Monday, October 26, 2015

Bridge of Sorrows 3D

I might just have to put together a Swords and Wizardry scenario based upon this.  It remains an amazing picture.  :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Cool Little Encounter

In the game, Dungeon Boss, you have a boss fight against this guy -- he's a goblin wizard and he has three shrieker mininons.  They screech at the heroes and drain their powers.  Pretty cool idea for a "low level" boss fight in your dungeons.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Schrodinger's Dungeon as Sandbox Planning Tool

When I’m on the interwebs, I read about GMs and DMs that are constantly planning “story arcs” for their games.  They have this group of “important heroes” and then these heroes go out and do “important things” and that’s the big important story!  

If you like playing that way, that’s cool.  I’m not going to bash it.  I used to play that way -- but I’ve stopped.  

I’ve stopped for a few of reasons --
  1. The prep was KILLING ME!  The amount of time it takes to put a “story” together is daunting.  I am an adult with a full time job now.  I want to spend my gaming time playing, crafting or painting minis.  I don’t want to plot out a story.  Personal preference.
  2. If one of the players bails, you have a hole in your story that you have to fix.  The more important that PC, the bigger the hole.  The harder it is to plug.  This leads to massive re-writes of the plot and that goes back to #1 above.  HUGE TIME SUCK!  No thank you.
  3. The railroad tracks must be strong and narrow.  If the PCs get off the path, the story suffers.  You have to make changes, re-writes, modifications, etc.  In one campaign, to keep “the story” on track, I had to resort to time travel for the PCs to wrap some things up…  Ack.  Too many ret-cons, to much re-writing.  Nope.

So that leaves sandbox play.  

If you run a sandbox, you have to be good at improvising.  Random tables are your friend.  You have to be good at tying disparate elements together on the fly or after the fact.  You have to weave some kind of world together from the bits you put out there.  You need to keep some good notes so that the random bits from three months ago mean something -- after all, that thing you made up about the blue fairy queen might just be the thing the adventurers want to follow up on!

So I had this initial idea -- why not create a set/series of random tables -- in advance -- that define the parameters of the sandbox?  These tables are all the prep you’ll need.  You keep going back to them, time and again, to determine what is going on in your game.

Yes, yes.  I know, there are literally an infinite number of random things out there (Abulafia, Wizardawn, Chaotic Shiny to name a few) plus all the dead-tree and/or PDF versions you can find (Judges Guild Ready Ref Sheets, Dungeon Alphabet, Wilderness Alphabet, Toolbox, Ultimate Toolbox, etc.)

I’m talking about something else.  A template or structure that you fill in to represent the structure of your world (or parts of your world.)  The template -- how you roll against it -- sets the dynamics of what appears, when it appears, where it appears.  

You could approximate this by using the resources available -- random wandering monster charts, random treasure tables, etc.  That might work out just fine.  How you apply those random rolls to your world would determine the flavor and structure of the place.  If your whole world looks and feels the same, you could keep using the same tables everywhere.

Of course, if the City of Ghouls is different than the Ankaar, city of Thieves, you might need some different tables.

If The Tomb of Sarkos is different than the Crypt of Worms, you might need some different tables.

Of course, of course you could just randomly roll up some more tables.  Fine.  That’ll work.  

What I’m proposing instead is a fixed structure, that always “works” the same, that you fill in with bits and bobs to make each place different.  You’d fill this out initially, you can add to it and/or modify it as you go.  Make changes.  Deletions.  Additions.  But the “structure” for a given site is fixed at the beginning.

This leads me to another part of my idea, what I’m calling a Schrodinger’s Dungeon.  Nothing is fixed until it is observed.  Everything is in flux, until you roll for it.  

This is different than the Quantum Ogre principle, which states it doesn’t matter which way you go -- you’ll always encounter the ogre.  That messes up player agency.

In a Schrodinger’s Dungeon, you don’t know what’s there until you roll for it.  James Maz came up with this idea too, way back in 2009.  Perhaps it’s been rattling around my head all this time?  Who knows.  I’m still planning to “build it” which I don’t think has been done yet!

Now that I’ve Googled it, The Angry DM has an article about it too.  His idea looks like too much work for me (too many stat blocks) so I’m citing it here out of fairness, but I’ll likely not read much more of it.  :)

“Go left?  Go right?  OK, right it is (dice rattle, DM notes what is there) What do you do now?”

As new information becomes available, “You smell the strong odor of brimstone…” the players are free to act on that -- “OK, so you’d prefer to go left?  OK, (rattle, rattle)...”

The map itself can be randomly generated on the fly or just the contents.  The DM can randomly determine in advance or at the table.  I’d probably do a bit of both…

So what does this structure look like?  How does the prep go?  What’s next?

Well, I’m not quite sure.  I have some ideas, but, well, that’s another post.  :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

RPG Leveling - Experience Points and Evos

I play a game on my phone called "Dungeon Boss."  It's just a fun little hack and slash app where you get in fights with your heroes, kill the monsters and you take their stuff.

There are a lot of little subtleties to this game, but I'm going to focus on one idea (broadly,) so here goes...

You earn experience points from the battles (not sure about treasure) and you need those to level up.  To ascend (get new powers for) your adventurers, you need to collect various sets of "evos."  (I believe this is shorthand for "evolution.")

The quantity and the type of "evos" that you need to ascend each hero varies by the hero.

I would imagine that some are common, some are rare and that after each ascension, the quantity and rarity of the evos for the next ascension will be more difficult to obtain. See below --

So, here's my idea --

What if rpg characters had to earn EVOs and XP to level up?

XP would progress in the normal fashion.

For each level, or milestone level, the character would need to achieve certain objectives (Touchstones in my model) IN ADDITION TO gaining the requisite amount of XP before they can level up. 

Here's an example --


34,000[][] Max Damage with Melee Weapon; [][] Critical Hit with Melee Weapon
516,000[] Defeat 4+ HD Monster in single combat
764,000[] Participate in Warrior's Tournament; [] Defeat negative energy undead creature; [] Fight a Giant
9256,000[] Defeat 7+ HD Monster in single combat; [] Fight creature with breath weapon
11450,000[] Defeat a 9+ HD dragon; [] Defeat a spellcaster
13650,000[] Defeat 10+ HD giant in single combat
Created with the HTML Table Generator

Another idea would be to have players roll on a chart after every relevant encounter (relevant to each character class) and if the dice are kind, they would earn a Touchstone for their character.  Perhaps different types and quantities of Touchstones would be necessary to advance to each level. 

More on that later (when I get a chance to work up the chart...)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[Petty Gods] Mico

I just got around to downloading the new revised and updated "Petty Gods" book.  I must say that it is AWESOME!  Richard LeBlanc, Jr. at New Big Dragon Games has done an incredible job.  Thank you.

Upon downloading, I looked up my contribution, Mico, the petty god of flaming oil.  I discovered that Mico got a new picture courtesy of Mr. LeBlanc (thanks!) and my writing was spruced up a bit also (another thanks!)

If you haven't downloaded this book -- do so immediately!  If you haven't visited New Big Dragon Games and bought all their stuff, do that too!  You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

[Kickstarter] OSR Summer Camp

So, I had this crazy idea.  I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have a "summer camp" for kids and teach them how to play some "old school" games?

Well, I gave it a try.  I built a Kickstarter and we'll see if the community would like to sponsor me this summer to hold five one-week camps, for a total of 60 kids.

Here's the link!


Thanks for taking a look!