Against the Giants: A snippet of actual play

This battle took about an hour. I posted this on facebook and it turned out so long I think it needed a blog entry as well:

I think a highlight last night was half the party down at the base of the fire giants throne room. The king, gravely hurt, decides to go lick his wounds and sends his guards to kill the interlopers.The wizard Annalena winks away, teleporting two hundred feet away down the smokey corridor leading to the throne room. Dell the rogue zips out to apply a healing potion to Jerek the sorcerer, who, revived, then pulls a cloak of elvenkind over herself to appear as a rock – next to the rock the king threw that felled Jerek! Then when no one is looking, casts invisibility on herself – as a rock just disappearing would look odd! Dell manages to administer a potion to Korall the palladin, but when he flees to the collumns to hide, the giants follow!

This is as Dell finds that while his hiding is great, enemies need only go behind the column he hid behind to find him – giant long swords hack at him! Wounding him fairly gravely!

However, their attention is distracted – and Korall gets to his feet behind them and walks to the last known place of the king, the throne. He stealths away (nat 20!)

To where invisible Jerek is looking for the secret exit the king took, after investigating the kings disappearance (nat 20!). Korall is disturbed by the voice from nowhere! And they find no secret door!

Meanwhile Dell has fled, evading the giants and running headlong down the smokey hallway. At the other end, invisible Annalena calls to him, trying to speak loudly enough to be heard and softly enough to not be heard by the giants, for Dell to come to her. And perhaps a GM was too nice about that working out, but indeed it does – Dell runs at full speed into the smoke of the corridor, clasp forearms with Annalena and teleport once again! To behind the throne! Korall sees Dell appear and gets another invisible voice talking to him as well! While the giants, who saw Dell running off in the other direction, move away from the throne room!

Annalena learns form Jerek the king has escaped by some kind of secret door and casts pass wall. Suddenly the secret exit is revealed to them and they press through, going from near total party death to instead hunting down the giant raider king!

Okay, here we go!

I’ve started it on my other blog! Please check it out!

I’ve called it a story game at the moment, though I don’t like the term over much. Maybe I’ll make up another one latter.

Anyway, it should be an interesting online interactive project to watch!

Carrying real world morality into a mmorpg

This post, in regards to eve and ‘griefers’.


Can-flippers and ninja salvagers are thieves. Thieves are considered jerks in the real world, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me to consider them jerks in EVE as well.

CCP hasn’t constructed an environment where all actions a player may take have the same moral freighting. They’ve simply constructed an online environment where I need to take matters into my own hands if I want to avoid EVE’s various criminal classes or retaliate against them.

This is apparently genuine moral judgement on someone for what they did in a game.

Something they did only because it was possible to do so within the code the developers wrote. And they wrote it because they wanted it to be possible.

Not only that, but apparently CCP (the makers of the game) have apparently declared that in the game they made, actions don’t all have the same moral freighting. Oh, they have the capacity to decide that, do they? And lo if they decide it, it is true for all (and that’s taking it they have even said anything like this and this guy isn’t just purely inventing this).

Somehow, because CCP allegedly decided not all actions have the same moral weight, someone is literally a jerk for doing certain things.

And if CCP declared jihad, no doubt whoever they declare it on is most deserving of holy war.

Feeling first, asking questions latter never.

Fun short term risk game broken by long term accumulation

I’m playing legends of zork at the moment, and I quite enjoy how you have a number of action points each day and you can spend them on finding more treasure, or banking the treasure you’ve found. But if you get beaten up whilst looking, you lose all the treasure on you since your last bank. But banking uses up an action point you could have used for treasure finding. See the fun dilemma?

Okay, so that’s fun. But I’ve been playing it and saving up for some armour (because everyone else in the game seems to have a huge armour stat and they keep beating me up in PVP).

The thing is, while that fun dilemma is fun, at a bigger picture level, it’s just slow accumulation. The bigger picture game is boring. There is no game of risking for potentially more reward. So that bigger picture, the way it is, actually spoils the smaller picture.

Of course you could just duplicate the smaller game at the bigger picture level. Like perhaps after you get X amount of gold and Y amount of RL time, you can face some risk and increase it by some percentage, or you can bank it and be safe. That’s a quick, clumsy idea for it.

But the interesting thing is how that bigger picture appears and spoils the game. I think this happens in mmorpgs too – I wasn’t thinking of saving up a whole bunch of coins, but because of item costs my mind shifted to it – and when it shifted, it shifted to a larger picture that spoilt the smaller picture/game.

I think it can sort of explain the love hate thing you can get for a mmorpg, where your attracted to it, probably because of a reasonably fun small picture game, but then your mind drifts onto the larger picture and that spoils it.

Meh, I’ll have a pick at Penny arcade ‘Story gaming’


I’m trying to create a story that they can play and killing them seems counter intuitive. My goal when building encounters is to challenge them and push them to their limits but not murder the entire party.

Doesn’t that sound kind of contradictory (and counter intuitive) itself? I’m challenging you – but the final arbiter of whether you failed the challenge- ie, death, is completely off the books!

It’s like me giving you a really, really hard maths quiz that tests your maths limits – but no matter how many you get wrong, you always pass the quiz/you always live.

I’ve actually heard quite a few actual play accounts where players have tried to do things that would get their PC killed, to see if they could die. Ie, fail as many/all questions, to see if it’s actually possible to fail the quiz.

I think it’s classic illusionism, where even the GM has himself under an illusion – where he doesn’t really look at what he says to himself “Hey, what I just said just freaking contradicts itself!! What the hell was I thinking?”. Instead he thinks he can push them to their limit, but never actually kill them. It’s like the impossible thing before breakfast, where two mutually contradictory things are asserted as happening in the one game.

I beg of you to seriously reconsider your position
I beg of you to seriously reconsider your position

Fiat and a working game

In a previous thread on infinite options, Guy asked me this:

Callan, I’m asking this seriously, because I think you know the answer.

So, how do people sit around and get a working game, even when someone decides to use fiat? How do they do it, not in theory, but in practice?

Let’s clarify ‘fiat’ first. Were not talking about the car. That’s good to clear up. 😉

But more seriously, in game you could have a rule that whether your dex bonus adds to your gun attack roll is up to the GM, on any given roll. It’s entirely up to him. This is often referred to as fiat. I’ll call this ‘choice fiat’.

In a contrasting situation, the rule might be that your dex bonus NEVER adds onto your gun attack roll (this is the rule in Rifts, btw), but the GM declares you add it on (which is happening in the game of Rifts I’m in at the moment). This too is often referred to as fiat. I’ll call this ‘override fiat’.

And since were having such fun with defintions (being sarcastic at myself here, to try and add some humour to defining stuff!), what is a ‘working game?’

Is it a working game where people stay at the table until the end and don’t talk about non table subjects too loudly or too often?

Or conversely, how would you define a non working game, Guy? People leaving the table? Harsh words exchanged? People with arms folded, cross expressions?

I’d say people can be genuinely smiling pleasantly, talking about game book related stuff and interacting, and the game can still not be a working game.

I’d also say that someone can be using override fiat and people can still be genuinely smiling pleasantly, talking about game book stuff and interacting.

Now, to actually try and answer your question! Ta da! I finally got there!

I would say that people sitting around, genuinely smilling pleasantly, talking about game book related stuff and interacting means something is working. Let’s call it X and say activity X is working.

And certainly a working game would involve this, I think.

Now if that’s enough for someone, for them to consider it a ‘working game’, then that’s what they consider a working game. And apparently override fiat fits into it.

But I’ll be cruel for a moment – if someone considers banging their head against a wall a ‘working game’, then for them, it is.

So one way of sitting around and getting a ‘working game’ when someone decides to use override fiat, is to lower your standards. Way down. Low enough to still call it working.

That’s one way of doing it, where ‘it’ is to have a working game with override fiat in it.

However, people will often present these ‘working games’ as evidence that override fiat is just fine.

But hell, almost anything is just fine if you lower your personal standards enough. Or your standards weren’t high to begin with – though we don’t all have to share the same standards, so that’s okay.

But by the same token, if someone presents a ‘working game’ to you with override fiat and tells you “it’s great”, it kind of demands you have the same level of standards as them. Because if your standard is higher, you really can’t agree with them and talk about it as if “it’s great”.

WoW and ‘phasing’ content

I’m suprised at the reaction in a thread (or should I be?)

I’m surprised simply removing some models is perceived as a big deal? I’m not sure as to the exact details, but as I understand it it in no way mechanically effects gameplay for the player. It just changes what they see. So they have story right over here, and players just play their character right over there! And if you do stuff, the story advances – in a preset way, of course of course – and you see new graphics which in now way affect your gameplay.

It’s seen as a big advance? It’s nothing that hasn’t been done in single player RPG’s for years?

How come this sells, and how can I wrap my iron claws around its throat and shake some money from it?

Game Design: The other authors grass is always greener?

I was playing apache overkill today.

I’m thinking, perhaps it’s not just the difficulty of a game that can attract me. I can be attracted by the care and effort put into its craftsmanship. Or in a perhaps more immersed way, how the world grabs me.

I’ve focused for years on making really good difficult mechanics. But while I’ve enjoyed alot of other authors games, even the easier ones, I always flounder in terms of making a game that grabs me.

Perhaps that’s because I’m instinctively interested in other people/other authors. Of course that interest doesn’t apply to my own creations. Of course I can’t make something that has the same grab these other authors ‘have’, because a large part of that grabbyness is my own interest in other peoples works. I can’t make a game as good as theirs, because a large part of what makes games good for me is that I find out about someone elses creation. My own creations can never provide that! It has to be someone else!

Perhaps I should be more narcissistic? How do you get over this? Can you?

Thrown together game, using D&D mini’s and some of their rules.

Based on my recent post “Do the events of the game inspire creativity from you, or do you get creative just to keep the game going?“, I wrote up a small game session.

It was a small one so as to make it a small gamble. Basically I got some old board sections from the first D&D basic game, got some of the D&D minatures game I’d bought, and then looked them over, to see if they inspired anything (so I put them to work, to a degree, to inspire creativity, rather than just draw upon myself in whole).

I’d also envisioned what I wanted to do before that, and had decided there would be searching spots – look in the right spot, and it gives you information against the enemy. This gives you ‘Add’ points…that’s all I have as a name for them. It’s just a pool of points and after you’ve rolled, you can take points from the pool and add it to the roll. You search after a battle, getting two tries per room, each giving you 7 Add.

But otherwise there was no AOO, most special abilities/attacks were removed, so it was just roll, roll, roll. Yes, that’s not amazing to think about…and? If I invest creativity to make it more interesting, the game has to pay back that back in inspiration. I’m rather tired of gambling like that.

Also I designed it so it could/would be run multiple times (the monsters just pop back/respawn afterward). That way I could get more out of it, in terms of any inspiration to be found.

I played it with my eight year old son – I liked it alright. I’d written it so I was a player too. It was a bit like snakes and ladders with more handling time, but in compensation, with much cooler figurines and boards involved. And the searching was good (though I didn’t do any, because I determined them).

In other words, I’d play it every so often, but it’s not terribly compelling. I’d say it gives a little inspiration over time, in recalling it. Not a big payoff, but a bit of a pay off.

In terms of spending that inspiration, I was thinking as well as the search spots, I might also have something where the player can, once per room, describe how something in the room helps the villains plans. I’d either, GM style, give this a reward of 1 to 3 Add points, or perhaps something else? Perhaps it gives 1 point by default, but as a player I can opt to risk one of my add points to give him another. Like say I roll 1D20 and if it’s a 1, I lose my add point and the other player gets nothing. But if I roll anything else, he gets another add point and I keep my point too.

That’s a tricky way, because it still rewards trying to do well on the description, because who wants to gamble on a weak description. I think I’ll use this!

I found ‘Inquisition’ at 1KM1KT and played it

I left the following comment there and thought I’d put it here as well

I tried it and got to LOC 6.4! Had a rough start, then a sequence of health packs. But it wasn’t enough and a daemonette chewed me down until I killed her. Next room a chaos marine sealed my fate!

It’s a really nice base. There might be some way of getting an element in which uses the imagination, into it. But that’d probably take it to a two page thing.

It’s entirely gamble based, so I don’t have alot of enthusiasm for another go because I can’t really do anything to change where I lost last time. But it was fun to play through!

What’d be interesting is if you record where certain monsters die, and it affects the next play. Like say the daemonette corpse rots, and when you play again and come across the room the body was in, the bodys parts can be used to make a medi kit. Or made into an extra weapon to add a point to attack until a one is rolled. Or something like that.