This week, we’re talking about situational abilities. D&D’s feather fall is probably the most egregious example but there are plenty of others in different games. Anima’s ki techniques had the ability to build moves that would work on a specific opponent or only at night and games like World of Darkness’ Werewolf had abilities that dealt only with specific targets (Spirits).
Other examples include characters that are highly specialized in a specific skillset (Pilots or Drivers are a good example here) or carry very specific tools (like explosives)
How do you, as a GM give these people the opportunity to shine without making that specific element of play the focus of the campaign? And how do you, as a player, make sure you actually get to use those cool spells and abilities you’ve worked so hard for to have?
Aka, How to think outside of the box and get away with it.
Consider the following. The house Reyne of Castamere royally pissed off the Lannisters. They end up fighting and the last of the Reyne retreat into their main fortress known for its subterranean systems, defenses and living areas. The fort is an absolute pain to take and could sustain them for a long time. A siege could prolong the war for far too long, being costly and an assault would likely end up with high casualties and loss for the Lannister Army. Tywin Lannister knew this and ended up deciding on a third option. Close off any and all entries/exits to the fort, leaving only a small opening for the massive amounts of water from a nearby river, which he had diverted into the fort. Flooding and killing every Reyne inside, ending the war and suffering no extra loss in the process.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about our games, preparing for them and even running them. We’ve talked about the metaphorical tools in your toolbox and the different tricks that can be employed by the savvy game master.
What we haven’t touched on are the actual tools you can use to make your games easier to run or more enjoyable to be a part of. So that’s what we’ll be talking about today. I’ll mostly be going over the tools I personally use and why I find them to be a good addition to my ‘kit’ as it were but i’ll be offering a few suggestions that I intend to pick up at some point in the future as well.