Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chaos! Embracing it as a DM

One thing DnD gave me through all these years of playing and thinking about it is it developed that part of my mind that asks "And that what would happen, based on all the variables in the equation, to the best of your ability to predict based on all you know of the world about you and human nature, etc."   I am weird in that I can lay in bed for like half a day at a time, not moving, looking at the ceiling, playing my equivalent of DnD chess, figuring out all outcomes and responses.  Its like playing Chess against myself in my head.  Worked hard at that training ability during a period of depression in college.  Weirdly, its helped me as a lawyer, though I hated the practice of law with a white hot passion.

As far as DnD goes, no surer way to a railroad can possibly exist.  I've taken that road in the past with players, they hated me for it, and I don't want to go there again.

What I do now instead, in order to keep the both the players and me on our toes, is keep throwing shit into the equation, so that I can't predict the outcome right away.  I just threw a war on so many fronts with so many players and variables at my players, that I have no idea how it will turn out.  And that's a good thing I think.  No risk of railroading them, their input matters as to the outcome, and lots of spontaneity in the game session as I have to figure shit out on the spot.

I kinda like it that way.  I think its essential for a Sandbox campaign.  The one I am running basically is harsh and gritty, using LOTFP Grindhouse as a ruleset, where all the people in power operate essentially as clever sociopaths.  I guess I'm succeeding in the goal, because last week one player said I'm like Tony Soprano as DM.

Now I just have to try not to think about it at night as I try to fall asleep.  No surer way to sleepless nights can possibly exist.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hey Christian, Wouldya Rather Roll 20 Natural 20's In a Row or Ride This BEAST!?!?

You're the only surfer I know, so whaddaya think?  I woulda shit myself just looking at that wave from the beach....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Deck of Many Things Dealt by a Devil

So my group avoided this encounter (part of their blowing to utter shit the campaign I had developed thus far, but hey, its a sandbox and kinda fun when that happens) so I decided to post something they would have encountered had they hit the deepest darkest part of the mine....

The setup is this:  There is a powerful Devil and his entourage sitting around a large table.  The Devil offers a pull on his specially modified Deck of Many Things to the group---said modifications being unknown to the players.  Part of the mods allow the devil to keep dealing it, over and over, but just to others, without it disappearing.  Also, he managed to corrupt a lot of the cards. 

First rule:  Anyone in the group who wants to draw has to announce it before anyone else in the group draws, and also must announce how many cards they will draw in advance.  They won't get another chance later.  Then they are forced to draw that many cards, regardless of any later regret over the decision....if they don't draw the Devil gets to draw for them with the effect going to the player.  The Devils like it when this happens.  :)

The original language of each card is written after the name of the card, and the part in parentheses is what I added as an evil DM by way of Devilish Card Corruption (TM).

Now some of you may think that some of the stuff below is kinda harsh, but anyone who is stupid enough to draw from a Deck owned by a Devil deserves the consequence.  :)

Note:  under the part dealing with a keep,  my players were currently adventuring in mines under the Keep on the Borderlands, so they would have come up after adventuring and have to deal with a full scale mutiny.  Would have loved it if that happened.  :)

Sun (KD) Gain beneficial miscellaneous magic item and 50,000 XP (Roll on the tables in the DMG—XP comes evenly from all your party members on a 10 xp to you = 1 xp from them basis.)

Moon (QD) You are granted 1-4 wishes (Must take them immediately, and write them down on a piece of paper within 1 minute per wish, real time.)

Star (JD) Immediately gain 2 points on your major ability (taking those 2 points from a randomly rolled character in the group)

Comet (2D) Defeat the next monster you meet to gain 1 level (To the death, monster is randomly rolled and appears before you. None are allowed to interfere. AD&D DMG Appendix L conjured animal table, one level higher than you are. None can interfere, so I hope you're all healed up.)

Throne (KH) Gain charisma of l8 and small keep (Keep you are in, or the closest keep to them, after there is a bloody mutiny. Deal with the political consequences. If two or more characters draw this card, each gets an equal amount of the forces, which are arrayed against each other when you enter the keep)

Key (QH) Gain a treasure map plus 1 magic weapon (Map to the nearest cursed item, Any weapon on either the sword or misc. as long as it is a non + something weapon. The plus is stripped out.)

Knight (JH) Gain the service of a 4th level fighter (4 hd Devil who refuses to leave you, or disguise his true identity---ever)

Gem (2H) Gain your choice of 20 jewelry or 50 gems (Roll in DMG for value, owners appear in front of you, and you are forced to kill them one by one so you can get their treasure. Most innocent and pure people you can imagine. Others are prevented from interfering. The Devils all laugh with glee!)

The Void (KC) Body functions, but soul is trapped elsewhere (In a gem the Devil holds, may give it back for a favor of the group as a whole)

Flames (QC) Enmity between you and a devil (One of the sub-devils in the group around the table)

Skull (JC) Defeat Death or be forever destroyed (Stats per the DMG)

Talons (2C) All magic items you possess are torn from you (Goes to the devil, may give it back for a deal)

Ruin (KS) Immediately lose all wealth and real property (Goes to the devil, may give it back for a deal)

Euryale (QS) Minus 3 on all saving throws vs. petrification (or you can choose another party member to have -6 without them knowing it was you who did it to them)

Rogue (JS) One of your henchmen turns against you (Someday....you don't know when or who or why, but you are certain that one day it will happen and at the worst possible moment)

Balance (2S) Change GODS or be destroyed (Randomly rolled, or can voluntarily choose the Archdevil that this Devil serves)

Jester (J) Gain 10,000 experience points or 2 more draws (XP is due to fighting in a pit in another dimension, on a plane of Hell, over and over again, sometimes dying, always being resurrected, winning enough fights to gain the xp taking years, leaving you permanently horribly scared and grey-haired. All this takes place in a wink of an eye. Aged 5 years.)

Fool (J w/ TM) Lose 10,000 experience points; draw again (mandatory draw again)

Vizier (AD) Know the answer to your next dilemma (but be unable to communicate it to anyone in any way)

ldiot (AC) Lose 1-4 points of intelligence, you may draw again (or choose to have someone else in the group lose 1-4 points of intelligence without them knowing it was you who did it to them)

Fates (AH) Avoid any situation you choose. . . once (must declare the situation now, 60 seconds in real time to write it down)

Donjon (AS) You are Imprisoned (In a force cage right there. Devil may cut a deal for freedom)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gary Cooper Woulda Been an Old School Player

Take it from Tony...

He would never whine about balanced encounters and character deaths.