|Eow Links 99|
Eow Links 99
"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 99.
My favourite for this week is Fractal Subsystems, "This is why I recommend maps as one of the best tools for the DM. Not event flow charts, throw those out the window right now"
the slower pace required by the more detailed, crunchy combat mechanics and turns in PF2e is pushing me to focus on designing memorable, interesting encounters, but at the cost of flexible, more open-ended play. I feel like a technician instead of an artist: checking moves, maintaining order, applying rules, tracking mechanics (and that's even with a willingness to just make rulings when I can't find the 'proper' PF2e way quickly). I'm really missing the playful, creative sense of surprise that I get when GMing a less crunchy and more open system.
Sometimes, when planning for a game, you look at the blank sheet of note paper and your brain just freezes. I had that problem last night when planning to start up something new with my wife. I'm lucky, insofar as I have amassed a pretty impressive library of game books.
A home and the land it rests on are concrete things that can be worked on, maintained, improved, and passed on. People want space. Space to work out, space for hobbies, space for an office. Space to study. Space to cook. Space to store food. Space to entertain friends.
Once players are aware of their limitations based on encumbrance, they are more inclined to self-police themselves...cutting down on unnecessary equipment, choosing lighter weight armor, etc. They also start to get a good sense of when to leave a dungeon environment based on the bulging sacks of treasure that they are accumulating
Elves and dwarves and goblins are strange in that they have fantasy biology. The elves all look the same, slightly feminine and beardless, and they don’t talk about gender. The dwarves all look the same, hairy and bearded, and they don’t talk about gender. They might come alone or in pairs, or more. Goblins aren’t born but pulled out of magic mud where earth blood leaks. Trolls are stones and tree trunks vivified by the same earth blood. Pushing against expectations is possible. Going against the grain in my boring fantasy is easy.
With Twitter in its apparent death throes, a lot of people are thinking about alternatives. My favorite alternative is the humble blog. If Twitter is the "public square" (where people in stockades yell at each other), blogs are smaller. Cozier. Nicer. Like taverns.
It is possible to say, “I don’t like opera but damn that lady can sing.” It is possible to say, “I don’t like Apocalypse World but Vincent designed a good game for people who like that kind of thing.” You can say that, but it can be hard, emotionally, to mean it.
Not knowing is a tension builder. A Cleric player in AD&D might not have known how Turn Undead works. All they know, as the level-sucking wraith is bearing down on them, is that if they thrust out their holy symbol and evoke St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel, he might just save them.
It is with a great deal of sadness that I have to report the passing of Christopher Duffy, noted historian and acclaimed expert on mid 18th Century military history. More specifically, he is known for his works about the army of Frederick the Great of Prussia and the collection of adversaries including Austria, Russia, France and the German Empire.
They mess around with the statue, that’s one tick. Then they listen at the door, examine the door, and then pick the lock on that door. That’s all in the second tick. Then they find a chest and fiddle with it and bork it up and maybe they trigger a needle trap and have to cast a Lesser Restoration spell. That’s the third tick. That’s thirty minutes.
Mishaps are an off-by-default variant rule in the DMG p 140 that I like and use. There’s no risk using a scroll of your appropriate level. It’s only when using, let’s call it “overcasting”, that there’s a risk, that it seems like desperate measures but sometimes it’s got to be done.
Let’s say you’re looking for a seller for a Wand of Yak Shaving you’ve found.
Here’s one of the best parts: Since you have a human running the game, the subsystems don’t have to fit perfectly like Lego pieces or video game mechanics or even a board game. Natural language and common sense are great tools both for resolving overlapping systems and for patching over gaps in between the systems.
There is a common structure to all these - nice art work, with a declared mission statement of recreating the old school feel of "adventure through the eyes of artists like Jeff Dee, Erol Otus, Bill Willingham, and Jim Roslof" and giving a framework for running your own sandbox like such classics as The Village of Hommlet and Keep on the Borderlands. I see a lot of the same artists that used to appear in Dragon magazine in the 90s and it definitely brings back that feel for me.
“So I want to play a Hobbit. A Hobbit JEDI.”
“They are called Halflings in Dnd. Jedi don’t exist, but you could be a druid! They can carry magic weapons AND they can cast spells. The Force is Kind of like how Druids are connected to Nature.”
Like anything in Fantasty Roleplaying, there is so much nuance and like, so many ideas to be sorted through, especially when it comes to the west’s history of othering Asian cultures, or treating a thousands of specific/regional communities as a monolith.
From crosses (already effective against vampires) to monkish tonsures, early D&D art had a thing for the Church, doubtless because its faith heavily influenced the medieval experience as understood by many.
I struggle to believe in a world that can be threatened by a handful of villains or saved by a handful of heroes. History is made by the struggle of entire social classes, not just individuals.
having an empirical (probably not the right word) measure of a character’s ability to withstand punishment before death means I can be very brutal in how I run my encounters without worrying about the lethality not being telegraphed enough. I know that technically as long as you state the risks before a roll, you can get away with a pc being one dice away from death feeling fair
It blocks incoming attacks from many angles, and the shield can be used to block or push someone around. D&D gets blocking right and this is also where people become inclined to say shields can be smashed apart. Having sparred with a shield for years, that is very unlikely. It is more likely that you will have the shield ripped from your grasp.
Here’s a thing in case you need to keep track of what a dragon is up to and want the dice to add a bit of chaos spice. Maybe add +1 to the die rolls as the years and decades roll on if you want to get complicated.
Spell-casting. Monsters. Magic items. Non-human races (presuming your game is humanocentric — I know mine is). Competing and allied religions that can do things. Violence as a solution. THESE are the things that differentiate fantasy cities from real world cities. Frankly, most players should suspect such things, and some will actively go looking for them.
So it becomes a question of what are the important laws that will catch players' attention, and perhaps turn into a session or three getting around or dealing with the repercussions of?
The most confident of those was one of the older boys who had claimed the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and DM’s Screen. I asked him how it was going: “There’s a lot of words in those books and I think I’d like to find something with less words.”
Thirdly, the rules are a lot of fun to play around with. Although it’s a rather simple set of character creation rules, fitting on just two pages, there is a lot of variety available.
We don't often think about how building handouts helps us prepare our game, but they surely do. Thinking through a handout helps us understand what's happening in the game and in the world we share with our players. It tells us what's important. It forces us to think about things in concrete ways. We need real names, real places, real plots to fill in our handout.
So yes, two similarly-titled books. One is a collection of stories, and the second, a collection of essays reviewing the eponymous stories and novels. So I bought both.
I have to start with the hard news. If you want to run a game where the players change the world, you have to let them change the world.
My favorite part about supporting a successful Kickstarter is forgetting that I did so, then finding something that is equal parts cool and unexpected in the mail. So it was for Downtime in Zyan.
It was 50 years ago this weekend, in a perfect storm of despair, driven by not finishing my degree; not being drafted at the last minute and thus becoming unmoored from an expected future; and breaking up with my girlfriend, I entered a 72 hour creative flow and produced Dungeon! I showed the game the following weekend to Arneson & Co. and they liked it.