This week, DCR takes a look at playing with large, powerful, and oversized weapons. When it comes to pulling out the "big guns", DCR says:
1. If your game's setting allows for ridiculous sizes, then don't fight it. If your game has anime, action movie, or comic book inspired themes, let your players have those large weapons without fuss. These settings have large weapons all over in their episodes and issues, and it doesn't make any sense to deny players access to them, especially when it heightens enjoyment of the game. As always, players should at least have a reason why their knight has an oversized great sword, or their power armor should have a giant cannon mounted on it's back. It's just extra flavor and builds connection to the character they play.
2. Speed it up! If your game DOES have huge cannons and massive damages, don't slog your game by rolling more dice. Roll less whenever possible. Figure out a system of multipliers when more than three dice are involved. (example: 3d6x10, or 1d8x4). Yes, its funny to think that your character's laser sword does 60d10 damage with each successful hit. But when it comes to keeping the pace of your game exciting, that's a sure fire way to kill the mood. To establish the devastating power of the weapon, try NOT rolling dice. Have that giant gun just vaporize its target (with good description, of course) if you feel it does that kind of damage anyway. This will build a sense of just what the character has in his/her hands, and create some great dramatic moments for your story.
3. It works both ways. If the characters get big guns, then so do your enemies. Surprise the player characters by having them face an opponent with equal firepower. If the players have a warship equipped with ballistas, then have them face another ship with some ballistas. This establishes the scale within which they work. It's not about keeping them low on the food chain, it's about keeping the food chain moving so they don't become complacent at the top. This also helps prevent the game from becoming unbalanced on one side because the players shouldn't need to feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed by their opposition. If the players want a big scale battle, then facilitate that.
Bonus XP: Macross, Voltron, and Invader ZIM are fine examples of television shows that feature oversized weapons. Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms, and Front Mission are great video games to explore themes featuring large guns and large-scale warfare. The Iron Man, Hellboy, and any title featuring the character Lobo are excellent comics for researching giant weapons and big explosions.
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Comments: best way to run a futuristic game?
DCR Gamer Forge Response:
To build a wicked-smooth future game, DCR and Writing Snippets say:
1. Infrastructure. Is the government still standing? What does it look like? Has a new one taken its place? Are the players going to be outsiders looking in, or vice versa? Figure out a time period where this will be taking place in relation to the present.
2. There is a schism between people, but how did that happen? Future/dystopian stories often explore themes dealing with the human spirit or the human condition. Think of a very broad theme to help set the tone throughout. Common themes include justifying survival, willingness to tell the truth, capitalism vs. socialism, and forsaking personal love. Have events of this nature be heavy and give players some time to cope with the consequences. These are great role-play opportunities.
3. Opposition. Create conflict before the game even starts. One group of people have evolved into nature revering elves, while another group has evolved into intelligent cannibals, while another has secluded themselves and devoted themselves to the preservation of technology. Now the players have to pick a side and fight for it.
To go the extra mile, some good source material to check out:
1. Read "The Hunger Games" novels
2. Play Fallout 3 on the Xbox 360 or PS3
3. Watch The Terminator, Akira or Logan's Run movies
4. The Rifts Earth, Eclipse Phase, and Post-Apocalypse Hero 5th edition are all great sources and systems with which to play off of.
Special thanks to the crew of Writing Snippets to help level up your next game.
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