Sunday, October 18, 2020

Decent Rules to Make Languages Fun

First, here's some supplemental reading you may find insightful. All of it is from other RPG bloggers tackling the same subject as me:

  4. (he covers language as a specific part of the post and I think his take is neat)
The RPG Mausritter, about playing as tiny mice in a fantasy world, has some really cool language rules that I don't think can easily work for most other settings:
As a general rule of thumb, the more closely related two creatures are, the more likely they are able to be able to understand each other. Use the creature’s taxonomy to make a ruling. Magical or highly intelligent creatures may break these rules. • Same species (mouse): Can easily communicate. • Same family (rodent): Can speak and communicate, with some difficulty and difference of custom. • Same class (mammal): Make a WIL save to see if communication is possible. • Otherwise: Can’t directly communicate.
So yeah, all those thoughts are very neat. I'll throw in my two cents.

Monday, October 5, 2020

A Revised Dungeoncrawl Procedure

I recently drafted this page on dungeoncrawl procedure I may add to Brave. It needs playtesting. Some of it's weird, so I felt like it would be worth explaining the design choices I made. My intention is that this page would comprise 100% of the dungeon-related advice and rules in the game. But for context, earlier in the rules I've established a timescale called the "active turn" that lasts 10 minutes, which should be familiar. The main reason I even felt this was worth making and putting into the game was because, the more I thought about it, the more I believed that 1) having a committed dungeoncrawling procedure has great value, especially baking one into the system itself, and 2) I have issues with the standard options.

For those who want context on the old-school tradition of dungeon procedure, I'd point you to threads like this one, this one, and this one. But of course, the main point of contrast is going to be the codified procedure from B/X D&D, as re-packaged by Old School Essentials (courtesy of Necrotic Gnome), which is far and away the most popular option these days. Here is the 2-page spread included in OSE:

Let's talk about what they have in common before talking about the differences. 1) There is a play sequence up front, which is there for both the referee and the player to see and understand. 2) They both cover movement, traps, random encounters, and at least a little bit about miscellaneous common activities. So what's my problem with the original?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Dragons of the Great Game

This is one of my all-time favorite pieces of fluff in D&D history, but is, unfortunately, almost completely lost to history. Maybe someone reading this will give it another look.

In the days of 3rd Edition D&D, there was a lot of content bloat. In just eight years they came out with five monster manuals, each filled with several hundred new baddies for you to use. They were mostly garbage, aiming for quantity over quality every step of the way. By Monster Manual III, nearly every page had a goofy, ridiculous concept someone pulled from their ass in desperation to sell more books. But all of them contained nuggets of gold, if you scoured through them. The Monster Manual V was the most ignored of all, coming out near the end of the 3rd edition life cycle. Right when everyone was looking forward to 4th edition or, at the very least, already had plenty of monsters to use. But this monster I want to talk about wasn’t really something that you needed the stat block for. This was an idea.

The gist: dragons have a favorite board game they play, and it can make for the coolest campaign ever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Medieval Halflings: Pechs, Not Hobbits

Of the core D&D races, halflings are the ones I think the least about. That’s probably true for many people. I think they’re delightful, don’t get me wrong. I think the 5th Edition art for them, where they have giant bloated heads, is hysterical and great. I think anyone defending the freak alien 3rd Edition ones is pretentious and ridiculous. But… I would like for these to be something that can be taken seriously. That is, after all, why I revisited gnomes. So I want halflings that I’m happy with and manage to be fairly vanilla while also different than what we’re normally given. I originally envisioned this looking similar to the gnome or dwarf posts I made, but as you can see, I had some complicated thought processes I think may be of value to share. But the list of halfling traits I made is in the second half.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The lost art of the "Stable-of-Characters"

The infamous "Enigma of Greyhawk" is, I think, a metaphor
for all of OD&D. Because this game is batshit.
Look, I really love OD&D. It's so fascinating to me. I could gush constantly about all the weird shit I've found in it and the stuff I've learned about early D&D from it. But the Alexandrian already did that pretty dang well, so I won't cover that ground myself. If you want even more goodies, here is a good link-o'-links to get started (Philotomy's Musings are especially valuable). I do want to share this one thing, though. It's something that I slowly figured out from noticing weird stuff in the rules, and then I dug up some primary source evidence for. But even just the tale of its discovery, I think, demonstrates well the wonder of old RPG archaeology. And why I think it's one of the most important abandoned old-school avenues that needs to be explored further.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

BRAVE Character Sheets

Finally got around to this part, since I always treat it as an afterthought. So here's the deal. In Brave, there are two character sheets. The first (link to it here) is for new characters up to level 3. As you can see, it's small enough that you can fit two on one sheet of paper. Anything that doesn't have a designated place on this sheet but that you need to write down, go ahead and jot it on the back.

Then, once you reach level 4, you've proven yourself a cut above the rest and have probably outgrown that old sheet. You have a decent chance of maybe not dying young, so it's worth it to actually have a full sheet. That's where this second (link to it here) sheet comes in.  I figured that, even though I'm adding a lot onto Knave, the majority of characters are still gunna be pretty disposable and won't need a full sheet.

I'll need to playtest these as well but they look promising. And anything on there that you might not yet recognize (the speeds, languages, whatever) are gunna be in the next draft of Brave so don't worry.


Friday, July 31, 2020

Fifth Edition Downtime

I'm running a new 5E campaign in quarantine, and I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. But I'm also finally reading Matt Colville's Strongholds and Followers and I'm pleasantly surprised. It's very tempting to go all in and use. Demesne/domain level play is something I've always really wanted to try but I've never had the chance. I've never played more than a session or two of the oldest D&D editions (back when demesne play was just an assumption of the game) and even then, only as a low-level murderhobo. I've read some of the rules for getting castles and whatnot from BECMI and I'm not crazy about the old system. But the idea is really cool to me.

Actually, just doing a lot more downtime play is something I want a good experience trying. I think in my mind, it is one of the biggest elements that makes me really think of a game as a "campaign" rather than a bunch of one-shots strung together. I do, after all, basically just play a bunch of mostly-unrelated miniseries of dungeoncrawls and mysteries. I've never fleshed out a sandbox world that my players have the freedom to invest in easily. One of the things that makes downtime play really sing is a well-realized world full of potential. I tend to design isolated scenarios, but for a player to feel inspired to delve into the world and start moving mountains and making their impact feel real, they need a place that's got some jen-yu-wiiine verisimilitude.

This has been one of my design goals for Brave, and so far it's going fantastic. But I even want to try it for 5E as well. Like, I might even be able to trick my players into liking the Forgotten Realms if they get really invested. So read on for some bizarre ideas about how I might achieve this.