“That’s a spicy meatball!” said aloud by yours truly, after going back through all the articles published on DungeonMastering.com last year.
Gaming is all about flavor. Tasting the atmosphere. Tasting the fear. Tasting the demoness’ kiss. Tasting the kiss of that steel tearing through your bowels and punching through your back as you stare in horror at your own mortality. Tasting that sweet victory while mega joules of power petrify and pulverize the side of a warship, yanking it from orbit and absently dropping it like another silly Andromadan’s treaty to the planet’s surface below.
As a game-runner, it’s all about the story with me. Numbers and pluses and negatives and bonus stacking what you’re after? If they don’t have purpose and reason and flavor, you may as well be clicking with the rest of the WoW sheep.
Sifting back through the articles of 2014, it was all about the nuances, the dive into the senses, the compelling story behind the gory that thrilled me and jazzed me for a 2015 prepared to game game game! Board games, card games, and enough dungeon crawling to have you screaming “RPG!” so much it sounds like a sequel to Blackhawk Down.
John Wick’s “Four Simple Questions” was gonzo blast of refreshing ideas, a non-descript van inviting unsuspecting gamers in with his promise of candy and player involvement. He asks the simple questions, commands the whole damn table to answer, and makes no excuses in getting rid of the “me versus you” aspect of the RPG table. Taste the flavor the players actually add to the adventures own creation.
Tastes like too much firepower punching through your tanks upfront? Too bad, Chef Badass, that was the sachet you dropped in the pot.
Mythicparty helped with “Creating Better Criticals”, breathing fresh life into attacks designed take both your breath and your life. Taste the fear! Fear of getting hit, fear of getting hit again. Tremble at that minor villain’s attention. The last time he hit you, your momma felt it. Taste the fear of DYING! In fact, I may be getting rid of dead-raisin’ all-together when next I manage a table. God-mode for DMs, indeed.
Colin gave us some awesome Adventure Seeds, and should be darn well encouraged to keep them coming. What? Too many adventure seeds are here already? Bull-crap. Ask my table what the words are carved on my crypt after the books are closed for good “You Can Try ANYTHING”. Instead of leading the party by the nose, using magicians tricks (Illusions, Michael…) to keep them on the right path, make them taste the freedom of an entire world, and the pain of distracting themselves with shiny objects. All the adventure seeds Colin gives you become side quests for the adventuring party left off its leash.
Embrace the red balloon floating down the street, because it may or may not lead to a sewer with a clown.
Tom is the Titan, and his Toolkit smells like fresh sawdust and possibilities. Adding the flavor of the past, the foreign, and the forgotten, makes this dish spicy and exotic. The ideas he brings with personalizing magic for certain locations or eras have been brought before, but his examples are a nice platter to partake from and can be channeled to other disciplines beyond magic. Try different flavors with feats and skills.
Finally, the four Creative Class Constructs by Paul Rehac are a generous helping of flavor damn well designed to get the most out of imagination and input from the character. Why are they like this? What skills are they looking at? Get them away from that thick, goopy pablum in the trough of min/max and have them try silicate succulence and subtle aromas specific to a character’s LIFE. Find their heroic subtleties and pad them with invention and imagination, rather than blind and meaningless bonuses. A deliberate and studious wizard rebuffs your need for Haste spells. Your finesse driven fighter feels clumsy when their strength matches that of an artless ogre.
Game-runners can add all of these flavors to the grand dish we put out on the tables, and delight our guests with for as many times a week as we invite them to dine. We want the repast to be filling without being too heavy, light yet satisfying. The best of 2014 will help make you Martha Stewart meets Monte Cook, and that’s a Chaotic Good thing.