Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the sixty-ninth issue of The Guild Companion

Castles & Ruins

The good news is that the PDF version of Castles & Ruins is now complete. It looks stunning and incorporates a host of corrections and addenda.

The bad news is that we are waiting on ICE to issue a proper contract so that all the legal niceties are dealt with and we can start selling Castles & Ruins. Watch this space.

Player or GM?

Which do you prefer to be? That was the question that we've been running over the past two months in our little test poll. When I last looked at the results of this very unscientific survey, the votes had split roughly evenly.

Personally I have a slight preference for being a GM. I like to create and flesh out worlds, to fashion devious and intricate plots, to craft the story and challenge the players to save the day. And indeed, by the time you read this, I'll have run the first playtest of my fantasy scenario for Dragonmeet 2004.

On the other hand, being a player is good fun too and a lot less work. (No maps to draw for one thing!). I'm currently playing a Victorian clockwork and steampower expert in an occasional but entertaining GURPS Castle Falkenstein game and a human Magician in a weekly HARP campaign. I had intended my character, Edwin Spenser, to be an Elementalist, but the makeup of the rest of the party suggested that a core Magician would be more useful. This campaign also features a flat 40 Development Points (DPs) per level house rule, which means that profession changing is going to be impractical for a bit. The GM is disturbed by the idea that characters can buy higher stats with DPs gaining more DPs in the future - he's right in that there is a risk that characters will force up their stats for a future DP payoff - and this is exacerbated when players who get lucky with their stat generation have disproportionately high DPs than their less lucky colleagues. The downside is that many of us are feeling the pinch when it comes to buying skill ranks - so many skills, so many spells. But we don't have to wait on a level raise to get DPs as these are awarded in batches after every session.

When I get around to a proper mini-campaign to playtest the science-fiction version of HARP, I plan on requiring players to use the fixed points-buy system when generating characters to level the playing field. I'm also considering reinstituting a simplified version of Rolemaster's stat improvement and deterioration rules to replace upgrading stats by paying DPs.

Dragonmeet 2004

Probably the premier UK convention this year, Dragonmeet 2004 (www.dragonmeet.com) is mere weeks away. My fantasy scenario, "Island in the Mist", is ready to be unleashed on con-goers. My science-fiction scenario, "Resident Aliens", is still a work in progress, but barring an extreme roadblock in rules development, it should be ready in time. I now have the professions and skill list more or less complete. Recent flurries of effort have figured out a psionics system which is radically different from HARP magic, and the basics of futuristic combat (and indeed modern-era combat) are also now in place. I still have to produce a preliminary talents list (with DP costs), a couple of critical tables, futuristic armor stats, and oh yes, I still have to write up the scenario itself and subject my long-suffering players to a playtest. It's going to be a hectic month!

Farewell for now ...

Our next issue will be published in December 2004, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion