Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adventure Concept - The Ultimate Puzzle

I was putting together a puzzle/investigative adventure, and it occurred to me that there is one concept that I am pretty sure simply would not work.  Does anyone out there think you could convert Da Vinci Code/National Treasure into a workable adventure/campaign?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back on solid ground

Hullo all!  I have returned from my long vacation.  I want to thank everyone who checked out my auto-posts, and especially those who commented on them.  I got more traffic than I was expecting, considering that I was not around to promote them myself.

I'm going to give a brief recap of my awesome vacation here, but with a twist.  I'm going to offer up a few notes on some of the different places we went and things we did that could be inspirations for RPGs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Attack of the Mushroom People

OK, this post has nothing at all to do with RPGs. But, it is too precious to me not to post here. It also seems a fitting cap to my reign of reposting.

This is my theory of why traffic gets so bad in the rain.

Two words: Mushroom People.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Problem with Magic


The name, almost literally, conjures up certain images for us. Certain assumptions, certain expectations, and certain dreams. Gandalf and Merlin. Ged and Elric. The enemies of Conan and allies of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. From Harry Potter to Harry Dresden. Even Old Ben Kenobi plays the part well.

And, yet, RPGs seem to consistently fail to capture the mystique and majesty of magic. It is a list of powers, a bit of extra book-keeping, and a pain in the ass to balance. Why is this? Well, it's very easy to lay the blame at the feet of D&D. (And, admittedly, I tend to more often than I care to admit.) After all, they took one specific archetype that is quite deliberately unusual ("Vancian" magic), and then very deliberately devolved it into a system of rules suitable for miniatures combat. It was then re-evolved, if you will, into a system suitable for a true RPG. Mostly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Fudging Could Have Saved the Day

In the way of these things, the topic of fudging die rolls has come up on a number of the podcasts and blogs I follow lately. I'm not going to expound on my personal opinion here. Instead, I want to tell about two of my greatest GM failures. It's relevant because both of them came about specifically because I refused to fudge the dice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The End of the World As We Know It

I want to write/run a multi-genre post-apoc rpg. One of the first things that needs to be decided, obviously, is the "apoc" part. The nature of the end of the world shapes a lot of the future. So, what to do? I have three possibilities I'm considering.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Can you handle the dreaded Licensed Setting!?!

I just listened to Fear The Boot #210 last night. (Ed. note: Obviously, this was written a while ago.) One of the two big topics was using established settings for your RPG, a la Star Wars or Dresden Files. I feel the spontaneous need to respond to this podcast.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Disease is the Cure (version 2)

(Ed. note: Yes, this is pretty much a repeat post. I did not even notice that in my original blog, as the posts were several months apart. They are slightly different, though, and this one is a bit closer to the post-apoc setting I'm going for.)

So, I've been thinking about my post-apoc fantasy setting. Incidentally, for now, I am calling it Aurelian.

One of the bits is the presence of psionically-gifted humans. Another is the presence of "monsters." After much thinking, I think I can tie many of these elements together fairly neatly.

It all starts with a virus....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Disease is the Cure (version 1)

I am working on a post-apocalyptic kitchen sink setting (a la Rifts), and I want to justify a lot of the setting elements, but preferably in ways that have not been done before. I was thinking about vampires, and how to make them work. I like the whole concept of "vampirism as a disease" (seen in numerous works, but I first found it Barbara Hambly's excellent "Those Who Hunt the Night"). Then, I happened to read a couple articles (I don't recall why, it was one of those "click on one too many links in Wikipedia" things). The mythology of vampires may have arisen from a particularly virulent outbreak of rabies in Eastern Europe. A lot of the symptoms line up, including aversion to sunlight and strong smells (like, say, garlic). The peasants saw one of their own suddenly exhibit a terrifying and violent alter ego, which later reports would embellish with some nice poetic elements. Then the Church would add a nice layer of demonic presence to, in addition to the idea that the Church is capable of protecting you from such evils.

Interestingly enough, only a few minutes later, I followed a link to a justification of rabies as the source of werewolf myths. Normal guy gets bitten by a strange-acting wolf, then starts lashing out in a bestial rage. But, hey, I'm already thinking about making vampirism a disease, they shouldn't both be diseases. That just looks cheesy.

This starts percolating, and I go see Zombieland this weekend. (Ed. note: This pretty well dates the original post.) Zombies as a disease. Sure, been done to death. But something upstairs clicks, and the mind gnomes present their collage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Campaign Concept - The Natives Are WHAT?!?

Recently, I have had another setting concept pop into my head. See, I am in a regular monthly D&D group. But, I would never GM 7K, DFRPG, or most any of the other games that excite me for them. First, the group is too big, at around 7 players. Most story-heavy games simply can't handle that kind of spotlight division. Second, the group is very much into casual gaming. They don't want to think too hard, they have trouble staying on task, and they rarely do much actual roleplay. They are just about chucking dice and having moments of awesome. Also, they are pretty solidly welded to playing 3.5 D&D, for now at least. I may try to run a one-shot of Gamma World for them at some point, just to see if they'd go for it.

So, I want to run a game, and running for these guys seems like the most likely outlet in the near future. But, with the restrictions above, most of the games/campaigns I'd want are right out. So, I was digging through my old box of ideas one time while walking the dog, and two ideas popped out, merged, and suggested some potential awesome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are you now, or have you ever been, Chaotic Evil?

So, here we are. A gaming blog, tackling that toughest of all topics, alignment. Will I add anything useful to the discussion? I certainly hope so.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What *IS* an RPG, anyway?

So, I have been toying with a few different systems and settings for RPGs. I was thinking about whether or not I could actually devise a new and improved RPG. I'm sure that there is ground yet to be trod. But, how to find it?

An awful lot of the indie games seem to delight in spewing forth wacky mechanics. I think that, as a community, they are attempting to derive the perfect RPG through some sort of Darwinian process. They create games like you create creatures in Spore, then have the games compete for "survival" (measured in mentions on Forge and, as many of them don't actually have sales figures). Key features are then re-incorporated in newer games (though generally with the key terms changed, so that the writer can convince people his work is "original").

I thought that I would rise above this mish-mash, powered by nothing but my own hubris. I will devise the perfect RPG, not through some messy evolutionary process, but with SCIENCE!!! (Please don your protective goggles at this time.) (Ze gogglez! Zey do nothink!!!)

In some seriousness (since I seem to be incapable of all seriousness), what I am looking for initially is some idea of what RPG rules actually do. I know what an RPG is. And I know a couple dozen rules sets. But, if I want to make a contribution that is an actual revolution, and not just a gimmicky new mechanic, I need to have some idea what my goals are. So, what needs do the rules of an RPG need to fill?

Friday, September 9, 2011

How fragile we are

IMO, any post title that has me singing Sting lyrics is a good one.

In working on my new PA setting, I came to a startling conclusion. Our information-based infrastructure is like a gigantic balloon. Press it at any point, and it will give. Remove the pressure, and it will rebound. But pop it, and it cannot be repaired. It can only be rebuilt from scratch.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Engaging Autopilot

I will be going offline for a couple of weeks here.  But, I am way too proud of the string of posts I have going here to just go dark for that time.  So, instead, I am going to be re-posting some choice bits from the wayback machine.  Since I know that very few readers ever go through the archives, I figure it won't bore most of you.

As a note, I haven't worked out how to do automatic posting to Twitter and G+ when a post goes live.  So, if you don't follow the blog, subscribe via RSS, or come in from RPGBA, you might want to do one of those.  I'd also really appreciate it if you guys would take a second to share each of the posts when you read it, if you find it interesting.  Without my vast social network to call on, I'm afraid these posts may not get the love they deserve!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Genre Mashup - Wizards + Wireless

Fantasy is an extremely broad genre, that is actually applied to anything with magic.  Even if that thing has none of the standard themes of fantasy.  Like, say, cyberpunk.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Problem with Death

There was a spate of posts on the RPGBA blogroll a couple weeks back regarding PC death.  Given the number of OSR-oriented blogs on the site, they were heavily in favor of the constant threat of death.  I am going to give an opposing point of view.

Long-time readers may note that many of my points were previously discussed when I talked about why "old school" games suck.  The comments, especially, dealt with the subject of random death quite a bit.

Monday, September 5, 2011

System Wank - Magic

Oh, this is a tough one.  There are a lot of great magic systems out there.  And by "magic" I'm going to include any special effects system such as psionics or The Force.  Because, ultimately, they are essentially the same thing.

Given the breadth and variety, I'm going to go with one winner and two honorable mentions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Problem with Elves, Redux

I experienced a runaway success with my post on The Problem with Elves, thanks to a repost by Greg Christopher over on Google+ and Alias at his blog (in French!).  There were a lot of great responses, so I feel that I need to make a follow-up post.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

7K - Class warfare

I am a bit conflicted on how exactly to handle races, classes, skills, and other character elements in the rebooted Seven Kingdoms game.  On the one hand, given that characters will already be sorted into broad categories based on the type of super power they have, I also want to be able to sort them based on the type of swashbuckler they are.  On the other, I want the game system to steer light, so that my natural tendencies will keep it rules-medium.

Should I have classes?  And, if so, what kind of structure should they have?