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The Perfect Light RPG? Dread.

  Role-playing games exist in a problematic black hole. Existing role-players play RPGs, but the hobby isn’t attracting a lot of new players (though D&D 4th Edition appears to be changing that somewhat). So how to attract new players to the hobby? Well, last Sunday, I had the chance to run a game of Dread, and it was a revelatory experience. It might be the answer, or at least point the way towards the answer. Dread … Continue reading »

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3 Dice Dungeon, A Solitaire Dungeon Crawl Game

Nearly a year ago, Greywulf posted RPG Solitaire Challenge: 3 Dice, a simple solitaire game of dungeon exploration. In his game, you roll 3 dice for your adventurer’s stats, then for each room in the dungeon, roll 1 die to determine the room’s type, 1 die for a monster, and 1 die for a treasure. I played the game a couple of times, and while I had fun, I found two major issues: The game is very swingy. I played … Continue reading »

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One Little Tweak

I ran a game of Searchers of the Unknown, a simplified and free original D&D rule set, at RyvenCon a while ago. \’Twas fun, and the system worked well, but we agreed that it could use one little tweak. This way, madness lies. It\’s so tempting to house-rule a system because it\’s \”not perfect.\” Soon, a rules-light system grows into a rules-moderate system. Well, this is a minor issue, but a significant … Continue reading »

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Exploring The Lost Kingdoms

Michael Garcia’s The Lost Kingdoms is a GM aid, meant to provide a ready-to-use framework for a typical fantasy kingdom. And that is its biggest problem. On the one hand, The Lost Kingdoms may be useful for new GMs who want a generic fantasy town with the barest bones of backstory. The setting’s background–wild kingdoms locked away behind a gate, recently re-opened for adventurers–is a great idea. The document lists a few common locations–a tavern, a weapons shop, … Continue reading »

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Upcoming Project: Voidjumpers of Space

I’m careful to avoid announcing new products until they’re evolved enough that I’m sure I’ll be able to release them. I have 38 pages and over 10,000 words in this one, so I’m confident now. I’m working on a SpelljammerTM adaptation for Dungeons & DragonsTM 4th Edition. Its working title: Voidjumpers of Space. First, a few definitions: Spelljammer was a D&D 2nd Edition supplement for running D&D … Continue reading »

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An All-Digital RPG: The Flip Side

I wrote a little while ago about a model for an RPG handled entirely via apps and software, in which all the mechanics are run by computers and the humans just see the results. This is conceptually elegant; let computers handle the number-crunching they’re good at. But there are problems. For one, the system has to have apps for many different devices. In the current market, that’s a lot of work. This means, at minimum, an iPhone app, … Continue reading »

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An All-Digital RPG System

Imagine an RPG system that’s handled completely with digital tools. Not only is your character sheet displayed on a screen, the mechanics are handled there, too. Imagine this: a group sits around a table, each participant holding a smartphone, PDA, or tablet. The GM touches “Moderate difficulty” on his tablet and asks Maria for a Perception test. She touches her Perception stat; it immediately rolls and flashes the result, “19,” … Continue reading »

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What Do You Want Your Fights to Feel Like?

This applies to GMs and to designers. For GMs: What fights do you want? Take a moment to imagine the feel of those fights. A big, roaring monster? Swarms of mooks rushing at the heroes? A cackling, insulting controller with a bunch of minions? A squad of enemies, each with its own attack patterns? Choose monsters that fit that theme. For designers, this gets more interesting. What sort of conflict do you want in your … Continue reading »

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Castles Were Decoration

I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on historical castles, and it’s changed how I think about castles in an RPG setting. Debate about castles rages, naturally, so take all this with a grain of salt, but: Castles were not just fortifications. Indeed, fortification was a relatively minor element of their function. Castles were homes and symbols of power. Many of them were built to look imposing, and were actually hard … Continue reading »

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D&D 4E Forces More Interesting Stories

D&D 4th Edition makes death rare. A player-character can be knocked unconscious, and one can be dying, but actual character death is generally uncommon. Character death is a big driving force for players, and provides the primary dramatic tension. Death is always scary. For a long time, the possible death of your character (usually via poor Hit Point rolls and good monster Hit Dice rolls) created … Continue reading »

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