Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Experimental D&D

My group is starting a new game, Eberron, with Mark DMing it. At first I wasn't too thrilled because I wanted to get into something a little more narrativist. Anyway, the form the game has ended up taking is actually a bit of an experiment.

Essentially, the players are all running characters that want to go treasure hunting. We all have various reasons for doing this along with goals for said treasure. Since it's Eberron and we're basing it out of Morgrave University, we're doing treasure hunting Indiana Jones-style. In addition to a player-stated goal, we have one-word traits determined by the player for their character (one trait per character).

These little embellishments would be easily thrown away in a D&D game with the exception of Eberron's action points. We tied action point rewards to specifically pursuing the stated goal and playing up the character's trait. These goals and traits can be changed, but a player can never go back to the same goal and/or trait once it's been changed. The action points are spent in the traditional way, but with one exception. In situations directly pertaining to the player's stated goal, the player may use up to three action points on a roll (that's 3d6 plus the normal d20 at our low levels).

In addition to the player-determined rewards add-on we've got going, we've decided to go with conflict resolution and setting stakes for the rolls outside of round-based combat. I, personally, had great success with this by using my character's bluff and diplomacy rolls when dealing with some victimized (but still very much undead and dangerous) inhabitants. As we progress in the game, I plan to keep track of how these little add-ons work with our more reticent players (the ones that essentially "turtled" in our Burning Wheel games).

I'll post later about the actual in-game events of the first session along with some of the stakes set and how some people have started really getting into the traits and goals for action points. The first session was promising, so I hope this hybrid-D&D thing can be a gateway drug back into some more narrativist play for the half of the group that didn't really get into our first experiment with such play - Burning Wheel.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The New Nintendo

I'll admit, I'm no fan of the Nintendo GameCube and I owned a Game Boy Advance for only a little while, but I've recently changed my my mind on Nintendo. I used to think that they should have gone the way of SEGA. Just stop wasting our time with sub-par hardware and focus on getting your games to as many people as possible. That is, until I bought the Nintendo DS Lite with Metroid Prime: Hunters and Big Brain Academy. I've been playing this thing very often since then, AND, more significantly, my wife has been playing it even more.

The stylus element is key, I think. She's hooked on Big Brain Academy, but she also found the controls for Metroid Prime to be "intuitive." Exactly how Nintendo is touting it's new Wii-mote controller. From the reports at E3, the new Metroid game for Wii will have the same control as the DS Metroid, but instead of the stylus on the touch screen, the Wii-mote will point at the TV. It sounds promising and with the new aesthetic displayed in the DS lite being carried over to the Wii, I may have to break down and get a Nintendo home console this fall. I haven't owned one myself since the old NES 8-bit. That is, if I can beat my wife to the console. We'll definitely have to get a lot of two player games...

Don't worry, Xbox 360, I haven't forgotten about you at all. There's plenty coming out this fall that I want for you.