RPG

https://campaignwiki.org/rpg/ This page lists the most recent journal entries related to role-playing games (RPG). There are some more pages on the related German page (Rollenspiele).

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2021-02-16 Still thinking about a new campaign

Yeah, I really need to think about a new campaign. I think it’s the pandemic blues.

So, what’s on the table? I’m writing things down mostly as a way to think it through. Writing as learning, as I’m fond of saying.

What rules?

I like Halberds and Helmets but I’ve run it a lot, and I’m willing to try Traveller and Burning Wheel again.

What I like about Halberds and Helmets is that it’s my favourite set of house rules, and I with the Alpine mini-setting generator I have the perfect starting point. Implied pantheon, monsters, treasures, temples, settlements, wilderness, factions, spells. A rich tapestry to start with!

What I like about Classic Traveller is the free wheeling skill-based setup where combat is harsh and there’s no advancement. I’ve read the blog posts in the Classic Traveller: Out of the Box series and they’ve rekindled that fascination with the retro-future that is Traveller. And I’ve started working on a rich Traveller subsector generator which I hope to one day get up to the same level as the one for Halberds and Helmets.

What I like about Burning Wheel is that it provides opportunity for a slow, maybe emotional development. I’m listening to the one-to-one episodes by Judd Karlman and Sean Nittner in the Actual Play podcast starting with the Shoeless Peasant and I’m loving them.

How many?

The last point also makes me think that perhaps I’d like to run a game for fewer people. Instead of aiming for six people so that most of the time we have four or five players at the table, I’d aim much lower: one, two, or three players. Perhaps that is also better for online play?

How long?

In a similar vein, perhaps I need to play shorter games. These days the games I’m in start at 19:30 and got til 22:00, or they start at 20:15 and go to 23:00 or later: 2½h and more. It’s tiring largely because it feels like work, and because I’m not looking at people but at tiny screens. Like, 1h game, break, 1h game?

And since I’m also doing this to overcome the pandemic blues, perhaps I need to make time for socialising. So I don’t want to just game. I want to talk with people about their lives, their jobs, their projects, their hobbies, just a few words, but all in all perhaps we can spend a few minutes before the game and after game on social stuff? I used to be very much against this: “I came to play, not to talk about our latest shopping.” Not any more. Perhaps I do need to hear about the things people bought, cooked, ate, and so on.

How often?

I’m unsure. Perhaps we can get a weekly table going? I think I’d like that. I used to have a weekly table a few years ago. Right now one of the campaigns I’m is ever second Wednesday, which is cool, regular, dependable, plannable. The other one is “whenever” and we use a Dudle to pick dates (a Doodle alternative). Perhaps people prefer that flexibility? I’d be ok with either solution.

I work Monday to Thursday, so I’d prefer Thursday or Friday evenings, or the weekends. Specially now, in winter, while the pandemic is on. I’m also ready to play Fridays during the day since I don’t work. But I think I’m flexible. I’m in the Central European Timezone (CET), UTC+1.

What language?

German or English. If we’re picking German, my wife might also join. I might mail some old RPG friends that moved away, back to Basel, back to Germany.

If we’re picking English, we might have a larger pool of unknown people willing to join. I got mail from B. in Sweden, but I don’t speak Swedish and he doesn’t speak German so it’d have to be English.

On Mastodon, P. said he’d be interested and he’s OK with either one.

What platform?

Yes, it’s tricky! The great fragmentation is ongoing. I have Zoom and Skype installed on the iPad and I hate them for all the spying the great powers are all involved in; and I hate them for the surveillance capitalism paying for so much of this. But I have to confess, they work. I also hear that Discord works well. But again, it all looks so shady. I’d prefer free software.

For one of the games I’m in we’ve been using Jitsi. We picked a Jitsi server that’s run by a local Internet service provider an RPG friend of mine is using (Jitsi by Cyon). My ISP runs a different one, so that would be an alternative (Jitsi by Init7). There’s plenty of others, I’m sure. It works well enough. We often all reduce video quality to the minimum. There’s also the option of switching off video completely.

Another option I’d be willing to try is Signal. Apparently there’s a limit of five people for video, but I don’t think we need more than five. The screen is tiny, but if all you want to do is have a look at the faces of people you’re talking with, then perhaps that’s good enough? Also, it doesn’t look like work!

All in all I’d say simpler is better. I’m willing to try Signal, and I’m willing to try Jitsi. And if we’re running out of options, we can always fall back to Skype and Zoom.

Dice?

In one of the games I’m in we’re using Roll 20. It looks nice. It also encourages people to set up a ton of macros. I know I have. And it encourages referees to prepare maps, and once you have maps people like to place their tokens, and soon the theatre of the mind is replaced with the battlemap. I’d like to keep the dice roller, though. It’s nice.

In the other game I’m in we just roll our own dice and that’s it. It’s not as nerve rattling as watching other pepole roll their dice, but you can wail and howl all you want after hearing the result, so my feeling is that it doesn’t really matter.

Again, simpler is better. We’d roll our own dice at first, for sure. Or just log into Roll 20 for the dice rolling.

Comments on 2021-02-16 Still thinking about a new campaign

How did Just Halberds turn out for you, by the way? Since you mentioned liking Classic Traveller’s freeform nature and your fantasy mini-setting generator, which seems super compatible with Just Halberds. Could be an interesting middleground between the two.

Malcolm 2021-02-17 06:24 UTC


Yeah, good question. I ran a handful of sessions for a friend and some kids, in German. It might have worked somehow. Combat and taking “damage” was still weird. Do we roll endlessly against that Ettin? Do we establish stakes before we roll and just roll once? For the moment I’m not all that interested in picking it up again.

– 2021-02-17 12:32 UTC


This was made by a CS Student! It works well with audio/ video and I like the sounds. https://magicalscrolls.com/roll/

There is also Dice With Friends

– Oliver 2021-02-17 14:21 UTC


I like the simple magic scroll site! Thanks.

– Alex 2021-02-17 15:34 UTC


When you say you like the Roll 20 dice rolling, are you talking about the fancy 3D dice that (I presume, haven’t seen them in action) roll around so you can get excited about them as they roll, or just the text/chat dice? I find the chat dice pretty bland and a bit fiddly. I think I prefer rolling my own dice, but I guess there is something to be said for everyone seeing the results simultaneously so that we can all groan together. 🙂

In the best “non-compromise” I’ve seen people had two cameras, one for their face and one for their dice tray. 🙂 This one adds some complexity/cost in the setup of course and may not be for everyone.

– Björn Buckwalter 2021-02-18 17:46 UTC


Haha, exactly. But as you say, the benefit is small and rolling your own dice is still the simplest solution. We can collectively groan after the roll instead of as we roll – not much of a difference, perhaps. 😄

Perhaps using phones instead of laptops would add an interesting option: pointing the camera at things like dice. As the home office drags into its second year I’m noticing that the actual videos are rare and that the sound of a voice is much more important after the exchange of some smiles and hand waving.

– Alex 2021-02-19 08:49 UTC


I like the face video in online games to be able to read when people are eager to cut in. Or have left to go to the bathroom. Or are distracted, programming. 😉

The main thing is that I find it easier to know when it is OK to cut in without interrupting someone else or stepping on toes. Those ongoing visual cues we get in a face-to-face group conversation. More important the more people involved. It isn’t perfect due to lag, but better than audio-only in my experience.

I’m thinking laptop camera for face and phone camera for dice could work for most of us nowadays, or just delegate all rolls to the person who has a good setup for the benefit of simultaneous despair!

– Björn Buckwalter 2021-02-19 21:27 UTC


Good points!

– Alex 2021-02-21 11:41 UTC

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2021-02-11 Transporting suspects

I’ve been thinking about Traveller and Hex Describe again. I’d like to add more “quests” – or patron encounters, as Traveller would say. People that provide some adventure. And I decided upon the following: on a small starport, they are looking for a ship to bring a murder suspect to a nearby big starport.

This is what it looks like:

0403: This is Cov, UWP D99A356-8. There is a gas giant in this system.

Cov is larger than Earth, with a diameter of about 14400km. The atmosphere is very dense. The high levels of carcinogenic nano particles make filter masks mandatory.

A few thousand people live around the Cov starport. The settlement was originally a penal colony for Wifema (_0204_) and gained independence 50 years ago. The resentment is still strong among the locals.

When terrorists on Wifema (_0204_) turned out to be locals, it didn’t take long before the navy showed up, overthrew the old order on Cov, and installed a puppet government, currently led by Lan Gen. Curfews, patrols, interrogations, allegations of torture, and occasional revelations thereof provide fertile grounds for more shootings, more bombs, more assassinations. These are bad times.

Cov has a class D starport. All you can see is the toll house. The harbour master’s office is probably there as well. A bunch of clerks look up as you enter.

The harbour master Tajeddigt Tonui greets any new arrivals in person; they’re taciturn and grumpy. Currently, they’re holding murder suspect Alimah Khatibi, but capital crimes are usually judged in Wifema (_0204_) and the harbour master needs a ship to transport the suspect there. This is a case of domestic violence with the suspect accused of murdering their partner. The body has been found and the evidence is overwhelming. “This case is as good as decided!” says Tajeddigt Tonui. In truth, however, the deed was done by a close relative and Alimah Khatibi is being framed. “I’m innocent, I swear!” they say.

The locals are rich and well off. Economic refugees from neighbouring systems are welcomed for the internal labour marked needs plenty of new hands. At the starport, various agencies are trying to enlist all who came with low passage. The biggest of these agencies is the office of Ishizu Banking, run by Baron Ji Xiaodan.

I think I like it. I have a bunch of “murder case” templates, and these don’t show up too often. I like it. It’s a good model, I think.

Comments on 2021-02-11 Transporting suspects

This is very cool!

The results are very gamable 😀

Again this is bias here but I really like the bullet point format Winters Daughter by Gavin Norman uses.

Could the output emulate that at all

For paragraphs I really like Guy Fullertons The Hyqous Vaults as an example. Its free to download and he has a great way of using short snappy sentences. The length never feels too long to get into your head at the table.

– Oliver 2021-02-11 20:51 UTC


Using bullets would be no problem at all, for Hex Describe. I think the problem is me: are bullet points very important if you have bold, italic, underline, and paragraph breaks to work with? I fear that the information for the quest broken up into three paragraphs (or bullet points) makes them “as important” as some of the other info. And I’m not sure how well that works for the reader.

Let’s try and compare it, though. @wandererbill also mentioned that he’d differentiate player info from referee info, somehow.

0403: This is Cov, UWP D99A356-8. There is a gas giant in this system.

Cov is larger than Earth, with a diameter of about 14400km. The atmosphere is very dense. The high levels of carcinogenic nano particles make filter masks mandatory.

A few thousand people live around the Cov starport. The settlement was originally a penal colony for Wifema (_0204_) and gained independence 50 years ago. The resentment is still strong among the locals.

When terrorists on Wifema (_0204_) turned out to be locals, it didn’t take long before the navy showed up, overthrew the old order on Cov, and installed a puppet government, currently led by Lan Gen. Curfews, patrols, interrogations, allegations of torture, and occasional revelations thereof provide fertile grounds for more shootings, more bombs, more assassinations. These are bad times.

Cov has a class D starport. All you can see is the toll house. The harbour master’s office is probably there as well. A bunch of clerks look up as you enter.

  • Patron: the harbour master Tajeddigt Tonui greets any new arrivals in person; they’re taciturn and grumpy.
  • Quest: the harbour master needs a ship to transport the murder suspect Alimah Khatibi to Wifema (_0204_) because capital crimes are usually judged there
  • Case: This is a case of domestic violence with the suspect accused of murdering their partner. The body has been found and the evidence is overwhelming.
  • “This case is as good as decided!” says Tajeddigt Tonui
  • “I’m innocent, I swear!” says Alimah Khatibi
  • Referee: In truth, however, the deed was done by a close relative and Alimah Khatibi is being framed

The locals are rich and well off. Economic refugees from neighbouring systems are welcomed for the internal labour marked needs plenty of new hands. At the starport, various agencies are trying to enlist all who came with low passage. The biggest of these agencies is the office of Ishizu Banking.

  • Patron: the boss of Ishizu Banking is supreme director Baron Ji Xiaodan
  • Quest: ...

I don’t know.

– Alex 2021-02-11 22:37 UTC


I dig the bullets!

  • Patron:
  • Quest:

These are super helpful to my eye!

– Oliver 2021-02-12 04:00 UTC


Compromise: using the sidebar?

Patron in the sidebar

– Alex 2021-02-12 21:16 UTC


I dig it Sidebars ftw

– Oliver 2021-02-14 20:23 UTC

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2021-02-10 How much generated information?

In 2018, I started Hex Describe as “a tool that would generate both a map and a description of said map”. It has grown quite a bit in this time, and so the promise of fractal nature has caught up with me. If you can generate a description of a hex, you can generate the description of a town in the hex, you can generate the people in the town, you can generate the character’s equipment, their stats, some words about their personality, possible missions they’re on, quests they might be willing to hand out, their friends and enemies… where does it stop?

These days I’m mostly busy writing random tables for a Traveller subsector. There’s the universal world profile (UWP) to provide a starter, and bases, but I also generate ships, and ships have crew, and I generate characters for the crews, they have names and characteristics, and appropriate skills… where does it stop?

@wandererbill recently said that “hex descriptions are the haiku of adventure writing”, and I agree. At the same time, I’m the author of a lot of random tables, assembled by programs into endless documents, a fire-hose of information you might never need… So… I dunno. I recently added patrol cruisers.

The Silver Gazelle is a type T patrol cruiser (400t, streamlined). The pilot of this ship is Dame Matsuo Shuko. B45B6B Pilot-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1. The navigator is Dawit Zinga. 9B3A87 Navigation-2 Ship’s Boat-1. The first engineer is Mashiba Fukashi. 429845 Engineer-2 Foil-2 Jack-o-T-1 Vacc Suit-1. The second engineer is Muraoka Minako. 9786A3 Engineer-1 Admin-1 Fwd Obsvr-1 Gunnery-1. The third engineer is Laura McCauley. 84A8A7 Engineer-1 Mechanical-1 Gunnery-1. The medic is Dai Xueman. 3947B8 Medical-1 Electronic-1 Jack-o-T-1. The first gunner is Adannaya Oyiakwan. 797C84 Gunnery-3 Vacc Suit-1. Their turret has a pulse laser mounted. The second gunner is Pallaton. 436976 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1. Their turret has a pulse laser mounted. The third gunner is Ayashe. 8488A8 Gunnery-1 Shotgun-2 Laser Rifle-1 Cutlass-1. Their turret has a missile racks mounted. The fourth gunner is Yaw Sayyid. BB58A2 Gunnery-3 Vacc Suit-1 Ship’s Boat-1. Their turret has a missile racks mounted. The ship also transports a navy squad of eight: lieutenant Catherine Hattersley. 27C6A9 Navigation-2 Ship’s Boat-2 Electronic-1 Engineering-1 Admin-1; ensign Betty Farrow. 754676 Engineering-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Bayonet-1 Gunnery-1; private Táng Xiaobo. 657387 Gunnery-1 Electronic-1 Vacc Suit-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; ensign Bruce Boulton. 356876 Laser Rifle-2 Gunnery-1 Engineering-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; private Tokura Sadatoshi. 477368 Engineering-1 Cutlass-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1; ensign Kayla Seabaugh. 675784 Ship’s Boat-2 Jack-o-T-1 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Baron Mpho Gnabry. C7A69C Ship’s Boat-2 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Wakino Takafumi. 7B4866 Vacc Suit-1 Engineering-1 Jack-o-T-1 Gunnery-1. The Silver Gazelle is currently looking for pirate 「nearby crime boss」.

I mean, it’s impressive. It’s cool. I can start reading. The pilot is of knightly rank! The name is cool. Engineer Fukashi is good with the foil. Did he compete? The ship has two pulse lasers and two missile racks mounted. Yikes! And those gunners. Gunner Ayashe is quite the weapon master. And then eight navy personnel!

I guess it’s cool if one day the part has to board one of them? Or join one of them as they assault a crime lord’s safe house?

But also… that’s a lot of text. A veritable wall of text.

If I knew that the target was a book, then I’d think about little icons to help the reader orient themselves. Better skimming! If I knew that the target was a browser, then I’d think about little CSS and JS tricks to fold stuff up, you’d see ship type, pilot, and mission; “show me more” gives you the crew positions and ship weapons, and the existence of a navy squad, with the lieutenant; a second “show me more” gives you the details of either crew stats or navy squad stats?

Or… it’s all too complicated anyway?

Comments on 2021-02-10 How much generated information?

Really good posts! I like the show me more idea, but you are right.

My favorite table tools are short lists of tables and NPCs.

Maybe keep the default short or and this is more complex, limit the amount of text generated and only display the extremes of the results. For example a Traveller character death. You could see more if you want it but the unique things are highlighted?

For example you could see the NPCs favorite color is red if you want but his dog having magic laser eyes is highlighted by default.

Good logic here, its an interesting question.

– Oliver 2021-02-10 16:44 UTC


Hehe. Perhaps I need some sort of highlighting, indeed!

The Silver Gazelle is a type T patrol cruiser (400t, streamlined). The pilot of this ship is Dame Matsuo Shuko. B45B6B Pilot-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1. The navigator is Dawit Zinga. 9B3A87 Navigation-2 Ship’s Boat-1. The first engineer is Mashiba Fukashi. 429845 Engineer-2 Foil-2 Jack-o-T-1 Vacc Suit-1. The second engineer is Muraoka Minako. 9786A3 Engineer-1 Admin-1 Fwd Obsvr-1 Gunnery-1. The third engineer is Laura McCauley. 84A8A7 Engineer-1 Mechanical-1 Gunnery-1. The medic is Dai Xueman. 3947B8 Medical-1 Electronic-1 Jack-o-T-1. The first gunner is Adannaya Oyiakwan. 797C84 Gunnery-3 Vacc Suit-1. Their turret has a pulse laser mounted. The second gunner is Pallaton. 436976 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1. Their turret has a pulse laser mounted. The third gunner is Ayashe. 8488A8 Gunnery-1 Shotgun-2 Laser Rifle-1 Cutlass-1. Their turret has missile racks mounted. The fourth gunner is Yaw Sayyid. BB58A2 Gunnery-3 Vacc Suit-1 Ship’s Boat-1. Their turret has missile racks mounted. The ship also transports a navy squad of eight: lieutenant Catherine Hattersley, 27C6A9 Navigation-2 Ship’s Boat-2 Electronic-1 Engineering-1 Admin-1; ensign Betty Farrow. 754676 Engineering-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Bayonet-1 Gunnery-1; private Táng Xiaobo. 657387 Gunnery-1 Electronic-1 Vacc Suit-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; ensign Bruce Boulton. 356876 Laser Rifle-2 Gunnery-1 Engineering-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; private Tokura Sadatoshi. 477368 Engineering-1 Cutlass-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1; ensign Kayla Seabaugh. 675784 Ship’s Boat-2 Jack-o-T-1 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Baron Mpho Gnabry. C7A69C Ship’s Boat-2 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Wakino Takafumi. 7B4866 Vacc Suit-1 Engineering-1 Jack-o-T-1 Gunnery-1. The Silver Gazelle is currently looking for pirate 「nearby crime boss」.

I hesitate somewhat because I feel like “highlighting” is the kind of manual markup a reader would perform as part of making the text their own. At least when thinking of it as a printed object. It’s overstepping bounds between author and reader, somewhat?

– Alex 2021-02-10 17:24 UTC


Old school underlining?

The Silver Gazelle is a type T patrol cruiser (400t, streamlined). The pilot of this ship is Dame Matsuo Shuko. B45B6B Pilot-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1. The navigator is Dawit Zinga. 9B3A87 Navigation-2 Ship’s Boat-1. The first engineer is Mashiba Fukashi. 429845 Engineer-2 Foil-2 Jack-o-T-1 Vacc Suit-1. The second engineer is Muraoka Minako. 9786A3 Engineer-1 Admin-1 Fwd Obsvr-1 Gunnery-1. The third engineer is Laura McCauley. 84A8A7 Engineer-1 Mechanical-1 Gunnery-1. The medic is Dai Xueman. 3947B8 Medical-1 Electronic-1 Jack-o-T-1. The first gunner is Adannaya Oyiakwan. 797C84 Gunnery-3 Vacc Suit-1. Their turret has a pulse laser mounted. The second gunner is Pallaton. 436976 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1. Their turret has a pulse laser mounted. The third gunner is Ayashe. 8488A8 Gunnery-1 Shotgun-2 Laser Rifle-1 Cutlass-1. Their turret has missile racks mounted. The fourth gunner is Yaw Sayyid. BB58A2 Gunnery-3 Vacc Suit-1 Ship’s Boat-1. Their turret has missile racks mounted. The ship also transports a navy squad of eight: lieutenant Catherine Hattersley. 27C6A9 Navigation-2 Ship’s Boat-2 Electronic-1 Engineering-1 Admin-1; ensign Betty Farrow. 754676 Engineering-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Bayonet-1 Gunnery-1; private Táng Xiaobo. 657387 Gunnery-1 Electronic-1 Vacc Suit-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; ensign Bruce Boulton. 356876 Laser Rifle-2 Gunnery-1 Engineering-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; private Tokura Sadatoshi. 477368 Engineering-1 Cutlass-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1; ensign Kayla Seabaugh. 675784 Ship’s Boat-2 Jack-o-T-1 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Baron Mpho Gnabry. C7A69C Ship’s Boat-2 Gunnery-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Wakino Takafumi. 7B4866 Vacc Suit-1 Engineering-1 Jack-o-T-1 Gunnery-1. The Silver Gazelle is currently looking for pirate 「nearby crime boss」.

It’s subtle in my browser. 🤔

– Alex 2021-02-10 17:41 UTC


Could be sidestepping the readers role.

I read too much Ten Foot Pole, so take this with a Bryce sized grain of salt. Bryce always says its always better to give less first.

Its easier for the mind to fill in the vanilla, the spice is the GM fuel 😀

Defining GM fuel is an interesting question I don’t have an answer to.

It must have something to human psychology

– Oliver 2021-02-11 20:45 UTC


It’s true. Sometimes the words have to be pruned. I’ll just say that when I run a game, all the things I should look up, all the individual characters I want to create, but never do, because I’m at the table and I’m under a lot of pressure, all these things that I also don’t want to prep because they’re boring, I can now generate. So the thing is: what will I actually make use of at the table, even if it isn’t very original.

Compare the pirate base:

There is a naval base called Superior Warlocks in the system under captain Lokni, 47788A, Body Pistol-3 Ship’s Boat-2 Pilot-2 SMG-1 Admin-1 Electronic-1 Engineering-1 Jack-o-T-1. There are about 140 people at the base right now. If you need individuals, pick from the following squad led by lieutenant Jian Duyi, 93B492, Cutlass-3 Mechanical-1 Admin-1 Vacc Suit-1 Fwd Obsvr-1; private Chike Dudzai, B395B5, Revolver-2 Fwd Obsvr-1 Gunnery-1; ensign Unathi Diallo, A54689, Navigation-2 Shotgun-1 Computer-1 Vacc Suit-1; private Sù Qianfan, 9ACA78, Gunnery-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Mechanical-1; ensign Dame Yafiah Pachachi, B2739B, Gunnery-2 Navigation-1 Electronic-1 Mechanical-1; private Kou Lì, B66983, Vacc Suit-1 Fwd Obsvr-1 Ship’s Boat-1 Jack-o-T-1; private Ashley Buckby, B797B8, Laser Rifle-1 Engineering-1 Electronic-1 Auto Rifle-1; private Huang Wen, BA4658, Ship’s Boat-1 Fwd Obsvr-1 Engineering-1.

And this naval base:

There is a hidden pirate base in the system. The pirate captain is Abeytu, 384497, Dagger-1 Medical-1 Gambling-1. Their right hand is Baroness Fuchizaki Shuko, 8B632C, Forgery-1. There are 6 more pirates in the building, 777777, Shotgun-1.

I find the former much more interesting. I start thinking about the navy crew as the people on the Nostromo, or the Rocinante. The later pirates read like … cannon fodder. I’m not sure that’s how I’d like to run the game. I can’t replace orcs and goblins with pirates. This is what disturbs me about Star Wars these days: all the stormtroopers dying left and right, the senselessness of all the massacres. So I’d definitely not want my game to go there.

Just today @wandererbill mentioned Traveller combat and mentioned how it was complicated and perhaps it could be replaced by an opposed 2d6 roll. Perhaps. Perhaps it could. But then again, perhaps I need more experience. If the end effect is that for most situations violence is a 50% chance of a one-shot death (or at least heavy wounds that take a long time to heal), then we can use that for role-play: everybody is afraid of a fight and ready to negotiate. For that to work, the world must react appropriately to people in full body armour moving around the setting, though. And then having individual squad members might make the game more interesting. Also, potential allies are more interesting they are individualised, so perhaps spending space on navy seals is better than spending it on pirates. Or perhaps rogues would appreciate interesting casinos and thieves’ dens, too? For that Han Solo campaign?

– Alex 2021-02-11 22:25 UTC


I do totally get what you mean.

I like the details to keep NPCs human.

I think the largest feedback I can give here is that the 2nd example stuck in my head more.

With the first example my eyes got lost in the details and drifted.

Maybe some sort of click to expand function?

That does limit Hex Describes ability to export those super sweet PDFs though...

Maybe with PDF export have the details moved to a footnote section of the PDF

You do raise interesting points

– Oliver 2021-02-12 04:09 UTC

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2021-02-06 Governments for Traveller

Traveller has a subsector generation system where about half the hexes have a system, then you roll 2d6 for the characteristics of the various worlds, with the numbers influencing each other, generating a list of Universal World Profiles (UWP).

You end up with data like this:

Xushi            0101  C69A595-6     SG   Ni Wa
Stengo           0103  E610679-7      G   Na Ni
Shudro           0104  D345876-2      S  

It provides starport class, planetary size, atmosphere, hydrographic percentage, population, government, law, and tech level, plus the presence of other aspects: in this case S stands for a Scout base and G stands for a gas giant, and the trade codes are based on the characteristics already determined with Ni standing for non-industrial, Wa for water world (the A in fourth place means it’s 100% covered in water), and Na for non-agricultural.

I mean, cool, right? Government-7 means “Balkanization. No central ruling authority exists; rival governments compete for control.” But a few more words wouldn’t hurt, I’d say. It’s a bit too raw for my kind of prep.

The system has fallen apart into multiple polities: each urban centre claiming sovereignty, involved in border disputes, internal squabbles, unable to deal with the imperial order in the subsector. The starport falls within the sphere of influence of Laifo. It’s a mess.

I like this much better. And so I’ve been spending my time describing all sorts of things using random tables for Hex Describe to generate an entire subsector description. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m already happy with the governments.

It’s a bit tricky because in theory some of these descriptions interfere with each other. Very small systems have microgravity. Some have no atmosphere. Some systems are water worlds and have no significant land mass. So you can’t write descriptions assuming normal gravity, atmosphere, or land mass. That’s hard.

But even with all these problems, it’s still great. It generates small ships with crews, their characteristics (but no equipment), it sometimes generates a little backstory for small settlements or some government types, and so on.

Comments on 2021-02-06 Governments for Traveller

There are so many things to consider. The Traveller system allows systems to have a population of 0 (less than ten people) and a government type up to 5. If you look at the first result of the government-5 table, however, you see that it doesn’t make sense:

The entire system has been divvied up between a handful of tech giants that provide civil full services for their customers. Entire families and buildings “belong” to their [with company name], [and company name], or [and company name]. Their homes, their schools, their transportation, it all belongs to one of these companies. It’s a feudal technocracy.

So now I’m writing specialised government descriptions for systems with no populatin. Like this one:

0107: This is Fleflu, UWP 200032-7. There is a gas giant in this system.

Fleflu is a small planet, about the size of Luna, with a diameter of about 3200km.

The mining opportunities favour the construction of underground settlements.

While unsettled, there’s an old satellite system still in operation that provides a forum for visitors. A bunch of ship captains calling themselves the Friends of Fleflu uses the forum to deliberate on rare policy decisions and enforces them, using the surveillance systems of satellite network to identify trespassers. No hunting on Fleflu!

Fleflu has a class C starport. A small frontier style Galactic Corporation installation is here for small repairs. A bunch of water tanks nearby tell you all there is to know about the fuel situation. Unrefined fuel only!

OK, cool. And “no hunting” seems to make sense. But check out the UWP: 2000 means a small size, no atmosphere, no water, and no population. What now? Do I need to special case this as well? Or rewrite all the special case to make sure it doesn’t refer to an atmosphere? Or do we assume that there is some sort of underground life form that is adapted to the vacuum. Headache!

– Alex 2021-02-07 11:39 UTC


Just interpret it liberally. “No hunting” could also mean “no bounty hunting of fugitives.”

Sean Conner 2021-02-07 19:50 UTC


Ouch, cruel! But it does make me want to add a scene where the party follows a well known criminal to the system…

– 2021-02-08 07:48 UTC

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2021-02-06 Blogosphere

Advice from the Blogosphere 2020, by Anne, on DIY & Dragons. There is nothing I have to add. I wish I had kept up my note keeping on good blog posts.

I sometimes post links to my RPG Mastodon account, @kensanata. I usually include a small quote. In honour of Anne’s post, I’ll trawl my own account for links I recently posted. It’s better than nothing, I guess.

And I’d love to see you on Mastodon. 😄


“Advice from the Blogosphere 2020: So, last year, I started what I hope will become a tradition for myself by posting about my favorite links from the previous year. I built this collection of links as I saw them throughout the year, with an emphasis on saving posts that gave advice about how to do things.” – Advice from the Blogosphere 2020, by Anne, on DIY & Dragons


I like this concept: pick a random PDF file from your folder and write a short review. So I read a few very short reviews, and followed the link to an older blog post in the same category. The fun part is reading about James’ likes and dislikes. – The RPG Folder I Caught in the Act, by James V. West, on Doomslakers


« In 2000-2010 it was still 80% of people joining as a teenager. Since 2015 70% who join are adults. » – Age of D&D new joiners jumped ~5 yrs since 2015 , by Xaosseed, on Seed of Worlds


Free Kriegsspiel… «I ran a one-shot over zoom last weekend with characters that looked like this: “You’re a paladin. You have good fighting skills, full armor, a sword and shield - and you can choose either the ability to try healing wounds through prayer, or to try turning the undead. Oh, and you have any 3 standard adventuring supplies.”» – [1], by Gundobad, on Gundobad Games

It’s … very free. I don’t know whether I like it. I think I need a little more system than just referee fiat.


This wiki with links to RPG adventures needs more love… Links to Adventures. I just added a link today.

Nearly 100 rooms: “Enchanted gremlins made of cherry pits, trapped devils with whom to deal, treasure to steal, a wizard’s corpse to loot, creatures frozen since the ice age to battle, dinosaurs to let loose, factions to fall into, and at least two rooms where it’s snowing all the time.” – The Cherry Crypts: a big ol' dungeon, by Linden, on Lapidary Ossuary


The URL says 2018 but this is a recent blog post by Eric Diaz about weapons in various editions of D&D. Weapons distinctions - brief D&D history, by Eric Diaz, on Methods & Madness.

My own personal approach is 1d6 damage for all weapons; but with strength bonuses and magic items you can still make killer melee fighting characters. I do remember that one very strong dwarf with the +2 dagger of speed, giving them two attacks of +5 to hit and 1d6+5 damage.


Oh, excellent writing advice from Jacob Hurst: don’t write and then A happened, and then B happened, and then C happened. Instead, write A happened but then B happened, therefore C happened, and keep repeating. Apparently from a Trey Parker and Matt Stone interview where they talk about how they structure their South Park Stories. I had never thought about it like that. Backgrounds, Adventures and but therefore, by Jacob Hurst, on Swordfish Islands

I wrote a longer response in the comments, here: 2021-01-19 Listening to Burning Wheel Actual Play.

I started listening to @Judd and @seannittner’s Shoeless Peasant podcast. I’m two episodes in and I love how different it is from my games. I’m thinking I’d love to run such a slow and deliberate one-on-one game. I was clearly not ready to play like that a few years ago, but I’m thinking that perhaps now I am.


“I (Name) swear before the Dragon Council to serve the Guild of Adventurers and no other master for the period of time necessary to achieve the ninth level within the aforementioned guild.” – Adventurer Guild Contract, by Lance Duncan, on 42 Rolls of Duck Tape

Interesting idea!


Thinking about play styles… I dunno, I used to be a lot more interested in these things. These days I guess everybody should read such a typology at least once so that we can all at least use the same words. But then my take is that enjoyment is a multifaceted thing that I enjoy all the things, some more so, some less so, some more when I do it, some more when others do it. And I think casual players are important for cohesion (like at the work-place, actually).

Knowing Your Players and Their Kicks, Lich van Winkle, on his blog


Ah, Melan diagrams to illustrate dungeon complexity… I like what The Alexandrian did, here, taking The Sunless Citadel and illustrating how the Melan diagrams work.

Jaquaying the Dungeon – Addendum: How to Use a Melan Diagram, by Justin Alexander, on The Alexandrian


I think that’s as far back as my posts go, the rest is archived offline...

Comments on 2021-02-06 Blogosphere

Thanks for keeping the ball rolling!

Anne 2021-02-07 22:04 UTC


Interesting follow-ups to play styles:

– Alex 2021-02-19 16:48 UTC

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2021-01-30 Traveller Subsector Description

On paper, it’s a match made in heaven: Traveller subsector generation, a well established practice, easily translated into a program, and I implemented it once or twice. Once such app is hosted on Campaign Wiki. It was based on Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller 1st ed., because that’s what I was using at the time. Then somebody asked for Classic Traveller, and then somebody else asked for the Merchant Princes extension. Sure, why not.

The problem is that the map is based on the Universal World Profile (UWP) list, and the UWP list is pretty austere. When running a game, the information can be used to infer some information, but it takes some familiarity. It’d be great if we could “expand” these codes into something that can be used at the table. And by that I don’t mean to say that we should expand the following to “Starport class A, 3200km diameter, no atmosphere, no water, a few ten thousand people, representative republic, weapons of a strict military nature are forbidden (machine guns, automatic rifles).” The trade codes are derived from the numbers given. In the example I’ve been using, those dry stats result in the trade goods “high Tech, non-industrial, vacuum.”

And of course, there are the bases and the presence of gas giants: in the example given, we have “an imperial consulate, an establishment by the Travellers’ Aid Society (TAS), a naval base, and a gas giant.”

Sogeeran          0502 A200443-14  CT N G  Ht Ni Va
                       ||||||| |    |
Ag Agricultural        ||||||| |    Bases     In Industrial
As Asteroid            ||||||| +- Tech        Lo Low Population
Ba Barren              ||||||+- Law           Lt Low Technology
De Desert              |||||+- Government     Na Non-Agricultural
Fl Fluid Oceans        ||||+- Population      Ni Non-Industrial
Ga Garden              |||+- Hydro            Po Poor
Hi High Population     ||+- Atmosphere        Ri Rich
Ht High Technology     |+- Size               Va Vacuum
Ic Ice-Capped          +- Starport            Wa Water World

Bases: Naval – Scout – Research – TAS – Consulate – Pirate – Gas Giant

All of that we could surely turn into a “hex description” … but I had a problem: Hex Describe doesn’t parse the UWP – it parses the output of Text Mapper. So either I had to adapt Hex Describe so it parses the UWP of my Traveller Subsector Generator (and other UWP generators), or I’d change Text Mapper to produce output I could use in Hex Describe.

I chose the second option: Text Mapper already has various algorithms, and I already had an experimental “Stars” algorithm based on some Stars Without Numbers ideas, but it hadn’t gone anywhere. I started making another effort.

It is all work in progress, but here’s the current state of affairs.

Text Mapper now has an algorithm for subsector generation, based on Classic Traveller. As I wrote previously, I have bought all this old stuff on PDF. So now I’m using the info in The Traveller Book (TTB) and in Merchant Prince (MP). Ironically, the Traveller Subsector Generator I linked to above also generates Sector maps. 🙄 The code in Text Mapper does not. Furthermore, the Traveller Subsector Generator also generates multiple colour-coded “spheres of influence” with their own “languages”. The current Text Mapper code does not. The current Text Mapper code also doesn’t generate the kind of routes I’m looking for, but I’m going to work on it.

With that in place, I could turn to Hex Describe, at last. I started a new proof of concept set of random tables, beginning with starports. I went back to Text Mapper and tweaked the output so that the textual representation of the map also included suitable tokens for Hex Describe (such as “starport-A”) which I could then refer to. And soon I was really into it. A starport must have some buildings that indicate the presence of fuel tanks and refineries, shipyards where new ships can be constructed, dockyards where ships can be unloaded, landing panels, names of companies involved, a building for the administration, be it a harbour master or a toll station, security, and so on. And all of those need new tables!

If you want to give it a try:

  • visit the Hex Describe site
  • click the link to load random Traveller data (which gets the from Text Mapper)
  • click the radio button to use the Traveller tables
  • click the submit button at the very end

Better routes is done! I indicate good trade routes based on what it says in Merchant Prince. The text description is a bunch of paragraphs like the following but I’m just using the table on page 37: if there’s a positive modifier, it’s a trade route, independent of direction, for distances 1–2.

Agricultural: The world has climate and conditions which allow extensive farming and ranching. It is a producer of relatively inexpensive foodstuffs. Agricultural goods market well t o worlds which cannot produce their own agricultural goods (Desert, Fluid Seas, Poor, Water Worlds, lndustrial Worlds). Agricultural worlds are good markets for goods from lndustrial worlds, other Agricultural worlds, Barren worlds (for new plant and animal strains), and Rich worlds.

I also connect all the class A starports and navy bases. I remember working out that minimal spanning tree based on a Wikipedia article. What a nightmare! But I still use it, so it was time well spent!

Things I want to work on: more tables. Things I’d like to add is naming the actual products for sale. I’d like to have a table that generates actual ships, with crew and loads. I’d like to have a character generator. I’d like to have a patron generator. I’d like to have plot ideas using the above. “Find the Blue Heron and bring it back. They’ve been missing their payments.” Whatever. Start simple, as always. 😇

I also need to get the name and UWP from the map into the hex description itself. Some more programming required, I guess.

If you want to help out, here’s how to do it:

  • get a copy of the tables (see above)
  • make changes
  • return to Hex Describe
  • click the link to load random Traveller data (which gets the from Text Mapper)
  • click the radio button to “only use the data provided below”
  • paste your modified tables into the text area
  • click the submit button at the very end
  • send me the modified file by mail

Or just work out your own random tables.

Comments on 2021-01-30 Traveller Subsector Description

Adding a little bit more to system descriptions. Adding random ships (no details, yet), naming captains. So much stuff to think about: randomly equipping ships, randomly creating non-player characters for crews.

– Alex 2021-01-31 21:52 UTC


Working on crews:

The Rose Crane is a type A free trader (200t, streamlined). The pilot of this ship is Sisika. A76376. Vacc Suit-1 Pilot-1. The engineer is Kusakawa Masuo. 8958B8. Electronics-1 Medical-1 Engineer-2. The medic is Eguchi Kotomi. 5BA875. Gunnery-1 Medic-4. The steward is Kalila Shariq. 979A96. Jack-o-T-1 Vacc Suit-1 Steward-1.

I like it!

– Alex 2021-02-01 21:17 UTC

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2021-01-24 Traveller missions for solo adventuring

I’m sorry to say that this blog post has more questions than answers because I’m trying something new. It’s my semi-solo Traveller campaign. I’ve been reading “Solo” by Zozer Games, but I’m not yet convinced. There, Paul Elliot uses “the Plan” as the mechanism: the player considers the adventure situation, formulates a plan, writes it down, and makes two rolls, one depending on the estimated chances of success, the other depending on the estimated risk.

Right now, that’s a bit too abstract for me. So I’m using the regular Traveller rules. I roll for surprise, for encounter distance, I roll for all the things, trying to learn the system as I go. It’s slow but I don’t mind. Occasionally I’ll ask my wife for a roll. She’s sitting next to me, reading a book, and humours me. Or I’ll ask her about her character’s opinion. It works for me. 😁

What remains unsolved in either system is the generating of adventures. Having adventure ideas, and imagining their outcomes, to then resolve either using abstract rolls or the complete system, remains a problem. I guess I’m just good at imagining a calm afternoon at the spaceport, where nothing happens.

Perhaps this resolves itself over time as the people and ships reappear. And I need to roll for reactions more often, clearly. And I need to imagine more adventurous ideas, more drama, more action.

Perhaps using the Burning Wheel technique of writing down three beliefs would help drive the story?

Like, for my Louis character:

  • I believe I’m the better pilot than Lux and I will prove it to her.
  • I believe that hunting animals for sports is terrible and I will free all the animals kept on the Tiktok (whose hunter we just supported)
  • I believe that we really need to make a lot of money and will take any job, even if illegal

Then, for my wife’s Lux character I’ll write up three other beliefs. And then we go to town, less interested in the “simulation” of this backwater class E starport but as two characters driving the plot forward with their beliefs.

Hm. This Burning Wheel mindset is growing on me. It’s that two player game I’m listening to as a podcast. It’s influencing me. I get the feeling that if a player writes down beliefs, it presupposes some form of negotiation at the table. What’s the game going to be about? It is framed in terms of things the characters believe in, but it’s no different that agreeing on a set of scenes when starting to play Western City, for example. What’s the game going to be about. And then, during the session, we’re all interested in pushing the story towards these beliefs. Again, it’s framed as fighting for or challenging beliefs, but it could also be thought of as everybody trying to stay on topic. We don’t need the exact words to have similar effects.

So, for this Traveller game, where the two scouts, Lux and Louis are stranded on a backwater planet with a starport in a jungle, with dense and tainted atmosphere, I’m thinking… OK, so here are my thoughts as a referee, based on what’s been happening on the planet, in another campaign, and what the current situation might be.

A lost generation that grew up in a mine that broke down, now resettled to this backwater planet. What would the effect be? I’d say, rampant xenophobia. So that’s one “front” that’s building, if we’re talking tools imported from other systems. I’d say: tensions are rising. The lost generation is lacking skills and thus cannot be put to work immediately. Education is costly and nobody wants to do it. So the original settlers are blaming the immigrants for their lack of education and the new settlers are uprooted and angry. Soon, there will be fighting in the streets.

Simerik Firik is a cult leader among the new settlers. He’ll ride the violent storm, for sure.

Gehen Aam is the regular strong arm guy, fitness, self defence, security, that’s his business. It’s small, it’s local, but he’s a rallying point for the unhappy old settlers, that is: poor farmers.

Bron Banta represents business interests. He’s interested in peace and programming, “not interested in politics,” meaning he’s interested in things staying as they are, but quiet.

I also have some names, family heads that control various business branches. The settlement is so small that none of them have competition. Their only problem is getting space on ships to export their goods. Hm. Visius controls the spice, Schneid controls liquor production, Viktoriana controls the laquer, Limbus controls the wood.

So how to make money? Banta might be interested in a security operation against Firik’s cult, and Aam’s angry mob. Visius and Limbus might be having problems in one of their outposts. In fact, if this is another “front”, then we should perhaps write it up as follows: two wood and spice transports have been disappearing and the clans are angry. Who is sabotaging their work? Nobody is making any demands. Therefore, this isn’t somebody who’s out to change business practice, it’s somebody who’s trying to drive them out of business. Already they are stepping up their security. Soon, there will be firefights, and eventually these people will leave the system, resulting in this backwater system to drop off the radar entirely.

Vibes of the Mandalorian, season 2, and of the storming of the capitol on January 6, 2021.

Comments on 2021-01-24 Traveller missions for solo adventuring

Do you have Stars Without Number? I bet some of the tables and resources in there would be helpful for this type of solo play. Lots of generative content.

Derik 2021-01-25 19:54 UTC


Good point!

– Alex 2021-01-26 07:50 UTC


I’ve run into many of the same issues. I like both Traveller and SWN, and the worldbuilding is fun, but I just can’t transition to solo play with characters.

Sax

Saxinis Kion 2021-01-26 15:10 UTC


Let’s see. I still hope that it will be like a calm first season: lots of new characters being introduced, but then after a while the connections between the events start to build up and a plot emerges in retrospective.

– Alex 2021-01-27 08:52 UTC

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2021-01-19 Listening to Burning Wheel Actual Play

I just listened to the first two episodes of Sean Nittner’s and Judd Karlman’s actual play podcast about their Shoeless Peasant game. It’s the first time I’ve listened to other people play. I did this while making bread, making salad, cleaning up the kitchen, simple manual stuff to do with my hands. I don’t think I’d like to see it on video, but on a podcast, it works well. Hearing two people do nothing but play, practically no banter, very slow and deliberate, very much concerned about the rules and the dice, and forking and helping, beginner’s luck, scripting for the duel of wits and all the other details that used to turn me off, turns out to work really well.

I used to like a raucous table of six players or more, where people are exited, there’s shouting and groaning, cheering. Things go back and forth quickly. What a change in tempo to my usual games. Everything is slow and deliberate. The dice are cast and some words are spoken, the hosts talk about what they see is happening, decisions are made, scenes change, but dice rolling is used like an oracle to see which way a story goes, even for minor things: does the woman run when she sees the elvish runes? Does she cut her feet on a sharp edged stone when she runs? Everything is tested.

At the same time, the rules seem to push for poignant moments – the kind I love so much. In the duel of wits, the two hosts have to add some words to make their points, their dismissals, their feints, and it leads to some wonderful lines. The girl needs to be calmed and it leads to some wonderful lines. A decision needs to be made and it leads to some wonderful lines.

Now, you could say that nothing stops you from saying those lines in a different game. I remember our last session in the Humblewood campaign using D&D 5. Previously, we had kicked some mousling thieves from the upper market. When the cleric saw how desperately poor they were, he arranged for them to be taken into the temple he serves. So when we returned from a long fight in the bandit camp, our pockets full of coin, I made it a point to visit the temple, to inquire about the mouslings, and to donate most of my money for the time when they finished their school and left the temple. I felt the short exchange with the referee was moving. This is also something I like about role-playing games. And right now I think perhaps I can better appreciate how Burning Wheel might be better suited to produce maybe not the scenes themselves but the opportunities that we can use to create such scenes, such poignant scenes, moving scenes.

Comments on 2021-01-19 Listening to Burning Wheel Actual Play

So glad to hear you’ve been enjoying the show. I agree that listening to AP is the way to go!

Sean Nittner 2021-01-19 23:12 UTC


I was so thankful that Sean made the Podcast available. I take lots of mental notes on Judd’s GM style and how he handles the numerous failures of Vena. It’s not about hitting hard and beating Vena down, it’s about not giving Sean exactly what Vena’s trying for, but taking that focused desire and redirecting with a complication; and those complications are grandiose.

Jeremy Friesen 2021-01-20 01:50 UTC


I saw this post and thought of a hex describe feature.

It users the therefore and but rather than and then tactic from South Park.

https://blog.swordfish.press/2014/09/backgrounds-adventures-and-but-therefore.html?m=1

Also on contact page you list Matrix, is there a room for that or what is your contact info there?

– Oliver 2021-01-21 20:34 UTC


For Matrix, I’m @kensanata:matrix.org, and I’m not in any rooms.

When I read your statement it sounded pretty confusing, but the blog post makes a ton of sense. And then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened, this is why one of the ways to telling a boring story, absolutely. I loved the Swordfish Island example you have for the other method. This happened, but then this happened, therefore this happened, but then this happened, therefore this happened. In my mind’s eye, I can see fans talking about the plot, excited, using exactly those conjunctions. I like it a lot. Thanks for that link!

I’m not quite sure how to use this to build a generator. Perhaps I would have to start small… Hm. 🤔 Perhaps if we could group these statements. Like… how did the ruler of this village rise to power?

[this village was built], but [this village was razed], therefore [this village has a secret], but [the current lord does not know], therefore [the opposition is strong]. I’m not sure, it feels like the results from the table about the opposition would have to “know” about the secret. Or perhaps this is a sign of strong coupling that is unnecessary?

[this village was built], but [this village was razed], therefore [this village is not important], but then [something happened in this village] and therefore [this village is now doing changing]. Now the parts are not interdependent.

this village was built

  • In the old days [old human name] convinced [some giants] to build this castle
  • Many years ago, [wizard] built this tower using spells and slaves

this village was razed

  • in the War of Dragons is was laid to waste by [dragon name]
  • in the days of our grandparents the [disease name] killed almost all of us

something happened in this village

  • they discovered a gold mine upriver
  • [wizard name], who ruled during the time of my parents got involved in some wizard power struggle and disappeared

this village is now doing changing

  • but now [human name] is handling the affairs of [trade society] and we’re recovering from all that
  • but that opportunity was squandered and when [human name] showed up last year, we practically begged them to stay

What do you think, something like that?

– Alex 2021-01-21 21:29 UTC


I think it sounds great! I initally thought about it when you mentioned generating in game books.

For town/ regional history I think its a great idea!

Glad you liked the post!

I was also thinking about Hex Describe and Rougelikes.

The tile and ASCII games look simple but the code behind them is often very smart and often free/ open source (so you can use parts for Hex Describe)

For generating worlds I think : Dwarf Fortress, Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead, Caves of Qud (not free but very Gamma World/A Subsurface Environment), ADOM and TOME (renamed Tales of Maj’Eyal) (Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is really good but maybe not as useful as its only dungeon based)

These gamea do a really good job at generating lived in places and are often Open Source!

– Oliver 2021-01-22 13:48 UTC

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2021-01-15 Traveller Madness

Yikes, in a moment of madness I bought the two Bundles of Holding for Classic Traveller. I’d say I’m set for life when it comes to Traveller, now. 😅

Maybe I should think about running a game. Slowly my itch to run games is coming back. I’m thinking that perhaps I’d like to try smaller groups, and something other than Halberds and Helmets for a bit.

Option 1, of course, is Classic Traveller. I still have an old Subsector lying around. The benefit of reusing old setting material is that you get an in-game setting history and plenty of non-player characters for free, buried in the campaign wiki.

Option 2, as is often the case, would be something like Burning Wheel, mostly because Judd Karlman keeps mentioning it in his podcast. There are many clunky bits I don’t particularly look forward to, but sometimes I remember elements of that one mini-campaign I ran, and I really liked those: rolling for contacts using the circles attribute; rolling to buy stuff using the resources attribute; one-roll conflict resolution, also known as Bloody Versus.

Then again, when I look at the list of things I enjoyed, perhaps it’s actually not in the rules per se, but in the approach to the game… I keep thinking that a way to play it using Just Halberds should be possible.

Perhaps the first thing to do is to find two people willing to play a game with, via a conference call, and then get excited about something via mutual inspiration.

Comments on 2021-01-15 Traveller Madness

Have you listened to the podcasts with Sean Nittner and Judd as they play Burning Wheel? It’s been wonderful listening to how they use the rules of BW to facilitate the conversation of the game.

In the first four sessions there are two dual of wits and one circles test. Most of it is conversations at the table.

Jeremy Friesen 2021-01-15 21:59 UTC


No, do you have a link?

– Alex 2021-01-16 00:19 UTC


It’s at: https://anchor.fm/actualplay

The Shoeless Peasant is the BW campaign. There’s also a Youtube or Twitch stream for this.

Jeremy Friesen 2021-01-16 15:01 UTC


Thanks!

In the mean time, I’ve started creating two characters, and my wife created a character for me – I’m not sure she really wants to play a 1:1 campaign with me, but at least she’s interested, and I’m interested, and I can use it for some Wiki-based semi-solo play. At least that’s the idea right now.

– Alex 2021-01-17 20:47 UTC


Started listening to Shoeless Peasant episode 1.

– 2021-01-18 22:14 UTC


See 2021-01-19 Listening to Burning Wheel Actual Play.

– Alex 2021-01-19 22:51 UTC

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2021-01-14 Player Types

I posted a link to a blog post about player types on Mastodon and added: “Thinking about play styles… I dunno, I used to be a lot more interested in these things. These days I guess everybody should read such a typology at least once so that we can all at least use the same words. But then my take is that enjoyment is a multifaceted thing that I enjoy all the things, some more so, some less so, some more when I do it, some more when others do it. And I think casual players are important for cohesion (like at the work-place, actually).”

Happy surprise, @jaranta is a game scholar! “Post-doc at JYU & Coe GameCult. Specialized in philosophy, game studies and digital culture.” Some of my favourite subjects. Jonne told me that actual studies do exist. We don’t need to rely on our own individual observations (valuable as they may be). So now I’m reading a study. 🙂

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You probably want to contact me via one of the means listed on the Contact page. This is probably the wrong place to do it. 😄

– Alex Schroeder 2020-05-22 12:19 UTC

Referrers: The 2019 Great Blog Roll Call! Exceptional Blog the roots of the rpg hobby osr