Monday, February 24, 2014

OOC: Back in Bremel

After the epic battle with Minx and her Lieutenants and the fine roleplaying, there will be no trouble recovering whatever loot you wish and making your way back to town. We will return to play in Bremel.

I am planning to allow the party a month in town to take care of any outstanding tasks such as: research/identification of magical items, scribing of scrolls, crafting, pursuing professions, looking for hirelings, looking for rumors, carousing.

Everyone please tell me what you wish to do and ask any relevant questions in the comments. If you don't post in a couple of days, I'll assume you don't have any urgent plans and will go with the group.

Recall my rules for carousing/research:

You can carouse for xp. Roll a d6 and pay the result times 100 gp for ale, food and pleasant company. Gain that as experience points and then make a Fort save to see if you made any enemies or got anyone pregnant in your inebriated state.

You can do magical research for xp. Roll a d6 and pay the result times 100 gp for supplies, books and lab rentals. Gain that amount as experience points and make a Will save to see if you accidentally summoned a demon or burnt yourself with acid.

Specifically, I'm looking for decisions on:

What to do with the gold; do you smelt it or do you retain it in it's stamped state? Do you keep it and how much, if any, do you return to the Rawley Estate?

What do you do with the "unholy" symbol of the Dark One.

What do you do with Minx's head? On this point, Alis urges Thorvald to at least put the head in a sack as it is greatly unsettling to him.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New House Rules

I'm always considering ways to make gaming, and especially online play-by-post gaming, easier. During our hiatus I've had a couple of ideas that I think would make our work here easier and give us more time to do what we came here to do: play!

1. Initiative by side. I'm becoming disenfranchised with the granularity of initiative. It's quite obvious to me that requiring every player to roll initiative increases the "time count" of our play exponentially but if I thought it helped the game in any way, I'd still be loathe to remove it. However, I'm beginning to be of the opinion that requiring individual initiative increases the granularity of combat in a negative way. That is, having everyone go on their individual turn actually makes it seem like combat is flowing more slowly than I think the narrative supports. I see combat happening all at once. Every round takes 6-10 seconds, but the thief is stabbing at the same time as the ranger is shooting his crossbow at the same time the minotaur is swinging his cudgel at the fighter.

Therefore I propose this change: each side in the conflict makes an initiative roll at the beginning of every combat round and each side goes in that order. If a player character wishes to defer, they will take their turn at the end of the round. Under most circumstances the roll for the party will be done by the character initiating combat or the character who is in the lead, using the best judgement of the Dungeon Master.

This has the added benefit of allowing the player characters a better chance to plan their tactics as a group without removing the verisimilitude of "the fray," combat being a chaotic sort of affair.

2. Simplified Ranges. The fact of the matter is that Pathfinder, even my simplified Pathfinder rules, may not be the best candidate for an online game. The amount of "crunchy" rules makes for difficult situations when the game we're playing is inherently more unsure than one played at a table. There will always be the danger of a disconnect between player and DM expectations, but that danger is amplified by the distance, and the time it takes for a single turn, in an online game. Mapping helps alleviate some of this disconnect, but the lack of reliable technology that allows player characters to move their own pieces on a real board limits the benefit. In most cases I think I'd prefer to spend my time writing up descriptions and running combat than updating a map once a round.

Therefore I propose this change: during combat, ranges will be simplified in such a way that positioning can be done clearly but without the benefit of a map. The ranges will be defined as Melee, Near, Far and Distant. Under ordinary circumstances, it will take a single move action to go from Melee to Near, from Near to Far and vice versa. Distant range will require a character to spend his entire turn from Far, as he must run to get to a Distant range. The dungeon master will do his best to adjudicate movement to the benefit of the player.

Thrown weapons are effective at Near ranges, ordinary weapons are effective at Near and Far ranges and longbows and crossbows are effective at Distant ranges.

The ranges break down as follows:

Weapon Examples
Dagger, Spear, Blowgun
Javelin, Sling, Shortbow
Longbow, Crossbow

3. Supplies. Book-keeping is embraced by some and reviled by others. At the table, a player might jot a few notes down on his character sheet and move on, trusting that the information will be there when he needs it. In an online enviornment where a single combat may take weeks in real time, that becomes a problem. I have, in the past, stated some rulings about food being taken on journeys. I want to strive to codify that in a way that allows the efficient management of food, ammunition and lodging. For this I am looking for suggestions. My current thinking is that food and drink for journeys be made a requirement, but available to be bought in "parcels" that reduces the book keeping of listing bread, cheese and mead on a character sheet. For ammunition, I'm also considering a "parcel" system that requires a roll after every combat to see if you've used up your ammo in that parcel. For lodging, I'd like to use a tiered system where you can choose to pay for basic or luxurious lodging and have some mechanical benefit for choosing the better lodging.