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Dragon Reflections #14 - Dungeons & Dragons Divided! Sunday, 14th October, 2018 03:40 AM

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Monday, 15th October, 2018


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Thursday, 1st February, 2018

  • 03:22 PM - Jester David mentioned M.T. Black in post [UPDATED] DM's Guild No Longer Allows Creator Logos On Product Covers
    ... you considered a Kickstarted book as a trial? It would be interesting to see how it worked for you. If they dropped the exclusivity requirement, I'd be very tempted to Kickstarter a book and then put it on DMsG to see what happened. It would be a killer combo getting the benefit of both platforms. Kickstarter is great if you have an audience already and a well known name. If people know you and are willing to give you money on a promise of future content. If you don't have that reputation, then Kickstarter will not be better. Because people aren't going to spend money on that gamble. Only 11.6% of creators on the DMsGuild have a product that has the Copper Seller medal. Which equates with $50 sales. 88.4% of books on the DMsGuild have sold fewer than 50 copies. And only 2% have sold over 500 copies, which is roughly 300 books. Most people are not well known enough to warrant people giving money to immediately receive their work, let alone in six months. From the numbers M.T. Black gives, his book has sold <2000 copies. Which is far fewer than the 2,454 of even a small Kickstarter like Touch of Class. Is it realistic that he would have sold more copies by stripping out Elminster and not giving it to people immediately? He would have made more money per sale going through DriveThru where he'd be making that extra 15% of each sale, that's $4000, which is roughly 400 sales. However, if 400 fewer people had noticed the book because it was mixed it with all the other RPGs and/or didn't manage to crack the sales chart (competing against Genesys, Stars Without Numbers, Vampire, Blades in the Dark, Traveller, Flash Gordon, and Star Trek) then he would have paradoxically made less money with more royalties. I'm fairly successful on the Guild: 5 platinum products, 1 gold, 2 electrum, 4 silver, and 2 copper copper. But ignoring a few books with high sales number due to a bungle sale, my highest selling book has moved a little over a thousand copies. Spread out over...

Wednesday, 11th January, 2017

  • 03:00 AM - Quickleaf mentioned M.T. Black in post Chase encounters in D&D
    M.T. Black I fully agree with pdzoch's analysis that the DMG chase rules rarely map to the reality of the gaming table (where "catch in a chase" and "shoot into submission" tend to be conflated by players & players almost never run away). That said, I've had some success implementing chases across various editions...albeit tweaking the rules to make them my own. I highly recommend you take a gander at this thread I started about chase rules: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?482668-Making-Chase-Rules-that-actually-do-what-they-re-supposed-to! And there is really good commentary there too, well worth your read.

Monday, 12th December, 2016

  • 09:26 PM - Quickleaf mentioned M.T. Black in post Adventure Twists
    M.T. Black Back when we played 4e I put together a cheat sheet which also had a list of plot twists: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?307923-4e-DM-Cheat-Sheet It's nicely formatted there (last page of PDF) and other cool system-agnostic stuff, but I'll copy-paste here: d20 Twist 1 Face from the past a. Defeated enemy new role b. Old ally in new setting c. Retired PC cameo 2 Secret from a PC’s past 3 Taken off the case a. PCs become suspects b. Corrupt NPC(s) takes over 4 Villain adapts to PCs 5 Forced collaboration a. In face of greater threat b. Need each other’s info. 6 Double mission a. Second quest is added b. Original quest is a ruse 7 Bad guys got there first 8 Unexpected reversal a. Enemy < > Ally b. Consequence of quest 9 A tempting offer 10 Bad guys kick in the door a. Assassins ambush PCs b. Massive attack on town c. Summoned monsters d. Duel challenge issued 11 Ethical dilemma a. Lesser of two evils b. Ally vs. rule...

Friday, 9th December, 2016

  • 02:09 AM - Quickleaf mentioned M.T. Black in post Empty Rooms
    M.T. Black A guy named Courtney Campbell (username 'valis') shared a great PDF on the Hack & Slash that deals with empty rooms extensively that I highly recommend: http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-tricks-empty-rooms-and-basic-trap.html and here's the direct link: http://angband.oook.cz/steamband/Tricks.pdf

Wednesday, 23rd November, 2016

  • 12:52 AM - Quickleaf mentioned M.T. Black in post Ideas for a Wizards Tower
    M.T. Black The Rare and Banned Books Repository Aging parchments written in forgotten tongues, map folios bursting at the seams, and spellbooks inscribed with the True Names of fiends and celestials alike line the 40-foot high circular walls of this creaking repository. Two barely visible walls of force contoured to the shape of the room whirl in opposite directions at varying speeds; each wall of force has a slight gap in it that only lines up for a fraction of a second with the gap of the other wall of force. Thus, physically reaching through that gap to grasp a book from the shelves is an extremely difficult task beyond the scope of all but the most talented of mortal thieves. At the very top and center of the room is a large 25-pound floating black book that serves as a magical index of all rare and banned books in the repository; within this index is mention of several books containing spells that might be helpful for dealing with the whirling walls of force, among whatever other v...

Tuesday, 4th October, 2016

  • 10:21 PM - surfarcher mentioned M.T. Black in post Can You Fund A DMs Guild Product On Kickstarter?
    Thanks @M.T. Black .... I'm feeling more positive again this morning. I'm sure I'll get something working. My original thought was to have the content on multiple sites but naturally that isn't allowed. Which I completely understand. At the moment I'm thinking along the lines of simply releasing all the content as free. Then having both a Paypal donate button and a Patreon page (the main benefit of which is, I guess, an inside line to me). Every cent is going into producing content anyway. Noone contributes it'll be rather slow going lol I wonder if I should ask the guys at WotC directly... Only Greg was the main guy from that side of things that I talked with. Maybe I should ask him who to ask lol Edit: Always cool to get an enworld response from a fellow aussie :-D

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Sunday, 14th October, 2018

  • 03:51 AM - R_Chance quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #14 - Dungeons & Dragons Divided!
    * I wonder if the "other guys" from Minnesota had connections to M.A. R. Barker (beyond location), yet another soon to be disgruntled author for TSR? * The "other guys" were Dave Megarry (designer of Dungeon! board game) and Mike Carr (designer of Dawn Patrol). I believe the Barker connection was through Dave Arneson, who introduced Barker to Gygax. If memory serves, Arneson played in Barker's RPG campaign at UMN. Interesting. And yes, Arneson introduced Barker to EGG and played in Barker's game. His character "Captain Harchar" (iirc) was in Barkers game off and on for years.
  • 03:47 AM - R_Chance quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #14 - Dungeons & Dragons Divided!
    * Most of us went from DnD to Advanced DnD 1st Edition and didn't really give Basic DnD a glance back then honestly. * I started playing 1983 and Moldvay Basic was my gateway in. About a year after that I started playing AD&D but kept my Basic campaign going, eventually getting the Mentzer books. I never saw a copy of OD&D anywhere - I'm not sure what year the last printing was. Between me and my brother we bought 4 original D&D boxed sets. A first printing in 1974 (long disintegrated from use, a third printing (still in very good shape oddly enough), and two white box 5th printings (1976 I believe which are thoroughly used but still serviceable) iirc. I know there was a 6th and (I believe) 7th printing. I think the last two were marked as "collectable" sets with Basic D&D and AD&D out about that time (1978-79). Not positive about the dates though. We just moved on to the AD&D books with the Monster Manual in 1977.
  • 03:31 AM - R_Chance quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #14 - Dungeons & Dragons Divided!
    *Arneson was never in the company per se.* Arneson was on payroll for about a year in 1976. But he was never a shareholder and not really in management. According to Rob Kuntz, Gygax believed Arneson (and the other guys from Minnesota) attempted to engineer a takeover of the company at an extraordinary stockholders meeting that year, and that Arneson left soon after. But I don't know if there is any corroboration for this view. Huh. I never knew he had any connection to TSR beyond being an author, but then the management and structure of TSR didn't really become an interest of mine until later with Lorraine Williams (if I have the "evil ones" name right...). I wonder if the "other guys" from Minnesota had connections to M.A. R. Barker (beyond location), yet another soon to be disgruntled author for TSR?

Monday, 1st October, 2018

  • 10:48 AM - pemerton quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #13 - How to win D&D!
    I think you find a lot more Howard tropes in D&D than Tolkien tropes. Something like "Tower of the Elephant" could easily be translated into a D&D adventure, but I agree that's not the case for all Conan stories.Well, Tower of the Elephant is about one adventurer encountering another during an adventure. I think that's not easily translated into D&D, which (i) doesn't really favour solo play except perhaps for high level wizards, and (ii) doesn't really favour "in media res" as a device for bringing the party together. The other striking thing about Tower of the Elephant is that Conan sacrifices the possibility of wealth to do the right thing. D&D adventures are generally structured around becoming wealthy by doing the right thing. It's true that the setting of Tower of the Elephant, and some of its colour, can easily be translated into D&D. But I think that's also true of much of LotR.

Sunday, 30th September, 2018

  • 03:16 AM - pemerton quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #13 - How to win D&D!
    I think D&D generally does play much more like something out of Howard, Leiber, de Camp, and Pratt. I don't think that classic D&D plays much like REH's Conan. It emphasises party play. It emphasises preparation (equipment, spell loads outs) and caution (careful mapping, checking for traps, etc) and making sure you get the loot. Whereas REH's Conan emphasies the heroic individual (even when Conan is working with others, it is cooperation among heroic individuals, not interdependency), spontaneity and generosity. Classic D&D plays more like a squad-level commando-type wargame! (Which is probably unsurprising.) I think more contemporary D&D, which reduces the importance of the prep and caution aspects, seems more superhero or "A-Team" style, with the interedependence of team members and the emphasis on fighting as the way to win.

Monday, 17th September, 2018

  • 08:42 AM - Hussar quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #11 - The Sorcerer Speaks!
    Thanks mate - I better write the next one! Work! WORK for our entertainment, I say! :D Immensely enjoying the columns. Also immensely enjoyed your module Expedition To the Lost Peaks. Had a blast with it. One of my players collected a bunch of the "medicine" cubes and uses them routinely to this day. I gotta say though, what's with the slave girls in the background of the cover? Yeesh.
  • 05:37 AM - pemerton quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #11 - The Sorcerer Speaks!
    Where do you live, pemerton? I hail from southern Sydney, and I see we are the same age too.I'm in Melbourne. Also, I'll add my voice to those who've said they're enjoying this series!

Monday, 10th September, 2018

  • 04:52 AM - Shasarak quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #10 – Snits and Orgies
    "Too Much Loot in Your Campaign? D&amp;D Option: Orgies, Inc." by Jon Pickens suggests a practical solution to a common problem. If your characters have too much money, let them spend it on an orgy! If the idea is a bit juvenile, the accompanying illustration is doubly so, with bare-breasted nymphs cuddling up to goblin-like men. The anecdotal evidence I have suggests that art like this *did* turn women off the game. <em></em><br> <br>**Golf Clap**<br><br>Well done, sir.&nbsp;&nbsp; I had to check out the bare-breasted nymphs responsible for turning women off DnD but have to conclude that it was most probably a result of the goblin-men.<br>

Sunday, 2nd September, 2018

  • 10:47 PM - the_redbeard quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #9 - Welcome Wormy!
    (If you study the history of RPGs for any length of time, you will grow depressed at the number of important game designers who end up sick and impoverished in their old age. Surely, we can do better.) This is what I wrote on the occasion of Trampier's passing: March 28, 2014 The world and the gaming community has lost another gem, one which might have been returning to us. Many others have posted wonderful recollections of his work, including this rare picture. I've never seen that one before. Thank you. I feel forced to add what is in part conjecture. If bringing up other topics into your gaming offends you, I won't apologize. I think this story shows how your different worlds are connected. Trampier seems to have died from cancer which was only discovered in his recovery from a stroke. I can't say for sure, but according to this article, the vast majority of taxi drivers (Trampier's occupation) don't have health insurance. Two years ago I lost a cousin to cancer which ...
  • 09:55 PM - Shasarak quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #9 - Welcome Wormy!
    (If you study the history of RPGs for any length of time, you will grow depressed at the number of important game designers who end up sick and impoverished in their old age. Surely, we can do better.) If you consider how much game designers get paid when they are working it must be a surprise that more of them are not impoverished in their old age.

Monday, 6th August, 2018

  • 01:17 AM - Lord Rasputin quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #7 – Who Invented D&D?
    I think that's the right way to see it. And Chainmail drew upon earlier designs as well, of course.Except that Blackmoor wasn't based on Chainmail. Arneson used it as a monster manual and spell book, but he usually didn't use the actual combat resolution system. He used it briefly, but his players didn't like it, culminating in the Troll under the Bridge fight, wherein Bob Meyer's Hero got his butt handed to him on the first roll by a troll.

Friday, 13th July, 2018

  • 03:11 PM - Ralif Redhammer quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #5: Charting New Directions
    Since you asked... Tolkien wrote that "[The Istari] were forbidden to dominate the free peoples of Middle-earth or to match Sauron's power with power." Gandalf only used magic in an extreme of need, and most likely not the greatest of his magic, even then. That is to say, it is impossible to adjudicate his level based on the magic he used. A better measuring stick would be Saruman, who broke that rule. Using the OD&D spell list of the times, debatably the highest-level spell he uses is Mass Charm, an 8th level spell. I believe that puts him at 16th level. Gandalf would’ve started out below that, since he accords Saruman as being the more powerful wizard, but eventually levels up beyond him. Please share them!

Thursday, 12th July, 2018

  • 04:38 PM - Ralif Redhammer quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #5: Charting New Directions
    Tunnels & Trolls isn’t mentioned, but Monsters-Monsters (I assume he means Monsters! Monsters!), St. Andre’s reverse dungeon is listed. Generally speaking, I recognize less than half of that list of games. I do adore Tunnels & Trolls, in all its humor. And that it still looks a whole lot like its first edition, but for a few tweaks here and there. The “Gandalf was a 5th Level Magic-User” remains an article that generates discussion. I’d never seen the author’s follow-up, though. I have my thoughts on the matter, but I always thought the take-away point was that one could create epic adventures at all sorts of levels, that you weren’t stuck waiting until the higher levels. I extend this invitation to non-authors (of games) to do this also. I’m looking for articles on STELLAR CONQUEST, THE YTHRI, WBRM, GODSFIRE, STARSHIP TROOPERS, OUTREACH, SORCERER, STARSOLDIER, GREEN PLANET TRILOGY, OGRE, MONSTERS-MONSTERS, VENERABLE DESTRUCTION and others. It’s time for THE DRAGON to expand its subjec...
  • 10:47 AM - JeffB quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #5: Charting New Directions
    I hadn't heard that EGG was negative about T&T. Do you have a link about that? According to Ken St. Andre he was. St. Andre wrote an article on the origins of T&T and at one point he says Gygax took a dislike to him and T&T at a convention. The web address is below. I'm not certain he's correct, but it seemed to be generally understood that Gygax was not a fan of T&T. https://www.tunnelsandtrolls.com/the-origins-of-tunnels-and-trolls-by-ken-st-andre-july-1997/ Ken also has spoken about it on one of his video interviews on T&T. Tim spoke a little about it on one of his Curmudgeon in the Cellar episodes on youtube as well. Don't recall which interview/episodes specifically. Ken felt it necessary to remove his specific "thanks for the inspiration , D&D" messaging from the introduction in T&T post 1st edition, too..instead talking about "that other game" (paraphrasing) As R_Chance said, it's pretty well known Gary was not a fan.
  • 08:25 AM - R_Chance quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #5: Charting New Directions
    I hadn't heard that EGG was negative about T&T. Do you have a link about that? According to Ken St. Andre he was. St. Andre wrote an article on the origins of T&T and at one point he says Gygax took a dislike to him and T&T at a convention. The web address is below. I'm not certain he's correct, but it seemed to be generally understood that Gygax was not a fan of T&T. https://www.tunnelsandtrolls.com/the-origins-of-tunnels-and-trolls-by-ken-st-andre-july-1997/
  • 08:13 AM - R_Chance quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #5: Charting New Directions
    There is also "implicit" vs "explicit" in a way. In LOTR you don't *learn* magic, you *are* magic. Well put.
  • 02:16 AM - R_Chance quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #5: Charting New Directions
    It's amazing how much this question has been revisited over the years! There are many reddit threads and forum articles, and folk often refer back to this Dragon article as a kind of authoritative word. I know. It's like a Vampire, it just keeps on coming back. At the time I remember thinking the scope / range of magic in Tolkein was far larger than in D&D. D&D magic was flashy and pretty much tactical. Sauron's control of the weather and driving his troops into a frenzy was strategic. It's a different system of magic, subtler and, I think, more powerful.

Friday, 6th July, 2018


Friday, 29th June, 2018


Thursday, 28th June, 2018

  • 11:37 AM - amethal quoted M.T. Black in post Dragon Reflections #3: Controversy Strikes!
    To be fair, Jim Ward (who was VP of creative services near the end of TSR) strongly disputes Ryan Dancey's assessment. I'll have to find the link later.The Dragonsfoot interview with Jim Ward is in the "History of D&D" section Morrus mentioned above. The relevant part :- again not wanting to bad mouth mr. Dancey, but his statement is ridiculous. The RPGA was created to pay attention to what the fans wanted. TSR had millions of consumer research cards telling us what they wanted and I bet I personally read over a million of them. I had my staff read them as well. The company sent out its designers and editors to fifty plus conventions a year to hear what the fans wanted. TSR paid over a million is scientific marketing studies on our consumers and I read every one of those reports. To say the company didn’t care about listening to the fans is preposterous. I always made sure I knew exactly who the fans were and what they wanted. . .


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