Eow Links 76
2022-06-12

Eow Links 76

archer by Pavel Goloviy

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 76.

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.

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My favourite for this week is Furniture Store Lore, "All games I love to browse through sitting on the pot, and none of them will get played here"


Current setup and recent findings (2022)

I’m running everything at the table out of a 1″ binder with pockets. Here’s what’s inside.


Split the Party

I’m certainly not advocating that when the party is split up it should be peril-free; the scenes should be exciting and dangerous, or what’s the point of them.


The word "shaman"

Shaman arrived in the English language via Russian, having previously been borrowed from indigenous Siberian cultures during the eastward expansion of the old Russian Empire. European ethnographers began to apply the term shaman to spiritual practitioners in indigenous communities across Asia, Australasia, Africa and the Americas.


Dark Souls TRPG Solo Play Report

The Cemetery of Ash scenario is a tutorial scenario for one player that is estimated to take two hours. It’s a scenario intended for a 6-10 level PC with only the souls received during character creation. PCs have a total of four Estus flasks, each recovering three HP or FP. While intended for a single player, there are also notes for how to run multiple PCs. This scenario and map corresponds to the opening area of the Dark Souls III video game.


Overloaded Wildspace Voyage Dice & Gravity Slingshots

One of the things with travel in space is that space is very large which can make travel somewhat dull. I could see the upcoming Spelljammer reboot hand-wave wildspace travel with a serious speed boost for Spelljammers. Currently at 100 million miles/day, I could see a factor of 5 or 10 increase to make interplanetary travel quicker.


Escape the Truman Show, escape the Matrix; the god-DM and free-willed NPCs

Well, not really. The best simulations are the ones that make you feel that it is real for a moment, even when you know it's not.

That's why the idea of campaigns with hundreds of players sound more enticing to me than writing hundreds of NPCs.


Call Me Frodo

Neither of the ring-bearers is Bartleby the Scrivener. But nor are they like characters from a Jane Austen novel; they are escaping society, not finding their way in it.


Building community by citing each other's games

We can see that citations between blogs are important. In order to draw interesting conclusions, we would have to analyze the citation strategies (perhaps a questionnaire?). However, at first glance, I notice that the most visible blogs are also the ones that are original, or relevant, or erudite (and counting several years of existence).


More than Vagabonds and Mystics, by Rue Dickey

These stereotypes are deeply ingrained in Western culture, informing books, films, television and even tabletop roleplaying games. Several TTRPGs include cultural analogs based heavily on Roma, Sinti and Traveler stereotypes and these cultural analogs are often harmful.


How Does a 5E DM Get Started With OSR Games? : Part 1: The Key Concept

My solution to the problem of capricious game masters isn’t more rules. My solution is clear and open communication about expectations, and (most importantly) a culture of trust and collaboration between game masters and their players.


Wizards hate Her! How to Play D&D for Free, Part 4: Combat

The riskiest outcome, perhaps for combat specifically, is retaining the notion that combat is a distinct mode of activity (i.e. game) from the overarching activity. On one hand, a system specific for combat allows you to handle issues specific to combat; on the other hand, by virtue of setting combat apart as a distinct subsystem of play, you turn it into something much less malleable and with less applicability outside of itself.


Furniture Store Lore

Lore as an IKEA catalog: Evocative, lots of context, an invitation to imagine yourself in the space. This is old-school heavy lore like you’d read in the first edition of Exalted or Shadowrun. Indie gaming has mostly left this approach behind – and boy do I miss it!


Tweaking D&D with effort, effortlessly

One of the single best innovations of ICRPG is “effort”. Effort is like rolling damage, but for non-combat tasks. To quote the ICRPG book: “Simply assign a die to the work being done, give the challenge a value like 5 or 10, and let players ‘earn’ the victory.”

Indexcardified D&D


The Trouble With Marketing

Game design doesn’t sell games. Sorry. No, what sells games is the promise that that game offers, articulated by its designer.


Tarot for GMing Dummies

I decided to write the article. And then I realized everyone was gonna hate it. Because when I said, “learn Tarot because it’ll give you insights that’ll help you run better games,” everyone else heard, “learn Tarot and then you can do Tarot readings in your game or use Tarot to generate characters and resolve actions.”


Popularity of games on Obsidian Portal (2008-22)

What is really interesting to me here is that you can see the OSR - the rise to a peak in old editions in ~2014 - which then melts away with 5e. I would read the steep drop off in 4e numbers as an expression of dissatisfaction with that edition. The rise in Pathfinder is known but the fact that old editions and non-D&D are rising at the same time paints a picture of a dispersal towards many things, reversed by 5e.


Another Shot at Theorizing the OSR

Some of us still engage with these texts directly, whereas others are happy to build on the interpretive work of intermediaries who have begun to spin these texts into their own trajectories.


1d6 vs Decision Fatigue

The reason to utilise random tables is because it helps overcome decision fatigue. This rears its head in a number of ways but the basics include the fact that after a full day of work (or whatever), you will have less mental energy available to make decisions.


Roll-Under-Ability Skill Test Methods Graph

because every method other than d100 under is consistently better (unless the stat is abysmal) than a 2-in-6 chance, a roll under ability check with a d20 should only be used for skills that "anyone could do" and which are not a defined class skill. And even then I would probably ask for a 1-in-6 chance roll or not even bother with the dice.


Science fiction halberts?

A thing that I would find extremely interesting is a post-scarcity society where there’s no point in buying stuff because if you have the right “boons” granted to you, you can just get it for free. But getting those licenses, grants, or whatever it is, will be a problem.


My 5 Biggest Game Mastering Blunders Ever and What I Learned

But my buddy Mike also ran tables, and he improvised an escape from the secret police. He let players fail forward. Guess what? His players had more fun. I still regret creating an adventure—even a tournament—that failed to put fun first.


Are Character Advancement Rules Necessary?

Traveller, by contrast, largely eschews this; the "reward" of playing Traveller over time is "increased ability to play the role" the player has adopted. In other words, the player becomes more experienced rather than his character.


Prep Tools, Not Adventures

I’ve also got heaps more creative energy left in me than I used to after the first few sessions of a new campaign.


Daily Prep Update

Each day, I have been rolling 1d6 on my “Daily Game Prep” table, hand-written on to an index card and placed in plain view on my computer desk. After I post the blog, I roll and see what comes up. The tasks take less than 5 minutes.


Dishonesty

Once upon a time, I was just a guy masquerading as a normal adult who had this gaming hobby on the side.


The Confucius Maneuver

Confucius (and the others associated with his school of thought) presented his ideas not as invention or even synthesis, but rather as transmitting the already revered wisdom of sage kings


Kentaro Miura's Bookshelf

At the end of the exhibit was a reconstruction of Miura's working space, with many of the books he kept close for reference. While photos weren't permitted I was able to note down some of the books on the shelves, and have listed them here with some links for background.


Structure vs Resolution

I'm extremely jealous of my attention when running a game. There is never enough of it to go around. Anything I can do to reduce the cognitive load leads to a better game. With enough structure the game almost runs itself – which gives me more time to think of story beats and novel events. For my purposes, a naked resolution mechanic, even with a big list of special abilities, isn't really a game.


We Don’t Want Any Adventures Here, Thank You!

So Second Breakfast was a low-combat, low-politics, low-power, low-plot, low-catharsis, low-stakes game lacking anything resembling a conventional story arc, intriguing strategy, exciting combat, high emotional drama, serious competition, or ego-boosting power fantasy.


The Dream Aesthetics Dilemma

My view is that this dilemma can be overcome—that we needn’t choose between dreamy aesthetics and old school playstyles, but only if we learn how to capture dream aesthetics in ways that don’t disrupt the logics of OSR play.


Table Techniques: Sharing Narration

If this technique has a down side, it’s that if used in isolation you can end up asking players for a lot of the same sort of narration. Players might start thinking they need a list of finishing blows ready, and feel put on the spot in an already high-adrenaline environment. Still, it’s an obvious way to get players to describe more awesome shizzle.


Commodification & the Treadmill

FRP has always been on a path of escalating commercialisation. What began as a collaborative hobby project arising spontaneously from midwestern wargaming clubs in the late 60s and 70s has become more slick and heavily marketed and less DIY and ad hoc with every iteration.