Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Keepin' Busy: I'm DMing an RPG

It's been a busy few weeks.  Here is what was going on outside of work. 

For a few weeks I've been planning this secret project I'm starting.  It'll stay secret until I build some momentum.  I was held back, though, because I wanted to install some software on my computer for design purposes but my computer developed some problems.  I'm trying to resize partitions, so if anyone knows how to do that please call me.

I'm still trying to finish the chicken coop that I started six months ago.  It is very nearly done, however I was held up trying to find a way to secure the chicken wire on the roof to the edges which were rimmed in cinderblock.  I ended up deciding to attach wooden planks to he cinderblock wall and then attach the chicken wire to the planks with a staple gun.  It was a massive pain, partially because I was trying to alter the design in a very late stage and partially because attaching things to masonry requires drilling with a special bit that wears out every 6 or 7 holes -- literally.

Anyway, the planks are in, so I'm back on track.  I am determined to have it done by the end of the month.

The thing that took the most of my attention, however, was prepping for D&D.  As I mentioned, our long running campaign resolved some of the major conflicts.  It's like a TV show which reached the end of the season with a big season finale.  Next season will start in a month or two.  In the meantime, we'll all be playing a new campaign which I'm managing.  It's a bit like being the banker in Monopoly mixed with a creative writing challenge if the banker in Monopoly had to set interest rates and author Atlantic City's annual budget.

By the way, for those not familiar, "DMing" is short for "Dungeon Mastering", and "RPG" stands for "Role-Playing Game".  What these mean is that I'm a nerd.

My campaign is about a group of individuals who were all kidnapped to be sold as slaves, set in a faux-Caribbean setting.  They escape and vow to put an end to the slave trade in the region by posing as pirates and working their way up to the man who oversees all the slave trading in their seas and then disposing him.  We started it as a casual thing a year ago and played five or six times since, but now we'll be doing so regularly and with new players.  I will provide regular updates.

The most intensive effort I made was the implementation of a new system for fighting.  This is challenging, because when players fight success is determined based on their established skills and some dice rolls.  This means that the winner of a fight is typically based on math that was established before the fight ever began or the luck of dice rolls.  Neither is really very satisfyinbkg, in my opinion.  I'd like for the players actions to at least feel like they drive the outcome.  In order to do this, I created a basic framework which provides advantages and disadvantages based on two or three very simple conditions so that the fights seem balanced while giving the players some control over the outcome based on their choices.  I spent a lot of time whenever I had the chance, such as during my bike rides too and from work devising the rules.  I was pleased at how it performed.

In terms of plot, the players stole a ton of weapons from a poorly guarded military outpost in a daring heist, then fought off an incursion during their escape.  They docked at a nearby island to recruit some more fighters in preparation for future battles, and while on the island learned that two persons of interest were believed to be hiding out there: Beyerin Teth, an outlaw wanted by the Empire and an unnamed crime-boss who might know the whereabouts of a warlord with whom one of our characters has a score to settle.

Will they catch their targets, or will they be left holding empty nets?  Find out next week!

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