Today I’d like to talk about some awesome things, all of which (for me, to some extent or another) originated at GenCon this year.
Thing the first: The Awesome Die. The core of this idea was originally posited to me by frequent commenter mbeacom. I’m simplifying it a little bit here. I bought an Awesome Die (a d30) at GenCon, specifically so I could use this trick. The idea is, whenever a player does something really awesome at your table, that player can roll the Awesome Die instead of a plain old d20. Obviously, this works best with games that use a d20, like D&D. A couple of implications go along with using a d30 rather than a d20. First, success is considerably more probable; this is the intent. You want to encourage awesome things at your table, and making those awesome things more likely to succeed will do that. Another implication is that, if it’s an awesome attack, it’s much more likely to crit, since you can roll a natural 20-30 on this die. Assuming 4e D&D, your crit chance jumps from 5% to around 30% for that attack. That’s significant. As a result, you might want to limit how often you hand out the Awesome Die. This, in turn, will have the effect of players trying harder to get it, in all likelihood, provided you make it clear that it’s available and hand it out at least once early in the session.
Thing the second: How to Host a Dungeon is a fantastic game to read; I haven’t even played it yet, but I totally want to. On its own, it seems like a lot of fun to simulate the life cycle of a dungeon. But wait, there’s more! You can use that dungeon in a game if you want to. In a game like D&D, this can be a lot of work. That’s fine, if you don’t mind the prep, and it’s a great way to get a convincing dungeon with a lot of backstory for your game. But if you want to dive right into the dungeon with little to no prep, there’s another game you can use . . .
Thing the third: Old School Hack. I heard about this game at GenCon (it won an ENnie, even), and it is indeed awesome. OSH is an indie game inspired by the original D&D Red Box, but with much simpler and more modern rules that encourage a lot of crazy, off-the-wall actions and cool character concepts. It’s also free. And elf is a class. Awesome. At any rate, it goes with How to Host a Dungeon extremely well, so much so that I’m going to print it out on card stock and drop it in the same folder as HTHAD, and basically treat them as two linked games. I can’t wait to make a dungeon, then run some unsuspecting party through it. It’s going to rock.