Tag Archives: rpgs

To fudge, or not to fudge…

Fudge in roleplaying games…how do we fell about it? Now I know what you’re thinking; “Fudge? I dunno, bro, those dice are weird looking!”  Well, yes they are, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Also, why are you calling me bro? Also also, not what I’m talking about.

they are kind of weird looking

they are kind of weird looking

An interesting conundrum has recently nestled itself in the squishier bits of my mind. Well, interesting to me, if it’s not interesting to you, then don’t friggin’ read it, you ill-mannered bucket of sh…sorry, I get testy sometimes. Anyway. I was sitting around the game table one recent night, sipping brandy and cracking wise about pee-pees, playing a rousing game of D&D. After a particularly harrowing combat where I survived by the skin of my teeth, something that concerns me because I’m pretty sure skin shouldn’t be there, my compatriots and I were exchanging high-five and discussing how close a call it was. After the encounter, the DM remarked that I should have been dead several times over by now. I asked him what he meant by this, and he said that he had fudged the results so I didn’t meet my hard-fought demise. This led to a an internal conflict. Getting your character killed, especially in something as arbitrary as combat, is rarely fun. That being said, walking into every fight knowing that you’ll be walking out takes some of the sense of danger from the experience. As I looked back on all the times I clearly should have eaten shit, I decided to tuck it away and ponder it later. After all, it was four in the morning and I had more dick jokes to make before I returned home to my wife…to make more dick jokes.

Days went by, and I was in the midst of running my weekly Shadowrun game, when one of my players takes an axe to the face.

“I’m dead.”, he proclaimed.

I paused, surprised. “You can spend edge to hang on.”, was my retort.

“I can, but I’m going to spend it to get one last action and kill the guy with a lightning bolt!”

“…ok”, I retorted, my mind reeling from the whole ordeal.

Clearly, this guy wasn’t terribly worried about his character becoming a fresh ghost, but it got me thinking back to the previous week’s incident. He then whipped another character and proclaimed “I made a Troll. I get 40 dice for damage resistance tests now.”  My jaw slowly fell open into an expression that I imagine looked like I had just watched my new puppy raped and then kicked into traffic, but that’s a different story. (There is no puppy, by the way.)

puppy

This experience got me thinking about the nature of characters and their mortality. I empathized with my DM from earlier. I don’t particularly enjoy killing of people’s characters. I’ve gotten a fair share murdered in my day. So many so that I used to be known as the king of the dirt nap. My getting killed skills were legendary and our DM had no sympathy for us back in those days. Often it was in hilarious fashion, thus cushioning he blow, but it always stung a little, and was kind of a pain in the ass having to roll a new character and start over. This new DM softened the blow a little bit by keeping us at least a little safer. But at what cost?

Mmmmmmmm...

Mmmmmmmm…

I’ve been known to fudge a time or two. Usually unless I’m running XCrawl, I try to at least give the players a chance, but this leads to a slippery slope. Where does that perfect balance lie? The balance of “shit happens” and “your lives matter”? I’m starting to favor the more bloodthirsty approach, letting the dice determine the fickle finger of fate, but it rarely feels good to feed someone’s effort and imagination into the yawning void. Unless you manage to overcome a 40-dice resistance test. Then you’ve earned it.

Where do you fall in this situation? To fudge, or not to fudge? That is a question. Not the question though, there are others. Like how does Robocop poop?

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What you SHOULD be playing…

Gather ’round, nerds, Uncle Daddy’s about to lay some learnin’ upon thine faces (and tits)! I know the drill, you and your little friends get together every weekend for a Mountain Dew fueled romp through a typical fantasy adventure filled with elves, wizards, and D20’s, right? Time to nut up, kid.

There are a possibly literal ton oof diffferent RPG’s out there. Games you couldn’t imagine. Did you know they’ve probably made an RPG based on your favorite TV show?

Not sure why though

Not sure why though

No, you didn’t! You were too busy playing D&D.

Quick aside, the terms D&D and Pathfinder can usually be used interchangeably.

Now I’m not saying that I hate swords and sorcery fantasy games. Far from it.. Thing is, I’ve been playing theem since 1994, so I’m understandably burned out on them. I like other things. I like sci-fi, I like horror, I like Weird West, variety is the spice of life! Sorry, Lowery’s seasoning salt!

The problem is, there are a lot of gamers out there that are afraid of dipping their toe into games that aren’t the sacred cow. I’ve run across so many of these types in my days. If it’s not D&D, it’s not worth playing. These people are the gamer equivelant of the kid you see in the Chinese restaraunt eating a Happy Meal.

I...I dunno...

I…I dunno…

Thus it fell to me to be the bringer of enlightenment to the gaming table. I was the one who brought gems like Shadowrun and Vampire: The Masquerade to the Dungeon Duldrum that had become our weekends. But I’m not talking about those games today. I’m talking about some more underground games. Some games that really deserve a look, but don’t have Hasbro-level mmarkketing budgets. So without further adiue…

Spaceship Zero

spaceshipzero

This is a fun little game that slipped under a lot of radars. It’s an RPG done in the style of old 50’s sci-fi serials. The players play the roles of the crew of an experimental spaceship that ends up in a new universe fighting aliens, robots, and all sorts of nifty shit. (nifty shit is a scientific term). The rules are simple to learn, and employ a really interesting “Price is Right” style mechanic where closest to your score without going over determines success. At Gencon this year, nearly my whole group had me pick up copies of this for them. Noone asked for D&D or Pathfinder shit. It’s a great game, and you can usually find it for great prices if you look. Thee creators of the game also have a band called The Darkest of Hillside Thickets. They did a video set in the world of Spaceship Zero called “20 Minutes of Oxygen”. It’s great, watch it, then go play the game.

Delta Green

DeltaGreen

Oh man, this one’s trippy. Most gamers know of Call of Cthulhu, it’s kind of a big deal. Most do not, however, know of Delta Green. Delta Green was a sourcebook put ou in the 90’s that brought the mythos to the modern era. The players play members of a secret government conspiracy called Delta Green, whose mission is to hunt the things that go bump in the night. These things usuallly have connections to H.P. Lovecrafts famous monsters. It’s like the X-Files vs Cthulhu! They’ve also managed to incorporate real-world conspiracies into the mix. Like the Greys? They’re thhere! Like Nazis? (Eww) They’re there! Like new editions? There’s one on the way next year, which will rotate out some old antagonists for more current-day spookies. My strongest endorsement is that This is the only RPG book I’ve read that actually crppped me out. Buy the old edition and get appropriately moist for the upcoming new edition. You won’t regret it!

XCrawl

xcrawl

This is a personal favorite of mine, and the number one reason that I bought Pathfinder books. This, like the title suggests, is dungeon crawling…but EXTREME! Imagine taking D&D, American Gladiators, and Pro Wrestling, and throwing them all into a big ole’ blender of awesome. What comes out of that blender is something I couldn’t evven wait to get into a glass! I’ll pour that shit straight all over my face! BAM! Ahem…I mean, Xcrawl’s great. Want to fight Orcs wearing cowboy hats riding raptors? Do it! Want to fight a mummy wearing hammer pants? Do it! How doo you justify this kind of stuff being in your dungeon? Because it’s live on pay per view, and it makes for great TV!

The current edition uses the D20 3.5 rules, but there’s a new edition powered by PAthfinder coming up in the new few months. I was a playtester, and I signed an NDA, so I can’t say too much, but what I can say is that my group used to have faces…BEFORE THEY MELTED!

go preorder the new edition of XCrawl today at http://goodman-games.com/GMGP2000preview.html

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