In the recent games in which I had the joyful part of dungeon mastering, I’ve had feedback of too many choices, too many opportunities and not enough direct linear goals (milestones) to achieve. Giving this a little thought it turns out to be a very basic necessity for many gaming groups and might be something you want to have a more in depth thought about when designing your games. (As I most likely will from now onwards, depending on my gaming group).
In the process of writing this entry I’ve seen an influence in terms of what you should focus on and this single influencing factor is – your party. The gaming group…
Players that focus on giving your game their unique fingerprint.
Since I consider my style derived more from this category, I’ll describe what I like best and where I see the dangers of this type. Driving players will make sure your game, no matter how little you actually prepared, will hardly ever get boring. They will do their best to integrate their characters into the game and will pick a path they like best – anytime – rely on it. The downsides of drivers are, they might be going straight against your preparations and plans, since they tend to have a good idea where they want to take your whole party, it is usually best to make sure their plans are similiar to yours. I guess a table of drivers will give any DM a hard time, unless he’s really taken some time before play and knows exactly who’s up to what.
Not too long ago I had one a discussion on player perception and your hardest job (at least for us in our gaming group) is to deliver the same perception of the situation to everyone, no matter if (s)he played for years and is a dungeon master himself or if (s)he played only for a few hours and actually does not care a lot about rules, story and the lot. This if course is true for UNDERDARK adventures, your job as a dungeon master will be to create an environment for your players to call home, for the time of their stay. But this “home” will be a lot different from what most of us are used to, that mentioned I hope most avoid having various mushrooms growing in their homes ;).
Hardly two forest look alike and that’s the same for the underdark. You will have to come up with a few ideas on your own and there will be distinctive differences to various regions down below. Still a basic question you might want to consider: What can survive underground without light? Fungus, worms, earth-elemental and related creatures and plants, everything related to negative energy (undead) will not have a lot of problems either, as well as shadow-related stuff, after all there’s shadows everywhere down there.Â Continue reading →
I’m working for a few days on a writeup of our latest adventures, then again I think our current campaign is a classic introduction to the Underdark. You might have the (official) Underdark Book (D&D 3.5) and find it quite useful if you’re running a forgotten realms based campaign. Then again, there are a few flavour factors you can hardly get from the book, something you should hear over and over again before you even consider running an underdark campaign. I’ll try myself on a series to prepare any motivated dungeon master to lead a party of adventurers into the down-below, feedback is (as always) very appreciated.
To introduce your players to the underdark, make sure you and they understand where they are going. It isn’t some dungeon-dwelling when you’re travelling into the homes of duergar, drow and illithids. All of you should be scared, where you’re headed there is more darkness than light and your chances for death are higher than for survival. Continue reading →
Bonefinder over at the bone scroll posted a nice little update (for me) on the supposed or expected shipping date of Pathfinder beta. Honestly – I hardly can wait to hold the book in my hands. I’ve preordered it at Planetharry – the dealer of my choice – in Vienna. As Bonefinder reports, it’s quite likely that we find a few old skills and other typos from paste & copy errors that they made when integrating the SRD into this document. On the other hands, it’s a beta version and the game-system itself was very promising so far, it does hold a few expectations of mine for the future.
And yes, it’s really one of the hottest topics for me, so I had to dedicate that article to it. I hope a lot of you feel the same way and – will enjoy the Pathfinder beta when it’s out. (I hope the PDF version goes online soon – since shipping to Austria will take until beginning of September I fear.)