Have I mentioned the Rumors of War Relaunch Project FUNDED?
See for yourself!

The new comic starts Monday, March 3rd!

I’ve written about player-game master transparency before. It’s led me to develop some strange and interesting mechanics in the past, including most recently the “dungeon stats” thing that you can use to roll up a dungeon alongside players rolling up their PCs. It’s a great little system with a lot of potential.

And I might have come up with something even better.

As I was leaving the office Friday afternoon, I had an idea for a rumor-generation system inspired by my reading of the Traveller srd, specifically the “Mercenary ticket” rules, which allow for a wide variety of “random mission” generation.

Great, another random rumor generator?

I was thinking about this actually — when are rumors ever important? How do you get the players to care enough to go looking for them? In more than ten years of playing and running games, I have only rarely seen player initiative drive much of the game. Sad, but true. I’ve seen numerous games die in character creation.

It’s that “failure to launch” problem.

Either (or both) the players and game master invest more time and energy into backgrounds or world-building than the other, maybe expectations are poorly communicated, maybe someone’s feelings get hurt — I admit I’m usually the first to break — and the game stops being fun or satisfying for one or more players.

Only very rarely have I seen players “gather information” or “hit the streets” looking for rumors. Even when there are associated skill! I’m looking at you, Gather Information, Knowledge (local), and Streetwise!

And there’s the problem of getting started. Yes, you can create elaborate conditions under which the PCs meet, but they’re generally contrived no matter what you do — and even if you find something that gels with everyone, you aren’t guaranteed anyone is going to follow through on the adventure!

So, what if there were only one rumor? Just one adventure, and it took no more time to build than a player character? What if all the players had input during “adventure selection,” so they’re not only more likely to play something they’re interested in, but everyone knows the stakes to begin with?

A brief tangent — I realized the “dungeon stats” system I came up with was great for quickly generating a dungeon but still didn’t get the players to care about the dungeon, or to even find it. I haven’t thrown it away, only set it aside to work on something more immediately pressing — plot generation.

So what goes into a rumor? That’s my next post!