Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 Day #31 Best Advice You Were Given

We conclude with this year's RPGaDay, with a bit of controversy:  "Best advice you were given for your system of choice."

One of the many quotable lines from the Knights of the Dinner Table comic, and subsequent Hackmaster RPG is "Let the dice fall where they may,"  and every year that advice is looking truer and truer. 

I can hear the roars of protest from gamers claiming "It's about the story/characters."  "Don't you want them to succeed and have a good time? 

If was worried about concocting a feel-good story, I can play a fairy RPG that I run for my girls, and guess what?  They still fail 200% more often than your min-maxed "story-driven" PC.

With every campaign I fudge my dice less and less until I'm at the point now where changing the dice results would be an insult to my players.  Sure, there are the decapitations of a hero by a one-armed kobold that have the statistical probability of a crazed Pokémon Go player crashing through my office window... on the fifth floor, but if you know the odds, you must accept a certain degree of risk. 

On the Happy Jacks RPG Podcast, there was a listener email which blew my mind.  He had played in a Rolemaster game where the PCs started at 20th level.  He created a Paladin with a "smite evil, ask questions later mentality."  In his first encounter, he met a giant, leveled his lance, charged, and was summarily obliterated by the creature on one critical die roll. 

The hosts blamed the GM, blamed the mechanics, blame everything but the player.

The player had a moronic character concept, acted stupidly, and whined like a spoiled brat when a decent statistical possibly actually occurred. 

Sometimes the House gets Blackjack, no matter what the odds.

You know what type of reunion isn't well attended?  The "blindly charge into combat " Paladin class that started at first level.  The fact that such a person could get through nineteen previous levels and wasn't mangled, battlescarred, or had such tremendous defensives to improve survivability is a severe failure as a player, and a minor GM failure for not bringing up a tremendous design flaw.   If the giant still managed to kill the Paladin with appropriate changes in tactics and character stats, then by all means, make him a main plot point in the campaign. 

I don't fudge NPCs successes because I don't fudge ridiculous NPC failures either.    My Cthulhu players have thrived in an environment of repeated cultist incompetence, so I felt no unease when the cultists in Jackson Elias' room started rolling impales. 

Investigator Hans became Hans-less and the others remembered the gravity of the situation.   

After a far-easier than anticipated trip to Shanghai in Masks of Nylarathotep, the group is planning for the finale in the bad guy's lair and they know the luck needs a massive swing back to average out. 

(Edit: SPOILERS As I typed this up a wee bit before our Masks finale, that has since been completed and I still let the dice determine the outcome, including the bad guy not being in his secret volcano lair, and a shoggoth failing on a 100% skill roll.  Of course, the Imperial Japanese Government is in possession of mystical aerospace technology, and thousands are dying from radioactive fallout in 1925 Shanghai

Good Times...) 

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