30 January 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #105

Links from wanderings about the web. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this is weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the newly-automated weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Trilemma Adventures delves into play-styles by setting A Taxonomy of Roleplaying Utterances v0.1 then using it to classify an old-school session in Further RPG Transcript Analysis: Old School and compare that to Critical Role RPG Transcript Analysis: Critical Role and pull out the game-play loops from both using what behaviours follow which others.

From the Sorcerer's Skull shares The Gygaxian D&D Implied Setting Recipe

Indre Auge Blinks asks What is high-trust trad adventure design?

Elfmaids & Octopi racks up the tension with Doomtracks

Rise Up Comus on how wizards are always at fault in Two mistakes

The Grisly Eye gives us Cities in Cities

The Dododecahedron gives us Refereeing Forgery

28 January 2023

How Much Would We Spend On A VTT?

After the hoax '$30/month for the new D&D' screenshots went around I dug around to see if we have any indication of what the market might bear as a price point and I think it is ~$10/month.

Apparently the screenshots below are a hoax cooked up by someone long before the OGL fiasco but they did start an interesting conversation - people were outraged at $30/month but at the same time there was recognition that a bells-and-whistles VTT would have a cost and people would in theory be willing to pay for something they perceive as value. So what could people be convinced to pay?

I'm going to take the current DnDBeyond and Roll20 price points as a starter - $2.99 for basic DNDBeyond, $5.99 for all the bells and whistles, $4.17 monthly for Roll20 basic, $8.33 for everything. Imagining that the OneD&D VTT does provides a virtual tabletop like Roll20 and holds all your charactersheets, rulebooks etc. like DnDBeyond and charges you a combo price for it we can start by smushing both those services together and say basic would be ~$7, deluxe would be ~$14. Certainly those could be rounded down but we're trying to get a sense of how much could be pried from the hands of our fellow gamers on a monthly basis so we shall lean high.

25 January 2023

State of the Blog (post #401)

Have kind of tread close to this recently with the end of year but hey, 400 is a milestone.

Overall its been a decent year - views punched up from ~3000 a month to ~4400 a month which is a good bump. There was definitely a solid chunk of Russian bots and cyberwar scouts in there but apart from hollow numbers they did no damage here. Oddly comments have dropped off (but it felt like they bumped up recently). Twitter followers has plateaued - got up to 608 or so and stabilised about there which is pretty much flat from 100 posts ago. I have spun up on Mastodon as a back up should the bluebird go away.

I was originally going to replicate the template of the 300th blog post with stats and so on but you've seen all those recently on the end of year post so lets not waste your time. I think a more interesting question is what is this place for?

23 January 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #104

More links I found interesting from the past week or from archive dives. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

In the light of recent events, let us recall A Knight at the Opera wrote Oh God There Are So Many RPGs (A Guide)

prokopetz proposes Inadvisable tabletop RPG premise #137

Tabletop Curiosity Cabinet shares Downtime Activity: Worshipping a God

Goblin Punch gives us Puzzle Do's and Dont's + Some Examples

Frog Factory starts the year with Three d100 Battlemap Generators

On Dungeon-building we have:
From Kuroth's Quill with #Dungeon23 Resources - Mega-Dungeon Tools of the Trade
Aaron The Pedantic holds forth on Dungeon Space: Introduction & Torches
Plastic Polyhedra On #dungeon23 and losing myself in old school dungeon stocking tables
The Dododecahedron with 100 Dungeon Entrances
Goobernuts' Blog gives us Giant Tree Dungeon – #dungeon23
Wondering Monsters? shares #Dungeon23 Bloodlands Hexcrawl Location 1

For our Dwarf corner for this week, fittingly we go digging in the archives:
Goblin Punch has Some Words on Dwarven Gender
A Blasted, Cratered Land gives us Facts About Dwarves
The Oblidisideryptch writes Dwarves Dwarfs Dwarii
Nuclear Haruspex on Dwarves and Orichalcum
Dapper Dungeons saw Dwarves of living Stone
Cyborgs and Sorcerers wrote Races Re-Imagined: Dwarves

21 January 2023

Actual Test: Brancalonia Brawling

From the Brancalonia book there is an alternative, non-lethal Brawling combat system and it suits the lower-stakes Southern Reaches game I am spinning up. I wanted to do a quick test to make sure I understood it and I record it here in the hopes it is useful to some.

This is effectively a parallel combat structure for 5e characters; based on your level you have a number of Brawl Features starting with a General Move and a Class Brawl feature at level 1. You get a number of moves per brawl linked to level, starting at two and rising to four by level six.

Any turn you can inflict a beating with your attack action to make an attack roll and deal a whack.

Damage is in 'whacks' with everyone able to sustain six before going down; each non-critical hit deals one whack, each whack lowers your AC by 1 so things can start going sideways quickly once you get on the wrong side of things. A crit deals two whacks. Foes will typically have 2-4 whacks for a mook, 6 for a heavy.

You can grab props, both common (bottles, pots, stools) and epic (barrels, tables, other characters), and use them to boost the number of whacks you inflict, stun opponents, increase your AC or other effects.

Moves are things like, react to an attack to impose disadvantage on the foe (Counterattack for fighters), tripping (general move), attack multiple foes (clothesline, general move) and so on.

The entire brawl is assumed to occur within a bar, alley or other tight quarters and so movement is essentially disregarded - as long as you can move at all, you can get to where you want within the brawl.

18 January 2023

Returning to teenage new-joiners

Listening to some of the chatter around the OGL fuss and attempted tea-leaf readings about what could be the thinking behind it, one theory I heard was that WotC is attempting to move back to an era where they were getting people into the game much younger. The big vision apparently is to sweep people up in a Fortnite-like model with a million micro-transactions for fancy hats and other stuff - selling many small things to everyone around a digital tabletop instead of the current model of selling chunkier books to the DM's alone (more or less) - which seems to align with the "$30/month" DnDBeyond leak. Or as another friend of the blog pointed out - do the Games Workshop model of get people in as a teen, sell them an army or two for a few hundred euro then let them age out and replace them. So does this seem feasible?

Dan Muñoz (@Nat1Fun) ran a poll on twitter asking "How old were you when you first played a TTRPG?" and got 3000+ responses that showed over half of them joined before they were 18.

Comparing this to some other polls over the past few years and it looks broadly in line - people are joining before their mid-20's, and mostly pre-adulthood, so let us say that this is no fluke result.

16 January 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #103

Filtering out most of the OGL relating content, this is a palate-cleanser selection and reminder of the kind of content we want to see encouraged. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Hill Cantons returns with News from the Hill Cantons, Both Real and Fictional

From Kuroth's Quill ponders Why Greyhawk in 2023? - grodog's Thoughts

I backed Monsters and Manuals Yoon-Suin 2nd Edition Kickstarter Pre-Launch

Wizard Thief Fighter writes Roleplay Is Folk Art

@annethegnome tweets A thread on pretty mushrooms

Some archiving diving:
False Machine collected Visual Artists of the OSR
Methods & Madness said Ask what YOU can do for the OSR!
Rolltop Indigo shared The Big List of RPG Plots
Spriggan's Den archive dive - My favorite articles on Gamemastering

Plastic Polyhedra gives us Beef! A simple session zero tool

Age of Dusk On No Artpunk II

Of Dice and Dragons is open for sign up to the RPG Blog Carnival!

How to Succeed in RPGs or Die Trying shares How to Keep Players Returning for a Thousand Hours

14 January 2023

Campaign Spin-Up VI - getting the aesthetic across

Spinning up the Southern Reaches campaign, one of the things I did to get my new players on the same page was collage a bunch of art together off the internets to explain what I was going for - a picture worth a thousand words as they say. Monster and Manuals talks about something similar in terms of the concept of your Megadungeon for #dungeon23, where the themes of your dungeon, hex-crawl, city, etc. should be set out before start. They mention three themes - historical, structural and aesthetic - but for launching this campaign I set aside both the historical and structural to start and delved into the aesthetic first. This was to try and get all the players aligned on what is the feel of the place, especially since as my own milieu there is no extant imagery to point to - so how should they know what it is like?

As it turned out, once people had this much it gave them enough of a grip to be able to throw in some suggestions and decide what they wanted. The handout I gave them was a pdf'ed powerpoint since thats what I'm most familiar with working with. Since the spine of all this is a re-skinned Brancalonia and I backed their kickstarter I had a block of nice digital art to draw on from Lorenzo Nuti that got things rolling.

Lorenzo Nuti, Brancalonia

From there it was a collage of influences to get across the 'menagerie world' aspect - starting with Gwelf by Larry MacDougall, the art from Root by Kyle Ferrin, Wildlands by Stephen Wood, Historia by Mana Project Studio and the art of Omar Rayyan, Saint Monstre and Pocketss.

11 January 2023

Games Are For The Playing

Digging through a set of games in storage in my parents shed I found my old Battlemasters set from MB games. This was a somewhat weird artefact of the ~90s in that I believe it was supposed to be a gateway to Warhammer Fantasy Battle but had very little Games Workshop heraldry apart from the Citadel Minatures tag on the front. My copy never saw use beyond me setting it up and fiddling about with it myself as I went off down an Epic 40k route afterwards (Titans ftw).

Though my hoarding instincts had weakened sufficiently to part company with it, all the gamers I had known for a while were peers and long past this game into full on wargames of whatever sort. This could have been stripped for parts as my old Space Crusade was for 40k but for whatever reason, Battlemasters had stayed (relatively) complete.

09 January 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #102

A round up of all I found over the tail end of the holidays. More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

David Hines tweets on Conan the Barbarian

Alex Schroeder gives us How to illustrate your own stuff

TardisCaptain's Blog of Holding gives us 5E players trying OSR for the first time

Some end of year look-backs:
Vague Countries crunches their game time gives us Year in Review – 2022 – Having a Normal One
Goblin's Henchman recaps Got a few things done in 2022

Plastic Polyhedra gives us Beginnings: #dungeon23, 2023 in gaming, and 2023 in blogging.

Attronarch's Athenaeum gives us Sale: Expeditious Retreat Press 20th anniversary sale

Axian Spice gives us New Year New Game Sale 2023: My OSR Recommendations

#Dungeon23 is well underway

07 January 2023

The Treasures of the Shed

While back home for the holidays mention was made that "there are some black sacks in the shed with some boardgames" and I went out to see what was there. Short answer; treasure.

At a first look I was a bit concerned - genuine cobwebbed bin bags sitting on a shelf and I had no idea what they could be.

04 January 2023

Campaign Spin-Up V - adding tension to your campaign location

Taking the challenge of Beginnings for the January 2023 RPG Blog Carnival from Of Dice and Dragons I want to talk about stacking gunpowder in the corners of a setting. For more on what this means see Wandering Gamist "Gisli's Saga and Boot Hill" on how one could set up a powderkeg for a campaign location.

I am testing this during the spin-up of a West Marches style campaign dubbed 'Southern Reaches' - set to the south of my existing Home Campaign. The original process is from Boot Hill and while I don't want to mimic the 'everything one step from murder' of that campaign I think we do want to bake in factions, goals and stakes folk might have. Somewhere I heard 'the fights are so vicious because the stakes are so small' - even if we are looking for a generally non-lethal setting, one where the locals have views that the players might upset is better (for a sandbox) than 'dedicated villain'.

Back to our source: "what makes for good intrigue in a tabletop game?
- There must be many diverse agendas and moving parts to navigate.
- Players should know they should step carefully and never be certain how well they’re succeeding.
- They must feel the consequences of failure, but also that these fates are fair and not arbitrary."

From efforts so far using 'Downtime as Worldbuilding', map-reading and randomly generated city aspects and map elements we have a start on what this region is, and from the test of Deck of Worlds we have a few local elements.

The Boot Hill example is a 'high potential' unstable equilibrium - the slightest disruption and it is all going to turn into gunsmoke and arson. I think what I want for this game is a slightly more buried set of problems, ones that the locals will get sore about but not that will get people knifed in their sleep (not as a first response, in any case). From our Session Zero we have identified that the players want to start off operating out of a tavern on the edge of a wilderness, being a band of Merry Men. As the players will be newcomers to the locality, I am going to set things up as they were the day before they arrived and then let the consequences of the players actions domino from there.

So I need to comb through what has been generated and see how it all gels together. This could be seen as 'emergent faction building' from the world-building stages so far.

The things I want to establish are:
- Big personalities that get talked about locally - the power players small folk curse for their taxes or toast to their health.
- Agents of some of the big organisations - the faces the players will actually see.
- Some local players in the town of Balronco.

02 January 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #101

First links round-up of 2023! More can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this - weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find even more links on the weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

A bunch of great challenges appeared:
Tales of the Lunar Lands gives us The Alternate Bulette Challenge
Of Dice and Dragons launches Beginnings – January 2023 RPG Blog Carnival
Bring Back Blogging has a Signup - and refers to all blogs.

#Dungeon23 kicks-off in a frenzy of activity:
BEARDED DEVIL returns with The Apocalypse Archive
Dungeon Year Design Journal gives us The Massive Tables Update
@thelostbay tweets a Catalog of Dungeon23 projects
Duvelman's Vault gives us A list of Resources for Building a Megadungeon for #dungeon23
Gizmodo has a piece Dungeon23 Is the Perfect Low-Pressure Writing Ritual
Weird Wonder reports Dungeon 23 Weeks 1 and 2
All Dead Generations shares Dungeon Design, Process and Keys
Source of Entropy has some lessons learned in Learning to draw a dungeon Grumpy Wizard gives us All the nerdy kids are doing #Dungeon23 and so can you! Silverarm shares Dungeon 23: My Procedure for Making A Megadungeon Sandbox

I swept up some city building sources while mulling (and dropping) a #City23 run
ANXIETY WIZARD gives us City Map System & Making a Spooky City
The Lizard Man Diaries gives us Fantasy Town Building Stocker (Travail Saga)

Methods & Madness does some thinking in Condensed information in an ocean of trash (and some thoughts about AI)

Vague Countries explains Running Xyntillan: Downtime

Breath of Mystara shares the magesterial Broken Lands Gazetteer Expansion