Eow Links 104

Eow Links 104

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 104.

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 Condensed information in an ocean of trash, "the thing that worries me the most at this moment is the amazing pile of trash that AI will bring into existence"

Merry Christmas!

Theory review #90

[Competence Map for Game Masters] discusses Japanese attempts at certifying skilled game masters and building a competency map for them.

Fun despite the system

Until now I have run 6 games for this group, all in 5e, and am surprised with how much fun we are having despite everything I dislike about 5e. Remembering how much I didn't like using 5e before, this made me wonder how I was having this much fun despite adhering rather strictly to 5e rules.

(...) When I say it is FKR inspired, I mean two things: rules flexibility where 5e is lacking and a emphasizing the world, rather than the rules.

Open Gaming License: A Brief History | Part 2

The OGL ended up being more successful than anyone could have imagined. Dozens of companies began publishing third-party support for D&D. Entirely new companies were founded, many of which have become major players in the RPG industry. And for players and DMs there was an unprecedented wealth of amazing material – new adventures, new classes, new settings.

All of this fueled a D&D renaissance.

Deck Of Worlds

I set the Story Engine aside for now because the Deck of Worlds was exactly what I needed to shake some life into a regional hex-crawl. I got this from a kickstarter where it scratched two itches, that of dabbling novelist and also of dungeonmaster. The sub-title across the front of the box says 'the deck of endless world building' and I can see this getting a lot of use if it works.

History of bonus and malus dice

Bonus dice: when you roll dice, and add a certain number of extra dice, roll them, and take away a number of dice equal to how many you added, but you take away the worst dice.

Legally Odd: OGL Section 9

There's another way to look at this, which I think would have an even bigger impact. In this view, the OGL is a living document that you agree the WOTC can update from time to time. When they do that, the new terms apply to everyone's use of the OGL, immediately.

Condensed information in an ocean of trash (and some thoughts about AI)

the thing that worries me the most at this moment (let's worry about Skynet in a couple of years) is the amazing pile of trash that AI will bring into existence.

A Multiversal #dungeon23

In no particular order, here are some possible games/universes and ideas for each of them. I might incorporate seasonal themes or use some of the spark words lists out there.

Other Hands and Other Minds Fanzines

What I’m looking for is the fandom; folks who craft things for the love of the thing. To all the bloggers and pod-casters who write and share to, what I assume, capture and/or rekindle that feeling of talking with some friends after you’ve just wrapped up a game session.

These conversations about games, I’m looking to not be “real-time” but instead to have a more deliberate cadence. Whereas at the game table, if ever I find myself there again, I expect full attention and shared story-telling.

Hit point increases in B/X

discussing the question whether the thief in B/X would be better having a d6 for hit dice instead of a d4, and one point that was brought up against that is that the thief gains new levels very quickly and as such has more Hit Dice than other characters with comparable XP, and that this would even things out already.

Puzzle Design – is it possible to try to make a (more) rigorous system?

other than a mind looking for D&D connections, there is nothing you can do to harvest pure inspiration. (...) So, I began to think about my thought process in how I built these puzzles, and began to think – could I codify my thought process and would this be useful?

Eat everything, aka the rule of rations

It would take 20 pounds of berries to meet an adventurer's food needs. They'd have to eat the equivalent of fifteen potatoes in wild tubers. Just forget about salad - most leaves contain less calories than it takes to digest them.

So hunting it is. How much meat is in a wild animal?

One Missing Corner

Fast forward months or years of me poking at that one elusive corner. That’s my curse. It happens with just about every game I make to some degree or another. Some designers might just go “meh whatever” and send it out with some spackle over that hole. And ironically, I’ve seen games that were accidentally genius, because some part of the rules did something the designer never anticipated, but that’s not in my genetic code. I want to know what my game is going to do.

The proposed OGL 1.1 is not an open license. Fight for your hobby.

At various times in the history of open source and creative commons, unscrupulous companies and individuals tried to put out their own licenses including ones with terms very much like the above. Each and every time this has not ended well for the bad actors and their licenses. Either they reverted back to a traditional commercial license and ceased their use of the open content. Or they came into compliance.

About the Current D&D Conversation.

I am all for open minded people trying OSR games because it looks like something they would enjoy.

I do not want gamers who decide to play classic adventure games purely because they dislike WotC. They will likely cause more trouble than good.

OGL 1.1 worries

The one remaining worry now it’s how they present commercial as the antonym of share-alike. If by SA they mean NC-SA, that’s not ok. That’s still left ambiguous, but if they wanted to imply that more strongly they’d write non-commercial instead of share-alike, which brings me hope.

Subtext in Game Writing

What does practical subtext have to do with game writing? In adventure design, we don’t want to avoid explaining things to the GM. Blatant “expository” writing is a good thing when it comes to telling them what’s really going on. However, sometimes designers go a little too far and say too much.

The Best and Worst of D&D 3.5

but 1st-level characters in D&D 3E felt like 1st-level characters. They felt like neophytes, newbies, and greenhorns. Their skills, talents, abilities, and equipment were limited. They had room to grow and evolve.

NPC Adventurers in the Megadungeon

Still, fallen adventurers are a great source of unguarded or poorly guarded loot. Canny use of Speak with Dead can provide PCs with far more than just a coin purse and rusty dagger, while the various Animate Dead spells provide PCs with more sword-fodder. Even a more mundane analysis of the corpse may provide some clues as to what type of monster may lurk in the area.

A Thing of Fierce Beauty

At this rate, in another 90 sessions, we might actually get somebody to level 9.

Megadungeon Practical Example 2: Rough Maps of Levels and Contents

My own preference is to take a blank piece of paper and just scrawl a few largish circles (say 4-6 in number), with each circle representing a subdivision of the level proper, in the region of 5-10 rooms on average. This provides the level with a very basic shape that can be properly fleshed out during the process of detailed mapping/keying. It also provides space in which to jot down ideas about contents.

Dungeon Design, Process and Keys

As useful as random tables are for sketching in repeated character experiences, the word is "repeated". Random tables are fetishized (a lot of things in post-OSR spaces have an element of fetishization - beware taking maxims about how to play literally) and this leads to some weird uses. Even in generally well regarded adventures I’ve started to see tables used to determine the result of a single experience or a very small set of them.

Developing A World Through Encounter Tables

Random encounter and wandering monster tables are underused; not only from a mechanical standpoint, as thy have fallen out of favor in modern play and so their power to build tension has been lost, but from a world-building angle as well. A good encounter table is capable of providing hooks and lore by showing, not telling.

Running Feng Shui One-Shots

It’s a game of high-gonzo Hong Kong action movies, and it leans heavily into the genre allowing players to have a great time pissing about with tropes and scenes.

It’s also a relatively complex beast for what it is, and there’s some nuance to how to approach it – so here are five tips for prepping and running one-shots.

OSR Rules Families

it seems to have revealed how OSR-style rulesets have developed over time, especially with respect to prioritizing class versus character capabilities. My favorite grouping was the one with six clusters because I think it picked up on enough differences between groups to be able to draw conclusions about each of them, without getting bogged down in differences which are (in my opinion) almost semantic.

Skill checks

You believe you should go left, and do so. After wasting hours heading down the wrong path, you finally make it to a room with mysterious levers and gears. Make an Investigation check.

Running (in) the Campaign

The thing with old-school D&D is: if you're in a fair fight, the situation is not good. It might not be bad, but it's certainly not good. And if you're considering whether or not to flee or fight to the death, the situation almost certainly is favoring the enemy, and that's very bad. Especially at low levels, you have got to get an advantage before or during combat – preferably before – or you're especially risking it all.

Hexcrawling Procedures: a Simple Guide

Speaking of roads, these are links between civilization. However, they should be used sparingly. Adventure happens in the Wilderlands, not under the watchful eye of a tightly organized society. Roads indicate safety, security, and a strong enough force to maintain and patrol them.

Vampires and Chess

imagine a fictional world of vampires where the old and experience play it among another and with the younger once as a proof that their minds are still alive. That the burden of the ages has not dimmed their wit, clouded their minds or have them degenerate into a more bestial stage. It would be a constant test-and-proof, with nothing to gain but a lot to lose if one is seen as losing in ability. A tiring and dull activity without any thrill, a chore. An mere act of maintenance.

Inscriptions Charged With Occult Force

Odin, father and chief of the Norse gods, passed on his knowledge of magic and rune-lore to poets, sorcerers, sages and other especially favored mortals. The runes in his gift constituted an alphabet for writing. But they were far more than mere symbols: Initiates knew them as actual sources of power—tools and weapons of wizardry.

Will One D&D Patch Up The 5e Armour Table?

before starting my latest campaign (more on that another time), I decided it was finally time to tackle the 5e armour table and tidy up some of its weird disparities; while also throwing in a few penalties that will at least pay lip service to realism and force players to make some choices, based around the trade off of protection vs. practicality.