Apr 302017

This post appeared years ago on the old blog. Most of the thoughts still apply and since I’m starting up a little Savage Worlds game, I thought it would be good to bring it back.
This time I want to rant a little about Whiff & Ping. For those not up on the local gamer jargon, Whiff & Ping is easy to explain. Whiff: I swing, I “miss”. Ping: I swing, I hit, it bounces off my opponents thick scaly hide. Pretty much not matter what your system of choice is you’ve felt at least a little bit of this. In D&D, in it’s many forms, you’ve got high AC’s, Spell Resistance, Energy Resistance, Damage Resistance, Evasion, the lucky Saving Throw and the list goes on. In GURPS, you’ve got your Active Defense, Damage Reduction and a host of resistance rolls. In World of Darkness, you’ve got a one die pool mechanic, sometimes known as the “Roll a Pile of Dice and Nothing Happens” System. The danger of Whiff & Ping exist in pretty much every game.
At first glance, it might appear that Savage Worlds combat can suffer from Whiff & Ping Syndrome and in a way it does. In Savage Worlds, you have two defensive stats, Parry and Toughness. Parry is basically your target number to hit. Toughness is basically the target number to damage. Simple. Right? Anyway, some Big Bads can get some pretty high numbers. So it can be pretty hard for your buff fighter with a d8 in Fighting and shells out 2d8 in damage can hit the dragon but he’s going to have a hard time hurting it.
But here’s the deal. A lot of games out there basically use attrition damage systems (At least, that’s what I’m calling it here.) Let me explain. Most damage systems rely on a slow whittling away of Hit Points, Life Points, Wound Levels or whatever. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. In a way, it’s kind of neat. It builds tension in the fight scene whether the players realize it or not. They slowly see their life getting chipped away bit by bit. When they hit an opponent, even it’s for the tiniest amount of damage it’s a reward. It builds the excitement and the players gain some sense of accomplishment. Our gaming brains have been wired to look at combat and damage in this light. Savage Worlds is more about the constant danger that the rug will be yanked out from underneath you at any moment. A couple of good hits and the right dice mojo will end a fight.
The act of hitting and not damaging an opponent equates to failure in most gamer’s minds. And nobody likes to fail. Even if you land that solid blow, you still might not hurt the guy. I’m going to use an extreme and overly simplified example here. Let’s say that we have an encounter with your standard D&D adventuring party of four versus a big nasty red dragon with 100 HP. On average due to various conditions each of our heroes does 5 HP a round to the dragon. It would take about five rounds with a total of 20 attacks to finally take down the dragon. In Savage Worlds, a similar encounter would run pretty much the same way. Twenty or so attacks until someone finally rams a sword through the beast’s eye. There will probably be a couple of Shaken results and maybe a Wound. Now, I know some of the math fetishists out there will want me to run some sort of simulation and work out all the probabilities. That ain’t happenin’.
Now it’s time to talk about the Whiff factor. This one is really simple. If you’re having problems hitting an opponent, read the Combat Survival Guide. If you are still having problems, you need to figure out if your GM is cranking up things too high. Finally, gauge your character to your oppoents. You might think your character is a bad ass but according the GM’s encounters, you’re a mook. Just talk things out, folk.
Just like any other game, it’s real easy to outclass the player characters if GM’s aren’t careful. The key here is just like every other game is to know the player characters and their capabilities and then design encounters that will challenge them. There’s no real magic bullet to balance an encounter and it doesn’t matter what game system you are using.

Apr 302017

No, not the post apocalyptic game by FGU. I see how you could think that since Mutant Crawl Classics is just around the corner. Nope. This is a little rant about about the my recent running of DCC. Now most of the things I’m to talk about are going to be old hat to folks who have plenty of DCC play time under their belt. Hopefully, this might help someone new to the game to get the most fun out it. I’d also like to throw out a big thank you to all cool folks of the G+ Dungeon Crawl Classics Community. One way to judge a game is by the communities that form around it.
Let’s talk about the little things you should have. As the judge, you’ll need the rule book (of course duh). Just to keep you sanity go ahead and pick up the Reference Book over on Lulu. That thing is soo handy. Do you “need” the funky dice? Not really. You can use the normal polyhedrals or the Crawler’s Companion (more on that later). Plus a spare printer cartridge to print out character sheets, spell tables and whatever else you’ll think you will need. Other than that just use whatever normal mini’s, maps, and what have you that you would in any other game.
For players, the list is almost identical. However, if the players don’t want to invest in a rule book(even the PDf). They don’t want to get funky dice. Then encourage, bribe, and shake your finger at them like an angry nanny to get them to use the Crawler’s Companion. Hey if they’re going to look at their smart phones, at least let be something related to the game you are playing.
Now this is, what I think, is the most important thing. The mindset. As player be prepared to have characters die. Don’t fear it. Don’t whine. Embrace it. Your character will (probably) not be a perfect hero with wonderful stats. Your character will not be min-maxed to the perfect (insert whatever class here). And just because of all those things, still have a connection with the character.
As a judge, you should be used to player characters coming and basically flipping the table when it comes to your laid plans and plots. Guess what? In DCC, the game will do that too. Don’t avoid it. Jump right in and change the world and the plot as the dice may land. Adapt and be creative on the spot. I know that ain’t easy and chances are you just might make a silly on the spot decision. Don’t worry. Roll with it. Also don’t feel bad about killing characters. It happens. Also, try to beat into the player’s head that they can use Luck. Really, my players hung on to their Luck like it was gold. Heck, the dwarf died because he chose to take his chances with damage rather than burning some Luck. Really, a first level character’s chances of surviving a 100 foot fall are pretty damned slim. A few points of Luck would have totally avoided that.
Now, I said I’d talk more about Crawler’s Companion. And here’s that rant. Use every freaking tool you can from Purple Sorcerer Games. From the Companion. To the Zero Level Character generator. Have your players (or do it yourself) print out a Grimoire. You’ll be thankful. And as I said. Get the Reference Book and put some bookmarks in it for those special pages. Or even buy the PDF and the core book and print out those pages you need and create your own. There’s a lot charts and tables for DCC, keep the ones you need handy and keep the game moving.
To sum it up. Be prepared. And be prepared to improvise.
While our little group is going for a change of pace and doing a Savage Worlds Space Opera game. I’m already coming up with some ideas for that Mutant Crawl Classics game. So stay tuned for a few rants on both of those.

Apr 232017

Real life and work has kept me way too busy. Heck, I even missed Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. I know I’ve ranted about this before. I sat down this morning and I thought I’d write a cool post or two. Well, the old brain decided not to cooperate so here I am talking about what’s on tap.
First and foremost, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing again. After such a long time grinding away at mundane life, it’s really difficult switching gears so it’s time to start over with some basics.
I’ve got lots of stuff floating around in my head and need to get those notes organized and put down in some sort of useful manner. Like I said before when I had plans many of those still hold true. I need to sit back and start throwing some of this stuff out there. More issues of Gazebo Gazette, more work on The Shattered World of Durth (a gonzo fantasy post apocalyptic setting), YARC (remember that Yet Another Retro-Clone) for some old school goodness, and of course want to go back to the ancient Sword and Sorcery World of Skarynth (another of my crazy creations). We’ll see how this goes and damn wish me luck folks.

Apr 102017

Yes. I should be making a character sheets and outlining all the horrible things I plan throw at the player characters. But I stumble upon some pretty cool star ship models on Amazon. Now they ain’t that new. And I went cheap only got a couple of the $4 ones (That included shipping from Japan). I wanted at least a couple of capital ship mini’s that weren’t Star Wars.

That’s right Battleship Yamamoto. Now there’s a ton of them and you have to dig through the various scales and prices but there’s some a couple of gems there.
They are snap together models so no glue. But there are some damned tiny pieces that were pretty difficult for my big old grognard fingers. Once assembled the models are about 4 inches long and there’s some really good detail. (I should do a little painting on these some time). But with the detail also comes some pretty delicate bits here and there so I don’t know how well they will stand up to just being thrown in box and hauled off to a game. So there may be some extra packing involved.

Mar 282017

I know I haven’t been blogging or even interacting much online as of late. Things have been crazy at the day job plus there’s a few curve balls that real life has thrown at my head. So let’s take what we can get. But there’s much gaming a foot. As I’ve ranted before I’m currently running some Dungeon Crawl Classics at the FLGS but I’ve got plans for those folks in the future.
Next up is the Savage Worlds Space Opera game. It’s doesn’t even have a name but I’ve already thrown some ideas up here and some more will coming in the near future.
After that it’s back to DCC sort of. The plan is as soon as get my hands and brain around Mutant Crawl Classics that will start up. I have not idea how long that will run but I want to be for a while and it should be pretty darned fun.
After that it’s to hit up a good old OSR style game and see where that idea takes me.
I’m still around just not online as much as I would like. Things should get better next month. He says hoping he doesn’t curse himself.