Eow Links 80

Eow Links 80

warrior, Nias island, Sumatra —
Björn Landström

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 80.

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 The D&D Campaign as Shaggy Dog Story and Biography, "A biography is very like a shaggy dog story in this sense"

Description Is Scarier

I’ve come to realise that the ability of the human mind to generate horror from description is powerful. I’ve read about it and even discussed it with fans of Cthulhu before but it has taken direct experience of play in this style to truly bring the insight home. Not only does the lack of mechanistic detail force the players to engage more imaginatively in the scene, the immersive effect upon them is stronger.

Nod at Eisen and Korns 1966

Inevitably when you are aware of the rules, you play out each situation with an eye to obtaining best odds/chances for survival, etc., considering the rules rather than the situation you are in.

Roll20 4Q21 numbers & future edition thoughts

Looking to the future, while WotC has declared the 50th anniversary edition in 2024, there are none of the flashing red lights they would have seen at the last edition change. It seems unlikely WotC would shoot for something too radically different so as to avoid upsetting this (for them) nicely set up apple-cart.

Cheap DM Tricks

Make concrete comparisons using things your players know. I'm fortunate in that I taught at the school many of my players attended, so I can say 'as big as the gym,' or 'taller than the 3-story' and they can see it in their minds.

Asking Questions in the Ultraviolet Grasslands - a random table

6: Says they don’t know and seems afraid to say.

Situational Narrative Design in Tabletop Games

In situational design, the nexus of play lies not in the interface between the player and the game, but inside the player’s mind. Some of the moves the player makes will affect the external state of the game, but others will affect their internal understanding of the game, or even their understanding of themselves and the world at large.

The D&D Campaign as Shaggy Dog Story and Biography

A biography is very like a shaggy dog story in this sense. It's one damned thing after another, the only coherent thread really being that the narrative follows what happens to one person across time. There is no necessary climax, no discernible plot, and many digressions.

Seeing the Light – Running Illuminated by Lumen one-shots

LUMEN isn’t quite a game with a combat system and nothing else (...) – but it is built towards big, powerful heroes fighting set piece battles, and most of the rules support this.

Is Sword-and-Sorcery Making a Come Back?

Sword-and-Sorcery was the beginning of the fantasy genre. It was overwhelmed by epic fantasy in the 1990s. Many thought it was never coming back. There has been a response to epic fantasy, the so-called grimdark, which shares many characteristics of sword-and-sorcery but remains distinct.

I see signs that there are some writers returning to sword-and-sorcery.

[FR] Rolling languages : jouez aux JDR en ligne et apprenez une langue!

Playing role games practicing languages.

Narrative combat: an example

Oh yeah, and it was challenging. [that was my main concern with running my own diceless games so far]. I was really stressed (in a good way) trying to figure out how to not get destroyed in tight quarters like that. So I guess that’s another lesson(s) : I gotta think more about the environment, and how it affects characters’ abilities. Typically, fighting in a dark dungeon should be messy and scary.

Capsule Reviews #3: Long-running Setting Zines

Some of the old D&D settings have very impressive fanzines with large back catalogues - lots of content for the great price of free.

Free DnD 'Zines

The neat thing with DnD and the internet is that some kind souls compile really nifty items into 'zines, then offer the pdfs for FREE on their various websites.

Pariah Design Notes Part 1

After some equivocation, I've decided that I'm going to perform a full post mortem. This is likely to be longer than two posts. My intention at this moment is time is to then follow that dissection with a breakdown of the promotional blurb from the Kickstarter text.

Jousting Tourney - An Unusual Game

The first game book that I have extensive experience with was Chainmail. My dad was a huge fan of wargaming and back then it was all WRG. It's a 'tich hard to teach a 3 or 4-year-old the ins and outs of morale, light vs. heavy troops, average dice, army point systems, and the like.

So on the weekends, Chainmail was our go-to game. My personal favorite section is the Jousting Table.

First Foray into Chainmail

It is a kludge with little consistency, although each system has its own logic and charm. The reason Chainmail was successful was that it captured a kind of play that hadn't been covered that people were hungry for, and had a assortment of cool ideas that could be stolen or adapted.

Story Gaming the Old School?

That's right, Gary suggested that certain campaign elements might be subject to collaborative debate among the players; and while this doesn't rise to story gaming as we know it today (...), it nonetheless suggested that players could have a hand in establishing elements their characters would never reasonably have any control over.

On Thieves: A Trifunctional Analysis of OD&D

but this has the weird effect that a character who transitions from a thief into a real class seems to forget their thievish abilities. Then, I consider the economic classes embodied by the original three character types, in order to explore what niche a thief could possibly fulfill among them. This culminates in a critique of Greyhawk, the supplement that introduced thieves, for undermining so many of the core structures which were definitive of OD&D.

Towards Purposeless Prep

Counter-intuitively, this means it’s far more fun to prep an adventure when you don’t need to than when it’s looming on the schedule. Designing an adventure for the session I have tomorrow is work.

How DMs Can Conjure Up Creativity into Session Prep Using Writing Prompts

any question or statement that asks you to think creatively about your response. Typically these are created for other creative writing applications, such as novelists or journaling, but can fit in really well with lots of modes of prepping for a tabletop roleplaying game session.

On the Five Room Dungeon

When I first encountered the “Five Room Dungeon” on various blogs, I always thought of it as “too damned small”. Mentally it was a very small space. So constrained that it didn’t initially appeal to me until I started looking through some of my smaller maps and realized that I have drawn a number of maps with approximately 5 “areas” or even fewer that still took up a full page.

Player Roles

lore master / loot keeper / kill counter / cartographer / faction tracker / quest custodian / initiative coordinator

Running Apocalypse World in a Con Slot

Start playing without making characters. Get one player to commit to their playbook choice and lead out. Everybody else can listen and look through their playbooks.

Notes on a semi-successful skill system

If you have the Climbing skill, for example, you can automatically climb any normal surface you encounter, although doing so quickly or quietly might still require a Dexterity check.

Evil Glaze of Magic Spellz

I always liked this notion of magic being something on the verge of sight, hidden in shapes and shadows, somewhat like living being.

And recently I saw some article on Berserk manga. I used to read it and I somewhat liked themes of layers of spirit world and the need of some kind of spiritual anchor (like Brand of Sacrifice or presence of elves) for supernatural presence to be visible and that most powerful spirits can manifest only in very specific conditions, usually using environment and other creatures bodies to do so.

Jeffro's D&D

I find it useful to understand the origins of things in order to contextualize certain ideas, even if those ideas were larger (and later) influenced more by the context of how they functioned as a matter of play. Understanding that context can determine how imperative or intrinsic they are to the overall concept/paradigm. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that these things are sacrosanct.