Saturday, April 16, 2011

Actual Perplexing Polyhedron Actuality!

From Actual Plays To Actually Playing

For the longest time I was getting my RPG fix by listening to various actual plays. Some of them were really good, others... well lets just say not so much and leave it at that. Still it was fun to listen to the shenanigans even if I wasn't actually able to take part in it.

Then I was able to hook up with a gaming group and do the real thing and let me tell you.. serious difference! Don't get me wrong. APs definitely help to scratch the itch but if you're not currently gaming I'd definitely recommend getting out there and doing the real thing.

That's not to say that APs aren't useful to listen to. If there's a game that I want to find out more about, the first thing I do is look for any actual plays that might be out there. It's a great way to hear how the game plays out. In fact there are several podcasts that do APs just for this reason, The Walking Eye and Actual People, Actual Play being two that I've listened to in the past.

Another reason to listen to APs is to see what does and doesn't work, which can be invaluable to new GMs. Maybe there is some aspect of the mechanics that can cause you trouble. Hearing how someone else handled the situation will prepare you to avoid those issues in your own game and keep things running smoothly.

All in all, actual plays are a great way to wrap your head around a system and game vicariously through others but if you have a chance to get into the real thing I say dive in head first and give it a try!

The Paralyzing Perplexity of Polyhedron Performance

In sharp contract to the relative dice-less nature of our previous Pathfinder session, this week the whole thing seemed to revolve around that most commonly used of the more exotic dice, the dreaded d20. Why the sudden change in our game play? How did it go from being a non-existent aspect of the game to a critical cornerstone on which our lives hung in the balance? Easy, this time there were ancient hieroglyphs and traps!

Unlike the social skills, mechanical skills usually still require you take out that die to see how you do and there is nothing wrong with that. Unlike social interactions, it is much harder to recreate these other aspects of the game in real life. That's not to say it's impossible because SpacerGal even has a little bit of experience with that but it does require a lot more work on the part of the GM.

The interesting thing is that while taking the dice out of the social mechanic makes the game better, keeping it in for the challenges that we faced this week made the game that much more intense. Even with some pretty hefty bonuses on the skills that we were using the die rolls simply were not there for the first half of the session which added a definite level of tension. For example, there we were facing a number of obvious traps but with no apparent way to disable them all we could do was try to avoid them which sounds easy enough. At least until you are staring at five giant pendulum blades that are swinging across the hallway with two sword wielding statues on the far side of that and a locked gate behind you leaving you all alone with one way to go... yeah, it can get pretty intense.

So what's the moral of the story? Just because taking the dice out of some things makes the experience better doesn't mean that you should get rid of them completely.

The Parting Shot...

And another one in the books from the Snowman! I know it went strictly role play this week but right now hanging out with SpacerGal has got that front and center in my mind. There is more stuff waiting in the wings from both of us but we'll look at those in the future. If you have any comments or feedback, as always feel free to post them here on the blog or you can shoot us an email at And if you're enjoying what you're reading tell a friend! The more the merrier is always the case here on the interwebs. Until next time...

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