A while back I asked my players for feedback. We had just finished playing through volume four of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.
This is a continuation of part 1. I’ve changed things around a bit and omitted the two boring questions regarding where to game and the size of the gaming table.
Hm… What should I make of it? Apparently we have very divergent ideas in some areas, with no clear measures for me to take.
There are a few areas where we can improve the game, however:
It’s also worth noting that things which bothered us in the past no longer show up:
As I’ve been playing with three kids in a monthly game, I noticed that they often have trouble picking the right die. Four, six, eight, ten, twelve, twenty sided? I think I’ll try color-coded dice!
Can anybody out there confirm that using a color code makes it easier for kids to pick the right die?
I’ve looked at some old links but couldn’t really find a “standard” mapping of die type to color, so I went with a suggestion by blinovitch on the #rpmn IRC channel: “Use the color spectrum. Red’s the lowest value, violet the highest.” Except that there are more colors than dice types. So I reserved red dice for the DM’s use!
I’m assembling an order of Chessex dice…
These are for the kids:
10x d4 Orange/Black (PQ0403) 10x d6 Yellow/Black w/ #'s (PQ0602) 10x d8 Green/White (PQ0805) 10x d10 Lt. Blue/White (PQ1016) 10x Tens Blue/White (PQ1106) 10x d12 Lt. Purple/White (PQ1227) 10x d20 Black/White (PQ2008)
I’ll never need all those d12 – I guess they’ll end up as tokens on the map…
DM dice – when I played AD&D, opaque white, black, and red were my colors.
1x Red/Black 7 die set (25414) 5x d4 Red/Black (PQ0414) 5x d6 Red/Black (PQ0614) 5x d8 Red/Black (PQ0814) 5x d10 Red/Black (PQ1014)
1x Red/White 7 die set (25404) 5x d4 Red/White (PQ0404) 5x d6 Red/White (PQ0604) 5x d8 Red/White (PQ0804) 5x d10 Red/White (PQ1004)
1x Ivory/Black 7 die set (25400) 5x d4 Ivory/Black (PQ0400) 5x d6 Ivory/Black (PQ0600) 5x d8 Ivory/Black (PQ0800) 5x d10 Ivory/Black (PQ1000)
Possibly the following for a friend:
12x d6 Vortex™ Blue w/gold type (27636) 6x d8 Vortex™ Blue w/gold type (PV0806)
The simplification for multiple attacks works as follows: Instead of the cascading bonuses for current iterative attacks, up to a possible 4th attack at BAB +16, the variant works as follows:
Statistically, you get similar damage output as current iterative attack rules, except at the corner cases when facing foes whose ACs are extremely high or extremely low relative to your attack bonus. The big advantage – fewer rolls, but in particular fewer different bonuses to add!
You can allow both rules as written and the above simplification at the table. Some players might feel that they’re quick enough at adding things up and they like the rules – no problem. Those that are slow might prefer this simplification.
And finally, enjoy the chaos at the table! Maximize the part that is cool about having so many people at the table. It’s not intimate. It’s not personal. It’s about chaos, mayhem, confusion, and action. If there’s one person that gets the spotlight such as a bard or paladin doing Diplomacy, make sure that this too plays fast and make sure to allow other players to help out. Simply encouraging a lot of Aid Another is a good way to start.
Additional suggestion by Adrian in the comments:
(Zurück zu den RoleplayingReviews.)
Leider habe ich im Moment keine Möglichkeiten, D&D alter Schule selber zu leiten, deswegen kann ich für No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides von James Edward Raggi IV alias Lamentations of the Flame Princess wieder nur eine Leserezension bieten. Das Teil gibt es bei Spärenmeisters Spiele zu kaufen.
Bei No Dignity in Death handelt es sicher um ein A5 Heft mit ein paar Karten und drei kleinen Abenteuern. Alle drei Abenteuer haben einen losen Zusammenhang: Im ersten Abenteuer geht es um einen Mord an einer Braut, im zweiten Abenteuer geht es um ein makaberes Wettspiel an dessen Schluss eine Braut einem Drachen geopfert wird, und im dritten Abenteuer geht es um eine einsame Waldhütte, in der vor Jahrzehnten eine Frau gestorben ist.
Das Heft hat insgesamt 40 Seiten, so bleiben pro Abenteuer kaum mehr als ein Dutzend Seiten und ein paar wenige, einfach gehaltene Karten. Mir gefällt dies: An den meisten Spielabenden haben wir etwa drei Stunden Zeit. Ewig lange Abenteuer brauchen auch viel Vorbereitung; das vermeide ich lieber.
Allen drei Abenteuern ist gemeinsam, dass die Gruppe eine Situation im Dorf antrifft und diese Situation sich ganz von alleine weiter entwickeln wird, wenn die Gruppe nicht eingreift. Im ersten Abenteuer hat der Ritter die Mörder schon gefunden und wird diese in wenigen Tagen hinrichten lassen. Im zweiten Abenteuer findet über die nächsten Tage ein Wettbewerb statt. Im dritten Abenteuer werden drei Jugendliche vermisst. Die Gruppe ist nun völlig frei und kann sich einmischen – oder zuschauen. Wenn die Gruppe sich nicht einmischen will, gibt es allerdings auch kein Abenteuer. Von dem her funktionieren die Abenteuer vor allem, wenn es nicht nur herzlose Zyniker in der Gruppe gibt.
Das erste Abenteuer besteht zu einem Grossteil aus einer Liste von Personen: Verdächtige, Tote, Verwandte, Richter, und so weiter. Zu jeder Person gibt es ein bis drei Paragraphen Hintergrund, welche es dem Spielleiter erlauben, ihre Reaktionen zu improvisieren.
Das zweite Abenteuer besteht zu einem Grossteil aus einer Beschreibung des Wettbewerbes und dem Hintergrund, den man erfahren kann, wenn man sich erkundigt. Das ganze wird dann mit der Zeit etwas gruseliger und schlussendlich wird eine der Bräute geopfert.
Das dritte Abenteuer besteht zu einem Grossteil aus der Beschreibung einer Waldhütte, der näheren Umgebung, und einem Untergeschoss. Dort sucht die Gruppe nach drei Jugendlichen, und eventuell nach der Ursache für deren Verschwinden.
Für mehr bleibt eigentlich auch keinen Platz: Es gibt vielleicht ein oder zwei Gelegenheiten für einen Kampf, mehr aber auch nicht. Mir scheint, alle drei Abenteuer leben davon, dass die Gruppe in einer einigermassen normalen Umgebung mit etwas Störendem konfrontiert wird. “Irgendetwas stimmt hier nicht!” Und dann wird es immer unheimlicher, bis die Gruppe etwas dagegen unternimmt.
Für mich stimmt die Atmosphäre.
Als Spielleiter bin ich in der letzten Zeit nicht mehr so an jeder Menge Hintergrundmaterial interessiert. Es lähmt meine Improvisation. Gerade im ersten Abenteuer gibt es ziemlich viel Text zu all den Personen. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob mir das am Tisch dann nicht doch zu viel Text wäre. Das müsste man halt mal ausprobieren. Aber dies ist leider keine Spielrezension sondern nur eine Leserezension.
Wer hingegen noch mehr skurrile Gestalten in das Dorf einpacken will, wäre mit People of Pembrooktonshire sehr gut bedient. Die dort aufgeführten Personen passen ausgezeichnet in das Dorf. Insbesondere für das zweite und dritte Abenteuer würde ich vielleicht zwei oder drei zusätzliche Personen auswählen.
GEFÄLLT: Die sehr unterschiedlichen Abenteuer. Die Kürze der Abenteuer.
MISFÄLLT: Manche Spieler würden vermutlich gerne mehr Monster vermöbeln.
QUALITÄT: Sehr gut
PREIS: 11€ ist an der oberen Grenze
RATING: (4 von 5 Sternen)
Actually… maybe I’d rather not get involved.
Update: Actually I see that other people have been voicing what I wanted to say.
James Edward Raggi IV kicked it off by saying I Don't Get It. Replies ranged from “Fuck that”  to “Labels bad, freedom good. Mutually exclusive…”  To me, labels seem to be an integral component of any rational discussion. Without generalizations and abstraction you’ll never be able to reason about anything beyond the most immediate of details.
I didn’t get it and wrote a long rant about it. Then I deleted it again. But now I can just quote other people:
Interesting discussion here with Dan Proctor, Matt Finch, Rob Conley, Robert Fisher, Finarvyn, and many others chiming in: From The Desktop: My Final Stance on the OSR Debate by Rob Kuntz.
I’m using IRC via Bitlbee to do instant messaging in Emacs. I’ve been using the ui-fix branch of Bitlbee. Here’s how to add an Identi.ca account:
account add twitter kensanata foo account list account 6 set base_url http://identi.ca/api account 6 set mode chat account 6 set oauth false save account 6 on
Instead of “6” you need to use the correct account number.
If you already have a Twitter account with the same handle, one of the two will be called #chat_000 instead of #identica_kensanata – join us on #bitlbee @ freenode and help us fix it.
Update: I’ve been working on a patch attached to ticket #648 (using Twitter and Identica accounts with the same username) to add support for an Identica protocol.
account add identica kensanata foo account identica set mode chat save account identica on
Update: A modified form of my patch has been applied.
Auf was für Foren treibt man sich denn so herum, wenn man neue, Deutsch-sprechende Rollenspieler finden will? Gibt es ein Foren wo es mehr als üblich in der Schweiz wohnhafte Rollenspieler gibt?
Alternativen? Zählt das Disputorium des Settembrini?
I’ve noticed that some people have added my blog to their blogroll. Thank you!
Some of you have subscribed to a feed listing all changes – including non RPG pages, German pages, Comments, etc. I’m assuming that those topics are annoying you. If not, you can stop reading now.
I figured that maybe the reason is because Blogspot and similar services are having difficulties subscribing to a feed URL containing a query string (question marks and semicolons). I don’t really know what the problem is, but I have seen that one before. Anyway, I fiddled with the site setup again.
Subscribe to this URL in your feed reader – Google Reader, Bloglines, etc:
If you don’t need the full page content because you are adding it to your sidebar, you can use the following URL:
I hope that helps?
The feed icon for the RPG tag below should now link to the correct URL as well.
Bye bye Traveller category – our gaming group has decided to give Diaspora a try!
Today we had three hours. First we discussed the state of the campaign and decided to switch to Diaspora. I printed out character sheets, skill reference sheet, personal combat sheet while Harald explained a bit about the rules. Then we converted our Traveller characters. It went pretty smoothly. The free form aspects are a real boon.
We assigned a system to each one of us, and said that we’d convert the UWP to the Diaspora stats on our Campaign:Kaylash subsector wiki. We’ll convert them as we go. Technology, Environment, Resources, and three aspects, that should not be too hard. We already have a map and a lot of info on some of the systems.
I don’t think we need a Diaspora cluster. Perhaps I’m missing something? The benefit of having small clusters might be a localized game suited for people that like to switch campaigns often? We’ve been playing our biweekly game for a year, now. I think we want to keep playing in this subsector and we want to keep exploring our characters for quite a bit more.
Wish us luck!
I recently discovered that the 3.5 Private Sanctuary was still on and I’ve downloaded lots of episodes I had missed and listened to them over time. Today I heard the interview with Steve Russel of Rite Publishing. The episode was published in January 2010! Yes, it’s old news. Very old news.
Anyway, they were talking about their patronage model:
I like patronage – I was a patron for Wolgang Baur’s Open Design adventure, Empire of the Ghouls – but in the end I felt it was a bit too expensive since I wasn’t interested into getting any input and access to early releases. I found that the main-stream adventures worked for me. And I still like the Paizo adventure paths.
But patronage also allows people to essentially “commission” publishers, authors, artists, editors, and layouters to work on a niche project that nobody else would publish. Heroes of the Jade Oath, for example, was mentioned in the Rite Publishing podcast episode. Chinese inspired setting for Monte Cook’s Arcana Evolved? Wow. That seems like a small target group!
Another thing that caught my eye is their Diceless Patronage Project. I think Steve Russel contacted me via instant messaging some time during the One Page Dungeon Contest 2010 and started chatting. We talked about patronage a bit, and then he brought this project up. It’s going to be a new Amber Diceless! That’s one of the RPG systems I still have here at home, unplayed. It was published in 1991. Nineteen years ago. Wow.
Maybe I should play it again.
Anyway. I guess what I wanted to say is that patronage is more expensive than mass production. Big surprise, eh? But at the same time I feel that this is what will keep high production values around. I think that the Old School Renaissance goes to show how the operation of one person and their friends, most of them not getting any money for it, is reaching its limit: Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox, Stonehell, Lamentations of Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role Playing, Fight On magazine, etc.
My Apache error.log file for emacswiki.org is full of the following:
In addition to that, 0.35% of my access.log entries (263/74905 in the current log file) seem to result in an internal server error – which is exactly what the Apache documentation says:
I checked the two big .htaccess files (one for cgi-bin, another one for htdocs) and all the RewriteRule entries have the
[last] flag. 
How can I debug this? This is a shared hosting environment. I cannot use LogLevel.
Apparently ordinary users are running into the same problem. DrewAdams is reporting that every now and then when he’s saving a page, he gets the internal server error. Saving involves a POST request with a redirecting reply – code 302. This is theoretically non-standard but widely used:
Want to take a look?
Any recommended RPG themed Cafepress T-shirts I should look at?
If I order one I might as well order more…
Right now I’m thinking of Old School Gamer by Paul Jaquays (apparently also in support of a college fund for Mr. Jaquays’ daughter – I don’t care much for the Gygax Memorial Statue), Dungeon Master by InsaneTsharts (1484 results for T-Shirts & Gifts by this designer!?), Mindflayers!! by Horned One Trading Post (hello trademark law – get them while they last), Chaotic Neutral by CriticalHitGames RPG & Gaming Shop (love the alignment T-shirts!)… And I already have several T-shirts from the Order of the Stick store.
Leave a comment with more suggestions. Self-promotion deemed acceptable.
Shipping to Switzerland: I googled for some coupons and found that CCRAZE707 is good for the $23 shipping charge to Switzerland. Wow.
Update: Actually I switched stuff around and used CABIN707D, then clicked around for a bit, had to correct my shipping address, and somewhere along the way my coupon got lost. Apparently I did pay for shipping after all. Not good. I sent them an email letting them know about it. We’ll see how this turns out. In a similar situation when buying T-shirts from the FSF I got the money charged back to my credit card, so that turned out well.
Update: “As a courtesy I have waived the shipping on your order. We hope this information helps, and thank you for shopping at CaféPress.com!” Works for me – thanks!
Once again I was listening to Canon Puncture – a podcast mostly about indie games – and they had Tavis Allison from The Mule Abides talking about OD&D – the version from 1974 where all weapons do 1d6 damage and where the rules are so confusing that they barely make sense at all. Tavis’ take is that this is the result of the tension between Arneson, who wanted his players to not know the rules at all and just use their imagination, and Gygax, who wanted to make the game accessible to other people. The result is, as he says, a D&D flavor “that is only vaguely reflected by the published text.”
I really liked the interview! He talks about the necessity of everybody reinventing the game: What does a wand of magic missile do? Apparently it’s not in the rules. The game encourages you not only to decide for yourself, but it also teaches you (by example) how to write random tables to use instead in order to surprise everybody at the table, DM included.
Arnold comments on the episode: “That is a strange and attractive take on the game.”  I agree! And yet – so liberating! I started to write a comment, but then decided to write a longer blog post instead.
I had a very similar reaction when I started reading about the older material. What a strange and attractive take on the game indeed! I had resumed gaming at the end of 2006 with D&D 3.5 and my first campaign was reaching levels twelve, thirteen, and more. I was getting sick of high-level play in my D&D 3.5 games. Pathfinder promised to be more of the same. They were going to fix some of the problems, but not the general problem: The game was getting too complicated for my taste! D&D 4th ed. was different but not in the way I wanted it to be. It was just a different tactical game. I stumbled upon the blogs of the Old School Renaissance (OSR). A few weeks back I collected some memorable quotes that defined the experience for me.
These old school blogs promised stuff I didn’t know I was looking for, but once I had read about them, there was no forgetting them:
I felt that Tavis Allison captured all these elements quite eloquently in this interview. Recommended – unless you’ve already been reading the blogs of the Old School Renaissance in the last one or two years. If you haven’t and you’re looking for some inspiration, I have collected a large number of old school blogs on the Old School RPG Planet.
I have an Ubuntu install and being interested in saving some CPU cycles I decided I wanted to give Xubuntu a try. I tried installing the xubuntu-desktop meta-package and other stuff, logged in using the Xubuntu session, but I’ve noticed that some sort of Gnome (Nautilus?) is still running: I changed my desktop to something other than the Ubuntu default. When I log in, I see the login prompt (gdm?) with the Ubuntu background, then the Xubuntu background as my processes start up, then it switches to the Ubuntu background again and the image files on my desktop are replaced with big preview icons (!), and then it switches to the Xubuntu background again and the image files on my desktop are once again represented with a simple icon.
ps tells me I have a
nautilus --sm-client-id 2e119a910-0da7-475b-bff1-ea6cb80fe0a9 --sm-client-state-file /home/alex/.config/session-state/nautilus-1279962295.desktop running. That’s not cool. How did it get there? How can I get rid of it? Who’s starting it? Grrr.
In fact, I’d like a clean Xubuntu desktop and remove all the Ubuntu stuff. Is this possible? When I run
sudo tasksel and pick the Xubuntu Desktop option, it runs for a bit and then it aborts. I’ve just restarted it as
sudo tasksel install xubuntu-desktop instead of picking stuff interactively and it has been running for a few minutes now. We’ll see how it goes.
Update: Well, the first part went just fine. Then, in my foolishness, I decided that I needed to
tasksel remove ubuntu-desktop – and it took me many minutes to realize that this was basically wiping most of my system. Not good. I interrupted this by watching the output of
top and figuring out the pid of the
dpkg process responsible for it all. Then I spent a lot of time starting
aptitude trying to fix things. I had gotten the idea that maybe I needed to
tasksel install server – the most basic option – before doing anything else. But again, it would abort a few seconds after starting. Finally I decided to run
sudo tasksel install xubuntu-desktop again and it works, apparently. I fear the laptop will keep installing packages for another hour or two.
What a waste of time.
sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop and
sudo apt-get autoremove. I have a bad feeling about this. Will my self-compiled Emacs still work? Apparently it won’t! But there’s no more Nautilus around! So that’s a win.
We’ve played two or three sessions of Spirit of the Century and now we’ve moved our Traveller game over to Diaspora. Both Spirit of the Century and Diaspora use FATE. The system of aspects and fate points it uses seems to be a viable universal mechanic.
What is it? Each character, place, or even the campaign itself has aspects. These are free-form words or phrases that can be used for or against you. My former Traveller character has the following ten aspects:
These come out of his background (I can give you a sentence or two for every aspect), his specialty (plasma weapons), shows his strengths (violence), his weaknesses (not smart). I find that this system generalizes benefits and drawbacks, feats, stunts, beliefs, traits, instincts, and all those little extras. They’re also a help for the game master because aspects act like flags. Players want situations where their aspects come up.
The way this is balanced is by the fate point economy. You start every session with five fate points. Once you’ve rolled your dice and you realize you need an extra bonus such as a +2 if rolling fudge dice (results from -4 to +4) or maybe a +4 if you’re rolling a d20, or maybe a reroll, you explain how one of these aspects helps you, spend a fate point, and get the benefit.
Other players can also spend fate points to introduce temporary aspects which somebody else can then take advantage of. It’s a classical “aid another” maneuver: I use the propaganda aspect to explain why my character can convince the guards of their mistake, giving them the temporary aspect “seed of doubt” (free-form!) which our charismatic leader can then take advantage of to get an extra bonus or a reroll without having to pay a fate point (since I already have).
So how do you get them back? Whenever there’s a situation that could be turned to my detriment involving one of my aspects, the game master offers a fate point and the player gets to decide whether to take it or not. Suffer now in order to reroll later. “The guards flinch and their hands go to their holsters. I hear you’re fond of saying that violence can work, too? How about taking this fate chip and starting a brawl right here and now?”
Advancement using aspects means exchanging them over time. Got a real ship? Replace “I want a real ship” for “The D-DAWN is my baby now” or something else entirely such as “The villainous pirate Perikles Snowbooty must die”.
Somehow the use of aspects seems like a cool way to flesh out your characters, giving them options, personality, offer mechanical benefits without introducing a lot of subsystems such as skills, etc.
This system is more structured than simple alternatives like Bohemian’s Good At system or Joshua’s simple combat maneuvers as recommended by Telecanter over in the comments to Tim Short’s How Simple Do You Like Your Game – the blog post that prompted me to write this one.
As you probably know, our Mac Mini still runs Mac OS 10.4. Today I got my iPad. Plugged it in. Started iTunes.
I think I’m going to be angry again.