Thief style games

Recently I went back and played Thief Gold by looking glass studio, picking up the triple pack of Thief Gold, Thief 2, and the new Thief 2014. The experiences I had between the new and old were very stark. This video by Dom Giuca sums up some of my frustrations with the game and the style of games in general.

The game Thief used artful storytelling techniques in the crafting of the levels to heighten the mood or terror of an opponent and still manages to achieve it with very minimal technical specs, especially when compared to today’s titles.

It provides the player with a minimal toolset to achieve your goals, but to will feel the loss of one of these things

Another thing I’ve noticed is the sound design a theme which is picked up and explored by Strat-Edgy Productions in The Sounds Of A Thief. This is an element of game design that I’m hearing in more and more games.

These elements bring be back to why I (and possible you) play games, which is for new experiences. To see the world in different ways and to explore where those paths lead us.

Links

Useful links related to Thief & Thief 2

  • http://www.ttlg.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=100
  • http://www.thedarkmod.com/main/
  • http://thief-thecircle.com/
  • http://thiefmissions.com/

BoarCrocodiles

A new monster!

An article from IFLScience details, Galloping Crocodiles Ate Dinosaurs In North Africa. The documentary on National Geographic has since been moved, but it does give some great ideas to mix it up with creatures that players are unlikely to have encountered.

The BoarCrocodile (Kaprosuchus saharicus) is from the Cretaceous period and would have been 6.5-meters-long (21 feet). Armed with three sets of sharp tusks and a snout that could probably have been used as a sort of battering ram, this must have been the stuff of nightmares for the beasts of the time. While it is thought that K. saharicus fed mainly on dinosaurs, our ancestral mammals probably had plenty of reason to be afraid.

Mike Hettwer/National Geographic. Kaprosuchus saharicus model and original skull.

Laganosuchus thaumastos grew to a similar size, but its flat head appears to have been more suited to ambush attacks on passing fish.

Mike Hettwer/National Geographic. NIcknamed PancakeCroc, Laganosuchus thaumastos probably had a diet of mostly fish.

Both species were closely related to crocodiles, and lived a similar semi-aquatic lifestyle, but had legs beneath their bodies, rather than sprawling sideways as modern crocodillians do. “My African crocs appeared to have had both upright, agile legs for bounding overland and a versatile tail for paddling in water,” Sereno wrote in National Geographic Magazine at the time of the discoveries. “These species open a window on a croc world completely foreign to what was living on northern continents.”

Todd Marshall/National Geographic. This cretaceous crocodile nicknamed DogCroc was probably a fast and agile runner.

The third species identified for the first time on the same expedition, Araripesuchus rattoides, was only a meter long and probably lived on roots and insects.

None of the three compare to Sereno’s best known discovery, the 12-meter-long (39 feet) Sarchosuchus imperatordubbed “SuperCroc,” that roamed (and shook) the Earth 112 million years ago.

Mike Hettwer/National Geographic. Paul Sereno with models of six of the crocodile species he helped discover and describe.

“We were surprised to find so many species from the same time in the same place,” University of Montreal palaeontologist Hans Larsson told The Guardian when the discoveries were announced. “Each of the crocs apparently had different diets, different behaviours. It appears they had divided up the ecosystem, each species taking advantage of it in its own way.”

National Geographic has animated Sereno’s discoveries and interviewed him extensively for the soon-to-be released documentary.

 

Fun for the thieves of the party

When the thief of the party steps up to do their thing, the rest of the party sits back and waits for it to be over. This has a tendency to disrupt the flow of play and the energy in the session.

However, with a puzzle box or furniture with hidden compartments (see the videos below), the challenge can incorporate more of the party.  Wizards, Clerics, and other loremasters can contribute their knowledge about the glyphs, runes, or mechanics to aid the thief in opening it. While the burly fighter holds the door (sorry, too soon), or operates the stiff mechanisms.

This springs from Matthew Colville‘s talk about Skill challenges and how to use them in D&D. Other game systems have been using skill challenges for a while, Matt’s expression of the idea has a lot of merits and you should check out the video.

What really makes these sort of things play out very well is to be very clear about the nature of the challenge, to make the PCs time poor, and to set up the consequences for both success and failure. Pathfinder is riddled with Save or Die options in the high levels and this is something best avoided. The FATE game system clear explains that the idea of failure equals death (ie Rocks fall, everyone dies) is narratively boring.

So what happens next is the important thing! Injuries, delays, distractions, curses, capture, etc. The movie Rising Sun has a scene when some bad guys delay the heroes while others dispose of a suspect, showing that the bad stuff doesn’t have to happen to the good guys.

Getting back to the point, one of the goals of the Game Master is to keep everyone engaged with the story in meaningful ways.