Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The world is my sandbox!

It's been a while since my last post, but that's mostly because I was away on vacation in Europe for two weeks, followed closely by a visit from my mom.  All of that was great, but quite exhausting, and not particularly conducive for writing about my great love for role-playing games.

That doesn't mean that I've been completely idle in the world of elfgames.  Far from it, my friends!  Let's see...so I didn't really do much related to gaming in Europe, although I did plow through Charles Stross' Laundry Files (well, at least the five main books).  I've enjoyed a couple of Stross' other novels (Accelerando and Glasshouse both managed to impress), and even when they have suffered from prioritizing "big ideas" over characters (something I've encountered more in British sci-fi, for some reason), they have been rife with gameable ideas.  

My favorite of the covers

The Laundry Files also has plenty of game-ready ideas (in fact, it's been covered (DriveThru)), and also manages to have some appealing characters and well-paced plotting.  It's certainly not meant to be taken as seriously as some of his other works, but not everything has to be high-art.  And we were talking about elfgames, right?

But that's not all.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spells without levels

The title of this post reflects a recent design ambition of mine, which is to eliminate spell levels from OSR games without eliminating spells.  I have a few reasons for this.  First, as I've been recently discussing, I have an interest in sandbox play without character progression, and having spell levels starts to feel overly restrictive when characters don't even have levels.

Another thing I've noticed, however, is that the nature of spells and spell levels in OSR makes it difficult for such games to support multi-classing.  At first glance, it may sound like I'm talking about very unrelated things, so I'll explain a little more.  


Don't make me choose, OSR!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Concepts in sandbox play

So, in continuance of some of my earlier thoughts about sandbox play and how it relates to character progression, I've been slowly coming up with ideas for a very simple tabletop FRPG that is based on the idea of little-to-no appreciable improvement from "experience."  Let me discuss some of my initial thoughts.


Strategic advantages

One advantage of having a game like that with very human-scale characters is that you can take advantage of certain assumptions to simplify the game mechanics.  For instance, I don't have to worry about things being highly scalable.  Everything can be muted down to a similar level of power, where special abilities allow you to specialize, but don't end up abusing verisimilitude and game balance in the long term.

This means I don't have to provide really big ranges for power levels.  Things don't have to be super-granular.  This immediately calls a certain mechanic to my mind, one which I have enjoyed greatly in practice: the skill system for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  What occurs to me is that, lacking character progression, character abilities and character skills can be much the same thing.

Wait, that's not how reflections work...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Empress session report - The Rise of the Murderhobros #4, part 2 of 2

It's hard to believe how much we accomplished in the fourth session.  I have a feeling that part two is going to be longer than part one.  I suppose that if I'm wrong, I'll just edit this sentence later.  If I'm right, I'll leave it there, and look pretty prescient.

Anyway, where were we?  Ah yes, the gang had just been roused by a commotion from outside the inn, and townsfolk were moving en masse in that direction.  Naturally, the party joined the surging crowd, and made their way towards the town's eastern gate.  They were greeted by an interesting sight.


This

Well, not quite that.  They were more lupine-themed, for one.  The self-styled Wolf Brothers, Howl and Growl, had arrived to challenge the town of the Lugosi to...A WRASSLE-OFF!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Empress session report - The Rise of the Murderhobros #4, part 1 of 2

This session, things really started to take off.  The Murderhobros Three were about to face off against a savage lion-man and a terrifying spheroid bear-bot-thing, which had just sprouted a spinning buzzsaw at the end of a small arm that extended from its chest.  That's how things started, and from there, the Gonzometer started beeping like crazy.

Note: This is what actually happened.
Everything else is in Duncan't head.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cool news for yours truly!

Hello loyal reader...s?  Anyone out there?  It doesn't matter at all.  This is a public record that I keep for private purposes.  It's sort of like yelling from the top of my lungs on an abandoned street.  I have no problem with this.

Anyway, like the subject says, a bit of good news for me: I'm going to by GMing at Gen Con 50!  Goodman Games was looking for a few people willing to Judge (that's DCC for "GM") a few slots, ideally four or more.  I signed up for the requisite four, so I could get a badge and hang with the crew.


Not my first choice of venues, but that's not why you go

Empress session report - The Rise of the Murderhobros #2-3

As we check in on our murderous trio, we're going to cover two sessions in one shot.  This is primarily because second of these was a pretty short one due to the intrusion of real-life demands on our participants.  That's fine; we're role-players, so we have to work around that stuff.  So without further ado...


And so it begins again...

Picking up where we left off, the crew was walking rapidly away from angry gang bosses and alarmed citizens in the town of Hoblington, making their way to meet Duncan's mysterious benefactor.  As the group approached the place, Duncan informed his compatriots that they were going to be going through a (hopefully) abandoned village to climb down a sea cliff.  There, they would find a cave wherein dwelled his employer, a dragon named Krakatoka.

Zab and Radj reacted to this announcement with a healthy dose of disbelief, and concern that their new friend wasn't right in the head.  Oh well, they reasoned; we've come this far, and hitched our wagon to this maniac.  Let's see where this leads...you never know, right?