Tuesday, December 15, 2015

D&D / OSR: Using Narrative Sharing in Traditional RPGs - Part 2

So you might have read through the wall of text that was prior article and thought "That's all well and good, but you actually haven't shown me how my game will be improved."

To which I say, "Allow me to illustrate with some examples." Most of these come directly from the examples given by other bloggers where they claim the DM should "Just say No!". I decided to counter with how the DM could actually say "Yes!" and not destroy reality as we know it.

If you have not read Part 1 of this article, please review the full context before commenting. Thanks!

Monday, December 14, 2015

D&D / OSR: Using Narrative Sharing in Traditional RPGs - Part 1

Too Long; Didn't Read Summary: Narrative sharing ("Yes, and...") can really enhance the experience of the players and the DM at the table, and it will not result in the collapse of your game or Western Civilization as we know it.  You can read Part 2 of this article here.

The other day an OSR community member posted to G+ a critique of narrative sharing with the players -- more specifically the "Yes, and..." story telling technique in games like D&D or other d20/OSR based games. If you are not familiar, the "Yes, and" technique comes out of improvisational theater, but can be used with some modification in role playing games. It allows players to add detail to a scene that the DM might not have considered.

The problem with the critique article is that it stated that the advice related to the "Yes, and..." technique was "Always give the player whatever they ask for no matter how ridiculous or unrealistic to the scene/genre," which is a misrepresentation of the advice.

This is not at all how the "Yes, and..." technique is intended to be used and the examples given in the author's post illustrated a clear misunderstanding of the narrative sharing philosophy.

Friday, December 11, 2015

D&D 5e: Plague Zombie Disease

After a suggestion by +Kevin Boyd and a G+ conversation with +Eric Diaz, I came up with a Walking Dead style disease to accompany the Horde Zombie variant I published at the end of October.

For the zombie plague disease, I thought perhaps it should be treated in a similar manner as a death save (i.e. - a race between 3 successes or 3 fails to recover or die respectively). Unlike Walking Dead, this disease does not automatically kill the infected, but with the exhaustion mechanic together with CON damage, it is a very deadly disease. Use with caution against your players.

Between the Horde Zombie damage mechanic and the Plague Rot disease, your players will crap their pants whenever they come across zombies in the future. Even normal zombies will be that much more frightening because they won't be able to tell them apart. 

Zombie Plague Rot

When a player is infected by plague zombie rot, they must make a CON saving throw 8 hours after the initial infection and each day thereafter. On a failure, the PC takes a permanent 1d6 CON damage (with HP maximum permanently lowered accordingly) and 2 levels of exhaustion. (The new save is made using the adjusted CON score). Due to the nature of the disease, exhaustion may not be recovered while the PC is infected (except magically). After 3 failed saves, the PC dies and will rise as a Plague Zombie in 1d12 hours.

After 3 successful saves, the PC is healed of the disease, but still suffers the effects of the CON and HP loss. A Lesser Restoration spell will not automatically cure the disease, but may be used to grant the PC one automatic save toward recovery and heal 1 level of exhaustion. Three castings of the Lesser Restoration spell may be used to cure the disease, but does not restore lost CON or HP maximum. A Greater Restoration spell will cure the disease completely and restore the permanently lost CON and HP maximum.

Narrative Symptoms 

After infection, the wound location will have a red, nasty rash around the wound (even if HP healed). It will be apparent to the PC that some kind of infection is active.

Failed save 1: Red rash spreads from site of wound to other parts of the body. PC will have fever, sweats and chills. Exhaustion level 2 effects set in. PC is tired, listless, and moving slower as energy is sapped fighting the infection. 

Failed save 2: PC will look horrible. Pale, rashy, sweating profusely, shivering constantly, and barely able to fight or perform simple tasks (Disadvantage on everything from Exhaustion level 4). 

Failed save 3: The PC will look dead. Because he is. In a short time, he will look undead.

If the PC makes their 3rd successful save, they will begin to recover exhaustion levels normally. The fever will break and the rash will recede over the course of several days.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dragon+ Issue 4: More of the same?

Yeah, I know... dated subject matter.

I've fallen behind in my reviews of Dragon+... Mostly because I'm not terribly excited to write about a D&D resource that is only marginally useful in my mind and largely because my life has been full of so many things other than the blog, that I've barely written any posts in the last couple months.

So, if you are not terribly interested in the review details, the question is - has it gotten any better?

In a word, mostly not. Ok, technically that's two words. But, there is the occasional highlight which might indicate that there are small improvements. In brief, there is some entertaining fiction, The Thweem, and this month also includes the DDEX3-1 Shackles of Blood adventure. The rest of the magazine is mostly "meh."

Other Owlbear musings