Eow Links 101

Eow Links 101

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 101.

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

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 Follow the thread, "Where do they get fiber to spin for thread?"

Yes, You Can Resolve Action Without Dice and Do It for Years

We tend to underestimate that players are very chaotic and input a ton of randomness into the game. I don’t know what they’re going to do until they do it.

Theory review #87

War stories by Eero Tuovinen suggests why war stories from wargamey play might be more interesting in general than people telling about their characters in games that lack such context.

West Marches on Mondays

On all cases, We basically have multiple campaigns running “next to each other” with a little overlap between our responsibilities. On the campaign where we all share the same starting village, there’s more character interaction and more mixing of parties, of course. (...) The [character] roster also contains pre-generated characters that haven’t been picked or hired, yet. That’s one of the things I introduced at the beginning to help newbies get started quickly.

The Day of The Dice Men

Later, TSR offered to merge with Games Workshop, to move into the UK market. They declined and lost the exclusivity of D&D distribution when TSR UK was formed. Ultimately, a very wise decision.

Sir Pellinore's Advice to Referees

Don't make your world too civilized. If there's no monsters around to fight the players will take to robbery to make life interesting.

Magic In Your Milieu

You could ask 100 questions about magic in your world and not exhaust all the “What if’s?” Give it some consideration and keep it in the back of your mind as you create your setting and as you place treasures in your adventure locations. You’ll do better simply by being aware that magic has many implications for your setting and how your campaign will play out.

A Very Different Ecology For 'The Troll'

Trolls make excellent Sword & Sorcery monsters especially when their origin crosses human, giant kind, & something else. We would need a race of highly advanced masters of the biological & engineering arts who had been here since Earth's origin & were capable of planar creations & demi planes (Faerie). Oh wait we already have all of those in HP Lovecraft's at the Mountains of Madness Elder Things.

Two Clacky Cubes

Conflict — what is the overall situation, what threats and challenges exist?
Intent — what is the overall goal the character is trying to accomplish? What impact will this have on the situation?
Task — what actions are the character taking to reach the stated intent? What tools are they using? Do they have any particular advantages or situational elements aiding them?
Risk — what does the potential failure look like, or what will happen if the characters do not act or react? What disadvantages and conflicting elements are at play?

Gaming with Kids: Danger and Violence

They experience their imaginative characters as part of themselves. 10 is just right because they can now understand the difference between imaginary-for-fun and imaginary-as-practice-for-life.

Simple Folk Magic system

A simple magic system for "cunning folk" type casters. I've used it as a feature of bucolic Halflings and in pseudo-historical settings.

These little spells (rhyming verbal incantations) either replicate a low-level Cleric or Magic-User spell or achieve a small desired effect.

The 5E to OSR Pipeline

People have explored the possibilities of 5E, and one more splat book of new options is not gonna hold their attention much longer. Part of this is baked into the design of 5E, which like 3E and 4E, was designed as a game of system mechanics exploration more than imaginary exploration within the game world. That gives it a limited (intentionally so?) lifespan with the players.

Plumbing the RPG Blog Deaths

The blogs which came about in the late 90s, early 2000s, and into the 2010s and 2020s are all going to be more resilient ways to carry on the discussion of the hobby (and a lot of other discussions) than social media ever was or could have been.

RPG books that probably didn’t exist

While never popular in North America, I’m told the occasional AYBS game crops up at most UK game conventions.

Jason Morningstar has stated in multiple interviews that the Innuendo & Misunderstandings subsystem from this book was a major influence on his Fiasco RPG.

In defense of the classic D&D saving throws

the features that make old-school saves unique are that they: Reference specific dangers / Are not tied to ability scores / Use static targets / Vary between the classes /

Follow The Thread

in your pre-1700 tech level world, you should have all your characters have an awareness of and some experience with spinning. Everyone knew about spinning. Women spun a lot. Queens spun a LOT. Also sewing and embroidery. My goodness, the embroidery. It’s astounding how entirely central to life textiles are. Herds and fields need tending, cloth and clothing need making and selling, all secondary and tertiary trades that show up around that core are the whole of your social structure.

So, from a game design world building angle, ask yourself “where do they get fiber to spin for thread? how do they make cloth?” and follow that thought experiment out. There’s your world.

Festivals In Your RPGs

This should include such things as events the calendar is based on like equinoxes and solstices and phases of the moon. Secular and religious holidays, historical events, harvest festivals, and others based on the cycle of nature are also appropriate.

Some thoughts about sequencing games texts

people writing games texts should think more critically about how their text is going to be used, and to write with that in mind. People like to talk about "intentionality of design" - I'd like to see some intentionality in the sequencing of texts.

Mothership Wardens Guide

People manage to run D&D in spite of its rulebooks, not because of them. Mothership’s Warden Guide is superlative because it breaks down how to get the game you just bought to the table: it understands why these game master books should exist in the first place.

Fearing the Silence

This often becomes a cascading problem: Because the players lose “momentum” in interacting with the world, it can take a moment to sort of reconnect and get rolling again… except the moment they need is a moment of silence, and the GM is nervously filling it before they can get going.

Settings and Locations as Entities with Problems

In Matrix Spiel, and Matrix Spiel Solo an entity attempts an action to solve its problems. To start a game you need at least one entity with one problem. From there, the act of that entity attempting to solve its problems will create new entities and new problems.

But It’s Fiction All the Way Down!

Given this, saying “well why have the Referee be in charge of the world, what does it matter if Ref Sarah or Player Bob decides what’s in the treasure chest or what the villain’s plot is” to me reads a little bit like if an author of a novel stopped midway through, gave the reader a prompt, and said “ok you pen the next chapter.”

Writing is a fun activity, I love to do it – but 99% of the time when I pick up a novel I’m looking to lose myself in a tale, not tell one myself.

A major network in BX

The second answer I arrived at back when I started digging into OD&D and Chainmail: The quotes above are holdovers from the early fantasy miniatures campaign. I.e. these "attack on sight" indicators are meant for massive of troops in battle. If one side brings dwarves and the other side brings goblins, don't expect to be able to control those troops. They'll be too busy annihilating each other like matter and antimatter. The rest of the time there may be tensions between the two peoples, but they don't automatically boil over into hostilities.

Reaction Rolls Aren’t All About You

This is a fast, clean, versatile mechanic, and it can produce some extremely fun and interesting results. It can score the PCs a major unexpected win, or conversely create an unexpected challenge! And importantly, it's a fair, impartial game mechanic and a fun roll of the dice.

GURPS and Methodology

GURPS is essentially descriptive as a set of rules. This is unusual because most game designers create prescriptive games which give us not only some rules to adjudicate with but also a set of implicit (sometimes explicit) methods.

Faith and Belief Do Not Matter Much in Most Religions

As odd as this might sound, faith and belief don’t matter much in most religions. Often ritual is far more important, as in Confucianism. Or story, as in Yoruba religion.

How I Ran an RPG Con 4 Times a Year For a Decade

Low enough ambitions to feel that you can fulfil them even on a bad day for years to come.

Letting the map speak

Conceptually this is a Brancalonia re-skin (using E6) with lots of animal-lings mixed in, using the southern hemisphere of my home-campaigns world.

In execution this is going to be something like a West Marches campaign in that I want a pool of drop-in, drop-out players with it being relatively resilient to missing players. It will be online as one of the big hooks was to cater to a distant DM-less group of players who reached out to me.

Bonus-action potion quaffing

Some people use a house rule that potions of healing only take a bonus action to quaff. Don’t they know how painful it is to get healed by such drinks? It hurts like a mother as your body relives the injuries backwards and digs you up, yanks out the coffin nails, knits you up, stitches you up, burns you up like a modern swindler.

Dungeon room history, done right

It sucks when it says “this room was an alchemist’s lab used by the great Garbanzo the Magnificent” etc for two whole pages only to end on “anyway, now only glass shards remain”.

One D&D (first survey)

5e was a masterpiece of modularity. I referred to it as a very loosely coupled design. You could play a very simple game or you could add in feats, multiclassing, flowers and a wedding dress. This addition gives up some of that modularity and makes (at least this particular aspect) of the game much more tightly coupled.

Railroading, fudging, and cheating

Give people tools instead of scolding them.

Group by Group Initiative

. Group by group (loose leaves last)
. Holding light gives you first strike (in your group)
. If you’re attacked it’s your turn right back (as long as you have actions left)

Shoes: the unknown resource

Maintain Shoes. As part of a long rest, you can repair your companions’ shoes. For the next 24 hours, up to six creatures of your choice who wear shoes you worked on can travel up to 10 hours a day without making saving throws to avoid exhaustion.