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MoonHunter Sayeth 20170705


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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If you let it in your game, you get what you deserve.

Yes, another interesting piece of game advice in the place of The Create a Story Arc the MoonHunter way, which is taking more revision and editing than I expected. In its place is this fabulous work…
If you have been following along, you will know that one of my kids is in love with D&D 3.5. He is a data gamer, collecting and memorizing every possible feat, power, skill, and so on for 3.5. Much to my shame, he is also a power gamer. (**Sob**) Okay, let me clarify that. He finds interesting combinations of powers that can be very effective and linked thematically, and then builds a fairly convincing character around them. So he is more like a Theme Player with strong game fu…. Just with a few too many dark side points.

This came up over the last few days as he was showing off his latest creation. He was creating a character based on some obscure feats that would let him hit with a touch attack and do good damage to normal being and supernatural beings, while being a mage (yet functioning like a monk). So I followed his logic and abilities. The feats and skills were spread across three different books, some of them third party (or very nicely done fan made product). The gestalt effects of these powers were pretty excessive (there were some other effects he had not yet realized he could do.) Then I came across the capping power. It said, “With GM Permission Only”.

So I asked him, “Do you think any GM will let you bring this into their game.”

He shrugged. “It is perfectly legal. Why not?”

“Well lets see. It is monsterously powerful just from the first reading. It can do even more if you get two levels on it. And your most important feat/ power says, “With GM permission only”. “:

He at least acknowledged there might be a problem with a nod.

“Besides, unless the world is very gonzo, it is hard to have a character with that kind of background fit into most settings, let alone most chronicles.” (then we had the campaign/ chronicle discussion).

After we talked for a bit, I realized he had never had a GM say “No” to him before. His GMs, besides the infamous boyscout games I ran for him and his troop, had just accepted everything (though they did restrict which books they could pull from). So, he has only been gaming for about 9 months at a very low volume, so there will be hope for him. (He would also be a better DM than player, but that is another issue.)

So I steered the topic to “making sure the character fits the chronicle – setting and framework”. After a few minutes, I think he really got it. I also realize that I had quoted off a few truisms.

Enshrine this phrase
“If you have any doubts and let it into your game, you will have to deal with the inevitable consequences.”
There are many ways to put this. Another common way:
If you have any questions or doubts about a character (or other game element), don’t let it in. It will only lead to heartache later.

There are many corollaries to this…

A character may be perfectly legal, but not be suitable for the campaign or the troupe of characters currently in play.
The character’s mechanics/ power level must be comparable to the rest of the groups. The character’s conception and history must fit both the campaign world, the campaign being run, and the GM’s style of play.

Each character must fits into the world, and with the rest of the characters, before you let it in the game.
The character’s conception and history must fit the campaign being run. The character’s role in the group should be defined and have little overlap with the rest of the characters. The character should have ties to the rest of the group and the world around it. Once a character is in play, it is really hard to fix these mistakes. Also by doing a little work ahead of time to make the character fit, you will have fewer problems than if you didn’t.

Check out the game mechanics, many innocent combinations create synergetic effects beyond what you might expect.
Look at what the character can do, singularly and in combination. This should include skills, powers, and abilities. Too many storytelling GMs, or GMs that emphasize the story aspect, ignore the game mechanics of the character in favor of its story. Yet certain combinations create huge effects that have scaled far beyond what you as the GM want in the game. And in situations when you will be using the mechanics, these character effects will dominate your scene.

Check out the game mechanics so the character can actually do what its conception says it can.
Here comes the story. I had friends who had wonderful conceptions, but they required HUGE number of creation points or that were purchased poorly and were ineffective. (A character that was a jack of many trades with no skills at all, just a modifier to any die roll… or a courtly character without courtly contacts or skills.) Some people want to be a master surgeon, yet don’t buy enough medical skill to accomplish anything better than first aid. They want to be friends with everyone in high places, but did not purchase contacts and any social skills. People need to remember that this is a game, that they are playing… so must choose wisely their abilities and backgrounds carefully.

Pay attention to the characters as play advances, experience can make the character unrecognizable.
Character creation does not stop once the game begins. It is an ongoing process. Characters will take on new skills and abilities through character advancements. Problems you as the GM thought you dodged at character creation will come back to haunt you in the experience phase. The GM needs to carefully monitor and approve what the character takes with experience/ advancement and make sure it fits the campaign and style of game.

Related to above, give your character rewards in ways other than “power”. Magic tchotchkes and interesting crunchy bits are always fun, but as the power level of the characters advances, so does the power level of the opposition. It creates an “arms race” where bigger threats are created to match their items, and they must have more powerful items to meet the next threat. Characters could be given contacts, or lands they are responsible for, or awards of honor (giving the character name recognition). This keeps the “arms race” in the campaign down, ties the character to the world, and gives the characters new avenues of adventure.

Think carefully about the elements you add to your world. What might seem to be a “cool” or “neat” thing to add to your game setting, might be unbalanced in the long run. Consider what people are going to do with the elements (and the powers/ effects they bring) to the setting. Remember, if it exists in the world, the players are going to get access to it eventually. So never put anything in your world you don’t want used against you.

Remember: If you let it in your game, you get what you deserve.

It needs to be said.

When in doubt, keep it out.


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While I agree with the broad strokes of what you advocate, I have also encountered DMs who use similar reasoning to shut down player creativity on the flimsiest of pretexts (mostly in service of not having to read another paragraph of rules I suspect).

Knowledge of the rules is a virtue, knee jerk reactions to new splats is not. Fortress "BadWrongFun" ends up making the game poorer in the long run I've always found.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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There are good GMs and bad GMs. The idea is to keep things in line with what they both understand and fit the setting they have in mind. Mindless rejection is never a good idea.

While not singling splats out, there are good splats and bad splats, "official splats" and "fan splats" of questionable balance and technique. A lot of people simply use the "new splat they found (on the net)" to get some edge that no one else has (and people are not familiar with). (I have seen this a lot with my recent exposure to D&D 3.5/4/5 with feats just taken out of contest of their books.) I guess, in addition to good GMs and bad GMs, there are good players and bad players.

Note: This was a "the way of things" in the Car Wars world for a while. Who ever had the new equipment catalog, tended to win tournaments and games in general... until everyone started using it.

The take away: Everyone in should be working together, with rules they understand and setting they can agree upon, to have a good game that they can all enjoy.
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Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
There is a phrase that I should of included, but was not used in the original conversation

"Yes, your character is perfectly legal and might fit certain aspects of the chronicle, but it does not fit the current chronicle as I see it at this time."

It is a very nice way to acknowledge that the character works in the game/ system, but does not work for the chronicle as it currently is being played. Or the GM does not feel comfortable with the character.
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