Eow Links 36
2021-09-05

Eow Links 36

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 36.

For more weekly links, head to The Seed of Worlds Shiny TTRPG link collection or Alex's Blogosphere posts. There are also Ruprecht's Best of the Web, and The Indie RPG Newsletter with its weekly links.

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

A copious week. My favourite posts are the About Balanced Encounters in Old-School Essentials one and the Wilderness Generator one just below.


Actual Test: Wilderness Generator from Izirions Enchirdion of the West Marches

I used it to map out a region around a city that had suddenly sprung into focus in my home campaign and it was remarkable how the cards managed to fall in line with the sketch of the region I had and then generated many more hooks and possibilities from their combinations.

Xaosseed put his wilderness generator to good use and took us for the ride.


Collaborative Worldbuilding with Kids

One of the first exercises for our high school gaming club was developing a shared collaborative world. I figured this would be more interesting and more engaging for everyone than simply playing pre-written modules. I wanted to create a setting with the students, something that they'll be proud to be a part of.

If I read carefully, it seems that the kids are very attached to some of the regions they helped create. I wonder how it will fare when more of the control will have to be given to the referee. Maybe adventures will take place in a neutral setting while the created regions will stay mostly in the background and for the intra-group drama.


The Hobos Have Them...

The Romans had a version of the bundle on a stick. It was called sarcina. Because they used a forked stick or stick with an arm, it was called (also?) a furca or a fork. It's function was largely the same as the hobo's bindle, to redistribute a load to the shoulder and to allow one hand free.

Marius' mules.


Focus on the World: Actions, not Choices

The game stops moving when players make a habit of offering hypothetical actions instead of specifics:
"Can I use this crowbar to help open the door?"
To every single one of these responses I say (and have said) as directly as possible “what do you do?” If they’re still confused, I’ll clarify the situation and ask again.

Most young players now are video game players first, they do not read user manuals, they play, they try, they die, they try again. But you can't "right click" the crowbar and select the "open the door" option. And you are not the only player at the the table, and your access to the world is mediated by a referee, and you don't want to look stupid. Maybe.

I will try to follow this piece of advice, and ask again "what do you do?"


Dungeons and Dragons and Me

The books I would borrow and flip through and skim and read over and over were the Monster Manual, the Monster Manual 2 and the beloved Fiend Folio. I’d spend whole afternoons just slowly flipping through them and daydreaming.

A house, with a storage room, and in it a mysterious box with a dragon on it and subtitled "the original adult fantasy role playing game for 3 or more players".


Theory-Review-24

Story Improvisation in Tabletop Roleplaying Games: Towards a Computational Assistant for Game Masters

I haven't read the paper yet, but the promise of an oblique computational assistant is compelling.


People and Monsters

People create many monsters. People can create monsters by accident through carelessness, arrogance, ignorance, and stupidity. Goblins are an example of people creating monsters through carelessness.

That seems like the sequel to Alignment, Cosmology, People and Monsters. I like this emphasis on the monstruosity of monsters, and take it as a warning, you create monsters and you can become a monster.


Do I Now Favor Online over Face to Face?

Am I Missing Face to Face Play? Less than I thought. I miss sharing a home brewed beer and a tasty meal with friends, but the game table experience I’ve found online has begun to overshadow the experience around the physical table. Audio play is different than face to face. No one can see me wildly gesticulating as I emphatically act out my characters speech.

Jeremy Friesen reflects on his online playing experience.

Playing face to face again?

But the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to just play with fewer people and use rules that don’t have long fights, or don’t have a level up system that results in combat slowing down the longer we play.

And that triggers further reflections for Alex Schroeder.


About Balanced Encounters in Old-School Essentials

A very frequent answer is: you don't. Let players learn when to run. That's a bit harsh, and not exactly what's in the rules.

A well crafted post. Intelligence - Reaction - Morale.

About Lands of Legends!

Lands of Legends is a series of five zines designed to assist you in both prepping and running hexcrawl, sandbox, open world campaigns with classic fantasy OSR games.

Review : Lands of Legends: Holy

World-building tool in the guise of encounters
With myriad of different approaches to interpreting the idea of "Holy", Lands of Legends: Holy requires you to think about what the role of Gods, Angels, Devils, Spirits, and Sylvan Creatures really are in your game.

Land of Legends and then a review of one of its parts.


Flash Lingo: A Thieves Cant Dictionary (Free Agnostic Fantasy Gaming Supplement)

With over 2,200 entries, this volume has been compiled from historical resources and edited to specifically support fantasy role-playing games. More importantly, it is designed to bring the lexicon of Thieves Cant to life in your campaign world, as an aid for both players and DMs alike.

A new title in the New Big Dragon Games lineup.


Name That Subculture: The Extreme Lower Middle Class RPG/Wargame/Metal Matrix

It was a world of big brothers wearing leather jackets and Iron Maiden t-shirts; games shops full of Rifts books; music shops full of Cannibal Corpse records; groups of teenage boys hanging out in living rooms playing 40K and listening to Metallica

I am reading too many ttrpg blog posts, this one reads like a setting introduction.


Let Us Talk About Combat

A combat is only going to be as interesting as you are. Combat rules can either be a barrier or an aid in this regard. That is probably the hardest part of this whole exercise. Finding the level of combat “crunch” the game group is most satisfied with.

Alex, in the already mentioned post above, has decided on his level of crunch:

Our Classic Traveller firefights are short: after the first round, half the participants are already lying on the floor, unconscious. And our characters never gain levels. It’s perfect.


Pig Faced Ork Old School Roleplaying Game Convention

If you cut your teeth gaming at your friend's kitchen table in the 70's, or with Ben Lane and the Wargaming Society upstairs at the downtown Fresno Library: or if your kids are asking you to pull out your old rule books to teach them... here is a QUEST for YOU!

That poster and its drawing are amazing.


To Link Test or Not in Burning Wheel Gold

In some moments, players play to avoid losing. They will take the cautious approach; inching their way towards a larger goal. Putting one cautious foot forward to test the situation.

Exploration of Burning Wheel mechanisms.


Designing Layout and Information in Adventures

Over time, the developers of Dungeons & Dragons have tried a few ways to improve the formula, with mixed results. Personally, I was quite fond of 3rd edition's structure, which clearly signposted monsters, treasure, traps, and tactics using indentation and icons, and presented in a specific order.

I can't resist pasting here one of the comments:

This is a fun post. Good ideas well filtered. I think an OSR theme is function over form. There are many systemless art theme coffee table games (many of which are awesome of course) in circ today.


Layout Noodle

I come from a small press comics background, a DIY ethos. "Back in the day" we would draw our comics and then photocopy them, paste them (with glue) onto "flats", then photocopy the flats and collate and staple them into zines.

Layout Noodle II: The Slickening

But in the DIY scene (OSR, Sword Dream, story games, whatever) there are books being produced that are jaw-dropping in their beauty and scope. Some of these productions are so wild, so artistic, so delicious they may even go too god damn far.