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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Aug 2018

    Default How to make my players home feel special

    My entire campaign takes place on a series of island and the sail between the islands. As they play the game they will get more upgrades and make the ship more epic (like more weapons. Magical attachments. A better hull). I want some advice on how to make the ship itself feel less like a tool and more like a real home or another party member. Does anyone have experience with player homes? I do plan to let it be part of the finale against the dragon. Should I give the ship a back story? Maybe a friendly care taker?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

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    May 2018

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    upgrades, equipment slots, personality

    Think carefully before inflicting damage on it. The players have to feel their choices were responsible for any damage to it or it will feel like the ship is just a plot device.

    If you give the ship a back story, give them hints but don't let them in on the whole story until it's caught their interest. A friendly caretaker will make them care about the caretaker, which may make them care about the ship, or just make them want to make sure the caretaker survives if the ship sinks.

    One other possibility is to have the ship actually be alive somehow, or more interestingly, become alive through their actions. Doubly beneficial as it means the ship would then be able to take a bit of damage and heal it back.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Draconi Redfir's Avatar

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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    if any of the players grow attached to any NPC's for whatever reason, think about said NPC becoming a member of the crew. Be sure they don't just kind of exist there though, try to think of various tasks and jobs they can do around the ship to both be helpful, and noticed. If players need to regularly manage the rigging for example, you could have an NPC join the crew and volunteer to manage the rigging from then on. NPC's could also work to defend the ship from attacks, allowing you to play out larger-scale invasions, but with less worry. you could say, have twenty enemies attack the ship, but your players only need to fight off five while the crew is seen fighting other enemies in the background. don't worry about rolling attacks or misses for those NPC's though, just make a show of it and it'll be fine.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    The easiest way to have your players grow attached to the ship is to have them modify it and improving it by spending their resources (money, magic, crewmen, whatever). If they feel that they earn the ship, that it's theirs, they'll likely form a certain connection to it. Let them paint it, change the sails, give it a name, board passengers, whatever they feel like.

    Don't use the ship just to go from point A to point B, or it's just a slow teleporting device. Have stuff happen on board as well, make it clear that the ship is important to them, as they need it to move between the islands. Or just make the crew interesting and likeable.

    The ship doesn't have to turn into a monster tank that rains death and doom. A bunch of people around the world love things that aren't perfect or powerful or special, they just like them and enjoy their quirks or associate good memories with the thing in question.
    Last edited by Silly Name; 2018-10-26 at 05:50 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Ok, I'm going to straight up go against everything everyone some things some others have said:

    Do not make it a tank. Do not add extra weapons, more armor, equipment slots as someone said - do not actively make it a weapon while trying to make it a home. That does not work, for the very obvious reason that you're doing the opposite of what you set out to do.

    Instead, make it personal. Give a forge to the warrior, a lab to the alchemist, a library to the mage, a shadowy corner full of traps and sneaky gear for the rogue, and so on. Ask the players to put art on the walls, or rugs on the floors, or decide the contents of their wardrobes, or the quality of their silverware, or their favourite coffee (or, gods help us, tea).

    Also, sure - make upgrades. Give it enhanced speed, cleverer sails, longer vision range, better manouverability. And when the players insist on adding greek fire to the ballista - well, maybe allow that. Eventually.
    Last edited by Kaptin Keen; 2018-10-26 at 03:56 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Ken Murikumo's Avatar

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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Im currently running a campaign (homebrew setting in SPAAAAACE) and the players inherited a huge space ship Dark Matter style, where they have no memory of why or how they are related to the ship. In the setting, it's the largest class of ship before it's considered a nation. When they first got the ship, it was little more than just a hull with large parts missing and no crew. The party has been recruiting NPCs to fill the needed ranks, but more importantly, the ship is filled with mystery.

    -There are occupied cryo-pods in an indefinite state of stasis and when the party tries to force the pods open or wake the occupant up prematurely, they die or end up a vegetable.

    -The ship produces its own maintenance droids, but nobody can tell how many there are, where they come from, or even what they are fully capable of.

    -The ship AI is crippled and seems to have some crucial information buried within.

    -And most importantly, there is a locked vault in the bowels of the ship that they cannot open (yet) but the Vault recognizes them as crew members without proper clearance.

    In short, give the ship a mysterious background, shrouded in mystery and inconsistency. This will keep the players invested in the ship, offer great plot hooks, and give proper scenarios to play out on/in the ship.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Oct 2011

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    So, as others have indirectly illuded to, there are multiple types of attachment, and different methods are all but required for engendering those different types of attachment.

    Having the ship be full of history and mystery produces a desire for Exploration.

    Letting the PCs customize the ship gives them a sense of Ownership.

    And upgrading the combat stats for better optimization... I don't have a name for this type of attachment, but I will say, that coupled with a good simulator mindset, where you don't damage the ship as a plot device, but as a logical consequence of actions, makes the ship something worth caring about, rather than a "oh, nothing will happen to the ship unless the GM wants it to"-style part of the scenery.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    May 2011

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Something important is happening on Island A, but the players are on Island B and the ship has been hijacked by enemies trying to keep Island A isolated from the party. It is then very annoying and difficult to procure other transport and bad things keep happening because Island A hasn't been dealt with.
    Back in my day we used all of our spells before the fight, and it was just a matter of time before the DM realized his encounter was over.
    And we walked to our dungeons uphill through the snow, both ways.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Oct 2011

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    To continue my line of thought...

    Imagine a videogame where the "ship" was just a way to get from place to place. You clicked the "sail to x" button, and you were there. That's about the least engaging ship possible.

    How do we step up from that?

    Well, imagine that, when you sail from place to place, there was a visual, where you saw the map, and watched the ship sail from A to B.

    Next, let's give the player the option to take different ships, with different icons.

    Oh, let's give them more stats. Different ships move across the map at different speeds, so it may be a 3-second or a 5-second animation.

    More stats - they have different, um, "depths", and, thus, occasionally take different paths, or even have different potential destinations (because the big ship is too "deep" to go over the shallow reefs surrounding coral bay, for example).

    More stats - they have different carrying capacities. So, to hire a ship to transport a dragon's hoard, you have to take that into consideration.

    More stats - they have different NPCs, with different dialog, combat capabilities, allegiances, trustworthiness, etc. Different history with you that accumulates as you take the ship. Maybe adding in some random sea encounters now would be a good idea. Oh, and combining crew and cargo capacity / specified cargo (like food and water) can help determine how far the ship can sail - we now have derived stats.

    If some of those sea encounters can damage the ship, maybe we add in icons for damaged ships, maybe even change their performance when damaged. And stats to indicate how likely to be damaged by certain encounters the ship is may help characterize them, too.

    Finally, if we allow the player to purchase their own ship, we may allow them to customize things about the ship, from sails and paint job (changing the color of the icon) to materials (changing the seaworthiness vs various hazards) to crew (affecting lots of derived stats).

    Does this ship sound more engaging than "click 'sail' to go to x" to you? Like something where you could become attached to a ship? If so, why?
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-10-26 at 11:31 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Torath's Avatar

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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    More stats - they have different, um, "depths", and, thus, occasionally take different paths, or even have different potential destinations (because the big ship is too "deep" to go over the shallow reefs surrounding coral bay, for example).
    This is actually called the "draft" of the ship. And, of course, it varies by load as well. If your ship is carrying very little or light cargo, your draft will be shorter than if you're heavily loaded. If your ship is too light, it can make it hard to handle, which is where "ballast" comes in. Ballast is just junk (usually rock or soil) to increase your draft if your ship is otherwise too light. Ummm...[/pedantry]
    Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Skirmish Game: Warpstrike
    My Spelljammer stuff (including an orbit tracker), 2E AD&D spreadsheet, and Vault of the Drow maps are available in my Dropbox. Feel free to use or not use it as you see fit!
    Thri-Kreen Ranger/Psionicist by me, based off of Rich's A Monster for Every Season

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Oct 2011

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    This is actually called the "draft" of the ship. And, of course, it varies by load as well. If your ship is carrying very little or light cargo, your draft will be shorter than if you're heavily loaded. If your ship is too light, it can make it hard to handle, which is where "ballast" comes in. Ballast is just junk (usually rock or soil) to increase your draft if your ship is otherwise too light. Ummm...[/pedantry]
    Ah, thanks - I couldn't come up with the word "draft".

    And, yes, agreed, draft should be a partially derived stat (with, perhaps, each ship having a "base draft" and "Delta draft by weight" stat).

    Handling... I suppose is a partiality derived stat, and figures into the "resistance to various threats" stats?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    May 2010

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Give the ship some personality and unique quirks. For example, the Millenium Falcon or Serenity:

    Contradictory aspects: The Millenium Falcon looks like a piece of junk, but it's incredibly fast. Serenity looks like junk, but can be kept flying with duct tape and scrap parts. The Falcon's nav computer uses a lot of foul language and is very cranky, but it has very good maps and calculation ability. Serenity's galley is full of canned protein paste, but the dining area has a big wooden table for family meals and the bulkheads are decorated with a country style vine motif.

    Acts bad and needs attention but without penalizing the players: It needs a lot of maintenance and needs to be smacked once in a while to keep working, but this doesn't actually interfere with important things. It's never "the instruments go out so you have to fly blind", it's just "the instruments go out so you have to hit the panel with your hand to make the lights come back on as a free action".

    Meaningful origin: Han didn't just buy the Falcon from a used ship lot. He won it in a card game and it symbolizes the legitimacy of his scoundrel lifestyle: he CAN fly by the seat of his pants and take crazy risks and win. Mal did buy Serenity from a used ship lot, but he needed the ship to feel free in space.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Mar 2015

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Murikumo View Post
    there is a locked vault in the bowels of the ship that they cannot open (yet) but the Vault recognizes them as crew members without proper clearance.
    This is a really nice set up and I think this is my favourite detail for some reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Does this ship sound more engaging than "click 'sail' to go to x" to you? Like something where you could become attached to a ship? If so, why?
    No not really, or not in the way I think Redhood101 is going for. Stats are numbers and numbers... can be interesting but I don't think they create attachment or the special feeling.

    I think you need a couple of things for this (first draft):

    Safety: It is something that is safe to become attached to. It will not be destroyed out of hand or taken away arbitrarily.

    Reason: Not much of a reason, but considering how people work, leaving this to chance is risky. So there should be a bit of positive response in other parts of the game for engaging with the ship. Stats of the ship itself are part of it, but also things like being able to more productively spend your down time or it carrying some social bonus when you arrive in port. Just some ideas.

    Method: Ways to interact with the ship and build attachment. Stuff as simple as making sure scenes happen while on it is a start. (Or rather the opposite is probably a complete non-starter.) But the modifications and recruitment everyone else has been talking about goes here.

    That is my first draft. Maybe tomorrow I will regret all of it.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Oct 2011

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    No not really, or not in the way I think Redhood101 is going for. Stats are numbers and numbers... can be interesting but I don't think they create attachment or the special feeling.
    Ah, good - you realized that it wasn't a rhetorical question.

    Tbh, I think that this is a "know your players" moment. The "has different icons" step, for instance, is enough to make me prefer one ship over another.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think you need a couple of things for this (first draft):

    Safety: It is something that is safe to become attached to. It will not be destroyed out of hand or taken away arbitrarily.
    Strongly agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Reason: Not much of a reason, but considering how people work, leaving this to chance is risky. So there should be a bit of positive response in other parts of the game for engaging with the ship. Stats of the ship itself are part of it, but also things like being able to more productively spend your down time or it carrying some social bonus when you arrive in port. Just some ideas.
    Would this include an admonition not to make the ship a liability?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Method: Ways to interact with the ship and build attachment. Stuff as simple as making sure scenes happen while on it is a start. (Or rather the opposite is probably a complete non-starter.) But the modifications and recruitment everyone else has been talking about goes here.
    Personally, it's this but - the ownership and customization, the opportunity to make something mine - that is probably the biggest positive factor for me. Everything else is just a "don't **** this up". Which isn't to say that everything else isn't important. I guess I'm saying that attachment requires "enough positives" and "no deal breakers".

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

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    May 2018

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Ok, I'm going to straight up go against everything everyone some things some others have said:

    Do not make it a tank. Do not add extra weapons, more armor, equipment slots as someone said - do not actively make it a weapon while trying to make it a home. That does not work, for the very obvious reason that you're doing the opposite of what you set out to do.

    Instead, make it personal. Give a forge to the warrior, a lab to the alchemist, a library to the mage, a shadowy corner full of traps and sneaky gear for the rogue, and so on. Ask the players to put art on the walls, or rugs on the floors, or decide the contents of their wardrobes, or the quality of their silverware, or their favourite coffee (or, gods help us, tea).

    Also, sure - make upgrades. Give it enhanced speed, cleverer sails, longer vision range, better manouverability. And when the players insist on adding greek fire to the ballista - well, maybe allow that. Eventually.
    The forge, lab, library, etc. are equipment slots. Anything where you have to choose between different effects for some part of the ship. Other than various rooms, you could also have choices between components that make it go faster, ones that make it less likely to be noticed, or ones that make it easier to spot enemies. Have some of the choices be aesthetic and make sure you describe the aesthetic part whenever it is appropriate.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Mar 2015

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Ah, good - you realized that it wasn't a rhetorical question.

    Tbh, I think that this is a "know your players" moment. The "has different icons" step, for instance, is enough to make me prefer one ship over another.
    Yeah, I know some rules for it, but I have grown very attached to things that are identical to its fellows and I only know is the same one because I have been keeping it in a particular inventory slot. So it seems kind of random.

    I think it is more the associations I have, I will grow attached to an iron sword if it is the iron sword I used to defeat a particularly troublesome boss, as an example. Customization and ownership just don't seem to play as big of a role for me.

    Would this include an admonition not to make the ship a liability?
    Probably, I think "Reason" is really just a thing to get people started. After they get started it will probably continue on its own. So you should just need a push in the right direction, and the means not pulling in a different direction.

    I guess I'm saying that attachment requires "enough positives" and "no deal breakers".
    Does this mean negatives are OK. I think it does as long as there are enough positives to outweigh them. In fact some negatives might even be good, like if you have to spend time finding supplies for repair on occasion that might actually help, as long as they know the payout of putting in that work will be worth it. It creates a bit of a back and forth. And even if it doesn't actually help, it shouldn't be different from what they have to do to upgrade things so shouldn't be a problem.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think you need a couple of things for this (first draft):

    Safety:
    Reason:
    Method:

    That is my first draft. Maybe tomorrow I will regret all of it.
    You might be able to even go somewhere with non-interaction if instead you make the other scenes bring out the unsafety and bad interaction.
    You camp outside the ship, you get 3 easy but irritating wild animal encounters, etc.. and start the next day only 2/3 recharged. Return to the ship and you can get a lot further before you start having to watch your stats (of course at some point the distance saved by camping is worth the risk)

    Before you get the ship going from island to island is a chore, after it's "Island Y, you sail there in your boat as you arrive..."
    Of course then you have to let the players know if they lose it. They'll be dependent on where other people happen to be going

    Although of course that runs the risk of them just going pirate, or taking the meta-game approach of not turning up.
    But there's a bit of me that thinks the "take 20" approach avoids a potentially nice matching between IC frustration and desire to take the easier route and OOC (even/especially if they are bound to succeed eventually.).
    Last edited by jayem; 2018-10-27 at 11:39 AM.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Yeah, I know some rules for it, but I have grown very attached to things that are identical to its fellows and I only know is the same one because I have been keeping it in a particular inventory slot. So it seems kind of random.

    I think it is more the associations I have, I will grow attached to an iron sword if it is the iron sword I used to defeat a particularly troublesome boss, as an example. Customization and ownership just don't seem to play as big of a role for me.
    I hear you. I have numerous bits of chatchka whose value is sentimental, its connection to treasured memories of events long past.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Does this mean negatives are OK. I think it does as long as there are enough positives to outweigh them. In fact some negatives might even be good, like if you have to spend time finding supplies for repair on occasion that might actually help, as long as they know the payout of putting in that work will be worth it. It creates a bit of a back and forth. And even if it doesn't actually help, it shouldn't be different from what they have to do to upgrade things so shouldn't be a problem.
    Well, she's beautiful, she cooks, she's great with kids, we share lots of interests, but she's a praying mantis girl, who eats her mate. Lots of positives, but one deal-breaker.

    Same thing with the ship. Know your players, know what would be a deal breaker on caring about the ship, and don't do that.

    If the ship is guaranteed safe, then I may care about modifications, but why would I care about defenses? If the ship is just a narrative tool, then why would I care about it at all? If the ship has a great history that gets me the type of encounters I enjoy, great; if its great history gives me encounters I don't enjoy / limits encounters that I do enjoy, then I'll throw the thing to the curb. If the ship isn't mine, and I can't modify it... I lose that Ownership, but I can still care about it other ways, so that's not a deal-breaker, just a requirement that the other things be cool enough to capture my attention.

    But I can't speak for the OP's players.

    Also, what character I'm running will change how I view things like ships. Unless he owns it, Quertus will only care about the enchantments on it, and how inconvenient it is. Armus, a trained sailor, will care about the feel of the ship, the quality and loyalty of the crew, plus what it says about us. Raymond will care more about how many delicious bloodpops it can hold, how many shadowy "make out" spots it has, and how easy it is to sneak from place to place; things like defenses, speed, "escape pods" (life rafts), and cargo are a secondary concern. Not surprisingly, none of my characters are particularly impressed with a ship's weaponry - although a few might care if it were armed like Serenity.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Mendicant's Avatar

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    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    Does it have a name? If it doesn't it should and if it does they should hear it a lot.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Mar 2009

    Default Re: How to make my players home feel special

    "How to make my players home feel special"....

    Gift the home with comfortable chairs, each with a designer cushion reflective of their play style/character. Having a comfortable place to sit helps make every home special (and more comfortable for gaming).

    Give them plants or knickknacks to decorate the home.

    Provide photos/posters for wall hangings.

    Make sure each person has a room that can be their own, so they can decorate to personal taste.


    ..... Or did you mean your players' CHARACTERS' home....?
    "That's a horrible idea! What time?"

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