Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Inflation, Death, Templates, Falling Damage, Mastermind Models, and Restorationists

Game Design (Delta’s D&D Hotspot) A Model of Archery for D&D — “Conflation between these markedly different situations and success rates has caused much confusion in the past (starting with Chainmail’s use of identical ranges for both, and continuing even up to this year with Len Lakofka’s updated article on archery in &-Magazine #7, which retains the same core system.)”

Gary’s Got Your Back (Dreams in the Lich House) Dungeon Gold and the Nearby Town — “Adventurer’s gold wouldn’t warp the economy of a major city.  But how about that frontier village or borderlands castle where a stream of dungeon gold represents more revenue than the annual economy of the place?”

Adventure Design (Dreams in the Lich House) Developing the Dungeon through Progressive Elaboration — “The barebones version of the level, with a map and raw content, lets me improvise as necessary if the players wander farther into the dungeon than I’ve fully prepared.  Any one of us could improvise a room like the Trader Room – the worst case is that it might slow the game down a little if you need to roll a bunch of dice.  By starting with the skeletal framework, I’ve been able to sit down with a couple of hundred more rooms available than otherwise – Taenarum is over 300 rooms in just a few weeks of campaign work.  The finishing details get added as time permits, or when I know there’s a good chance the players will visit a given area in an upcoming session.”

Adventure Design (Dungeon Fantastic) Megadungeon Best Practices XIII: From Around the Blogs — “Don’t start with boring stuff and defer the fun, interesting bits for the lower levels. Start putting interesting things in right away. Put in encounters that are special, enigmas and strangeness worth investigating, and clues to deeper and even more interesting levels below. The upper levels should be interesting and exciting. The lower levels should be a magnet primed by discoveries on the upper levels. In other words, front load the fun.”

The Healing Power of Death (Salon) How “Dungeons & Dragons” saved my autistic son — “At first, Storm was a terrible player: he wouldn’t wait his turn, he’d ignore what other players were trying to do and forge ahead with his own reckless plan. Needless to say, that usually ended in failure: the bloody and/or fiery death of his character, followed by a verbal smack-down from his compatriots. Yet, unlike in real life, when he messed up, he could simply roll up a new character and start fresh. Shane and Benjamin would return the following week, so Storm got plenty of chances to see the pattern, learn the rules, and become a better player.”

Exactly (Don’t Forget Your Boots) Every PC Is Expendable, or, Why We Template — “When you start splitting religion too fine in a setting, you end up with religious wars between factions. I want to keep the focus on the good-versus-evil conflict, there, not the political maneuverings of the Church of Thor to undermine the support for the Temple of Athena…. When it comes to fluff and background, the characters can claim whatever god or gods they want, with whatever traditions. There are many orders within The Church. But, at the end of the day, it’s the Good Church against the Demon Worshipers, and the mechanics support that.”

Gaming (RPG Snob) The Secret Ingredient in Every Successful Game — “What holds my interest in a system has less to do with the system than with the people playing it, talking about it, telling each other how great it is, showing with great examples not just how the mechanics serve the emerging narrative but how the players come away feeling so good about it.”

Adventures (Tenkar’s Tavern) Guest Poster – Pete Spahn -Terminology Deathmatch: Adventure vs. Supplement — “Take a good long and honest look at the Keep on the Borderlands. You get the keep, some encounters in the wilderness, and of course, the Caves of Chaos. These are places to adventure in. They are not adventures in and of themselves. There is no reason for the PCs to get involved in anything happening in the text or on the map and there are no consequences for action or inaction. The encounters are mostly static. The PCs can raid the Caves and return to the keep at will, then return to the Caves, and although there are some minor suggestions for what the monsters might logically do to adapt, there is no sense of urgency for the PCs to do anything.”

Gaming (RPG Snob) Say it with me: Gamers and Rules are friends! — “If the rules are really irrelevant, and only serve to get in the way of a good time, like some Poindexter who’s unwilling to let you break into his dad’s liquor cabinet, why aren’t you just sitting around swapping stories instead? Perhaps the problem isn’t the rules at all, friend, but your inability to read them correctly. Maybe the problem isn’t the rules, but the fact that you keep trying to use them when they’re so obviously ill-suited to your pursuits?”

Rules Fail (Hack & Slash) On Falling Damage — “Gary has always used a geometrically increasing system for falling damage in AD&D games; the trouble arose because that system simply never made it into the rule books. When the AD&D Players Handbook was being assembled, a brief section on falling damage was included: a mere 7½ lines that offers more advice on broken bones and sprains than on falling damage. As we now understand the event, the section was not included in the first draft, and the editors requested a brief insert on this frequently referred-to topic. So Gary hastily wrote a sentence describing damage as ‘1d6 per 10’ for each 10’ fallen.’ Someone removed the ‘per 10” as being (so it was thought) redundant, and off we went.”

Classic (Invicta Plastics Press Release) Landmark Reunion for Mastermind Box Models –“Mastermind, the brain child of Israeli telecommunications engineer Mordechai Meirovitz, was rejected by a number of companies before Ted Jones-Fenleigh, founder of Invicta Plastics, saw its huge potential and developed and manufactured it…. Since then Mastermind, named Game of the Year in 1974, has sold in tens of millions in many versions, and continues to be immensely popular in homes world-wide.”

Gaming (Tao of D&D) The Great Gamerati — “Did she really say that the big story arc was a paladin losing his powers and then regaining them?  I guess I needed to be there.  Except, I feel like I have been.  In about three dozen different campaigns.”

Science Fiction (Castalia House) The Secret to Science Fiction — “Even a child knows that there are no oceans on Venus, and yet hoary old Perelandra outsells the far more accurate attempt to portray the planet in Ben Bova’s Venus (The Grand Tour). The seemingly well-grounded (at the time, at least as far as pop science goes) science of The Grand Tour began to shake apart within months of its publication, when the scientific disputes regarding the Kyoto treaty began to leak into the general culture. Both books took place in the relative ‘near’ future, but only one endured very well much past its publication date…but it was the one that failed to capture the reality of Venus the most which is considered a classic.”

Comics (Co.Create) Batman Turns 75 — “Every kid knows who Batman should be. The only people who don’t seem to know are the folks at DC Comics.”

Games (Dorkly) The Most Realistic Game Ever — “Real life is all about taking away your power as you journey on with no prescribed end goal.”

Gamma World ( Black Gate) Hope Among the Ruins — “In my Gamma World campaigns of old, the characters regularly worked for or were allied with a cryptic alliance called the ‘Restorationists,’ whose ultimate goal was the rebuilding of civilization. Consequently, our adventures weren’t usually just smash ‘n grab operations intended to acquire loot, but concerted efforts to locate knowledge and devices that might improve the post-apocalyptic world. This was, of course, a never-ending struggle, but it was an exciting and worthy one that instilled in my friends and myself the sense that, while we might not be able to stave off the End of the World, we could work to pick up the pieces, should the worst come to pass.”

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