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Preview: SteamPunk Crescendo

Dave M Games

Me, my life and my game...

Updated: 2018-03-06T18:43:35.064-07:00


Thoughtful Thursday #26


I have some experience with gamers that have not played tabletop RPGs, but have played lots of video games including CRPGs. I love the challenge of introducing new players to RPGs.
There are some things you need to pay special attention to:
1) You have to be careful to set expectations. Do not promise what you cannot deliver. GMs like to tell new players that their characters can do anything. But in reality, doing anything is alright, as long as it is not disruptive to the other players in the group.
2) Be wary of video gaming tropes. It is too easy to fall into patterns that seem like you’re just making an imaginary video game. For instance don’t make things impossible for story reasons, create invisible barriers to keep the players on course, killing characters because they do not act in a way you find acceptable or scripting events so that players have no input into the outcome.
3) Finally, be prepared for bizarre activity. At first it will seem like random acts of strangeness. Picking fights with throw away NPCs, trying overly complicated or creative plans to solve problems. What is really happening is the player is testing the limits of what they can and can’t do in this new game medium. They will do this by trying things that video games usually don’t allow. When this happens stop the action and try and explain why what they are doing is a good or bad idea. If you keep these in mind, it will be fun for you to get a new player up to speed and it will be fun for the new player to be able to solve a problem with almost any approach.

Thoughtful Thursday #25


I have some experience with gamers that have not played tabletop RPGs, but have played lots of video games including CRPGs. I love the challenge of introducing new players to RPGs. There are some things you need to pay special attention to:
1) You have to be careful to set expectations. Do not promise what you cannot deliver. GMs like to tell new players that their characters can do anything. But in reality, doing anything is alright, as long as it is not disruptive to the other players in the group.
2) Be wary of video gaming tropes. It is too easy to fall into patterns that seem like you’re just making an imaginary video game. For instance don’t: make things impossible for story reasons, create invisible barriers to keep the players on course, killing characters because they do not act in a way you find acceptable or scripting events so that players have no input into the outcome.
3) Finally, be prepared for bizarre activity. At first it will seem like random acts of strangeness. Picking fights with throw away NPCs, trying overly complicated or creative plans to solve problems. What is really happening is the player is testing the limits of what they can and can’t do in this new game medium. They will do this by trying things that video games usually don’t allow. When this happens stop the action and try and explain why what they are doing is a good or bad idea. If you keep these in mind, it will be fun for you to get a new player up to speed and it will be fun for the new player to be able to solve a problem with any approach.

Forgetful Friday #24


I feel like Advancement means different things to different players. To some, this is leveling up. For others, it seems to revolve around the character changing over time. And still others see it as the character’s story advancing. And I personally feel like all three of these viewpoints are valid. Leveling up is a long-standing tradition of RPGs and it does set the stage for a change in the nature and power of any new challenges. I also feel that if a character doesn’t change on some level, that they will stagnate and get boring to play. Finally, I fell like a good RPG helps the players and GM tell a cohesive story about a character's journey. When I say story, I mean in the same sense that your life or my life has a story to tell.

Thoughful Thursday #23


Geek Social Fallacies
Some time ago, I discovered this link:
  It was inspiring to me. It is also sad to see people changing the ideals of geeks (truth, fellowship, individualism), into tools to be exploited against other groups of geeks. I invite anyone who reads my blog to visit this post, and think about how you can avoid falling into these pitfalls.

My Game Chef Entry


Here is the current version of my game:

The setup is that you play the part of a supernatural monster that is working with/against other supernatural creatures with the destiny of a remote village hanging in the balance.

The game play is thtis:
Deal two Character cards to each player. The combination determines your character.
Players play Scene cards to set the Scene.
The Scene ends by resolving a conflict, each player plays a Resolution card that changes the rules of scene resolution.
The entire game is on cards, let me know what you think!

Thooughtful Thursday #22


When I discovered, it renewed my interest in writing. At that time, I had not designed any new games since 11th grade and I had not written anything since 10th grade. By the time I had finished about 1/3rd of my fantasy novel, my good friend Leroy convinced me that if I designed a new RPG, he and his friends in the RPG publishing industry could help me get it published. I took the setting I had developed for the fantasy novel and re-tooled it into a fantasy RPG. The basic inspiration was to take the mechanics from CP2020 and re-tool it for 2d6 and a fantasy setting. There were some good ideas in it, but it was not enough to get it published by Leroy’s friends. It was then that I was plunged into the bittersweet world of independent publishing. Being able to design whatever game I want is amazing. However, I had never planned on having to market my designs or sell them on my own. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thoughtful Thursday #21


The first time I remember seeing mechanics requiring players to spend XPs in order to create magic items was in D&D 3rd edition. It may have existed in D&D 2nd edition (the only version I have not played), but I never saw those mechanics. This idea seems absurd to me. I understand that the intent is to provide game balance. That it prevents PCs from becoming too powerful just because they have spare GPs. However, it also prevented PCs from using magic items to solve problems creatively. Not only that, but the system does not usually provide a profit for creating and selling magic items. How does the Magic item economy sustain itself in this world? It makes no sense to me. I learned to try and balance mechanics versus how much fun it would be, not against how much control it may give or take from any one player.

Thoughtful Thursday #20


By the time D&D 3rd edition had been released, I had no interest in it. I had spent a lot of money on 1st Edition and when second and third came out, I felt it was too expensive. And by that time, I had played so much of 1st edition, that I had no real interest in D&D. It made it hard to find new groups, but I was able make my own group. A friend of mine was interested though. He ran a game and I was invited to play. I was hesitant. The last time I had played D&D, it was awful. I was psyched to play Beyond the Looking Glass (I still haven’t played it by the way). Once we got to the first room, a PvP fight broke out. That was the first time I was exposed to this (and I had hoped my last).
  After our 3rd Edition Adventure had gotten underway, the DM gave each of us a secret objective. After speaking with different players, I figured out that we were all at cross purposes. I did my best to arrange a deal where we would all work together until the end. I had a Druid and my wonderful DM had decided that my wolf companion could not survive if I did not feed it. I asked how it could survive in the wild and he insisted that wolves cannot survive outside their pack. We argued a little bit and finally I conceded. The adventure was fun. We found the McGuffin, got to do some team fighting and generally had a good time. Until we got to the end. We had to PvP, and I had been scouring my spells trying to find one that would give me an edge. I happened across “Summon Swarm.” At our level, the damage done by it would be devastating. I was able to win the final fight, but it felt awful. I didn’t like betraying my friends like that. But I didn’t feel like we had a choice. When I design my games, I try and make sure that the players are all working towards a common goal and that the characters all know each other previously. This does not guarantee that PvP will not happen, but it usually gives the players opportunities to go into it with eyes open.

Thoughtful Thursday #19


CP2020 was the first game to expose me to in-game factions. There were all these story-related entities that all wanted the same thing. Mega-Corps, Booster gangs, Nomads, Governments, rebels, etc. It excited me the way no other game had. I had tried to do interesting faction play in D&D and Top Secret, but the foundation was not there. In D&D the rules and write-ups of possible factions (such as Duergr) forced them into a set pattern that the players could not really affect. In Top Secret, I tried making my own factions and it worked, but not well enough. I was the only one who truly understood the factions in play. But CP2020 had the solution, the factions were well known, had easily understood and competing motivations that could be manipulated by the PCs if they got their stuff together. Even today, more than 25 years later, this is the yard stick I measure game settings by (even my own).

Thoughtful Thursday #18


When I discovered that the makers of CyberPunk had made a Mech game (Mekton II), I had to check it out. Once I learned you could make a mech that was ANY shape, I never went back to BattleTech! This is another one of those watershed moments for me. Up until this point, I had always assumed that tactical systems had to be deep. And that the math of buildng them was a requirement of the system. I had let go of this idea for PCs, but somehow their equipment seemed to still need it in my mind. Especially when that equipment was a big, old honking mech that should take some work to overcome. Mekton II disabused me of these notions. I later went back and checked out the original Mekton. It was OK, but you couldn't build just any Mech. And I was sorely disaponted by Mekton Z, it seemed to be headed more in the direction of Battletech than towards a modern RPG.Mekton II was a game where the RPG elements and the tactical elements were compatible and overlapped so well. It didn’t take long until I integrated CP2020 into the game and we had a real good time on Mars.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #17


1    CP2013 had a hacking system. It was pretty cool if prone to GM fiat. But CP2020 had NetRunning. In this system, an entire ‘Run happened in a single turn in real space. To make matters worse, all the rest of the group did in cyberspace was slow down the NetRunner. Because of this, I ruled that either the entire group would be NetRunners or none of the PCs would be. NetRunning was a critical part of the setting, so I made sure the PCs had access to a friendly, reliable NetRunner (usually one of the first friends rolled during Lifepath). Other games have had this issue as well, Mekton, various Star Trek games and to a lesser extent, games that needed mass combat rules. In each case, you either had to have all the players involved in both the street-level system and the special subsystem or none of them. From this I learned to make sure that all the PCs are operating in the same arena/level with my designs.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #16


I played CyberPunk from 1988 through 2004. Parts of it were flights of fancy (the EU forming), parts of it were sheer genius (mega-corps) and part of it was absurd (poser gangs). I felt inspired by Bubblegum Crisis, Blade Runner, RoboCop and Gibson. My style was to suppress the PCs while allowing them to change the world. One example was to give the players 1,000,000 EuroBucks each in their accounts. Then after they spend it, that is when the Russian Mafia comes to retreive their money. And of course there is the classic rescue that is actually an extraction. This was when I developed a habit of, "if things get slow, Ninjas!" Also, I really learned that there is no reliable way to make a recurring villain (thanks Mike!). The only complaint I ever had about CP2020 was the power creep as more supplements came out. It wasn’t as bad as Rifts with MDC riot armor, but it did escalate to the point where it felt like Power Armor was needed to enter a fight.
In my own games I do my best to avoid power creep and to enable GMs to throw the kitchen sink at the players.

Thoughtful Thursday #15


    Many games feature Luck, gift dice or effort systems. I absolutely love Luck systems. The vast majority require you to spend these resources before the roll. The issue I have with this is one of risk vs. reward. You risk a resource that may or may not replenish, and you pin your hopes on attaining this one roll/accomplishment. However, you have no recourse if the one roll that you identified as being important to you fails. By and large, I allow players to spend these resources after the roll. It allows players to identify which rolls matter to them and allows them to achieve those successes on occasion. When I design these sorts of systems in my games, I make sure that players can use them after the roll as well.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #14


    As part of my trip down the rabbit hole that is Palladium games, I played the heck out of Heroes Unlimited. For the uninitiated, this is a Palladium System-based  game where you play comic book-style super heroes. Buying super powers was easier than Champions or DC Heroes, but the powers were very specific. They didn’t have a bolt power, they have flame blast, energy blast, etc. The obvious disadvantage of this is that there were loads of powers. The back cover brags about having over 240 Powers and Magic Spells. The clear advantage was that each power got its own treatment so that fire blast and ice blast had rules for catching things on fire and/or freezing them. This was the first Palladium book I bought that had rules for integrating them with other Palladium Games. I latched onto this idea immediately, My crowning achievement was a villain that was a Kung Fu Weasel with 15 attacks per turn! Again, this system suffered from having the rules and subsystems spread around and hidden. Also, it rubbed me the wrong way to have an experience level system for Super heroes. I mean, what does a 1st level Superman™ look like in comparison to a 15thlevel Superman™ (also a reason why I never tried Mutants and Masterminds)? It was good fun though, but I eventually moved on to another game. Heroes Unlimited showed me the value of a universal system and the value of a detail oriented system.

Thoughtful Thursday #13


TOON was another game that I loved, but I didn't really understand its genius until I started evaluating its game design years later (rather than just GMing it or playing it). I have played other comedy games since (e.g., Macho Women with Guns), but this is one of the few games where the game mechanics revolve around actually making the other players laugh. This was absolute fun to GM and to play and it was the first time where my judgment as a GM was challenged. An inexperienced player wanted to play a house plant. I didn't think that a House Plant PC would be able to function, even in a cartoon setting. Against my better judgment I allowed it and it was awesome.When I design my games, I try and remember that the players can be targeted by the mechanics as well. And when this is done well, it makes the game fun and engaging. [...]

Genghis Con Recap


Ran Steampunk Crescendo.
We had three players and a plot by a Chinese General in Hong Kong who was recruiting British debutantes to join a Kung Fu Cult to overthrow the British reign of Hong Kong.
One of the players suggested we were stopping a Kung Fu cotillion!

Everyone tested my new Martial Arts rules. They worked very well.

The King Fu vampire general was eventually defeated by our brave heroes.

Played Numenera
This game blew me away. Enjoyed a morally ambiguous tale of finding the balance of power between five neighboring communities. Character creation is pretty amazing in Numenera and the rules are pretty smooth.

Played Savage Worlds - Interface Zero
This was my best session of Savage Worlds ever, I didn't get hoodwinked into a secret cthulu game or have the map scale jacked up by a newbie GM and I got to do stuff to help the group without hogging the spotlight, it was awesome!

Ran Fate Core
Our heroes gathered at the town of Interregnum. So named because this is where rival Dukes meet to determine who will be the next King of Brighton. I decided the players would determine who the next King was, but I never decided how. They took me at my word and chose political intrigue and mercenaries. In the end, they prevailed.

Ran InSpectres for Con Jr.
The scenario was a Star Trek Next Generation mystery with missing crewmen. Where did they go and who was doing it?

Well, it ends up six Vulcans were taken on as passengers recently. And, in case you didn't know, if Vulcans don't meditate, they can turn evil and turn your crew into Zombies. We had to blow up the Enterprise to save the rest of the crew, but we all escaped with our lives (some of us just barely).

Played Legend of the Five Rings
I hadn't played this game since 1st edition. It was more streamlined than I remembered. The scenario started out with some big red flags, one of the players was passing notes to the GM (ends up they were just trying to protect their Honor) and we were looking for a thing that we didn't know where it was or what it looked like.
But the GM was not too stingey with the hints and we used some creative magic. In the end we couldn't have defeated the Lion Clan without the team work that we displayed (always fun for me).

Ran City In Darkness
Had two new RPG Gamers. They had literally never played another game before. Was a little nerve wracking, but was lots of fun. Apparently one of the rival Magi were using illusions to make their enemies commit suicide. There was some drama, but our heroes figured out who the Warlock was and brought them to justice.

"Ran" Project Ninja Panda Taco
Professor Quark was able to take over the world with an Electric Dog (with Power + Jaws) and a Dog to English translator. He was never able to get his hands on the coin-operated Giant Robot or the Tactical Nuclear Roomba.

Played Fate Core
Was a great scenario where both sides were bad guys. I got caught in the middle of some unwanted PvP, but we recovered and had a good afternoon.

I should see about working with Eloy (@ThirdEyeGames) to improve my marketing
I should bone up on my Fate Core rules knowledge some more
I should look closer at Numenera and figure out how to run it well
I should see if my group wants to play L5R

Thoughtful Thursday #12


  I have been thinking about the "Rules vs. Rulings" debate a while. To be clear, I fall mostly in the "Rules" side of the argument. Since I started gaming ever-so-long ago, I naturally leaned that way. Without thinking about it too much, that is how I usually reacted to rules questions at the table. The first time I saw these thoughts expressed on the internet, maybe eight years ago, I questioned my stance on this debate. I really thought about the pros and cons and came back with the idea to continue to operate as I usually do.   I feel like there is merit to the "Rulings are better" side of the argument. For instance: 1) It speeds the game along. 2) It helps the GM maintain Genre and Tone of their game. 3) It allows for player creativity to make a difference. 4) And, it relieves the burden of the GM to memorize and understand every single rule in the RPG text.   These are all good things and should be considered before opening the book and looking up a rule.   However, there is one key advantage you lose when you routinely adopt a "make a ruling" approach to most rules confusions: 1) It penalizes players who take the time to learn the rules.   So, I play with two groups regularly (about once a week each) and I attend two gaming cons a year. We usually let all the players know what the next game will be in case someone wants to learn the rules, get the book, think about what character to play, etc. To be honest, this does not happen among our players very often. In most cases players come to the table like a blank slate and the GM has to teach them the rules as they make their characters and play them. This is not so bad.   Once in a while, you get a player who likes the system well enough to invest the time to learn it. I want to encourage that behavior. I want to reward the player that has read the book by making sure their knowledge pays off. When they ask a rules question based on their understanding, and the GM makes a "ruling" that makes sense to them, then the GM is marginalizing (And possibly even penalizing) that player's inquiry into the rules for the system they are playing. To me, this is a bigger negative than taking 10 minutes to look up and discuss a rule. And to be frank, my RPG sessions are short, usually around 2 hours, so 10 minutes is a huge burden, time-wise. Still, it is nothing compared to thwarting a player's efforts to learn the rules in my opinion.   Of course, the true solution is that a skilled GM uses a combination of techniques. There are times when quickly making a "Ruling" is the best course and times where looking up the rules is vastly superior. The trick is to understand what you gain or lose when you choose a direction to go and make sure that is the affect you want that decision to have on your game. [...]

Thoughtful Thursday #11


      Between Conan and TMNT I have experienced the whole gambit of sub-system sprawl. Conan was mostly a universal system, TMNT had a subsystem for everything (sometimes with rules inside of sub-elements of a subsystem). I still enjoy both methods, but I prefer more unified systems.    This was cemented when I played DC Heroes which had a universal system for everything. This is a great system for super heroes (I have used it quite successfully for Star Wars with Jedi as well). It avoids point sprawl (the difference in Strength between Superman and Batman is 16 points) and it supports Supers, Constructs and gadgeteers equally. And everything gets resolved on one universal table. It was later ported away from the DC license to Blood of Heroes. This is a great game system, it is out of print, but worth a try if you can find it.     When I am designing my own RPGs, I try to follow my preferences. I want there to be a single system to resolve everything in my designs.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #10


When I moved downtown, I would visit a local comic shop looking to see if they had any RPG books. It was futile, they had a few,  but they were not in the business of keeping it up-to-date. Still, they had a game that eventually caught my eye. Teenge Mutant Ninja Turtles and other strangeness. At that point, I had only read one comic book. It was an Iron Man that made no sense to me (it was mid-story arc, with lots of callbacks to previous books I had no access to). When I got TMNT , I didn't even realize it was Based on a comic book. But it did have ninja in the title, so I was intrigued. This was another game that blew my mind. 1st level characters were amazingly capable and the list of powers and abilities let you make almost any character without creating a needlessly crunchy system. The horrible layout of the rules challenge player mastery all on its own. I played an entire adventure before I realized that there were special one-off rules for each ability in the description of that ability in the glossary.Since then, when I am designing my own games, I have worked to make sure that the relevant rules are either presented together in the same section or inform you to refer to other relevant sections.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #9


1   Light rules vs Crunchy rules - For purposes of this conversation, I am considering the level of crunch to equate almost entirely to handling time (i.e., how long it takes to resolve an action/conflict). Through all the games I played, I figured out I did not like ultra-lite games (nearing freeform RPGs) and I did not like ultra-crunch games (Champions and the like). But there are games that I absolutely love. The Wing Commander video game series taught me I would put up with anything if the story was good enough (for me that game was really hard to play, but I wouldn't give up, because I wanted to know what happened next in the story). But story wasn't everything, I did not like super light rules, nor did I particularly enjoy collaborative story telling (e.g., freeform RPGs). I like playing the game as well. An example of this was Basic D&D, played without minis and maps, there was not a lot of game there. You rolled to hit, you rolled damage, kept doing that to until someone ran out of HPs. So I have figured out what I like:a. GM tools are well-developed and provide for creative use and interpretation,b. Player input into the game and story is meaningful and allows for creativity as well as impactful decision making.c. Collaborative story telling, no one person dominates what happens to the characters and the events as they unfold.d. Rues/Mechanics with enough tactical depth to challenge my mastery as a player (Dogs in the Vineyard is a good exampled. The dice play is not mindless, but it does not stop the story until it is resolved). And that is what I strive for in my designs. I want to make a game with a setting and in-world events that inspires the players to action.  The setting should be rich enough that players want to take their favorite system and port the setting to that system. But, the game must be fun enough that you would want to play it even if there was no story at all. I feel like I have achieved that with Steampunk Crescendo and City in Darkness. Some of my other Game Chef entries and early attempts at design are close, but not quite on the mark. [...]

Thoughtful Thursday #8


A long time ago, my friend Mark (@TheCorvi) got Champions. This was a game that let you play a superhero. If you haven't played it, it is a neat system that gives you total creative control over your hero. There is no list of superpowers (like super breath or web slinging), instead you bought the effect the power has in the game. For instance Web slinging would need to be purchased twice, once for the movement power and once for the restraining power. We played Champions twice. the first time we played for over a month. well, sort of, we made characters until the GM got sick of our shenanigans. John was better at math then me and was competitive. each week we would go off and make a character, then we'd get back together and see what kind of superheroes we came up with. Inevitably, John's character would far outpace everyone else's. The first time, I had some minor powers and a big attack that did 8d6. It was powerful enough to take me out, so I was happy. Until John explained that his character could do 12d6. Needless to say, I didn't want to be his sidekick. So, we went back to the drawing board. An on it went, until the GM caught one of us in a math error. Then we started a new campaign. The GM verified everyone's character build and once the errors were fixed, no rebuilds were allowed. So,  we got to play this time. I played the prince of elementals. He had an attack and defense that represented each of the classic Greek elements. At the time, rounds in Champions had 10 phases and movement was broken into phases so that players could react mid-movement. I had just recently played Car Wars and Starfleet Battles, this mechanic really threw me out of the superhero genre. But the real deal breaker was when we defeated the mercenaries with M-16 assault rifles the GM told me I could not pick up and use one. I have avoided this and other games like it since then.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #7


My friend John got me the TSR edition of the Conan RPG for my birthday the year it came out. To be honest, I was not that psyched. I enjoy the Conan genre of fantasy, but felt that D&D could fulfill the needs of the genre well enough.
Fortunately for me, it was a light read and John did not let up on the enthusiasm. This game opened my eyes to the possibilities of game design. Everything I Had come to assume was a necessarry staple of RPGs was not present and the game play was great. Classes, random stats, calculated stats, even various tables and systems proved unnecessarry. Even spell slots were not required, the magic in this system did not need them and was effective. This is a game where the only stats are skils (even hps) and there is a universal resolution chart. And it blew my mind. I've never had a bad time playing this system and it remains the high watermark for game critique/evaluation.
FYI, there is a re-released versionhere:

Thoughtful Thursday #6


There was a time when I came up with the techniques (Magician's Choice, etc.) to railroad the players on my own (I'd never heard the term or even heard/read anyone talking about it in any context at the time). Back then, I would have defended Railroading until the bitter end. It just made sense. A GM made NPCs, maps, encounters, locations, scenarios. How else could you get the PCs to these awesome set-pieces? Nowadays, I really do not like Railroading. There are two reasons for it:1) it really obviated the need for roleplaying. if the characters are going to be at spot X No matter what they do, then there is no need to get clues or befriend NPCs.2) Was an experience I had as a GM. I made a pretty big dungeon. It had a logic to it. Each of the rooms had a purpose. The inhabitants had a reason to work together. the players got to a new town and someone asked them to retrieve an heirloom stolen by bandits. The reward was generous and the requester surely could not complete it on their own. The players politely declined. Soon, they left the town and were on the road. A road that led to a mysterious ruin. They went the other way. A way that lead to a mysterious underground cavern. At that point, the game broke down. I explained how much work I put into it and asked what the problem was. The players had logical explanations. One player had a Cavalier whose powers relied on him being on horseback. The other had a Druid that relied on being outdoors for most of their spells. Finally, we had an archer, who was less effective in the confines of dungeon hallways. I decided at that point never to railroad my players again. It was tough, I needed to learn some new skills, but it has paid off consistently. Now I can't really accept it when a GM tries to defend the practice.[...]

Thoughtfiul Thursday #5


My very first exposure to lifepaths was the little black book Traveler. It seemed like A power-gamer's dream. The risk of dying at character creation was meaningless (and silly) unless characters are made while everyone was waiting. And even then, if all the players were playing the same game (Make the oldest player that is still awesome that doesn't die at character creation), then they wouldn't mind the wait if they happen to finish early.My next exposure was Cyerpunk. Their lifepath system was amazing! This is when I learned to love lifepaths. It is also when I learned to hate "nothing happens." After my first game, all "nothing happens" rolls during lifepath were re-rolled. Not soon after, I started looking at ways to eliminate "Nothing happens" from all die rolls in existing games and my new designs.[...]

Thoughtful Thursday #4


Henchmen/Followers - When I was a player, I really didn't want followers. I wanted to play a cool wizard, not a army general. When other players started reaching the power level that they should have Followers, the DM at the time (my friend since middle school, Mark (aka @TheCorvi), said that they weren't sure how to role play an army of NPCs or how to balance an encounter wth powerful PCs and an army of henchmen/followers.The decision did not affect the plans I had for my character and when I got to DM, the precendence let me simplify my games. Interestingly in my AD&D 1e revival game, I have tried to encourage the players to hire Henchmen and no one has been interested. In less tactical games, henchmen, followers and protoges have been great additions to the game though.[...]