Eow Links 100

Eow Links 100

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 100.

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 a TTRPG blog, please consider joining the conversation.

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My favourite for this week is Describing Rather Than Defining, "Definition is hasty worldbuilding. You’re making the decision on the subject all at once, usually at the beginning"

The Abilities (preliminary thoughts)

If you were going to change from the standard OD&D 6 ability stats (of STR, INT, WIS, CON, DEX and CHA), what would you do and how would you define them? I posted this on my forum three years ago and am still thinking about it. I suppose I should do something with it.

An awesome day: Starting an OSE Godsbarrow campaign with Lark

After looking at all of the awesome options, Lark picked a species — goblin — from an issue of Carcass Crawler, and the beast master class from a different issue, and then asked if their pet could be a giant mantis. Of course! There’s no giant mantis in the OSE monster book, but I bet we can back into it with a couple of other insect entries… hey, wait a minute, there’s a giant mantis in the OSE Advanced monster book.

Lutong Banwa: A Beautiful Experience

At its core it’s a game that teaches you a person’s history through their recipes. It shows you a different kind of history than maybe you were raised with (the one of myths and lies, in my case). It shows you a history baked with kindness. Of sharing a meal. A person’s legacy. It’s a game that treats cooking as holy and generous, and recipes as a human way to share that.

Grand Theft Auto Sandboxing

I’ve named it after GTA as that’s the first video game I encountered that looked like this, but it’s generally how open world games are structured now, and I’m sure GTA3 wasn’t the first. In it, as the world opens up, you always have a few missions on your plate, that you can follow in whatever order, some main plot and some side quests. The choice and setting makes for an entertaining game where you really feel in charge of your characters destiny.

Building Blocks of A Sandbox Campaign

My personal style of sandbox game is to create a setting with a number of competing factions and NPCs, along with locations and objects with a history that impacts the game world in the present moment. I wind up the clock work, drop the player characters into an interesting and troubled part of the world and see what happens.

The Phenomenology of Death in D&D

the vast majority of players kind of end up just being a version of themselves during play — same voice, same personality, same priorities. I would be troubled by that if I thought that role-playing should be about exploring the character of the PCs, but as I think it's more to do with exploring a world, it's fine by me that the next PC Pandion's former player takes on will probably be pretty similar ultimately

Scenes from the Ideas Scrapbook

I have a big mental scrapbook of anecdotes, factoids, and little titbits of information that I have never quite manage to find space for in a game or in writing but one day intend to.

My Gods Are Algorithms, And They Are Hungry

It’s set in a future where the world is ruled by mysterious, inscrutable AI gods. The players are Influencers, people who try to obtain power and status by interacting with the worldwide social media networks called The Churn.

We Don’t Need Failure States After All

In a TTRPG, the game’s events form a consistent narrative, right? Every session — and every adventure — follows from the last. TTRPGs aren’t like board games where each session represents a distinct and isolated attempt to win. TTRPGs are about building a continuous narrative one session at a time. Moreover, when something happens in a TTRPG, the event becomes part of the game’s history.

Using Stonetop’s Introductions Procedure in Session Zero

Stonetop is a hearth fantasy PbtA by Jeremy Strandberg (...). Each playbook has two customized sets of questions: one set for the player to answer about NPCs and one set for the player as PC to pose to the other PCs.

Raging against Twitter and the dying of the written word

We’re not too busy. We’ve been hijacked into thinking we are. By our devices, by sensory overload, and the accompanying mental fatigue that comes with consuming a cacophony of shit.

Describing Rather Than Defining

While I love worldbuilding, I resent the implication that it’s somehow a more important or sophisticated task than creating adventures and encounters. (...)

The emphasis on worldbuilding also created a shift in the nature of what an RPG does. Worldbuilding—as opposed to adventure or encounter design—encouraged definition rather than description. (...)

But worldbuilding isn't done exclusively by definition. Both are worldbuilding, actually. Description is just gradual worldbuilding. A lot of different descriptions, in the aggregate, become worldbuilding. The world emerges from observing all those different descriptions.

When to Depict, When to Elaborate

In this sense, depicting is done when a creator tries to represent an image with game concepts (...) This is contrasted with elaborating, which is done when a creator characterizes a game concept.

TTRPG Tsundoku

Inspired by Jeff Grubbs Game Tsundoku blogpost I want to take a glance over my TTRPG book Tsundoku — the books that have piled up.

Beat'em up!

Choose a card and reveal it simultaneously with your opponent / Check if someone made an attack / Check for disadvantages / Roll your attack dice (start from d8) / Compare the rolls to see if someone's attack connects and whose. / If no one won yet, step dice up or down and go another round (steps: d4-d6-d8-d10-d12-d20)

The DM Is Also a Player

I love the simple reminder that the DM is a player because I'm a gamist DM in the extreme and I devoutly practice Roll Randomly Then Explain It (RRTEI). Sometimes I randomize a bunch and then fill in the gaps, and sometimes I do the reverse. But I always add some level of randomizaton because I don't want to be in charge. I want to be on an adventure, too. And the game will speak to you and tell you how things are, if you let it — in ways you'd never expect.

Calibrating Compasses

There is also a note in the book that "Very few steerers [helmsmen] are good enough to keep a boat within 2 degrees of course in smooth water; in rough weather, steering errors of 5 to 10 degrees are common." One side of a hex is 60 degrees wide, so a 10 degree error in rough weather is one hex side every six hexes or so...

The B/X paradox

I think AD&D is messy and unnecessarily complex (when compared to B/X) and I would never play it as written (not even Gygax did), but I really enjoy all B/X clones that try to add AD&D stuff to the game: races separated from class, more classes, monsters (including demons), stronger fighters (better THAC0), multiple attacks, thieves with d6 HD, and so on.

Tito’s rules for Sci-Fi Settings: comms, travel and flesh

The third pillar is the Human Issue.

No matter how far-fetched the tech is, humanity is a constant. Evolution takes a long time, so our bodies will largely stay the same for the foreseeable future, unless we deliberately change it.

Bite-Sized Dungeons

Six rooms: 1 monster room with treasure. / 1 monster room without treasure. / 1 unoccupied room with treasure. / 3 “empty” rooms.

Keeping time — how time limits can speed up games

Longer games also tend to slow down towards the end. Many people will have come across the “last round syndrome“. It’s when everyone spends ages calculating how many points every possible choice offers, so they can take the action that gives them the most points. It often happens in the last round of a game, or if a game has a fixed number of rounds, it can be the last two or three rounds that slow to an excruciating crawl.

What do you do?

I prefer to assume that players are always doing their best, and if there are things they need to pay attention to, I mention them. I’d rather have players realize that the white chalk balls on the floor are definitely a warning but they can’t figure it out, step inside, get attacked by the spider

The library of Alexandria and its reputation

I’ve often suspected that the library’s popularity has had additional boosts from the Sid Meier’s Civilization games from the 1990s onwards, which have sold many millions of copies, and which feature ‘The Great Library’ as a wonder that a historical civilisation can build. But it isn’t possible to filter out the effects of Civilization among all the noise that Sagan created.

You carry your experiences with you

Lets say you start with 7 Capacity slots: (...) Every piece of meaningful Gear (a bow and arrows, rations, etc) takes up a Capacity slot. (...) A Mastery takes up a Capacity slot. But also adds three Capacity slots. (...) Stuff that hamper a character, like Injuries (broken limb, bleeding wound) or bad Conditions (scared, tired, hungry) take up one Capacity slot each.

Using Inspiration for “Prep Points”

Rather than splitting one character off, pull that side-scenario into a more compressed meta-space. Before going into the situation, and maybe even at the start of the session, ask the person doing the sneaking / hacking / magical scrying / etc. to give you a handful of the relevant rolls.

RPG essentialism — and further explanation

The rulebook stops functioning as a manual, it becomes merely a collection of tools to rebuild your Own Favourite TTRPG Session from the stratch. This is TTRPG Essentialism in a nutshell. An approach to use all different tools, concepts, procedures and solutions to achieve exactly the same, desired features and experience.

abobobo: Illustrations by Hitoshi Yoneda for the Dai Makaimura...

Ghouls 'n Ghosts, known as Dai Makaimura in Japan, is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Capcom, released as an arcade game in 1988 and subsequently ported to a number of home platforms. It is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and the second game in the Ghosts 'n Goblins series.

Using Microscope for World Building for a Campaign

The core loop of gameplay involves either adding a period to a timeline, adding an event to any of the defined periods, or hosting a scene to elaborate on an event. For instance, we had the idea of Expanse-like gates to handle interstellar jumps. One player created the period “Jump Race: Race to Claim Systems” after this gate technology was invented, and another player added an event to this period, “Illuminati-like group organizes jumps to help direct exodus from earth to other systems.” Scenes are designed to answer questions together and involve more traditional role-playing.

When the gamer becomes the gamed

But by Tier 4, the players have acquired the bulk of the power at the table. They know the plot, they have the tools they need to succeed, and they're on a rampage. The DM now has to react to the players. Sure, the world and the monsters are still managed by the DM, but the players are driving the story. The DM still has the key to the plot, but the players are calling the shots. It's up to the players when they trigger events, and they've got the rhythm of the story down well enough to know when to progress.

The Cossack-Sorcerers

Among these Cossacks who lived within the territory of the Zaporizhian Sich, there were said to be some with magic abilities, who were called the Cossack-Sorcerers. According to folklore, these were true war mages, of which legends were born. However, unlike the modern fantasy warriors, they did not throw lightning-bolts and issue fire from their staffs. Their weapons and abilities were somewhat different….

According to the people’s imagination, the Cossacks were able to find and hide treasures, to heal wounds with spells, and to evade and catch bullets.

Alternate Types of Initiative for Old School Games

What if we used other attributes for alternate instances of initiative, especially those outside of mortal combat? Then we can delineate rules for the advantage this offers, as well as how to resolve these non-combat interactions in a way that favors party members playing their role.