Monday, April 21, 2008

The Calm Before The (Molten?) Storm...

So, I'm in something of a role-playing lull right now. Things are a little on the slow side, but with madness on route that's ready to give me all the gaming I can handle.

While WittCon and GloryCon have come and gone, the next major convention that the PlatinumChick and I will be hitting is, in fact, Bookery Fantasy's annual TopaCon. That's not until Memorial Day weekend, so we have a fair amount of time to relax before it kicks off the madness that will be June.

However, we do have a few happy events between now and then, which will keep me occupied.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm really jazzed about running Dark Heresy this week for our usual weekly crew. I've had an idea for an opening scenario mucking around in my brain for a while, so this will be something fun. Think Aliens meets The Thing, meets Fallout. Should be very interesting.

Lionel and Ebbs have also been diligently planning the Guild's great one shot/LARP for this semester. I can tell this one is going to be great, mainly because Lionel's been so tight-lipped about it. Usually, he and I hash out all sorts of ideas for games that either of us run, but this time? No, not so much. The only thing that I've been able to milk out of him is that it will deal with the Bermuda Triangle, and that the setting is a cruise ship. Now, knowing that my fellow Witt-Wegger Illuminatus just picked up the Call of Cthulhu Bermuda Triangle sourcebook...I get the impression there's going to be some good ol' fashioned sanity-blasting-horror-from-beyond! Woot!

May 2nd, though, kicks of Summer Blockbuster season with a film I've been aching to see: Iron Man. I'll admit, I was really skeptical when Robert Downey Jr. was announced to be playing Ol' Shellhead, but he's really convinced me. He has the smarmy arrogance necessary to pull off the smug Tony Stark. I'm sure I'll be seeing this one on opening day.

It's June that gets it all started, really. The day after I get out Summit, D&D 4th Edition is released, and the PlatinumChick and I head off to Wheeling for a friend's wedding. While we have the next weekend off, the next week is a massive one--my birthday, the 21st, is also Free RPG Day! Thank you, geeks of the world, thank you for a glorious birthday present--lots and lots of RPG swag. Woot!

And then, the big one...Origins. Plans are already set, rooms are already reserved, and we're waiting with baited breath for event registration to start up. It'll be great to hit up all the hot gaming action, meet up with the WEGS-Hogz yet again, and enjoy the massive spectacle.

Regarding Origins, I've finally decided what I'm going to do with my brainchild, Dungeon Slam! While I'm reluctant to show it off to the major populace, El Willy's been aching to play it. So, ideally, we'll pull up one of the open tables at the Convention Center and get our collective crews together to throw down in the Mad Mage's dungeon!

Further, I've come upon a great solution for a problem that's been plaguing Dungeon Slam! for a long time. You see, in Dungeon Slam!, you have 6 major stats:
Strength governs your To Hit and Damage.
Intellect governs your Spellcasting and Puzzle/Trap tests.
Toughness governs your Health and (possibly) your Defense.
Quickness governs your First Strike, Hazard tests and (possibly) your Defense.
Wits governs your Arcana amount.

And Luck...well, Luck really didn't govern anything, for quite a while. However, that's changed!

With our last playtest, we tried out a new rule. Typically, you could spend an Arcana to re-roll any dice roll (once only!). While this was useful, you couldn't necessarily guarantee any results--after all, you've gotta play the Odds and Gods, right?
Our new rule is that, while you can still spend an Arcana to re-roll if you so choose, you also have an option to spend an Arcana to add your Luck bonus to any dice roll. Only thing is that, if you do so, you cannot re-roll that test!

Basically, this gives the players a degree of choice. If it's a test they seriously need help on, adding the Luck score to the roll could make a massive difference. However, if you keep your Luck high, you're keeping your Wits low, which means you have less re-rolls and Luck adds in general. Plus, you're keeping yourself from re-rolling, which can mean the difference between life and death!

At first, I thought adding this rule would be somewhat unbalanced, but preliminary playtesting has shown the breakdown of Arcana use to be pretty equitable. On tests that have a 50/50 shot to succeed, players tend to use Arcana more for re-rolls than Luck adds. However, in more dire straits, the Luck add seems to be more popular--for good reason!

One of the nice side effects of this, though, is that it speeds up the game. Players are more likely to take on higher-level monsters faster, if they know they can add a +5 or +6 to their base die rolls. This leads to faster advancement and loot gain, which means that players start hitting Skull Sanctum a lot earlier. While play-time has been around 3 hours so far, pretty consistently, I wouldn't be surprised to see it trimmed down by a full half-hour simply because of the faster advancement!

It'll be exciting to see how this all hashes out before El Willy and Krew take a look at my project come June. Hopefully, I'll pick up a third revision printing, ready to go for the new sessions!

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