badly in your opinion and the opinion of your fellow players.

After you have enough house rules, and you've played a ton of game systems and read even more rule books you start to think that you could write your own game engine.  You and just about every other serious gamer ever.

I'm not saying don't try, it's an excellent exercise in discovery.  Rules are almost always some sort of compromise between realism and fun.  Spending some time trying to model your own game engine can help you understand why rules you've used before work the way they do, when you start to see the bigger picture of what the rules are there to do.

I recommend, before you start from a blank slate you take a look at a game engine that has been adapted to a variety of genres such as Cortex Plus or Apocalypse World.  Any system really that provides you the tools you need to move it's basic mechanics into another genre or adjust it's rules to fit a narrow scope of narrative style.

Make your own variations using these sorts of game engines first, so you have some experience with making up everything except the core mechanics.  Then, once you've got that handled, then try making something from whole cloth.  A game engine all your own, with your own methods and madness.

Perhaps you will publish your game engine, and perhaps a world setting, so that others can enjoy your work.  If nothing else you have got a reason to run play tests and get people together to role-play, and really that;s what this hobby is supposed to be about right?

So give in to your mad dreams of designing the best game system ever.  It's fun and every gamer should do it.  At least once.