Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why "Old School" Games Suck

"Old School" games suck, and are a blight upon our hobby.  They are outdated, wrong-headed, and unfun.  And I will prove it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shared Fantasy - Women in Gaming

I expect this topic to be a bit controversial, and possibly to involve some serious discussion.

I have been reading Shared Fantasy by Gary Fine.  You can check out my previous posts here and here.  In the latter half of Chapter 2, he devotes quite a bit of space to the curious lack of women gamers.  He offers three explanations as to why that is: characteristics of women; the process of recruitment into the gaming world; and reactions of men to the presence of women players and female characters.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shared Fantasy, Chapter 2

On Friday, I started a discussion about the book Shared Fantasy.  Today, I'm going to talk about Chapter 2, which discusses what gamers are like and where they come from.  The final part of Chapter 2 is about women in gaming, which I'm actually going to split off into its own post.

In summary, the average gamer (as of 1979) is a young white male, unmarried, but well educated.  He likely has related fandom interests.  He probably either has a good job, or is working on building towards a career.  He has strong feelings about war, though they may be either pro or con.  Finally, he is likely to be non-conformist and possibly judged as deviant.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shared Fantasy, Chapter 1

So, I have started reading Shared Fantasy by Gary Alan Fine.  This is a sociological paper on the culture of gamers.  That, in itself, is not really all that interesting.  So far, his conclusions and insights have largely matched up to my own experiences in the hobby.

What is fascinating is that this book was published in 1983, and most of the research was done in 1977-1979.  As such, it provides a window into the early days of the hobby.  If you are a grognard, or just an OSR enthusiast, I strongly recommend giving it a look.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

7K - Class Debate

So, classes are once again proving to be a stumbling block for me. I think that's a very good indication that I still don't have a firm handle on how I want this system to work.

What Does the Class Do?

In game mechanics terms, a class is intended to be a collection of related system elements that enable rapid character creation and reinforce genre through strong archetypes. In Seven Kingdoms in particular, I want classes to bring the swashbuckling elements while origins bring the superhero elements.

However, given the radical changes I've made to the combat system, I'm not entirely sure what the class does any more. By making combat based on a skill, I've removed two key system elements that distinguish one class from another. First, there's no Base Attack Bonus. Second, every class now needs to have the same number of skill points, though with a different list of class skills. In addition, I'm not sure that I'm going to be keeping the vitality and stress mechanics, so there's another point of differentiation gone.

What we are left with are bonuses to saves, the list of class skills, and the class abilities. It wouldn't be hard to turn the class abilities into feat trees, and turn the saves into skill or ability checks. And, voila, the class is dismissed.

So What If I Have No Class?

Good question. Do I need classes? Am I just holding onto an artifact of outmoded play?

Well, with no classes, no saving throws, and such a radically different combat system, I can pretty definitively say that I am no longer using the d20 system. On the one hand, I lose the framework of rules I'd been counting on for both ease of design and familiarity. On the other, I am freed up to use whatever mechanics suit my whims.

We also come back to one of the purposes of classes. Without a class, players lose that easy template to both build and define their characters. Of course, they also lose the straitjacket that a class can be. They become free to build their characters to suit whatever concept is in their heads.

That, though, sums up the reason I want to keep classes. Without them, the character is mostly defined by her origin. There's a big difference in connotation between "I'm a Blaster with a lot of Knowledge skills and related feats" and "I'm a Blaster Scholar". The former starts with what kind of superhero you are and builds from there. I would have to trust to the feat selection and player intent to bring the swashbuckling. The latter statement, though, gives equal weight to both genres. In a mash-up, I think that's pretty important.

How Do I Make the Class Stick?

If I want to keep the class system, I need to give it some significant weight. First of all, let's definitely keep save bonuses and class abilities intact. We also will be adding a gear mechanic, so let's give class-based bonuses to that.

One significant way to restore some differentiation to the classes is to set the combat to use BAB again. As I was looking at "skill as attack bonus" I noticed that it wasn't really adding much. A Soldier is likely to max it out, and a Courtier is likely to ignore it. The one real advantage it had was supporting fencing schools and techniques as skill focuses. I think that will be pretty easy to replicate with class abilities and feats.

Of course, having BAB in the system calls out combat as being more important than other sorts of conflict. I really don't want that. To counter-balance it, and call out repartee as being important, I think I should add a class-based bonus for social combat. It would work the same way as BAB, but would also remove the awkward question of the differences between some of the social skills.


Yeah, I think I like that. It makes the classes unique, but doesn't overburden the system. It brings us back closer to the d20 paradigm, which I like. And, it should be relatively easy to give each class the right feel.

Always with the delays

This is something of the typical "sorry I'm not posting more" post.  I've been busy.  I've been producing output that isn't blog material.  And, you know, I'm a slacker.

There are a couple other reasons, too.  Mark Meredith, better known as the Dice Monkey, threw out a challenge on Twitter a while back to comment on at least three blog posts a day.  It is an excellent suggestion.  I've been trying hard to keep up with that.  Of course, that means that I need to keep up with a lot of blog posts.  The new RPG Blog Alliance has been helping considerably with that.  It especially helps me target blog posts that don't get a lot of traffic.  I mean, I love Rob Donoghue's stuff, but he really doesn't need my comment just to let him know he's not howling into the wilderness. 

And, I have to say, it's really important for me to get that kind of feedback.  I know that I often have lulls in my posting precisely because I don't feel like anyone is reading them anyway.  A comment, any comment, helps to alleviate that, and spur me to more posting.  The ever-amazing Will Hindmarch made the same point on Twitter just yesterday.  So, as the saying sort of goes, be the change you want to see.  If I want traffic coming in here, I ought to give other blogs the love.

On another note, I've also been profligately wasting my word count.  The aforementioned Mark is currently on something of a hiatus due to a beautiful new baby girl.  I penned a couple of blog posts for him, one on An Unusual Source of GM Tips and one on Reward Types.  So, go check those out.

And, remember people.  Comments are love.  (/pity party)

Monday, June 6, 2011

My worst GMing mistakes

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.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And a new(ish) blog is born!

Wait, what? I'm coming up fast on 50 posts, and now I do an introductory post?

7K - Check yourself before you wreck yourself

So, my last post was about how you gain skills in the system. You may also want to reference this post, where I gave a preliminary list of what the skills in the system would be.

To finish rounding out the topic, I want to talk about how to make skill checks. It's pretty straightforward, especially if you know d20. But, I do want to add in a couple more advanced types of skill checks.

7K - Slick skills

I really want the skill system to be the core driver of the system. As such, it needs to be flexible, extensible, quick, and easy. I've looked at a number of skill systems, and I at least have some pretty good ideas of what kind of model I want to go with.

7K - Strengthen the core

The first thing you need when developing an RPG, after a grand concept, is a core mechanic. That informs so many other parts of the system. It also is largely responsible for dictating how the RPG will feel in play.

7K - Derailed again

So, I know that it's been a while since I posted any 7 Kingdoms work. I haven't abandoned the project. But, I must admit that the live-blogging has taken something of a back seat. The biggest reason is simply that, as I've worked on the classes, I keep running into things that I don't like. I don't feel like I'm building a game that is in any way elegant, and that bugs me.

Well, part of the point to live-blogging was to get feedback, and give some insight into how this creative process works. It wasn't just a way to publish a free game cheaply. By retreating into my own head to work these problems out, I'm pretty much violating that point. So, I'm going to lay out some thoughts here.

7K - A touch of class

Every superhero has an origin, but he also has training. To represent what kind of training, we are going to use the class system from d20. It's pretty straightforward. When you gain a level, you can take that level in any base class. If you meet the prerequisites for an expert class (nee prestige class), you can take a level in that, too. You will gain stats, skills, and a special ability at every level. (Yes, you gain an ability at every level. There are no "dead" levels.) There are no penalties for multiclassing.

7K - Every hero has an Origin

When we discussed races, I mentioned that race has no mechanical effect on the character. It's all cosmetic. However, the race/class dynamic is pretty core to d20, and it is a good idea to preserve it. In our case, though, we have Origin instead of Race.

Superheroes have origins. That's one of the tropes of the genre. They have some X factor (in some cases, literally) that sets them apart from the rest of the population. In the Seven Kingdoms setting, there are relatively few possible origins, because I want to keep the stories fairly well focused. So, you cannot be a space alien. Also, your list of "powers" is fairly restricted. This is much closer to the use of archetypes seen in systems like Brave New World rather than the build-to-suit of Champions or Mutants & Masterminds.

Every character chooses an Origin at character creation. That Origin will give certain bonuses. Many of these bonuses will revolve around the Power skill, which is always considered a class skill. Some of these abilities require extra effort from the hero, and have a stress cost associated with them. Paying a stress cost reduces your current stress total by that amount, just as if you had suffered stress damage. However, it is not damage, and cannot be reduced or negated in any way. Also, you cannot reduce your stress below 0 with your Power, nor can you spend sanity instead of stress.

Below are thumbnail sketches of each of the Origins. In the future, I will write a full post on each one.

7K - Suddenly, derailed!


So, I've been thinking about combat, and how to make it more swashy. I want to encourage some of the standard tropes, such as witty repartee, engaging terrain, and the sudden reversal of fortunes. Standard d20 combat is not really conducive to these tropes. The hit point system is kind of a grind. The movement rules tend to encourage standing your ground, rather than ranging all over. Engaging in simultaneous physical and social combat really puts a stress on the timing system. And, of course, the emphasis on squares and positioning can turn combat into a board game, making it harder to inject flavorful role-playing.

I had an idea. I think it's a good idea. But, it's a total overhaul of the combat system, which rejiggers a huge chunk of the overall system.

Is it cool enough? Let me sketch it out, and see what you think. Comments are greatly appreciated.

7K - We haz mad skillz!

This isn't the full description of the skill system. Instead, this is a brief overview, for reference while we are discussing other elements of the system.

7K - "Respect the man of noble races other than your own."

Race, of course, is one of the first places we see a significant intersection between system and setting. So, permit me to introduce you to just a bit of the setting.

7K - Pain: The Definitive Work

I am going to use the vitality/wound system seen in the original Star Wars d20 and in Spycraft. I am going to add a parallel system for mental/emotional damage, called stress/sanity.

7K - We need stats. Stat.

So, for the three of you reading this not familiar with d20, we are starting with stats. The stats are rated from 3 to 18+, with 10 being human average and 14 being the average among heroes. There are six, and they are:

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step

In an effort to both increase my blogging and give myself incentive to actually finish a project, I am going to proceed to live blog my progress in developing a new game. Assuming that I can finish it, I will then put it together as a PDF and try and distribute it. Maybe even sell it, but I doubt it. In the process of doing this, I am very interested to get feedback as we go. Comments are love, people.

OK, some starting points. First, this is going to be d20 variant. Think of it as my own entry into the market already dominated by True20, FantasyCraft, and Pathfinder. Why am I challenging such a saturated market? The simplest reason is that d20 is the system I know best. I have done development and playtesting for it for about ten years now, plus spent quite a bit of time playing it. It is also a system that I happen to really like. Done well, it is excellent for supporting all sorts of conflicts. It has lots of moving parts that allow different characters to really engage with the system in different ways. I can balance it relatively easily. It has a relatively simple core set of mechanics that can be extended in nearly an infinite number of ways.

Second, it is going to use my Seven Kingdoms setting, that I have blogged about before. Check the list of tags on the left there if you don't believe me. However, I'm going to be tweaking what I've done just a bit. I am going to very intentionally shoot for "swashbuckling supers" as the genre mash-up here. The time period is roughly equivalent to 17th Century Europe. Rapiers and crossbows are typical weapons (there are no guns smaller than a cannon). Full plate has fallen out of style. There is a significant middle class that is coming to power. Oh, and there are a lot of pirates. I'll get into more details in a later post.

My favorite d20 implementation happens to be Classic Spycraft. If you are familiar with that, you are going to see a lot of elements in common. However, there are going to be some major departures, as well. For one thing, I really want to import Aspects from FATE. I need an overhauled system for gear (I like it to be more abstract than cash, but really dislike d20 Modern's Wealth checks, and Spycraft's system presumes you work for an organization).

What else do you need to know? What else, specifically, would you like to see?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PA - Watching the World End

(Ed. note: This is an old post, from 2008. But, given my continuing work on a post-apoc setting, I wanted to copy it over.)

So, 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.

Review - Gamma World

WotC recently released a brand new version of the venerable Gamma World game. If you played and loved the original, or the prior reboot, it totally doesn't matter. There are some call-outs in the game text for older fans, but there is no real connection.

Here is my ultra-short review: This is probably the best beer-and-pretzels RPG you will ever own. It is super easy, super quick, and yet still gives a robust play experience. It also is easy to just have gut-busting fun with it.

A Life in the Balance

Jack took his familiar's advice, and ran like hell.

The day had started out so simply, too. A bit of studying his vaisseau forms, a presentation before the Magi of the University of Feaux, and then a night of celebrating with friends. What went wrong? Ah, yes, Alexandre. Crystal blue eyes, lovely slim hips, and an uncanny knack for getting himself into the worst kinds of trouble. And Jack never could quite say no to him.

He heard the ringing of steel behind him. The bravos Alexandre's money had provided were valiantly attempting to stem the tide of undead sweeping down the corridor. Valiant, and stupid. Sinew and steel, no matter how well paid, are pointless against Acnev's abominations. As Jimen had said, running was the best course.


Desperation, Inspiration, Perspiration

I vomited all over his shoes.

Rules, rules everywhere, and not a chance to think...

I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago, in which I participated in a FantasyCraft one-shot at a local mini-con. It was a lot of fun, and I want to keep an eye out for similar events coming in the future.

One of the things I found interesting, though, was my experience with the rules. Lately, as most of you know, I have been tinkering with the Gamma World and Dresden Files RPGs. The total shift in mind-set from these games to FantasyCraft, most particularly when it comes to character creation, has been idling in the back of my head.

25 Ways to Reward Player Characters

In pretty much any campaign, it is easy to reward characters. Give them money, toys, or metagame currency (e.g., XP). The problem with these rewards is that they do nothing to draw the character further into the campaign. A rich fighter with a +4 Sword of Badassery has pretty much exactly the same story hooks as a poor fighter using a stick with a nail in it. Well, except for the "I don't want to be poor anymore" hook, but that can only take you so far. There are a huge number of rewards that you can give characters that have little or no actual mechanical advantage, but which change the shape of their interactions with the other NPCs. Those interactions hold the seeds to more and more interesting stories.

Campaign Concept - The Natives are WHAT?!?!

So, I'm still working away on the Seven Kingdoms stuff. Posting has taken something of a break as I'm working on classes and discovered that it's actually damned hard to just finish one class and then move on to the next. Once they're done, expect a flurry of posts.

In the meantime, I've had another concept pop into my head. See, I'm in a regular monthly D&D group. But, I would never GM 7K, DFRPG, or most any of the other games I'm excited about 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.

Evil Is As Evil Does

This is a bit of fiction from my 7 Kingdoms world. It gives a bit of the background of the goblin races.

The dreaded licensed setting

So, I'm getting caught up on podcasts. Again. It's a constant treadmill, for a variety of reasons. Anyway, I just listened to Fear The Boot #210 last night. 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.

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.

Spirit of the 7th Sea

Today's post is about how to use DFRPG to do 7th Sea. And I'm rambling and spitballing, so don't expect a lot of organization. I already did some of this work using SotC as a model. DFRPG opened up a couple new options, though.

Mushroom People

OK, this post has nothing at all to do with RPGs. But, it is too precious to me not to post here. This is my theory of why traffic gets so bad in the rain.

Two words: Mushroom People.

Can you RP on Twitter?

So, that's the question. It's kind of intriguing. I have no idea if it's going to work. But I'm giving it a shot.

I ran across a post on Dice Monkey ( about this TwitRPG game. It sounded intriguing. I left a comment. I'm in the game.

(Ed. note: The game lasted about a week. Turns out Twitter has a lot of noise that interferes with the flow of the game. Also, Twitter has an odd pattern of asynchronicity, in that you often post a lot of things during the couple hours you are active, then go inactive for several hours. That makes it hard to do one or two tweets, then wait for the other people to log on and respond.)

PA - Both poxes on your house

(Ed. note: Yes, this is pretty much a repeat post. I didn't 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....

What *IS* an RPG?

So, as I've mentioned here, I've 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). 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?

PA - Gear Conditions

So, one of my biggest stumbling blocks in designing my post-apoc RPG setting is gear. All the rest of it is actually relatively simple in concept, just somewhat lengthy in execution.

Here's the basic block: Gear needs to matter. Post-apoc is one of the few settings where hand-waving gear actually detracts from the feel. Scavenging for parts, babying your car because you can't find another, and fighting off desperate bandits who want your stuff are all key features of the setting. And yet, most of the solutions I've seen either fail to provide mechanical support for these features, or have a system that is over-detailed and heavy on the bookkeeping. Indeed, the solution I've been working with to date falls into the "heavy on the bookkeeping" side. I was looking at it a few weeks ago, and realized that, much like your average encumbrance system, no one would actually use it.

I had a brain-wave last night. I think I now have a tweak to the system that radically reduces the bookkeeping, while still maintaining most of the effects I want.

PA - 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.

PA - New Concept

I've made a few posts on my post-apoc setting now, but haven't really pulled the ideas together into one post. This isn't really that post, either, but it's a thumbnail sketch.

PA - Skills

With Stats must go Skills.

I'm a little torn on Skills. On the one hand, I'd kind of like to do "define your own" skills, like Unknown Armies. On the other, since I am introducing Aspects, that would severely blur the line between Aspects and Skills. Probably not a good thing.

So, here's some rough thoughts on how to do Skills.

7K - Magic of the Seven Kingdoms, Option 2

So, I did mention before that my prior post on magic was version 1. Rather typical fantasy. The second version is a bit different. The biggest difference is that it combines two genres: fantasy and superheroes. One of the big tasks to pulling off that combination is drawing a sharp distinction between magic and super powers. It should be constantly obvious to both players and characters that there is a fundamental difference, not just in execution, but in feel.

In order to really maximize that distinction, there are a few other changes that would need to be made to the setting as well. Look for those towards the end of the post.

PA - Stats

If the basic resolution is Stat and Skill based, I suppose we really need Stats, huh?

(I'm tired today, so this is going to be more streamy and less organized.)

A Maverick is Born (Part 2)

This picks up just where pt. 1 left off...

Martinique found herself back in her tiny apartment. The smell of blood was still all over her, and she vomited.

A Maverick is Born (Part 1)

Hello. My name is Racquel. I have a secret. Two secrets, actually. One belongs to my master, and one to my mistress, and I am sworn to keep them, even each from the other. It is not what you might think, though. They are not unfaithful to each other, but to the Empire. You see, they are Shardlings...

PA - How to make checks

We'll start with the basic resolution system.

PA - System Concept

Watch this space. It's likely to change. I'm free-thinking this right now.

I had a brainstorm walking the dog this morning. I really like the Edge of Midnight resolution system. I was talking to Kevin about it and his new idea for a game while I was in Seattle. I think I might want to use it for my post-apoc setting.

Except, of course, I also want to use MasterCraft. But that's a different post.

Thinking happens in 3..2..1..


This is a concept that was birthed from the "Life after People" show on The History Channel. Essentially, as our metropolises decayed, skyscrapers would become vibrant micro-ecologies. As windows shattered and fell out, dirt and seeds would find their way in, creating gardens 15 stories up. Birds would be the obvious inhabitants, but insects and rats would also dominate, living off plastics, woods, and insulation. As the joists and beams deteriorated , the whole structure would become too unsound for any large animal, and would require significant climbing ability to negotiate. The apex predator of this new ecological niche? Cats.

In my post-apoc setting, Manhattan Island was abandoned, and all the bridges blown. As water levels rose, the edges of the island became submerged under up to 6 feet of water, with skyscrapers towering above these channels. Skyscrapers ruled by cats. And, over the years, the cats had...changed.

PA - The Disease is the Cure

So, I'm 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 haven't 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 bit 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. Zombies as a disease. Sure, been done to death. But something upstairs clicks, and the mind gnomes present their collage.

The Coming Twilight

Jack sensed his faux pas even before Don Garibaldi did himself. He rose slowly to his feet while the boss worked through what had just been said. It was only two steps towards the door, but, for Jack, that was enough. By the time Garibaldi was shouting an order to his goons to grab the grifter, Jack's long legs had already taken him past them and into the storefront of the tannery. Jack thanked the ancient merlanes once again for making orks just bright enough to follow orders, but not bright enough to anticipate them.

7K - Religions

And one last post, from here.

Here we outline the major religions of the Seven Kingdoms.

7K - Miscellaneous Details

Another post, from here. We pick up some of the random bits of information about the world, namely Language, Money, and the Elements.

Magic in the Seven Kingdoms - Version One

I have been toying with a couple different options for implementing in the Seven Kingdoms campaign setting I've been working on. This is version one. It is closer to a standard load-out for fantasy magic, being reminiscent of both 3e D&D and Rolemaster. However, there are some, well, tweaks, to help it feel closer to a good cinematic magic system.

The Seven Kingdoms, a rough cut

This was originally posted in my LJ a while ago. It is not the original version of the Seven Kingdoms setting, but it is certainly an early cut. You will see it change quite a bit by the time I'm done. That is the nature of development.

Why magic in RPGs is unsatisfactory...


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.