Monday, June 24, 2013

Behind the Screen: The Rusty Dragon Inn

Spoiler Alert

The Behind the Screen series is intended for GMs looking for ideas on running Jade Regent, or advice about running long-term campaigns. Posts will include information that my players already know about the Jade Regent storyline, but may include spoilers for those who haven't played yet. You've been warned.

In the Beginning

Starting a campaign is a tricky thing. You need to hook the players, set the tone of your game, introduce the world, and people your setting with vibrant NPCs, while keeping the PCs the center of the story. Replace 'players' with readers, 'game' with novel, 'NPCs' with supporting characters, and 'PCs' with protagonists and you find yourself with the same challenges every modern writer faces when starting a new novel or short story. So why not borrow some tricks from the professionals?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Combat Reactions: Teamwork in Pathfinder

I love teamwork on the table, but it's one of those things that the Pathfinder rules don't promote as much as I'd like.

A few years ago, BadAxe Games put out a supplement called Trailblazer. I recently discovered it while wandering down an internet hole that started at a post on the Pathfinder Google+ community. The folks at Bad Axe apparently had the same thought as I did because they created a great set of rules called Combat Reactions.

A combat reaction allows you to take certain actions even when it isn't your turn; attacks of opportunity are a classic example of a combat reaction. Trailblazer pulls actions like Aid Another into the same family as AoO, allowing characters to use their often-wasted AoO to promote teamwork on the field.

Around the same time I discovered Trailblazer, I read an intriguing post from gamer and blogger Brandes Stoddard at Harbinger of Doom on what he calls 'Giving Ground,' a technique that fits beautifully under the combat reaction umbrella.

I've adopted both of these ideas, tweaked them a bit and will be playtesting them in my Jade Regent game soon.

Combat Reactions

Combat reactions allow you to perform special actions any time during a round, not only on your own turn. Combat reactions are considered immediate actions and you may take 1 combat reaction per round at 1st level. You gain an additional combat reaction when your Base Attack Bonus (BAB) reaches +6, +11, and +16. The Combat Reflexes feat gives you a starting number of combat reactions equal to your Dexterity score.

Aid Ally

If you are threatening an opponent that is engaging an ally in melee combat, you can assist your ally as a combat reaction. Multiple allies can aid the same target. Aid ally combat reaction bonuses stack with each other, but not with other circumstance bonuses.

Monday, June 3, 2013

System Agnostic: Splitting the Party

Rich Burlew isn't stressed by splitting the party,
you shouldn't be either.

Last week on the Pathfinder Google Community, there was a conversation about party splitting. It started with a question like this:

"How do you handle nights when your party is splitting up to accomplish personal interests? Two players have business in one part of the city, another has a profession they are working on and a couple others have NPCs they want to visit. I feel like I am doing an OK job of giving everyone their own turn but, I'm curious how other GMs might handle this?"

Every GM runs into this at one point or another. Some GMs feel comfortable jumping from group to group, keeping the action moving, skipping die rolls and "going cinematic" in non-combat scenes, or running two fights on two different maps as if they're in the same room. Not every GM has honed those skills, and those who have don't always have the energy.

If you're party wants to split up, don't stress. Let the players do the work for you.