Adventure Style

MountZionEditor said:
If the signal to noise ratio were't so remarkably good, I would think this was a newbie's club, having just noticed that three of the main contributors (myself included) are newbies.

Here's to getting boosted to shrwe, or whatever is after newbie..


As I mentioned before I've just never gotten much productive conversation (this has been a good one to clear my thoughts!) on these boards. I've lurked for a long time, having played in a very short Conan campaign when it first hit shelves and then WISHING my group would let me switch our long running Midnight campaign for Conan for several months prior to getting the current campaign going.
We play weekly so with 7 games in that's over two months with a saturday or two missed for scheduling conflicts.

But yeah - I'm still a newbie to the game/system, still learning things about it. I just take quicker to GMing techniques than the hard rules, feats and abilities.
Hence my EXTREME style for non-linear. :p


MountZionEditor said:
-Kev-
Your non-linear-to-the extreme style got me thinking last night. How would you handle to death of one or all PCs int he "past?" What would that do to the present? On one hand I want to say, hell with it, and address the problem only if it comes up. However, so as to end aroundthe I-can't-die-because-I'm-still-alive-in-the-future syndrome, I'd like to have some good answer for my players.


This is a question asked by one of the players that (while willing) was having a hard time letting go of linear games.


My answer for the players is YOU CAN DIE, you CAN be maimed, or have other great losses. I'm NOT pulling any punches just because we're telling a story that's "out" of time sequence.
Because
in my mind (and make sure it's in the players minds too) there is no "current" timeline OTHER than the one they're in at the moment in game... and frankly that could change with a quick cut scene if I've planned it.

Remind them over and over that YOU CAN DIE.


My answer, for myself, honestly is cross that bridge when I come to it. I have a few ideas but I'm not defining them until necessary.
The trick is that you can tell the players (if they question you) that don't worry you have a good plan IF that event happens... it's not lying, you will have one (usually a week or more between adventures to figure it out). As long as they think you have a brilliant plan they'll feel better.

I also "tell myself" that the player characters CAN'T die... almost to convince myself that it's okay to throw the kitchen sink at them. Don't let up. I've always had really good experiences with leaving things to chance in roleplaying games. As long as you have a good direction most times things can work to that "fate" that you sort of build for the characters.


I also happen to NEVER fudge die rolls. I roll them in front of the players all the time. Only hiding something if it's necessary to the drama of the scene. I've found that it's just much more effective for the players to all get to see you roll that natural 20 or natural 1 and all inbetween.
With that
it adds another bit of danger to this non-linear idea...

but again
I just roll on tough as ever and so far I haven't hit a moment I needed to explain (yet).



So...
NOT to cop out on you for the answer.
What would I really do if a death were to happen?


First.. there's always "Left for Dead"... that's an easy one if the players have a Fate Point. Explaining HOW they came back, explaining the other PC's reactions when the "dead" character showed up again (maybe months or years later, depending on your story timelines) can be a whole other adventure!!
I'd probably not jump to it right away... I'd probably tell a short story afterward for an adventure wherein the "dead" PC plays another character to show his group in a time without him/her.
Then tell that reserection story. Or possibly even teasing at it 1-2 adventures.


My second thought (if LfD isn't an option) is to do some research into the Conan mythology and see if I can find a demon, doppleganger, or sorceror with the ability to mimic humans...
OR choose to "spend a fate point" for the player (secretly) effectively leaving the dead PC Left for Dead as an NPC...
EITHER of these can explain how the dead character has been hanging around going on adventures (in the non-linear) with his friends. The trick is that when you come back to a story that's set anytime AFTER the most future set game ran so far THIS is the adventure that the "dead" character turns traitor on them!!
Either as a demon/doppleganger, etc... OR as the real character just given over to the corruption and turned bad, perhaps working as a spy against the other PCs from within their group.

Spy and cops go undercover for months/years at a time sometimes.
This is no different.



THEN
following this reveal - the "dead" character's player makes up a new character to continue on with. Usually a character that has been adventuring with the PCs in their past (so you could tell more non-linear stories).


sorry so long winded...
thoughts?
-kev-
 
Episodic style has been great in running conan, but is not necessary if you don't want to run it that way. I like it because I can run an adventure, not worry with the minutia of food and wealth, run the next adventure, which will lead off from the previous (e.g., after escaping from the oasis of the damned, you made your way east to XYZ city, and then...), skipping the time wasting of traveling from one place to another between adventures, etc. Makes for quite fun games!

This is in contrast to my typical style of being totally open-ended - i.e., the PCs get together in an adventuring group (necessary to have a group game), and I will give them seeds to seek out adventure to get them started, but from there, a lot depends on the PCs, their own goals, how they interact with NPCs, etc. Anyone can run a 100-level dungeon crawl, it's pretty linear and may be fun for some, but I prefer a game where I decide my wizard wants to go to XYZ locations to search for lost artifacts, etc. rather than the GM forcing PCs down a linear adventure path that may or may not fit their character backgrounds and goals.
 
MountZionEditor said:
However, so as to end aroundthe I-can't-die-because-I'm-still-alive-in-the-future syndrome, I'd like to have some good answer for my players.


a final thought on this...
answer their question about this with questions...

_________________________________________

P: "... this is great, I-can't-die-because-I'm-still-alive-in-the-future, I can do whatever I want"

GM: "Who says you're alive in the future?"

P: "... uh... we've already played those games, and I was there... hello... those games say I'm alive in the future..."

GM: "Really? What if that's not really 'YOU'?"

P: "...huh? of course it's me..."

GM: "how can you be sure?"

P: "Because I've played those games!"

GM: "What if you're really a zombie-revenant thing that'll lose control and eat his friends next adventure?"

P: "...uhh...."

GM: "the only real way to be SURE that that's 'YOU' is to survive this current game!!"
_________________________________________


If you HINT at things without actually fully explaining them and always always be confident in the fact that a game set in the past is JUST as deadly as any in the future - then I think your players will stop asking and have the same excitement to want to survive - perhaps even more...


Another trick is to talk about fate and destiny and how these heroes (your characters) have something greater to come, bad die rolls and such won't LET them die...

It also helps to have something that is largely based on fate as one of your first non-linear encounters...
As I mentioned my FIRST foray into the back-in-time storylines was telling the "origin" story of two characters meeting. In the players background he noted that one of the reasons that his character was well known among his company was that he had once challenged the Captain of the company... Normally the Captain would have him flogged. But this time the Captain saw a glimmer in the barbarian's eye and challenged him to a fist fight...
IF he were to win he could take command of the Company.
IF the Captain were to win the PC would follow him without question.

So...
with that set up I opened the game session in Media Res as the Captain was swinging a punch (ie. in the middle of this fistfight!).
I gave the Captain's stats (I'd made up only 2 levels higher than the PC) to another player to run in the combat. The idea was twofold
1. let the other player have fun in combat
2. show the PC (the one doubting non-linear style from the beginning) that I wasn't pulling punches, I was leaving it up to fate in the hands of a fellow player!

The other player noted that: "what if he rolls a few natural 20s and actually beats the Captain? won't it screw up continuity??"

I simply said... "he won't."


and as "fate" would have it the player controlling the NPC Captain actually played it awesomely... and with the last shot he rolled a Natural 20 to knock the PC out cold!!

We then went into roleplaying mode when the PC woke up later that night with the Captain checking on his new friend, talking about their past and having a hot stew together in the cold Mountains above Cimmeria.


HENCE - with that "lucky" bit of fate that fell on my side, we won any doubts about how this could work for non-linear storytelling over by proving the back "story" correct with the rolls of the dice!

good fun!
-kev-
 
demongg said:
But yeah - I'm still a newbie to the game/system, still learning things about it. I just take quicker to GMing techniques than the hard rules, feats and abilities.
Hence my EXTREME style for non-linear. :p

Actually my newbie comment was in regards to the appelation that the forum gives us. Apeman and I have been made shrews, so I can thumb my nose at you newbies. :wink:

Good posts and good answers all around. I think my fav is the idea that the only present time is the one we currently are playing in.

Do you have any hard fast way of retooling characters to represent they are 2 levels earlier?

I am definetely gonna gor for episodic and non-linear.

Almasiah Qom,
Raphael
 
MountZionEditor said:
Do you have any hard fast way of retooling characters to represent they are 2 levels earlier?

I have been thinking of this myself lately as the appeal of a non linear adventure is growing on me. Feats, ability score increases, and class abilities are a piece of cake to subtract off.

Skills aren't bad if the PCs have a set of favorites that they max at every level.

To me the challenge is hit points. My approach would be to subtract off all the con modifiers from current HP as well as any hp from feats like toughness. Subtract off the max hit die from first level, and divide that remaining total by the number of levels beyond first (round down to be nice to the PCs). For each level you are reducing the PC, subtract that many hp. Add back in the appropriate con modifier for the current level, and add in the 1st level max hp plus feats and such.

It should only take a player a few minutes to do. Am I missing any obvious obsticles to level reduction?
 
You should probably archive a copy of the PCs at various levels.

If you haven't played at the level previously, why not just subtract HP bonus for Con or any other lvl dependant modifier and roll a negative Hit Die? If you are a soldier and you are removing two levels take 2d10 off your HP.

To simplify things later, if you start the PC at a mid or high lvl, have them make versions of themselves at lower levels as well, a la Conan in the divers sources.

Xristos Kuxwoo-digoot!
Raphael
 
I've been running 'into the past' games for a long time since my player never had a set schedule. I even created a second set of PCs when it got bad[8)].

Mostly, the 'Side Treks' as I called them are played less hardcore than the main time line. Challenges are mostly in roleplaying- gaining more information on the larger plot for example. Sort of like an interactive 'special feature' on a DVD, if my campaign was the feature movie. One old trick in my Star Wars campaign was that the player worked for an orgainzation that owned a holodeck training facility. A lot fo times they were in training- which as I subscribe to the U.S. Army ideal is actually harder than what they'd expect in the field. 8) I'd halve experience for the game, as they can't die, but it was an excellent way to introduce new equipment, rules, Force abilities and work on team tatics.

There's another old trick REH, H. Rider Haggard and other authors at the turn of the last century used- past incarnation of heroes. 8) The main character would have a lotus like dream in which they relived a past life filled with adventure- and since their past incarnation is already dead- they can die w/o screwing up your timeline! 8) Yasmela's torture at the hands of the Master of the Black Circle ["The People of the Black Circle"]shows that sort of thing is possible. Just think the PCs' anguish in being trapped in a past incarnation's life while the who knows what is going on to his real body in the present. Also it could be done by a friendly/neutral sorcerer/sage to reveal information from a past life that is needed in the present. Since Atlantis, Lemuria and other past advanced cultures exist in REH/Lovecraft's world [and they are the same world- see 'Conan and Cthulhu' for details] you are not confined to 'cavemen' adventures if you don't want to be.

The reward? By 'recalling' a past life, the prest incarnation will regain 'exprience' he lost between incarnations, so XP is quite good. Also information- even spells for that matter could be 'recalled' this way. If they want treasure- well the best they can do is 'remember' where the cached it and hope it is still there. 8)

Raven
 
Raven Blackwell said:
I've been running 'into the past' games for a long time since my player never had a set schedule. I even created a second set of PCs when it got bad[8)].

Its funny... no matter what you say someone will say they have been doing it for years....


MountZionEditor said:
demongg said:
Do you have any hard fast way of retooling characters to represent they are 2 levels earlier?

the obvious.
D20 makes is super easy to track levels... just keep a copy of each level as the characters grow. and use them later to go back.

As for what I've done so far...
Nothing.
No changes.
In fact the characters started the campaign at 3rd Level, they went up a level as we gamed and then I did the "origin" episode. But I didn't have them reduce anything at all.
Why?
1. they had just gotten some of their cool new feats, etc... they would have been bummed to not get to test them out
2. does it really matter? (at least in a short 2-3 year timeframe jump) The PCs are heroes of destiny, they're made to be kings... their deeds will be epic. and in those epic tales their skills, strengths and weaknesses will always be greater than they originally were.
My point - a few extra hit points, skills, etc... won't matter a great deal in the big scheme of things. Just make sure and account for it in that adventure.

This idea goes alot along with the idea of the current game IS their present...


Then again in the more extreme situations (as I was mentioning a game telling a story in the PC's childhood) you'd need different stats to make it more believable. So making those up prior to the game would be fine.
I suggest that the player just go off their instincts decreasing for far past timelines or increasing for far future timelines...

Another thought is to ask the players to write up their characters at intervals in their career (as they show with Conan stats) telling them to make the character's progression at: 1st, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 20 or whatever.


Last thought...
Experience Points
I don't give them for Conan.
I explained the rational, that Conan isn't about collecting anything ... gold, xp, magic items, etc...
What I'm doing is keeping a good track of what they do/face during adventures (past, present or future) and award them a LEVEL as I see fit. So far this has worked out to every 3-4 game sessions.
The players are happy with it, and all the "greed" that comes with hoarding is gone.

what do you think?
-kev-
 
MountZionEditor said:
If you haven't played at the level previously, why not just subtract HP bonus for Con or any other lvl dependant modifier and roll a negative Hit Die? If you are a soldier and you are removing two levels take 2d10 off your HP.

From my D&D experience, when PCs have gotten negative levels, they have sometimes rolled higher on the negative dice rolls then on their initial hp roll. This resulted in extremely low hp that didn't adequately represent the PCs at the earlier level. If the PCs remembered what they have rolled for each level, then no problem. But otherwise subtracting off the average roll works the best.
 
demongg said:
As for what I've done so far...
Nothing.
No changes.
In fact the characters started the campaign at 3rd Level, they went up a level as we gamed and then I did the "origin" episode. But I didn't have them reduce anything at all.
Interesting. And I like your reasoning. You're not in East Tennesse where I could join your game are you?:wink: I'll have to mull this over a bit.

demongg said:
Last thought...
Experience Points
I don't give them for Conan.
I explained the rational, that Conan isn't about collecting anything ... gold, xp, magic items, etc...
What I'm doing is keeping a good track of what they do/face during adventures (past, present or future) and award them a LEVEL as I see fit. So far this has worked out to every 3-4 game sessions.
The players are happy with it, and all the "greed" that comes with hoarding is gone.

what do you think?
I think its basically what many of us whose games focus on roleplaying and not "roll" playing do in one way or another. It is one of the really nice things about Conan vs. DnD3/3.5. The game is more about the roleplaying than the accumulation of trohpies.

Kritos Anesti!
Raphael
 
demongg said:
Raven Blackwell said:
I've been running 'into the past' games for a long time since my player never had a set schedule. I even created a second set of PCs when it got bad[8)].

Its funny... no matter what you say someone will say they have been doing it for years....

Well I have been. It is just that people doing similiar things run into similiar problems and come up with similiar solutions independantly. Every Stone Age tribe in the world came up with agriculture independantly- it i just there was no Internet to talk about it with. 8)

As for XP, I like it. One of the things I like about RPGs see is the slow progression of self-omprovement and growth in a character due to the hardships they face. To assign them progress as you see fit doesn't seem as fun....lacks that 'randomness' that makes life more interesting.

Raven
 
Raven Blackwell said:
As for XP, I like it. One of the things I like about RPGs see is the slow progression of self-improvement and growth in a character due to the hardships they face.
Right and this can be done by raising the level either with XP or without :?
Raven Blackwell said:
To assign them progress as you see fit doesn't seem as fun....lacks that 'randomness' that makes life more interesting.
Raven

Hmm, well how do award XP? Based on monsters killed, foes defeated, situations overcome, and general roleplay quality? That doesn't seem too random. :wink:

I think it boils down to this: what works for you and your PCs may or may not be acceptable to me and my PCs. End of story. No rights or wrongs.

Kriste ahzdkhah!
Raphael
 
Hmm, well how do award XP? Based on monsters killed, foes defeated, situations overcome, and general roleplay quality? That doesn't seem too random. :wink:

Objective specific- what they accomplish they get rewarded for. The 'randomness' comes in is that different people accomplish different objectives, thus different levels of experience. Also, a number of times the players have only partially succeded [or worse] and gained lower levels of experience, so I can't assume that they'll be at 'X' level at 'Y" time for advancement because I don't know how much they managed to pull off right 8). Besides, the rules are right there- and I like 'crunchy' bits. Lets me use that college level math for something.

The real randomness though is that when a player gains the ability to 'level up' as it were, what levels he can take are determined by what reseources he has access to at the time. After riding with the Barachan Pirates for a while a Zamorian thief leveled up in Pirate instead of his 'native' class. Now that they are likely to be spending the winter with a [relatively] friendly Pict tribe, Barbarian/Borderer and Scholar [shaman] are all accesable to those who level up after the next part.

One of the reasons I like GMing better than the idea of writing is that I want to see just how the PCs wreck my plotlines and just how the world I created reacts. In my view, REH 'discovered' Hyboria within the dreamrealm [like Tolkien 'discovered' Middle-Earth 8)] That it has persisted this long indicates there is something deeper to it that mere words. 8) So I let it react to my player's actions and observe the result more than consider myself an omnipotent creator who forces her creations only onto paths she wants them to go in.

I think it boils down to this: what works for you and your PCs may or may not be acceptable to me and my PCs. End of story. No rights or wrongs.

Wasn't arguing right or wrong- just comparing and contrasting.

[If I was arguing, you'd know. :wink:]

Raven, relatively calm
 
Raven Blackwell said:
One of the reasons I like GMing better than the idea of writing is that I want to see just how the PCs wreck my plotlines and just how the world I created reacts. In my view, REH 'discovered' Hyboria within the dreamrealm [like Tolkien 'discovered' Middle-Earth 8)] That it has persisted this long indicates there is something deeper to it that mere words. 8) So I let it react to my player's actions and observe the result more than consider myself an omnipotent creator who forces her creations only onto paths she wants them to go in.

A bit off topic, but a while back I used to write stories. I had one scene in particular that I was writing where two people were in a dungeon. They guy in the scene was going to die, and the girl was going to be either sacrificed on an alter or saved by someone just as it was going to happen. While I wrote it, something very strange happened. The guy killed the gaurd who had come in picking a fight just after having his hand cut off. He then took a torch to cauterize the wound! I was so stunned, and impressed, I let him live...

The point, I guess, is that I enjoy having things change unexpectedly as well. My players do a great job of that...
 
I wrote a pastiche for fun in which I was exploring characters from another work [the Silent Hill series]. In it I began to notice the 'mutation' of characters and situations into new forms, but since I was confined by the need to come to a set end to match the storyline of the games, I noiced a type of 'frission' for lack of a better word, like the energy was confined unnatuarlly. Like the story was trying to grow beyond the limits I set for it. A little frightening, to realize you have so little control. 8)

Since then I haven't tried again- no time and mind fried by overwork/emotional stress lately. Plus, writers never seem to have good lives do they? Commiting suicide, bankrupt, questionable morals- a actuarian's nightmare. The only thing worse than that is being a rock star. 8)

Raven
 
Arkobla Conn said:
hey Greg - have you ever had a scene or character write itself like that (after you had decided on something different?)

Many times, though it's more a matter of the characters defying my expectations than anything else. It's happened in both narrative fiction and RPing (being a deeply immersive roleplayer who is wont to keep character journals, timelines, construct family trees and all manner of other time-wasting activities - I even became a bit of a WWI expert from researching background for a Cthulhu character). I figure it's all a result of having subconsciously fleshed out the character more than I realized - no matter what else I'm doing, some part of my mind is always turning over and over whatever project I'm working on. Then, when the given situation arises and the character goes off in some unexpected direction, I end up thinking 'Of course he or she would do that, because of X and Y and Z.' I'd just never made the connections before.

Still, it's cool when it happens. :)
 
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