Thursday, February 19, 2009

Safety behind walls...for a price

I spotted a pretty nifty little mechanic in a recent session of Chgowiz's OSRIC/1e game last weekend. I'm playing a thief, and I mentioned to the DM that I'd like to run a few errands around town between sessions. No need roleplay it all out, especially since we're trying to run a wilderness sandbox setup that focuses on getting the players out the door and into the wilds.

So we just talked over what I wanted to buy (a new sling for starters; my old one had gone sailing off into the forest when I rolled a critical failure vs. some goblins). Then he rolled randomly to see how many days elapsed between sessions (3 days). He ruled that each member of the party would spend X gold in those three days, either on supplies or food or lodging or what-have-you.

The idea of charging players hard money for every day they tarry in town struck me as a really neat, concise way of keeping up the pressure to explore in a sandbox setting. Sure, towns are extremely safe and a good source of supplies, but characters in a sandbox game shouldn't get too comfortable. It's a cinch to charge 'em a few gold for the material comforts of a town. The key is to make sure the gold isn't spent idly; GMs should offer up new rumors, improved reactions from NPCs, or even interesting material goods. Then the players don't feel like they're getting cheated out of their gold -- but they do feel the pressure to get out and explore to find more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Return of the Diehard

Thought I'd left you there, huh? No, all is well in the land of the Diehards. Well, but busy.

Those few of you who know me in real life know that my day job just got "real" in the last couple of months. In brief: I'm a journalist, and I accepted a position at a large daily newspaper in December. Since then I've jumped headfirst into my new gig, which involves fast-paced, deadline-driven writing and reporting.

It hasn't left much time for gaming. I'm still chipping away at Autumn Frontiers, my sandbox wilderness campaign, but the group is fragmenting around me due to school, work and family obligations. One player might even move to Puerto Rico! Not many GMs can say they've ever driven a player off the continent before. Fingers crossed that I won't have that honor.

I also started playing in Chgowiz's The Dark Ages campaign, which has so far been a smashing good time. This is a real, live, face-to-face game played at our LGS in suburban Chicago. If you want to follow the campaign, surf on over to his blog or keep tabs on the campaign wiki.

And I'm also doing some freelance work for a large game publishing company. Can't talk about it yet -- NDAs have been signed and all that jazz -- but it's right up my alley and very rewarding, and it's a great complement to my day job as a journalist.

I'm hoping to resume blogging on RPG Diehard in the coming days -- perhaps not as fervently as I did during the summer of 2008, but frequently enough to stay connected to so many of the talented writers I've encountered over the last year. Cheers!