No theme, just some observations and thoughts.


Played V:TES in Pleasanton recently.  One game, about four hours, 20 minutes.  At the four mark, I was winning, even though my grandprey in the five-player had self-ousted right after rescuing one of my prey’s vampires (they were all in torpor).  It was an interesting game.  At times, some players didn’t have much to do, but everyone was highly involved some of the time.

It took me a few tries, but I nuked Jost with Anathema + Archon rush.  I was amused by my deck as I brought out Greger, gave him Potence, got blocked bleeding, so Disguised out a Deer Rifle!  If not for the Deer Rifle, I would have been toast as my predator had Basilia, who got both the Blade of Enoch and a Weighted Walking Stick, and my prey was Celerity/Protean aggpoke.  When my prey did get Desert Eagles, my guys started exploding.  I did end up using a couple of the Grenades I Concealed out as well as tried to punch a few times for five with Torn Signpost + Undead Strength.  Speaking of too many weapons, my grandpredator was playing a Pier 13, Ghoul Retainer deck.  Of my four Sabbat Threats, three were blocked and the other did a mighty one pool damage.


I am constantly amazed by groups that have had various campaigns that don’t make a concerted effort for party PC design.  I don’t mean the sort of “force you to storytell” mechanics of a game like FATE but just making sure that the party will have a reason to adventure together.  Nor do I mean mechanically fitting in a party, since GMs can adjust to party strengths and weaknesses.  Wargames, like D&D, might require that you have party balance to play “normal” adventures, but most RPGs handle unbalanced parties.  I mean in character reasons that my character would adventure with other characters I don’t like or have no respect for.  Same issue when introducing a new character to an existing party.

I’ve already designed a new character for one of my campaigns because I have yet to see how my current character would work with one of the other players.  Yes, I mean player, not PC.  His PC is an extension of his interests, like my character is the extension of mine.  The two PCs are polar opposites.  As I have an extremely collaborative personality and prioritize the plot and the party over individual goals/interests, it makes sense for me to create a better fit.  This was actually something I worried about as soon as I saw the other players’ concepts.  Now, I haven’t decided to switch characters yet as the campaign hasn’t progressed that far, but unless I see some real change in the party dynamic, I should pull the trigger soon.

I have frequently praised L5R.  I have noticed something, however, that is a weakness of the roll and keep system.  I quite enjoy the openended rolls possible when faced with a static target number.  I kind of ignore that the Raise system doesn’t work like it’s presented.  I have decided that I’m not much of a fan of contested/opposed rolls, however.  The random “I rolled 50 on 3k2” is cool when it, 1., is better than rolling 25 and, 2., isn’t rolled against another PC to determine who wins something.  I’m not even that thrilled when a NPC rolls some crazy number to beat a superior dice pool of a PC, but it’s especially unpleasant when two PCs are contending (in a contest, say) and the inferior competitor so often defeats the superior.


Was a busy weekend.

I’m fairly bored with most of Scepter of Zavandor at this point.  The parts I’m not bored with are the endgame manipulation of VPs and certain subtleties of play.  Not that these mean much when I play a better game than the people I typically play this with.  While others pointlessly pick up Crystal Balls, I get Crystals of Protection and far outproduce.  I’m the only one who ever seems to get the Tomcat Sentinel and convert my gems into Opals.  I’m happy to believe that there are better players than I, but I don’t need to be clever in how I buy Sentinels, be clever in when to buy inactive gems, or need to figure out how to ever get any use out of Crystal Ball.

I could report on our Seafarers of Catan game, which nobody seemed to enjoy, and our Dominion games, but I don’t like either game.  I at least like Scepter, even if I’ve grown tired of it.  It’s normal for me to tire of boardgames since they are so limited, so no big deal.  I still consider Puerto Rico the best Euroboardgame I’ve played and I grew tired of that years ago.  I did comment to someone in the group that I should look around for a new boardgame.

One Response to Salmagundi

  1. Azel says:

    Party justification, how PCs have a reason to be together, is one of those things I find rather important as well. Often you can start with an AD&D 3e/4e game and end up with the U.N. where every player represents a special niche of a unique race located in a small corner of the multiverse — and they all meet in this tavern to go looting. Very tiresome.

    I have noticed that games with strong biases help brainstorm justification to cover such confusion. For example, In Nomine has strong antipathy going on between factions that you have to have a good reason to set certain PCs together on a quest. And don’t expect PCs to be chums hitting the bar after a job well done. So sometimes the game’s reinforced setting prejudices makes this job easier.

    I often put out a local setting with known factions tied to the region. Players choose from the pre-approved pool — unless they have an amazing backstory w/o being a special snowflake (very, very rare). The benefit is PCs are a part of the local world, have general support, and have maintenance costs covered. Then it makes my job of creating hooks why certain factions would need each other’s help easier, while at the same time creating party justification.

    But it is a troublesome issue, I understand.

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