Avoiding the Grind

Back in my yoof I lived with the grind of “I try to hit, I fail to hit, he tries to hit me back, he fails’ combats. RQ3 was particularly bad, surprisingly at high 75%+ levels.

Then two games really blew my mind open and redefined how I refed the grind.

Cyberpunk 2013/2020 – There’s a small bit of GM advice pointing out Cyberpunks don’t get into Grinding fights. No they plan ambushes with Claymore mines and other such wacky hijinks. Unless they are surprised by an ambush themselves, a Cyberpunk never gets into a fight that they haven’t already won.

Feng-Shui – Awarding a bonus for good narration and coming up with cool stunts. Surprisingly if players don’t make up stuff to their advantage in this way it soon becomes a Grinding combat akin to the worst excesses of AD&D.

So in short these days I let players set up cleaver ambushes Cyberpunk style, let them draw enemies into that arrow trap the thief discovered earlier, and give bonuses and effects for cool stunts, such as bringing down loose masonry on the heads using a Telekinesis spell.

Funnily enough all this is echoed in Matt Finch’s’ “Quick Primer for Old School Gaming”, which contains a ton of advice about this very dilemma.

This all came out of a thread over at a thread on UK Roleplayers :Old School Conversations With Baz :: Whiffing

UK Masters module 1 Temple of Urshruuk

Rik Kershaw-Moore’s contribution to the UK Masters series  has been submitted and now enters layout and art commission.

It is but a day’s march from Muri to the strange black swamps of the Orum Mire, where the sluggish waters of the river Ach’kan meet the edge of the Ash Plains.
Here in the desolate swampland, half buried by the foul eruptions of Mount Terror, the river water turns as black as pitch, and teams with all forms of blasphemous abominations.
Therefore it comes as no surprise to you, when you hear the terrible screams that tell of men and horses fighting for their very lives.

OpenQuest 2 Progress update

Apologies if I’ve been quiet since the pre-order campaign ended. Its been a question of drawing up mundane To-do lists and knuckling under and getting the work done.  I’m planning to do at least monthly updates from now on.

The big big huge news is that OpenQuest 2 is going to be in colour 🙂

Just before the pre-order campaign ended, literaly in the last couple of days, I received an email from OneBookShelf who run Drivethrurpg.com/RPGNow.com saying that their POD printers now support what they call ‘standard color’. This new printing option works out a couple of pounds/dollars more expensive than black and white. Pending a successful print proof, this means that we can do OQ2 in colour. Certainly the PDF. So I spent an exciting couple of days emailing artist Simon Bray and discussing the practicalities with him. Turns out he had the time to colour in all his existing work and the new pieces he’s done for OQ2 and due to your generosity during the pre-order the cash was there to pay him. He has now completed for 60 or so pieces of art in OpenQuest 2, see the example below 🙂

I’m now working out if the money is available to colour Savage North, Life and Death and Here Be Dragons, within the deadlines that I’ve set for getting the books out to you. A bit of a rethink on my part, so bear with me while I sort it out.

Progress in other areas
New introduction has been written, Character generation has been tweaked and clarified and Battle magic now has 40+ new spells. Next up is new spells for Sorcery and Divine, as well as more example magic items. My overall plan is to get the updated core rules done by the end of this month, get the new material proofed and then update the adventure books. Layout should commence for OQ 2 in early Dec.

OpenQuest 2 art preview

I like ‘Bean’ counting

One of the big criticisms of Old School Style games, is the tendency for them to become a matter of resource management. Hit Points being a prime example. A party enters a Dungeon, gets into fights, carefully keeps a track of lost hit points managing the rate they are lost and regained (through healing spells/potions) and then returns to the surface when the Hit Point loss/refresh rate is working against them.

I’m especially conscious of this when I’m playing OpenQuest which has two sets of beans to count: Hit Points and Magic Points (especially if the party are exclusively using Battle Magic).   I’ve worried in the past that this goes against OQ’s story telling leanings, and occasionally come up with Magic Pointless spell casting rules (all of which have been unsatisfactory). But you know what, I’ve kinda come to love them and being strict about how quickly Beans can regenerate, as opposed to hand waving their recovery, can drive the story in interesting directions too.

….yes I’ve been working on OpenQuest 2 Battle Magic (40 + new spells) this lunch, can’t you tell 😉