Tag Results

Cars vs Clouds: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

In the far future, the world is a blasted hellscape. Car-tribes prowl the wastelands, feuding for turf and pride. But far above the dust and blood floats a city of splendor, a jewel in the sky whose citizens lounge in lush gardens and drink and sing and love, thinking nothing of the suffering of those […]

Ben Robbins | February 4th, 2023 | , , , ,

Ghost of Astariole’s Wife

Old school D&D story time: During an attack on the Wizard’s Guild, Astariole’s wife was caught in the magical crossfire and killed. But Trey (Astariole’s player) decided not to raise her from the dead because she was Druidic and therefore all about reincarnation instead.* It was really a “meh” decision for all of us, an […]

Ben Robbins | November 28th, 2022 | ,

Which Kid Touches the Giant Robot?

Three kids are playing in the woods when they stumble upon a towering metal figure, sprawled in a crater. Who will touch it first? There are dares and double-dares, scuffles, poking sticks, and finally double-dog dares, until one kid reaches out a trembling hand to touch the shining metal figureā€¦ and disappears. Long before I […]

Ben Robbins | September 13th, 2021 | , , , | 1 comment

Grand Experiments: Bloody Morder

I’ve seen strangely proud GM’s say “oooh that game was so intense a character jumped off a cliff to escape THE HORROR!” But here’s my question: the player is deciding what the character does, so is that player responding to the fiction or the GM? Is this the dramatic moment of despair the GM proudly […]

Ben Robbins | April 2nd, 2020 | , ,

Grand Experiments: Eclipse is a Robot!

“You are members of a shadowy government conspiracy to assassinate the President and derail the proceedings to have the US join the League of Allied Nations. To do this you have tracked down and taken control of an experimental weapon created by a secret government project.” “Due to a glitch this device believes it is […]

Ben Robbins | May 5th, 2009 | , , , | 4 comments

Not So Grand Experiments: the Battle of Chuck E. Cheese (part 2)

(continued from part 1, of course) We’re told that the premise of the scenario is that our two teams have boarded an abandoned freighter and are vying to gain control. The goal is simple: wipe out the other team and you win. Theoretically this is only the first scenario and we may play through others […]

Ben Robbins | November 21st, 2008 | , | 9 comments

Not So Grand Experiments: the Battle of Chuck E. Cheese

I’ve said it before: bad games are often more educational than successful games, and if that’s the case it stands to reason that catastrophic failures can be downright enlightening. Games like the Battle of Chuck E. Cheese. I wasn’t the GM this time just a player, and not even a regular player, just a one-time […]

Ben Robbins | November 20th, 2008 | , , | 2 comments

Grand Experiments: We’ll always have Lorngard

As far as grand experiments go this one was pretty short: one game session in the middle of an ongoing campaign. Even though the experimental part was over pretty quickly it became a sounding board for the characters for years to come. Like swinging a hammer at a vase, it all happens pretty fast but […]

Ben Robbins | May 27th, 2008 | , , , | 2 comments

Not So Grand Experiments: Dream Cantos

A wizard discovers a strange tome with tales of adventures in far off lands. When he sleeps that night, he finds himself transported to those lands and confronted with those adventures. But he need not face them alone, for faithful companions from far and wide are summoned in their dreams to stand by his side… […]

Ben Robbins | January 24th, 2008 | , , | 2 comments

The Enemy Within

Heaps of games have one big thing in common: the player characters wind up being a team because it’s easiest to run a game if they stick together and are on the same side. Genre or not, it’s the result of the pure logistics of having people at the table. But what if instead of […]

Ben Robbins | January 21st, 2008 | | 2 comments

Grand Experiments: West Marches (part 4), Death & Danger

As I’ve said before (and any of the players will tell you) West Marches was dangerous by design. Danger encourages teamwork because you have to work together to survive. It also forces players to think: if they make bad decisions they get wiped out, or at least “chased into the swamp like little sissy girls” […]

Ben Robbins | December 9th, 2007 | , , | 35 comments

Grand Experiments: West Marches (part 3), Recycling

Did you read part 1 and part 2 already? No? Go do that. Running frequent on-demand games is a lot of work, but because the campaign was set in a fixed region there were ways I could maximize the reusability of some material I prepared. Recycled Maps: Evolving Dungeons Maps were a good example — […]

Ben Robbins | October 26th, 2007 | , , | 10 comments

Grand Experiments: West Marches (part 2), Sharing Info

Players sharing information was a critical part of the West Marches design. Because there was a large pool of players, the average person was in about a third of the games — or to look it the other way, each player missed two-thirds of the games. Add in that each player was in a random […]

Ben Robbins | October 22nd, 2007 | , , | 17 comments

Grand Experiments: West Marches

West Marches was a game I ran for a little over two years. It was designed to be pretty much the diametric opposite of the normal weekly game: 1) There was no regular time: every session was scheduled by the players on the fly. 2) There was no regular party: each game had different players […]

Ben Robbins | October 17th, 2007 | , , | 198 comments

Western Paranoia (part 3), Tangled Threads

With the Lawman/Outlaw/Cowboy tripod of deceit, characters may or may not have secret allegiances, and more importantly the players anticipate that the other player characters have secret allegiances. The groundwork for mistrust and treachery is nicely laid out. The details behind these choices are fleshed out in the character backgrounds the players create — the […]

Ben Robbins | February 22nd, 2007 | , | 1 comment

Western Paranoia (part 2), Tripod of Deceit

Our story thus far: recreating the Paranoia setting of treachery and secret allegiances in a classic Western. Lawman, Outlaw, Cowboy Players were told to be either a Lawman, an Outlaw, or a Cowboy. These are exactly what they sound like: a Lawman enforces the law, an Outlaw is wanted by the law, and a Cowboy […]

Ben Robbins | February 19th, 2007 | , | 1 comment

Western Paranoia (part 1), Run Club Experiment

Over-preparation (“one continent down, three to go, then I’ll get started on that dungeon”) and trying to impress the players with your cleverness (“your characters have to all be some kind of furniture… no, I didn’t say animated furniture, just furniture”) are the enemies of GM’ing, but like most GMs I am sometimes guilty of […]

Ben Robbins | February 19th, 2007 | ,