Friday, August 31, 2012

Be A Better Player 12 - Don't split the party

Stay with the party. Four words that so many players fail to understand.

I'm not even going to do an example write up from a game session for this. It would take to long, pages probably, to show just how bad splitting up the party can be. It's much easier to get to the bullet points of the entire subject instead of making you read through all that badly done script writing that I do. Mind you this is something that is bad for both the GM as well as the players. But also bear in mind that sometimes it does work and I will cover that at the end.

Let's start off with why it's bad for you since that is what most players are concerned with... themselves. It will cut your game time down considerably. Let's say you play in a six hour session with four other players and you all split up and go do your own thing. Now instead of being involved in the same stuff at the same time the GM has to bounce from person to person. So you will be going from six hours of game time to about an hour and twelve minutes. All that other time you will likely be setting at the table waiting as the other players get their turn at being the center of attention... one at a time.

Another thing to watch out for is the preplanned GM encounters. Going off about by your lonesome in the wrong place could lead your character right into a group of monsters designed to be a challenge for a group. Being by yourself there isn't any challenge and you pretty much end up being lunch. This can be especially true if you have a GM who runs pregenerated adventures 'by the book' without doing any adjustments. I mean there are few things as fun for a GM as when a single player sends their character down the tunnel into the waiting arms of ten or so Gnolls.

Don't forget that in many games it takes the specializations of the entire group working together to get through a task. I mean it would really suck to get stuck behind a locked door and you're not the thief. Or run out of spells and that handy dandy walking wall of meat with sharp objects (you know the fighter) isn't anywhere around. Maybe even being that wall of meat and bleeding from several of your meaty locations and the cleric is wandering around three rooms away looking at old paintings. So keeping your skills and abilities pooled into one location is a pretty good idea.

Also let me point out the general hassle and headache all of this is for the person running the game. Keeping track of the locations of five different characters at the same time, not to mention remember what each one is doing and what NPC's are involved, etc. This has a chance of grinding that divided game time down even further if they resort to keeping notes. I'll be honest one time I had a player that always strayed from the party. Finally one game I was tired of it and he managed to get his character completely uninvolved from the entire session. So I told him his involvement in that nights game was at an end and he could leave or sit and watch everybody else play because he was done. He got mad and took off, but the next session he stuck with the group.

Now, as I said earlier, I will cover reasons when it is usually acceptable to break up the group.

When the GM makes it abundantly clear that you need to. Basically things like giving you two goals that must get done at almost the same time. Or suggesting that your scout type character could go ahead and see what the bad guys are up to. This means the GM is prepared for the extra headache and stress.

Setting up a trap. Personally if the players are splitting up WITH A PLAN than I see that as not splitting up. But just advanced working together tactics. You know that rare thing called 'teamwork'.

Also a lot of Gamemasters also allow it when the players are shopping. A round robin on the table giving each player ten minutes or so to take care of any purchases and whatnot.

Of course this list is not complete nor will every game be the same. Some folks just prefer things a bit different than others. Some actually prefer the players to be split up quite a bit but from my experience, and that of several folks I know, this is not the normal case. So again take my advice to the table but just be ready in case the person running it has different ideas.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.004 - Cyborgs and society

Okay folks it's Sunday once again so that means it's time for another edition of Cyberpunk Sunday. I mean what else is Sunday important for besides science and cyberpunk right? This time we have a couple looks at the world of cybernetics and another one at corporate controlled government agencies. So sit back, relax and follow the links along.

Cyborg America biohackers and grinders

Man builds his own bionic hands

Now we have a guy over in China who lost both hands in an accident. Problem was he was poor and couldn't afford prosthetic replacements which put him in a really bad place when providing for himself and his family. So what else is there to do but build your own. This guy proves that low tech can be made in the basement and work. Maybe not as good as the high end high cost versions but they have allowed him to continue with his way of life.

Watch out for the Brand police

A bit of an older article that came out before the 2012 Olympics started. How about police who sole job is to go an make sure local shops were not breaking any 'rules' that were mostly set up by corporate sponsors of the games? Well that's what the UK got. They even went as far as having a list of words that shops could not use in their stores. Words like 'gold', 'silver', 'gold', 'London' and even 'summer'. Yeah that's the corporate greed cranked up to eleven that it has to crack down on anything they feel faintly threatening to their profit margins. Corporate control in the ranks of the police.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.003 - Biotech

This Sunday we are getting three links that are more geared to the biotech range of things. The three links below show some amazing leaps in the technology and a bit of dreaming on where they may lead. Gives you much to think about. That and all three have something to do with mice or rats.

Artificial Wombs

Artificial wombs that allow us to grow human embryos have been a pretty good staple in a lot of scifi type fiction. Even one episode of the old show Max Headroom uses the idea (Baby Growbags). So of course there would be those working to make these things a reality. So far they've had success in created these wombs to grow mice embryos and they aren't stopping there. One day we may have people who have a birth tank instead of a normal mother and father.

Brain in a dish flies plane

Biological brains at the center of a drones controlling their flights. This is another one starting to take form in the world of science. This time they've made a small brain using rat neurons, basically grew it over a electrode grid. Evidently they've already got it hooked to a flight simulator and the thing is controlling some very basic functions. But the possibilities of what this could lead to is staggering to thing about.

Artificial Jellyfish made from rat cells and silicone

This one is a few weeks old but I had to include it. Using the ingredients of rat heart muscles and a thin silicone film they have created a jellyfish like creation that can pump itself through the water when it is given an electric current. Now the thing isn't an actual fully living creature but the steps in that direction are present. Plus it also shows just how much you can stretch and use the various bits of a creature to create something completely unlike it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.002 - Society trends.

Todays Cyberpunk Sunday will take a look at society, how various tech advances affect it, where it may be going and other such musings. Let's get started shall we?

Twitter rumor increases oil costs.

How about a rumor affecting the global cost of products? Because this is exactly what happened. A rumor that spread like wild fire through twitter and then various other social networks helped to spark a panic that led to a global increase in the price of oil. The rumor itself was that the president of Syria had died which would have led to more instability in the Middle East. Eager to jump on anything that could be used as an excuse for a price hike the speculators quickly got the price of oil to jump by more than a dollar a barrel. All over a bit of bullshit.

Hacker wipes out Wired reporter

One of the staples of the cyberpunk movement, fiction and ideology is the hacker. This time one who smooth talks his way through a few hurdles to get a reporters private information and then goes on a deletion spree with his stored information. The Wired reporter got a quick lesson on how in-twined all of our various arms in the net are and if one is broken down then it can usually give them access to others.

Political Prostitution

This wonderful little website takes a look at the buying and selling of politicians in the US. How simply they can just buy their opinions and stances on various issues. Nothing like a whole lot of corporate corruption in the law makers of the 'free' world is there? They even name victims and perpetrators in this ongoing lesson of how much people will sell themselves for.

Cyberpunk Evolution

Finally a very well written little blog article on the signs of our own growth into a cyberpunk world. Starting off mentioning a roleplaying game idea and then quickly moving off into actual real world details about the way things are going and where they may end up. Not to mention a list of references at the end to top it off as a way more professional article than what most online 'news' sites ever offer up.