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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2017-11-30 Entourage

I run my game using traditional retainer rules and I tell players that all retainers within their limit (4+CHA bonus) are 100% loyal, but any surplus hands hired will have to roll morale check like monsters do. War dogs, horses, raptors, war bears, any sort of mount or pet you want to be 100% loyal also counts against this limit. This rule has worked ok for me. But nothing special ever happened. Some people like a lot of retainers, some don’t. We have a lot of players, so we often have up to 20 characters in the party, everybody 100% loyal. On rare occasions (once or twice a year?) there are sessions with mass combat and dozens of mercenaries hired, so morale rules practically never affect “ordinary” adventures. I’m not sure if, given the choice, players would not rather have fewer retainers instead of unloyal ones. And if retainers have characteristics that affect other retainers, I feel like I’m playing two characters interacting instead of giving players agency. So, long story short, I’m no longer tinkering with this. :)

This was inspired by David Bowman’s Entourage Approach.


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2017-11-29 What to do with Mastodon

On Dice Camp, Meguey Baker asked:

A follow up question: what are we doing now that we’re here? Let us gather for a purpose beyond “talk about stuff and things!” What gives us meaning, individually and collectively? There is a massive massive massive flood of “content” in the world; we are super saturated with it. Lots of us make it. Im not saying anyone stop, I’m saying what could we make together if we had a plan?

I think instances which are small and focused on a project could exist for a distributed team. But that sounds a lot like work. But that’s one thing that people could do: work.

I know a thing I don’t want to do: promoting, and reading promotions. I am saturated with content, and products.

But there are models for the things in between: book reading clubs (not buying books); social clubs (talking about thing but aiming at an improvement of self and society along some axis).

Personally, I’m mostly interested in what differentiates a salon in Paris a few decades ago from a public space. Curation of members, curation of topics, invitation of guests, these are the obvious outer limits. But there must have been expectation management as well. What did members hope to gain through their membership? Entertainment? Advancement? How much bowing was expected? How much free labor? I understand so little about this.

Also related: Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. Could this be a Society for Improving the Art of Role-Playing Games? All games? Pushing envelopes? Feedback sessions? Criticism? I don’t want to deny the negative aspects of all these ideas (thinking of criticism and self-criticism in communist countries), but these limitations will need buy-in from a starting pool of people.

One thing that I have always enjoyed on G+ and blogs was posts that succinctly summarized an event, mostly during a session, or the setup of a one-shot, and discussed how they handled or solved it. This also extends to comments on other people’s activities (i.e. back to criticism). In the office, I’d talk about describing best practices and building a community of practice, but essentially, I think it needs some sort of scaffolding and we might as well call it a salon.

Thinking more about building a “community of practice”. What would that entail? I’d expect one consequence to be that we talk more about the things we do rather than about the things we make. So, while we are running games, playing games, designing games, writing games, we notice things and talk about them, instead of advertising the finished products we made. It’s less about the things we make but about the making of these things. (He says, trying to sound smart, haha.)


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2017-11-23 Thor

I recently saw the third Thor movie (Ragnarok, 2017), and then I decided to get the first (2011) and second (The Dark World, 2013) movies as well and watched them over the weekend. I liked the third one the best. It took all the elements I liked about the first two and skipped the boring parts.

I never thought I would like superhero movies since I’ve spent my youth with Franco-Belgian comics, Lucky Luke, Asterix, the Adventures of Tintin. But when I saw the visuals of Jupiter Ascending (the story was weak but the space ships were fantastic), and then Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I discovered that I liked this baroque style. (Wikipedia: “exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur”)

This is what my high level D&D campaign should be about! And I feel vindicated for using Norse mythology as the cosmology for my campaigns. In the Halberds and Helmets Referee Guide, there are three pages on Gods and Demons, talking about it.


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2017-11-20 Twenty and One Questions

Back in 2014, I answered Jeff Rients’ 20 questions. (I had forgotten that I had already answered them in 2012.) Here are my answers to Jez Gordon’s 21 questions.

Why were settlements founded here? Along the river systems, connecting some rich region in the west with some other region in the north.

What are the local funeral customs? People are buried except for elves. Elves are burned because a special elf fungus will grow out of their dead corpses, giving off a strange light, make otherworldly music when the moon shines, possess animals and drive people mad. Unburied dead will usually give rise to ghosts who try to possess or curse people nearby. At first, they’ll try to get a decent burial. Later, however, they’ll try to actively hurt and kill.

How do neighbouring settlements communicate with one another? There is trade along the river and on roads financed by player characters.

How dramatically does your campaign location change from season to season? Not at all. I have trouble remembering snow in winter.

What are the three biggest local celebrations each year? Haven’t thought about it.

Where is the safest place for someone to stash a considerable sum of coins and treasure? Generally speaking, in town is “safe”.

What is the local standard of medical technology in replacing missing bits and body pieces? The streets are full of victims of the Death & Dismemberment table. People have lost countless arms and legs to the dungeons. If you lost a leg, you can have a wooden peg and suffer no other penalty but the inability to run and to move silently. If you lost an arm, you can have a hook and suffer no other penalty but the inability to wield a shield. Captain Hook is my role model.

What are some local superstitions? No idea.

What is the scariest local myth? No idea.

Who collects tribute and taxes for the powers that be? No idea. Taxes are not important in my game.

What are the best places to get a drink round here? No idea. A handful of establishments are mentioned on the campaign wiki page for the local settlement but drinking and carousing is not important in my game.

Where can you buy animals round here? The humans sell war dogs for 25gp. The dwarves train bears to be war bears. The bears they get from a druid who stopped delivering them. We haven’t investigated. The bears used to cost 500gp. The lizard men used to train war raptors. We got some as a gift and they’re still breeding. They are no longer available because we killed all the lizard men when their relations with the dwarves took a dive.

What is the local settlement missing? No idea.

What is the local mascot of the town or region? No idea.

Where’s the best place to pick up a few hired hands? The town provides an endless supply of surplus kids, desperate to make some money. Also, amateur spies are available for 200gp per job.

What’s the local take on the end of the world? No idea.

Is there a local hedge wizard, witch, or shaman of no great power but one who cares for the locals and helps deal with their tribulations? No. Sascha is the local big priest, a former player character. The temple of the local elementalist schools is perhaps the most useless with magic-users around level two and three.

What games do the locals like to play? No idea.

What crimes are punishable by death? Bandits are hanged by the Lady Kyle, the local noble woman. Recently the players saw that a bunch of dwarves was able to buy their freedom even though all the human bandits would hang. Food for thought.

Have any great disasters destroyed local settlements? Laketown was destroyed by froglings in recent years. The survivors fled, or were captured by the froglines to serve them in their swamp temple. As no other settlement was built near the swamp or lake, nobody else fears them.

Where can you find maps of the region? The campaign wiki has the in-game knowledge of the area. I keep adding to the map as the players explore.

That’s a lot of “no idea”... Tags:

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2017-09-07 Politics and Entertainment

Recently, Scott Anderson wrote on G+ that Wizards of the Coast were “so stupid about injecting their own real-world politics into their games.” I wonder, is this a new thing? Or is this complaint new?

I think this has been true, always. Politics has always found a way into books and games. Maybe some issues don’t seem political to us now, but they are about what people feel they ought to be doing, they wished to be doing, be it performing masculinity, feminism, taming frontiers, spreading freedom (the freedom that is different from the freedom on the other side of the iron curtain), a message of rugged individualism, of caring and sharing, of power, of war, of misery, all the messages are political because humans are political animals.

And why man is a political animal in a greater measure than any bee or any gregarious animal is clear. For nature, as we declare, does nothing without purpose; and man alone of the animals possesses speech. The mere voice, it is true, can indicate pain and pleasure, and therefore is possessed by the other animals as well (for their nature has been developed so far as to have sensations of what is painful and pleasant and to indicate those sensations to one another), but speech is designed to indicate the advantageous and the harmful, and therefore also the right and the wrong; for it is the special property of man in distinction from the other animals that he alone has perception of good and bad and right and wrong and the other moral qualities, and it is partnership in these things that makes a household and a city-state.

Aristot. Pol. 1.1253a

And all the books and all the stories have alienated some part of the population but they didn’t speak up because they didn’t share the ideas that were coming, the mainstream, and not every underdog makes it big. Perhaps they did speak up, hated on The Lord of the Rings, on Star Wars, on Star Trek, on War and Peace, on Plato, on Goethe, but their point of view did not prevail. And now we look back and think the old days had less politics and I think we are wrong.

That is why the complaint seems new: previous complaints didn’t make across the gulf of time and space. Sure, people objected to Henry Miller’s books, some of them were banned, even. And yet these days we don’t blink and it’s OK. These complaints are old. At the same time, some complaints are new because the issues we complain about today were simply too far fetched in the past. Back when The Lord of the Rings was written, the people who had anything to say didn’t complain about a lack of representation. These days, however, our attitudes have changed.

I’d like to go further than just claiming that the complaints have always been there, or that the things we complain about just keep changing. I believe that a book or a game that teaches us nothing about the human condition, speaks not of feelings, makes no judgements, such a thing is as shallow and flaccid as pop songs about love. Everybody understands them and nothing else needs to be said. In fact, anything that goes beyond the simple feeling is already political. You might think that we can talk about more than love and be unpolitical but faithfulness, polyamory, homosexuality, marriage, equal pay, equal say, everything is political and if you think it is not then that’s because you think the issues are so obvious it isn’t a contest. But it is. Somewhere, it is. When we think it’s unpolitical we are simply in such an agreement we don’t even notice.

The division we experience these days is simply the division that has always been there but we didn’t talk about it. One side was without a voice, but just as the spread of new media caused war and strife in past, so does social media serve politics now. The printing press allowed the church schism to spin out of control and lead to the thirty years war and more. Radio and TV was used for propaganda on a populace that did not have the media savviness to ignore it. The Internet is used to drown us because we have yet to find a way to filter it appropriately.


Comments on 2017-09-07 Politics and Entertainment

In an answer to further comments I wrote: I always found the argument very convincing that unless you are in a minority, you just don’t see it. So when we don’t see it, some will feel excluded. When they feel included, we feel it’s political. But since I don’t belong to any obvious minorities (perpetual foreigner, maybe?) I can’t provide examples from my own life. I do remember reading the account of a black girl liking science fiction and her parents asking her why she liked it because that was for whites (don’t remember the details). Until then I had simply never thought about it. And I can always spot the American ads here in Switzerland: so many people of color! So all I can say is that I’m noticing the politics more these days, but it seems to me more like an eye opening, not a politicization.

– Alex 2017-09-07 20:59 UTC

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2017-09-05 Monster Manual Finished

I can’t believe it. I feel like singing it from mountain tops. My project is done!

  • Halberds & Helmets Ref Guide, where monsters are a large part of the book
  • they are also on a wiki, but I didn’t always update the wiki pages once I had entries in the Ref Guide
  • discussions on Google+, which are great for all the ideas that didn’t make it into the book

A year ago I started with an annotated monster list, based on the Labyrinth Lord monster list. I basically wanted to highlight the monsters I like to use. I was encouraged by the long comment Brian left on that blog post. Thanks!

At the same time, I had bought an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil and I was enjoying the Zen Brush 2 app, and I needed a project that would keep me drawing stuff, for practice. And I drew a lot of monsters. Check out the monster gallery. The humans, dwarves, elves and halflings are from my face generator. The rest was all drawn on the iPad.

The year before, James V West had posted the BX 64 challenge on Google+: “to create a 64 page saddle stitched book that fits with BX. A setting, for example.” I had plans for a setting. I wanted to write about the Planescape/Spelljammer campaign I had been running for a while. I started posting in the B/X Campaign Challenge Google+ Community. But the campaign changed. It was hard to remove the proprietary bits from the campaign setting and just leave the original stuff. I just felt tired whenever I thought of it.

But when I took the Swiss Referee Style Manual, added a bit about mass combat, added a bit about the cosmology I am using, and all the monsters, with their illustrations, I had something going. And as I posted about the monsters I was drawing on Google+ and had interesting discussions with other people, I was back in the groove. Thank you all.

The one person I remember most fondly for his long comments and insightful responses was Ian Borchardt. He is definitely not one for the TL;DR crowd. Thanks, Ian! Your replies kept me going!

And then there was Jennifer Hartogensis who I think I first saw in the King Arthur Pendragon Google+ Community with her Dutch session reports. Some of her comments will be hard to forget. Centaurs, unicorn names, with a sentence or two she always put the finger right where it hurt. I laughed!

I also want to thank those faithful followers of my Drawing Google+ Collection where they +1’d my sketches and pictures, encouraging me to keep at it, Christian Sturke, Tina Trillitzsch, Jensan Thuresson, Harald Wagener, Steve Sigety.

And there are more. The right comment at the right time by Aaron McLin. I just can’t remember you all. Thank you all, for keeping me going.

I know how hard it is to stay motivated because of the Free Software I write. I usually write it for myself, but when a random stranger sends me an email telling me they are using it, I love it. And I loved every single encouraging remark, every little +1, every discussion and every new angle.

So, what's next? I don’t feel like planning for a next project. As far as I am concerned, nothing comes next. Just play more games, run more games, and if new stuff comes up, maybe put it in a new document, who knows.

I sometimes feel like going back and fixing some of the drawings I no longer like. I think I got better over time, so I’m hoping that I might redo some things. I also know how these images look on the PDF pages, now. It just doesn’t look very good if the waves of the sea serpent are cut off, or the manticore wings, or if the shark background or the spectre background is totally black. I feel like these things need fixing.

I also started using these monsters in my games and sometimes I think they need fixing. The ghouls in my games didn’t run like I felt they should. Their aura of fear never gets used. Their paralysis is still coupled to the third attack. Something is wrong. But what is it? Some of these monsters need more playtesting, I guess. One would think that the established monsters need practically no playtesting, but I guess if you want to make them better, then you better playtest them all.

Perhaps I should go through the list of treasures again and add treasure types? I think at the beginning I was thinking more about the changes I wanted to see. Only ancient civilisations would have electrum or platinum pieces. Stuff like that. But towards the end of the book, I practically stuck to the Labyrinth Lord book. I’d like to have treasure types, with a treasure justification: “this is the hoard of a creature that attacks towns, or of creature that trades with towns”, “this is the hoard of a creature that kills lone adventurers and grave robbers”, “this is the hoard you’d find in a mausoleum”.

Oh, and I think I’d also like to write new lists of magic items.

I also worry about the file size. 50MB, really?



Comments on 2017-09-05 Monster Manual Finished

WOW! What a creative endeavor you’ve undertaken. I just downloaded it and was scrolling thru the Monsters section. I must say that the B&W line/brush art style is wonderful. It gives the art a simple elegance. I’ll be reading up on this RPG over the weekend. THANK YOU for making this.

marshomeworld 2017-09-06 03:22 UTC


– Alex 2017-09-06 05:19 UTC

I’m also looking forward to this monster manual by Sean McCoy.

– Alex 2017-09-08 09:54 UTC


– Chris 2017-09-21 18:27 UTC

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2017-08-30 How to start a Campaign Wiki

I recently wrote Why use a wiki? and this post is supposed to help you know what to do and what to expect when you actually start using a wiki.

What do you want?

A wiki doesn’t have an inherent organisation. It has the structure you impose on it. Thus, you need to decide on a structure. I recommend the following:

  • you want a page for each player character
  • you want a page for each important non-player character
  • you want a page for each important location
  • you want a page for each session

You want a page for each player character because they’re always important. You only want a page for each important non-player character and location. In this context, important means that they are recurring, and that there is something interesting about them that people want to remember. If they are neither recurring nor interesting, skip them.

Beware writer burnout: don’t write too much.

The first page

Visit the main page and enter the name of your campaign. You should end up on an empty “HomePage” that just says “Welcome!” Congratulations. This is your first page. Bookmark this page.

Click on Edit this page at the bottom of your page and start with something like the following, replacing the details as required.

This wiki is for my biweekly Wednesday campaign.

== Characters

* [[Morgan Ironwolf]], fighter
* [[Silverleaf]], elf
* [[Federik]], dwarf
* [[Sister Rebecca]], cleric
* [[Black Dougal]], thief

== Locations

* [[Haunted Keep]]

== Sessions


Notice the markup we have used: * and a space to start a list item; == and a space to start a level 2 heading, [[ square brackets ]] to create local links.

In the Summary field, write something trivial like “First draft”.

In the Username field, write the username or nickname you want. You might use “DM”, for example. These usernames are not protected in anyway. Anybody can use any name to make an edit.

Click Preview and double check, make any last minute fixes and click Save.

Creating more pages

You’ll note every local link has an underlined question-mark after it. Click on these and write a sentence or two.

Morgan Ironwolf:

Morgan is the leader of this party. She's a fierce fighter.


An elf from Alfheim.


A young dwarf, new to the overworld.

Sister Rebecca

A devout cleric.

Black Dougal

Your friendly neighbourhood assistant, eager to please.
There is absolutely nothing suspicious about him.

Haunted Keep

This castle belonged to the Rodemus family but it was abandoned a long time ago.
The eastern tower is still standing.
A bunch of goblins live here.

And that’s it! Let the players add more information, if they want.

Session reports

Remember, players don’t usually read session reports. They were there, after all. Don’t be discouraged.

  • Don’t write session reports for other people. Write as much as you need for yourself. You want to remember what happened a few sessions ago. You want to search for names you’ve heard before. You want to point players who missed a session to the report. That’s what you want. If a few sentences are good enough, then that’s fine. If players would appreciate more, ask them to edit the pages and add to the text you wrote. The most important point, however, is that you should not think that the others will love what you write. If that’s what you want, you are setting yourself up for failure. Only be an author if you want to be an author.
  • Don’t expect your players to read what you wrote. Some people just want to sit at a table with friends, roll some dice and play pretend. They didn’t sign up for homework, reading assignments and your newsletter.
  • Make it short. That makes it easier to write for you, and it makes it easier to read for them. In fact, I often use bullet lists and bold words to make it easy to skim.
  • Start the session by providing a short summary of what happened and by asking the players about events. It’s a moment of collective remembering. Some people may have taken notes. Let them shine. Some people may be reading stuff off the session report on the wiki using their smartphones. Let them read the interesting parts aloud. It will help the others remember. It will also tell you about the parts your players cared about. These are the things that you need to follow up on in future sessions.

So here’s what you do after a session: visit your first page, click on Edit this page at the bottom of your page, and add to the list of sessions:

* [[Death of Black Dougal]]

Click Preview and double check, make any last minute fixes and click Save.

Click on the new question-mark and create the new page:

Death of Black Dougal

We had killed the hobgoblins and descended down the trap door to the second level.
Here, we fought some goblins and found a wooden box.
Sadly, it was secured by a poison needle trap and [[Black Dougal]] bit the dust.
We escaped some bandits and retreated further into the dungeon.
Fought some hobgoblins, too.

Treasure found: 2000sp, jewelry worth 1300gp, [[Elven Boots]].

Notice how we linked to a player page and to a magic item, and we used an empty line to separate paragraphs.

Click Preview and double check, make any last minute fixes and click Save.

We might as well follow the two links. Edit Black Dougal’s page: follow the link, click on Edit this page at the bottom, and add at the bottom:

Poisoned by a needle trap on a chest on level 2 of the [[Haunted Keep]].

And we can return to the session report, click on the new question-mark and create a new page:

Elven Boots

These elven boots allow the wearer to move silently at all times.

Click Preview and double check, make any last minute fixes and click Save.

And that’s it! This is how you grow the wiki.

Adding more structure

After ten or twenty sessions, you might want to create a page linking all the magic items you have. Or move all the links to the old session reports to a different page. No problem, just do it.

Vandalism and Spam

Make sure to keep an eye on your RecentChanges. Click it every now and then and make sure nobody else is editing your pages.

What to expect

Most tables I know naturally delegate tasks to a single person. If you’re volunteering to map, nobody else will map. If you write the session reports, nobody else will write the session reports. Perhaps you can find a way to go around the table, have a different person write every session report?

In my experience, writing session notes is a lonely business. It’s like writing a blog that nobody reads. But then again, writing notes in your notebook at home is also a lonely business, and yet you like to do it because you like the game, right? Writing things on a campaign wiki makes your notes easy to search and to share, and easier to organise, and that’s a start.

This page is also on Campaign Wiki, now.


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2017-08-28 Why Wiki

Recently on G+, Brian Murphy asked whether people still used wikis.

I run Campaign Wiki, a site where anybody can create wikis for their role-playing game campaigns. Why wiki, and what’s a wiki?

What is a wiki? A wiki is a website on which users add and edit pages, together, using nothing but a web browser.

Users add and edit pages. This means that the structure of the site itself is also maintained by users. Whether you just want to list the session summaries on the main page, or whether you just want to link to the list of player characters, or the magic items the party has or knows about, or whether to start with a map and link to the known locations, it’s up to you.

Together. A single person can start a wiki and other players can join in and drop out over time, no hassle. Many wikis I see are basically run by one person. Perhaps this specialisation is a natural thing. One person is the mapper. One person knows the rules better than anybody else. One person writes session notes for the wiki. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A wiki is not a blog run by a single person. Anybody can join.

Nothing but a web browser. We don’t need Google accounts, we don’t need MS Word, we don’t send emails. All we need is a browser. Traditionally, wikis were very simple and Campaign Wiki still is, in many respects. We use markup to format text: *bold*, [[Link to a page]], and so on. For those of us who are used to writing on forums, we also support bbCode like [b]bold[/b] and [url=http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/]Pathfinder Reference Document[/url].

There are advanced topics, of course. Uploading images. Changing the look of the site using cascading style sheets (CSS), and so on.

And there are challenges, too. On Campaign Wiki, I assume that the people running the wiki don’t always have the time and patience to set up accounts for their fellow players. That is why you don’t need one. Anybody can join and help out. This also means that in order to spot and undo vandalism and spam, we need to watch Recent Changes, the list of edits made. Campaign Wiki maintains a list of recent changes for every wiki, and a big overall list of recent changes for people like me.

Why wiki? The biggest challenge is also the biggest asset as far as Campaign Wiki is concerned. No accounts. You don’t have to share your data with Google or Facebook or any other big player. No ads. No fees.

I guess you have to trust me, though. I can’t help you with that. At least I’m a person. Perhaps that helps. At some point, you will have to trust somebody, or keep it all on paper in your home.

Campaign Wiki makes it easy to download your data. Even if you’re not a computer person, you can still ask a friend to do it for you.

As Campaign Wiki uses nothing but Free Software, you could also set up your own site and do the same thing. The setup should be reasonably easy to reproduce. And if not, you can always ask me.

Some people say wiki is short for “I can’t find shit.” If people just keep adding pages and nobody organises the site, then that’s indeed what happens. A forum or a blog has an implied structure – posts come ordered by time, later pages take precedence over earlier pages; comments apply to the post they are attached to. On a wiki, you can have all that, or you can have a totally different organisation. Wilderlande works like a blog. Page names are just dates. Greyheim uses page names that don’t start with a date but it’s still mostly a simple list of session reports simply because the home page links to them from an ordered list. Fünf Winde is more like an encyclopedia with links to characters, items, locations, and hidden in a subsection, all the session reports. Kaylash uses a different CSS to create a very different look and feel. And on and on. You can find links to all the campaign wikis on the status page. If you want to look around, I suggest you look at the ones with a higher page count.

Only a wiki provides this combination of ease of use and freedom. After all, the fundamental rules are:

  1. Use empty lines to separate paragraphs
  2. Link to other wiki pages using double square brackets: [[Example]]
  3. Emphasis using markup: *bold* /italic/ _underline_

Everything else you can add later. The wiki will grow with you, step by step. And if you are ever wondering: can I do this using a wiki?contact me and we’ll talk.

This page is also on Campaign Wiki, now.


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2017-08-23 Monster Manual

I have been posting about my Boring Monster Manual on Google+ using the #monstermanual hashtag. Here’s a longer post I recently made. Feel free to join the discussion on G+, or here.

In D&D, the action economy makes sure that big boss monsters aren’t actually boss monsters. This can be good or bad: if the boss comes after a lot of traps and minions, then the game poses a challenge: how to bypass the traps and minions without losing resources. The final fight will be a let down, however, if you’re approaching this with a video game mindset. Two rounds, three rounds, who cares. It goes down. The alternative is to give these boss monsters wipe-out attacks: mind blast, dragon breath, or spells like cloud kill, fireball. Area effects which are close to save or die effects. That is, magic users, dragons, mindflayers. These monsters are basically total party kill challenges. Can you defend or preempt their wipe-out attack in order to make this a trivial fight, or will you all die? Challenges are good. This is good. But it collides with the video game mindset.

Let me now come to the boss monsters with many attacks, like squids and octopuses. What is good about squids and octopuses is that they have many attacks. If they have 6HD, 8 attacks, and AC 7 then you could also think of them as a bunch of low level minions attacking. The only difference is that they have pooled their hit dice and that they are better at hitting you. They are only a real challenge if the number of arms is significantly higher than the number of people in your party. If your party is four people, then a giant cephalopod is dangerous. If your party is twenty people, then you need five of them – or they’re still no good. That is the first challenge.

The second challenge is fighting on the ocean. Giant squid and octopuses can attack and damage a ship directly instead of fighting sailors, but consider what this leads to: player characters have nowhere to run, have nobody to parlay with, and if they lose the fight, they will all drown in their armour. You need to think of ways to make this part of a good adventure. Is your party up for an underwater adventure? Is it plausible to assume that characters will survive a shipwreck? I’m not so sure. That is why I personally like to use squids and octopuses in underwater adventures: the party is already underwater.

The Crown of Neptune is probably my most cephalopodeous adventure:


It’s from this blog post where I discuss the question “If you use monster books, or even monsters from blog posts, what does your workflow look like?”

Anyway, all of these thoughts because of a new entry in my “boring monster manual”: Squid, Giant.

What are your thoughts on using multi-attack monsters in D&D? Also, feel free to go back to the old Carcass Creeper or Carrion Crawler entry.


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2017-08-12 Zak on Games

Zak wrote a blog post StoryGame Design is (Often) The Opposite of OSR Design where he goes into the differences of the Old School Renaissance and Narrative Design. I’m not sure how easy it is to read if you don’t like the Old School Renaissance, but since I like many different games, I don’t mind. And within this outer framing device, I find the post has an excellent set of refutations for various comments about the games I like that I’ve seen – or opinions I’ve had myself, often describing two different approaches to the various statements he picked.

I need to remember this!

The post is long. The points are good. You can come back later and read more. Just scroll until you see a point that speaks to you and read what Zak has to say, think where you stand on the subject, do you agree, disagree, why? I like this process.

”The game’s about what the rules are about—the more rules a given subject takes up, the more the game is going to be about that, the less space a subject takes up in the rules, the less it’ll be about that”

”Games Teach Appropriate Normative Behavior So Their Content Should Be Considered To Have Great Moral Meaning”

”If you want personality, emotions, romance, you need rules for that”

”Violating genre expectations is bad”

”I Want To Play The Game, Not The GM!”

”The Game Should Teach You The Best Ways To Play Them”

”It’s Escapism! Make Players Feel Powerful And Competent”

”Failing Forward is Always Good And There Are More Interesting Consequences Than Death”

”The Rules Should Help You Get Story Moments”

”Focused Games Are Good Games”

”Rules That Detail Random Aspects Of The World Are About ’Simulationism’—They’re For People Whose Goal is To Immerse Themselves In The World”

”Unattached Murderhobo Players Are Bad”

”Hodge Podge Systems Are Bad, Everything Should Work On The Same Mechanic”


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