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Dave Allen

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    Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

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  1. Generally speaking I'm not a fan of having the GM introduce a character into the party for long lengths of time that he or she controls as if it were another player. Indeed a couple of my own worst experiences as a player include times when the GM has had his or her own characters turn up and start doing stuff. At best it feels like the GM is taking up too much of the spotlight (and really the GM should be doing most of the talking and acting anyway) at worst it feels like an ego trip - as I have on occasion had GMs have their character either smugly solve all the interesting challenges of an adventure or become irritating agent provocateurs who essentially ruin the fun. So I would resist the temptation. I can think of a few exceptions. I think it could be useful if you have a group who are new to the game or RPGing in general if there is an NPC in the party who can show them how things are done for a session or two. That might work provided the NPC does not take the initiative away from the other players and dies or leaves once they have found their feet. I also think that if the players insist on hanging around with a particular NPC (including animal companions and familiars and such) that it is useful for the GM to invest in them and give them a bit of personality and drive of their own (if only to teach the PCs that they can't treat other organisms with the same degree of predictable utility as inanimate objects). That said I do think GMs should invest in NPCs and enjoy introducing recurring characters and contacts. However the focus should always return to the player characters and I don't think any NPC should become so important as to be indispensable.
  2. valvorik said: a little disdainful in expression according to google image Even the nice aristocrats cultivate a little cultural alienation.
  3. Have a look at "Comtessa" for Freebooters Fate.
  4. cparadis said: I'm reading through The Enemy Within now and absolutely loving it. Not sure how I'll feel when I finish, but I think there are some great ideas in here. That is very nice to hear, so ta and such. Hope it all works well when used in anger.
  5. Emirikol said: Instead of "Make a Folklore Check", there are at least a couple named peasants (not fully statted mind you, just named) Hi Jay Whilst most of your guidelines are comprehensible I'm really not sure what you're getting at here. I'll hazard a guess that you are suggesting that people should avoid driving their plot through the passing of skill checks, as they can fail or players may neglect to use their skills at critical points, but it's not clear. I'm not sure why, for example, having a named peasant would compensate for a folklore check (why - does he just appear and tell the party the relevent folklore at the relevent point?). If I'm right then I think that's something of a shame. Skill checks are a part of the game and I think players who like to use them should receive the occasional bonus. They shouldn't be critical to the plot, but they should provide opportunity for things like helpful (but not critical) ideas, clues, shortcuts, additional background context and so on… So if you're saying "don't let the game grind to a halt because of a failed test" then yes - fine - I fully approve. But if you are saying "don't have stuff like folklore checks" then I think that's unecessary really, and failing to showcase an important aspect of the game. If I'm not right then what do you mean?
  6. I wouldn't disagree with you about the columns, minimum word length or convention-focussed stipulations, which I too think are a bit arbitrary. I do think a maximum word length stipulation is a good idea, because it does prevent people from just writing up their campaign notes and giving you a great long messy article to read. I also think a good short scenario tends to see more use than a lengthy one (easier to drop into campaigns and conventions and so on). An upper limit of 13,000 words strikes me as a decent limit in that regard. Because it's a competition I do think it is a good idea to tell people what sort of thing impresses you in a scenario - then you can judge according to such criteria, but the more formal restrictions you put on it the fewer people will join and the more may drop out or send in something half-baked. So I would say Emrikol would be best placed saying "I want people to adopt these strict rules (deadline, wordcount and so on), and have these informal guidelines (playable in 4 hours, could make for a good convention game, clearly formatted and so on) in mind when doing their scenarios". This way people wouldn't be put off by stipulations they didn't care for - but they have fair warning about why they might not place highly if they eschew a number of the guidelines. I found that a very helpful approach when I ran similar competitions, especially when it came to judging between two scenarios of very similar quality - I could just say "well they are more or less as good as each other, but contestant A stuck to the brief more so he gets to win" in such instances. However, I do think such an approach may be undermined by Emrikol's decision to have a commitee of judges, which I think is a mistake. 1 judge (him) would be better, he could appoint people to help provide him with second opinions of course, but really there should be a single judge who makes his criteria for judging clear. IMO.
  7. I used to be quite partial, but after Prawn Cocktail/Roast Duck/Eton Mess #56 I got bored. Still, it is a fascinating exercise in Game Theory.
  8. Are you obliging writers who submit to judge other entries? Seems like a wrong move to me for two reasons. 1) A lot more work for writers, especially if a large number of people enter. This may put people off. 2) A clever but underhand entrant might claim that the stronger scenarios are weak and vice versa in order to improve his or her own chances of victory. I would just explain what sort of thing you are looking for from a scenario, allow for some wriggle room and then judge accordingly yourself.
  9. Emirikol said: Wouldn't they prefer to assist the Druchii in their ongoing war against the elves though? The War of the Beard was settled more than three and a half millennia ago, and in the Dwarfs' favour. Whilst mutual dislike forms an important part of identity for both Elves and Dwarfs they haven't engaged in full scale war since -1560 IC. A long time ago - even for a Dwarf. The Grudge against Ulthuan as a nation, and the High Elves as people, was settled with the death of Caledor II, the Phoenix Crown taken as "full recompense" according to timelines in various sources. Whilst there may have been violence and grudges between certain Dwarf and Elf factions in that time they have allied more often than fought. So - with the possible exception of a few petulant skirmishes - what ongoing war?
  10. What about the Dwarf experience of Druchii would lead them to some sort of alliance? Surely everything the Dwarfs dislike about 'regular' elves (that they are decadent, distrustful, and so on...) applies just as much, if not more so, to the Druchii. You might be applying a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" here. But I think in doing so you not only treat a cliche as law, but overestimate the degree of hostility between the Dwarf realms and Ulthuan and the Dwarfs understanding of what Dark Elves are. The Dwarf 'hot war' with Ulthuan was settled with the slaying of the Phoenix King which ended the war of the beard, and the High Elves' abandonment of the Old World. These days the Dwarfs and High Elves exist in a state of mutual mistrust, though they are still apparently able to unite in the face of Chaos incursion. The Dark Elves, meanwhile, are known to prey upon coastal regions, including conducting slave raids on allies of the Dwarfs.
  11. Manannan MacLir Other Names: Manawydan Ap Llyr, Manawydden, Manann, Oirbsen. Location: Ireland, Wales. Description: He dressed in a green cloak and gold headband. He was a shape-shifter. Chief Irish sea God. His swine magickally renewed themselves, were the chief food of the Tuatha De Danann and kept them from aging. He had famous weapons that included two spears called Yellow Shaft and Red Javelin; swords called the Retaliator, Great Fury and Little Furty. He had magick armor that prevented wounds and could make the Tuatha invisible at will. Rules Over: Sea, navigators, storms, weather at sea, fertility, sailing, weather-forecasting, magick, arts, merchants and commerce, rebirth. Taken from a guide to celtic dieties. So neither RPG set precedent.
  12. I hear you. I think a lot of inexperienced or overwhelmed GMs make similar mistakes: * They forget to use the "no vital clue should be withheld from the players" if they are trying Perhaps. I think he was probably trying to add some verisimilitude to the proceedings by thinking "well, not everyone in the inn knows him and he isn't lilely to just be here all the time" - but that's not really relevant and waiting around is just boring. * Keep the game moving. If they seem like they're confused or bored, reiterate why they're there and go right ahead and give them TWO good options of what to do. Sometimes players are tired, bored, or ADHD and just need a little guidance To be honest I wouldn't bother with the second option at this juncture. Just get them talking to Vern, on the wagon and up to the manor. At that point they start having conflicts, interactions and a detailed environment to explore - options galore. The only reason to give them options in Ubersreik is if you have the mental or physical resources to hand weith which to turn Ubersreik into an intertesting environment with other stuff going on. I really wouldn't do that unless I was plannign to run Edge of Night or something else - if so I might work in some little foreshadowing episodes - but only if I was confident it wouldn't end up with too much time chasing red herrings. * Sometimes you need to kick a player the hell out of your group or not invite them back (we call that openly cancelling the game and then secretly playing True, but again (with a reiteration of how hard it is to be a GM and with all respect and support for the guy) I'm not sure the problem here is problem players as much as general inexperience. So i don't know - maybe they really were unreasonable, but it sounds like he had set a precedent for allowing them to create eccentric characters and interpret the game world by suggesting the brothel, and then he had to deal with the consequences of that and ended up getting frustrated. I REALLY don't want to be harsh - I have been there myself - but it sounded to me like the guy was liberal when he should have been strict ("OK, have an oddball wizard, OK, have a nearby brothel") and strict when he should have been liberal ("OK, so you want to get on now, well I am going to make you wait around for a bit more first"). * PLAYERS NEED TRAINING. I think when a GM starts a campaign, with existing players or new players, he really needs to lay down the table rules on what he expect and what he's trying to portray: Well, they don't need as much training as a GM. This I think is a reasonable expectation of a player: * You are to interpret your character within reason, with an eye to making it a fun game, the mechanics and background should be your guide unless the GM makes exception. And this is a reasonable expectation of a GM: * You are to interpret everything else within reason, with an eye to making it a fun game, the mechanics and background should be your guide but if not it's only fair to let your players know about any exceptions you wish them to honour. That's my general philosophy to it anyway - at least with new groups. Once you all get to know one another and trust each other it can get looser I think. With this philosophy in mind I would answer your list in the following way. Names - allow players to name their characters. I would let most fantasy-sounding names go whether or not they are WFRP-specific, though i prefer apt names if possible. If wildly inappropriate I would try a compromise ("Bob Bobbindoglover's a bit wierd for warhammer - how about Bert Wulflieb or something? That's kind of cod-German for 'wolf love'.") Social or Combat? Totally up to them as far as I am concerned. As far as obliging players to add things in to their character concepts i would only go so far as to suggest things the adventure absolutely requires in order to work (for example if playing the Enemy Within campaign strictly as written you really need someone who knows how to handle a boat and dwarfs will be a problem at the start - some adventures require a PC with magical sight - and so on). Replacement chaacters - I would certainly think about this is a player makes an inappropriate character and then plays it recklessly. For example if I had a player play a grey wizard who could cast bright magic I would expect him to get himself killed. I might even say "this guy will probably be killed unless he is extremely careful, do you want to create a quick backup concept?" This helps me by setting precedent for harsh treatment if the guy does start blasting out fireballs, and also takes the sting out of it a bit when NPCs and so on inevitably victimise the character. Also I think sometimes a backup or replacement character can help keep the show on the road. Imagine playing An Eye for an Eye and during the day a lone dwarf appears from Karak Azgaraz on the trail of a lost ancestral hammer. Perhaps the rest of his party have been killed on the way and he himself is in need of first aid and bedrest. He needn't play much more of a role but could provide a spare PC. Thinking about it you needn't go that far, any of the soldiers or servants at the manor, or the drugged coachman, might feasibly want to take up a life of adventure once they met the PCs. Ashaffenburg might even encourage it if he wants to patronise the group. And so on... This has a downside - in that players who lose their character get a replacement over whom they have no control vis a vis character concept. There is an opportunity here though in that a player who enjoys playing a freak can be told "OK play it - but if it annoys others and gets killed your replacement is likely to be someone from the area, and they are likely to be much more mundane - so you better be careful with your secret Dark Elf Spy (or whatever) if you don't want to end up with a soldier or servant". If they really hate that then they can always make a more interesting replacement when they are next in a cosmopolitan environment - when they get back to Ubersreik or whatever. The only problem with this approach, I find, is during wilderness campaigns were PCs can be on their own for long stretches of time. The other stuff - money - session arrangements and so on - I think that's best left up to the culture of the particular group really. I tend to be pretty liberal about such things just because I want players to have fun, but I know other GMs who are really strict and still manage a fun game. On the other hand I think it fair to make sure players understand and appreciate the work the GM does in prepping the game and compensate for that - for example most experienced groups I have been a part of adopt a guideline that the GM does not have to buy his own drinks or dinner on a game night.
  13. To be honest - and I say this with all due sympathy for GMs - but if I was part of a somewhat rambunctuous group, and we went into a tavern to look for a contact, and we were told we had to wait about for him to arrive - I would probably become distracted myself. And if I was new to the background and system I would probably be even more impatient for something that I could interact with to occur. So - whilst I feel the guy's pain - I think he made some mistakes, and that he is blaming the consequences for these mistakes on his players. Firstly it doesn't sound like he made an awful lot of effort to explain to his magic-using PC why a bright wizard/grey wizard combo was inappropriate. In his position I would have stated very clearly that such a character would either be boring to play (hiding his heretical abilities all the time) or soon to be killed (the minute anyone with any authority heard about a grey wizard doling out fireballs) and I would have forced a choice either way before proceeding. Wizards who mix college magic either hide it well, fall to chaos, or get burnt at the stake, and those aren't options I would want to explore in an introductory scenario based around an Eye for an Eye. Secondly I would say that if you don't want your players to joke and goof about with you - don't joke and goof about with them. So if I had players who wanted to force a tangent about brothels, and I didn't want to deal with that, I would not say "well yes there is a nearby brothel", because of course they will get distracted and wonder what's going on at the knocking shop. So the correct response to "the red moon - that isn't a brothel is it?" is "ha ha - no just a tavern". Joke acknowledged and no fuel for distraction, see? Lastly, and this really is the killer for me, when the PCs finally started asking around and following the adventure cues the GM put his own barriers up by deciding the Vern Hendrick was not known to the patrons of the inn and that the PCs had to ask the right inhabitant of the Red Moon and then - furthermore - wait around for him to arrive. Even I, as an experienced player and GM who is willing to be patient as long as I am sober, would resent that sort of GMing. If the players are acting bored the last thing you do is slow the pace - you should ramp it up until they get to an interesting part of the adventure - which for new players tends to be conflicts, interactions, investigations or puzzles. So by that point the GM should have responded to the enquiry of "do you know where we can find Vern Hendrick" by saying "the guy says 'ah - you have found him - are you here about the job, well sit down and let me tell you all about it...'" And then get them out of Ubersreik and into the manor so they can start interacting and doing interesting stuff. I hope I'm not being too harsh on the GM - it is hard and pretty thankless work at the best of times - but new players should be expected to adopt archetypes like the mad wizard or kleptomaniac thief by the nature of being new - and you need to anticipate that a bit by forcing the relevent events of the adventure. As the players and GM gain experience it can then become easier to allow for fleshing out tangents and eccentricities, like having to wait around or ask more than one patron for guidance. But I really think introducing that sort of detail in a first game just leads to this sort of confusion. I think the GM understandbly tried to give Ubersreik a bit more colour and detail than is given in the adventure. But the reason Ubersreik isn't detailed is because it's only there to provide a reason to go to the manor, so unless the GM had thought up some real extra detail and events of interest in Ubersreik the best thing to do was get the party on the road ASAP.
  14. Just to back up the same point really - people in modern day pharmacies tend to follow the prescriptions of doctors rather than diagnose and treat problems themselves. The apothecary career represents someone who tends to know how to follow a recipie to make a palliative or poultice or whatever, whilst the medicine skill represents actually knowing a bit about human biology and the diagnosis and treament of ailments. And they are rather different skill sets.
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