Month: April 2014


I cheat when playing RPGS, and it makes the game better. But before I explain how it makes the game better, let me explain what I mean by cheating. I don’t mean I use dice with the wrong amount of numbers on it or write extra skill points on my character sheet. What I’m referring to is doing things that are considered going outside of the normal actions, coming up with unique solutions to problems that are different from what most people will expect.  For example, where Spoony tells the story of his PC proving how he is the Greatest Swordsman in the world, beyond all odds. But the ending shows an example of my style of cheating. Watch the link if you like to find out because I don’t want to spoil the story.

Another such example comes from the same game that story came from seen, where the character took a glass from the table, puts it in a bag and smashes it against the floor, stepping on it to crush the glass better. The servants are looking at him like, ‘Did the glass offend you?’ And he smiles, shakes his head and just walks away on his adventure. In time they meet this huge epic battle boss and he goes to attack and instead of swinging says, ‘I take my bag of crushed glass and throw it in his eyes’. The ending of the game has another epic example of the ‘cheating’ I am referring to. Again, I don’t want to spoil the epic story. Just remember the key phrase, “Spoony got this”. (more…)

I Say Noh

Part of the fun of an RPG is being challenged. Exactly what that means to people is different. Some people want huge combats like what you get playing Final Fantasy Tactics or Risk in a RPG game, slow manipulation around the board as you play strategically. Others want puzzles and riddles and diplomacy, stretching their brains as they have to figure out the name of the creature who spins straw into gold.

But sometimes, you find a challenge, either with the players making it much larger than it was originally meant to be or with the players turning it into something when there isn’t one. I’ve seen it a lot where players make mountains out of mole hills while avoiding the plot hooks dangling in front of them. I could probably even point to the Knights of the Dinner Table a lot, but today, I think I’ll just say Noh to that, as  Noh is a much more interesting story that I don’t think people have really heard of.

So I don’t have to redirect you to another site, I include the story of Noh in its entirety (though people have added endings and such to it as you might see if you check out here. (more…)

Lest Dispelled Journal #1

Note: This is an in-character ‘session report’ done in a journal style from a GURPS game set in Pathfinder world of  Golarion. I play Octavian Steelpike, a Varisian (think Gypsy) woodsman character. He prefers his solitude, with just him and his pet panther Urma (which, based on a quick search I did, is Romanian for ‘To Follow/Shadow’). See here for more details, as is a blog by the GM, and has some great stuff about this campaign and other stuff the GM is interested in too.


Market Day; it’s like watching ants in an anthill or bees around a field of flowers, with all these people rushing around. At least with the ants and bees, they have a direction, they have a reason for being going around like that. That and their young are not left unattended to act so free. One of these days Urma is going to start snapping at their hands, I’m sure… and I’m not going to intervene. I mean, its enough of an insult having to use the leash, but I gotta get my materials somewhere. The land cannot provide everything I need, at least not keeping while on the go. (more…)

Plot Hook Distribution

I was watching a video by Noah Antwiler, also known as Spoony, where he did an interview with Richard Garriott, and I watched to see what they had to talk about as both can be quite critical when it comes to the games… And then they revealed something that made me have to pick my jaw up off the flor because of how brilliant the idea is.

Go here to see the video queued up to the whole thing I am talking about. Go and watch it, and then come back. I’ll still be here. It’s only about five minutes.

What he proposes there is so amazing for me to think of as a GM, as a way to let the players directly explore your world and still make all your areas relevant. I know a lot of GMs who will drop in the NPC you need to talk to in some location that you’re in, so that you can meet them and get the plot point you need at that time. The Alexandrian introduced me to the Three Clue Rule where a player could fail sufficiently enough that they may never find, or understand the significance of, the clue you are presenting them with. They then go to discuss ways around this problem. (more…)

Choose Your Own Adventure

I’ve touched on choices and the like regularly, so this is going to be in the same vein, but this time it is more for the GM and how to look at making things challenging for the players. Most GMs should have an idea of the Xantaos Gambit,  but there are so many others that people may not look into using.

Let’s start with Xanatos Gambit, made famous by Xanatos in Gargoyles. Xanatos was a great manipulative bastard, with a skill in making challenges for the main characters to face where no matter what they do they complete some sort of objective for the main evil. Lex Luthor was another one of these a lot.  It works really well when you put them in a position of power, such as a powerful magic user or a person with their own company or secret agency, the sort of people who can play multiple resources against each other.  Your big bad has a Macguffin that will destroy the world, so you must stop him from destroying the world with it, but while you’re focusing on that he is preparing a ritual that will summon a giant monster from the abyss, and if you somehow stop that too, he has a spy working on turning the king of one of the countries to his team and so forth. (more…)

Wheel of Morality

Lancelot, Luke Skywalker, and Avatar from Ultima.

Three characters that have had hard choices to make along their way. They are some of the greatest champions of moral choice in fiction I can think of, having to make choices that determined the outcome in major ways.

I had never thought about Luke Skywalker’s fight with Vader so much; but I saw a reviewer who commented about how Luke gave into his emotions when he went batshit on Vader for mentioning turning Leia to the Dark Side if Luke would not. Right after that, he tells the Emperor, “I will never give in to the Dark Side”.. The reviewer stated that is bullshit because the dark side was painted ‘Fear Leads To Anger, Anger Leads to Hate, Hate Leads to Suffering’, and how if they lost control they would never get back. So, how come Luke could say that he was not going to the Dark Side, especially when Anakin later went down the same path in the Prequels? (more…)