Bryce is a harsh critic of RPG modules. He doesn’t mince words. I happen to agree with his taste, however, which is why I generally enjoy reading his reviews.
I'm thinking of making a nice, English variant of these notes I used a while ago.
Can you spot any typos and layout or font problems? Download problems? License misapplied?
Update: Results are in! Bryce likes it…
I recently learned about Bryce Lynch’s adventure design contest which he is holding on RPG Geek. He said he wanted the contributions to be added to the database, and so I added mine. And I realized once again, what a wonderful resource this. Apparently every single adventure, every little house rule collection, every fantasy heartbreaker, they can all be entered into the database. I think I’m going to do this. A kind soul already added the Fight On! issues to RPG Geek. And so I think I’m going to start adding stuff I was involved in. A kind soul already added Stonehell Dungeon, where I acted as an editor.
I just submitted the following:
I like it.
Sometimes I get the feeling that people online are asking for a comprehensive RPG database of artists, editors, and so on. Well, as far as I can tell, RPG Geek serves the purpose.
I’ve recently received an email by somebody who wondered whether I’d be willing to spread the word of his contest and whether I knew anybody willing to sponsor prizes. When I started running the One Page Dungeon Contest I decided that I’d document my “process” and make this information public so that anybody who is willing to put in the hours can kickstart their own process.
The page Comments on One Page Dungeon Contest 2012 is a good place to start. It has a checklist with all the things you need to think of. It has copies of all the announcements I wrote (click Edit this page at the bottom to get the bbCode format which you can then easily adapt and paste into you own announcements on most forums); it has copies of the postings themselves (effectively listing all the forums I posted to); it also has links to the Twitter account, Facebook page and Google+ page I used to spread the word; it also has copies of the emails I wrote to past and new sponsors. If you want to build a list of sponsors, I think your best bet is to just write to as many publishers as you can think of and post an open call for sponsors in your announcement. It takes time, but the lists of past sponsors gives you a head start.
All of the sponsors I contacted were super nice. The worst that ever happened was that a person I contacted did not reply. No harm done! One prospective sponsor also wanted me to sign a contract I found unacceptable, but the people I was in touch with were all extremely friendly. So, my conclusion is that it never hurts to ask nicely.
I even kept my todo list online. I guess there is not much interesting to learn from that. It was mostly stuff I wanted to write down in the months preceding the official announcement in order to not forget anything. Sponsors that contacted me ahead of time. Judges who volunteered ahead of time.
There are similar pages for 2010, 2011 and 2013. You also need to figure out how to distribute prizes. Back in 2011 I wrote bout the tricky balance of privacy and transparency. You will also need to think about licensing issues. People will discuss it online. No matter how obvious you think it is, there will always be people who don’t understand how it works and who feel entitled to be as rude as they want. You’ll need to be able to handle this, too.
Anyway. Take a look at the notes I wrote in 2012. Anybody can do it. The question is… Do you want to run the One Page Dungeon Contest 2014?
For now, take a look at these two upcoming contests:
Case in point, today Stuart’s announcement says “All entries will be collected into one PDF released under the creative commons license.” Given my past interactions with angry dudes on the Internet makes me wonder: Which CC license? And will participants understand that depending on the exact license anybody can take the PDF and release a print product, and ask money for it? I recommend being as precise as possible.
Read Choose a License on the Creative Comons web site.
Allow modifications of your work?
- Yes, as long as others share alike
Allow commercial uses of your work?
To answer the last question, you might want to read Defining Noncommercial on the Creative Commons website. Consider this sentence in the executive summary, for example: “Both creators and users generally consider uses that earn users money or involve online advertising to be commercial”. Remember how many websites that might offer the PDF for download also involve online advertising.
And then there’s Other criticism of the non-commercial license on Wikipedia to consider…
I also recommend reading Free Culture.
The importance of Unprofessionalism.
Wenn ich beim Frühstück den Monde Diplomatique oder die WOZ lese, habe ich ab und zu das Gefühl, ich hätte etwas begriffen. Ein Satz, zwei Sätze, nur wenig vielleicht, und wie einer, der nach Worten sucht und dem es jetzt auf der Zunge liegt, versuche ich es auszusprechen, mir selber vorzusagen, doch dann kommt noch ein Biss, und noch ein Satz, ein Absatz gar, noch ein Artikel bevor ich mich ins Geschäft aufmache… Und irgendwo war doch noch etwas.
Über den Konsum, die Revolte des Einzelnen, über die Arbeitszeitreduktion, den Produktionsgewinn, die unausweichliche Verteuerung der nicht rationalisierbaren Dienstleistungen und dessen soziologischen Folgen (William Baumol, “The Cost Disease. Why Computers Get Cheapter and Health Care Doesn’t”, zitiert in Wie produktiv ist ein Streichquartett?), über die Muße, über die Klimaerwärmung und unsere Unfähigkeit, Entscheidungen zu treffen.
Das Problem ist nicht nur die Aufmerksamkeit der Informationskonsumenten sondern auch die Konzentrationsfähigkeit der Informationsproduzenten. Alles buhlt um meine Aufmerksamkeit, so dass ich kaum noch weiss, was ich selber denke. Was ich selber denken will.
Mal schauen, ob der Blog hilft, mich zu konzentrieren.
Wir sind umringt von Werbung. Verlockende Angebote überall: neue Telefone, neue Spiele, neue Kleider, neue Filme, neue Möbel, neue Musik, Sonderangebote, Sparen beim Kaufen. Der Konsum stützt die Wirtschaft, die Wirtschaft bietet Arbeit, die Arbeit bietet Geld, das Geld ermöglicht den Konsum. So verheizen wir die Umwelt. Deswegen arbeiten wir in den reichsten Ländern der Welt nicht fünfzehn Stunden die Woche sondern vierzig, fünfzig, oder sechzig Stunden die Woche.
Warum sollten wir ausbrechen wollen? Und wenn man ausbrechen wollte, wo hin? Wo bleibt die viele Freizeit, welche uns der Produktivitätgewinn eigentlich ermöglichen sollte? Das Problem ist, dass wir nicht auf dem Niveau unserer Grosseltern leben wollen. Ich will auch nicht in einem kommunistischen Land leben, dass mich zur Armut zwingt. Ich will mir meinen Konsum nicht verbieten lassen.
Der stete Kampf gegen die Verlockungen des Konsums ist die Herausforderung unserer Zeit. Jeder für sich kann die Konsumgesellschaft etwas kleiner und die Freizeitgesellschaft etwas grösser machen. Es geht darum, selektiv zu konsumieren statt mehr zu arbeiten. Ich mache schöne Ferien und kaufe mir ein iPad, verzichte aber auf das Haus im Grünen und ein Auto. Ich gehe gerne auswärts Essen, kaufe mir aber keinen neuen Fernseher, keine neue Spielkonsole, keine neue Sportausrüstung.
Ich will die Werbung nicht sehen. Ich will im Laden nicht am Regal mit all den leckeren Keksen und der guten Schokolade vorbeilaufen, weil ich in meinem Alter anfange anzusetzen. Als wir jünger waren, haben wir jede Woche eine Schachtel Eis gekauft. Damit ist jetzt leider Schluss. Genau so wenig will ich Berichte über die neusten Spiele lesen, über die neuste wetterfeste Wanderausrüstung, über die neusten Fahrräder, über die exklusiven Ferien, die schönen Stoffe für neue Bettwäsche, die Teetassen und Pfannen, die Computer und Kameras. Ich will wegschauen. Ich muss wegschauen. Meine Antwort auf die ständige Werbung ist Konsumverweigerung.
Als ich im Geschäft einmal gefragt wurde, warum ich nur 60% arbeiten wolle, gab ich zur Antwort, ich tue dies für mein Liebesleben. Meine grösste Angst war schon immer, viel zu Arbeiten, eine Karriere zu machen und dann früh zu sterben, ohne die Früchte meiner Arbeit je genossen zu haben. Ich wollte auf alle Fälle nicht einer von denen sein, der seine Beziehung auf dem Altar der Arbeit opfert. Wenn eine Karriere sich nur für einen hohen Preis erringen lässt, dann lasse ich es lieber sein, trete kürzer, bleibe in der kleinen Wohnung und träume vom schönen Regal aus Massivholz, das ich mir nicht leisten will.
Als ich nach weiterführenden Links gegoogelt habe, fand ich diesen Artikel von Beat Döbeli, der sich vor zwei Wochen zum ebenfalls Gedanken machte: Was machen wir mit den Automatisierungsgewinnen?
Kristian Köhntopp empfiehlt Land of Desire von William R. Leach (2012).
Unheimlicherweise gibt es ein Foto von mir und Beat Döbeli von Eugene. Ich bin verblüfft.
Brendan was thinking about limiting magic users on Google+ and I started thinking about my own house rule…
I’ve been using the strict reading of the B/X spellbook rules for a while in my campaign.
What I’m seeing is that magic users worry about the spells they will eventually pick because they know the number of slots is limited. Read magic is important because it grants access to scrolls and without it scrolls have no value since you can’t copy spells from scrolls.
What I’m also seeing—but I don’t know whether that is related—is very few magic users and the few magic users I’ve seen are all low-level henchmen to player characters of a different class with levels 4–6. It seems to me that magic users die quickly when the whole party is low level and that’s why my players have been avoiding them as primary characters. I don’t think this is due to my house rule.
What I’m not seeing a lot of—even though I hoped to see a lot of it—was player characters seeking out high level magic users and elves in order to gain access to new spells. The characters learn new spells from the few magic users and elves they meet during their adventures. Maybe I need to add rumors about particular spells.
For now I’m still happy with how things have turned out even though they didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped for.
More thoughts about reading B/X D&D in the links from my Ode to Ode to Black Dougal.
My websites are hosted on a virtual machine called psithyrus. It was down for many hours and it just came up again. I don’t know what happened. One moment I’m reading mail and nearly two days later it’s rebooting.
Nov 24 04:50:05 psithyrus dovecot: imap(alex): Disconnected: Logged out in=34 out=674 Nov 26 01:27:16 psithyrus kernel: imklog 5.8.11, log source = /proc/kmsg started.
Most of the sites are not terribly important—such as this wiki blog of mine—but I feel bad for the Campaign Wiki users.
Today I was asked via email whether the author of a One Page Dungeon released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license could revisit the adventure and release a different (longer?) version using a different license. Here’s what I replied, slightly edited.
You can release everything you ever wrote under as many licenses as you want. Thus, you can work on your previous One Page Dungeon Contest entry, with the same map or a different map, the same or a different text and release it under a proprietary license, a Creative Commons license, or whatever other license you like. The situation is different if you’re building on somebody else’s work: somebody else’s map, somebody else’s monsters, etc. This is true for any other of your One Page Dungeons. You wrote it, you get to change it and release it anyway you want. The only thing you cannot do is prevent other people from building on those old One Page Dungeons that you released under a CC license. But that covers only that particular map, that particular text and doesn’t affect anything else you care to publish.
You’re good to go!
Feel free to send me any other licensing questions. I’m not a lawyer but I’ve been thinking about licensing issues for a long time.
Ian Borchardt recently wrote a lengthy comment in reply to Andy Standfield’s Google+ post about determining CR/EL for monsters. He allowed me to repost it and all he asked for was me mentioning “that it was a G+ comment and therefore not a literary masterpiece – more a stream of thought.” Slightly edited.
When creating a wilderness encounter table for a sandbox game don’t bother with the details. Work out the likelihood of an encounter with creatures that feels right to you and use common sense in the application of the results. Encounters shouldn’t be in “balance” with the party.
Remember that in a sandbox game, an encounter does not actually mean that the characters have an immediate direct combat encounter with the creature. For example, a party of 1st level characters are travelling through the wilderness and you roll up an ancient blue dragon. Instant party death. right?
No. Have them encounter the dragon on the wing, hunting food. The party won’t have enough meat, magic or gold to be worth the dragon’s bother so it will probably keep on the wing. Meanwhile the characters have definitely encountered a blue dragon and can relish the magnificence of the fantasy encounter (or more likely the terror as they huddle under a tree hoping the dragon hasn’t seen them [“Ha!”] and won’t eat them).
But what’s the benefit of this encounter that wasn’t, you may ask? I’m glad you did! The party now know that there might be a lair of ancient blue dragon somewhere in the vicinity (and by that I mean easy flight range) if you are in the wilderness. They might remember this for later, once they are powerful enough to feel they have a good chance of adding dragon slayer to their resume. But in the meantime the presence of the dragon is going to colour the region through which they are travelling. For example any herds in settlements are going to be small to avoid being a tempting target. Towns might even have an arrangement with the dragon were suitable “princesses” are offered up for sacrifice – and they might actually prefer visitors to one of their own daughters. The dragon might even need a set of human hands and be looking for a set of adventurers to do a task for them. Whilst a threat works everyone knows adventurers are mercenaries and will do anything (even kill) for filthy coin.
Ed Simbalist (one of the authors of Chivalry & Sorcery) wrote an excellent essay back in the day (1978): Monsters are people too which really is recommended reading [C&S Companion – hard to get though now]. Monsters aren’t there as adventurer bait, but usually doing their own thing. Role-playing should be important for the monsters as well. For example, the party is at camp roasting a deer they shot earlier in the day, when they “encounter” a goblin patrol. Certainly this could devolve into a fight but what if the reaction roll is friendly? Perhaps the goblin patrol is actually lost and their leader doesn’t want to admit it (but pretty soon his troops, tired and hungry, are going to revolt). And that roasting leg of deer smells sooooo good. Perhaps they can bluff a tax for travelling through “their” lands. Except the people around the fire seem to be rather hard-bitten warriors rather than peasants and are not likely to be particularly surprised or overawed by a mosquito-bitten goblin troop? You now have a role-playing opportunity – never underestimate the benefit of intelligence (in the scouting rather than goblin’s lack of sense) and making friends. Even with goblins.
That’s all up to how you apply the encounters you generate. But there is still the important part of the players reaction to encounters. And that is to use reason. The sandbox game, unlike the heroic story-path game, isn’t there in the world for them. It’s a living breathing world without them, and the encounter table should realise that. At times they are going to encounter stuff that is too tough for them to beat, in which case running away is an important alternative that often seems to be forgotten by a lot of modern players that think the world must be all about them.
Special small regional encounter tables are a good thing too, although they often develop in play – for example one region I kept on rolling dwarves, which lead to the fact that there was a big mining boom going on here, so the regional chart got created with a lot of dwarvish and mining aspects. Including an encounter of gold nuggets in a creek bed. As our different encounter tables for civilised, frontier, and wilderness areas. And don’t forget all the non-monster encounters. For example, encountering an army off to war leads to “you have been recruited” or even “your horses have been recruited – here’s a chit for them (accompanied by the soldiers laughter as they lead your food and horses away)”. And affect the surrounding game. Good sets of encounter tables drive a sandbox game by presenting stuff. Also a good idea is to have a set of unique encounters on file cards. This could be stuff like villages, big monsters in lairs, and the like. When a “unique” encounter is rolled, shuffle and pull a card. That encounter is now there. Replace and top up these file cards occasionally, and remember to keep track of where the used ones were used.
My own take on wilderness encounters can be found in my Swiss Referee Style Manual.
When: 20 November, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))
Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs – yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
First suggested: June 2013
Supporter(s): Naomi, Nela, Richie, Dominique, Raffaella, Tom, Tim, Yvonne