Way back in 2006, I was happily writing Free Software. At the time, a dude called Greywulf was using it, and I started reading his blog. He was playing role-playing games. I bought a PDF of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia because he recommended it. I remembered playing AD&D as a teenager. Yeah, back then the PDFs were available for purchase. It was a terrible PDF, scanned, 80MB, with sloppy OCR, impossible to print – but it was official. Greywulf pointed me at EN World. I started reading. Greywulf wrote M20. I finally had enough and decided that I wanted to play! I’d make it happen. I’d find people. And I did. And we played. We moved the campaign to D&D 3.5.
One of the first people I found was a half New Zealander called Marco. He played in many campaigns. Back then we had just started an Asian campaign. He created Kubo. Kubo was a ranger turned rogue with levels in shadow dancer. He fought with a naginata and used both ends of the weapon. He had a shit-ton of attacks. And he really loved kicking ass.
I still remember the party reaching an oasis, looking for a passage to the City of Brass (Necromancer Gamers) and being confronted with a half efreet that could cast high level spells. This guy quickly located the party after they had killed some of his retainers and decided to finish them off. He approached invisible and flying. When the fight began, my players knew they were at a severe disadvantage. They were hiding on a small ledge up on a cliff and most of the could not fly.
In fact, Kubo was killed in this fight. But the others remembered the promise of an evil book they had read and called out for a demon lord: Pazuzu! Pazuzu! Pazuzu! And so it was that the demon lord showed up, resurrected Kubo and killed the half efreet.
During all this fighting, Kubo had slain many foes. Marco loved to describe how he delivered killing blows. This time he went further than that, however: “Can I knock out their teeth? Can I roll a Reflex save to catch them in mid air? Can I?” And so it was done – in bullet time! We laughed.
This is why I like the Oddmuse channel on Freenode so much… ✎
Unter den deutschen Rollenspielblogs gibt es ebenfalls einen “Karneval” – das aktuelle Thema ist selbst geschriebene Rollenspiele.
Vor langer Zeit hatte ich mir Amber✎ gekauft, ein würfelloses Rollenspiel. Ich hatte Fudge✎ gelesen, den Vorläufer der vielen Fate✎ Varianten (Spirit of the Century, Diaspora, Starblazer Adventures, Dresden Files und wie sie alle heissen). Was mir fehlte, war eine Gruppe von Spielern. Ich dachte, wenn ich eine kurze, deutsche Version des ganzen schreiben würde, könnte ich meine AD&D Spieler überreden. So entstand Grofzg✎. Wir haben es nie gespielt.
Jahre später began ich, in einer Indie Runde✎ zu spielen. Die hau-drauf Stimmung von Spirit of the Century hatte uns allen gefallen, aber das Buch selber fanden wir alle zu lang, zu unhandlich, zu verwirrend. In der Zwischenzeit hatte ich meine Traveller✎ Runde auf Diaspora✎ umgestellt und fand die Diaspora Regeln eine klarere Variante der Fate Regeln. Als wir also beschlossen hatten, ein paar Runden zum Thema Mesopotamien zu spielen und wir gerade In A Wicked Age✎ und Archipelago✎ ausprobiert hatten, beschloss ich, eine Kurzversion der Fate Regeln selber zu schreiben. So entstand Der Geist Mesopotamiens✎. Wir haben diese Regeln zwei mal verwendet, und ich habe für mich beschlossen, dass ich für jedes zukünftige Fate Spiel dasselbe machen würde: Ein kurzes Dokument mit angepassten Fertigkeiten und eigenen Stunts.
Als ich dann meine D&D 3.5 Runde auf Solar System umstellte, wusste ich, was ich zu tun hatte: Ich musste eine Kurzfassung der Regeln✎ schreiben, welche die neuen Spieler nicht erschlagen würde. Diese Kurzfassung verwenden wir immer noch.
Ich danke all den Autoren, welche freie Lizenzen verwenden. Nur diese freien Lizenzen (Open Gaming License ohne viel Product Identity, Creative Commons) machen es möchlich, dass man aus bestehenden Regeln im Handumdrehen ein eigenes Rollenspiel schreiben kann.
Eine Buchempfehlung: Freie Kultur. Rollenspiele selberschreiben ist nur der Anfang.
Diskussion hier✎ oder auf dem RSP Blogs Forum. Was ich ganz langweilig finde, ist die Diskussion über die Begriffe im offiziellen Thread. Was ist denn genau ein selbst geschriebenes Rollenspiel? Gähn!
This dude who played AD&D, White Wolf, Forge stuff and blogs about old school D&D is doing a survey:
It’s a bit more complicated than your typical web survey:
Go to the download page […] and download the GAMING SURVEY. The document is an MS Excel sheet. Read the instructions at the top; then enter the information in the open cells (the “colored boxes”). Except for the answer boxes, the cells on the document are all locked, so you can’t accidentally type over a question or anything. Once you’ve finished, save the document and then email it to the following email address […]
My hope is that it will replace speculation on who we are and what we play with some facts. The only real quantitative study I’ve seen is old stuff from 1999 done by Wizards of the Coast. The data is not available, only some conclusions. Maybe we can get an update using JB’s effort?
Einer, der früher AD&D gespielt hat, dann White Wolf, Indies und jetzt vor allem über D&D alter Schule schreibt, hat beschlossen, eine Umfrage zu machen:
Man muss eine Excel Datei runterladen und 125 Fragen beantworten. Mal schauen ob das nützliche Infos liefert.
Bisher habe ich für quantitative Daten immer auf die alte Studie von 1999 verwiesen. Zeit für ein Update!
Alte Daten aus 1999 finde ich immer noch besser als Hypothesen, die auf Beobachtungen im Freundeskreis basieren. Vielleicht kann man mit den Daten aus der Umfrage Spekulationen auf eine solidere Basis stellen. ;)✎
I just saw an email on the iCommons Switzerland mailing list listing Switzerland based netlabels and artists.
Now I just have to spend some time listening to the music… These days I usually listen to the Sounds✎ podcast. Here in Switzerland I pay a monthly fee because I have a radio. Might as well profit from whatever they do. (I do confess, however, that I’d love to hear that none of this money goes to the entertainment industry. (Thieves! Luddites!)
I was reading Stefan Poag’s post Do I know how to be a famous artist? He lists some questions he thinks artists should answer for themselves. The question “How to make sure that anyone who’s interested in your art is able to buy something, regardless of how little or how much they have to spend” reminded me of something…
What I would like to see is a simple, semi-automated process on artists’ websites. Artists would post cool pictures and they’d all include the following:
I feel that’d be better than a tipping jar but still not as convoluted as the usual process. There is no email exchange required. I don’t get to decide anything about the piece – but perhaps some people will approach the artist with adaptations they’d like to see, in which case you do your usual sales process.
I don’t know whether this would have led to a ton of sales, but I’m sure I would have spent maybe $10 or $20 on little stuff like that; things I can use on my blog, on my campaign wikis, submit to Fight On! (where upon I’d maybe pay the little extra required for a print product).
I think as a small artist it’s important to not waste money with a lawyer. Keep it short and simple. You won’t be going to court anyway – if people are not going to pay then that’s “shrinkage" on the web or whatever you want to call it. But give those people who want to buy something small an option.
Do you think it’d work?
As for my own lousy drawings, they’re available for free because I wouldn’t pay for them myself.
What monster manuals are your favorites? I assume anybody who has run D&D 3.5 will have used the first Monster Manual ad nauseam. But was it your favorite?
My favorites – the ones that got used the most:
I know the kids love the newer monster manuals with their gorgeous artwork. I don’t use them too often, though. When I bought Paizo’s Bestiary 1 & 2 I had already stopped running Pathfinder. I have not used the Tomb of Horrors at the table (neither the Swords & Wizardry nor the Pathfinder version). I have used very little of Monster Manuals II and III for D&D 3E and 3.5. I was already disenchanted with D&D 3.5 when I bought the Monster Manual V so I didn’t get to play much. I would have loved to use Lords of Madness and Fiendish Codex I & II more. The Lords of Madness book in particular has inspired me again and again to add alien factions to my campaigns. Currently I’m still using an undercurrent of beholders and beholder kin (from The Complete Guide to Beholders).
But really, 0e Reloaded rules. Or, as Tim Shorts says:
When I mention my favorite monster manuals this one right up at the top. Before the Tome of Horrors and the new Hacklopedia of Beasts it was my favorite. Those beautifully simple stat blocks. Even with the two heavy weight tomes I mentioned I will still refer to this one often. – Favorite OSR Products
And it’s available in an editable format! Awesome!
I’m not sure whether I like Matt Finch’s plans to add more art to the book. Yes, art is what the kids love. It’s what I loved. But if I want beautiful art, I might decide to buy Paizo’s Bestiary 3 instead. A tricky question. I did like the old school illustrations by Steve Zieser✎, Sean Aaberg✎ and Jeremy Pea✎ in the Advanced Edition Companion for Labyrinth Lord✎. I’m on the fence regarding the addition of art to such a perfect product.
What do you think?
I’ve written a dungeon level for the Fight On! megadungeon. It’s for level 13. Maybe it’ll be in issue #13. I tried to adhere to a number of principles that would hopefully produce a better product.
As far as I’m concerned, high level play suggests the following deviation from the usual:
There is no map with exact distances. In fact, like the other dungeon levels at a similar depths, my entry feels like a little underworld wilderness.
I assume that many party members will be able to fly or dimension door or have flying mounts or flying carpets. Thus, there are several vertical drops that would make life very difficult for a low-level party.
Since I don’t have a traditional map, encounters are presented as simple lists of locations and creatures. You can treat these as a wandering monster table, except that every entry in the list comes with monster stats and an environment and a little extra info. Personally, I prefer to get a little more information than just a monster name and their numbers appearing.
In order to further aid improvisation every location starts with a sentence or two setting the mood, a list of impressions (sounds, sights), a list of names to use—little things that I’d appreciate as a referee.
Enemies will have access to magic. I still remember hating spellcasters and devils and demons as a kid because picking the right spells and all that was tricky to do in the heat of combat. This is why important foes will often have two or three at will magic abilities. It’s simply easier to manage.
Since I was going to publish in Fight On! magazine without the Open Gaming License, I decided to not copy any stats from monster manuals or existing rule books. I made up the stats of all the monsters. I’m sure this will result in strange discrepancies. I used the following rules of thumb: mooks 1 HD, squad leaders 3 HD, local leaders 5 HD, important people 7-9HD, boss enemies 12-15 HD, some monsters that you can fight but that you’re better off avoiding 17+ HD. AC 9 for no armor, AC 7 for tough hides, AC 5 for chain and equivalent, AC 0-3 for superbly armored enemies. Damage is usually 1d6, 2d6 for magical two handed weapons or large creatures with a huge jaw, 3d6 for the strongest natural enemies.
In order to reflect the changing dynamics of high-level play, there are a lot of save-or-die effects. At this point, hit-points aren’t so important anymore. Save vs. paralysis or be dragged under water; when under water, save vs. death every round or drown. This is what makes fighting the monsters dangerous, and this is why there are a lot of monsters with few hit dice down on level 13 of this dungeon.
Every location has an interesting non-player character or two. There are factions at war. You can make allies. (In fact, all the dungeon levels I can think of for the Fight On! megadungeon had this. I love it.)
I tried to loosely tie all the locations together. If you’re using the entire level, that’s cool and there’s a lot of interaction. At the same time, it’s possible to reuse every single location outside of the dungeon in your own games. It’s modular because I like to reuse other people’s stuff.
I use bold to highlight monsters and important names in the descriptions such that it’s easy to skim.
I tried to keep it short. Unfortunately, it’s still nearly 30 pages long. I asked Claudia✎ for editing suggestions but she says she likes it all and she wouldn’t change it. We’ll see whether I managed to condense it down to the most awesome per word I can deliver! It was certainly my goal.
A little trick I used: I forced myself to write many things as bullet point lists. Every encounter is one item, one paragraph. In addition to that, I don’t use periods in my list items; I use semicolons to structure it; this forces me to keep a certain flow while writing; I realize it’s not a great way to write a blog post, however.
I also tried to provide foes to fight, non-player characters to talk to, befriend, learn from and barter with. These last elements supports my wife’s favorite play style: discovering new things. You can exchange spells with magic users, there are rituals to learn (in campaigns, that is how I explain all the magic that is unexplained by the spells provided by the rule book) and there are things to learn about the environment.
There are opportunities for long term change. I’m not just talking about loosing limbs (although that may happen as well), I’m talking about divine effects following you around if a god notices your actions, infernal pacts you can make, that kind of thing.
There are also safe zones (although when I ran a play test the players burned down one of the safe zones) for players to rest and recover without needing to return to the surface. I just like to imagine that trips to the underworld are long and arduous, much like Jule Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.
I also tried to provide some links to the other dungeon levels in this megadungeon, but perhaps that is the one aspect where I could have tried to do better and add more tie-ins. To my chagrin I must confess that I haven’t read all of them in as much detail as I would have liked.
Another thing that I have failed to do for now is to calculate how much experience points I would want the party to gain on this level and distribute appropriate treasure hoards. Maybe I should do that now that I’m done and do it. Assuming that a fighter needs about 120’000 to move from level 13 to 14, that would mean that I’d need about 120’000×4×3 (providing triple treasure since they’ll probably miss a lot as well). I’m not sure… At the same time, I feel that once you’ve reached name level and beyond, the actual numbers don’t really mean that much anyway. I could be wrong. All I know is that I probably haven’t distributed 1.5 million gold pieces on this dungeon. Should I?
The article The trouble with social conflicts was cross-posted from Stargazer’s blog to Google+ where I wrote something like the following, inspired by -C’s recent blog post on player skill:
We act stuff out to be entertaining, but in the end I think I use a system that is close to (but less codified) than what Courtney Campbell suggests in his On Ignorance of Skill Based Play blog post. I have NPCs react to quantifiable issues (wants to be bribed, wants help fighting the devils, wants to do the right thing, and so on – Courtney calls them needs, traits and desires) and I’m open about them. A little smalltalk will reveal them and then players can act on them or they can ignore them.
If you don’t want to get rid of skills, I guess you could have skill tests to help players discover more of these needs, traits and desires.
But the most important point is this: If you feel uncomfortable with a player’s acting performance dominating play, then laugh when it’s funny, gnash your teeth when it’s stupid, but at the end of the spiel, look at your NPCs needs, traits, and desires. If none of them are satisfied, then it didn't work.
As a point of personal preference, I enjoy the acting at the table✎ because it’s funny. That’s why I prefer not to replace social interactions with dice rolling. But that doesn’t mean that social interactions cannot be quantified. Have a list of needs, traits and desires ready and pick two.
Wir sind in Berlin und waren im Museum Topographie des Terrors.
Die Nacht dann auf Daniels Geburtstagsfeier verbracht. Um vier ins Bett…
Am nächsten Tag war dann Pergamon Museum angesagt. Sehr schön, inkl. Ishtar Tor aus Babylon.
Over at the Underworld Cleaning Service, George published Hirelings & Henchmen: My Players Hate Them! Oh no! He says that his players “don’t want to split the XP and GP with them.” I understand. It’s how I played AD&D.
These days, however, I’ve added some house rules to my campaign which seem to change this. This is what I posted as a comment on his blog, slightly edited.
The way it works in my game: hirelings are 0 level humans and want 1 gp/day if they are to fight (so-called men-at-arms). XP for monsters are distributed per party member, but in my game, XP for monsters makes up for an estimated 10% of the XP total gained. It’s not a lot.
Most of the XP is gained for treasure. Now, if a hoard is found, I don’t distribute the appropriate gold XP right away. Players distribute the gold amongst the player characters, and if they make it back to town and waste it, this gains them the remaining 90% of their XP. Thus, 0-level hirelings don’t get any of this 90% share. They cost 1 gp/day which is the equivalent of 1 XP/day. My players don’t mind.
When the 0-level hirelings have gained 100 XP, they gain their first level. I don’t keep count and thus I usually just use the rule of thumb that if a player character gets more than 100 XP because of monsters in a single session, all the hirelings part of that expedition will gain a level.
From then on, they are considered to be henchmen. They no longer need to roll morale checks at the beginning of every expedition and they demand one third of a treasure share. This is when players end up sharing a lot of XP. By now, however, players either no longer want henchmen, or they really love them, or they feel it’s only fair to give them a little bit of gold. In any case, none of my players have said “we don’t want to split the XP and GP with them.” These henchmen have been around for several sessions and they survived at least one big fight with the player characters.
In my games, the big fights where two manticores, and a few days later, a wraith sorcerer. How can you fire a hireling who joined you in that big basilisk costume as you tried to trick the manticores✎?
I’m not sure how exactly you are splitting XP and gold between player characters and hirelings, but perhaps tweaking your method will make hirelings more interesting to your players.
I find interactions with hirelings to be a fun, light-weight role-playing opportunity. You can role-play as you hire them for an expedition, as they make demands, as they tell player characters that they don’t want to sleep in caves, as they complain about preferring the other alehouse, as they talk about their family at the fireplace, as they demand their share. Remember the Icelander acting as a guide in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth? I love that scene! I like role-playing hirelings that retire from the adventuring life as they fail their morale checks at the beginning of an expedition and open a shop instead. I like role-playing hirelings as they roll terrible results on the Death and Dismemberment✎ table…
Reading Ode to Black Dougal really made me appreciate the Basic/Expert edition of D&D by Moldvay, Cook & Marsh. Let me link to his awesome series, B/X is my Favorite.
aschroeder@thinkmo:~$ bot-analyze < logs/access.log.1 | head ----------------------------Bandwidth-------Hits-------Actions Everybody 2177M 113317 All Bots 274M 16154 100% 9% -------------------------------------------------------------- www.google.com 92390K 5542 34% 2% yandex.com 63545K 3954 24% 9% bot 33803K 2309 14% 1% superfeedr.com 31740K 1091 6% 63% www.bing.com 14161K 525 3% 4% ahrefs.com 9251K 465 2% 2%
The way I have set up my web pages, bots should not crawl “actions” (URLS containing the
action parameter) – and yet 9% of them do it, and superfeedr does it most of all. I should investigate, I guess.
20 quick questions. Everybody is doing it.
I don’t like bennies, action points, hero points and fate points. I’ve seen them and did not like them in Spirit of the Century✎, Diaspora✎, Savage Worlds✎ and Barbarians of Lemuria✎. (And I’m still playing in a Barbarians of Lemuria campaign with GM Florian. Just because I don’t like a particular element of the rules doesn’t mean that I don’t want to play or that I can’t enjoy the game.)
I recently listened to an episode of RPG Circus✎ on Out of Print Games and Dead Lines where one of the hosts absolutely loves hero points. He said something along the lines of “in the old days, no matter how much my character wanted to succeed, all I ever got to do was roll a d20 to hit!” He wanted his character’s desires to influence the story. I think he even called them “script points” at the beginning of the segment.
When I play games that have bennies, however, I realized that using them robbed me of excitement at the table. I only got excited when I ran out of bennies. Thus, bennies just delayed my excitement. I think the reason is that I as a player only get excited when there are unfulfilled desires. When I desperately want a roll to succeed and I don’t know whether it’ll work or not, when I fail the roll and agonize over my character’s fate. When I have bennies, the experience is not as immediate. First, I’ll check how many bennies I still have. Then I’ll consider whether I can spend them now or whether I need to save them. Then I’ll pay a benny or two for rerolls, and as it turns out, by the time I fail my second check, I’m already rather detached from the action. If the bennies saved my character, that’s cool, and if the bennies didn’t save my character, I’m just back to the situation without bennies in the first place.
In addition to this cushioning of the player from the blows of fate there is an additional problem with bennies: their use devalues the decisions I have made. I made the decision to enter a fight and now I’m using bennies to save myself. I made the decision to do something and now I’m using bennies to change elements of the scene. If I’m playing in a game where Player Agency✎ is paramount, the referee will have made sure that I could have evaded the fight, that I could have prepared myself better. By cushioning the consequences of my actions, the decisions I made to get there are being devalued. It’s very subtle, but one of the telling signs is when players are overly confident at the table and are willing the take the low road, follow the obvious plot, fight any monsters encountered – a slight whisper of “it doesn’t matter anyway, we have bennies to save us from our laziness.”
I’m sure other people have other reactions to bennies. I imagine some people play a Conan character and use bennies steer the action in a way that would make a great movie. They like to see their characters act and succeed like movie heroes. That’s cool – but it’s not what I am looking for. Personally, living through a movie in a role-playing game is not what I’m looking for. I’d rather agonize over a decision to fight, I’d rather weep because of the blows of fate bringing me down (and not because I made a deal with the referee and got a fate point for it but because I made a mistake).
I’m tempted to say: Play unsafe! Play without bennies.
When: 22 February, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))
From Amazon’s short description:
Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand’s greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex.
Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life-from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy…to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction…to the philosopher who becomes a pirate…to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad…to the lowest track worker in her train tunnels.
Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.