Eow Links 68
2022-04-17

Eow Links 68

rising sun concept art by Adrian Smith

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 68.

For more weekly links, head to The Seed of Worlds Shiny TTRPG link collection. For monthly links, look at The Glatizant.

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

← last week links

My favourite for this week is Conway's Law and why exploration in 5th Edition sucks, "In contrast to that, exploration and combat are inseparable in B/X"


Fantasy Flight Dice with Galaxy Far Away (and other thoughts)

I have grown stale on finding out if something happens or not. Instead, stuff always happens. The question is not "does it happen?" but "how?" and I'm finding that said qualitative result generation is much more interesting than pass/fail. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, as the whole "yes, and" or "yes, but" style of adjudication easily traces its origin back to many storygame oracles and even further back into the distant, halcyon days of the hobby and its adjacents.


Noisms and the Hall of the Third Blue Wizard

I interviewed noisms, who blogs as Monsters and Manuals, publishes noisms games, and is best known for his fantasy game setting Yoon Suin, the Purple Land.


Three layers of RPG rules

There’s no formal turn order; the GM’s primary goal in managing “spotlight” is to make sure everybody feels included. There’s no “rule zero” — investing the GM with complete, unassailable authority — but instead a procedure to encourage quick rulings that everybody at the table has some say in.


2400 devlog: Emergency Rules

Use your head before your dice. […]
Put fellow players before the game. […]
Be flexible about scene framing.


The implied setting of Original Dungeons & Dragons is Post Collapse.

A collapse is the destruction of a society or culture but not all of civilization.

An apocalypse is the end of civilization. Perhaps the end of all sentient life.


Delvers and Denizens: Languages

I don't ask for the players to describe their gestures or anything like that, I simply let the conversation go as normal, but then the reaction dice tell if their was miscommunication resulting in a violent confrontation or some other hostile reaction.


Expectations: 1982 vs 2022

While I think it’s wonderful that enterprising GMs who have the digital drawing skills have led the way in producing stunning props for their groups, the pressure on mere mortals like me has felt crushing. Over the years, I have commissioned maps and artwork to grace my tables with colour and beauty but in the grand scheme it rarely seems worth the effort when players brush it off as barely meeting their expectations.


Gespenwald, Cairn, and the NSR

After all of this, discovering the NSR (for New School Revolution. Mostly) community was like finally finding my home. Like I said, intelligent, respectful conversation across a wide range of topics. I've never encountered any gatekeeping, and there's very little policing needed because people there are just... nice.


Revaluating RPGs, Abridged

Like artforms, RPGs manifest culture’s underlying play impulse. But RPGs are more complex than traditionally recognized artforms. The arts are modes of communication, but they’re one-way streets; the artist crafts their medium to convey something to the audience. But RPGs draw multiple lines of simultaneous interaction amongst multiple parties in a dynamic network, and they facilitate flexible, heuristic (rather than rote memory-based) knowledge. This makes RPGs qualitatively different from the well-recognized arts.


On Being an RPG Collector

Playing, reading, and collecting games are different activities which demand different things out of the games which are consumed. These activities aren’t mutually exclusive; in fact, I’d say the vast majority of gamers participate in all three to some degree. That said, the one which defines how many gamers buy RPGs is collecting, and as a result collecting RPGs is an activity that has an enormous impact on how the hobby evolves, how games are sold, and what games end up looking like.


Retainers and hirelings

Talking to them about this all helped me think it through because at first I was carrying “single-referee thinking” into a multi-referee setup: I kept thinking that every player only has a single “main” character. But as more referees join the game, people might want to have more “main” characters. That’s why I’m thinking I should drop the “main” qualification and just talk about player characters (full shares) and their followers: retainers (half shares), hirelings (1gp/day), porters (5sp/day), mounts (like horses) and pets (like dogs).


Slushpile - Evernote spring cleaning edition

Inspired by these meltings of the slush glacier and other similar postings I present some backlog sweepings that perhaps someone may find gold in.


Shields Shall Be Splintered! but are also a bit better

when taking damage from a melee attack, a shield wielder can elect to have their shield be destroyed and not take the damage. This option is also available for magical shields, with the addition that magical shields can even ward against more esoteric things like lightning bolts, dragon breath, death rays, thrown boulders, and things like that. But the shield still breaks, so you better make sure it's worth it.


How Computer Games ruined Leveling Up for RPGs

Now consider computer games: you gain a new level instantly with a flashy animation of sorts, you get to chose some benefits for the character and (when done well) all of it seems "meaningful". You achieved something and get an award for it with a little celebration and then we move on with the game.


Conway’s Law (and why exploration in 5th edition sucks)

By having established that there will be an engine group and a wheel group, you are already massively reducing the chances for great innovations at the point where the two components connect. Good communication between groups can reduce that barrier, but it will always be there.


OSE Behind The Screen, Part 3

If we are going to encourage Otherworld-immersion then we definitely want character death to be firmly on the table. Without the ultimate risk there is really no sense of danger and we will not see players make naturalistic choices. Step one in handling this is probably to point out to the players the vulnerability of new characters in the game world. There is a reason most villagers stay in the village and being open about it sets up a useful expectation.


Why I like Into the Odd

Most important to me, though, both games together (ItO and EB) have the Best GM advice I’ve seen. Much, or maybe even all, of it can be found on Chris’s blog Bastionland. I just find the material in a book more easily when I inevitably ask myself, “WWCMD?” EB gets most of the attention here, and with good reason, but ItO has the core of it all: Information, Choice, Impact.


White Box index character sheet!

You have no idea how long I have been looking for a 'good looking' but useful index card character sheet for White Box FMAG, as in one you could actually print on a 4x6 card.


Dark Souls TRPG Deep Dive: Behind the Screen

Exploration is mapped using thirteen playing cards (Ace to King). The suit doesn’t matter, and can be the same or optionally used to signify locations, such as Hearts for bonfires. Each card represents a field, and can be closed (face down) or open (face up). Some fields have an exact position, while others are defined as a group of cards that make up an area. Each group of cards is shuffled and then placed randomly in the slots marked for that group.


Discovering Sites in the Wilderness

Under this approach to adventuring, the players first need to have clues where to look for treasure and adventure. So here’s a couple of ways that PCs can learn of new sites to add to their own map.


The Four Channels of Creative Constraints on RPGs

It turns out it maps pretty well to four channels. So well that I can see myself thinking about RPGs in terms of these channels for a long time. They even have a nice rhythm to them:

Context, Rules, Content, and Principles.


Social Combat

Star Wars d6 made social "combat" really easy. Instead of hit points, you get Stunned, Wounded, Wounded Twice, Incapacitated, and Killed in regular combat. So for social combat, I just used the same mechanics and modified the damage track to Insulted, Hurt, Hurt Twice, Humiliated, and Reputation Ruined.


The View from Lake Geneva: A Visit to Gary Con XIV

“Well, do you like Lord of the Rings?” “No, it has occult magic.” “Ah gotcha, how about C.S Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia?” “Well that’s borderline, I see what he was trying to do and it’s a fun story for kids, we read it in 5th grade and I really liked it- I just don’t see why he needed to make stuff up instead of just using the word of God.”