|Eow Links 74|
Eow Links 74
"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 74.
My favourite for this week is Negative Space, "OSR play feels like it’s about engaging with the negative space of the rules"
When you have a milieu centric game, the characters matter to the players during the time they are playing them. When those characters die, retire or disappear from the setting, the campaign continues with only a brief disruption.
OSR play feels like it’s about engaging with the negative space of the rules. The rules layout the guardrails for play. This is a game about exploration and adventure. You might need to Save vs. Magic, it’s written on your character sheet. You might need to fight a monster, you have hit points and to hit bonuses. The game tells you what it’s about, and where you need to worry, and play then is about trying not to worry.
I was inspired by an idea he suggested about the “viral nature” of early Dungeons & Dragons: the first mega-dungeon games with the easy-access rules of the game made it painless to simply invite a curious onlooker to sit down, roll up a character, and begin play. This resonated deeply with me and had me thinking all week about how exciting it might be to run a game in this style.
Adventures in Space: the original contains everything you need to get started - ship combat system, little paper-fold ship minis, star system generation rules. I spend lots of time fighting ships against each other. The layout is a little tricky with lots of leafing to-and-fro during use but by goodness did I get a lot of use out of these.
This is simple, people.
There are no rules, only rulings.
If you and your friends are playing a game and having fun, you are playing it right.
The Holmes companion was created and shared freely, way back at the dawn of the OSR, in early 2007 (the first editions of BFRPG and OSRIC had just been published in 2006). Thanks to the persistence of Forums like Dragonsfoot, you can still read about it.
Welcome to the prep hole: the place where the things you need to do are sucking you down so quickly that you soon realise you’re drowning in the things you need to do, and you don’t know how to get out.
Here are two OSR games that look adorable. Are those words I thought would go together?
Nope, and yet, here we are.
Why are they good? Because they empower player agency by allowing players to have solid expectations of what can be found. If the environment fits a logical scheme, you can make predictions and take meaningful decisions while exploring the place.
One of the things that I’ve noticed recently, online, is that there are some people who want you to feel bad about enjoying the game the way you want to play it. They will loudly, and incessantly, berate you about liking D&D 5e. They’ll demand that you play other games instead of doing what you want with your game.
Still from HBO’s Rome, the Battle of Philippi. As I noted above in a footnote, this battle depiction is actually rather weak, but this one scene is great. Octavian asks Antony, “What is happening? Do you know?” and Antony responds, “No Idea.”
Interview of Eric Nieudan of Merry Mushmen fame.
The difficult part, though, is that encumbrance works best when it meaningfully interfaces with the main activities of the game at hand. That is the whole point of it.
An adventure can be good but something about it won’t fit our campaign or our game group. We like the adventure or the concept of the adventure enough to run it but with some alterations. This is typically how things go in classic adventure gaming. Part of the hobby is tinkering.
Instead of needing to prepare every possible option, you can time things so those choices land at the end of the session and the players make their decision before the session ends.
This table is like three 2D6 tables next to each other, so instead of being a peak (‘bell’) curve with a 2D6 probability structure, it sort of has a “ramp-like” probability structure
For anyone looking to level-up their GM skills, grab DayTrippers GameMasters Guide and give it a read; take notes as this is a talented game designer who thinks deeply about these games of ours. Both from the “mechanical” and the “social” stand-point of furthering the Art of Role-Playing.
Material components are a resource that is attritable on scales of weeks; they create a limit on total spells expended during a particular expedition, without reducing the total amount of spell-power an MU can bring to bear in any one tactical engagement. And they're super-associative; they're object in the game-world, (...). And since they're items-in-the-world, they interact with market mechanics, and their encumbrance introduces tradeoffs around speed vs preparedness.
What’s curious is that the tools I need existed all along. It’s not that what I am trying to do is particularly innovative in itself but rather that until now I couldn’t see the possibilities implied by the tools in my collection. It seems that old loves really do provide new inspiration.
The Blorb principles got me thinking more closely about how I might be able to acknowledge the distinction between the pre-game prep and in-game improvisation, while still drawing on them both for any given session.
The reason why I don't want divine casters in my game is threefold: I don't like easily available healing magic; I like to keep the spiritual/ divine element of the game less knowable and game optimizable; and in I find the whole blunt weapons + armour + siloed spells thing for Clerics pretty naff (this is obviously a subjective thing).
nights stayed dark. Most Europeans were home by twilight, barred their doors, and stayed indoors. In the Middle Ages, many cities imposed curfews: only a select few were permitted out after dark. This cut down both on burglaries and people breaking their necks falling into open cellars.
Miss by 2 or more → No and something negative
Miss by 1 → No but something positive
Hit exactly → Yes but something negative
Exceed by 1 → Yes
Exceed by 2 or more → Yes and something positive
Now, where does this leave us? In my mind, meaningful player choice is more important than simulating combat. As a player I'd rather have my weapon choice mean something in itself, without resorting to extra tables.
But 5E is too complex to run smoothly over PbP, so I had to pick or create a different system. I was burnt out after the last project, so I thought I would try to throw together some kind of FKR thing. But it wasn't exciting me, because it didn't feel like what I wanted it to feel like. Because I wanted it to feel like 5E D&D.
The above are fairly minimal. This is intended, as we prefer to change the game as the campaign play progresses. It goes without saying that this post will see edits in the future. Fight On!
The approach I'm taking for my new project (...) is to sprinkle NPCs and items around the map that add homebrew to the game, piecemeal. Introducing them one at a time, as well as tying them to concrete items and NPCs, will hopefully improve long-term retention for the new subsystems. Essentially, "tricking" my players into playtesting my homebrew.
It’s awesome when a dungeon module knows to be terse, knows when to be quiet, knows to leave things out.
But the elided material has to be wallpaper. A dungeon that doesn’t provide stats and numbers is beyond useless.
The ranger is a class in search for a justification for its own existence for 43 years. And there isn’t any.
It’s not that other RPGs don’t pay attention to things like politics and power hierarchies, but the onus is more on the Games Master to incorporate this into their world building. I instead want to build it into the game mechanics, so it can’t help but being an active part of game play.
You are in a world for which you have little to no context for anything around you, and initially the only reliable feedback signal you receive are pain signals, and you have very few "HP".