Miscellaneous
  • Miscellaneous


    Gamers have gotten pretty comfortable over the years with the triumvirate of books that form the core of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, I suspect many gamers allow their familiarity with the three-book format to keep them from closely reading the entirety of those texts. Those gamers, myself included, know generally what content is included in each book, so they simply hunt down the chapters they need as they become relevant.


    Last week I started talking about the new and upcoming games that I was looking forward to in this New Year. I'm not as much of a fan of open-ended campaigning as some, so that gives me the chance to sample more games. This comes in handy when your day job is writing about role-playing games. This week I am going to follow up that article to talk about some horror games and supplements that I am looking forward to getting to try out in the upcoming year.


    Most people know the expression "can't see the forest for the trees," that is, you get lost in details and fail to see the big picture. In game (and level/adventure) design it's usually the big picture that counts, for players. Yet many designers, even experienced designers, sometimes get bogged down in details at the expense of the quality of the game as a whole.


    This week we went exploring at the SPOD - exploring the world of maps for RPGs. Maps have been a treasured part of the hobby since the very beginning, when Dave Arneson took some basic graph paper, crafted a dungeon, and had his friends explore it in search of the daughter of the Elven King. That, my friends, was the true birth of the classic RPG experience as we now know it. To that end, here's a bunch of map-oriented products for the physical and virtual tables.

    It is a new year. They already did the big lists of what everyone is looking forward to here at the site, and there are some great games on that list, but in this, my first column of the new year, I'm going to talk a bit about the things that I am looking forward to seeing, and playing, in the new year. None of this is in any particular order, just as it bubbles up into my rambling thoughts on things.


    Today I am going to discuss a destroyer of kings and armies, slayer of nations, stealer of lives and maker of orphans and widows. Yes, we are talking about pestilence. Plagues and diseases have reshaped human history and there is much that we can adapt for worldbuilding purposes.



    Back in Ye Olden Days, when I was first starting out running RPG campaigns, I sincerely believed that the worst thing that could happen to a player-character would be for them to die. This belief was encouraged, in part, by the mechanics of the games I was running at the time, particularly AD&D, with its classic binary Hit Point mechanic: positive Hit Points mean the character is healthy and mobile and all that other good stuff; zero or negative Hit Points equal death (or, at best, a discommodious unconsciousness).


    When someone says a game is "fun," you probably don’t really know what they mean, and maybe they don’t, either. Until you recognize that what's fun for you isn't necessarily fun for every game player, you cannot be a good GM.


    As the new year approaches, here are my RPG resolutions for the coming year. What are yours?

    With the end of the year looming, it is traditionally a time for navel-gazing back at what has been done over the last year. I was proud to see that a number of my articles ended up in the round up of the top stories of the year, but as happy as I am with those stories (and the others that I have written for this site), the accomplishment that I am most proud of from 2017 is the one that gets the least amount of fan fair from the site. You may have seen tweets or Facebook posts about what we call the "UGC Program" here at E.N. World, and wondered what it means. What started as an idea to get a stable of freelance writers to augment the regular E.N. World columnists and their weekly pieces here on the site grew into what we call our User Generated Content Program (or UGC).


    Most of the marketing in role-playing publishing is a play on the expectations game. But because of the long cycle of development, that can mean it can be months (or years!) before that initial announcement of a game coming out, and the actuality of its release. You can see it in the "Most Anticipated Games" articles that come out here, around this time of year. How many times do we see games pop up on these lists while they go through their cycles of development and design?


    In my previous two columns I laid out techniques for worldbuilding and applied them to a sample con game setting. In this one I am going to apply the Mindy Method and reverse-engineer an NPC to fit the requirements of a setting.



    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.

    Page 1 of 15 1234567891011 ... LastLast