View Profile: lewpuls - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
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About lewpuls

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Date of Birth
January 22, 1951 (68)
About lewpuls
About Me:
See Wikipedia: "Lewis Pulsipher", "Britannia (board game)", "archomental".

Lewis Pulsipher, Ph.D. (military and diplomatic history, Duke University)
·designer of Britannia (1986, 1987, 1991, 2006, 2008), Dragon Rage (1982 and 2011), Valley of the Four Winds (1980), Swords & Wizardry (1979), Sea Kings (2015), Lew Pulsipher's Doomstar (2016, video (PC, Mac, Linux)); Eurasia (title may change) (forthcoming from Worthington), Germania (forthcoming from Plastic Soldier Company, UK), Seas of Gold (forthcoming from Excalibre)
·Industry Insider Guest of Honor, GenCon 2013
·Online audiovisual game design courses: https://www.udemy.com/u/drlewispulsipher
·Wikipedia entries: "Lewis Pulsipher"; "Britannia (board game)"; "Archomental"
·Google+ Game Design: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Pulsiphergames
·Author of "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish", August 2012http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-6952-9; electronic versions also available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-a-Million
·pulsiphergames.com
·YouTube Game Design channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/LewGameDesign
·Twitter: @lewpuls (https://twitter.com/lewpuls) https://twitter.com/lewpuls
·Game design blog: http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/ and http://boardgamegeek.com/blog/435/pulsipher-game-design
·google.com/+LewisPulsipher
Location:
Gainesville, FL
Sex:
Male
Age Group:
Over 40
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If you can be contacted on social networks, feel free to mention it here.

Google+:
google.com/+LewisPulsipher
Twitter:
lewpuls
YouTube:
http://youtube.com/LewGameDesign
My Game Details

Details of games currently playing and games being sought.

Town:
Gainesville
State:
Florida
Country:
USA
Game Details:
RPGs: First Edition D&D, willing to try 5th, have played them all.

I design board and card games, most well-known are Britannia, Dragon Rage' latest is Doomstar (actually a video game in format). Looking for playtesters for card games and board wargames.

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Worlds of Design: Tabletop RPGs Are the Most Naturally Co-operative Games Wednesday, 10th October, 2018 12:11 PM

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Monday, 21st January, 2019 06:32 PM
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Thursday, 31st March, 2005
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My Game Details
Town:
Gainesville
State:
Florida
Country:
USA
Game Details:
RPGs: First Edition D&D, willing to try 5th, have played them all.

I design board and card games, most well-known are Britannia, Dragon Rage' latest is Doomstar (actually a video game in format). Looking for playtesters for card games and board wargames.
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Sunday, 13th January, 2019

  • 11:51 PM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    ...is a gaming forum. I don't expect rhetorical perfection in every article. I expect a spectrum. Some articles will essentially be leaning more on the opinion side than others, and expressing views that have weaknesses in them. I don't particularly see a problem with that if the discussion is good. And the discussion is as good or bad as we make it IMO. Frankly, I think if you skip past the more extreme posts, there are people in the thread on both sides of the aisle making interesting points. "Both sides"? Other than a couple of lone voices in the wilderness, who's arguing here? You have two solid pages of people condemning this article for being facile, poorly researched and factually wrong before anyone steps up and says anything positive about it. And, even then, it's more damning with faint praise than anything. Expecting higher caliber writing is not expecting rhetorical perfection. And, if this was an outlier article, that might be another thing as well. But it's not. lewpuls has been hammering this same drum over and over and over again, using the same language and the same examples, for a while now. And he gets called on it every single time. See, funny thing is, when lewpuls started these articles, he actually would engage in the comments from time to time. Now? It's drop the burning bag on the front doorstep, ring the bell and run away. These have become nothing but clickbait.
  • 11:20 PM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    I'm still rather baffled how the idea of "GM Story" is being trotted out here for story based games. Sorry, that's a complete mischaracterization of story heavy games. They are not about the GM's Story. In fact, if you're playing FATE (for example) and you're the GM and it's all about your story, you are playing the game wrong. These articles would be a lot better received if lewpuls actually would take the time to learn about story based games before criticizing them.

Friday, 11th January, 2019

  • 09:58 PM - Count_Zero mentioned lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    ... of it seems poorly researched, as there are other folks around here and elsewhere who seem to have thought more deeply (and I'd say more evenhandedly) about this subject, and the author seems ignorant of that. The author probably should have gotten himself up to speed on the state of scholarship and theory (such as it may be, it is better than his) before starting to write. His use of loaded terms and factually incorrect absolute statements do not strengthen his arguments. Maybe some discussion with *current* designers of games would have been helpful, too. And, to answer his final question - No particular gamer has to like all kinds of games. But, around here, we do ask people to limit the time they spend trash-talking styles they don't like, or how often they tear down things other people love to make their own favorites look good. Yeah - the sentiment in these articles as a whole feels very strongly like gatekeeping - that if you're not playing the style of game that lewpuls endorses (I'm not going to explicitly describe it as "old school" because has been mentioned over the past few threads), you're not a real role-player, and frankly that's a mindset that really needs to have been dumped into the Orb of Annihilation yesterday, as it's literally a mindset meant to drive people out of the hobby.

Friday, 9th November, 2018

  • 04:14 AM - Elfcrusher mentioned lewpuls in post Is Ranged really better than Melee?
    ... target of all attacks (since that normally means their ally is taking those attacks). I think the problem here is that two completely different points are being argued. No tweaks are needed. All you need to do is stop thinking about individual contributions and instead think about team dynamics. I'm not thinking about individual contributions or team dynamics. I'm thinking about hard choices and trade-offs and puzzle solving. Or lack thereof, really. Spreading damage out over more of the team saves lives and that's what melee allows. Focus fire is also very useful and much easier to achieve with range. You want a good mix of range and melee in order to keep allies from being focused while being able to focus enemies. Look, everything you say would be equally true if ranged were doing twice as much damage as any melee. Which suggests to me that you're missing the point entirely. You seem to be making an argument about team optimization. Which is fine. Very lewpuls of you. Some of us, though, are arguing something else. Call it "storytelling". Just like the melee fighter must gnash his teeth in frustration when an opponent is just out of reach, an archer should also have to sometimes...more often than currently...gnash his teeth in frustration. The problem right now is that archers don't suffer enough limitations. "No, I'm fine, thanks. I'll just stand back here where it's completely safe and continue to do my maximum damage each round." It's not that this isn't fair, or that it's poor strategy, or whatever. It's that it makes archery "uninterestingly good." I'd say ideally you want at least half the party to be melee and at least a third to be ranged. You can take the best of both worlds with a few dual purpose characters. Ones that can shift from ranged combat to melee combat easily. The bow and 2 short sword style characters seem ideal for this. Yeah, you are definitely missing the point.

Sunday, 4th November, 2018

  • 11:39 PM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: Fantasy vs. Sci-Fi Part 1
    First off, there's the problem with how we're trying to define genre. Some genres can be defined by trope - American Old West Westerns, for example, are generally defined by trope - guns, horses, cowboys, that sort of thing. It would be difficult to set a Western (not impossible, but, difficult) in 3rd century Rome. That's because, by and large, Westerns are defined by their tropes. Murder Mystery is also largely defined by trope. You've got a murderer, a victim(s) and someone trying to unravel the mystery. Remove any of these three tropes and it's kinda uphill climbing to sell this as a murder mystery. OTOH, fantasy and SF are not defined by tropes. Yes, tropes exist in the genre, but, they don't really define the genre. You can have lightsabers, as lewpuls mentions, in both SF and Fantasy. And having dragons doesn't necessarily make a work fantasy - as in the Pern series by Anne McCaffery. No. Fantasy and SF are defined by theme, not trope. The difference between SF and Fantasy is the difference between ethics and morality. SF is, by its themes, political. The central question of SF is "What does it mean to be human in the face of X?" Whether we're talking about Frankenstein or Spock or Wall-E, or Flowers for Algernon, that's the primary theme of virtually all SF. Fantasy, OTOH, deals with morality. What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to be evil? And various shades of grey in between. So, we get Jedi, Sauron, and whatnot. Fantasy is based on the earlier morality tales of oral traditions and it shows through in modern fantasy.

Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018

  • 09:01 PM - Elfcrusher mentioned lewpuls in post 5E's "Missed Opportunities?"
    Watch out. Pretty soon you'll be telling those durn kids to get off your lawn old edition. :mad: lewpuls and I can sit at the piano together and sing "Those Were the Days". I have a great falsetto so 'll take Gene Stapleton's part.

Monday, 22nd October, 2018

  • 02:53 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    Well, give credit where credit is due. lewpuls' articles do always generate a fair degree of response, even if that response tends to be ... err... somewhat similar in nature. :D But, frankly, I'm really not seeing what lewpuls is seeing. The whole "I'm in it for me" thing goes all the way back to my earliest days of gaming. We've all had those players at our tables. It's not generational or age or anything like that. It's simply that some people just don't get the idea of cooperation being a key element of RPG's. The thief that steals from the party is hardly a new trope, for example. And, the idea of the game being about the story goes all the way back to the earliest days as well - Dragonlance being a perfect example of this. The more things change...

Friday, 5th October, 2018

  • 03:43 PM - Xaelvaen mentioned lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: Tabletop RPGs Are the Most Naturally Co-operative Games
    I like your comparison between alignments and cooperation many times being at odds, @lewpuls - it is often the case unless the campaign specifically revolves around the idea that evil and good must somehow work together for a greater goal. Lawful Good and Lawful Evil both want the world to remain, so it's good to put aside their differences and stop the big bad Chaos from wrecking the Earth outright, as an example. As far as player vs player, the only time I've ever encountered that was back during 2E - I was playing a rogue that my DM asked me specifically to be a former member of an assassin's guild - he knew I'd handle it with grace and not go about being a murder hobo. His own son was playing in the campaign as well, and at one point, his won was getting a bit big for his britches, so one night at camp my DM slipped me a note. The note said that I had been given a kill order by my old guild - something you didn't refuse, and I was to execute the DM's own son's character. Talk about dilemma - I had never attacked another player, but to be honest, the other player was b...

Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018

  • 04:04 PM - Jay Verkuilen mentioned lewpuls in post Don't Lose The Forest For The Trees
    Backgammon is a race, yes - it's like Ludo but better! <snip> It's a much easier game than chess (hence my preference for it!) - But it is a two-player, computable game with all information available to all players, so I think it counts as a puzzle in @lewpuls's sense. Yes, I think that's right. The thing is, backgammon is arguably the oldest game (with formalized rules) in the world. It's been played for millennia and I have little doubt it will continue to be played millennia hence. So one of his premises---that because it's a puzzle people lose interest once they know how to play it---seems wrong. [quote]I could be wrong, but I don't think that lewpuls is meaning to use "game" in the sense of mathematical game theory/decision theory. His reason for classifying (most? all?) cooperative games as puzzles, I think, is that they are (in principle) solvable and (once the solution is known) there is always a best move. Yes in theory (up to randomness) there is a best move for many games. Given that backgammon's randomness is fairly benign it can be easily incorporated into backward induction and thus optimized. I really fail to see what conceptual work "puzzle" does for many of these "games". (The fact that I have to put quotes around "g...
  • 08:54 AM - pemerton mentioned lewpuls in post Don't Lose The Forest For The Trees
    ...enceforth. As I recall, backgammon is essentially a race between players... been a while since I played it. However, it does have an aspect of strategy and it clearly has a versus (or zero-sum) aspect.Backgammon is a race, yes - it's like Ludo but better! It's a much easier game than chess (hence my preference for it!) - at any given move, if you can calculate probablities across two dice in your head, then you can work out what move minimises your chances of being "hit" by your opponent (meaning that that piece has to go back to start) while maximising the movement of your pieces towards the winning line. A fully optimal move would of course include all the future probabilities for all the future moves, which I can't do in my head for even one roll beyond my current one, and which would require computing across 30+ moves for each player for a complete game. But it is a two-player, computable game with all information available to all players, so I think it counts as a puzzle in lewpuls's sense. The problem I have with the proposed terminology is that in mathematical game theory one thinks about both cooperation and competition. The proposed terminology seems to exclude cooperative games, for instance, which are studied in mathematical game theory alongside competitive ones. Indeed many games have aspects of both.I could be wrong, but I don't think that lewpuls is meaning to use "game" in the sense of mathematical game theory/decision theory. His reason for classifying (most? all?) cooperative games as puzzles, I think, is that they are (in principle) solvable and (once the solution is known) there is always a best move. I don't know boardgames or computer games very well, and so am working from a very limited palette of examples, but I'm thinking something like Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert. I play Forbidden Desert with my 10 year old from time-to-time. We're a long way from having identified the winning play, but I can see how it can make sense to think o...
  • 04:08 AM - pemerton mentioned lewpuls in post Don't Lose The Forest For The Trees
    I'm not getting this point: In games, especially games for more than two, there is no best move (frequently) <snip> Any definition of game that excludes chess and go is a poor definition that is only going to confuse the heck out of people.In lewpuls's terminology, chess and go are puzzles because there is a solution (though it's cognitively/mathematically in accessible to most players). I assume that backgammon is a puzzle for the same reason, although its parameters can change from move to move because of the dice results. Maybe I'm wrong, but I would assume that Diplomacy is a game in the relevant sense. And I guess many other blind declaration wargames (inlcuding CCGs) might count. As to the bigger issue of "why bother"? I assume that this sort of analysis is helpful to game design. (Also - as something of an expert on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, I can confidently state that his discussion of the word "game" has no bearing on the current topic of games vs puzzles, except in the trivial sense that he is pointing out that words can have varied uses. But making that rather banal point is not what makes the book an important work of philosophy; and the philsophical points have no bearing upon game design.)

Sunday, 17th December, 2017

  • 04:15 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Tension, Threats And Progression In RPGs
    Ah man. After all the warm and fuzzies the last time around, lewpuls goes full on "git off mah lawn" again. :uhoh: I don't have a lot of ideas here because, to me, games should always involve some sort of conflict (I strongly dislike Eurogames, which are usually parallel competition puzzles, not games). Conflict implies the possibility of loss. Without the possibility of loss or failure, what tension can you put into a game? Umm, what Eurogames are you talking about? Catan certainly has loss conditions, or rather, a win condition which means you have a clear winner in the game. Pandemic has very, very clear loss conditions and you will likely lose as often as you win. Are we seriously going to entertain that the most popular games in decades aren't really games but are "parallel competition puzzles"? Whatever that is. How far back do we actually have to go to find the play style that is being talked about in the article? Dragonlance released in the early 80's, but, was being played in the 70's and the very early days of AD&D. Here...

Monday, 13th November, 2017

  • 12:23 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post The Most Important Design Aspect of Hobby RPGs Is The Pure Humanoid Avatar
    /snip Yeah. Hey, I'm not unreasonable. There are just some things that I'm probably going to push back pretty hard on. :D But, no, I can totally see where lewpuls is coming from here. It makes a great deal of sense to differentiate role playing games from other games this way since it is a pretty concrete difference. Note, that by role playing games, I'm certainly not excluding board games or other games. There are board games that are pretty much short play RPG's. And certainly video games as well.

Friday, 10th November, 2017

  • 12:41 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post The Most Important Design Aspect of Hobby RPGs Is The Pure Humanoid Avatar
    Yes and no though. The Dog in Monopoly isn't representing anything though. Nothing changes about your play if you are the dog or the thimble. An avatar, as it's defined here, isn't just a marker. It has an identity in and of itself, even if that identity is "this is a representation of me". If you change the avatar, you change the game play. Particularly in RPG's where your avatar defines how you interact with the game to a very large degree. Playing D&D as a fighter or a wizard is a very different experience, even though the player may be the same. I pretty much agree with everything lewpuls says here. It's actually a really succinct way to differentiate role playing games from other games. In an RPG, regardless of the medium, your avatar is the primary focus of play. Changing the avatar results in a very different game experience.

Saturday, 26th August, 2017

  • 08:52 AM - AnimeSniper mentioned lewpuls in post Pure Innovation Is Highly Overrated
    lewpuls Its sad when the game companies and their design teams try to rehash or make near mirror copies of earlier existing games to try and grab the market share of computer and console gamer's instead of seeing what made the game so well liked and then incorporating those features into their own near or future release titles. Innovation comes about in both small and large grandiose ways from the new crafting and settlement creation in Fallout 4 to better story line progression/tie in to earlier games or building off snippets from the previous games Fallout 3's mentioning of the Commonwealth for example. Tony Vargas that is also true and sometimes it works and other time it flops like a dying fish... New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, certain Mountain Dew with X-flavors for a game tie in release, and etcetera.

Wednesday, 2nd August, 2017

  • 06:55 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Tactics And Combat In Fantasy RPGs
    ... be able to use them at all so then you get some limited reliable tactics and nothing else. Part of tactics is being able to accurately predict your odds of success. Unless it's the only possible option, no one chooses an option with a very low chance of success. Not when there are other options that have higher chances of success that are still viable. So, to use your example, if pushing the orc off the tower requires three separate checks, each with a 50% chance of failure (a ridiculous example, but, bear with me), no one is going to do it when they could just stick their sword in the orc and have a much better chance of success. And the problem with leaving everything in the DM's hands is that very, very few DM's are good at judging risk vs reward. If swinging across the room from a chandelier costs you more than you could benefit from doing it, no one does it. And, very often, when it's left up to the DM, options that are not rules defined are generally not taken. lewpuls even mentions the idea that stealth is something you do with the aid of magic. Why? Well, because using magic means that the DM isn't coming up with off the cuff rulings and your chances of success and failure are known. A group that doesn't have access to those magic items simply doesn't do the stealth stuff. I think some games have a story mode - or even an easy mode I guess. Fair enough. But, they also have hard modes too. Shouldn't games cater to everyone?
  • 04:46 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Tactics And Combat In Fantasy RPGs
    ...ing on your DM, that you would try to push the Orc off the side of the Tower, or shove the Brazier on top of it or throw a Barrel at it. The problem is that there was no rules for that and there was no character button written on your sheet that you could mash to do those actions so really it was up to you and the DM on how worthwhile it was to try anything tactical. That's precisely my point. The game provides zero tactical options. Pushing that baddy off the tower or throw a barrel at it was 100% free form gaming. The DM decided, not the system. I can do that in any game at any point in time. The difference is, now, as a player, I can actually have some idea whether or not any of those tactics are worth trying. I should have a pretty decent idea of how hard/easy it would be to push that orc off the tower. Depending on the edition, I might just be able to do it 100% of the time. IOW, these become ACTUAL tactical decisions. I honestly have no idea what video games lewpuls plays to have the idea that the game will protect you and usher you along. About the only thing games do in order to allow that is save points, and well, that's been part of video games for a VERY long time.

Monday, 24th July, 2017

  • 04:11 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Tactics And Combat In Fantasy RPGs
    ...o switch out weapons, and you make your tactical choices accordingly. Or, take spells. Area of effect spells like fireball were extremely difficult to pull off. The blow back wiping out the party was very much a thing and a player that toasts his party generally got pelted with dice. :D Now, you have a battlemap (usually) and spells become exacting. You have the option of using pretty much any spell you want to use whenever you want to use it. Plus, you simply have FAR more spells to use in a given day. Particularly in 3e where you had cheap scrolls. Add to this the mechanical changes - forced movement, grappling, disarming, that sort of thing. Yes, I know that AD&D had grappling, but, let's be honest here, it was far more of a PITA than it was worth. So, not many people did it. Now, a grapple focused character is pretty easy to use and is quite effective. Thus, more tactical level choices. Note, I'm not saying one is better than the other. But, I do agree (SHOCK!) with lewpuls here in that there has been a pretty strong shift in D&D towards a different approach to combat.

Sunday, 18th June, 2017

  • 12:41 AM - pemerton mentioned lewpuls in post Let's Not Save The World...Again
    ... with AD&D were my introduction, the design of Keep on the Borderlands was fairly influential as well. While my friend's parents played D&D at the time, we learned on our own. And pretty much the first thing we (and everybody I met in school that were also players) did, was start to design our own Caves of Chaos copies, with lands around, dungeon and hex crawls. Add in the release of the original World of Greyhawk, and the writings of many in Dragon magazine, and that seemed to be the "proper" way to DM. You fleshed out the world for the characters to explore. In the example of play in the AD&D DMG there is no hex crawl. There is a bit of background narration, and then the PCs start at the entrace to the dungeon. The foreword to Moldvay Basic has the protagonist freeing the lands from the dragon tyrant, by slaying the latter using a magical sword gifted by a holy man. That doesn't suggest hex crawling or exploring the world. And before either AD&D or Moldvay Basic was published, lewpuls was writing essays arguing that the "wargame" style of D&D is superior to the "story" style. This is all consistent with Hussar's point: it's one thing to have a preferred style, and a personal history of how one came to and played the game; but that doesn't give a licence to distort the actual history of D&D play.

Saturday, 17th June, 2017

  • 01:35 AM - Hussar mentioned lewpuls in post Let's Not Save The World...Again
    But, how is this anything new? Going back to the early history of D&D - you have the GDQ series. One of, if not the most popular module series of the game. There's no going back. There's no revisiting. And it's all about getting to the next boss, which is bigger and badder than the last boss. Or the A series of Slaver's modules. Again, same thing. Even the T series was intended as this ongoing complete campaign. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against their being a story. But it doesn't always have to be "bigger and better" than the last one. But, since day 1 of D&D, it's always been thus. You go to the dungeon, do whatever, come back, gain XP, gain that level, go back to the dungeon to go deeper with bigger monsters and bigger threats, and then wash, rinse repeat. lewpuls is trying to pin this on video games. Good grief, this was part of D&D when video games consisted of Pong and Pac Man. And just to address lewpuls directly - you repeatedly claim that you cannot "prove" anything in 500 words. Then why are you trying to prove something? Why are you making claims about the "way things were" and "the way things are" when those claims are very contentious? Instead of making broad, sweeping claims about history that, perhaps focusing on means to compromise or resolve what you see as an issue might be more productive? ........ Edit to add Just to be fair, I do enjoy these articles. They are thought provoking, and they do have a pretty interesting point. The problem I have, is that the history is spun in such a way that it's very difficult to get to the message without first trying to address some quite questionable attempts to paint the history of the hobby in a very self serving light. No, it is not true that we've gone from local to wo...


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Saturday, 19th January, 2019

  • 02:43 PM - Aldarc quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    In answering this question, I thought about FATE and its fudgable (by design) rules. It moves far toward storytelling aid and away from traditional game. Contrast the relatively short FATE rules with the vast rules of versions of D&D beginning with Advanced D&D (1e).Already lewpuls lost me. Not a great start. For starters, I don't think that it helps to describe Fate as essentially a "non-traditional" game. Fate has been around for 15 years, and it is built on a FUDGE chassis that has been around for 27 years. When does the non-traditional become traditional? In many respects, the game appears fairly conventional. Fate's primary mechanical innovations to Fudge involve its use of Aspects: e.g., aspects, fate point economy, Create an Advantage action, etc. Aspects are essentially narrative tags with mechanical weight that allows for them to enter play (Fate SRD): In Fate, aspects do two major things: they tell you what’s important about the game, and they help you decide when to use the mechanics.(1) Aspects provide a generalized rule/mechanic that can have as much precision as deemed necessary by the Table in play. (2) Aspects often cover a greater breadth of specific rules with a generalized one. This is most commonly done with the Create an Advantage ...
  • 09:25 AM - Imaculata quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: How "Precise" Should RPG Rules Be?
    Board games must have precise rules. There’s no GM (in almost every case) to interpret or to be rules arbiter. RPGs can get away with vague or incomplete rules because there is a GM (in most cases). On the other hand, an RPG is trying to cover “everything” that might happen, so naturally the rules tend to be much longer than the rules for a board game. I don't think this is true. I think boardgames could work really well with inprecise rules. Its just that there are few boardgames that seem to have tried this so far. Video games must have precision underneath, for programming purposes. Video game design documents (or whatever system is used) must be explicit and complete, so that programmers and other game developers can do what the designer intends. I completely disagree. I think videogames actually work great as a form of organised chaos, where not everything is quite so clearly defined, and the players are agents of chaos, poking at the system to see what will happen. Also,...

Saturday, 12th January, 2019

  • 08:10 PM - MGibster quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    Old School recognizes that there will be not-very-exciting or even unpleasant/horrific adventures, to go with super-exciting and terrifically rewarding adventures. New School “evens it out”, ensuring that nothing will be unpleasant but also effectively ensuring that nothing will be terrific – because you can’t fail. I categorically reject the idea that new school means player characters can never fail or that adventures will never be horrific or unpleasant. There's a little game called Esoterrorist which centers around investigators and their efforts to combat paranormal threats that uses the Gumshoe system. The Gumshoe rules ensure that the PCs will find the core clue required to take them to the next scene. So in that sense, no, they can't fail because failure in this case means the game cannot continue. But the investigators can certainly fail in other ways. Our group had to sit back while a supernatural entity murdered five people because it was the only at that point that we c...
  • 10:00 AM - Shiroiken quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    Non-RPGs, too This Old/New dichotomy can be seen clearly in board and card games as well. Such games have moved away from the traditional direct competition, and from high levels of player interaction, to parallel competitions that are usually puzzles (i.e., have always-correct solutions) rather than games (which do not have such solutions). Each player pursues his own puzzle down one of the "Multiple Paths to Victory," that is, following one of several always-correct solutions provided by the designer.While others have taken to task the RPG aspects of the article, as an avid boardgamer, I'm going to focus on this section. Boardgaming is generally divided into 2 types: Euro and Ameritrash (technically co-op is it's own type as well, but we'll ignore it for this discussion). Euro games generally lack direct attacks upon each other, relying instead upon competition for resources or actions. Ameritrash is primarly consisting of direct attacks, usually leading to player elimination. Despite the...

Friday, 11th January, 2019

  • 10:14 PM - Lanefan quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    His tone is certainly dismissive, but that's fine. I don't question EnWorld's decision to run his articles. We can all deal with a little sass. He's being a bit provocative, and in the "in my day /get off my lawn" manner that will always be present in any discussion. Agreed in all respects. As for the article itself, there's a few bits I found quite relevant. One is this: Pacing is a big part of the difference between the two extremes. Good pacing (in novel and film terms) calls for alternating lows and highs, to make the highs that much more effective. Old School recognizes that there will be not-very-exciting or even unpleasant/horrific adventures, to go with super-exciting and terrifically rewarding adventures. New School “evens it out”, ensuring that nothing will be unpleasant but also effectively ensuring that nothing will be terrific – because you can’t fail. “Loot drops” are boring when every monster has a loot drop. Boatloads of treasure become boring when you always get boatl...
  • 07:42 PM - hawkeyefan quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    Having read through the initial post a couple of times, I can say that I find there is very little substance to it. It's a bit of opinion with not a lot to back it up. As a compare and contrast type of piece, it seems remarkably one sided. I don't mind if Lew has his preference, but he seems to be incapable of accurately describing what he is calling New School games. He's quite good at describing Old School games. When comparing the two, it would help if he was able to accurately site both sides, and provide examples. His tone is certainly dismissive, but that's fine. I don't question EnWorld's decision to run his articles. We can all deal with a little sass. He's being a bit provocative, and in the "in my day /get off my lawn" manner that will always be present in any discussion. I figured that it would make sense to break it down by section. Rules The difference in “schools” is not about rules. Rules are not sacred, nor do they fit for every person. I think about rules in t...
  • 03:15 PM - Ramaster quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “Old School” in RPGs and other Games – Part 2 and 3 Rules, Pacing, Non-RPGs, and Gameplay
    “New” games are about being guided by the game (GM) to where the fight is, then fighting, then getting the loot. (You recognize the description of typical computer RPGs, especially MMO RPGs?) This 3rd part is downright insulting. I'll reiterate my comment from the other thread: This reads like it was written by someone who played 1ed D&D for about 10 years 30 years ago, then played 2 sessions of 4e about 5 years ago (DMed by a 14 year old GM who was running a game for the first time), then read a bunch of articles by people who had similar experiences.

Tuesday, 1st January, 2019

  • 07:20 AM - Immortal Sun quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: When There's Too Many Magic Items
    If you’ve GMed a long-standing campaign where players reached fairly high levels, you may have run into problems of too much magic, or of too many low-powered magic items (such as +1 items) in the hands of the heroes. What to do? First I tell them that their article irritates me to the point where it is difficult to write a comprehensive response without becoming irrationally angry at what I am responding to. And given the tone, noting the author is unlikely to change their mind regardless of what I write, and regardless of what anyone has ever written to them. *deep breath* I usually wrap up the campaign and start anew. Yes, I understand many of you, especially the older players, have played in the same campaign for years, if not decades, and some of your characters have outright gotten to godhood and just as it is IRL, that power is difficult to give up. But I believe some of the best gaming occurs not at length, but in brevity. Short stories are often better than novels. C...

Friday, 19th October, 2018

  • 06:38 PM - Elfcrusher quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    I'm sorry but I find this all to be wild conjecture tinged with...ok, entirely based on...blatant biases. There's your style, and then there's the style that, as you describe it, selfish kids who grew up on video games play. Gosh, I'm glad you're just describing and not judging. I recall one group where the player/character wanted to throw an old-fashioned wood-burning oven (they are remarkably heavy) a hundred yards, and expected to be given a reasonable chance to do it (as in, a 20 on a d20). I would have simply said “that’s impossible,” but that might not satisfy the “All About Me” crowd. How is this "all about me"? It doesn't seem to have anything to do with selfishness or lack of cooperation. It sounds like the player simply has a more fantastic/comic-book aesthetic than you do. I'm with you regarding the aesthetic, but nothing wrong with preferring the other. An obvious point is that the great majority of players are not wargamers, and may not be gamers at all, that is, th...
  • 04:31 PM - DMMike quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    An obvious point is that the great majority of players are not wargamers, and may not be gamers at all, that is, they’re not accustomed to leisure activities where you can lose. When you cannot lose in an RPG, that is, you cannot die (and not come back), then individualism is easy to express and adopt; when you CAN lose, cooperation is more natural. This is more significant to me than the individual/group preference. Does the RPG say, "when your hit points reach zero, tear up your character," or do they same something more forgiving? Do the rules say, "when you roll too low, you succeed with a consequence?" Or maybe they say "if you don't like the GM's idea, you can reject it at the cost of 1 XP/story point/etc." Point being: the rules of the game, i.e. the quantum mechanics of the game-universe, dictate how seriously a player must consider the risk of losing - and how much "all about me" he can afford.
  • 03:53 PM - Umbran quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: “All About Me” RPGs (Part 2)
    Why is this style popular? An obvious point is that the great majority of players are not wargamers, and may not be gamers at all, that is, they’re not accustomed to leisure activities where you can lose. I severely doubt this point is generally applicable, at least in the US. Every kid grows up knowing about (through general cultural exposure) and engaging in (in gym class, if nothing else) sports. Many don't like it. Many don't make it a major hobby for them. But they are *accustomed to the idea*. There is nothing strange about it to them. Though some people still doubt it, there are clear differences between generational behavior, as discussed in many books. People of the World War II generation naturally cooperated, because of their experiences in a very difficult situation. And each generation since then has behaved differently as their shared experiences have been different. Corporations have hired consultants to help them cope with the newer generation’s tenden...

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

  • 03:43 PM - pemerton quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: Tabletop RPGs Are the Most Naturally Co-operative Games
    War crimes are defined by modern treaties, not by any particular moral standard. I assure you, for most of human history what we're talking about was not a war crime (IF anything was). Aren't you imposing your personal standard and supposing it has always been the way people think and act?Not even close.I'm not making any suppositions about how "it has always been". I'm happy to condemn slavery as an evil thing, although I'm aware that there have been slave societies in various places and times in human history. For the claim that the laws of war aren't based on any moral standards, I'll only mention that there's a pretty signficant literature that argues to the contrary. Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars is the starting point for much of it. A recent representative publication is The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War. EDIT: You mentioned alignment somewhere in there, I think. Gygax's account of alignment in his PHB and DMG has its flaws, but Good is defined as straddling most of the mainstr...
  • 10:47 AM - pemerton quoted lewpuls in post Worlds of Design: Tabletop RPGs Are the Most Naturally Co-operative Games
    Nonsense. It's OK to slaughter who-knows-how-many creatures, but you become evil if you charm one and use it for advancing your side's purposes? How stupid is that? This is war, not sport.Depending on the details, what you describe sounds like a war crime. So I'm not sure how that "war not spor" idea is meant to work.

Friday, 5th October, 2018

  • 09:32 PM - Mike Myler quoted lewpuls in post Mythological Figures: Queen Boudica (5E)
    The trouble with choosing ancient historical figures is that what you make up likely will have little or nothing to do with history. Boudicca wasn't a fighter, she was a symbol of her people's disgust with the Romans. How much she was the political leader isn't known, as we know next to nothing about the whole affair, aside from what Tacitus says. (E.g. Cassius Dio wrote about a century after the rebellion.) Not as bad as the "historical" industry surrounding "King Arthur", who likely never existed. So make up whatever you like. Some so-called "historians" do the same. King Arthur and Merlin. ;)

Friday, 28th September, 2018

  • 04:21 PM - pogre quoted lewpuls in post Some Social Aspects of RPGs
    (I view people who prefer GMing to playing with great suspicion!) Curious about this quote. I wonder if you might elaborate? I am curious because I am one of those people. The standard at my table has always been players have to be decent human beings. I am always quick to pull the plug on folks who are not meshing with us for whatever reason. Fortunately, I have not had to do that in several years.

Saturday, 22nd September, 2018

  • 05:44 PM - Greg K quoted lewpuls in post Mearls On D&D's Design Premises/Goals
    Mearls' discussion might be posed even more simply. 3e encouraged the one-man-army, and power creep, and discouraged cooperation. 5e has returned to co-operation rather than individual "showing off", to adventure rather than power creep. Bravo. No, the one-man-army and discouraging cooperation was an issue with DM's not wanting to control their game by telling players, "No" and/or issues with certain players. I ran 3e for several groups and the one-man-army, lack of cooperation, and showing off never appeared in my game. The same goes for other DMs whom I know. We would look over various options and decide what to us and what not to use on a case by case basis just as the 3.0 DMG told us that we were in charge of what material is used. WOTC just neededto make it clear and continually reinforce the idea that new options are included at the DM's discretion. They had rule 0 in the 3.0 PHB, but it was not as explicit as in the DMG (well, it was in the 3.0 DMG) that the DM decides what i...
  • 05:03 PM - DM Howard quoted lewpuls in post Mearls On D&D's Design Premises/Goals
    Mearls' discussion might be posed even more simply. 3e encouraged the one-man-army, and power creep, and discouraged cooperation. 5e has returned to co-operation rather than individual "showing off", to adventure rather than power creep. Bravo.Yet 4E had tons of options AND emphasized cooperation. You can, in fact, have your , uh, bagel and eat it too.

Friday, 21st September, 2018

  • 04:13 PM - DMMike quoted lewpuls in post Breaking Morale
    "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Count Rugen runs away. Early morale rules came from a desire for the game to be simulationist. Now, players want the game to be theatrical. serious game players want to feel that they control their own fate, that what happens to them is a result of their own actions. They don’t want to be told that their character’s morale breaks and the character runs away. (I know I don’t!) They want to decide for themselves whether they run away. Odd, because panic/terror aren't exactly voluntary emotions. Being forced to run due to terror is the same as being forced to take damage from dragon jaws. Maybe players confuse that with just being cowardly? So, do you use morale rules in your games? Only for the opposition, or for the player characters (or just the NPCs) as well? I don't have a problem with rewarding PCs for running away, unless their character concept says something like "iron willed" or "mildly retarded." Th...

Friday, 14th September, 2018

  • 10:22 PM - Saelorn quoted lewpuls in post Boss Monsters? I Just Say No!
    Video gamers would be disappointed if virtually every time they had a climax they won the first time; they’d feel cheated. This is a matter of expectations. The video gamers expect the boss monster, and they expect it to be so tough that they're going to die several times before they finally succeed.Seriously? You actually believe that? When I play a Final Fantasy game, I expect a boss monster to have a couple of surprises, such that I need to react thoughtfully as they come up. I expect them to have better stats, to have a ton of hit points, and to hit hard enough that I need to actively manage my healing over the course of the fight. It should be a fair test of my preparation and ability, though. If a boss has some gimmick that there's no way to predict, and I do everything right but still lose, then that's a cheap boss. If I need to go online to look up the right strategy, because only one weird approach has any hope at all, then that's a super cheap boss, and a mark against the entire ga...
  • 06:55 PM - 77IM quoted lewpuls in post Boss Monsters? I Just Say No!
    Video gamers would be disappointed if virtually every time they had a climax they won the first time; they’d feel cheated. This is a matter of expectations. Uh, no, that's pretty blatantly wrong. It's so wrong, it invalidates the entire hypothesis of this article. The only way a person could make a statement like this is if they were badly misinformed. Video games have many ways of ramping up the intensity and drama without just killing the player character, and a tough boss fight can be very satisfying even if you are successful on your first try. Even in games where you do die a lot, I would argue that lives in video games are merely a resource and that a tough boss monster therefore consumes more resources and that since D&D is, in large part, a resource-tracking game, tough boss monsters who consume more party resources should fit right into the game just fine. And there's abundant evidence to back up that stance (see the comments before mine for some great examples).


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