Chaotica: When not to recap

There’s something weird about running a blog like this. I have to be careful to not expose things like why that squirrel falling out of the tree was relevant and serious foreshadowing. That’s because my main (read: only) readers ATM are my players and while its cool that they get some context, I don’t want to spoil things.

This week seemed like a big one, as there was a party wipe the week before and I thought everyone would know. Turns out, they didn’t. And that made the start of the game very interesting.

Normally, I start the game with a recap. People who have played with me can probably picture the peculiar way I say the word “Previously.” It’s ritualistic for me, to always start my games the same way. This week, however, I didn’t do it that way. Instead, I described the scene for each character as they approached the town where disaster had struck the week before.

Now, unbeknownst to me, the events of the previous game were unbeknownst to two of my players. I had thought they would have read the blogs, saw something in the discord, or at least talked to one of the players. But, it turns out that was not the case. I was dancing around a reveal to two players who had no idea the party died last week.

And I was loving it

Meta-Knowledge

Eeveryone knows and has an opinion oon Character vs Player knowledge. I know I have three or four opinions on the topic myself. But its hard to not use the knowledge even a little bit, even if its context for the player.

Missing a session is missing context. Unless you can go back and see it all for yourself, a basic summary of “The party went to the woods, started a fire, and died to a fire elemental” skips over the heroic defense, the brave escape, and the mysteries discovered. What level of recap is good enough to tell the story? What is the coastline of Britan?

I can’t really say what’s best. But I know that as a GM, I loved dropping hints of the previous weeks activities and watching the two with new characters catch references while the two survivors missed things entirely.

I don’t know what’s right, or if I’ll ever be able to do that again. But it was a lot of fun once I realized what was up.

Other buisness

Players seem to be more interested in my random rules than making things of their own, which I do not understand. I mean, sure, I write interesting rules, but the nature of this game should be more in the player hands than in my hands.

I made my list to make it easier for people who were struggling to think of a rule on the spot, but I didn’t intend for the list to be the main rule generation. I used up a few rules from my quick chart this week, so as I rebuild it, I’ll have to think about what I want it to be.

This week saw another 5 rules created, one of which in exchange for an unlimited rule. I added a new form of bargin this week (well, it came up this time). You can make an unlimitied rule, but you must select some type of foe and “make it scarier.” I’m never sure what the bargin is until I’m at the table.

Now, I don’t know what “Displacer Beasts are Scarier” means yet. I need to let the ideas percolate some more. The things I’ve come up with are scary, but not practical. Ease of Adjucation is a large part of what my game is about. Honestly, I’ll probably bump their CR by 2 or 3. They’re CR3 atm, which means that a supposedly fair fight is two PCs per Displacer. So yeah, there’s space to be scary.

And, to be scarier, once I figure it out, I’ll not tell what I changed until the party fights one.

From the bargin, we get our infinite rule, which makes storm socery more powerful. Its an okay rule, I guess. The number of times I’ve been in a thunderstorm in game can be counted on one hand, but as this was the only player rule that made the rulemaker directly stronger, if only slightly, I’m fine with it. I don’t think this rule stacks with Call Lightning’s additional die. Call Lightning is too powerful of a spell already.

Right. On to our rolled rules. Start with the smallest. Paladins can Lay on Hands as a Bonus action. Simple enough, makes them a better healer in combat. Now, on to the tricky ones.

The Tricky Rules

This next rule is one I think is really really good for the game. Long rests don’t recover HP. You still get hit dice, but if you’ve been knocked out, you need to sit and be fragile for a day or two to rebuild your strength.

It sounds simple, but it’s game changing. This makes downtime more of an activity. This gets rid of the five minute workday (well, part of it). This makes damage scary, big dungeons scarier. It fixes wilderness survival (mostly) and all sorts of other things. I like it a lot, but I think it’s the biggest change in rules that we’ve had so far. I mean, cutting gravity in half tweaked some numbers, this is re-writing a game mechanic.

Finally, let’s talk about undercasting. There are some spells that have more bang when you cast them at a higher level. Let’s call that “Overcasting.” Undercasting is the opposite, casting a spell with a smaller spellslot for a smaller effect.

Let’s look at America’s favorite, Fireball. At 3rd level, it can deal 8d6 Fire damage and adds stuff as you cast it. Once you know Fireball, however, with this rule you can cast it at 2nd level for 4d6 damage in that 20 ft radius. And at 1st level, it’s 2d6 in a 20ft radius. Which beats out flaming hands for damage output.

I’m not letting it slip into cantrips off of one rule. And you’ll notice, I’m sure, that I was cutting the damage in half. I have NO idea what can be done with this rule. Too many spells to check out. But its a thing that can happen.

Zarks

Through all of this article, I somehow glossed over the fact that most of this was in a dungeon I had conceived earlier that day. I’m way proud of that. You’ll probably see this dungeon in a future feature, I’m sure.

Chaotica will be on a bit of a break for a bit. Not sure when the next session is. Sometime in April, I believe. Check here for more details. I’ll have a big post before the end of the month detailing April’s Activities. See ya!

One Comment

  1. Knowing what had happened during the party wipe session was a bit agonizing, although amusing to me. I decided early on that since my character was new to the region he wouldnt know anything of the goings on and so I just ignored all the previous info. Fire Elemental was the first thing Ari heard and what he was attracted to. Once I started ignoring the past it got alot easier.

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