|Eow Links 106|
Eow Links 106
"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 106.
For more weekly links, head to The Seed of Worlds Shiny TTRPG link collection.
My favourite for this week is The particular way 5e has no replacement, "The best you can do to actually play is get a concept in one or two sentences and either roll or distribute attributes pick one or two things and get to play in twenty minutes."
The posts about OGL have been moved to the bottom of this list.
Social Skills as I conceive of them can only be used in four contexts:
1) Out Of Combat — To elicit a situation-specific response if proper conditions are met
2) Before Combat — To de-escalate conflict
3) During Combat — To taunt your foe into reckless attacks, but (…) they'll come at you harder (…)
4) After Combat — To beg for mercy when you lose, or negotiate (…) conditions acceptable to both parties.
I’d suggest that a third benefit is that I believe it’s helping me to shift away from some old, outdated beliefs I had about GM prep and embrace a much looser and more fluid approach.
In my experience a lot of OSR, NSR and whateverSR games are focused in getting to play right now. Having read Old School Essentials, yes that sort of captures the spirit of the old game. But a lot of modern gamers don’t really want to play, they want to imagine themselves playing their cool idea of a character.
Meanwhile, the rest of us with our Mörk Borgs, Knaves and Troikas are arguing for actually playing. The best you can do to actually play is get a concept in one or two sentences and either roll or distribute attributes pick one or two things and get to play in twenty minutes.
The naturalism of a map can be an obstacle because it does not sufficiently put forward the strength lines of the narrative. An illustration is necessary, suggesting choices, and immediately setting an atmosphere and giving pieces of information that escape the scale of the representation. We must strive to seek potential stories and enigmas rather than mere likelihood.
Modern D&D has a coolness overlap problem where you’re constantly getting upstaged by some even purer expression of the trope.
Amber is a demanding RPG experience, even for players.
The mechanisms of the system are revealed in character creation.
There is a certain amount of player vs. player dynamic in the game.
Much of what makes the game work is the element of surprise.
The RPG hobby has seen spectacular growth recently with 5E, and that's allowed a lot of very cool OSR and OSR adjacent projects to flourish. I have a shelf full of cool zines and boxed sets and rule books because people have been excited and able to make quality content for classic D&D type games.
You have to understand that GURPS is not your ordinary tabletop RPG. It’s more of a toolbox which allows you to create a roleplaying game. Before starting the GM hast to make up their mind on which rules to use, which advantages and disadvantages or which skills are available in the setting. Using every rule and allowing every option is just insane. Some people might actually do this, but in my perspective that’s just a recipe for disaster.
For those not in the know, FUDGE is a descendent of GURPS, and like GURPS, eschews the randomness of a single d20 for a bell-curved core mechanic. The result is a very not-swingy game, where your stats and skills are very important. GURPS uses 3d6, but FUDGE uses proprietary dice that have six sides with two marked +, two marked -, and two left blank. You roll 4 (or sometimes 3) dice, add any modifiers, and compare to a target number.
One of the benefits of keeping a Bullet Journal is that, over time, you can begin to see patterns in your behaviour and thinking. (…) Prompted by a conversation last night with a friend, I decided to dig out some old note books and was stunned to discover just how amazingly recurrent certain ideas have become.
. An academic look at OSR not based on nostalgia or equality with old D&D and its biases.
. Non-wrong use of GNS, which is surprisingly rare for all GNS is cited by academic rpg theorists.
. Using hobbyist theories as a lens to see at motivations and methods for playing.
. Writing down the wargame perspective on OSR.
And one of my very first Games Workshop experiences was spending an afternoon in the Hammersmith store watching some guys play epic scale and reading and re-reading the epic battle-report in White Dwarf ... 138?
The empty room contains a clue to the encounter table. So in the stew pot is a skull. Most players will ask what kinda skull. This is an opportunity to help them be informed about the level they are on and what monsters or humanoids exist.
. it should be simple and quick, people don’t have the patience to play the whole weekend
. mechanics-wise: ideally everything should be in your mind, you only need a short primer
. if something’s going bad, it’s a chance to add new color
. keep it simple: a map, a few encounters, a big baddy, a bag full of treasure, maybe a village
When my players arrived at this pub, I didn't have much detail to work from. But I was provided this image, so... I started running the scene straight off the illustration. Rather than merely flavor to inspire the right mood or idea, I treated this image as a canonically accurate description of what the players see around themselves as they entered the building. These are the NPCs around you, the activities they're engaged in, the room elements to draw your interest, etc. This is the "room key," it just doesn't have any words.
I can see Trophy Gold easily becoming your default fantasy system. Use the Hearthfire template to create your own campaign tracker, shoehorn in some not-incursion free roleplay, maybe leaving dark dice and the risk of Ruin entirely out of the game except when you’re in hostile territory, and you’ve got yourself a fast, lightweight fantasy game that’s distinctly Not D&D.
J.R.R. Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way that Mt. Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt. Fuji.
Terry Pratchett — via Corbusier & Cockatrices in the comments
What I lost was a bulette, an owlbear, and a rust monster. Apparently I lost an umber hulk, although I never saw the family resemblance. These iconic baddies first appeared in a collection of so-called prehistoric monster toys from Hong Kong (every cheap childhood toy was tengentally connected to the place); and I'm sure I found these gems in the impulse aisle of the neighborhood Win Dixie, cheap and easy for an indulgent mom.
It was, however, an extremely powerful reminder. It was helpful to read in black and white (well, black over parchment and phantoms of an ornate book over) that my players don't care about the minutae of my setting. Nor that I have to make my campaign adhere to facts that the players have never heard and exist purely in my head.
The magic of Risus lies in the “Clichés” used to define characters. The Risus Companion helped me to see the power of the Cliché, even if I still am not comfortable with the terminology and jokey style of presentation. In short, as a gamer who is exploring ways to encourage players to describe their characters with words and rely less on numbers, this has been an interesting journey.
Ships can go rogue. Not the crew, the ship itself - just like any other logic core, a shipmind can fall into the obsessive feedback loops of rampancy. It's a terrifying prospect; the metal can at whose mercy and cooperation you are kept alive might just decide to stop listening.
The caller acts as a delegate representing the party to the GM. The caller doesn’t decide what the characters are doing; that would reduce the other players to nothing more than dice-rolling machines. The caller simply listens to player intentions and then presents the GM with an executive summary of the party’s plans.
Psycho-Survival Instinct: Avoid character death by ripping your character sheet in half at the moment the DM pronounces your character's death. You have to repair your character sheet manually and your character is out of action until the sheet is repaired.
A one-shot usually has custom characters and an elaborate set-up. Playing one tends to take from one session (three to five hours) to maybe three sessions, as they tend to not be done in time, and depending on the precise scenario.
A vignette is shorter, more of an (extended) scene than an elaborate situation, typically for 2-3 players and a game master. It might be over in a couple of rolls or require use of extended conflict resolution systems, all based on how the game goes.
I like fountain pens and water colours and I have a real brush, paper and ink at home, too. But these materials I can’t undo, and I can’t quickly paint over mistakes. Perhaps, one day… But not today.
So, #Dungeon23. The hype is real. But the hype will be gone by February.
Over the past month I’ve gotten tweets and DMs and messages about the rules of Dungeon23 and if you can do this or that or is it okay if I…
The idea is to write. The game is simple. One room a day. One level a month. 365 rooms this year.
The energy in the lead up to #dungeon23 is really exciting, but so much is happening so quickly that I don't think I can claim to sum it up here. Take this as one readers report of the things which caught my attention before whirring by as we approached the starting line of #dungeon23.
This game is released under a Creative Commons Attributions Share Alike license (CC BY-SA 4.0) The rules are incomplete by design (and also it’s almost 1am). Make up whatever you need, possibly looking at old editions of the Ampersand Brand and the games they inspired.
First, let’s get some terms out of the way.
I've dealt with Wizards of the Coast for close to twenty-five years as a vendor. I own two comic and game stores and I sell a lot of their products. Hasbro has spent the last five years or so trying to find their customers floors and ceilings. I've noticed the Magic: The Gathering team doing this in the last three years and I think they are now turning their attention to Dungeons and Dragons.
Time to switch all the shit to Creative Commons licenses!
The entire point of using a good license was so we could do this and not worry, ever. And now we have to redo it all, with many of the people we’re building on no longer active.
It’s a huge busywork. They are wasting the time of all the people that want to do this right.
In other words, there's no reason for Wizards to ever make a change that the community of people using the Open Gaming License would object to, because the community would just ignore the change anyway.
I would argue that the secret sauce of a good RPG isn’t the existence of third party products for a prior edition or that someone can create a retroclone. I think the strength of a good RPG rests on the growth of an active community. Excited GMs who are dying to run a session, players who are eager to try out a new character, and fans talking about the latest buzz – that’s the sauce.