Monday, June 10, 2024

EVERY Initiative Method??

Not really. But maybe, with your help, we actually can. Let's give this a shot.

Every now and then I've seen a blog post attempting to cover this topic and they always just seem to fall short. "There are two methods: individual and side." Please. Not only are there dozens of ways of doing initiative, but many of them are desperately in need of a proper name at this point.

But exhaustively cataloguing every method is unfeasible. There are so many games that have nearly identical methods but with just a teensy tiny little quirk. "Instead of rolling a d20, you roll a d10." Yeah, whatever. I'm not about to list every single one of those as an individual entry. Some degree of broad categorization is needed.

But you will quickly see that my system of categorization is... feeble. I have unfortunately not been able to divine some grand system of fundamental initiative typology, easily charted along 6 key axes or something like that. You'll come to see why pretty soon, and we'll circle back to that topic in the conclusion. I instead tried to order my categories by vaguely-increasing order of general unfamiliarity / difficulty to explain and understand. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Deconstructed Ravenloft for Dinner - Mindstorm Guest Blog


This year, my friend Ty is taking his blog mindstormpress.com on tour, and I'm lucky enough to be honored with one of his highly-prized articles. I've said some pretty harsh things about Ravenloft in the past, so of course I was delighted to see Ty take that as a challenge. I think you'll agree, the results are top notch. Please enjoy this excellent guest post, and be sure to go check out Mindstorm afterwards if you aren't already following his work.

-Dwiz

Deconstructed Ravenloft for Dinner

Since its inception, Ravenloft and the fearsome Strahd have captured the hearts and minds of tabletop gamers everywhere. From the first published edition—made for AD&D—all the way to the mass-marketed, bloated, and hyper-commercialized iteration for fifth edition, people have been delving into the lands beyond the mist and trying to fight the big daddy vampire.

What makes the adventure and setting so dang captivating? And, more importantly, can we break it down into its base components, inspect those components, replace them, and then force everything back together? Sometimes, the best way to play with legos is to smash your big sibling’s castle and then try to put it back together before they get home. Our version of Ravenloft is going to slap because it’s going to be personal, homemade, and filled with our own unique interests and idiosyncrasies.

Strap in. We’re hot-dropping into Barovia for the biggest heist imaginable. We’re taking the ideas.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Best RPG Cover of all Time


This is the cover to the original 1977 Traveller boxed set, now commonly referred to as "Classic Traveller." Because of this iconic cover, May 1st is celebrated as "Traveller Day."

There's been a lot of talk lately about RPG covers in the last week (thanks WotC). So I thought, what better time to reflect on the finest one of all?

I insist that this is not merely old school rose-colored nostalgia. It's not merely "good for its time." I really think this is perfect in a way that no other RPG cover has achieved before or since. Change a single word, a single punctuation, a single nanometer to the kerning, and you have something lesser. And if you're not convinced, then I'm going to explain everything that I like about this image and why. Everything. Yeah, this post is ridiculous overkill. About as bad an idea as explaining a joke. But I want it all to be said.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

G Monsters at the Opera (Part 3)

A B C D Demon Dragon E F G1 G2 G3 H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Fret not, my dear Mr. Wasteland. Today's show is brought to you by the letter G. We still have a while before we reach the Puking and Pulling monsters.

Monday, April 1, 2024

G Monsters at the Opera (Part 2)

A B C D Demon Dragon E F G1 G2 G3 H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Credit: Le Pape Formose et √Čtienne VI ("Pope Formosus and Stephen VI") by Jean-Paul Laurens

Why do you let me do all the talking? Comment below your favorite D&D monster and tell me why. We're here for the long haul, so you may as well have your say. Good gravy just look how many words I've spilled just in this post alone.

Monday, March 25, 2024

No Foolproof Illusions

This post has some required reading: a blog post from Swedish designer (?) Sandra Snan called Blorb Principles.
[By the way, Sandra's blog is absolutely bonkers. She's written about blorb a lot but you'll have to hunt for it. Good luck]
Additionally, you may also wish to read this post from Rise Up Comus and/or this post from Technoskald's Forge. They are both good, although not necessary to follow my line of thinking here.

I like Sandra's blorb principles. When I first read her post, I felt... relief. For many years, I've felt a sharp and uncomfortable distance between my own playstyle and the philosophies described by my colleagues and other popular designers. Sandra's post was the first time I saw someone clearly articulate a set of preferences I've long held but which I couldn't effectively advocate for on my own. It feels nice to see your own philosophy given a name, and to finally have a way to easily connect with like-minded GMs.

But part of why Sandra's post instantly clicked for me is because she was describing things I already believed, techniques that I already rely on. By far the most common response I've seen to the Blorb Principles is still outright confusion. So just like many others before me, this post is my own effort to explain why I prefer a Blorby approach to the alternatives other people offer up. Maybe this will help it make a little more sense to some people.

Monday, March 11, 2024

G Monsters at the Opera (Part 1)

A B C D Demon Dragon E F G1 G2 G3 H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Credit: Ivan the Terrible and the Souls of his Victims by Mikhail Petrovitch Klodt

Yes, there are that many G monsters. Even splitting this into three parts, each post will be ridiculously long. This letter also has the highest density of "Dwiz's favorite monsters ever" in it, unsurprisingly. Apologies in advance if I get carried away with some of these entries. On the other hand, once I finish up the G's then I reckon I'll be about halfway done with this series (at least in terms of monster entries).