Monday, February 27, 2012

Reverb #6: My Favorite Character

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #6: Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about
him/her/it that you enjoyed so much?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet of Arachnid Control

At first blush, this seems like an over-specialized item with little practical application. However, it is important to note that it comes from the Spelljammer campaign setting. The setting prominently features neogi, a villainous race noted for being intelligent, powerfully magical, and arachnids. They, and their enormous spidery ships, are subject to the power of this amulet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet of Amiability

I must say, I am quite happy with the range of items we are getting right off the bat here. Today, we get our first cursed item! Though, quite honestly, I'm pretty sure this one was not thought of as a cursed item by its creator.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reverb #5: Kids at Play

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #5: Have you ever introduced a child to gaming, or played a game with a
young person? How is gaming with kids different than gaming with adults?

Friday, February 17, 2012

How do you spell?

Magic is a ludicrously tricky topic in RPGs. I've talked about it here before. (Actually, due to some strangeness, I've actually talked about it twice.) I also presented a couple options for my Seven Kingdoms setting, version one and version two, which attempted to mitigate some of the issues I'd brought up previously.

I'm looking at the magic system for my Charovnye d20 game, and I want to make the system evocative but still simple. But, wow, is that difficult.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet Against Disease

This is a nifty little item, that is both obvious and traditional. Various charms of protection are one of the most common applications of magic, right up there with luck and fertility. In a world with little in the way of proper medical treatment, an amulet against disease is the closest thing you have to vaccination.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet Against Crystal Balls and ESP

To me, this is a standard book item. It comes from the D&D Expert set, which is where I learned to play. Seeing it included here was a little jarring the first time. But, it was in fact not included in this form in AD&D. Of course, most AD&D players are more familiar with its big brother, the amulet of proof against detection and location.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reverb #4: Gamer Shame

The next installment of our weekly Reverb Gamers questionnaire deals with gamer shame.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #4: Are you a "closet gamer?" Have you ever hidden the fact that you're a
gamer from your co-workers, friends, family, or significant other? Why or why not? How did they react
if they found out?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Can I battle innumeracy?

For my d20 variant (and likely for Seven Kingdoms as well, with significant tweaks) I am working on a gear system. I came up with it a couple years ago, when working on my d20 Rifts conversion. A brief outline is below.

My problem, though, is that it is based on some "advanced" arithmetic. I can do this stuff reflexively, but I was a math major. Apparently, people really freak out when asked to do anything more complex that adding. Do you think this is too hard?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet of the Abyss

Get used to seeing "amulet" in the title. This begins a long section of neck baubles. We definitely start with a bang. Because who doesn't want a combination cell phone/multipass to the Abyss?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Al-Azid's Ghostly Palace

I love this type of magic item. In the spirit of Daern's Instant Fortress, Leomund's Secure Shelter, and Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, the party is able to carry instant comfy camping wherever they go. The ghostly palace, though, comes with an Arabian flavor, and a nasty twist.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Aligning expectations

I saw the image below (check out the original post on GAS), and I was struck by a bug to do a series of posts on alignment. Specifically, digging into what behaviors I expect out of each of the classic nine D&D alignments. I have to say that of all the breakdown examples of alignment I've seen, this one is really good.

Reverb # 3: What kind of gamer are you?

I'm doing a weekly series in which I am answering Atlas Games' Reverb Gamers 2012 Master List of questions. You can find #1 here and #2 here.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #3: What kind of gamer are you? Rules Lawyer, Munchkin/Power Gamer,
Lurker, Storyteller/Method Actor, or something else? (Search "types of gamer" for more ideas!) How
does this affect the kinds of games you play? For example, maybe you prefer crunchy rules-heavy
systems to more theatrical rules-light ones.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Social chase mechanics

Last week, I started to dive into some thoughts on creating a social combat mechanic. Combat seemed like a good place to start, because it is an iconic type of conflict. We definitely ran into some problems, though. Combat sees a give and take, with the roles of attacker and defender shifting each round. Social encounters typically have the attacker (we were using the term "bidder") and defender ("mark") determined at the encounter level instead of the action level. Also, combat typically only ends when one side is either dead, or sees death as his only alternative to surrender. Social conflict should have easier thresholds for "tapping out."

There is another classic conflict mechanic that might address these issues. When you have a chase, you have a relatively constant predator and prey. You can also have the chase decided by fatigue, in which one side or the other simply decides it's not worth the fight anymore. That sounds pretty close to what we are looking for as a model.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Air Spores

Oh, my! (I know you just read in George Takei's voice.) We have an item that is actually useful. And not just useful, but pretty darn interesting.

And it is an excuse to trot out one of my favorite Latin phrases: Dum spiro, spero.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Take 20: Creating a constrained setting

Over at the excellent They Might Be Gazebos blog, a challenge was thrown down. Create a sandbox setting based solely on twenty monsters. I think this is a pretty awesome idea. I like the idea of constraints spawning creativity. I think a setting with only twenty common monsters would likely hold together somewhat better than one with everybody in the book. And, it would help to strongly reinforce character build decisions like a ranger's favored enemy.

So, here's my list of 20. I'm going with the d20srd list, for simplicity's sake.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: The Acorn of Wo Mai

This project is actually off to a pretty good start. We have had an item that doesn't make sense, and an item that is highly setting specific. Today, we get another classic entry: an artifact.

Honestly, I've never liked artifacts in D&D. The biggest reason is that they come with random powers. That always felt...wrong. I think I understand the reasoning. You don't want players being able to rattle off the stats of items that should be iconic and mythical. But, in truth, the random powers feel less iconic and mythical than easily quoted stats would be. Still, some of the artifacts have a tremendous amount of flavor to them, and this one is no exception.

Monday, January 30, 2012

System Wank: A Wealth of Options

Over at Kaijuville, Kaiju made a great post comparing a couple of different systems for tracking money in RPGs. (He just posted part 2 as well.) This is a topic near and dear to my heart, because I have been struggling with it for a couple of years.

To expand on his comparison, I'm going to present a couple other systems I like. Spycraft was forced to use something more abstract than just cash, because of how requisitioning gear for missions from your employer would work. Following up on that, the guys over at Crafty Games came up with a different abstract system for FantasyCraft.

Reverb #2: Why?!?

This is the second in the Reverb Gamers questionnaire. The first question and answer was here.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #2: What is it about gaming that you enjoy the most? Why do you game? Is
it the adrenaline rush, the social aspect, or something else?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Social combat mechanics

I am continuing to tinker with game design. I have to come to several conclusions recently. First, I want to do a fantasy heartbreaker, just to get it out of my system. And, specifically, I want to use as a test bed where I can get everything wrong without really regretting it. To that end, I am not using my 7 Kingdoms setting as that fantasy heartbreaker. I really love 7 Kingdoms, and would regret defiling it with a terrible system. Also, I have determined that d20 is really the wrong system for swashbuckling supers, but it is a great system for a heartbreaker.

My new game is set in a world I'm calling Charovnye. It is going to use the d20 system, but one that will bear little resemblance to standard D&D. The setting is your basic late medieval/early Renaissance culture, with a feel that ranges from high fantasy to dark fantasy (but really never low fantasy) depending on where you are and who you interact with. I have an Obsidian Portal page set up, but all the information on there is still very much in flux.

What I want to discuss today is the concept of social combat. I really, really want a system to be present that allows for some level of diplomancy. However, it needs to strongly avoid both the simple binary success/failure of a single roll and the heavy level of mind control that is seen in many current d20 rule sets. How can we do this?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Accelerator

Today we deal with one of the artifacts from the wild and woolly space of Spelljammer. As with most things from the Phlogiston, it's weird, not appropriate to most campaigns, and chock full of information that only makes sense if you know the setting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Problem with Demons

I ran across a blog post today that was basically a pitch for a new game idea. I am not going to link to it, because part of this post is about why the pitch turned me off so much, and my dislike is not entirely fair.

The part of the pitch that immediately turned me off had to do with an invasion of the world by slavering, evil, sanity-bending demons from beyond time and space. (I'm paraphrasing, not quoting.) And my immediate reaction was, "Been there, done that." Why?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: A Project

There are a number of things in this world that I love. One of them is awesome magic items. Another is the awesome Monstrous Manual project done by noisms. I have decided to combine these two things.

I have the Encyclopedia Magica. This was one of the swan song projects at the end of the life of AD&D 2e. It purported to collect every magic item from every TSR publication, including sourcebooks, setting books, Dragon articles, and even modules. It is a staggering cornucopia of the amazing, the bizarre, the wondrous, and the downright silly.

The project? Go through the whole thing, all four volumes, and do a post on each item. What it is, ideas on how to use it as a player, ideas on how to use it as a DM, and assorted related wackiness. As a side note, I'd like to eventually get to the point where I can even out the gold piece rating of the items, so that a DM can simply hand her players the books and a budget and let them go crazy. (We did this once for a high-level campaign. One of the players quickly found a bracelet of three wishes valued at 300 gp. We had to abandon that notion.)

We will begin with one of the true classics of any fantasy campaign...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reverb #1: So it began

You've probably seen other people doing the Atlas Games Reverb Gamers thing. If not, well, follow along anyway. It's basically a list of questions to spark discussion and stuff. I will be doing one a week for the rest of the year, so as not to saturate this blog by just going straight through.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #1: What was your first roleplaying experience? Who introduced you to it?
How did that introduction shape the gamer you've become?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gamma-rized Redux

So, there is one RPG that I've been wanting to get for a while: Gamma World. Two things have been standing in my way. First, it isn't available in PDF (and, honestly, wouldn't work in PDF), which makes it awkward. Second, the $40 price tag is just beyond my "pocket money" limit, and I've had other things to spend that kind of money on lately.

This past weekend, I finally had a bit of extra cash (thank you Xmas bonus!) and a trip to the FLGS (Victory Comics, for the record). So I picked it up, and have been reading it. Time for a bit of review.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Followed by a new age: a Dragon Age!

This past weekend, I got to play the Dragon Age RPG for the first time. I thought I'd give it a review.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A new edition, a new start...

If you are reading this, I must assume that you already know that Wizards of the Coast has announced the release of a new edition/iteration of D&D. If you do not, go to The Escapist and get caught up.