Saturday, July 10, 2010

Balancing Acts: The Dynamic World

I've been following a bit of blogs since I've indulged myself in the world of the blog-o-sphere, and I have come across a particular favorite of mine: NewbieDM. Him and a number of other blog specialists on online people who I also follow had a game they played over Skype and using an online white-board and I thought the idea was really cool and something I'd like to try out.

Though something interesting happened...

Due to a number of reasons, the players had placed themselves in a particularly dangerous situation. As a result, all the players where paralyzed for a long time, and one of the players were consumed by said adversary. The question that came up on the blogs of these players came out to start a blogging carnival that although I'm probably too late to join, sparked some interest for a post myself.

As I explore more and more into the world of comics, I start to understand that the world itself and even different characters have vastly different level of abilities, strengths, and even weaknesses that can pose something very unique to the world. In worlds where exploration is the key element though, you'll often find that the biggest enemy isn't the one Nemesis that happens to be trying to hunt you, but the world itself, as both the nemesis and the characters work to bend the world itself in their favor.

I am one who does happen to be the "I'd prefer to make everyone happy" type of GM's mind you, and will do what I can to keep a balanced fight in situations where I want the balance to be there. For example, having an overly-powerful enemy that defeats all the players in the first go with no effort at all, only at one point the enemy's weakness is discovered, which allows the players to make the fight with this enemy a "Fair Fight" as apposed to a push over.

I like this type of deal in an RPG a lot. As the players are forced to think outside the box and in a lot of cases make an adventure out of a failure, only to get another chance to turn the tides and allow the players to get an even ground with their enemy in an epic battle that is very memorable. Not only that, but you can really add to the hate of the enemy along the way as he does things completely unexpected, and drive the motivation of the group towards that goal.

There is also the element of "Epic Change" that are common in the world of Comics. And this isn't just in accordance to Super Heroes and the like, I'm also talking on the level of Fantasy genres, where you have this very dangerous world, and through the adventures of the players, results in the very landscape or even the mechanics of the world to change!

My favorite example of this is when I hosted my intro world to Mutants and Masterminds with my friends, at the end of the game, the enemy rushed a doomsday device to activate, and the players where unable to keep it from happening. With the doomsday device activated, those who had power were either outright killed, were banished into a different realm of existence, or somehow survived the energy explosion and instead became substantially more powerful! And just as it would happen, the very person who planned it all along was one of those who became more powerful, and now, with his new powers, was seeking to annihilate any others who had powers and take their abilities as his own.

All was not lost though, as those who never had powers randomly gained new abilities of their own as the mildest hints of genetics were awakened in all creatures across the world, giving magical abilities to creatures and humanoids alike, completely changing the landscape of the world itself. Now, the players have to rise up what forces they can to take on the new more powerful enemy, while at the same time try to find new ways of using (or avoiding) the various new creatures and humanoid abilities found across the world.

Allowing the players to have a world that is truly dynamic as well as in such a way that is differently scaled instead of having the "safety rails" that most of DnD 4e has right now, the players not only have a world that is fun to explore and able to gauge their own abilities, but is unpredictable enough that it keeps things interesting for the players and allows a new possibility for creatures that were once very powerful to be drastically different if the world did not allow them to explore that part of the world before.

Although, by far, I do like having different levels and different scaling of the world for my players. I find this leaves a better experience for them and not only helps them feel accomplished, but allows them to make the world a creation of not only my own, but a cooperative effort for the rest. The feel is far more different, and allows me to really make the world animated and still give a sense of Awe and Inspiration, while still allowing the players to develop themselves and their relationships, be it with actual NPC's or the world itself.