I’ve been increasing my gaming. One thing about the gaming I’ve been doing is that it has given me various ideas.
Now, I also got at least one blog idea from our Traveller design meetings, which I may or may not use here.
Let me use the power of quoting myself.
One thought is, rather than the usual ways cards are improved, to give the various bad characters the keyword “Unsuckiness”. When a character with Unsuckiness comes into play, you may increase its Fighting by its printed cost. Or, use whatever numbers. Cost reduction as an alternative was also a thought.
This is something just posted in Discord.
So, why does this matter?
Designing in a vacuum is hard. Riffing on what already exists is much easier. Taking into account observations from playing with stuff is a lot easier when there’s something to observe.
While not limited to original sets in CCGs, original set cards most often have the greatest variance in power. Really, really awful cards get made.
Instead of trying to deal with cards in a piecemeal way, having one “make them better” mechanic is an idea. Is it a good idea? Very possibly not, as awful cards are still going to be awful to different degrees and a mechanic that works well for one card may either be too good or not good enough for another.
But, it’s an idea. And, today, is more about ideas than solving all of your problems.
A possibly viable VTES deck construction method: pick a card, build a deck around that card using the best possible other cards, then remove the card you picked from the deck. Actually, this probably applies to most CCGs.
If you don’t get what I’m really saying here, then you either don’t build decks like a lot of us or don’t build a lot of decks.
What I’m really saying here is that lots of ideas are fine for exploring more deckbuilding space within CCGs, but a lot of those ideas are going to be suboptimal or just plain bad. My first Dagger deck ran Dominate for Deflection and possibly even plus bleed and ran Fortitude. Running Fortitude is often not that productive unless it’s for Freak Drive or Daring the Dawn, but running Dominate is pretty much going to increase your viability rating. Lots of vampires are not good. Build decks with them to confirm that. Then, when you confirm that, take them out and see if the rest of the deck does something good.
Even if you don’t care about building good decks, just want to do something different, can end up building a deck around some rarely played card where the rest of the deck is interesting and the deck is still better than whatever card you started with.
A propos of playing Highlander decks, something I want to explore more is playing with lower CL than games normally have. While Highlander is the extreme, 2cl doesn’t lock someone in to nearly the same degree yet forces away from the paradigm of building around specific cards. Where SF has no deck size restrictions and already has a CL that makes low CL more feasible, I should really do a lot more with 2cl to disrupt deckbuilding ruts. While simultaneously working on 5cl decks to see if get a noticeable level of “I’m thinking differently when switching between these decks” rather than burning out quickly on different for the sake of different.
Of course, Highlander in Traveller is something I should also be doing far more often. Anything Traveller should be doing something far more often …
Also in the realm of building more interesting decks is an idea I thought about some number of years ago but haven’t made a big deal of. Instead of the extreme of Highlander decks in whatever CCG, just go with less card limit than normal. Sure, VTES can just be going with a CL at all, which I’ve done a lot of, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a 2cl VTES deck, where I have done like two Highlander decks.
Even in a 3cl game, like B5, WoT, or a game that’s in print like Traveller, going to 2cl is not the same as 1cl. You still are likely to end up with more unpredictability while also having more consistency.
Emphasis: The point isn’t to fix the game. The point isn’t to relieve boredom, though *a* point could be relieving boredom. The point is to think about how reduced consistency in deck construction actually affects play rather than theoretically does.
So, those are CCG ideas. How about RPGs?
Preplanned Glory/Honor rewards.
Lots of games have such things as a Ring of Wishes in a side room that will melt if you cast Fireball at the monster. L5R has Glory, Honor, and Status problems as I’ve mentioned before. One of the problems with any of them is giving out gains and losses.
HoR has fixed ways to gain or lose Glory and Honor. But, they are too infrequent (well, Honor is too infrequent) and not splashy enough in many cases, such as all of those cases where one’s Glory or Honor is high enough in HoR4 that you don’t gain anything. HoR4 also has the problem with Glory of just shifting the standard Glory Rank. Instead of 10 being the norm, 5.9 is the norm. That, too, is boring.
While you can just use the table when someone does something on their own like craft something well, can lay out scenes with an if/then and with gradations. “Wandering aimlessly across the Empire, you have a disturbance to the left and a disturbance involving lots of smokeshow geisha to the right. What now mechwarrior?” Then, have win/lose conditions for each possible story hook the party decides to get involved in. Can also scale based on how much of the party gives a crap. It’s different if four PCs solve the great geisha gobsmacker than if one does.
Not my idea. I was talking about turning Glory into a currency, where you spend it to do things, when my GM started in on the idea of getting Glory currency that can be spent without affecting your Glory Rank, as I totally agree that it’s a thematic fail to spend Glory itself.
How you get the coins, how much you get, etc. all TBD. Hey, run with these ideas and solve your own problems.
The more I consider house rules, the more I understand the idea of trying to avoid them. The problem isn’t that RAW are most awesomest because they clearly aren’t. Some of the problem is that keeping in mind rules at variance to RAW is just harder, where a lot of people don’t understand RAW to begin with so that the house rules make even less sense.
The biggest problem is that everyone else might be wrong. Where all of my house rules are the pinnacle of human/vampire/dhampir/whatever achievement, other people want to do silly stuff that makes playing harder and has all sorts of unintentional consequences.
Also, again, not a whole lot of people understand the RAW to begin with, including those who are making house rules. I don’t necessarily mean the rule that is being changed but all of the rest of the game’s mechanics that may interact with what is being changed. If you remove grappling from L5R 4e, sure, you get a better game, but you eliminate an option for characters that may not have other useful options. If you suddenly make Glory do something, then do characters chase Glory rather than telling deep, moving personal arc stories about their struggles between serving their lords and (surrepticiously) servicing hotties?
More than one of my RPG campaigns has a time problem. Players just take way too much time (not) doing things. The reasons are different in different campaigns, so this is a topic for a much deeper post, but, like, whatevers.
Think about what you want to do. Think about it between sessions. Think about it when it isn’t your turn. When some other character is off somewhere else.
Think holistically – what does the party want to do? Figure it out fast. Then, write it down.
Write stuff down. Something I think is eating up tons of time in one game and some time in another is that what is going on requires way too much confirmation. We are playing on Discord, folks. Just write it into the chat channel. Then, it can be referenced without being rehashed.
Write notes. Sure, my notes are actually not as good as some other people’s in recent play, which I find surprising because so often I play with people who don’t take any notes. It gets old when people can’t remember NPC names when could have just written it down. Or, Temptation some other player to write stuff down for you, then actually bother to review the work others did that you could have been doing so that you have as good an idea of what’s going on as possible.
Focus on what matters. This could be something like figure out what causes the party to take action rather than debate hypotheticals. Or, it could be something like only worrying about things that affect play while playing. Yes, OOC humor happens. Shouldn’t spend a lot of time on this or other things that don’t affect play. Don’t care what the hibernation habits of bear armies are if going to let sleeping bears lie. Mechanics that aren’t germaine don’t pertain (TM, C, R).
Understand your character’s abilities. Yes, this requires understanding the game system. Then, understand what other PCs can do. Especially in combat, your character is not in a duel with whoever is in front of it. For instance, recent combat I had too many things to do (such is the way of gods). I both facilitated an end to the combat that was not a sterling victory while also making certain decisions that seem in hindsight to be suboptimal. I became too focused on my burning evil. I could have facilitated others burning evil before I eventually got around to it.
A different example of understanding other PCs’ abilities. One group has a massive brain. Brains are made for Medicine and Lores. We instead use an average brain and a tiny, feeble brain on such things. Why do we hate ourselves so much?
Different campaign. We avoid danger like the plague. Yet, two out of three of the PCs have combat oriented magical abilities. So, in trying as hard as possible to avoid confrontation with the forces of naughtiness, we take longer “investigating in force”.
Well, this was pretty incoherent. Excelsior!