Eow Links 105

Eow Links 105

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 105.

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, "Meanwhile, silk cloth production was already a staple in China 400 years before!"

Happy new year 2023!

Campaign Wiki and More Cool Things

There is also a very helpful Online Archive for the One Page Dungeon Contest. This archive goes back to the beginning in 2013 and has links to every submission. A real treasure trove!

My First Dungeon (January 1976)

My prep for the game was selecting nine quotes.. When the game started they set out across a desert for two weeks until they came to an old set of ruins (...)
I used each quote as the improv prompt and created each dungeon area and contents on the fly from each quote.

The Year of Blogs on the Desktop

And if you have a blog about role-playing games that isn’t listed on the RPG Planet, please get in touch.

Representation Tier List

I strongly suspect Starship Troopers only falls into this category for me in hindsight, but it was important to me as a young reader and a beginning writer, because I didn’t know until then that it went this way. I was used to being an Asian boy who had to figure out how to write white people. But I never thought it’d go the other way, that a white man would bother figuring out how to write such an effective Filipino character. But it did instill in me an early confidence that this was something white people could do.

a sandbox suitable for a campaign, in 3-4 hours, step by step

Draw a Hex Flower of 7 hexes in the middle of the paper |
Draw the borders with a thicker line |
Write a H in the center hex: this is the Safe Haven |

Mycelium Parish News

The mycelium refers to a network of countercultural groups and events, and it’s a term we first heard through theatre-maker Daisy Campbell. In nature, a mycelial network is the inter-connections that grow between fungi. Also known as the wood-wide web, these networks allow communication between different plants in a forest.

Prison of the Moon Maiden

The warm community spirit of Sean’s initial ask seems to be giving way to the cold notion that a few “high-functioning creators” will have finished products by 2023’s end, and others will be left out or burn out.

Social media is the market’s handmaiden. And this turn in feeling is 100% the market exerting its pressure on us, to turn the things we love doing into work, into commodities.

[FR] Les fresques des tertres funéraires (kofun) de Takamatsuzuka et Kitora (fin VIIe – début VIIIe siècle)

The Takamatsuzuka mound is located in the Nara prefecture, close to Asuka City and was investigated in the seventies. It's a circular mound with a stone funeral room whose content was looted during the Kamakura period (XIIIth century). When it was investigated there was great surprise in finding figurative frescoes adorning it. A first then in Japan!

Avatar Legends: A New Approach to Session Zero?

No hierarchy or player / GM split – I like that there aren’t really defined rolls for players and GMs in the procedures. You’re all just a group deciding what you’re going to do. I’d imagine that GM probably still has veto, but we didn’t really need it. It’s easy for the GM to set some parameters at the start (I’d picked the era, for instance) and then have players work within those boundaries.

On Familiar Favourites

Fudge holds the key to descriptive characterisation. Words instead of numbers increasingly appeal to me because this technique allows me to help the players to remain in the imaginary world. The fact that Fudge is a toolkit also resonates, encouraging me to design my own version of the game which fits the methods and ideas I want to focus upon. I sense that somewhere in there, lies the key to a warmer and more deeply imagined fantasy.

OSR Rules Families: FAQ & Methodology

Statistically analyzing OSR games works because OSR games tend to be formal and predictable variations on games that are otherwise played similarly and with the same aims. Is it roll under or roll over? What classes or abilities does it have? Does it have procedures for underworld or overworld exploration? And so on.

Follow The Thread: A Worldbuilding Guide

He wore a hat, breechcloth and belt with leggings tied to the belt, knee-length coat held closed with a second belt, and shoes. In his sewn belt pouch, he carried precious tools: tinder for lighting a fire, antibiotic fungus, and a repair kit consisting of a bone awl for piercing holes in leather and a flint flake for cutting long narrow strips. More than the bow and arrows, more than the short-bladed flint knife, more than the very latest thing, the copper ax — it’s the sewing kit and what it means that anchors Otzi’s technology level. The wheel doesn’t come along in the archaeological record for another 2000 years, possibly inspired by the drop spindle, which was going strong in Egypt in the manufacture of linen thread not too long after Otzi fell. Meanwhile, silk cloth production was already a staple in China 400 years before!

All the nerdy kids are doing #Dungeon23 and so can you!

Yes, and it’s not going to be pretty. Some days, it’s going to be an empty room with just a few details. Some days, it’ll be a scribbled and a bit of text. Part of the reason I’m doing this is that I want other referees with less experience to see that adventure and dungeon creation for your home game doesn’t need to look like (or read like), a published polished module. Those things are designed and written to take something from one person’s mind and put it in another person’s mind. Dungeon#23 is a practice to get in the habit of creating something.

Here Be No Product Identity Monsters

If none of the above names work, Dislocation Beast is a suitable replacement. I like keeping the beast because it isn’t just a dislocating puma, cat or tiger, the tentacles definitely elevate it to a beast.

Pseudorandom vs. AI-Generated Dungeons?

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how this method - i.e. have the machine do the hard work and fill in the empty spots myself, and gussy it up some at the end - is any different, philosophically, from the GAN-network or GPT-Chatbot method that I am seeing go around. To be absolutely clear, my method doesn't cause me as much internal strife as letting an AI do the majority of the work, but I'm on the fence! Could I ever be expected to do ALL the work involved in generating a vast, demon-haunted underground death-complex?

#dungeon23 Should be a Metacampaign

People would play for a couple of hours, their characters jumping from world to world with little focus on believability. Rules differences were handwaved, and people just played.

Downtime as Worldbuilding

Understanding who shaped the realm is a good prompt, and seeding the local surrounds with remnants of those institutions is a good idea. I liked this quite a lot and I can see it being helpful at the table. It also, through the institutions and the rival adventurers, provides a great store of answers to 'who is active around here' if a party asks.

2023 TTRPG plans

Grands Exploits & Petites Mains, an FKR-inspired tongue-in-cheek fantasy game. Instead of playing the epic hero chosen by the prophecy, players take the role of their backstage crew: selling goodies, booking inns, managing the hero's public image, damage control… Each character has a single spell and a few descriptive traits, no numeric stats. Ran it four times so far, we had a blast.

Motivating the Players

Ask the players to provide their motivations. I got this idea from the Bandit's Keep YouTube channel. He suggests, after setting up an adventure, just asking the players directly what their motivations would be to actually engage with this, whether it's a dungeon, an event, a faction, or a quest. Get them involved.

Cruel Intentions: The motivations for fae cruelty

But they hate this too because they know it's not true love from humans as the gods know it.

Athasian Diseases and Treatment

A couple of years ago, I wrote three articles about Athasian Diseases and how they can be used in a game. (...) I took some time and combined the disease and treatment rules into a pdf.

Turn D&D’s Swingy d20 Checks Into a Feature That Can Improve Your Game

When someone fumbles a roll, instead of describing the failure in a way that makes the hero or monster seem inept or comical, describe the stumble so the fault comes from tough opposition or an impossible situation. DMs feel tempted to narrate bad rolls for laughs. (...)
But too many descriptions like that turn characters into clowns and their opponents into jokes. Instead, use a 1 to describe a foe’s superhuman speed or the swirling hot ash clogging the air and stinging the heroes’ eyes. When you describe outcomes, even the fumbles, flatter your heroes and monsters.

Moldvay Basic D&D Character Generator

I’ve created a character generator for Moldvay Basic D&D. It generates a random, level one character and is similar to my other generators. I did this pretty much by-the-book, although I did make one change to use the Expert set saves for Dwarves and Halflings.

Robin of Sherwood

This series inspires just the right feeling of fantasy that I would enjoy running in a medieval pseudo-historical campaign. The magic is low-powered, with the most flashy spell being when the evil Baron sets fire to Robin’s bow in the second episode. The mix of spiritual visions and memories of Animism hit the notes that I would choose when I talk about primal magic.

Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality

I think this book is necessary. It's not a utopian piece, at least not on the societal level. In fact, Campagna makes it clear that Magic is just one more way to contextualize reality beyond that of Technic. And while he doesn't, alas, provide any other concrete examples, he has shown a way (though not the way) to reconstruct reality, along with a roadmap or intellectual structure of how one might find their own way.

What Makes for a Good Dungeon Entrance Chamber?

Which leads to the third and final thing that a good entrance chamber should contain: evidence of past explorers and/or current inhabitants. Veteran dungeon delvers know that information is crucial to dungeon mastery, and this opening chamber provides the DM a legitimate place to provide such information to attentive players.

A Simpler Checklist for Jaquays-style Dungeon Maps

By keeping Jaquays-style dungeon design principles in mind, we can better select dungeon maps. Fun dungeon maps include an asymmetric design, multiple entrances, loops, multiple paths, secret doors, and shortcuts. Keep these criteria in mind while hunting down maps for your next D&D game.

Replaying adventures

Some people get concerned that a player might be familiar with an RPG module, and they believe that any level of familiarity renders that module useless. After all, how can a game be fun when the player already knows the plot of the adventure? How can it be a challenge when a player already knows the key plot points?

Diceless Universal

To get to next level, do something mildly interesting | interesting | that changes a small group | that changes a large group | that changes a whole building/structure | that changes a town/settlement | that changes a whole biome/environment | that changes a whole continent | that changes the whole world | that changes reality.

Not All Balance is the Same

I'm interested in thinking about qualitative encounter calibration rather than quantitative. Runehammer of Index Card RPG (ICRPG) fame has talked about "challenge tuning." It is, I think, insightful and accessible for even the laziest of old-school referees. To summarize, break an encounter down into three dials that you can adjust as needed: damage, disruption, and duration. When designing an encounter, you increase difficulty by either 1) creating new sources of enhanced damage, 2) introducing environmental effects that harass players, and 3) inducing time pressures that force the players to rush.

New Game For Me: Forbidden Lands

Choose a Dark Secret. Another offered one - I once left a wounded friend to die in the woods to save myself.

Gamma Hacks

Black Hack tabletop RPGs using Gamma World-style settings.

Reading Moldvay Basic

Looking at starting a campaign with some coworkers in the spring, and consequently looking again at OSE. But I realized I already had B/X in pdf from DriveThru, and all the late-70s early-80s TSR rulebooks I've looked at so far have been interesting (ex: OD&D, the 1e DMG), so I figured it was worth a look. Obviously mechanically there isn't going to be anything new here after having read OSE, so it's all about presentation and non-rules remarks.

Game Master Advice I Never See

Why would one need to become a scholar of a particular genre to be a good Game Master? It is the underpinning, scaffold, colossal structure supporting every decision the game's referee will make at the table. Creating your mind into a rolodex of genre tropes transcends mechanics and system in such a degree to almost make game of choice irrelevant.

Artificial Distinctions In Fantasy Magic

From a practical point of view, most distinctions made between “magic,” “psychism,” “sorcery,” “witchcraft,” “psionics,” “shamanism,” or “miracle working” are simply not relevant to magic in the real world, although as artificial distinctions, the terms are useful for anthropological classification and to add variety in games.

The Apocalypse Archive

Also known as timesickness or deep time disorder, anachronosis is a malady known to afflict many adventurers, especially on their first forays into the Old City, though it may affect even seasoned delvers at times. The disorder produces a sense of being “out of time,” a sort of temporal dislocation. Although it has a range of presentation, there are several typical stages of anachronosis, as detailed below.