Wednesday 12 March 2014

Not-Quite-Infinite Possibilities

Tactical Infinity is the beauty of RPGs. You can go anywhere, attempt any action, imagine your character however you like.

You might think the GM has the same sort of luxury. Creating crazy monsters, describing terrifying dungeon environments, and acting out memorable characters.

In reality, I've moved towards a few limitations.

There are certain things that exist in reality that I just won't put into a game. Above any ideas of tactical infinity, I want to play a fun game, and some things innately suck this fun away.

These are the first few entries on the list.

- Well-hidden traps that would likely kill the victim instantly. Think of a 100ft spiked pit, covered to look exactly like every other floor tile. At the moment, I'm only interested in traps you can interact with.

- Attempts at one-shot kills. I use HP as a sort of countdown-to-death, so going for a kill shot against anything with a good chunk of HP is an impossibility. In return, your character won't get sniped by a grassy gnoll.

- Characters with highly specialised skills. I use Ability Scores and no skills. I assume that adventurers are generally jack-of-all-trades, and I'm generous with their knowledge and capabilities. If you want to build the perfect diplomat or pickpocket then put your high Ability Score in the right place and play your character well to achieve the goals you have in mind. You're not going to get a +20 modifier to pickpocketing rolls off me.

- Sudden death out of nowhere. Some people die by losing their grip climbing a rope. You'll only do this if you're climbing a rope while flame-throwing drones harass you. If you're just climbing a rope, you can do it safely, even without a helmet.


  1. Good list.

    I feel like one-shot kills are okay as long as they are treated as hazards with clues provided. Because a one-shot kill really is a trap, and, like you write, that's only interesting if you can interact with it.

  2. I prefer the long game and drawn-out consequences e.g. Slow-acting poison creates more-interesting play - with the victim a liability- than the instant kill variety. I have no qualms about creating friction and suspense by hindering the party if they brought it on themselves. In my experience it's more fun for them, more a journey than 'bang, dead'.

  3. I heard about Die Bonehead Die on a 'Stuff To Watch' post on Story Games, and it's very neat. Reading back through the posts, is it what Arkbound turned into? Also, Into the Odd is fantastic, in all senses of the word. Thanks for your work!