Thursday, 8 December 2016

Character Pooling

TEAM PLAY (Optional)

Extract from Fallen Cities game (in development).

Team play is an option where a small group of players run and control a larger group of characters. There are several ways this can be handled.

Classically every player runs one character in a role playing game, but this is convention only. There is nothing that says you can’t run one, two or a bunch of characters at the same time. It isn’t really all that much harder to run two characters than it is to run one.

In several games I have played we had two or more characters available to us, but we only used one of them at a time, during a single adventure/session. This can be useful with games that have mortality rates, you just swap to your alternate character. This is better than fudging the arrival of a complete stranger.

Running multiple characters also works well when you have only 2 or 3 players, it gives them a much more viable group and prevents the GM having to scale down everything to suit the numbers they have playing.

In a game like Fallen Cities, where there are 8 different character archetypes, but you only have 4 players, you can allow them to run 2 characters each.  But if you have 5 players that doesn’t work as well, and you are still short of the 8 that would be ideal.

There are two options I am suggesting to handle this:

Spare Character Pool:

Where each player has one primary character they run, and any extra characters that may be needed, or wanted, are placed in a pool and are available to any player to act with at anytime. When a player wants to act, if they want to use one of the pool characters, they just do it.

Shared Character Pool:

This is a full extension of the pool idea. Players do NOT have a fixed character, they all share all the characters. When a player wants to act they simply select a character they wish to do it with and do it. AW mechanics actually lend themselves to this style of play.

You can include some controls, such as the same player cannot control two characters in a row (although they can suggest what another does).  This can be prone to dominant players taking control, but there are some systems you can put in place to handle this, and that you would probably do anyway.

In the first case the pool characters sheet is simply left in the centre of the table when not being used, which means the last person to use it puts it back, relinquishes the sheet to show they are finished with it. When a player wants to act, and if they wish to do so with a pool character, they simply take control of the sheet and do what they do, then return the sheet to the centre.

Another option would be to give everyone a copy of the pool characters, but then someone needs to be responsible for updating those sheets and keeping everyone uptodate.

If you find you have trouble controller who acts with pool characters, for eg one player tends to hog one of the sheets, you could bring in a rotation rule. Have a token that represents access to the pool and only the player with the token can take control of the pool character at any one time. Once they have used the token they pass it to the player on their left. Nothing stops any player from suggesting actions, but only the token controller can act in the voice of the pool character.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Using players to run NPCs

So I have been grumbling to myself for some time that running npcs is a chore, and often they lacked colour to the players who just looked at them as numbers to be overcome.  SO I sort an answer, which came to me due to a lot of reading I have been doing with games that have more narrative elements to them, freeing up the systems for all sides... I gave control to my players. GASP!

So when we have an encounter now I dole out NPC cards to the players with an outline of the creature/npc on one side and some boxes to fill out on the other, very quick fill boxes, and most of the time only one.

The players get to control the NPC almost completely, and I reward them to doing nasty things to players, being inventive and inflicting hurts. The best NPC player gets a coin they can use to cash in later for small benefits.

Turns out it worked really well, my players actually seem to like hurting the other players, and get excited and involved when given a chance to be inventive and surprising.  Who would have guessed.

So the game we are currently playing is Runequest 2.5 (the newly reprinted classic). Following is a page I give to all the players and allow them to select ONE option to apply to their NPC.  This remains a secret.

Some of them are restricted, like POW stones and magical items, they generally can only have one of these in a group.

So far it seems to be working really well.

Things you can do to the NPCs.

 Anything you  give them, you must use.
  • STR: +1AC, ^Dam dice, Strong/Powerful    
  • CON: +6hp, +2 cols. Sturdy/Robust
  • DEX: +10% Defence+Skills+Ranged -1SR, Quick
  • INT: +2 spells, Smart/Clever
  • CHA: +10Defence, +3HP, +1col, Handsome
  • SIZ: ^Dam bonus +3HPs +1 col -1SR Large

CHOICE of a battle spell, free use.
Extra 2 battle spells, random
Armour values +2
Chaos feature *2
+20% ATK in MELEE
+20% ATK in Ranged
+20% ATK in Thrown
+20% DEF
+20% PARRY
^dice Damage bonus
+4HPs, +1col
HEAL 6 spell ability
Bound spirit in Fetish +6POW
Comes with a trap somewhere
Blade venom 4
Uses POISONS, str3d6-1
SR is 2 less.
+20% to a useable skill, must use it.
Starts with advantageous position, or hidden.
Charger, Move +2 ATK+10% ^Dam dice
Battle potion.
Spell matrix *1
Fetish, one use magic
RANSOM, generally CHA/2x100L. Can double this but need to take an extra bonus.
Reinforcements: +1 average guys immediate OR +2 average guys in 3 rds. +3 average guys in 5rds.
Creative inspiration by YOU! AMAZE ME!
Auto hit, once, normal, target.
Team effort, if adjacent +20% for both, melee
Target, +20% attacking a selected target.

POW crystal 1d6+2pts, gains +2 spells or +4 levels. OR With a spirit, gain 3 spells or +6 levels, 2d6+4 POW.
A Magic Item *1

Creatures given to those without tokens first, else random
Fun&Creative use will result in a token reward from the GM. These can be cashed in for ‘stuff’? Minor magical items, rerolls, extra cards etc.
*1: if you take a magic item you must USE IT! If you gain it at the end it deducts from your rewards.

*2: A Chaos feature requires a chaos creature.