I've played in a few RPG sessions, mostly one-shots, involving giant rampaging monsters. They've been disappointing because they focus on killing the monster, which reduces this huge lumbering horror to litte more than a 40-story sack of hit points.
At the opposite extreme are monsters who can't be defeated (and I'll admit to unleashing one of these in my campaign; a CR 35 horror that destroyed the city of Stoneheim in the World of Greyhawk). Those can be equally disappointing for players because characters (especially high level ones) think they can defeat anything.
Then again, maybe that's missing the point.
Skills are a hot button subject for my gaming group. Most of the guys in my group loved D&D 3.x's approach to skills, which allowed a high degree of granularity and focus in such mundane concerns as crafting and professions. When the D&D 4th Edition dismissed Craft and Profession as un-fun skills, half our group saw red. They still fume about that given time. Others liked 4th Edition's condensed skill list, and focus on adventuring applications over crafting arrows or performing songs.
Naturally D&D Next is concerned about skills, and based on a recent blog post they are clearly looking to retain the customization options that 3.x offers, while making things more streamlined. First, they're talking about making a lot of your day to day "skill checks" using the ability scores. So instead of making a "Climb check", you'd presumably make a Strength check. Second, they also explicitly state they want to retain true skills so that they have a meaningful impact on the game and allow the sort of customization that we saw in 3E (and to a certain extent, 4E).
Mike Mearls talks about the concept of a one-hour D&D game in his latest Legends & Lore post. The goal here isn't to boil all D&D games down to 1-hour, but rather to benchmark what you can actually do in an hour. No doubt inspired by his lunchtime D&D sessions, Mearls envisions a game in which you can get in a role-playing encounter, a few quick encounters with traps and/or enemies, and a boss fight.
In hindsight, we played Dungeons & Dragons for too long. Our World of Greyhawk campaign lasted 12 years, included dozens of characters, hundreds of plots, and forays into Castle Greyhawk, the Temple of Elemental Evil and our own homegrown creations.
When some co-workers and I decided to try our hand at a lunch-time role-playing campaign, I knew that game prep was going to be critical to making it work. But not the sort of game prep I normally did; this was all about the physical game prep.
We're playing The Day After Ragnarok using the Savage Worlds rules, and thanks to Ken Hite's numerous adventure generation tables, the scenarios practically write themselves. No, the part the essential part of making this campaign work was making sure I knew where my towel was.
Dice. Initiative cards. A battle map. Miniatures. I have all of this stuff in my game room ... but we're not playing there. We're in an under-ventilated, odd-smelling basement conference room whose only virtues are privacy, a table, and a dry erase board.
The storm dragons are magnificent creatures hunt the hurricanes of the storm world of Tarl. The Outer Rim planet's binary stars provide a constant source of energy for its moisture rich atmosphere, giving rise to an unending series of cyclones. The dragons constantly ride these storms, hunting the great airbag herbivores that dwell in storms' eyes and battling each other for arial supremacy.
I love Savage Worlds. Half of the guys in my group love Savage Worlds. But part of what keeps the other half from jumping on board, at least for a fantasy campaign, is the lack of a Vancian magic system (aka the "fire and forget" memorization system from Jack Vance's Dying Earth series and popularized in Dungeons & Dragons). I know that many Savage Worlds fans see this as a feature rather than a bug, but it's a concern with the Blackrazors, who have 12+ years of D&D 2E/3E under their belts.
So what would a Vancian magic system look like in Savage Worlds? There are two key elements to a Vancian system: discovery and flexibility. Discovery comes from being able to find spells in scrolls and spellbooks, and add them to your own growing library. Flexibility comes from being able to pick the right spell for the right job, and not being locked down to a pre-determined power suite.
Recreating a Vancian system in Savage Worlds requires you to retain these discovery and flexibility while still working with its default power point system. Here's my take on it.
When I ran my Dungeons & Dragons/World of Greyhawk campaign, I constantly spawned new subplots, new NPCs, and new locations. It was intentional; my goal was to throw a wide net of possible plotlines, and let the players choose which ones to follow. By campaign's end we probably had hundreds of unresolved storylines, but it wasn't a problem because the important storylines – the defeat of the giants in the Grand Duchy of Geoff, the defeat of the orcish overlord Turrosh Mak, the liberation of Obsidian Bay – did reach their climatic ends.
My gaming group was heading into its climatic battle on Ryloth. A Sith knowledge cult had seized control of the Spires of Xax, an ancient research facility on Ryloth's sunward side built by a now-extinct race of aliens. The facility allowed its controllers to warp the very fabric of space and time using the Force. The final fight was set to happen inside the hollow interior of the largest of the spires. I planned it as a multilevel affair from the start, but I wasn't sure how I would pull it off -- three separate battlemaps, one for each level?