Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Making 5e Old School, Traveller Advancement, Religious Magic, and Dragon Inflation

Movies (The Escapist) Inside the Lost Dragons Movie Gary Gygax Loved — “None of the main characters wields a weapon, casts a spell, picks a lock, uses a magic item, or indeed does much but flee danger. Aside from Tom taking the ruby, they resolve problems only by praying to the Onelord. You don’t feel like they are player characters, you feel like they are spectators, just watching powerful forces play out, which is exactly the opposite of playing Dungeons & Dragons. It reads like a children’s fantasy book where everyone depends on the grown-ups: more of a Narnia than, say, than a Lankhmar, but even Aslan makes you fight your own battles.”

D&D (Cirsova) 5e to OSR/Old School Conversion PDF — “I’ve seen some folks say that they haven’t seen any good simple supplements or 5e conversions for those looking for a more ‘Old School’ experience. So, I’ve put together a quick reference sheet for 5e players looking for a more Old School experience. I hope this helps.”

Traveller (The Ongoing Campaign) A Traveller Misconception And Describing The Structure Of Play — “Despite there being a clearly-labeled section on the topic, there’s a misperception that CT doesn’t allow characters to become any better than they were at the end of character creation. The problem is actually that players have become so attached to the idea that characters advance due to their success (or fail to advance due to their lack of success) that they miss the simplicity of the CT system.”

RPG Design (Zak S) Old School Design and Room In the Margins — “This game has Margin. And it’s not like I had to write up things either, like I would with modern supposed-to-be-generic systems. Because the core of the game is simply ‘What describes things that exist in this place and time?’ rather than ‘What is genre-appropriate?’ Cthulhu characters exist in a world that still has a lot of things that, thematically, aren’t horror-specific like cars and botany. And it grasps that you’d like to be able to play lots of sessions–either lots of different kinds of games, or lots of the same campaign but with evolving roles and situations, so it needs to weigh things players can do close to equally. Other trad systems think the same way–D&D, Warhammer, even FASERIP can all drift away from their default modes with barely an effort.”

Censorship (Greyhawk Grognard) Thoughts on the OBS Offensive Content Policy — “The question becomes, as they already have a history of caving into political pressure on social media, what guarantee do publishers have that, even after a title has been ‘whitelisted’, there won’t be a continuing campaign to apply pressure to OBS, which eventually results in the title being re-evaluated and banned? The answer is that there is no guarantee at all. If Fred Hicks, or Cam Banks, or some other prominent SJW, decides he doesn’t like a title, or an author, or a publisher, or an artist, then he already knows all he needs to do is keep jumping up and down about it, and OBS will roll over and show him its jewels. They’ve done it twice do far. No reason to think they won’t do it again.”

D&D (Searching For Magic) Religious Magic in RPGs — “The idea of gods showing up, messing about with human affairs and having the odd affair of their own to create demigods has a certain quality to it, but it disrupts the idea of faith. Faith, by definition, is a belief in something without proof. There’s no faith involved with fantasy religions. They are more like corporations with clearly defined goals based on the godly portfolio coming down from head office.”

Movies (SuperversiveSF) Is Khan a Villain? — “Khan is a moral force. He is destructive, and willful, but he acts with a purpose in mind. Khan did far more to stop war than Kirk did. If Khan had not rebelled against Marcus, then Kirk and others may have loyally followed Marcus into war. In contrast to Khan, Kirk rarely understands what will be the consequences of his actions. I submit that this makes Kirk a poor hero, and Khan far less than a villain.”

Books (Black Gate) The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Tolkien’s Necklace of the Dwarves — “The Nauglamir is the stuff of an absorbing novel, with elves, dwarves, greed, treachery, romance, heroes and villains, combat: and this is just one little bit of The Silmarillion. And a part of it is just a fragment of Beren’s life (there’s a tale for another novel or two)! I’m not crazy about the creation aspect at the beginning of The Silmarillion, but if you like history, the rest of the book is a fascinating read on a grand scale.”

SE4X (Board Game Geek) Research Centers: Yay or Nay? — “For those who love advanced planning, facilities were meant as a starting point. In the second expansion, I originally planned on adding at least one additional facility – the supply facility. It generates supply points that are used to pay your maintenance. These points actually are generated and sit on the map. A Supply Tech would have been added to the research tree that limited how far ships could be from a supply source to draw supply. As you researched the tech, the distance would get farther. Scouts and Raiders would have been allowed to draw supply from an unlimited distance, befitting their purpose. Transports could also carry supply for distant fleets. A fourth facility was also under consideration.”

D&D (Semper Initiativus Unam) More Dragons in the Dungeons — “Dragon inflation has been a constant of D&D, and it has slowly pushed the dragon out of the game, except at high levels. Dragons went up in hit points significantly in the first edition PHB, and much further in second edition, firmly ensconcing them as upper-echelon enemies. They have stayed that way ever since; a party will pretty much have to be 5th level or higher before even thinking about slaying a dragon.”

D&D (Monsters & Manuals) The Hickman Revolution and the Frustrated Novelist — “There is a reason why Hickman’s approach chimed with many gamers, and why ultimately it came to dominate the hobby during the 80s, 90s and 00s before story/hipster/forge games and the OSR began to slay the beast: many, I would say perhaps the majority, of GMs are frustrated novelists, just like Tracy Hickman was. To them, there was an allure in the idea that they could create games which were not mere games (a frivolous pursuit) but which were also stories – it was an outlet for their desire to be writers, which they could not fulfil due to lack of talent, time, dedication or all three.”

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