Eow Links 103

Eow Links 103

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 103.

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 Why D&D has Hit Points per Level for the Acquisition of Gold, "Hit points are a way of simulating significance in a story. Significant characters don't die easily. We want to see them continue."

Random hit point ranges

What this table shows is the range of hit points into which 96% of all random rolls will fall. (...) You can just assume that pretty much all randomly rolled hit points on a d8 will fall into the shown ranges.

What "Dungeon" Means to Different Players

Because the dungeon I create for this event is something I want to be able to pull out and run for people who get fantasy but maybe are not steeped in D&D or know the exact difference between "trad" and "OSR". But I still want the dungeon to embody several of the quality of good old-school dungeons — mainly decisions making, while being something that people "grok" immediately. This is why I'm constantly trying to design good "french vanilla" fantasy.

Culture of the insectfolk — Beetlescale

So - cultural aspects of the insectfolk:
. Things and space are fleeting, give generously
. Know one another by their deeds, accept all who join the great work
. Work hard to be lazy

Follow The Thread: A Worldbuilding Guide

Washing leads directly to health. It’s amazing to me how few people know that penicillin was figured out in 1928, and before that people died of infection Extremely Often. It’s not “what would you have died from in medieval times”, it’s “what would you have died from 93 years ago?” (...) Before that, if you got an infected hangnail, you could wind up dead. If you’re looking at morbidity and mortality in your imaginary people, what are they doing about infection?

Baking in the Flavor — Campaign or Rules?

I think it's the campaign that is responsible for baking in the flavor. Rules should be there as scaffolding. The systems to determine what happens. Not to tell me that a bear will grapple to knock you on your ass, then bite your damn face off, as versus a guard fighting a defensive battle while calling for reinforcements, then going all medieval on your sorry butt. What if my bears are stealthy stalkers in my campaign? What if my town guards are mystically enchanted so that they take only 1hp of damage and deal 3d6 of damage? (...)

I want the rules to stay out of my way of my imagination.

Cryptworld Review

I do think that by modern standards Cryptworld is clunky, overwritten, and often clumsy, but that doesn't preclude it from being fun. Take this with a grain of salt as I've only run it once, but my group had a great time with it because we leaned in to the creaky, olde timey feel of the game. Any roll that needs to reference the Action Table absolutely did slow the game down, but we treated these moments as an event.

Shiny Object Gamer: Role-Playing From A Neurodivergent Perspective

Sometimes, neurodivergent players move more often or use stim tactics (I draw while I’m listening). If they are not disrupting gameplay, consider allowing them.

Dungeon23 Roundup #1

Basically, it's a journalling challenge where everyone is working on a megadungeon, one room a day, for a year. (...) Here's the roundup of stuff that's caught my attention so far.

Gathering Resources for #Dungeon23

The nifty part about all of these links is that they run to sites that are packed with usable information. Furthermore, I am likely to add to this list as time and the project wears on.

Hexcrawl Checklist: Part Two

This post was born when I read Ava’s spirited defense of hexcrawls against a rising tide of pointcrawl enthusiasm in the P/OSR blogosphere. However, hexcrawls and pointcrawls need not be eternal enemies. There is a method to use both in what I call the “hexcrawl-pointcrawl combo 3000”. This combination consists of a large pointcrawl where at each “point” there is a hexcrawl.

Art and Bitterness

Borges wrote a story – The Library of Babel – about this situation, and about how it might actually be easier to write your own book than to search an almost infinite library for the extant one – even with our modern search tools it’s most likely to be hidden way down in the cheap end of the search results. But AI art promises (perhaps) to short-cut that search. It will make something maybe close enough to what you wanted – close enough that the extra value in making exactly what you want (if, in fact, you are able to achieve that) is a frivolous luxury.

You Can Play It Wrong

In some forms of entertainment, lying is accepted because the audience knows they are being lied to. Nobody believes the magician is actually sawing the lady in half. OSR games are not like that. We want the truth, even when it’s not fun.

‘Why can’t anyone make a decision?’ My first time as a D&D Dungeon Master

When the zombies started shuffling out of the ocean, they had a long debate about what to do. “Can they be affected by normal weapons?” asked Albie. “Can I see them clearly enough to throw a harpoon?” asked Cole. “Can I make a molotov cocktail out of some oil and a bottle?” enquired Zac. This led to a long discussion about whether zombies are affected by fire damage. I wasn’t prepared for this because of my video game sensibilities: the first set of baddies are usually just sword-fodder, quickly dispatched and forgotten. This was like trying to play The Witcher 3 with the Oxford University debating team.

Fumble Beats Crit

First, Crits aren’t worth jack s—. Second, if you insist on putting Crits in your game’s combat engine, it’s way more critical that the baddies can dish out Crits than that the players can. Third, TTRPGs without Fumble Mechanics are way harder to run properly than TTRPGs with Fumble Mechanics. Fourth, Crits belong in combat and Fumbles belong outside combat.

Therefore, the best TTRPG is one in which the monsters can roll Crits on attack rolls and the PCs can Fumble non-attack actions.

Why D&D has Hit Points per Level for the Acquisition of Gold

There are lots of intelligent "old-school" essays that attempt to justify giving power-ups (level increases) in return for treasure recovered, valued in gold pieces. The justifications are usually clever, but they are mostly retroactive, concocted long after the rule they justify was coined.

Blackmoor's dungeon expeditions were the first of their kind, as far as I know. But why were parties of individual characters going into the many levels of dungeons beneath Castle Blackmoor?

HeroQuest: The "Pac-Man Quest" Set-Up

One of the improvised HeroQuest games I played with my 7yo son was particularly interesting so I thought why not share it on the blog? You can see it in the picture. I shared this very pic on facebook and one user said it looked like Pac-Man, which is quite accurate, so here's my "Pac-Man Quest" set-up.

Santa’s reindeer, Odin’s horse, and Siberian shamanism

Sleipnir was an amazing horse, to be sure. He had eight legs. His mother was Loki. He was stupendously fast. But his main disqualification as a parallel for Santa’s reindeer, aside from his species, is that he couldn’t fly.

What fraction of us are DMs

This number had been discussed among my ancient friends along with comments of how some are running multiple tables and so their DM-to-player ratio is ~3% or the like but we figure most DM's are not running lots of tables at once. Certainly for the most of my time and most of what I see among different circles and different places, the most common model appears to be 'run one game at a time, perhaps play in others simultaneously'.

Victorious losses – games without loss or victory condition

I think we’re so used to winning and losing, that trying to imagine playing a game where that isn’t a thing has become very hard. It certainly is a different experience when you’re not adding up points or racing to be the first across the finish line. However, when you’re not focused on winning or losing, you have time to actually think about what you’re doing as you play the game. You can actually learn something.

Esoteric programming languages as spells and vice versa

One might say, my players won't use that, that's impractical. But there are lots of non-player characters in a game world, why not make one of them be an esoteric bored wizard that makes things harder for herself, not because she has to, but because she can.

Why D&D’s d20 Tests Make Experts Look Inept

I have come to love the unpredictability of the d20, because so often it will create moments that will challenge the DM and the players to really stretch their storytelling ability to come up with a fun reason for why this transpired. Why did the ace rogue who triggered this battle, why did she end up going last?

Farewell RPGBA

I encourage everyone with a blog to ensure their site is backed up on the Internet Archive. This page explains how to archive individual pages manually or with browser extensions, and there is an option to crawl pages you specify.

Fail Forward is bad for gaming

Fail forward is a railroading tool.

“This is going to be the story of how the characters stole a gem from a safe in an 30-story skyscraper.”

That’s not a game. This is a game:

“There’s a gem in a safe in a 30-story skyscraper and your characters want that gem. OK let’s kick this off, 3-2-1 let’s jam—anything can happen!”


These are two abilities PCs can pick up; I would consider putting them at the end of their own adventures, seeding them in as treasure, or making them the result of magic research. I would think they’d fit most into what characters can do around level 5.

The Purpose and Joy of Role-Playing Subsystems

In playing a game, procedures create support structures from which to build the fiction of the game. The procedures are design considerations for modeling and evoking the desired sensation.

Not everything warrants a procedure, but in the “rulings not rules” ethos, the purpose of procedures is to provide some mechanical guidance for adjudication.

One D&D Exhaustion Rules: Pros & Cons vs. 5e

One of the main reasons I prefer the old rules is that they feel more organic and ‘real’. Gaining two levels of exhaustion and being so tired you can hardly move is something players ‘feel’, while a mathematical formula that mildly reduces your effectiveness over time just doesn’t feel threatening at all, and won’t affect the way a player thinks or approaches the game in the slightest.