(With EN World down for maintenance, I was asked if this post existed somewhere else, so I've crossposted it here in order to share it.)
Gamehackery: a new column on Technology and Gadgets in Tabletop Roleplaying. Think of it as Lifehacker for RPGs.
About a week ago I spotted a request from Morrus, the owner/operator of my favorite gaming website, EN World. He was looking for some weekly columnists to try to expand some of the content available on the website.
I have two groups -- A Saturday group and a Sunday group. There's some player overlap, but the two groups have very different flavors and agreements.
Wizards just announced that they're going to start playtesting and developing 5th edition D&D. And the interwebs are naturally on fire.
I was a playtester for 4e, and have loved it ever since it first arrived. Before that, I had enjoyed 3.5, a welcome refinement of 3.0, etc.
There was an excellent three-part article on the Escapist earlier this week on D&D -- It's Past, Present, and Future. And, as a response to that Ryan Dancey, who was quoted in the article, wrote his own response (whcih turned into a long forum t
One of the most interesting ideas in 4th edition D&D that doesn't quite work in play as well as it might is Ritual Magic. They're a special problem for adventure designers. In most cases developers writing adventures intended for a broad audience, because they can't assume that a Ritual Caster with the necessary ritual will be in the party, end up forced to write adventures that don't require ritual magic...which means ritual magic ends up being used very rarely.
Roleplaying encounters have always been a troubled fit for skill challenges. Many of the things that make skill challenges work to handle other game situations don't work very well in a roleplaying encounter. For one thing, it becomes very difficult to put the PCs into a position where they must take turns and give each PC a chance to act.
Another concept we'll play with as we explore skill challenges in greater depth is the idea of having currencies -- something that the players can spend as they work their way through a challenge.
Failure doesn't happen very often in D&D. It's not really something we enjoy, after all. Players feel like a combat encounter was close if one or two of the PCs was unconscious and dying for a round or so -- nevermind whether the actual outcome of the encounter was ever really in doubt.
Here's another statistic from my trademarked "Bureau of Totally Believable But Made Up Statistics": less than 1% of all combat encounters of D&D that are played result in a true "failure", a TPK (Total Party Kill).
This series of blog posts will be an exploration of skill challenges -- an attempt to dig deep into ideas for unique, interesting game play experiences that deliver on the promise of the basic skill challenge mechanics. I've kicked a lot of theories and ideas around in my home games and in some scattered blog entries here and there, but this is going to be a concerted effort to really plumb the depths.
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