Eow Links 79

Eow Links 79

Heroes Path by Jakub Rebelka

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 79.

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

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 Scrambled Eggs Play, "Some people are getting overwhelmed by daily stress and decision making. They want to escape it and they choose TTRPG sessions for it."

The New OSR: The case for the Cepheus Engine

there’s a lot of room for designing interesting things using a different core system, specifically the Cepheus Engine.

How to communicate dungeon maps to players

I like to map as a player because it gives me something to do when the game slows down. Perhaps we’re too many people, or we’re undecided, or cautious – it sometimes happens that my mind wanders. I can’t keep hyperfocus and mapping gives me something to do instead of toying with dice, looking at the phone, doodling, or interrupting my fellow players.

The Dungeon Map is not the Dungeon Territory

As I set about to design my own play style (which, while I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, has had so many deliberate decisions), I wanted to instead convey a “first person” feel. Like Quake or The Dark Spire or Wizardry. I want to describe what you see, from the PoV of your character. Up the steam tunnel factor a bit.

Traits of the Mythic Underworld

Cone argued that the rules of OD&D can be interpreted to suggest that the "dungeons" that adventurers delve into aren't really to be understood as real, logical spaces created by normal people or natural processes. Rather, they're more like a surreal, dreamlike, and hostile realm that runs on its own twisted logic, which might be inconsistent.

Keeping the Old and Finding the New: 5 Gaming Phrases in Role-Playing Games

Also, unless the DM is paid, most are volunteers giving their heart, resources, and time to make sure the party’s having fun. Rules lawyering sucks the joy out of the RPG experience. If you happen to be a Rules Lawyer, stop it.

Was Sirius once red?

But, to this rule there seems to be one exception, and that in a remarkable star: for old authors mention the Dog star, which is now white, and not at all inclined to redness, as being then very much so

Commanding Pre-Modern Armies, Part IIIc: Morale and Cohesion

Morale is the commitment the combatants have to their leadership and their cause. (...) On the other hand cohesion is the force that holds a specific unit together through the power of the bonds holding the individual combatants to each other and/or to their (generally junior or non-commissioned) officers.

Getting Started In The OSR: Part 4: Is the OSR Anti-5E?

Much of the content that is produced for 5E has a different tone and feel than OSR products. That has to do with the pop culture touchstones of the old school. The original game had its roots in myth, folklore, adventure stories, horror, pulp fiction, and sword-and-sorcery fiction. 5E is more inspired by more recent epic fantasy fiction.

Evolution of a map

More details get added. An escape tunnel. Pens for the fire beetles. Columns and variety in corners, beds, chests, tables, cupboards or whatever other furniture. Working from the bottom right corner.

Mechanical Musings: A Couple Random House Rule Concepts I've Never Used

you gain experience by the literal milestone. This is most useful when travel and discovery is the central thrust of the adventure. Leveling up can happen overnight while camped, or maybe take the form of sudden insights of "road wisdom" as they leave an area.

Full Circle

October 2019: I decide that the only way I will ever be satisfied with D&D again is to commit myself wholeheartedly to running a campaign, rather than one-off sessions. Just like I hadn't done since the age of 14.

Fast Travel & Watch-Keeping Procedure

This is pleasantly simple and less of a headache, at least for myself, than I've found other exploration systems to be. I feel much more comfortable explaining this than I would "So, each day is divided into four-hour chunks, and you can move 1 hex or you can do this or that..." etc.

1-to-5 relative reference system

Technically 1-to-5 is 0-to-6 with exceptional cases going below and above, but 1-to-5 seems to be a good range to reference. I am curious in how many other systems it might be also applicable.

Prince Valiant (24-05-21)

The game seems really elegant, it is in effect a dice pool system like VtM, except it simply uses coins! The difficulty of a task is how many heads you need to get, then you throw a number of coins equal to the relevant stat + skill. In combat it’s opposed throws with weapons, armour and potentially strategic advantage adding extra coins to the mix.

Why I Use Point Crawls More Than Hex Crawls

You wouldn’t run a dungeon of rooms with six entrances connected to each other in a large grid because the complete openness without sufficient information doesn’t lend itself to meaningful and fun decisions.

Point Crawl

Summary of best practices:
Are things within sight, such as a ruined city or sparse village? Make point crawl!
Are things out of sight, such as a jungle or desert or ocean? Make a hex crawl. Add locations and roads.

Gausahedron: Your d20 is broken because it is too random

Instead of the chaos of a normal d20, we have developed a die that has a different distribution of numbers than a typical d20. We used a modified bell curve (for you math devotees, a gaussian curve) to determine the numbers on the die.

Why D&D?

Yes, I still have to look things up in the rules, but I know where to look, and I know the system well enough to be able to wing almost anything and be confident it won't go horribly wrong.

Ruins of Symbaroum (5e) Gamemaster's Guide

In the optional rules there are two stand-out elements - social challenges and wars & battles. I like how the social and reputation elements give you rules and ties to place the players within a world and give their actions a sense of consequence more than just treasure and levels. There is a very nice detail in the profiles of faction leaders noting how each is impressed by some skill or attribute, given non-diplomacy focussed characters a chance to contribute meaningfully in social encounters with them.

black books

The Necatrix. Written in medieval Andalusia by Fátima de Madrid as a reply to al-Ghazali’s Destruction of the Philosophers. Proves using pure reason that nothing can or could possibly ever exist. Contains instructions for “escaping history”, using only a wild lion and a labyrinth of mirrors.

The Devil, detailed

And that price is NOT, contrary to what orthodox Christian churches say, your “soul” or “firstborn” or similar things. The Devil, being NOT the Christian Satan, but a (sometimes bloodthirsty) ogre-like spirit of the woods, is someone you can make deals with.

Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook

It has often been said that Castles & Crusades is one of the first professionally published OSR games out there. It takes the 3rd Edition base, reforms it forms it for a 1st Edition experience and even gave us rules and mechanics that would later be seen in 5th Edition. Castles & Crusades is essentially what AD&D could have become in the new millennium.

So it is no surprise then that C&C can Play Well with other forms of D&D rather easily.

Field Guide to Random Table Design in RPGs

The idea here is to consider how to make/tweak random table structures to suit your RPG needs. It probably overeggs the pudding.

Scrambled Eggs Play – TTRPG without heavyweight and burden

Some people are getting overwhelmed by daily stress and decision making. They want to escape it and they choose TTRPG sessions for it. They like to daydream together, having in mind that „nothing terrible or bad will happen”. They know that there isn’t any hard decision to make, no struggle to endure and live through. No mental strain.

How Imagination Was Demonized

As a pastor in the Oregon High Desert, a number of parents came to me with concerns that their kids were getting involved with something they didn’t understand. This was a farming and ranching community. The kids all grew up in cowboy boots, they knew how to work, and all of a sudden, they wanted to do something else on their weekends.

Safety, Coffee, & Three Ring Binders

Coffee creates a different kind of tavern. In the real world, coffeehouses sparked great ideas, debates, and heated philosophical discussions. Alcohol sparks the appearance of great ideas, as well as debates and heated discussions or a different sort.

Another Condescending D&D Blog Post

12 seconds of mayhem. That's two rounds in Common. And I only had one turn.

No one waited for their turn. No one had time to plan. Everyone just acted. Some people were able to act many times before others could act once. Some people froze. It felt random and chaotic in a way that 5E combat does not. No fight I have seen or been in, with more than two people, has had any perceived order.


Since then I've regained my focus, and most of all remembered the sheer joy that comes with deleting words from the page. Aaah.

So we now have 7 Burdens (ignoring Scars, now a special type of Burden but otherwise very close to how they work in Electric) and I'm pretty happy with them. They'll definitely get changed around a lot, but it feels like a solid foundation.

Matrix Campaign Structures, Part 1

We can boil the Matrix game down to four main parts, each of them distinct and recognizable.

Find a Connection: characters in the hovercraft will zip around the ruins of Earth, getting close enough to the surface to ‘jack in’ to the Matrix.
Enter the Matrix: characters, having found a connection, will enter the Matrix and do Matrix things.
Flee to Zion: characters, having done their Matrix things, will return to humanity’s last city.
R&R in Zion: characters will recuperate from their adventures, likely going to a huge humanity-wide rave in a cavern.

Wargamers roleplayed first.

Once you start thinking how to make the experience a shared one with multiple people you will notice the nugget of gold which is buried in a wargame can be extracted and applied to other imaginary experiences. Not something better either, just different.

Numenéra (original edition)

One of the best parts of the design of the game is the way in which the mechanics are used to build tension. As any adventure progresses, the characters' three pools slowly diminish, and do not come back quickly. Each character has a limited number of rests per day that only yield back a randomized amount that has to be spread across multiple pools.

Twilight Princess

“Twilight Princess” (1988) was the eighth box set to be released for the Japanese version of Call of Cthulhu and the only non-translated item that Hobby Japan produced for the game.

Feel The Burn

Don’t be afraid to gather the players and have a sort of session 0.5. Remember that just because session 0 is done doesn’t mean the metawork of the campaign is done. Sometimes you need to touch base and tell the players that things aren’t ok. Saying that the game is burning you out and you need to change a few things is not an admittance of defeat

Feedback loops in design: Fate, DnD, OSR, BitD

These are very fun in-game feedback loops but too much of them makes it very procedural, very mechanical, uninspired even. I made a mistake of focusing on some loops and in the end consequences of crew actions weren’t aligned with their actual activities.

Gardens of Hecate

an art book featuring the work of Ana Polanšćak, the woman behind the incredible blog Gardens of Hecate. As part of the Inq28 scene, Ana produces some really unique and moody miniatures and war gaming ephemera. The art book chronicles her journey through the hobby