Sunday, June 19, 2011

Getting lost

Back from a nearly-yearly gamer get-together which we call "TrollHoots". Of course it was a lot of fun, and maybe the occurrence may even be getting some traction towards being something of tradition among local T&T-familiar gamers and even a little farther. While these gatherings have become synonymous with the attending GMs running their favorite quirky games, T&T remains the default reason that ties all of its attendants together. These days the time-slots are from Friday 7pm until Sunday 1am, or about 18 hours of broken up gaming. But if no one else runs anything there will always be a T&T delver filling up the space-- hence the name TrollHoot.

So at this party, with two newcomer GMs/game designers as well Peryton and Caed and her friend Brock, I only had to provide a four hour T&T adventure. Since two and half out of five players have been regulars in a campaign rooted in continuous games set up at conventions where we see each other, I pretty much turned the scenario into one of my "Journey" scenarios as opposed to my "Tunnel Crawls" or "Who-Dun-It" formats; I expect to continue the story thread with the same characters into the next session if not more. But I still was inspired at the sit down for some pure straight T&T thought.

There has been a certain convention, as in a certain normative-device (in anthropological terms) that has been bugging me. This convention in gaming terms, or or less "How do I mathematically illustrate uncertainty?" This question means in table-top terms, how do I share with player the decision-making yet random process of how well he, or she, process as to the possible fortune or despair because of decisions made earlier on. Other systems have developed a "challenged dice roll" in when the player rolls against the GM and whomever has a higher result has better results. I am not comfortable with that for this situation. But last weekend, Athena spoke to me on the issue.

The background on this decision is that in this session a player-character who was not really keen on landmarks or navigation, was hired as a guide because he was from the place where the other PCs wanted to go. The man, playing a hobgoblin from the sticks, had no real expertise on how to get to the desired point as he was kind of following his feet while getting someplace else, nor much deep insight on the world around him that I, the GM, had created. So I asked what his INT and LK were and I rolled the SR. I asked for the two stats because I wanted to elevate the air of uncertainty. I set the level in my head and rolled the two six-siders. Of course with a result of a "2" and a "1" it was a failure anyway. So the group ended up walking in a big circle.

I feel I could have done things better. Having the player roll the dice would have told him that he failed critically and spoiled some of the drama of the season when the PCs realized that they were walking in a circle. So then it occurred to me, next time I roll one of the dice, the player rolls the other. So the player has an inclination as to how well he rolled or not, but still with me rolling the second there is the nagging uncertainty that I rolled low, or the hope that I rolled high. Simple enough, I will have to try out this convention next game session.