Friday 27 June 2014

NPC Betrayal

I wanted to write about NPC betrayal. I've got an unorthodox method of npc betrayal in my campaign at the moment and got to wondering how I would handle it other ways.

Exposition ahoy.

The npc in question is an early patron of the characters, a wizard specifically. The reason its unorthodox in the way i'm handling it is because the players know he has been replaced by a doppleganger, as they also run evil characters in the same campaign, something i've written about a little before. Whats great is that they know he's bad news, in meta game, but are fantastic enough role-players that they can push the story forward whilst using their good characters without using that information, and seem to have a much deeper emotional response to the character, and in fact, all the characters they come across in their dual lives at the table. Whats a real shame for the group however, is there will be no 'Aha!' moment. No reveal. Which kinda sucks.

So that got me to thinking how would I handle the turncoat thing differently, usually I'll set the story-line ball rolling and react to where it goes. I like to tell the story that players ask for. So I don't think having one enemy turncoat would be as story effective as having several potential turncoats. That way, when the players are at their most vulnerable - I can choose the npc who is under the least amount of suspicion and reveal him as a double agent for the maximum effect.

If intrigue is a focus of the campaign at any given time, i'll ensure that i'm giving out the vibes from several key npc's, then start letting clues drop - eventually they find out there's a mole - then they'll hopefully try and smoke them out. Perhaps discover a nefarious plot, and just in time, foil it or watch it go off.

Thursday 26 June 2014

ICON issue 2 and reorganising the blogs.

Hi internets. Whats happening, its been a while?

Couple of things I want to talk about - mostly ICON related.  First up, ICON is almost ready, i'm finalising the page order, I'll have a pdf available at the Vault early next week. DriveThru Rpg will follow shortly. I know some people have probably been wondering where their articles got to so i thought i'd get that one out there first.

The first issue went really well, there was a lot of hype behind it, i've definitely taken a more relaxed approach to the project - in that i had treated it very much like a traditional magazine, with a strict schedule. I've learned that this possibly isn't the best way forward, i've always wanted to ensure quality - and its better I give each issue the correct time it deserves to be finished to a high standard, both in terms of production and article submissions. So from now on its ready, when its ready.

I've taken the ICON blog offline too, I was finding myself stretched between this site and there, more sense to roll it into one and make this the official home of the 'zine.

I'll let you know when ICON Issue 2 drops.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Give them what they want.

I had a mini epiphany last night, its mini because it was already something I was consciously aware of - albeit something I didn't feel comfortable with or do all that often. I think.

Last night during my regular meatspace game, my players had tracked their evil counterparts* to a long forgotten temple, built at the end of the last great age. Huge, Labyrinthian, Deep and Deadly would all be apt monikers.  But having just gone through a patchy beginning of the year where we weren't able to play as often as we would have liked, I was very conscious that we all wanted the story to move forward.

So, half thinking out loud I ventured "How do you guys want explore this dungeon? Old-school crawl or Straight to the epic parts?" The general consensus was, "Take us to the good stuff". And I did, and it when really well. I'd thought in the past that giving players the ability to choose what we fast forward and what we watch would somehow break their immersion, Having read the organised play packets I wasn't sure that the montage technique would be a good fit for my group, I'm happy to report however that this is not the case.

I described how how they picked and wormed their way through the vast deep, they made rolls for navigation, staving off fatigue, avoiding a deadly spear gauntlet and avoiding the denizens of the place. In the end they came away with greater plot exposition, sapped resources and some cool imagery that should stay with them - and the best part was packing it all into a solid hour and a half.

I think it's easy to fall into a trap as a GM whereby you attempt to second guess what your players want, I've tried to address this by occasionally asking "what would you like to see next week?" or "what went well this week?" From now on i'll add "How do we handle this?" to my repertoire.

*They play both the good characters and the BBEG muscle, they can visit locations with bad guys long before they reach them with their main good guys and have been playing an overlapping game of cat and mouse through familiar and reworked locales.

: If you like this check the other GM advice I've worked on here :