Eow Links 35
2021-08-28

Eow Links 35

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 35.

For more weekly links, head to The Seed of Worlds Shiny TTRPG link collection or Alex's Blogosphere posts. There is also Ruprecht's Best of the Web.

Most of the links below are found via the RPG Planet that Alex Schroeder built and maintains. If you have a RPG blog, please consider joining the conversation.

← last week links

Many things for this week, my favourite is A Theory Point: RPG Essentialism & RPG Exceptionalism, I still have to re-read it.


The Indie RPG Newsletter

An email newsletter started in the middle of the hellscape of 2020 as a hub for curating content from around the indie tabletop RPG interverse. This is a personal labour of love to share some of the best parts of the hobby. This email goes out every week on Sunday.

It's been on for 54 weeks, it has Links of the Week and a Listen of the Week. I'll add it to the header of those younger (35 weeks) End Of Week links. I wished I had found this newsletter earlier, it's excellent.


Alignment, Cosmology, People and Monsters

The Gods do not have stat blocks.

How Chaos and Law challenge each other in Grumpy Wizard's setting. The distinction between people and monsters.


Dogtooth Valley

A pocket-sized hexcrawl adventure for tabletop adventure games. It details a small region with a hex map, an encounter table, a town, about 5 and a half little dungeons, and more. 20 pages. Softcover. Roughly A6-sized booklet.

Enticing.


Losing Interest

What I think is frequently overlooked is that GMs also deserve to have fun. Fun is highly subjective, so you need to know what fun is for you.

Fourty-six sessions is a lot, at least for me. Being a referee can feel like a sacerdoce, it shouldn't equate martyrdom.


Dispel Cynicism

Via @grump_e_wizard

It was fucking pure. There was no kvetching about editions and how things used to be. There was no talk about class balance. There were no hobby politics. One kid rolled a critical hit and it was like a miracle to him.


Humanizing the Monster

You've gotta dilute your weird if it's going to have the impact you want.


The Circles Subsystem of “Burning Wheel Gold”

What’s fantastic about the Circles test is that not only do you find someone, it provides guidance into their disposition. I’ve found that it is far more interesting to have failure for a Circles test always invoke the Enmity Clause; but temper that response based on the degree of failure. If you come close, maybe you find them but they're juggling their own priorities or getting it from them is more costly than anticipated.

Also features a transposition to Stars Without Number / Worlds Without Number.


Vintage RPG Podcast, we talk to legendary RPG artist Erol Otus

What more can I say?

Erol Otus Illustration for the Advanced D&D Dungeon Masters Adventure Log (TSR, 1980)

Otus distills, in a single monochrome image, the suspense, danger, and otherworldliness of the fantasy RPG.

Early dreams.


Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Oger

The main reason why I want to do wandering monsters like this is that I find it very useful to know what the next encounter will be. This gives me an opportunity to spend some thought on how I would run the encounter if it appears in one of the two rooms that the players might go in next.

I want to have a mini dungeon map with pins for the location of monster parties, vanilla 10 minute turns, and every moves (or rests).


Asking "What Then?", or, What Makes a Good Setting Good?

At the opposite end of the sphere is Jack Vance, the master at coming up with initially bland-sounding ideas and then burrowing so deep inside them that they become unique and powerful.

A handy sieve (or setting building tool).


Review: Through Ultans Door #3 + Beneath The Moss Courts

A point throughout the experience with Through Ultans Door is the fabulous craftwork and the sheer amount of stuff packed in. Laying out all the zines and their extras gives a good sense of the explosion of art-work and content that comes with them. I think this series of zines is the highest production quality of zines I have come across - a real tactile treat along with the content and artwork.

Beautiful zines.


Memo to the Players #1: Taking Action

Good actions start with good listening. Seriously. Lots of players stop listening as soon as they hear words like ‘treasure chest’ or ‘ogre’ or ‘jewel-studded idol.’ They think, “well, I’ve definitely got to grab and/or kill that” and get so focused on their next action that they miss whatever important details come next. Don’t do that. Listen. It makes it less likely you’ll blunder into some stupid hazard. Or piss your GM off by making him repeat himself.

It is urgent hence I take the time to think.


A Theory Point: RPG Essentialism & RPG Exceptionalism

Now, if you hold to rpg essentialism and/or rpg exceptionalism, that’s fine with me. If you think that D&D is the yardstick of all rpgs, well, okay. If you’re on the quest to discover or create your ideal rpg, go for it! If you think that the differences between rpgs and other games transcend the technical and reach the fundamental, I mean, what am I going to say? I’m not here to talk you out of it.

Vincent Baker lays signposts to help us understand his thinking.


Rules, Laws, and Worlds

When rules are broken, players grimace, complain, or yell. Cheating feels gross and produces such effects.

When laws are broken, players gasp, exclaim, and ask questions. They’re more invested in the world.

Dura lex, sed lex.


When a trillion dice are no better than a dozen.

Via @grump_e_wizard

On your turn, you roll five dice, and score their sum, with one big exception: 2’s and 5’s are fatal. They immediately drop dead and are removed from play. Not only that, but whenever any 2’s or 5’s appear, the other dice are worthless; you score no points for the roll. Then, whether you scored points or not, you roll all remaining dice again, and continue repeating this process until all five dice have dropped dead. Play for a set number of turns per player (say four), after which the highest total score wins.

My grand-mother will love that game.


You're a Wizard!

Make low level wizards better instead. It's the morally correct thing to do.

Suggestions on how to make freshly graduated wizard more robust.


Map Depository

I have updated the maps stored in the Map Depository here I occasionally post maps that I drop here on the blog. You can find a massive list of maps, from my earliest days to some of my most recent maps.

This did not go unnoticed by Ruprecht:

Best of the Web - MSJX Maps

As I look around I keep coming back to msjx's maps. The older ones are a bit different style but the newer ones are beautiful. They are simple, clean and clear (especially the 'infamous Fuck Your Printer versions'.


[BLOG] Year Five: Old School Refocus

Instead, a lot of time is wasted on trivial distractions. Much of the “OSR” became absolutely obsessed by form (how we ought to present information, what a “good layout” looks like, etc.), but uses these supposedly hyper-efficient presentation styles and layout magic for trivial stuff like dungeons with five rooms, lightweight content that restates the obvious, and “experimental” games which are not rooted in play, do not serve play, and would actually damage the quality of play if they were used at someone’s table

A state of the blog post Beyond Fomalhaut.