2009-08-04 RPG Circus Inspiration

I was listening to the RPG Circus #4 and two of the segments reminded me of things on my mind as well.

3-D Terrain for use in your RPG Games – I usually prefer No Battlemap, but if a battlemap is used, I prefer to use the Dungeon Tiles by Wizards of the Coast. I like them better than using a whiteboard or laminated sheet of paper. Getting my fingers dirty and wiping the maps is not my thing. The drawback with the tiles is that they are overproduced. I don’t need fancy tiles. I don’t need tables, chairs, skulls, corpses, etc. Finding the right tiles takes far too long, and I don’t fancy preparing my tiles ahead of time. Maybe I should just get myself a sheet or two of 1 in. squared paper, cut the tiles I need, and have the pieces laminated. I wonder where I could do that here in Zürich.

This is what our battlemaps usually looks like:

The simplest battlemap is the best

Notice how we’re using cheap generic wooden tokens for most characters. No painted miniatures for most of us, and no paper miniatures either.

The Pros and Cons of Authorative DM vs decentralized game authority – Yesterday I talked with three of my players and learnt something about myself and them. I was basically trying to argue rules-light, and the first player gave me the same argument another commenter left some months back: “rules-heavy provokes arguments about the rules, rules-light provokes arguments about what would realistically happen in a situation.” [1]

The reason this player liked the rules was security. At first I thought it was a statement of mistrust, ie. security against a DM trying to screw players, but it turned out that the rules are what allow players to make tactical decisions. This rings true. And I am in fact not very tactically minded when I’m playing D&D – I much prefer strategic decisions such as where to pick a fight, when to pick fights, with whom to pick fights, instead of an actual tactical wargame.

The second player didn’t like their character being truly in danger. I replied that being in danger was what made the entire thing an adventure. I want my character to be in danger, and conversely I’m not too attached to it. If the character dies – hopefully with a big bang! – I can laugh and cheer and roll up a new one in no time. Unless I’m playing a game where character generation is a chore such as D&D 3.5 or Rolemaster and unlike Labyrinth Lord or classic D&D editions. That, in turn, is also afforded by my play-style where I do a lot of postparation instead of preparation. Nothing is wasted because I interpret events after the fact.

We also had a big laugh when I told them that my DM nightmare was imagining me as the party wanker, telling every player “oooh, you’re good! you’re awesome! oh yeah, you hit it! you HIT it! aahhhh, you’re so awesome!!” X(

So both of these players wanted to be more in control of their characters and I enjoy games were I’m continually surprised. It’ll be interesting to work this out. I’m curious. :)

(Also, Canon Puncture Show #74 talks about long background and mentions the issue of control. I love it when Judd Karlman makes an appearance.)



I miss my painted minis. I used to paint sweet figs for every one of my characters. And I was pretty good at it, too.

I agree, the Dungeon Tiles are very nice – they provide the basic spacing, the general feel of the terrain (dungeon, outdoors, ancient ruins, etc.), and the random little things on the tile can stand in as randomly placed difficult terrain.

I can see both sides of the player control issue. I agree that a large part of the fun of RPGs is being surprised, and then thinking on your feet to handle an unexpected situation. At the same time, the only thing the players can really exert any sort of control over are their characters. So I can empathize with the desire to maintain that control whenever possible.

– Adrian 2009-08-04 19:59 UTC

Rob Conley also writes about dungeon tiles. He apparently likes the “bits” – small pieces of scenery to quickly toss on the map. Except I can never find what I’m looking for. :)

AlexSchroeder 2009-09-14 10:40 UTC

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