Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Make War, Not Lore: Creating a War and Factions for your Adventures

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of blogging about it.  -Sun Tzu, almost

In a recent world-famous blogpost, we concluded that mass bloodshed and strife is a lighthearted, pleasant pastime for all involved. And while any power metal album artist or teacher-cum-author can invent a cool battle, it takes a bit more work to create the whole war. Luckily for you, I happen to be an authority on seeming like an authority. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

PROTOCOL: Zones of Depth

ZoD is a wholly unoriginal lightweight system for running abstracted exploration of large, complex environments. The protocol can be given to players, for them to use as part of their gameplay; or it can be entirely GM-side, used to help the narrative along without involving players in the rules. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Marching Back East: Lessons Learned from Running an Open Table Game


I was like you, once: naïve, directionless, wholly corporeal. Then, one fateful autumn evening, I dreamt of a towering white fortress.

The concept wasn't alien to me, "drop-in" and "rotating cast" being something that I've informally done in the past. Once I actually decided to do an intentional open table sandbox, however, and embrace it as a style rather than as a consequence of accursed schedules, my previous preconceptions of running a big game had been irreversibly shattered.
After getting some new, heavy-duty conceptions, I proceeded to have a pretty excellent time, lasting for well over a year of regular games, and the experience was as enlightening as it was entertaining. The game's tragic demise was caused by a combination of personal small-scale complications and impersonal global complications, but it was a rollercoaster ride throughout. 

With recent developments, I may have the chance to bring the game back to life (at a reduced, responsible, internet-reliant capacity). And since such a ritual requires the removal of significant refuse, both from my sanctorum and from my own mind, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of the lessons I've learned. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

It Builds Character: Character Creation as a Meaningful Part of Your Game

Most roleplaying games begin with character creation, because most of them are fairly difficult to play without a character. We break out our given system's character sheet, and we follow the book through the process of filling it in, and through this process we turn the sheet into a character. It's a familiar process, and one of the common threads throughout the hobby.

That familiarity has also bred a disdain towards the activity. For some, the process of character creation is treated as an unfortunate speedbump, something to be gotten out of the way as quickly as possible, a necessary evil on the path to the Actual Fun. 

I'm not here to tell people that they're playing wrong, but I do want to talk a little about why I think people feel this way, how embracing the activity can improve our experience, and how some games make it easier to accomplish that. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Writing The Good Fight: Running Large Battle Scenarios in TTRPGs

Much of our favorite fantastical fiction features fierce fights, mammoth melees, and wall-to-wall warfare. We all know that large battles can serve various narrative purposes, from heroic last stands and dramatic climaxes to desperate retreats and crushing defeats. A battle might be raging around our heroes as they try to reach their target, right in front of them as they enter the fray themselves, or miles away as they use the chance to accomplish something. 

At their best, battles are a great tool to add to your storytelling and a powerful way to amp the drama. At their worst, they are a great tool to break the flow of your game, and a powerful way to start players thinking about homebrew versions of the system, ones that remove the suffering they just went through.