Monday, March 2, 2015

Balancing the Crown and the Manticore Standoff: An Open Call, Now Closed

So the Open Call for Adventure Designers just ended a few days ago. I doubt my entry will go anywhere, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for practice. Making these encounters was very enjoyable and got me thinking about improving social encounters and monster tactics. Here is a link to the two encounters in a pdf. Feel free to use it, and maybe send a link back my way saying where you got it.

For the social encounter, after laying things out I realized that I wanted to keep a quick list of what Valisia's talking points were as well as what her goals are. After I brainstormed a list of what the players knew and wanted, it clicked that I should keep these lists instead of just using them as an outline. Having a bullet point list of what each side wants and has to offer seems to me a marked improvement over my old style of trying to get in character and trying to play out every possible permutation and argument.

I've been reading a lot of rationalist fiction lately (namely Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and Ra) which got me thinking about making my NPC's and monsters more intelligent. Not necessarily as far as evil masterminds, but I thought it makes no sense that they wouldn't have a basic strategy for dealing with a standard adventuring party. This is partially the drive that fueled the talking points for the NPC above.

My tactics laid out how the monster planned to respond to a party consisting of a tough warrior, a flanking thief/rogue, a ranged archer, and a spell-slinging mage or cleric. I am thinking I will start to include these tactics for any creatures with a mind: even animals have an instinctual cunning to not get surrounded and to find advantage against seemingly stronger predators. From there, I'm thinking of running smart foes by having them adapt to actual tactics the party uses while wise foes will learn from their past mistakes or experiences with adventurers. I don't know how this will turn out, but here's to hoping it makes combats interesting and not absurdly difficult.

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