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Environmental Stunts

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With Hurricane Irene churning away in the Atlantic Ocean this week, my thoughts turned to adverse weather and its effects. The scene of a battle in the midst of pouring rain, say like the Battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings movies, is one of those atmospheric pieces (no pun intended) that amp up the drama of any situation and that, by all means, should be brought to a game. But how exactly? It could be done entirely in description, with the weather simply being there for mood. It could be done with pages and pages of weather-specific rules that detail every single possible effect of rain on the field of battle. Or it could be done with a combination of the two that brings mood into the scene and adds some rules for that extra effect borne out of the specific environmental situation. In short, Environmental Stunts.

These kinds of Stunts were introduced in an adventure in the Blood in Ferelden sourcebook (I won’t say where or in what context to avoid spoilers) to great effect. During the battle in which they are relevant, these specially available Stunts offer players specific neat effects that enhance the drama of the combat in ways which make sense given where/what they are fighting. The idea is a fantastic one and worthy of extrapolating to other areas.

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Our Own Helm’s Deep II

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Last night saw the end of the PC’s role as the Heroes of Redhold, an Avvarian settlement in the Frostback Mountains of Ferelden, and it ended on a kick ass note that truly showed how much stunts can turn the tide of battle in the Dragon Age RPG.  First, a quick recap, and be warned, there are spoilers here for the “Where Eagles Lair” adventure from the Blood in Ferelden supplement.

The party was tasked with defending the settlement from a horde of Darkspawn, in exchange for information about a kidnapped noble’s daughter.  The siege was designed as a series of three phases, with the first phase having them face three times as many genlocks as PCs before  moving on the to the following phase.  You can read about that here.

Last night’s game saw the PCs involved in phases two and three of the siege.  Here’s a quick recap of how it went, and what I took from it.

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Our Own Helm’s Deep

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I ran a real neat encounter in my Dragon Age game, and I thought I’d share it here, along with some ideas you could steal from it for your game.  The encounter isn’t mine, it’s part of a published adventure found in the excellent Blood in Ferelden supplement for the Dragon Age RPG.

The encounter has the party becoming the main defense against an army of invading darkspawn who are about to attack an Avaarian camp.  The party has to defend the wall, and keep the darkspawn from overrunning the defenses.

Warning: From here on, there are spoilers for “Where Eagles Lair.”

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Moral Conundrums & Tough Choices in Your Game

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One of the things I’ve learned since I began GM-ing Dragon Age is just how good placing moral conundrums in front of your players is.  The Dragon Age adventure philosophy, by design, encourages this approach to story-telling, and I’ve found that it really makes players become more involved in the story you are all trying to tell.

So as I’ve been trying to develop adventures and stories in this fashion, I’ve thought of ways to introduce these concepts at the table.  It requires you to put on a storyteller cap, rather than an “encounter designer” one, but it’s a pretty rewarding thing to see players scratching their heads trying to figure out what the right course of action is in certain situations, or what the moral thing to do would be.

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Wrangler of Dragons: An Interview with Jeff Tidball

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Jeff Tidball is a gaming industry veteran with enough credits to his name to fill up the ending of a movie. One of his most recent titles is Lead Developer for the Dragon Age RPG published by Green Ronin. But, what exactly does that mean? Curious about finding out the answer to that question, and frankly, reveling in any excuse to chat with someone with as much experience in our hobby as Jeff, I fired off a few questions his way.

Not only did Jeff take the time to answer them, he then invited me to barrage him with some follow-up questions as well. The end result is a fantastic interview that sheds some light into the behind-the-scenes process of producing the Dragon Age RPG line by the man who can rightly be called the Wrangler of Dragons.

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