Sunday, August 31, 2014

Talking about an Analogue Goblin-Tribe Simulator Part 2: The Set-Up (pre-beta Single-Player Version)

Let's put some meat to those potatoes (vegetables and sauce will be discussed in later posts ...). The bits and pieces of this thing are still all over the place, but some of it already works together (well, enough to talk about, anyway). The set-up is one of those parts that may help illustrating how this should work.

Setting the game up

1. Roll 4D6 on the map area of your tribe-sheet:

Still not using the final version of the tribe-sheet,
but you get my drift ...
2. The sum of the numbers rolled is the total of your tribe (in this case: 5 + 4 + 4 + 1 = 14 Goblins). The highest die shows the number of males in a tribe, the highest after that the number of females, the die after that is the number of children and the lowest is the number of "weak" (this means everything: injured, sick, starved and, is added to the number of children*). Now we have 5 Goblin males, 4 females and 5 weak (4 of them being young Goblins).

3. The number of males in a tribe is the maximum number of specialists (called Toughs from here on) a tribe can have ("imports" of other creatures being the exception). Two of those rolled dice (step 1) will represent up to two Toughs a tribe may have in the beginning (one die is one level, so a player may have either 2 Level 1 Toughs or 1 Level 2 Tough ...), the remaining two have to be assigned to a tribes achievements (to be distributed between Mining and/or Crafting and/or Discoveries, which means one achievement will have no die at all)**. The first decisions a player has to make, are in what areas his tribe should be good in (high values, in which bad (low values) and which area is the weakest (not chosen at all). Let's have some details ...

3.a. Toughs
They are a tribes Jokers, so to say. Everything that could go wrong might be solved by sacrificing a Toughs Levels***, their specialization (class, so to say) gives bonuses to different actions. There are 6 classes to choose from:
  • Grunts (Strength) - the fighters, are Joker for exploration and help damaging the Opposition.
  • Hunters (Dexterity) - the explorers, are Joker against starvation and help defending the Dungeon (active).
  • Scavengers (Constitution) - the gatherers, are Joker against destruction (active) and help with the gathering of food.
  • Saboteurs (Intelligence) - the tinkerers, are Jokers against Destruction (passive) and help defending the dungeon (passive).
  • Shamans (Wisdom) - the witch-doctors, are Jokers against Destruction (active) and help with the tribes health.
  • Leaders (Charisma) - the popular ones, are Jokers against Angry Goblins and help with the reproduction.

So the ability score a players chooses to fill will define the class of a Tough. When they Level up, an additional d6 is rolled and added to the ability score (up to 3 times). High level Toughs will have values in other ability scores, but none is allowed to be higher than the class-defining ability score****.

3.b. Achievements

Those will be the other core elements of the game, working like skills, with skill-trees that grow with a tribes level (low level Mining, for instance, will be something like changing a rooms size, higher levels will result in cooling chambers, etc.).

For now I'd go for as easy as possible as far as the mechanics are concerned, which means I'd say that there is one value for Mining and one for Crafting (working like skills, with an option to add Ability scores to special tasks, like add a Saboteurs INT to the Mining Skill when building a trap, etc.). "Discoveries" will work like the Opposition (which means, it will grow steadily, with better (as far as Achievements go, high values in the opposition will mean trouble for the tribe ...) results for high values). It's the Discoveries that produce food and everything else that might be discovered and brought back to the tribe.

3.c. Example

For this example I'd go for growth before exploration. This means I choose a Level 1 Shaman (choosing a 4 for  WIS) and a Level 1 Leader (choosing the other 4 for CHA) as my starting Toughs to keep them healthy and in line. Then I have to choose two of the 3 Achievements. More Goblins means more room, so I put the 5 on Mining to make them good at expanding their caves. The 1 I'll put into Discoveries to give them at least a small head start in gathering Nosh. With it's zero in Crafts it will be a quite primitive tribe, lacking even the simplest of tools (other than those they could steal, that is). 

4. The position of the dice on the map is circled. It's the beginning of the dungeon (the lowest rolled number indicates the exit to the surrounding Wilderness (doubles, triplets, etc. just mean more exits ...).

This is still under construction in that the numbers and the positions of the dice should do more than what I'm implying above.


The way it's shaping up right now, the single-player version will be set up with one roll of the dice, with the numbers resulting in the size and segmentation of the tribe plus the beginning of a map. There are also five important decisions a player has to make where the strengths and frailties of his tribe are, before the game can start.

It's also my take on a very light D&D variant: Classes are defined by the ability score you choose, Level is the number of dice distributed. The number of dice per ability scores is restricted (could be by race, too, something like: Giants would be allowed to put 5 dice into STR, etc.), with the leading ability score giving the highest possible value a character is allowed to have in the other ability scores and a simple system of Ability Scores are always D20 + A.S. vs. Difficulty (15 = easy; etc.) to make it all tick. The rest is D&D (combat, hp, saves, etc.).

Anyway, I hope this was able to give you all some ideas how this is supposed to work.

That's the set-up so far

Next up is some talk about Phases, Turns and Cycles and some ideas what the Opposition is and how Combat will work.

* The game will be structured in Phases, Turns and Cycles (3 Phases are one Turn, 5 Turns are a Cycle). Some weak will die with the end of every cycle, some will get active tribe-members again (roll of 2D6, highest is death toll, lowest (+ Shaman-Level) is who get's active again. The rest stay weak.
**Achievements will be a bit like skills and resources. So there will be several crafting and mining skills (the number associated with the kill show how good a tribe is in getting stuff related to a skill done), while Discoveries will show resources like water, food, etc.).
***This is about the outcome of a phase. If it turns sour, levels might be sacrificed to turn the tide. This could mean the death of all the Toughs a tribe has, but it could safe the tribe ... In a game with more players, the Toughs would be the player characters for the goblin side.
****Checks against Ability Scores are always D20 + A.S. vs. Difficulty (15 = easy; etc.).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Books are metal!

Just stumbled across this and thought I'd share ...

So true :-)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Talking about an Analogue Goblin-Tribe Simulator Pre-Beta Single-Player Version Part 1 (Basics)

What is this?

With all my talk about what a gaming system is and how it's different parts should work (here), I'd be hard pressed not to think about building something of my own design. What direction this might go was discussed in passing when I wrote about my love for the Goblin as a playable race here. It took me some time, but I collected enough ideas now to give this little board game about the rise and fall of some random goblin-tribe (because that is what it's going to be) some shape.

The basic idea behind this was to build a little game where some players manage a tribe of goblins and try to survive against a hostile environment (played by a DM). This is still the final goal, I guess, but it evolved somewhat beyond that basic premise. The second variant was a game for two players, one player is the environment, the other a tribe of goblins living in that environment. This, also, is a part of the game I want to see done. But after thinking about ways to make something like this work, I had to decide what I wanted to be possible in a game like this. So the question "How do those Goblins advance?" lead to the outlines of the little single-player against-the-board-variant of the game I want to talk about today.

You could call this a show-case for some of the ideas I've been writing about in the last two years ...

What should it do?

In an ideal world, a game like this is fun on it's own. That design goal shouldn't leave line of sight, like, ever. But the whole premise being about role-playing games in general and D&D in particular, it would be very nice (and advisable, I guess) to have some synergy effects that make it easy to use the results in The Game. So what could a DM need in a game? A Dungeon with traps and some ecology, that's a given. Some idea of the surroundings, like food sources, dangerous areas, settlements of non-goblins or other tribes would be nice, too. And of course you'd have the tribe itself, with all the necessary variants (the warriors, the women, the sick and the children, etc.) and their possessions in names and numbers that evolve randomly and in a fun way.

Easy to build, easy to access, fun on it's own and easy to convert should be high priorities.

How could it be done?

The main game will be played on a hybrid between a board and a character sheet that collects all data in an easy-to-access way, but is flexible enough to leave room for the game and advancements:

This might give you an idea for the structure I had in mind, not necessarily for the look.

Some explanations (clockwise, starting in the upper left corner):
  • Ye olde Tribe Name - Exactly that.
  • Phase 1 to Phase 3 - Core Actions of the game in which a player decides what needs to be done and what priority is given to a task (basically: gathering/creating/opposition).
  • Breeding - Will give indications how many goblins are "in the works", how many children there are, etc..
  • Mining - Building/Expanding Tunnels, Traps and Rooms, Features, etc. (based on "Noggin", which means tribe experience).
  • Crafting - Weapons, clothes, carpentry, etc. (also based on "Noggin").
  • Aggressive <-> Happy-scale - Indicator how well of your tribe is, both extremes will have implications (to happy will mean lots and lots of fornication, with nothing else getting done, too aggressive might mean they get rebellious and do stupid things ...).
  • Noggin - The tribe's experience.
  • Nosh - Indicates the amount of food with a distinction between available food and stored food (hungry Goblins are a bad thing ...).
  • Toughs - Champions of the Goblin Tribe, with a class, level and hp (there are all kinds of toughs, from goblin shamans to ogres).
  • Population - Number of Goblins in the tribe (will give indications of territory and space they need and a threshold before another goblin tribe splits off ...).
  • Discoveries - Features and gathered intelligence of their surroundings (villages/creatures/places/etc.).
  • Tribe chronicles - Important events in the tribe's history.
  • Map (center) - Opposition Countdown shows how the environment reacts to the goblins, Legend gives explanations for the map, AC and Saves are a tribes defenses.

That's the basics as far as I deem them necessary to get a grasp of what I'm aiming for here. How all this is supposed to interact and work, where I am right now in getting there and what is still missing will be in Part 2 (I hope I'll get this done this week ...). I hope I'll be able to put a beta-version up until end of September (the latest ...). Sorry for the lack of art and fluff ...

Any opinions so far?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Disoriented Ranger getting lost on g+ ...

So I decided to go a bit more public and connect my blog with my g+ account. Never thought it would happen, but there you go. I'm available now. Let me share my first name with you: my name is Jens, which is the Scandinavian equivalent to John (JD is still fine, I guess). Now we all can be online friends! Not that I have the faintest idea how this is working ... I'd be happy about every tip how to navigate g+, which communities to join, etc.. Please feel free to enlighten me in the comments section below (I won't switch to g+ comments, because I don't like the exclusivity, or, better yet, exclusion, they produce ... that much I know already).

And add me to your circles if you like. Let's see how this goes ..

Monday, August 18, 2014

200 posts!! (well, plus this one, I guess)

It took me a while, but somehow I managed to write 201 posts in this endeavor to discover what D&D means for me. I've started things that still wait for completion and I'm rather proud about other things. Please indulge me, if you're so inclined, while I look back a bit and see what's what. I might get a bit emotional.

To say this upfront: I'm still not ashamed.

Good times!

Let's start with something positive. I love the OSR. It's so full of nice and smart people and I can't tell how many times the lot of you made my day one way or another. As of yet, I had no trolls on this blog to speak of, but a lot of nice and productive comments. It made blogging in these waters a very comforting experience and I'm aware of the fact that I'm rather lucky in this.

And I won't forget my followers. No matter if you went public as a member or bookmarked the feed, if you are online or offline, if you remember every once in a while that my blog exists and check what I'm up to or even (and this I'd really like to know ..) used some of my ideas in your game: thank you for the support! As far as I can say this about folks I don't know, you're all good people and I'm glad I started this and had a chance to get to know you as much as I did.


I know I'm still far away from being casual about nearly everything regarding this game. I try to believe I'm getting better in understanding what I want to do with it and expressing those ideas, but every now and then I'm still struck by the immense scope that D&D can be. It's just amazing what can be discovered and what can be done and it's been an delightful thing to get there post by post and share it with everyone interested enough to tack along. I'm far from finished (even though I'm a bit slow right now in getting stuff out there).

I believe blogging about our hobby is a wonderful and rewarding way to discover it and get better at almost everything regarding it except the deed itself. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat.

What I'm proud of ...

I try to avoid ranting about others. At least online. I believe it's bad taste and really doesn't help anybody in the long run. If you want to convince someone of something, give him an example to learn your way of seeing things. Because it always needs the will to understand and communicate and compromise to really get another point of view. Those not willing to do so are lost causes anyway, so why bother and attack them?

That being said, I did so one time. I'm still not quite sure why I bothered at the time and I tried being not to harsh about it and produce something beyond articulating my dislike. I'm talking about The DungeonPunk Counter-Manifesto. The guys over at the Sword & Backpack tumblr where mighty cool about it, even went as far as recommending the result (kudos for that, really). This is a good opportunity to say that, although I really didn't like that they used the term Dungeonpunk the way they did right there (give this thing another label and it's good to go, as far as I'm concerned ...), I'd like to point out that there is still a lot of good stuff shared to discover. Like this, for instance. So you might as well go and check it out!

The Counter-Manifesto has its own home on my blog for a very good reason: I never came as close to describing what I'd like to evoke in a game of D&D as I got with this (if you like to add something, please do so here). I'm thankful for that.

I made a patron god for this blog and it's an inside joke that I believe got missed by most (I thought it was funny, if a bit misguided ... hehe). I'm talking about Feloren, Astrayed Patron of the Lost and The Idol of Misdirection, one of my entries for the Petty Gods Community Project.

But other than being a play on the Disoriented Ranger, it's also the first (and only, so far) of my ideas that got illustrated and that makes me very happy:

Art by Rom Brown. I'm loving it!
Greg over at Gorgonmilk seems to have a lot on his plate right now, but I'm still looking forward to get his take on the Petty Gods into my hands. It's going to happen, I'm sure of it!

Three ideas I posted about are also on the list of things I'm rather happy with. They all made the game work a bit better for me.

The first is my take on aimed hits in D&D, which resulted in another idea about guns in D&D. The idea was to make fast and easy to remember rules that result in something that is relevant at every level and against every monster. It's up to the reader to decide the degree in which I succeeded with this, but so far it works very well in our game.

The third idea I'm fond of is a decryption of what armor in D&D is and an attempt to open up some perspectives what armor could also mean. Among other things, it allows for quick assertions what Armor Class random parts of equipment might have, making a complete random approach to armor possible, without dismissing compatibility to the original system. Here are part 1 and part 2.

There might be some more, but I always wanted to create an opportunity to repost those three ...

I know, those are small accomplishments (if you'd like to call it that), but I'm just an enthusiast expecting nothing from this and it really means something to me that I got this far. So there you are.

Posts people liked.

Often enough, posts I think will get some attention, won't, and others get way more than anticipated. Here is a short list and some words about it.

Blogger is a bit iffy about the real numbers, but that's what I got to work with (and nothing to write home about, all in all).

Where to go from there (I'm announcing something!)?

There is still a lot to do. With the time I've got right now, everything will develop far slower than I'd like it to. But I'm just one good weekend away from finishing a beta version of a little game I've been working on for the last few weeks now:
The Analogue Goblin-tribe Simulator 
(Single Player Version 0.1)
Playing this little d&d-based-but-system-agnostic board game will result in a completely random goblin-tribe, with treasure, allies, goblin heroes, surroundings like lairs of other creature, villages to steal from and a map of where the goblins live (or died trying ...) and will feature an active opposition, some tunneling and trap building, exploration, more tunneling and some recreational reproduction. They get hungry if you don't feed them, fornicate too much if they are too happy and will be a general nuisance for everyone living close enough to be a victim. That's what I'm aiming for, at least.

But it's really on a good way. I got most of the rules, they just need to be calibrated. I also got a layout for the board and all that is missing are some tables for all that random goodness (which will be a lot of work, I guess). Nonetheless, it's going to happen. So stay tuned ...

As soon as it's done and running, I'll tackle a 2 player version and group play and ... I'm a bit excited about this, as it is going to be my first self-published game. I'm serious about it, this is going to happen!

Other than that, business as usual. I write if I got the time and the brain left to do so. There are some words about system balance and player skill bouncing in my head and something about the relationship between the natural and the artificial as we use it in our games and what it might tell about us. Every now and then I'll tackle some loose threats (like The Cleric, The Settlement or the Noircana) or write a review (Violence - the RPG is due, but I also read some indie-rpgs and really loved some of it ...). Stuff like that. All in good time.

So thank you all for reading my blog! I'll be around a bit longer, I guess.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weird Movie Sunday: Tusk

I didn't know about this and thought I'd share ...

So Jay and Silent Bob watch an old Cronenberg movie and decide to make their own body horror flick. Well, maybe that's not fair. As internet-lore goes, Kevin Smith saw an entry on Craigslist (or some such thing) about a guy looking for others to dress as animals for him and Smith took this as an idea for a movie that goes way beyond that premise: it's about a guy that tries to transform another human being into a ... walrus (of all things). Because they are better people.

Here is the trailer and it's the weirdest thing I've seen in a loooong while:

I mean, that's just an extraordinary display of madness with a humor that makes you choke on your laughter. It's that profound fear that somebody might try to alter your body that irreversibly destroys how you want to be perceived by others and thus threatens your sanity. I'm aware that this is what body horror is all about, but ... you know, I can't really put my finger on it. The thing made me uncomfortable (in a good way) and I'm really not squeamish. Maybe it's how the madness of this guy is rationalized, maybe it's the glimpse of a normal life that shows the main protagonist in the beginning (something Kevin Smith is very able to make work, I might add) and the true horror in the eyes of his girlfriend later on (since Red State, I know he is willing to go there ...).

I'm not saying this will be a good movie, but judging by the trailer it very well has the potential to be. So I'm going to bookmark this and will see it as soon as it hits the screens. If you're a fan of Smith's work or of the weird, maybe you'll do the same and we'll talk about it later.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Way of the DM (Random Ramblings About Game Design, Sandboxes, Gary Gygax and the OSR)

DisclaimerThis is not the ultimate truth (as if something like this could exist without suffocating), but only my take at several ideas floating around our little corner of the woods. As always, I might be on the wrong track, hoping that the wrong way might lead to some interesting conclusions, too. This being an exorcism of ideas, it's bound to be a bit incoherent, but maybe readers'll find some interesting bits and pieces ...

I'd like to challenge your perception of what a (sandbox-)campaign/world-engine really is ...

Why? Because mine was challenged by testing the ideas that echo through the OSR blog-o-sphere like hungry ghosts of a past that never was. But let's start at the beginning.

The game, the rules, the preparation and the result.

At the very beginning is the idea of what a roleplaying game is. At it's very core it's an attempt to simulate skirmish scenarios with individual characters instead of units, that led to adding aspects of exploration and social interaction as part of the game. This is the first stage.

How to implement something like this introduced several sets of rules that resulted in D&D as a first remarkable (and recognizable, I guess) peak, but never stopped developing alternatives. This plethora of game-options (be it genre, theme, rules, flavor, hybrids of those things, etc.) is the second stage.

Either which of those options is our first encounter with this hobby defines how we prepare the game in the beginning and, to a certain degree, how we grow with it. This investment in the hobby allows for different levels of  commitment, which, again, results in an even wider array of interpretations of what the game is. This I'd like to call the third stage.

Now it's the level of commitment that might let a hobbyist go full circle by questioning the rules he is using and starts making his own, ending, in it's extremest form, back at that first question: what is a roleplaying game? The resulting process might lead to a full (individual) understanding of all aspects of a game and an opinion of how those options should be interpreted via rules, adding to the abundance of rules in the second stage. 

Eventually the own result might be challenged, closing a circle, starting another one ...

A Zen Circle (Public Domain)
You get the idea. Where we are in our understanding of the game and how we recognize that standing will inform our opinions about the hobby. As with all things, no opinion mirrors another, but there's most of the time enough overlap to communicate those interpretations and form alliances of consensus (like the OSR).

The Result And The Right Questions

One iteration of the above described stages is the public (online) part of the DIY-movement: a huge variety of small publisher's, presenting their ideas online (for a price or not). If it has legs, it will get an audience and, even better yet, will find some use. How is this important? Other than giving a creator the chance to see if he is on the right way, it allows access to the diversity of aspects the game has to offer. It's like the collective conscious is chewing all those ideas, spitting out results every once in a while, ever searching for a new and better interpretation.

This is of course a good thing (and what I described as the second stage). But it's way more important for a DM to realize that he has to make the game his own. It's something most product won't deny but will merely suggest, neglecting to show what this really means: a DM should design his own game!

There is no sandbox without the OSR ...

I mulled this over and over, always following some bread crumbs that ended at the wrong destination or lead to more questions  (as it should be, I guess). At some point the following occurred to me: depending on your point of entry in the stages described above, several aspects of the game are already done for you. The rest is what generally is perceived as either fair game for a DM to develop himself or something that might be completed with some supplement or another.

This gets problematic where the already established parts and the parts missing are never really defined, leading not only to discussions of what is missing and lacking, but also (often enough) to the wrong conclusions about what should be done about it.

Feats in 3E might be a good example for this ...

Again, even further back to the basics. The original D&D rules were never assumed to be complete and a DM was encouraged to make his own game out of the guidelines presented in the first books. At the time, Fantasy was just assumed to be the default setting, but everything else proposed as a possible follow up in future campaigns. Here are some quotes from the third print of the 1974 edition of D&D:
"These rules are as complete as possible within the limitations imposed by the space of three booklets. That is, they cover the major aspects of fantasy campaigns but still remain flexible. As with any other set of miniatures rules they are guidelines to follow in designing your own fantastic-medieval campaign. They provide the framework around which you will build a game of simplicity or tremendous complexity ..." (OD&D, Men & Magic, Introduction, p. 4)
"With the various equippage listed in the following section DUNGEONS and DRAGONS will provide a basically complete, nearly endless campaign of all levels of fantastic-medieval wargame play. Actually, the scope need not be restricted to the medieval; it can stretch from the prehistoric to the imagined future, but such expansion is recommended only at such time as the possibilities in the medieval aspect have been thoroughly explored." (OD&D, Men & Magic, Scope, p. 5)
So every decision in the game starts with the reflection of what is proposed and the addition of what a DM might want/need in his campaign. The sky is the limit and all that. Here are the closing words from the OD&D Underworld and Wilderness book:
"There are unquestionably areas which have been glossed over. While we deeply regret the necessity, space requires that we put in the essentials only, and the trimming will oftimes have to be added by the referee and his players. We have attempted to furnish an ample framework, and building should be both easy and fun. In this light, we urge you to refrain from writing for rule interpretations or the like unless you are absolutely at a loss, for everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it just that way! On the other hand, we are not loath to answer your questions, but why have us do any more of your imagining for you? Write to us and tell about your additions, ideas, and what have you. We could always do with a bit of improvement in our refereeing." (OD&D, Underworld & Wilderness, Afterward, p. 36)
Arduin and Empire of the Petal Throne are prime examples of early attempts to do just that (but really every published role playing game that followed was written in that spirit). They all started from scratch and went on from there.

Internet, desktop publishing and the OGL finally brought (among others) the OSR to live and with it a very specific access to the hobby. As I understand it, the OSR discusses all role playing games as potential material to loot for all DMs. This includes that a DM is encouraged to build his own game from all the parts available or completely new. It's not so much about creating simple or complex rules, it's about offering a hub to exchange ideas to help producing a diversity of games that are all more or less D&D as outlined above (that means, an interpretation of the first stage, not a brand).

Everything is fair game in the OSR ...

To build a roleplaying game from the very beginning, one does not assume a specific setting or genre or set of rules. Sure, you can just take what's there and be done with either or all aspects of the game, you might even take D&D as a default and go from there, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about conscious and informed decisions to produce systems that, to some degree, produce reliable and repeatable results of a general nature (weather is an easy one, random histories or cultures would be far more complex).

Now, one interesting effect of this was that some very old ideas got new impulses. Two of those are the megadungeon and the sandbox.

It turned out that how to develop rules for either of those goes far into uncharted territory, because it touches on very underdeveloped areas regarding a DMs work. And this is not about inventing some kingdoms and politics, but (as far as I'm concerned) about finding some underlying patterns and randomize them in a way that produces a set of rules that work like an engine to produce coherent random settings without much effort.

In other words: the structure we assume to be the starting point for creating our own stuff within what we know as D&D, is actually several steps ahead in the process. Sure, you can take a random hexcrawl and make it work, you might even do your own from scratch and it's good to go. Nothing wrong with that.

But there are, for instance, several rules still active in D&D that are relics from the war-gaming heritage of the game, like Movement Rates and Alignments (to give but two examples) and ability scores are way to fixated on a human range instead of making fair estimations for every creature (like giants, dragons,etc.) easy to access (as it should be). NPCs are a big problem, as in you just can't have the same effort and depth as a character has. The list goes on and it all leads back to sandboxes/world engines/etc..

Where now, in my opinion, is the problem with sandboxes?

So what's really lacking is a game in the game, a part of the rules that are only for the DM, an analogue world-engine, that, when started, will first create and then shift power balances, alliances (and in general builds some surroundings that the DM didn't tamper with) as a starting point to build on.

I'm not saying this is an easy task, I'm not even saying it is possible (although I've seen it done with Vornheim). All I'm saying is: question what is being done and ask yourselves what could be done instead. Build your game from the very beginning. Let cities evolve, kingdoms rise and fall, all that good stuff. And then propose it as a campaign and start playing.

Because that is the thing to do. It's the Way of the DM.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

See this video (Steampunk Inspiration Attempt ...)!

It's always nice to see skilled people do extraordinary things, so here, if you guys haven't seen this already, is a video of two cellists shocking a baroque crowd with their version of AC/DC's Thunderstruck:

Enjoy! Use it in the next steampunk game of your choice ...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My 2 Cents about 5E

There's a lot of noise right now about the 5th edition of D&D. Some like it, some don't. The usual. What made me write this were some concerns I read somewhere about how the OSR and small publishers will be affected by this, now that the Coast Wizards are embracing older editions of their game and all that.

Yeah. Well. It shouldn't have that much of an impact, in my opinion. Why? Because it's not about the product. Never was, really. As soon as a DM buys/downloads/whatever some rulebook or another with the intention to use it, he will (has to?) make it his own. And if I look at my blog roll, I see it's happening already. People are posting their first house rules and ideas.

What I'm trying to say here is, there is nothing to worry. If anything, I believe the OSR is still ahead of the curve in that it's full of people that read, write, create and search to build their own holy grail of a "perfect" game.

This fifth edition is just another map to get there, so to say. Because buying a game doesn't make you understand it. Making it your own will.

The fact that 5E easily connects with older editions (and clones, at that) just helps getting more people searching for an answer what this game means to them and how they might use it. And that's a good thing. But the people are what D&D makes work, not a product. A DM recruiting new players gets new folks interested and involved for a long time, not some marketing scheme that will tell you the opposite at the very next opportunity.

So 5E is the New Shiny right now, but shouldn't be seen (or promoted) as the New Standard. It's just another doorless door for those questing for a better game.

My 2 cents, anyway.

Also: in no time we will have buzz about 6E ...