One of my main goals with Flex is to encourage all types of gamers. I want the super creative types to be able to use Flex as an outlet and I want the power gamers to enjoy the tactical combat. In Flex, I think we’ve achieved this with the Stunt system.
Stunts are improvisational actions every player make once per turn to assist another player. You cannot perform the same stunt twice within a combat. To perform the stunt declare what you want to do. Then the game master decides what trait is most appropriate to the action. Finally you roll the action dice you wish to devote to the stunt plus an appropriate amount of trait dice. All of your hits are awarded to the action you wish to modify.
Because the bonus you give is related to your traits players want to leverage their highest stats. A strong character will stunt to knock enemies off guard by throwing chairs at them or shoving them while a wise, magical character may use their magic to set an allies sword on fire for the attack. This creates very memorably combat that encourages role-playing and the fact that Flex is extremely deadly unless players work together with stunts encourages the roll-players.
Overall, I love the stunt system and I’ll probably find a way to get it into every other tabletop system I play.
The goal of any good story teller, be he a game master, a writer or a director is to create tension. Tension can be created by many things but in gaming, it boils down to the perceived chance of failure. The word “perceived” is very important because if a player knows they’re going to win, there’s no tension, regardless of how true that statement is.
If a player is 100% sure he’ll win there is no tension. It doesn’t matter if he already swallowed the poison and will die in 2 hours. If he doesn’t know about the poison he’ll just feel cheated by the game master when she smugly announces the players fate.
On the other hand, if there is no chance of failure but the player doesn’t realize this, via deus ex machina, the player still experiences tension. For example, the player learns they may have been poisoned and might die in 2 hours. The game master knows their fine but the player experiences tons of tension as she desperately tries to find an antidote. The downside of this technique is is that if used too frequently the player expects it and you wind up with a player who is 100% sure he’ll win.
With Flex, I’ve been trying to balance the system to the point where using the assumed difficulty (players with X character points vs npcs with X character points) there is very little chance of complete failure and yet, there is still tension in combat. Ideally, I’d like to see one player out of three be defeated in every combat, baring excellent teamwork. Given that defeat usually doesn’t mean character death in Flex. I think this is a pretty good goal.
I’ve always been an avid gamer, with the singular exclusion of console shooters because PCs do it better. Of the games I’ve played World of Warcraft has eaten the most amount of time but I’ve learned a lot from it.
I’ve learned that I’m a fairly effective manager. I’ve also learned that I don’t like manage. I prefer to focus on my job and know that at the end of the day, regardless of the success of the organization I’m in, I did my job as best I could. When forced to manage my sense of accomplishment isn’t so neatly tied to my personal performance but the performance of others. When other people have a bad day, as everyone does, it’s difficult for me to not feel like I could have performed better, even when it’s totally out of my control.
I’ve also learned a truism of economics. Supply and demand and basically meaningless. People will pay as much as they feel something is worth. The cheaper, the more people will pay, but the lower your profit is. Thus the goal of any successful money making undertaking is to find the point where you can optimize your total profit by finding where customer base * profit per customer is the highest.
Ironically, I’ve learned very little about typical game stuff from WoW. Things like reflexes, spacial reasoning, etc are better harnessed in other games but the things WoW teaches are fairly unique to MMOs.