Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chanbara: The end draws nigh!

I have the final bits of feedback I need from my editors. I'm in the process of revising and editing based on it. I should have that done soon.

So it's time for me to get serious about a cover design. I also will need to figure out layout and stuff for print and pdf versions. The pdf will have convenient hyperlinks while the print version will have references to "see page XX".  That should take some time. Luckily, we have a 10 day super-Chuseok holiday this year. Plenty of time to work on this stuff then.

The publishing plan for Chanbara will be a full color pdf version and a color cover/b&w interior print version in soft cover (print on demand). I want to keep the print version as economical as possible. I may put out a full color hardback deluxe edition if people want that, but at less than 70 pages, I don't think many would. I may have a local printer do up some as a vanity project or to send out as thanks for people who helped along the way.

I'm just glad to finally be nearing completion on this. Two of the editors have mentioned maybe publishing mods for the game, one to make it more anime style, another to play up the weird Japan angle. I'm likely to put out an expanded monster book for the game as well as try to work up my play test notes into modules. So hang in there, Chanbara fans! I'm really close to done!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A few complaints about DMing 5E D&D

In general, I've found that as a player I really enjoy 5E. The system is fairly slim, the options aren't overwhelming (at least if you stick to the PHB only), and it feels like D&D again (sorry 4E fans, you know I wasn't a fan myself, and although it's not a terrible game, it just isn't what I want out of D&D). As a player, I really like it.

But a few months back, I started DMing a face-to-face game again, using 5E. My son wanted to play in a game, and our normal Saturday night G+ games are too late for him to finish. So I started up a West Marches game using 5E. And while it's not a bad system, I keep constantly saying to myself, "Why didn't I just try to run this with my Classic D&D houserules, or Labyrinth Lord?"

Basically it comes down to a few points. I may elaborate on each later in their own blog posts (I need some impetus to get back into blogging semi-regularly). For now, it's just a list with a bit of commentary for each based on my WM game.

  • Lack of Morale rules. I've been estimating what I think a creature's Morale score should be, and rolling 2d6 like in Classic D&D. Yes, I could just wing it and have creatures flee or surrender when I feel like it, but I like the uncertainty of the dice.
  • Not much variety in treasure. There's no risk/reward analysis when it comes to deciding to face a monster or not, it's simply a threat assessment. 
  • Spell lists are too combat focused. This is actually something I chafe at as a player as well. It's hard to plan interesting encounters where magical utility spells might make the difference between an easy encounter and a too tough one (something I like to do) when there are so few utility spells, and spell durations are for the most part just not that long. As a player, it's hard to come up with that creative solution with a well-used spell when most just do damage.
  • Too much player rolling, not enough DM rolling. Maybe some DMs like that. They can focus on the details of the adventure, the NPCs and monsters, the "plot" and whatnot. Let the players make all the rolls. As a DM, though, sometimes I want to build suspense by making the roll myself (and having the option to ignore a result I don't like). This applies to things like getting lost or foraging in the wilderness. 
None of these things are terrible in and of themselves. I can work with them, and we're all having fun with 5E. And it's working out fairly well, actually. But I have worked in some old school mechanics into how I run the game because I feel it's just better that way. 

And I'm still wondering if I can convince the group to switch to my "D&D Mine" rules. And if I should try to convince them, or just let this campaign play out in 5E and when it's petered out try something else. If I want to get my son on board, though, I'm going to have to come up with a Dragonborn equivalent for my D&D Mine rules. He doesn't want to play anything but a dragon-man.