I am preparing the boys next game, and am falling back on some old standards for inspiration. I thought I would take a moment to talk a little about those sources. And also discuss some new things I am trying in an effort to improve the game.
Now that I have drawn the boys into this new world, and then taken away the idea that they could return home I have to find things for them to do. In this new world that I have placed them in I need to find a place for them to ‘settle’ and then find things for them to do. Fortunately I already knew part two of that equation.
I’m going to fall back on a tried and true role playing scenario: the 7 Samurai. You all know the movie, or it’s more widely known variant: The Magnificent Seven. The scenario is simple, and really just about the perfect one for any role playing group. If there are a handful of basic plots for stories & movies, this one is probably one of the best suited for role playing.
The thing about finding good inspiration for role playing is that so often stories are told from the perspective of a single hero (or heroine.) But that runs counter to most role playing, in the majority of role playing groups all the characters are theoretically equal. There is not a single ‘destined hero’ that the rest of the group has to follow. As a side note, I have been in a couple of campaigns where we tried that, where one player was allowed to make their player with more points and the rest of the group were his sidekicks, and it eventually failed.
But in this scenario the whole group is in it together, gathered for the purpose of defending a single location, ideally of poor villagers who cannot (will not) defend themselves. You could do that in pretty much any game you are playing, from Fantasy, to Wild West, to Pulp, to modern, to Science Fiction. It is pretty easy, and I think one of the best for breaking up the boredom of the random dungeon crawl.
And I am mixing some elements of another great movie: the 13th Warrior. Yeah this should be fun. And last throwing in some elements from another book series and last one of the best Shadowrun modules created. Those boys heads are going to be spinning.
I tried a few new things this week. First, I tried to get the boys to think a little more, be a little more tactical in combat. Second, I dropped the screen.
My attempt to craft a scenario where they boys could have accomplished far more with some smart thinking failed miserably. I gave them a scenario where they were equally distant from a choke point with a group of Undead creatures, with the goal of reaching a gate at the end of the choke point. I made it reasonably clear that they needed to get to that goal as their first priority. The boys more or less refused to think in those terms. Instead they just tried to go toe to toe with the enemy, an enemy that would overwhelm them if they tried to do that. I would like to hope that they will do better next time but I cannot be certain.
My other test did go well. After reading an interesting post about Dungeon Master Screens last week I decided to just drop the screen this week. And I think the boys enjoyed that, feeling a little better that they could see those horrible critical hits or misses rather than just seeing my expressions and taking my rolls for granted. Plus it was a little nicer to interact with them when I could see what they were doing.
It is all a continuous experience for me. Learning new skills. Re-learning old skills and systems. But it is all XP for my DM class levels. And I feel like I level up almost every time I run a game or even play.