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    I was reading about the level cap increasing from 60 to 70 in an online game, with many new possibilities/abilities. "How do people keep track of so many abilities at such high levels?" I thought. Then I realized yet another reason why I prefer simple games: "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Another version, about Japanese gardening, is "Your garden is not complete until there is nothing else that you can remove."

    The Index Card RPG is a 190 page RPG with two worlds, five adventures, and stand up mini art pages. Prop and location index sized cards are sold separately. The current rules cover fantasy and science fiction and one horror adventure. Created by Hankerin Ferinale of Drunkens & Dragons on YouTube, The Index Card RPG (or ICRPG) started as an experiment in using index card sized illustrations in place of square by square combats. I interviewed Hankerin at Gen Con to discuss how he became a full-time creator and his future plans. Included below are two not-yet-announced products he revealed to me.

    Last column I covered food in a macro scale and how it could influence a setting. In this column I am going to discuss the logistics of food for the purposes of worldbuilding. Contemporarily, farms and ranches produce most of our food. Seafood, of course, is harvested from the oceans via fishing ships, but aquaculture is used in the production of sea vegetables, shrimp and some species of fish.

    Here at EN World, I’m looking at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids' gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults' table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Dagger: A Toolkit for Fantasy Gaming with Kids, Revised Edition is a free, action-oriented fantasy RPG for kids. The core book contains rules, monsters, treasure ideas, and charts in a six-page document, all for free.

    It seems like a simple question, but the way you answer it may, in effect, determine the metaphysics of your game. Many RPGs use some sort of "experience point" system to model growth and learning. The progenitor of this idea is, of course, Dungeons & Dragons; the Experience Point (XP) system has been a core feature of the game from the beginning.

    Whew! Gen Con over and done with, and what a show! But time waits for no one, which means it’s time for a new PAIZO NEWS ROUNDUP!

    Here at EN World, I’m looking at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids' gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults' table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Little Heroes is an ENnie Award-nominated storytelling tabletop role-playing game for ages 5 and up. The core book contains system rules, ten player personalities/species/ adversaries, and more for $5 (PDF).

    Shadow of the Demon Lord (SotDL) plays like D&D with ten levels, great house rules, and with every character multiclassing. Layered in are rules for corruption and insanity. The setting features a haunted, dying world being invaded by a demon lord, whose corrupting shadow brings a variety of different rule and story effects. A dying empire is the default end of the world and nineteen other choices are detailed.

    If you're going to design games, or GM RPGs, it helps to understand a little bit about what makes games enjoyable. Game publishers often say in their guidelines for designers "game must be fun," but I've always found this to be useless because fun means different things to different people.

    Sustenance and the lack of it has driven wars, informed politics, caused revolutions. The humble potato is a great example of food’s potential to drive history and narrative. It was introduced to Europe after contact with the Americas, and then became the staple food of a third of Ireland’s population. A potato blight then caused the Great Famine which killed a million and triggered the mass emigration of Irish people to the US.

    Modiphius Entertainment has been none-too-bashful about converting some of the entertainment industries most iconic intellectual properties (IPs), for the love of RPGs. From H.P. Lovecraft's mythos crafted into multiple ENnie award winner -Achtung! Cthulhu (2013), and Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian, to CONAN - Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of (Kickstarter, currently mid fulfillment), the company is certainly on the up take.

    Africa is a rich land with a history that spans the entirety of human civilization. Trying to pin down a distinct set of myths would be difficult because one could end up repeating oneself in theme if not in actual specific characters. Still, the theme of the African myths is rich with heroes of a more classic nature and tricksters abound to delight and frustrate us. In many ways they are simpler than many European myths, but the simplicity does not detract from the depth and beauty nor their utility in adventure and world building.

    Hello and welcome to the newest edition of the PAIZO NEWS ROUNDUP! This go-round, we’re taking a break from Starfinder, Starfinder, Starfinder for something a little different: third party Starfinder, Starfinder, Starfinder! That’s right, we’re going to shine a spotlight on some of the lesser-known publishers all trying to give you the tools you need for the best game of Starfinder you can make.

    Why is pure innovation regarded as important in games and adventures, even as it turns out that it hardly ever happens? People like to be surprised when they play games, and some of the most famous game designers such as Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, Zelda, etc.) look for ways to surprise players. A true innovation is going to be surprising because no one has ever seen it before. On the other hand, even though most "innovations" have been done before, if the players don't know about that then they can be surprised.

    One open review call on G+, and my email is completely under siege with storyteller RPGs. Leave it to those designers to never miss an opportunity to change the narrative… Eh? All kidding aside, many of these indie products will be featured in the next couple of reviews, and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Here at EN World, I’m continuing to look at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids' gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults' table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Hero Kids core rules and the Basement O Rats adventure is a tabletop role-playing game for 4 to 10 year olds. The core book provides rules for GM’ing younger audiences, combat, skill tests, character creation, monster compendium, and character tokens for $5.99 (PDF).

    Published by White Wolf in 1999 as part of its line of supplements for Vampire: the Dark Ages, the 94-page Cainite Heresy provides details on a heretical sect within the vampiric world. Part of the apocalyptic "Year of the Reckoning" line of World of Darkness products that traded on real-world millennialist fears, this book is clearly marked on the cover as "For Adults Only" and was published under White Wolf's "mature content" imprint, Black Dog Studios. As the disclaimer quoted above indicates, this book earns this moniker, both in concept and execution. (As is usual for Black Dog publications, there's more than a bit of nudity scattered throughout the illustrations.)

    Honestly, sometimes my game design looks like it's not really design at all. It's more a remix of classic ingredients; an RPG compilation album of greatest hits. On a mechanical level, you can see the lineage though on a surface level, you might need to squint a bit. For me, game mechanics are defined just as much by the terms and phrases you associate with them as the ways they interpret dice. It's similar with setting. Some fantasy worlds haven't even tried to hide the marks from when they filed the serial numbers off. Others are deliberately innovative, occasionally for it's own sake. Reinterpreting, re-codifying and even revivifying are all well used tools in the designer's box of tricks.

    Where people go to the bathroom matters a lot, worldbuilding-wise. They may use an outhouse, a chamber pot, a porcelain commode, or an advanced vacuum-flush system aboard a space station, but the infrastructure of sewage disposal informs a lot of urban planning, clothing, agriculture, public health - even diet. It’s not usually a topic most worldbuilders want to think about for fear of reverting to juvenalia, but assuming it just gets taken care of offscreen can be detrimental to setting.

    An RPG GM has many of the same tasks or duties as a game designer. Even though what I’m saying today can be taken as game design advice, it also applies to the GM as he/she creates an adventure, even as they prepare to run an adventure created by someone else. "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won." Joseph Campbell
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