Miscellaneous
  • Miscellaneous


    This week I decided to go with the theme of Rules Don't Matter Week. Not because I actually believe that, but because there are a lot of good products out there designed to help your game with material outside of actual game mechanics. I think this is a growing space for writers, designers, and artists, and I think a lot of GMs and players can get some serious use out of materials that inspire and assist them with their gaming efforts. Let's dive in, shall we!

    Back when Dungeons & Dragons was new, the designers and most of the players were wargamers. Typical adventures involved threats to the player character's lives and possessions - their money and magic items. As the hobby has grown, more of the participants are not wargamers, and many campaigns must find other ways to create tension, or abandon tension entirely in favor of linear stories or other means. People refuse to have their painstakingly-crafted characters killed.


    So here we are on the shores of my home, the continent of North America where I want to talk about the indigenous people here. As this series of articles has gone on, it has grown into more than a just a collection of alternative myths that you or I can utilize in our campaigns. As more than a few people have pointed out, these articles only scratch the tip of the iceberg in terms of getting to know people around the world, their personal mythologies, and how we might respectfully represent them in role playing games. We do our best to find good sources; it has been quite an education to be honest.


    Like WotC's Dungeon Masters Guild and White Wolf's Storytellers Vault, Atlas Games has entered the field of fan-contributed content with the (appropriately) enigmatically-named Statosphere program for their Unknown Armies RPG.


    If you run a big RPG campaign, with a lot happening other than the adventures of the characters, often there will be a war on. I had to create a list of fundamental patterns of warfare for an online class I'm teaching, and thought the list might benefit GMs.


    While a great many tabletop RPG products are created and published in the United States, more and more fantastic and top-quality products are coming from amazingly talented folks from all over the world. With the release of Awaken from Croatia's The Games Collective, I decided to take a look at other non-US companies and point out some top-notch stuff. Let's take a tour!

    In my last column I showed you the processes I used for worldbuilding. Now let's see those lessons applied in an example setting.



    When I went to Gen Con this past summer, there weren't a lot of things that we on my "to get" list. So many new releases at the convention were little more than rewarmed Kickstarter releases, or other preorders that were at the show so that people could avoid shipping prices. Something that I was looking forward to were getting a physical copy of Paul Baldowski's The Cthulhu Hack and an All Rolled Up dicebag/gaming accessory. Being based in the UK made getting an All Rolled Up bag difficult, because of the exorbitant shipping costs inherent in international shipping, but picking one up at Gen Con took all of that out of the process.


    Launched just prior to this year's Gen Con, Storytellers Vault is a crowd-sourced content creation arrangement that allows fans of World of Darkness to create and sell supplements for their favorite games from that line. The Storytellers Vault is similar to the successful Dungeon Masters Guild program for Dungeons & Dragons, and indeed it uses the very same content guidelines.


    I've discussed topics in worldbuilding, and I hope they're interesting and educational, but today I'm going to discuss the process of worldbuilding, and how I go about it.


    Game publishers are expected to be Jacks or Jills of All Trades, but a lot of things end up falling through the cracks. The reason why are many, and the primary one is that the bulk of the people publishing tabletop role-playing games are working with budgets that are pared pretty close to the bone and that often doesn't allow publishers to hire the experts that they may need to get their games the attention that they want. That is really the main purpose of these irregular Media 101 articles, to give publishers some tools to help them. In today's article I am going to discuss something esoteric and arcane: the press release.


    Off the coast of the main American continents are a group of islands with their own cultures, histories, conflicts, and stories. Although influences from South America and eventually West Africa, Spain, and France wove their ways into the folklore of the Caribbean, the synthesis of these influences have created a beautiful and sometimes melancholy portrait of the native folk who call the islands home. Our focus will be on the original native cultures and their lives prior to European contact. As always we can offer only a glimpse into the true depth of these cultures, so I encourage you to do your own research.


    Role-playing has existed for a century, if not longer. Some role-playing exercises (for education or business) are games with active human opposition, others are puzzles. You play a "role" even in Monopoly, and in many other board games, especially wargames ("you are the commander" said Avalon Hill long before "RPGs" existed). Yet most people would agree that hobby RPGs really got going with Dungeons & Dragons.


    Harassment in gaming is getting more and more attention as gamers are making the stand that they will not support sexual harassment, the harassment of the LGBTQ+ or people of color. In the latest controversy over dealing with harassment at conventions, the North Texas RPG Convention, a self-styled old school gaming convention, has decided to take a stand against those in the tabletop RPG hobby who have been harassed at conventions and other spaces.


    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? The Basic Hack by Nathan J. Hill is a streamlined OSR RPG designed to introduce new players to role-playing. The 58-page book includes a game book/choose your own adventure system rules introduction, character creation, rules for combat and other actions, spells, creatures, an adventure, and character sheet.


    Previously I talked about fabric, and where it comes from. In this one I discuss clothing and its applicability to worldbuilding and plot.


    Video game designers use two terms worth understanding for all game and adventure designers, "atoms" and "loops". This time I'll talk about loops.


    There are many reasons for travel and those can be very useful for setting the mood in media res. Compare a campaign that opens with the PCs hired to explore an unknown region, with one that opens with them as refugees fleeing a war. The tone changes completely, even if the contents of the character sheets are still the same. They could be pilgrims or bodyguards upon a pleasure cruise.



    In our post-Harvey Weinstein world, more and more people in the various entertainment industries are coming forward with allegations of abuse and harassment, both sexual and psychological. The tabletop gaming industry isn't isolated from this wave of revelation as incidents surface, and will likely continue to surface about professionals, and fans, within the gaming communities.


    Mesoamerica was a profoundly important region and set of cultures that arose independently in the region stretching from central Mexico to northern Panama. The pre-colombian cultures created powerful civilizations that flourished for thousands of years. Study of the cities and monuments of these cultures suggests these civilizations were on par with those found in South America, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. There were many cultures that thrived in the region, including the Toltec, Mixtec, and Zapotec to name just three. However, we are going to look at three of the civilizations most familiar to modern society.

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