Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lessons from recent Og-ing

Two observations concerning a recent session of the Og RPG, both of which are things I need to solve before I run it at the Dragonflight Con.

When you're teaching the game with new players, be precise about vocabulary. Each PC gets half a dozen words they can speak, but you're allowed to understand any other words you hear, you just can't speak them. Apparently, I did a poor job of explaining that. To their credit, the new players did an awesome job of staying in character. They thought they couldn't understand the words the other players spoke. It made the game really drag out, with tons of time spent repeating the two words that everyone had in common. It was still fun, but not as much as it could have been. It's rare that I wish a player had metagamed more, but this is one case where I do.

Grunting caveman needs a boost. Of the various character types, Grunting Caveman and Banging Caveman get the short end of the stick.
  • Banging Caveman is inferior to Strong Caveman: they average the same damage output in a fight, but Strong can get past a point of armor that shuts Banging down. In addition, Strong gets a bonus on lifting rolls, IIRC. I've found that improving Banging Caveman's attacks from 4+ to 3+ puts them back on roughly even ground. Problem solved, or close enough anyway.
  • Grunting Caveman, however, I have no solution for. It takes an action to grunt, and you roll two dice. Only if they come up doubles do you get anything for it. So that's a 1-in-6 chance of it paying off, half the chance of any other skill working. Worse yet, the rules say you can only grunt once per scene, and given Og's narrative constraints, most sessions have very few scenes. Worst of all, double 1's is really bad, so it's actually less than 1-in-6 that the power helps you. I've GM'd it three times now, and only once has grunting helped a character. If this was just a random skill, maybe it'd be okay - build and romance are hard to use as well - but instead Grunting is an entire character class. No one wants to play Grunting Caveman for a second session. I may experiment with having it involve just a d6 roll, with success on a 5+. That would more than double the odds of grunting. Would it prove too good? I guess I'll find out next time I run Og.

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