Eow Links 107

Eow Links 107

"Eow" for End Of Week. TTRPG Links I gathered during the week. This is iteration 107.

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.

← last week links

My favourite for this week is For RPGs, storytelling will win, "story is the only thing unique to the medium of the role-playing game"

The posts about OGL have been moved to the bottom of this list. The week has posts from before and after Friday 13th...

Dan Reviews Conlangs

I feel like it should be mentioned that, in the work considered the poster child of Euro-fantasy, nearly all of the characters are speaking something explicitly modeled on Semitic and Mesopotamian languages. No Greek or Latin to be seen. That seems like something a lot of people miss.

The Secret of Wealth (plus Bonds, Arbitrage, and More)

Bonds could have at least one gameable element: as treasure

Ezra Bloom in the comments

Your own random generator app

The “app” is a HTML file that you can save on your computer and open in your browser. It contains some CSS to make it look good (well… taste differs, of course), some HTML for the buttons and the title, all the tables you need, and some JavaScript to generate the actual output.

Random Generators

Alex Schroeder, over at RPG Planet asked for any random generators that people have built, well here's my contributions.

Free Kriegsspiel Roleplaying — Here We Go Again

Because a lot of the FKR relies on sometimes implicit culture of play, we over here in the FKR cult try and make as many social and game processes transparent and explicit, although because in my case it is all I've ever played and all I play or run, it can be tricky to see things from another perspective without seeming preachy or dismissive.

Free Kriegsspiel Roleplaying — Old Manifestos

with some regain of interest for FKR shit and a recently emerging next hot thing born out of the OSR, NSR and FKR - the Free Rules Movement, I decided against my better judgment to indulge in theory rants a little bit before I burn out again. So here's two texts from the Before Times.

An Example of FKR (near-)diceless combat

We are playing using a framework common to Sam Doebel's Skörne, my various home games (Dreamlands, Shadowrun, etc.) and Cosmic Orrery's Pernicious: there are no attack rolls, no damage rolls. Instead, Hits are either traded (ala "trade harm" in PbtA) or used as part of a Dilemma (cf. Hits as Dilemma on Dreaming Dragonslayer, follow the thread of blog posts from there onwards to learn more).

Good Men Don’t Need Rules

Madame Kovarian: The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules.
The Doctor: Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many!

Natural-language game design

Not Naturalistic: I have 1,000 experience points. I am level 1.
More Naturalistic: I have 1,000 gold. I am a veteran.

On No Artpunk II

In my perfect world, we have craftsmanship, fantastic new gygaxian building blocks, evocative writing, brilliant art and layout. In the world of limited time, single creators, limited budgets and massive competition, that perfect storm seldom occurs.

Don't Use AI Art (Except for Fun)

while there's no harm in playing around with AI art for shits and giggles, we can't and shouldn't countenance its deployment in serious creative endeavours. Art is our domain and needs to be defended as such. It's for humans. Not robots.

Becoming Borg

Generations who grow up knowing nothing other than these mediated mediocre media come to accept them as the norm, which will shape their own expectations, thoughts, and behaviour

Our Mother, Her Seven Arms

This is me starting to build on the idea of a TTRPG ruleset designed around inventory / capacity.

I am a very reluctant writer of rules. I’m tricking myself by starting in fiction.

The idea is that this ruleset is diegetic; its abstractions represent the cosmology and worldview of Azza Amma’s priests. Your soul has seven parts, like the seven hands of the mother goddess.

Puzzle Do's and Dont's

Puzzles are unreliable. Sometimes players get frustrated and walk away. Sometimes people don't want to do puzzles. Sometimes the answer is simply outside of their reach.

If you need the players to get to the final boss room, don't put the boss room behind a puzzle.

The Lo-fi Online Gaming Manifesto

Technology can only enhance a game so much. At the end of the day, sound effects, cool visuals, music broadcast over your VTT, the fog of war, and buttons to execute complex die rolls aren't that much enjoyable than a game simply played Theater of the Mind over voice while players roll real dice on their desks.

For RPGs, storytelling will win

The tools of wargaming are where everything gets confused; this has arguably been the case for the last fifty years. Wargaming mechanics provide challenge, they provide mathematical rigor (or the perception thereof) to our make-believe. There are definitely some people who engage more with the math of role-playing games, bench racing Pathfinder builds or figuring out how to break Exalted charmsets. The problem is not and has never been that people are interested in these things or that they can do them, it’s that RPGs are, among all the options for strategic gaming, kind of a mediocre one.

Welcoming 2023

There are several points where the player can instantly win or lose the game, with one spot “Eternal Hell” that the player is unable to escape for the rest of the game.

Games Are For The Playing

However! With the passage of sufficient time comes the hour of all things - my friends had aged sufficiently that their kids in turn were old enough to be playing things like this and it being the Christmas season families were gathered. A happy coincidence saw one of those friends already booked to visit and they were convinced to take it off my hands in a very stereotypically Irish - "please take this thing" "I couldn't possibly" "You would be doing me a favour" "But you could sell it" "Just take it so I don't have to deal with it" etc. etc.

And then happily, not two hours later, I get action shots back.

Beef! A simple session zero tool

They got beef with you. Something you did has upset them or made them angry! The idea is this helps provide an immediate antagonist or villain, even if only short term...

You got beef with them. The idea is this can provide an antagonist as above, and/or a plot point where the party might need someone's help and need to get over their beef...

They owe you a favour. The idea is to set up an ally, willing or reluctant, that might be able to help the party overcome a problem...

You owe them a favour. The idea is to provide a hook for, or add a complication to, immediate or later adventures...

The Session Zero Agenda

Goals for Players | Goals Group | Bi-weekly – agreed | Genre | Quorum | Open or Closed Table | Absent Players | Play Style | Safety Tools | World | Character Creation | OOC Discussion | Character Sheet Update timing

The Hive Mind on the Hidden Genre Canon

I don’t think Salammbo can be considered a hidden classic? It’s one of the most republished of his works, especially in English. I dunno that it’s that rare, especially during the 19th century when genre divisions really didn’t mean anything, and the gap between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction didn’t really exist. Which I could go on about ad nauseum.

Serious war games — controversial or not

Taking a different approach to conveying the horrors of war is This War of Mine. I’ve not played the game myself, but you’re taking on the role of a civilian trying to survive from day to day in a wartorn country. The board game is based on a computer game with the same name. It deals with terrible experiences and forces the player to make impossible decisions. The age rating of 18+ is very appropriate. It’s not a game for a light games night.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition — Introduction

I’m not going to lie, trying to tackle a book as dense as Pathfinder is a little bit intimidating even to someone who has been reviewing RPGs for a while. That said, I was doing my best to approach this particular section from the point of view of someone who was new to the hobby, and I have to admit that from that point of view, the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Corebook manages to do pretty well.

Gaming in the Abstract

Initial Description: GM move. GM gives an initial description of the encounter.

Question: Player move. Players request more details about initial description or information gained from other moves.

The Charms of Old School D&D

1) Affordable
2) Manageable rules as player & DM
3) The oldest RPG, no claims to greatest
4) Powers that be were gamers, not suits
5) Established good time, not threatened by other games
6) No backstory or other ego crutches, PC personality came out during play

Mordheim: The Thronetaker Campagin

The rules are … old school: there are tables, lots of dice rolling, and rules scattered throughout the book. Warcry feels like it’s the stronger game, but people aren’t playing Mordheim for its tight game design. Mordhiem is a narrative game, and its the story of this campaign I’m looking forward to seeing unfold.

You Can Run Anything As A One-Shot

There are lots of games like this. “It runs better it an a campaign, I can’t see how it’d work,” people say. But how often do games like this actually get played? I want to see how a game plays before I invest multiple sessions in it, and I refuse to believe any game can’t be run as a one-shot.

Disconnected Thoughts on Running Medieval Settings

The world is alive. This might seem odd, since we're not used to the idea of medieval Christianity as "animistic," but the reality is that the medieval mind treated the entire cosmos as hylozoic — they describe physics, geology, weather, everything in terms we would reserve for plants and animals.

Do not overthink treasure placement

The point I’m trying to make is that the stocking and restocking rules are essentially an expert system that TSR employees wrote up because they felt it resulted in a good game, not necessarily that running a game by those rules on Hurt Me Plenty mode is the best game ever.

Religion Is Different

Agriculture, large-scale organized warfare, elites, rulers, bureaucracies, writing, and monumental architecture evolved independently in many world regions at markedly different times. These are truly universal features of complex human societies. Moralizing religion is different.

Dungeon23 Roundup #3: What Riches!

The tables are a lovely spin on the idea of the dungeon as a hostile space that one finds in the "mythic underworld" conception of early D&D. They're also a nice example of how, for example, you can introduce setting, lore, and atmosphere through random tables.

Creatures & Commoners, Barely/Explained

In this game, you play a character adventuring in a world prepared and portrayed by the Referendary (ref). They set up a situation and you act on it as if you were there. The ref tells you what happens based on their prep, their knowledge of the world, and possibly a roll of the dice.

The Way Ahead in 2023

Honestly, I don't know. I have to change a lot here because I rely on the OGL. Then again, I don't I am going to be sued, though I am still going to make the effort. If I made my own system (unlikely) it would be CC BY 4.0.

Goblins and Digging

Thinking back to tribal goblins, I still like the idea of having goblins operate primarily in the Morlock Model, hiding in underground dens during the day and then emerging to pillage the countryside at night. This makes rooting out goblins clearly an adventurer activity rather than a problem you can throw mercenaries at - you can fight them in their holes or you can fight them at night, but either way you're gonna be fighting them in the dark.

Theory review #93

Why it’s rude to suck at Warcraft by Folding ideas takes a look at the instrumental play culture of World of warcraft and how it affects the game and its players.

OGL Resources You Can Use


Roleplay Is Folk Art

Reason one. From my very first roleplaying experiences, cobbled together from half-understood and ill-matched books, I’ve felt no loyalty to any corporate rules-as-written game. I saw roleplay as an activity, akin to playing in a sandbox, and not as roleplay® the licensed and correct game.

Beware the Gifts of Dragons

My main takeaway from the post, aside from the obvious fact that Wizards of the Coast is behaving in a "rude and unfair" way, is that the existing version 1.0a of the OGL is, unfortunately, not written as clearly as one might like, if the goal is for its terms to be legally irrevocable.

Good riddance to the Open Gaming License

This is exactly the kind of thing that trips up people who roll their own licenses, and people who trust those licenses. The OGL predates the Creative Commons licenses, but it neatly illustrates the problem with letting corporate lawyers – rather than public-interest nonprofits – unleash "open" licenses on an unsuspecting, legally unsophisticated audience.

The Legal Fight Over Happy Birthday and What It May Tell Us About D&D’s Rumored OGL 1.1

Intellectual property law as related to games is an unsettled subject. The general understanding is that you can’t protect game mechanics, except with a patent. As a result, a game manufacturer’s primary protection against other people using its IP is a trademark.

OGL v1.1

Needless to say, we are making various contingency plans in anticipation of the official release of the new OGL. Once the official release happens and we've had time to fully digest its implications, we will announce any possible alterations to our publication schedule.

Musings About the OGL Drama

Cleaning up the ecosystem, strengthening the already strong companies putting out good product and reducing the influence of WotC on the hobby outside of D&D seems like a good thing to me.

My Response to WotC's Announcement on the OGL 2.0

The "game" doesn't matter to you. You see it as a "lifestyle brand" now. You want to sell lunch boxes, underwear, toothbrushes...the game is barely on your radar. The only "risk" is you.

Intellectual Property for Gamers

The process by which one plays a role-playing game, as far as US intellectual property law is concerned, would be patentable, not copyrightable. That said, there has never been (and never will be) a patent on a role-playing game because by the time TSR was founded and the RPG was being productized, fantasy worlds and wargames had been around long enough that it would be very difficult to claim that such a game was novel, or even non-obvious.

Do better


Better to use Creative Commons (CC) licenses!

Open licenses and what not to use

Also, don't not license your work. Saying that you don't want to bother with licensing is cool until it's not. The modern world is still coming to grips with what copyright means in the digital space. Clarity is essential, not only to protect yourself but to protect the people you want to be able to benefit from your hard work.

The Open Gaming License and Potential Attempt at Revocation

In this time of disruption and chaos we will see a burst of creativity and invention. We’ll see an interesting inversion of “rulings not rules.” And other unpredictable things; though one thing we can predict: Hasbro in executing its sharehold obligations will seek to extract syphon all that it can from the waters of the once declared safe harbour.

Blast from the Past

That's the opening salvo in TSR's "war on the Internet" of the mid-1990s, when the company dubiously claimed that "any software, bet books, modules, tables, stories, or rules modifications which contain elements from our copyrighted properties, including characters, settings, realm names, noted magic items, spells, elements of the gaming system, such as ARMOR CLASS, HIT DICE, and so forth" were "infringements of TSR copyrights" unless they had been produced under license from TSR. Such belligerent and litigious behavior is what earned the company the nicknames T$R and They Sue Regularly.