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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Lamenting my relationship with Kick Starter.


Once it's done.
This is not about bad kick-starters or failed kick-starters, I have never been burned on a kick-starter project. Not that I remember.
Failed Kick Starters and the fear of being a failed kick starter I covered way back here on Nov 15 of 2013.

Kick Starter I do love thee, conceptually.
I want to back all of the  things. I want to give money to the people in my G+ groups who are making fantastic things.
I want to buy work, even before it's completed..
Still I don't back much.
I want to love kick starter.
But I can't.

The reasons are two primary weaknesses in my own character.
I'm inpatient, and I am forgetful.

I received a package yesterday that contained two sprues of minis from a Kick-starter I (actualy my wife for me) backed before  Christmas 2013. I can't work that way, I don't have a clue what that sprue of parts is for. Was this an add on level? an extra? why are there rules in this package for a whole different game line? What's going on?
Then there's my inpatient side. Usually I get really fired up about a kick starter and by the time I get a physical thing, I've simply lost the desire to play it.

So here is my  oath.
Even though I love every thing Kickstarter represents.
In an effort to keep my front door from being visited by  packages that I don't remember ordering, with game items that I don't remember wanting. I'm going to avoid backing kick-starters.
(Honestly I have only backed two or three. I have been sorely tempted on many.)
If you are in my G+ groups and making games It's not personal if I don't back your kick starter, I'll buy it when it's done.

Thank you for reading.
questions and comments can be left if the empty coffer below.

Friday, January 23, 2015

100 thoughts & observations on RPG's, The RPG Community, and other musings.


Here are 100 random thoughts on RPG's The industry of RPG's and a whole bunch of other stuff.
As if anyone asked ...no-one did.

I know it's excessive..
No explanations for these. They are just statements written as I thought them. 
There will be a wagon load of links to things I find interesting in this post, please use them.
Go to the comment section to discuss accordingly.
(BONUS: Can also be used as a handy D100 "Why is Mark an A-hole" chart!)
There will be no secrets after this  Alice.
Tl;DR

  1. $4,402,267 this is Hasbro's 2013 year end total assets as shown in their 2013 year end statement found here 
  2. Q3 2014 report states 243 million net income for  Hasbro. Also found here.
  3. Out of both documents Magic The Gathering is mentioned once and shown pictorially twice.  Dungeons and dragons in not mentioned at all that I could find in my quick view CTRL-F. Nerf guns, ponies, transformer movies, comics movies in general, and a working relationship with Disney involving Frozen understandably get way more play. Not sure why this matters to me, take from it what you  want. (Hey Wizards hurry up and make some cool stuff. The boss aint looking.)
  4. Old school games, Indy games, and story games, are all games we should stop acting like they are more than games.
  5. Self publishing has gone form cottage industry to industry industry in the past 5 years. This is good and bad. This article is from 2013 but still relevant.
  6. I am ignorant of what goes into actual game development, the  more I learn the less I seem to know. 
  7. I have not used anything but the basic players rules PDF for developing and playing my 5th  edition fighter. I own the  players handbook and have only opened it twice. What does this say  about 5th Ed? Here is a direct link to the PDF (Warning this will start downloading said PDF)
  8. On a similar note the  last time I touched my 5th ed GM's hand book was when I wrote this.
    I have not  touched it since. Not sure what this means in terms of the game. Is 5th ed so accessible and easy that I don't need the books? Am I getting more closed minded as I get older and really don't have the  patients for rules reading? Is just not that good? 
  9. With all the great blogs out there. (Charles Akins lists many of them in his "Great Blog Roll Call.")  Why  hasn't anyone communicated with some of these talented blog authors and started compiling the good articles into a "blog-zine" for sale on lulu or something? 72 pages of game ready material. With all the stuff on the net a motivated person could  put out one issue a month. It's a good idea that I could never pull off, but there are better people out there more suited to it than I am .
  10. In fact why don't bloggers work together more often? I did a post with three guest writers once and it was great.
  11. I think the arguments about sexism and the projection of racial stereotypes into role playing games are bunk. Considering the GM and Players have 100% control over the content of their games, I will be hard pressed to change that opinion. 
    Read this Blog it's exceptional, and  has a well stated opinion on this issue that is the opposite of mine. And here is another, this time about sexism, and while I'm at it here s yet another Post on the topic..
  12. Current RPG "Zines" are better than Dragon was especially at the end when dragon magazine got all sad and uninspiring. Here is a list of some of them. Another link, to the  RPG Zines Google Plus community.  Do people still use the term "zine." Am I dating myself?
  13. Most of Frank Zappa's discography is in some way game-able, "Civilization Phase III" more so than average.
  14. Sometimes when I whine about a game system, I'm just being a dick because I didn't think of  it first. Truth.
  15. I think this whole community would be better served if the idea, "Simply because I don't like something  does not mean it is the suck,"  were to become more prevalent. For example I don't much care for or about D&D 4th edition. That does not mean it's a bad game. In-fact it's quite the opposite, its a great game that's not to my taste. How hard is that?
  16. The internet lets people record, break down, and obsessively examine anything. Sometimes things just are what they are.
  17. I would say the balance between  "I want to play a role playing game" Vs "I just want to enjoy time with my friends regardless of what we're doing," Has hit about 30 - 70.
  18. Why is Nathan D. Paoletta the only person out there taking a serious shot at a wrestling game? It seems like a slam dunk for role playing. ..1..2..3.. I backed that sucker and I'm looking forward to it...OHHH YEAHHH!
  19. Some Day I will write an "Are You Being Served?" Role playing game and you will all hate it...until the Black Adder expansion, then you will all come back. All kidding aside, why not character driven comedy in an RPG? Not Paranoia gonzo stuff, but more like Fawlty Towers. Doing that kind of  humor and dialog on the fly would be damn challenging right?  Or even stage it like a caper as in "A Fish Called Wanda?" Oh yeah  never mind, not Metal Enough. Everything has to be Metal as fuck or it isn't worth anyone's time. 
  20. Frog God Games makes some awesome stuff. Nuff said.
  21. One of the best places I know to find RPG source books is the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. "Harper's Past Worlds Atlas of Archaeology" Got it dead cheap and it's full of useful info and great images, Hogarth the complete engravings, yeah like five bucks hard cover, full of images that are just great. Chancellor Press "World Atlas of Architecture?" yes please. A book on Chinese full of kick ass landscapes and demons, sure I'll take that for 7 bucks.. and so on. 
  22. Players have this tendency to think their characters should be bad ass, because they imagine them as bad ass. In fact they expect the characters to be bad ass. I wonder how much of that thinking informs games like D&D 4th edition, Dungeon World and Numenera in which the characters start out pretty bad ass and just get more so form there on. It makes games like   Basic D&D or DCC in which the characters start weaker or watered down harder to sell to some players. Is this actually a mechanics difference or an aesthetics difference? Both? Why is it that in my experience the more recent the game the powerful the starting characters?
  23. As a GM I  improvise allot of stuff, which makes it hard to use traps without feeling like I am punishing the players. It's one thing to stumble on a trap it's another thing for me to just decide this particular door is trapped. How do I fix that? 
    I roll 1d10 when ever a character comes to a possible trapped object if the roll is a 10 it's trapped and I take it from there. So yes, before you point it out 10% of my world can arbitrarily kill your character.
  24. Jack Chicks "Dark Dungeons" did more to make me want to play D&D than it ever did to make me not want to play  D&D. Further more that's a diverse table he drew all those years ago. Female GM plenty of girl players..They all seem to be having a good time, except for Marcie, she's fuckin dead. 
  25. I can't figure out why people like Drake.... 
  26. My favorite RPG characters of all time  was produced with our house rules game "Phase Abandon."  His name was Muhadin and he was a huge Arabic, Muslim, freed-slave, warrior who wanted nothing more than to buy land and settle down to raise animals, except he had some unfinished family business to deal with. This all ended up with him freeing slaves, punching all of the things, chopping wood, and eventually german suplexing his twin brother off a sand skiff. Long story short he was awesome. Hooray for RPG's!
  27. I can't stand power creep. I think that if a group can play a game with just the core books do it. Want to play TORG? Never use anything but what came in the original box and the group will be fine. So many games go to hell in a hand basket when the publishers start piling on splat book after splat book. I feel it often times dilutes what was originally good about a game.
  28. If the players in our group are in combat and one of them says, "I'll hit it with my sword, again." I feel like I am failing as a GM.
  29. Shaking your dice for way to long is the  Role playing hobby equivalent of a slow player in golf.
  30. Tracking arrows, oil, torches, rations and all that jazz is something that gets streamlined from the  vast majority of games I have ever played in or run. Why don't more games come up with a streamlined way to handle resources? In our games of AAIE for example, a bundle of torches will get the  party through the game, as long as nothing destroys them. Simple. If the party wants to rest they need rations, also simple. 
    I hear Torchbearer does a good job of this sort of thing but I have not read it. Yet
  31. I love giant robots and Sci-fi but have never had the opportunity to run a sci-fi game. If I ever do get the chance I think I will use the original "Star Frontiers" solely because of the red-head in fringed boots on the cover.
  32. Man this Ragnarok is a pretty game. If you are wondering I will totally buy a game book based purely on how damn pretty it is. (update: I bought it)
  33. Back in October of  2013 I wrote a post called "Rewards There Can be Only One" In which I  lay out that the only reward that matters the table during a role playing game is creative input in one form or another. Experience? It's only a reward when used as a route to getting more cool things to do in the course of the story. (Kewl skillz N' Powerrz.) It's one of my favorite posts and I still stand by it today. 
  34. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is way more D&D to me than  The Lord OF the Rings or the Hobbit movies. I think it's because that's what I watched as a kid. Looking at it from a game perspective The pacing is like a D&D game, and the Ray Harryhausen stop motion monsters have a kind of D&D aesthetic that for me modern CGI just misses. See also, "7th Voyage of Sinbad," "Thief Of Damascus," "Son of Sinbad," Sinbad and the  Eye of the Tiger," and  throw in "Jason and the Argonauts" for good measure.
  35. The last Gasp Choose your Own Generator Page is amazing, fun, and awesome, and seventeen   other positive expletives. I'm sure I could whip up a D20 table of them. Long story short it is web widget that allows you to create, use and save random lists that you can pull random results from. There is a growing library of  random generators other people have made making it a great resource. While I am on the  subject of great resources check out The Links to Wisdom, for OSR house rules, spells, monsters, blogs, and  other quality role playing game stuff.
  36. Why is Blood Bowl still played today even though it's a flawed game?  How did Dread Ball do so well during their kick starter? Why is Elf Ball even a thing? Let me tell you why. Writing a legit sports board game is HARD! 
    Given that, the fantasy sports board games that are somewhat acceptable have developed followings. Over the years I have tried several times to write a table top game based on Basketball and it has just never stuck. Sports things are hard things to emulate. Even though I have come up empty several times the idea still creeps into my mind from time to time. 
  37. Low hanging fruit post number 1: Palladium and Games Workshop should go into business together to plan a line of 17 overpriced books. This line would including one 500 page core book and 16 splat books to cover things that were not in the core book. None of this line will ever be completed
  38. Yes observation / statement 37 is a cheap shot at two companies I'm not really impressed with. In the name of inter-web Karma I will say this Kevin Siembieda (Boring Wikipedia link because it was hard to find any one being  halfway civil about the guy anywhere else.) has been put through the ringer by the game industry and the internet hate machine as often and as badly as anyone in the game industry I can think of. Even if he deserves if the fact he is still at it  at all amazes me. I just wish he would bring his views of intellectual property more into line with the current times. There is allot of good stuff to play with in the  Palladium back log, and the only thing anyone will ever get for supporting them is a cease and desist notice. 
    I still have nothing positive to say about Games Workshop.
  39. An article "Patent Absurdity..." Mostly about Patent vs Copy-write as it applies to game mechanics. A Good read.
  40. I  kind of wince at the idea of "can I port this setting to this system or is it allot of work?"  Just use the setting. I know that sounds trite but if a GM wants to play Shadow Run using the first edition rules from tunnels and trolls, they can. Just take it one game at a time and situation to situation. Hit rolls are hit rolls. I know this entry sounds trite and dismissive, but I think allot of people have great ideas then get analysis paralysis before they ever try. (myself included.)
  41. I have my best game ideas in the shower and while shoveling snow.  Mowing the lawn not so much, not sure why.
  42. Mentioning the  Lord of the  rings on the internet is risky, there's always someone who knows more about it and they are more than eager to share that tid-bit, and point out your ignorance. Then again  if it were not for internet experts I would never have known Aragorn's left nipple is made of  the finest alabaster.
  43. Two people have messaged me that they read my AAIE game. Which coincidentally is exactly enough to keep me working on it.
  44. I have read  posts about how Dungeons don't make any sense, how to make your dungeon make sense, and various variations on that theme. Heck I even wrote one. I have grown to feel that Dungeons are one of those RPG tropes that just exist and defy explanation. Why ask how the orcs in the caves eat, where do they put their waste, and how the hell did that dragon egg get down there? Is that a spaceship? Don't worry about it, just keep exploring. Very few things are as tempting and enjoyable for players as a good dungeon, I have finally embraced that.
  45. I don't have to "like" someone to enjoy their creative works. In "like" I mean would  I want to sit and talk with this person in person?  I don't have to answer yes to be able to enjoy someones  blog, or their games, or their ideas. Everyone works with or have worked with someone about whom they say, "That guy / girl is an asshole but they are damn good at their job." That's exactly how I see the internet.
  46. Charisma includes how good looking a character is, unless you use comeliness, and we should use comeliness. It matters.
  47. Echo chambers are horrible things. Even the smartest person can loose the perspective of everything outside the echo chamber. If for example I immerse myself in a community that only talks about D&D naturally it will appear the D&D is the only thing going.  I try to avoid that and get out and read / play as many games as I can. I don't always like the games, but at least I'm not ignorant of what's out there.
  48. Play D&D 5th. give every one at your table 100 points, have them secretly distribute  the points among the attributes then hand their character sheets to the gm.
    for each attribute give the person who dedicated the most points to the attribute and 18, the second place player a 15 the third place player a 12 and any one else a 9.
    in the case of ties make a call based on the character, give the  second place character one point lower.
    Do that for all the characters all the attributes. 
    Write it all down.
    Give back the character sheets with the attributes blank.
    If a character with a higher attribute fails an attribute check, no character with the same attribute at a lower value will be able to succeed.
    Play.
  49. Random Charts are all fine and dandy for prep. I enjoy random charts as a way to kick start my creativity while I am working on an adventure. However I dislike referencing too many of them in the middle of the game. Roll ahead!
  50. Play any D&D:  Xp is earned as per normal methods.
    Make a list of characters possible level benefits. (might be easiest with 5th ed considering it hasn't bloated yet.)
    Give each benefit a price in XP.
    Give the players opportunities to spend XP after each game on improvements to their characters, their equipment and their environment.
    Eliminate levels.
    The game will end up with spell slinging dwarf priest thieves.. but who cares? (see 51.)
  51. The greatest single balancing agent in any game is the GM.  In that even if a particular class becomes what is considered out of balance, the game master can adjust. It's the thing that separates RPG's from Computer RPG's. 
  52. I'm going to buy an Oculus rift and just disappear into it ... 
  53. If I were going to re-write the monster manual every entry would include 12 rumors and myths about each creature in the  form of a D12 Chart. Sort of like I did with  my joke monster the  "Slug Goblin"
  54. D&D characters should die of exposure far more often than they do, but what fun would that be? 
    "Here lies Brave Sir Geoffrey, died shivering in these caves, bravely."
  55.  I think it's important to not wed myself too strongly to any given system. I will pick an RPG game system simply because it's something all the players in the current group will or want to play. For example There is a player I play with  that really is tired of all the D&D systems editions and variants. I'm not going to  ask him to swallow a nasty pill and Play a game he would prefer not to. I would rather just run Dungeon World, because I know everyone in the group digs it, including him. Players are a valuable commodity, the last thing I want to loose one to is my own stubbornness / habits / pride.
  56. Games like Rifts, The strange, TORG, Even GURPS with all of it's splat books cast too wide a net for me as a GM. I prefer to focus on one genre at a time. In a game like "The Strange," a group could create characters and play forever in one recursion however that would sort of be missing the  point. It's a matter of taste.
  57. I am not the best writer in the world (SURPRISE!) So this might be a me problem and not a them problem. I get crazy when someone interprets something I write in an unintended manner then when I try to explain  what I meant, accuses me of  back pedaling. 
    No, incorrect. I am simply restating my point so I can be better understood, because I probably fucked it up the first time. The internet being what it is apparently there are people who know what I mean to say better than I do. (Number 57 not game related)
  58. Magic users in D&D 5th ed are crazy good at low levels. 
    Here is a thought  "May cast a number of cantrips per day equal to their intelligence + proficiency bonus." 
    Wait! I hear it!
     "A Fighter can swing her sword for  2D6 damage every round forever! What gives! That's not fair to the wizard! wahhhhh!" 
    Magic is special, its harder than swinging a sword, the wizard should suck at low levels because they will be the setting power brokers latter on. Pay now crush your enemies latter. Plus 90% of the characters out there would still end up with  like 20 cantrips a day. Not enough?
  59. While I am on D&D 5th edition house rules. Why not just make passive checks equal to the  characters attribute?  Ohh the  number might jump from 15 to 18? Big deal. That said, I like the passive check rules, I feel like it's a good mechanic for something GM's have been doing for years anyway.
  60. Shocking grasp definitely conducts through iron poles, puddles, and chains.
  61. I prefer campaigns over one shots, because I like a continuing story. With that in mind my own game AAIE is geared pretty much exclusively towards one shots... it confuses me too.
  62. G+ is just about the best thing to happen to gaming in the past 10 years. The communities structure, hang outs, hangouts air, integration with roll 20, it all seems a custom fit to the rpg hobby. I admit G+ reinvigorated my interest in the hobby, kicked this blog into motion, and renewed my desire to write games.
  63. This is my most ridiculous self indulgent, masturbatory post to date. Just so you know that I know. 
  64. There is a tendency in some game design to put in  "bread Crumb" mechanics. 
    IE: Your character hates the security guards in your building , so any time you do something  shitty and passive aggressive towards them you get +1 on the die roll!"
    Some Players / designers like this sort of thing, others don't.
    I have used it myself Phase Abandon's  (the best game you've never played) System of guiding principles (players get bonuses for abiding by the characters principles and take penalties when you they don't.) is exactly a bread crumb mechanic.
    What gets millage for me is a  bread-crumb mechanic that fades into the background while still rewarding the players for doing cool things with their characters. Having characters work towards their own individual story based goals, and  rewarding XP for highlights at the end of the game are both examples.
  65. I like a good drink while I play, usually Bourbon. This is the worst idea ever for a GM and I strongly advise against it. 
  66. I enjoy "story games." I enjoy that people are thinking about RPG games in ways that are different than the Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror tropes. There is a segment of the Gaming community that would  have others believe that creating games that do not embrace traditional RPG forms and subjects is a bad thing. I'm not down with that. I play D&D 2nd edition and now some 5th edition, so that's what I write about around here allot of the time. That does not mean I think the gaming pallet should end at D&D and it's derivatives.
  67. I enjoy "Old school games." I enjoy that people are thinking about classic RPG games in ways that shed new light on the Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror tropes. There is a segment of the Gaming community that would have others believe that creating games that continue to embrace traditional RPG forms and subjects is a bad thing. I'm not down with that. I write my own games, so that's what I write about around here allot of the time. That does not mean I think the gaming pallet should not include  D&D and it's derivatives.
  68. Gnolls are thralls of werewolves. Created when a werewolf feeds a small amount of it's own blood to a common wolf. Once there are enough Gnolls they can reproduce among themselves and do so at a high rate. When gnolls are raiding the borders of our land, it's a safe to say that something darker still is lurking in the mountains.
  69. None of us are all that important in the grand scheme of the game business. The vast majority of the people in this hobby are not us, they're not here. They go on playing  whatever game they enjoy without the need to be enlightened by our thoughts. 
  70. Have you ever read The Tao of D&D? Say what you will about the blogs author, he can be acerbic at times even hard to read when he really decides to go after a person or group. At the end of the day however, I wish I could catch just smidgen of his drive and dedication when it comes to world building. "Stand Up And Take Your Dissonance Like A Man!" After the dissonance there is good stuff to be found.
  71. Many times caves exist in the vertical plane as much or more than they do in the  horizontal. Most RPG's that deal with dungeons and caves as locations for adventure give little service to the amount of climbing and descending  actual spelunking involves. We should change that.
  72. I will never buy another Monster manual.
  73. To save myself some time when I'm DMing most of my enemies have max hit points. If there is a group of seven 1HD orcs I just assume they are all warrior types and have 8 hp's each. I know that's lame, but over the years I have never heard any complaint that my "Orcs are just too darn rugged!"  I can always adjust or randomize enemy AC to make them take hits more often. I find it easier to justify differences in equipment than I can a scrawny 1 hp orc running around in a battle.
  74. Related to the above post: Sometimes I will have "mook" monsters who all have 1 hit point, they are there as descriptive fodder. Some Gm's would rail against that. I look at it this way, sometimes the fighter needs to plow through a few mooks before she gets to a real baddie it makes that real bad look  "badder."
  75. (Low Hanging fruit number 2:) One of the biggest things that kills campaign play is not being able to play often enough. I would rather have a short weekly or bi-weekly online session instead of waiting for months to get the group together. It's so difficult to get a games momentum back when no one remembers what the hell they were doing, where their notes are, or who the NPC's are.
  76. I haven't found a random dungeon generator for paper and pencil that really does it for me. I was even working on a die drop random dungeon maker of my own and I still haven't come up with anything that grabs me. If anyone out there knows of a great random dungeon system please let me know.
  77. For the record one of my favorite online dungeon generators is Dave's Mapper.
  78. Whenever someone plays a bard my inner eye pictures their character dressed like Russel Westbrook.
  79. I went to a place this morning that charges $10 bucks for two pancakes. When I got them I felt exactly the same way I did when I saw the  paper and print quality of the Dungeon-world book. I like the game but boy does that book need a re-issue.
  80. I have not been on RPG.net in years. Even when I did read there I was never much of an active poster. For this post I went there and read a few forum posts, browsed the forum sections, and thought for a few seconds about pimping my blog there. I had to consider there are thousands of  viewers on RPG net who for better or worse have never heard of this blog.  I decided against it.
  81. I own a core rule book from the game Exalted (I think it's second edition but I don't care that much.) It's just a mish- mash of impenetrable setting and sloppy mechanics. I'm not going to hammer on the game but whenever I see someone on the web spouting off about their deep understanding of some games obscure lore, I think of Exalted and why I never even thought about playing it.
  82. I still love Deluxe Car Wars.. Does that make me a bad person? The game has so much old school style, is still fun to play, and an  turn 15 seconds of game time  into a full day of gaming. Rock this bitch like it's 1986.
  83. One of the most channeling things is creating a game system that supports the details of a setting. Not including universal systems, many systems fall into the categories of catch all systems like D&D,  a fantasy rpg that can be used to run any kind of fantasy. There are games like Shadowrun, exalted, or  Eclipse Phase which are detailed settings with systems dropped over the top. Then there are those rare games like Ragnarok or even some of those early vampire games, where you can't see the system ever working for any other setting. It has never been one of my design goals to marry system and setting that strongly . I find it an intimidating goal. 
  84. I think the band GWAR rather than KISS should be recognized as the reason hundreds of bands have decided it makes them more interesting if they dress like morons.
  85. So I'm wondering, to what advantage would it be for one of the bigger publishers to troll (in a fishing sense) the blogosphere, find awesome stuff, contact the authors, and somehow aggregate it back to a central site? Not everyone is going to post ideas on some companies "community creations" forum. It might be worth while for a company to be active in seeking out  the creative folks who back their game. How cool would it be to  have a WotC 5th edition "best of the web" site to visit? Just spit-balling. 2015.
  86. For me RPG's are all about telling stories. When the group I game with and I talk about past games it goes like this. "Remember that time Rik was fighting Meylvin in his office and Rik threw his knife into the frick'n door's lock to stop Meylvin's escape?"
    The conversation is not:
    "Remember when you made a stupid hard roll to interrupt that NPC's action!"
    We remember the stories and the moments, not the mechanics.
  87. It's too simple to make all bandits misguided highwaymen. I am guilty of this. Most of the time if I am running a game and I use a bandit ambush as part of the  game, those bandits are going to be of the cannon fodder variety. I need to work some devious skilled as hell bandits into my game.
  88. This post will not make best reads of the week...but I'm glad best reads of the week is back!
  89. Correction: Forget entry 41. There are absolutely no positive effects from shoveling snow.
  90. 5thEd (insert name of fighting style here "speed archery?") Say after a successful attack with a short bow, any further attacks on the same target are rolled at advantage, until the target takes cover. Based on this
  91. I was reading  an old " Star Frontiers book the other night and started wondering why have  percentage based systems (ie D100) fallen out of vogue? It seems there are many possibilities there for manipulating the chance and action is going to succeed in a very direct way. It almost makes more complicated die mechanics seem like unnecessary trickery.
  92. I have three games in my Google drive right now that I am working on. "Nova 74," a game of 1970's cinematic America. "Loot Box A Go Go"  A shoot and loot table top game. and "A town Called Murder" which a real RPG set in the world of my AAIE game. If that makes any sense at all?  Not sure if I will ever finish any of them, but it's good to know I can open my G drive and  just hack away at ideas when I feel the urge.
  93. Looked at the shelf next to my desk this morning.
    D&D 5th ed PHB and GM's Guide,
    Sorcerer
    A Red and Pleasant Land
    DCC
    Numenera
    Dungeon World soft cover.
    I'll bet many of us have similar stacks of books near their desks or on book shelves. I mean seemingly random disparate RPG products form all over here and there. One of best things about our hobby is all the different ways it can be approached and how darn pretty some of the books are.
  94. It's ideal to have a good brick and mortar store nearby. My store of choice is  Zombie Planet (I don't think any one is  doing much with their website..) in Albany N.Y. While it is not technically close to my house, I'm in Albany often enough that I can visit the store a few times a year. I wish it were closer so I could take part in game days and that sort of thing, I think I would. 
  95. This one is tough, and hard to put into words. The web can be exert a deceptively strong influence over how people view things. When I first started getting into G+ groups I had never heard of  the OSR or anything like it. I knew I like old games, because I was there I played them for the most part when they were new games. Once I started reading more widely on  G+ and looking more deeply into the blog scene, I started to get more into the idea of  running, writing, and playing more old school games. I was reading almost exclusively  Old school gaming blogs, because I could relate to them , I enjoyed them, I still do. 
    Here's the hitch, that's not what I do. I don't write story games or OSR games or anything like that. I write what I like, and I write things I think the people I game with will dig.
    In all walks of life the inherent danger of surrounding  one's self with only one thing is a person could start to think that one thing is the only thing. It's never the only thing.
  96. 5th ed DM's guide has 64 pages of  "normal" magic items (pages 150 to 214)
    • Take your DMG and some  page markers, Mark each magic item page and number each label 1 to 64.
    • Roll 1d6  and 1d10 read them % die style (d6 as the tens place and  the d10 as the ones place.) If you roll over 64 roll again.
    • Find the  page you rolled.
    • Count the number of  items on that page, for example Page 206 has four complete items on the page. Roll a random item from the page. (I rolled "Sword of life stealing.")
    • Do the  last step again to find a second item, ( I got page 194 "Robe of stars.")
    • Mash those items together.
    Robe of  The Vengeful Night:

    (Wondrous item,  Very rare, Requires Attunement, whatever the hell that means) 
    This black or dark blue robe provides is embroidered with  five silver stars. 
    Once a day the  wearer may spend an action to travel with all he or she is carrying to the astral plane where they may move freely until they spend an action to return. The will return to the same place the were occupying  before they traveled, if that spot is now occupied they will  appear in the nearest free space.
    While in the astral plane if the wearer of the cloak dons the cloaks hod they can see into the material plane and may make one and only one attack against any  creature by lashing out of the astral into the material plane. This is a normal attack in every way except as follows. It does Necrotic Damage, and if it hits the damage done is  transferred to the attacker as healing (up to  10 + the attackers proficiency bonus).
    If this attack is successful the  attacker has until dusk to raise the cloaks hood and be shown one memory stolen from the enemy attacked. The contents of the memory is up to the GM. 

  97. My most popular blog post is a 5th edition character background, My second most popular post is not even about role playing games. The fastest way I have found to make sure no one reads a blog post is to post about my own work. Cie la vie.
  98. I enjoy reading other people blogs immensely. I spend more time reading blogs on the internet than I spend doing any thing else. Anyone new to the hobby should be done the service of having a friend share a bunch of links with them that will open to them the world of home brew gaming resources. The stuff out here on the internet is way better.
  99. Speaking of that I was impressed with Narcosa. A crowd sourced supplement that is as good as many professionally published works. That's what the web can do, and it's awesome.
  100. I am stunned you are still here. Atlas Obsura and NYPL Maps as your bonus links.

So that  is that 100 little RPG tidbits, about games, game design, and the community waters I game in.

As always I hope you have enjoyed the post.
Please feel free to leave comments below!

There is comment caveat this time, one I rarely make. I posted many opinions in this post, my personal opinions. I have no doubt that a careful reader no matter who they are will be able to find something that they strongly disagree with or which makes them sad inside. I'm sorry. I also reserve the right to not defend any of these opinions as I see fit.

Thank you for reading
-Mark.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Embrasing The Meta

Embrace the Metta.
Warning: This is one of THOSE posts, that kind of swirls around and  helps me get my thoughts together in front of you fine folks. I apologize if you read the whole thing and thing "Well that went nowhere"

From the Oracle of knowledge known to us pathetic humans as WIKIPEDIA!
Metagaming: is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed rule set, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.
Meta Being a prefix that means "Above or Beyond"
designating another subject that analyzes the original one but at a more abstract, higher level:
As in metaphilosophy; metalinguistics.
From myriams dic online.
This is not the same as some kid saying  "Dude That's so Meta"

Now all have the same starting place.

I think that every thing in an RPG that is not "role Playing" as in  talking as your character (to whatever extent your group does it,) is all meta game. I don't really want to debate that in this post but rather talk about  building a meta game to support the main game.

In the game I have been working on lately, nothing about the characters or the  setting is pre-loaded. The characters are not from "Neverwinter" or some other known location in a defined world. In-fact the characters have no history beyond whatever jobs they used to do before they decided dying in a cave somewhere with pockets full of gold is better then  dying in a hovel with pockets full of  plague.
Everything that will forge a connection between player and character, that bond that makes the player want to see that character get better will have to happen in game. Put another way the fighter that just got made is not some carefully crafted unique snowflake conforming to the players idea of cool. The Character is more like a one legged stool the player has to find a good use for.
   
Another Part of this is world building. If the  players directly build the  world they are adventuring in they will hopefully become more invested in what happens in that world. It's a bit like  Dungeon world, but not as high concept. Dungeon World approached this in a very narrative sense, leave blanks on your map use the players ides to fill them in, and this will lead to opportunities for adventure and so on. I'm taking a more constructive route. Players (note not characters) buy things for the  town with the gold they  hoist out of dungeons.
In a nut shell you have a sleepy rural are and all of a sudden a group of  adventure seekers find a tomb and start hauling  hundreds of  gold pieces worth of crap out of the ground, it's bound to effect the local economy. An adventurer fueled gold rush.

This is where I finally get to the meta game.
In  a game where the player investment in characters is fully future based and not baked into character generation, it's almost a necessity to have some form of  meta game that takes place between the  adventures.
The players should be given some way to leave their mark on the  world so that even a few sessions down the  road they can point to the  map and say "Yeah I did that."

AAIE "The town" is the second part of my AAIE game in which I'm writing up guidelines which allow players to invest in a town with the  gold they find adventuring. Buying / upgrading businesses and buildings that in turn grant them access to new skills, potions, equipment, NPC's Hench-people, and the like.

  • Characters pull a ton of gold and such out of some deadly maze. (keep in mind AAIE is designed for  dungeon delve one shots, I don't have to be any more complicated than "some deadly maze."
  • The Same Characters start spending that gold. Eating richly at the inn, buying new armor , fixing old armor, generally keeping  the nearest village busier and  more flush with cash than they have ever been.
  • Word spreads, the innkeeper tells his uncle who is a leather worker about these guys ho are throwing money around, the uncle moves to town to start selling  leather goods. The uncle tells an apothecary he knows form a nearby city about this town that's gold flush and attracting injured adventurers. 
  • Others seeking gold and adventure hear of this big find the characters made and they come seeking adventure (replacement PC's.)
  • And so on, the town grows.
How does this translate into a game within the game? Here is what I am in the middle of trying to do.
  • The  town starts as an Inn, with a set of general services.
    A place to take "home rests"
    some general supplies.
    An ink keeper and family as interesting NPC's.
  • Also present are some peasant farmers to be used as hirelings and bearers if the players want to hire them.
  • Once the characters have an adventure they can  come back after the game and use gold to buy  add ons to the town. These are not direct purchases by the characters but represent their economic pull in this small town.
  • Options include black smith, Apothecary shops, guards, banks, churches, caravans (not in our current town..long story.) and so on,
  • Each building has an NPC or NPC family that the  player who bought the building can name and the GM can flesh out.  
  • The NPC's should each  have a measure of their good will towards the characters .. this is still very much a work in progress,
  • New buildings make new one shot adventure seeds available.
  • Each building has five upgrade levels that cost gold and  make available more services that the players can take advantage of. For example a level three apothecary can  make better potions. A leveled up inn makes better hirelings available, a leveled up blacksmith  makes new weapons, barracks attract skill trainers and so on.
  • Players may buy houses that act as a sort of shared stash of found items that they can share among their characters, so that when a character dies (and they do), their cool found items don't have to die with them. This is very video game-ish and  hard for a traditional RPG player to agree with but it's very much in the spirit of AAIE where a player could expect to go through one perhaps two characters in a game.
  • There is a grave yard with an entry for each dead NPC and PC including funny epitaphs. 
Does something like this break the standard of immersion that RPG's tend to reach for?
Yes ....

The thought that a player who happens to have a fighter  character would drop some gold to attract a trainer to the  town so that the character would then have the opportunity to learn better fighter skills, seems to cross a line into  "meta gaming to create player advantage."

It is. I don't mind the players creating an advantage for themselves.

Given that there is a small chance every time the players cast the dice that they will accidentally kill their own characters, there should be some way to create advantages.


That's what I'm working on currently,

Any thoughts, questions, ideas?

Something you guys would love to see in an adventurer fueled boom town?

Thanks for reading,
Please leave thoughts and comments in the  foundation of the new bank being built below.

-Mark.




Thursday, January 15, 2015

Morale (EVERYBODY RUNNNNNN!)

From Monty Python Like I Needed to type that.

My series on henchmen and hirelings continues (this will all come together in a post or two.)

Here is how I handle Morale in my game AAIE.
NPC henchmen start with a base morale between one and  20  with oddly  enough 20 being the best.
most hover between  9  poor morale and 15 excellent morale.
when a morale check comes up the  gm rolls 1D20 if the roll is over the moral the Henchman has failed the check and things happen.

Morale fluctuates:
Any time I roll a morale roll if the  result is a pass, I add one to the  Hirelings morale improving it.
If the result is a failure subtract one form the  hirelings morale, making it worse.

I will also adjust the Morale of a hireling for the following reasons.

Adjust Downward for bad things:
  • Verbal abuse by the characters, generally just being  mean to the  retainers. -1 up to -4
  • Physical abuse hitting the retainers or what not. -1 to 6 depending on the  severity.
  • Lack of food -2 per day (make a check each day  the retainers are not fed.)
  • Lack of rest -1 per day (make a check each day of forced march.)
  • Giving the  retainers  obviously  dangerous commands. -2  (requires a check right away)
  • Suicidal commands -4. (requires a check right away.)
  • Injury -2 or more.
  • Seeing another hireling die violently -1d6 (requires a check  right away)
  • Seeing a player character die violently -1d8  (requires a check  right away)
  • Attack by a particularly nasty monster. - the monsters level (make a check)
  • Anything else the Gm feels would scare or  insult the Retainers -1 or 2 is always a good fall back.
Adjust morale upward for good things.
  • Characters help or  praise the hirelings appropriately +1
  • Character saves the hireling in combat +1d6
  • Character defeats a particularly nasty monster +2
  • Character heals Hireling +2
  • A good meal or shared logging for a rest +1 to +4 depending on how good it was.
  • Brothel in town? +1 
  • Sharing treasure  + sky is the limit at least +1 perhaps more consider the amount shared.
  • Anything else the Gm feels deserves it +1 or +2 are good fall backs.
A retainers Morale may never go above 20 and may only fall into the  negative between  morale checks, which would effectively make the next check an auto failure.

For my game when a hireling fails I generally just make something up based on the  situation  that is either amusing to me or otherwise troublesome for the players. I can understand where a GM might want a more concrete way of determining how hirelings react to a failed  roll.
sooooo...

Roll a D6 and add the hirelings current morale.

Less Than One: The hireling turns violently on whomever hired them they have had enough and would rather die fighting than deal with the characters any more If this is a combat with intelligent opposition they join the enemy. There is a 1 in four chance the hireling will bite their lip for now and wait till the party takes a rest, attacking a party member in their sleep then running off.

1 to 5: The hireling deserts dropping what ever he or she was holding and running away.

6 to 10: The hireling  drops what ever he or she is doing and runs away to hide behind the nearest cover. The hireling will remain there for  a few rounds until he or she can gather their wits. If this is a not combat situation they simply slink away to sulk.

11 to 13: The hireling  argues boisterously with any orders given and if this is a combat situation they  refuse to follow orders instead do their own thing.

14 to 16: The hireling does exactly the opposite of what  is prudent at the moment. If they should hide they charge, if they should charge they cower.. and so fourth.

17 to 19: The Hireling freezes in place unable to act, stunned. this lasts one round. Anything attacking the  Hireling will hit automatically.

20 or better: The hiring grumbles but follows orders as given.

I track morale for each hireling, until there are more than five of them running around then I give one morale number for each group of five. This causes groups and individuals to sometimes have  differing morale scores and differing reactions to situations. This is a goo thing in my book.

Thank you for reading.
Please leave questions and comments bellow.
-Mark

Bonus stuff:

Random Hireling generator  from Discourse and Dragons.
Random Hireling traits from Papers and Pencils

A post from Tenkar's Tavern on the subject.
A handy chart of hireling service costs from Pathfinder by Pazio.
Another reasoned Morale and reaction Post From the  Author of "Into The Odd". That post was inspired a bit by this post from "Goblin Punch." And now the  circle is complete.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Die Drop insta dungeon test,

Testing a DG die drop random dungeon generator I have been working on.
Here is the resulting roughly drawn map and random room rolls.
Use it if you like.




The room descriptions which follow the map were rolled randomly to give a jump stat to the GM's imagination.  Naturally more fleshing out would be needed before the  temple would be usable, but there are some nice game seeds in the random results.

All told it took me about  20 minutes


Throughout the  temple the  stone walls have been intricately carved to look like thatched wood.

  1. The room has thick moldering carpets hanging from the  walls.
  2. An evil looking altar dominates the center of this room.
  3. A musty wind constantly  blows through this room.
  4. You can faintly hear music  is seems to be coming form the  walls.
  5. Contains an altar to the  Slug lord.
  6. This room is  filled with  dozens of already hatched eggs and eg sacks.
  7. The body of a recently slain warrior can be found here.
  8. This room has one natural stone pillar in it's center supporting the roof, and the dead body of a woman can be found slumped in the corner.
  9. There is a cluster of Basketball sized, slimy blue eggs in the corner.
  10. A rust cage hangs by chains from the ceiling.
  11. This room constantly vibrates and emits a low hum.
  12. A pile or rusty armor and weapons lie in the center of the room.


once I get the  generator to a more  substantial state I will begin sharing it here.

Thank you for reading.
Drop some  D6's  in the  question and comments section below.
-Mark.


Friday, January 2, 2015

More henchman madness (a 3D10 compound, Instant Hench chart.)

"Henchman 21" Via Venture Brothers.

Through the  years I have come to enjoy what I set up less, and the crazy random things that happen  within the frame work of what I have set up more. I wrote AAIE with that random strangene spirit in mind, and as a continuation of that I decided to give more thought to random henchmen in general.

Enjoy.

Consider this open chart play-testing:

This can also be used in conjunction with this Post to generate more interesting results.

To use this chart:
  1. Roll 3D10, all at once in front of you.
  2. Reference the die that land furthest to the left first, for the top row of the chart giving a general sex of the Hench (male / female).
  3. Use the D10 that landed in the  middle to referance  down the left side for a pre-hench profession out of Column 1.(usually its Peasant Farmer)
  4. Look at the left most D10  for rows and the second D10 for columns and cross reference to the center of the chart for a descriptor. (some negative some positive)
  5. Do the same as above except reference the middle positioned D10 for rows this time and the furthest rightmost D10 for columns as a a cross reference to yield the second word in the box which is a personality trait or another more useful career or some other  note.
  6. If in step 3 or 4 the result is a second pre-Hench career use the result to pad the henchman description. Ie: this henchman is a Female, Peasant farmer, Debtor.
  7. Results assume the NPC race as human unless otherwise specified, or you want it to be  a slug goblin or what ever...

To view the chart sections more closely double click the sections.

A roll of 3D10 that came up  3. 6. 5 in these positions respective to each other would yield:  

"A male peasant Farmer, who is road worn and unorganized. "

A roll of 3D10 that came up  10. 2. 7 in these positions respective to each other would yield: 

"A female bar servant who has a vacant stare and is very mercenary. (She will leave for an offer of more gold.)"


Hope you find some use for this , 
Have a great 2.01.5
(A male, former rag picker and bar server who constantly makes vulgar gestures.)

leave any questions or comments in the  hat of the  scruffy sailor next to you.
-Mark.




Thursday, January 1, 2015

How do we connect with character's in RPG's

IN my last post you might have notice I included a video-Log-Pod-Cast thingy of myself and some players running through some very random character generation.

The process and the video got me thinking about Characters and our connections to them.
There are very few things in Role playing games that will effect the style and general tenor of play more than how connected to their character each player is.
If a player does not give a shit about their character, they will make bad decisions and look for trouble in a way no one ever really would.

I look at it as the characters in the RPG became allot like the you avatar in a Grand Theft Auto game. Naturally you'll yoke a guy out of his car and shoot him, because the  consequences are nil and you honestly don't care about the avatar you're controlling. If the cops come and  shoot you, you re-spawn, poof, new avatar lets go do it again. Having disposable characters gives a player with the desire to do so an open invitation to troll the game world.

As Gm's we have tools to deal with this kind of thing. First and foremost if a player is not interested in the flavor of game your going to run, don't have them back. That may sound harsh , but some  players have one idea about what an RPG should be like while others might have totally different ideas all together. That's fine, in fact it's one of my favorite parts of the hobby, the circus tent of RPG's is big enough for everyone. However just because there is room in the tent does not mean I have to have the clown at my table.

OK....Beheaded clown .. details details


The more subtle method would be to advance an olive leaf and ask the player what they would need for them to care about their character a bit more. The answer might surprise you, it could be a simple, "I really would rather have this or that option but the game rules say I can't."  As the GM you can fix that. Or it might be  "I have not been able to go into my back story at all like I wanted." The Gm can fix that as well. That's another great thing about RPG's the GM has a great deal of ability to fix things, by giving players options and working with the  players to assure they have some character hook to latch onto.

Giving a bit here and there is well worth having invested players. Invested players will bring more to the table each and every time you play, further more they wont go do stupid things simply to see the consequences, they will want the characters to continue on. The players will want to play out their character's story.

It is in this way that I find my current project AAIE is at the start at least, irrevocably broken. The game asks of the players to invest in a character that they have very little control over the content of. A character that might be completely borked right out of the gate. For many RPG gamers I can understand how this would be counter intuitive or even worse off putting. 

If the player is a min-maxer by nature or even remotely hung up on having a statistically viable character I can understand them hating a random character to the point where they want to see the  poor SOB dead. It's the same way I know some people would never roll an AD&D character with the "3D6 in order," technique, and why some folks hate the  idea of a DCC style character funnel. The whole game can if allowed to, devolve into that kid you used to game with who would show up to the game with a binder of 30 first edition characters all named Carl.


In my case there is a turning point, and this is where I think AAIE shines even beyond some more well realized and less gimmicky games. There is a moment when the character clicks, (for me it was when My character hit 2nd level and then got his arm snapped backwards by a trapped door.) 
That character I rolled up randomly, a human warrior with  a solid 1 third of his stats at the minimum possible value, and  puff ball like lesions all over his body due to a mutation, that guy is a survivor. 

I set an animated paper bull un-fire, I rode a giant wooden wasp, I critical hit a snot-filled dragonet with a fire poker and  took it's damn eye out! I don't want him to die because he has already survived more than he should have. I want to earn more skills, I want to get trained in an actual weapon, I want to see what this character can become. All the time realizing I am always one roll away from getting my head caved in. Just typing this I started thinking about what happens when I retire him? Should I make him an NPC? What if the next roll I take is a fumble and he dies some horrid death?
You see, now that I have given a shit, I wont stop He's my character now.)

Bringing me at last to this bit of perhaps hyperbolic Game Therory:

  • An RPG system is only as strong as the connections it creates between the player and his or her character.


Some games try to create the connection and do it on the front end. There are ways to attempt to get the  players invested quickly, like D&D is trying to do with it's back grounds, a game like Champions having a very detailed character creation wherein a player can almost always get exactly what they want. Different still is a game like Sorcerer where the  relationship between the characters humanity and the needs of his or her demon make for instantly interesting dynamics. I think this is a wiser road to travel, simply because I think invested players are more attentive players. 

Games such as D&D or AD&D and more recently Numenera rely on the adventures the characters go on to get the players hooked in. Yes in basic D&D  all first level fighters are generally the same statistically but by the time the character hits third level, the  player is generally hooked, that's their fighter now, "Don't mess with Sir Peckshred! HE will Mess Yo UP!" 
In those games the player has to get the player / character connection on the tail end. It requires a bit of patients, GM finesse, and willingness to find the  character though it's deeds. Though I think that creating  player investment right away is  the best practice, I also think that connecting through play creates even stronger bonds between character and player once everything starts to click.

A system that promotes player investment in their characters is going to  be a system that has more involved, attentive players. A game that completely ignores is or worse yet askew it (as I feel my own game AAIE does at first) will at best require more time and effort to yield invested players, and at worst devolve into a parade of faceless, sophomoric crash test dummies trying to shit in the  beer steins at every inn the GM describes.


The End of a Personal D&D era.


I have pretty pristine copies of AD&D second edition considering  their age and amount of use. The day I bought them I made cardboard book sleeves for them and to this day they rest in those sleeves. Sure the  PHB has a few bent corners and a bit of  yellow here and there, and perhaps the  Monster manual was dropped a few times, but all in all I have seen worse on store shelves.
I treated them better than I treated my  poor old Basic rules cyclopedia, and the hardcovers have held up better than the red or blue boxes, my  First edition book mostly all lost to vulgarities of time, moving, and used bookstores
.
Those second edition books are my Favorite game books.
AD&D second edition might be my favorite game, though I'm not  altogether sure about that, I know it's on my short list.

So it's strange to see them go back in the attic and into the plastic bin labeled "game stuff"

Before any one reads this and thinks it's a plea to bring back second edition, it's not. As much as I enjoy the game and think of it as a pretty complete tool set for fantasy games I also recognize that there are allot of good games that have been published since 1989, time to move along.

So last night via roll 20 we haltingly began our conversion  from  AD&D 2nd to  Dungeon World, for my long standing fantasy campaign. As a Gm it is not a hard transition, it was complicated by the fact I was a bit over tired and  triggering  moves based off what the players were giving me is a slightly different mind set. I may have missed some good opportunities. (when the assassin burst thought the  window and landed on Willhelm, I should have used a "deal damage Move" but I pooched it.)

But Why change at all? AD&D 2nd ed is a great game , stick with that!

Sadly I have to admit my feeling towards older version of D&D have been conflicting over the past year or so. I very much wanted to relaunch my campaign using just Compendium basic, nothing more.
Then as players started finding online resources the game drifted into AD&D second edition which was fine by me, because I know the system well and have allot of experience running it. It  still had that old school throw back feel to it. *

However the internal conflict started almost immediately as players started culling kits and such from  20 some years worth of 2nd edition flotsam an jetsam swirling around the internet. While as the DM I put the kibosh on some of the things I thought were out of whack for my setting it brought to light why these kinds of games get out of hand. Telling a player, "That's a cool idea but that Firbolg Ranger Priest of War does not fit in the setting." Is a quick way to sap out all the enthusiasm they had while they were spending three hours digging through at least 4 PDF"s they  found "somewhere" to create the big fella, or get one more bonus form some obscure racial kit.

5th ed Basic , with it's streamlined rules and  basic options, put a nail the coffin, then Dungeon World came along with it's also stream line character options and  rules. Dungeon World said, "Hey look you can be cool at level 1," and slammed the  coffin lid shut.

I am not saying THE NEW is better -it isn't- much of the time.
I am saying that using a low page count basic rules PDF for 5th Ed, and having just as good a game with it made the process of 2nd ed seem in many ways overwrought.

It reminded me of what me me move away from second edition, then third edition / Pathfinder and, more than likely 5th edition in a year or three.**

BLOAT.
Successful RPG's are like  Gluttonous, gaping mawed, gibbering stomachs. All they do is grope blindly forward  devouring new splat books until the real goal of the game is obscured in layers of unctuous fat and toad skin.
You talk'n to me?

Companies want to print more player material so they can make a bit more money off the  game. Who can blame them for that? Besides, It's cool stuff, heck I buy it. I have a load of 2nd ed class and race option books. Book of humanoids, Book of Dwarfs, Book of the necromancer, book of this, book of that This can be option overload and soon players especially now that the internet has made splat books so much easier to find , can make characters that are very much beyond the  Wizard, Fighter, Priest, Thief  frame work that game was originally structured to support.

I have a Theory, and I know some of you will disagree, regardless here it goes:

If you take AD&D second edition (for example) and hold up the  DMG the PHB and the monster manual, you have in your hands the best version of that edition ever made.

The  same holds true for 3rd edition, Basic D&D, BX, or what ever other flavor you might love most of all. Everything tacked on after that original designers concept, feeds the bloat and dilutes the  games original vision. Some addition material might be AWESOME but very rarely necessary.

In my  view,  games that were originally designed to get out of the way and let you  play, were eventually strangled by their own bloat.

Do house ruling or DIY additions have the same diluting effect? Perhaps. They are different in that House rules and custom content are your own, brought about by the GM and the Players. DIY  game materials fall into the realm of "Awesome stuff" more often than random splat books. I find things players and DM's do for themselves are intrinsically more interesting than a fighter that was hopped up on a point buy system from the "Charter Options" book.
Is it less damaging than any other system bloat? I'm not really talking about damaged games, just games that start to grind down under the weight of their own options. By that logic I would have to say yes, if you house rule a game into a totally new game - you might as well run a different game.


So it ends, my love affair with AD&D second ed is put back on hold for a while. Forever? I don't know. The books are back up in the attic and will look just as pretty the next time I pull them down.


As always: Thank you for reading.
Questions and comments can be shuttled from the attic into the basement bellow.
Mark.




(*IF I ever do a throw back game again it's going to be D&D Compendium Basic, OSRIC, or Star Frontiers.)

(**I Ommited  basic D&D  because I don't feel it ever happened with that rules set as much. First edition AD&D and 4th edition Because I have never run them as a DM)