Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday's Game 10 - 30 - 07

DM: Paul Reinwald
Game: Homebrew

This is the first post of this forum and I'm not at all sure of the form that this should take. So initially it's going to be a bit free-form.Last night was the fourth session that we've had playing Paul's game. Initial observations are:
  1. Paul's very good at creating a neat back-story and tension in a setting
  2. His NPC / characterizations are very believable
  3. He likes role playing
  4. His new system (house rules) seem to work but I'm not sure what they "Add"
  5. His game runs a little slow due to tons of details and some rules issues. He's using a computer to track much of this.
I'd like to talk about number '4' above in a little more detail for this post. It seems to me that there are two ways to "simulate" combat in a RPG. The first is to instill as much reality into the combat as possible. The appeal of this approach might be that it is trying to represent combat in a gritty, detail-oriented light. While some people absolutely love this approach, I'm not sure I do. I think that the hazards are that it slows the game (especially at higher levels) and becomes more of a board game in its terms of strategy.

The second way is to abstract combat and depend upon vocal descriptions in order to create a believable and energy-infused scene.

Paul has opted to take the first approach. His house rules have incorporated Damage Resistance (DR) for armor. While I completely understand the realism that it represents, I don't currently see what it's added to the game. A the moment it's transparent, meaning that the players don't track this stat at all. The whole thing is taken care of on Paul's computer.

The idea is to have armor "wear out" during battle... to have a life cycle more akin to armor in real life. But what I think might be missing in this is Paul's descriptions of what's happening to the armor as it's getting beat upon. So it's soaking up and taking damage during the course of a melee, describe that. We as players don't see any of this. It apparently just happens. And frankly, when it does, it's not going to make that particular PC very happy.

Suggestion: So my approach might be for the DM to make sure that IF they're going to try and create a house rule that adds some complexity, that they make sure that they represent that rule in their description of what's going on.

Example: "The orc captain's sword slices through the air with a whistle and impacts with your breastplate, causing a screech of metal on metal. It pierces the thick plate and draws a painful scarlet trail across your ribs..."

I realize that it's difficult work trying to creatively describe combat after combat. It's certainly an art that requires a lot of effort.

Suggestion: In order to arm yourself w/ reams of descriptive ammunition, read books that you feel represent the kind of genre of game that you're trying to run. Take notes.

There's more to write...but I'll leave some for the others. ;-)