|Eow Links 102|
Eow Links 102
"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 102.
For more weekly links, head to The Seed of Worlds Shiny TTRPG link collection.
My favourite for this week is Dark*Matter Reflections, "the rules went behind the screen and we were not really paying much attention to the numbers on the character sheets"
The tension sits between me wanting to get back to having a gaming group and the separate but similar desire to play in some games. These are different things that might look very similar but which, as Justin Alexander points out, aren’t. Being in a gaming group is something qualitatively different to wanting to play some games. I want to enjoy both.
Brecht’s plays are very different to this. The characters are effectively explorers, learning about the play-world as they encounter it. The lessons are such that it doesn’t particularly matter in which order they are experienced; it is more a process that leads to an understanding of the dramatical world.
Allowing players to put themselves into bad situations is one of the most important protections against RR. Anyone can see how unfair and frustrating is to save your beloved villain from the PCs with dice-fudging and "deus ex machina" only to have him reappear later. But there are lots of GMs who think it is fine to save the PCs from the villain in a similar way. It is not. It is equally RR. You're negating player’s (bad) choices.
I've got an idea for the campaign but my first area for focus is the session minus one or 'do I want to play with these people, do they want to be in a game I am proposing to DM.' Assuming the answer is yes, we will proceed straight to Session Zero - but the question must be asked first.
. Is there a rule? Cool, use it.
. If not, can something adjacent be adapted to it? In old-school D&D, I usually fall back on “Can this be an ability check or a saving throw?”
. If not, make it an X-in-6 roll.
A comment says:
I am much more a fan of “1 in X”. (...) I just tell them “roll a dX” and they always know that “something always happens on a 1”.
It has a neat acronym, which makes it memorable. Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism: OCEAN. As noted before, I like to do my solo play tools-free. Anything that helps in memorising is a plus for that. (It would be better if the terms weren't multisyllabic words, but that's not how psychologists work.)
When my wife took over, she essentially stopped using most of the rules and switched to playing with a greater degree of GM Fiat. We didn’t know this at the time, of course, but she was focused on the “make believe” element of the game far more than on the “wargaming/rules” stuff. It made for compelling dramatic stories that arose from the collective experience of play.
In effect, the rules went behind the screen and we were not really paying much attention to the numbers on the character sheets. The GM was interpreting and adjudicating with very little meta-discussion and much more descriptive detail. We became increasingly immersed in the world that was like the real one but twisted.
Every week I email a list of ten excellent D&D links to my newsletter subscribers. Last week I sent out my fiftieth list! To celebrate, here is a list of the most popular items from each email.
No, there is no correct way. Generally, I write things with the assumption that player-characters are encountering these locales for the first time—mainly because that’s the experience (most) players will be having?
The damage reduction is a property and advantage of armor over speed, toughness and/or magic properties. A wolf or dragon does not receive a damage reduction because they probably don't have armor. An orc or horse in armor or barding does receive damage reduction.
I propose rolling for wandering monsters once every 10 minutes (or whatever interval) of real time. This may seem radical, even nonsensical, but I think there's merit to the idea. For one, it's much easier (for me anyway) to consistently keep track of actual intervals of 10 minutes. Second, it's an additional incentive for the players to get things done.
Understanding what creates Immersion and the effects that has also has some explanatory power for those of us wrapped up in game design theory and thinking. The descriptions of what makes an experience Immersive, I found myself reflecting on my favorite, most memorable game and story experiences. I will be using these ideas in future games and stories.
I've used this chart or ones like it many times in the past, since figuring out how to operate the tools of the Ancients is an important part of the fun of Gamma World. However, what I noticed is that the fun very quickly dissipates. After a half-dozen or so uses of the chart, the whole process ceases to be enjoyable and simply becomes tedious.
So here's my rules for actually searching those interesting furniture pieces, each with different results. Wanna taste the potions on the alchemist's bench? See who's hiding inside the cupboard? Do you dare disturb the tomb? Are you sure you want to be scrutinized by the evil man in the portrait above the fireplace? What grim findings await you in the torture rack?
But remember that they need to not-die every single time if they want to survive.
Lope Garcia de Salazar was a paradoxical figure. A brutal thug even by the bloodstained standards of the Viscayan nobility, he spent most of his life pursuing violent feuds with his neighbours. Sexually predatory, he fathered illegitimate children on an almost industrial scale.
Eventually even his surviving sons fell out with him and locked him up in one of his castles. The chosen castle, however, contained his library, for he was also a highly literate individual. Salazar spent the remaining days of his life writing a massive chronicle of world history which in its later volumes gave a blow by blow account of the feuds which divided his native region.
But where there is widespread abundance of some sort, and reasons to go in many directions, even modest imagination is sufficient to overcome uninspired competition, imitation, and even fear of dictators demanding Progress. So when the wind blows, people scatter to the winds.
Intent — What are you trying to do?
Leverage — What makes it possible?
Cost — Would it use a resource, grant a Burden, or have a negative side-effect?
Stakes — What's at risk? No risk, no roll.
Roll — Make a Save or a Luck Roll.
Impact — Show the consequences, honour the Stakes, and move forward.
The greatest creative advice I ever got was “have something to show for your time.” I’ve found a lot of success on always shipping projects every year. This is one of those projects, once you realize you can create a dungeon of this magnitude, your whole world opens up with what you can do. And it’s insanely fun too!
As a wrap - this is the first year in multiple decades where I have had multiple things running in parallel and it is working only because I have relaxed my world-building instincts and focused on 'just enough' to get gaming. Definitely it has proven to me the benefits of focusing on getting in time at table, even if a session or two is squeaky, compared to over-crafting perfect games that run only when the stars align.
in addition to being one of the greatest roleplaying videogame experiences on any platform ever, CT is also a near-perfect example of an STW campaign done right. A perfect example of an STW TTRPG campaign done right. Structurally and narratively, if you rip off Chrono Trigger for your TTRPG campaign, you’ll have a perfect Save the World campaign.
Note that the key to using threat levels is to communicate them clearly to players and gain their agreement that the current level for individuals or the entire party matches their roleplaying motivation, backstory, or experience.
So the way I see the game playing out is every level the players get to custom build their own little mechanics that suit the character they want to play!
before I started running D&D, I came from rules-less, dice-less, stat-less, splat-less, feat-less, class-less, story games. Pure narrative games.
I went to D&D because I was curious about a game where things was happening beyond just what we decided ought to happen. Where we could play to find out.
To me, all that fiddliness with class features, levels, hit points, math, dice rolls, all that’s a huge chore. What makes that chore fun, for me, is seeing to what extent all those decisions matter when that character is faced with the dangerous world of adventure.
Over on Mastodon, there’s a little project called #mastodungeon, where people throw together a quick one-page dungeon and post it.
Whatever faction of the OSR you first encountered (and the people in that faction) will heavily influence what you think the OSR is, and importantly if this was an attractive or repulsive experience.
another thing making it difficult to offer guidance for our hobby: by now it all seems to break down into smaller and smaller tribes all over the place. And the loudest ones aren't really good representatives of the hobby in general. The OSR? Done for. Or it's something else now that milks it for what it's worth. The "artpunk" discussion? Blech. Those trying too hard to be the opposite? Yawn. Official D&D? Excludingly diverse, all posture no substance. The next edge lord driving nother pig through the digital village? Pestiferous, at best.
This means I spend a great deal of time hunting for artwork to use in my books and modules. Thankfully, I've had some good tips over the years. Guilherme Gontijo's How to Make Cool RPG Pamphlets was a good starting point for me. Since then I have slowly expanded my selection of resources.
So we got for now Wrestle (Strength), Survey (Wisdom), Prowl (Dexterity) and Tinker (Intelligence). I think of at least one additional “skill”. I haven’t addressed yet Pickpocket skill of thieves and I think this and other subtle manipulations, juggling, drawing, cheating with cards and making magical gestures would be part of Finesse. It’s the precision part of dexterity.
This is not a call to be aloof, and wear blinders to criticism. Stay alert. Listen to legitimate feedback. You will be wrong from time to time. I’ve been wrong, and made mistakes, many times in my life. Own up to errors; use them to get better.
A world like Warhammer 40K except where the lore doesn't implicitly justify the Imperium.
The tragedy is that your players haven't lost trust in an NPC. They've lost trust in you, the Game Master. Your players have recognized that you're trying to trick them into playing a specific kind of game, and because that type of game happens to end in betrayal, they naturally intend to avoid it.