Thursday, 12 September 2019

One-Roll Random D&D 5e Characters

I have been working on a procedural character generator for 5e, as I find the system isn't necessarily built around making characters interesting, but it's involving learning a new language so is taking a while.  I'll post it when it's done!
Image (cc) Mikeypetrov

SO! Here's a quick generator you can use now, with a reason to take non-minmaxed stats and a life event to add some inspiration for background colour.

Why not grab a set of polyhedrals or use the button at the bottom to generate someone interesting?

The d8 - Race
  1. Human
  2. Elf
  3. Dwarf
  4. Halfling
  5. Dragonborn
  6. Tiefling
  7. Gnome
  8. Half Elf or Half Orc

Friday, 30 August 2019

Campaign Planning Grids for Plot Components

I have been playing around with ways to make my planning easier, more dynamic, and more focused.  The idea I've hit upon is mainly inspired by Technoir's "Transmissions" and the sheets I had made to track the Enemies, Friends, Complications, Things and Places for each system in my Stars Without Number campaign.

Image (cc) Sheam Bo
I was using a 5x3 grid for SWN - one for each category for each tag I used, including the Trade tags from Suns of Gold, and it worked well.  However it didn't feel like there was much continuity in terms of the plot, and I was keeping notes elsewhere on what was happening on and off screen. Given that the system is designed for sandbox games that's fine, but in retrospect I think I overplanned here for my needs and should only really have had one of each category for background, side plots, and local colour - but that's for another article...

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Campaign Planning, Reusability, and Separation of Concern

Some important concepts from my work in computer software can definitely be applied to campaign planning. Let's talk about two of them.
Image (cc) Tim Probert

Separation of Concern

Think of any dungeon* you've seen - or have written - with a map of the layout, lists of encounters for each room, key items and notes on where they are hidden.  How many times have you, as GM, had to skip, rearrange, shuffle or rebuild parts in response to the party's actions? Exactly.

Separating the elements means more flexibility.  Generally, the dungeon map doesn't care what monsters lie within and the monsters don't care what important treasures they guard. So if we plan loosely we can make it easier to change or add things on the fly.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Starting Infinity with Haqqislam, or What I Should Have Done

Infinity is an awesome game. I love how dynamic it is and the minis are brilliant. I hate how overwhelming it is for new players, which stems from:
  • Having many, many, special rules and equipment choices despite the elegance of the core rules.
  • There are no bad unit choices, so it's hard to narrow things down.
  • Starter boxes contain a good mix of units but these are not necessarily beginner friendly - Haqq box I am looking at you!
When I started I bought as much Haqq as I could, mainly through bulk sales on FaceBook, and a few new pieces that I wanted because they were cool or because people on the internet recommended them.  Looking at my 7-800 points of unpainted Haqq and still having things I want, I can't help thinking that - especially as a casual player - I should have taken a different approach...

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Building Robots (for World Domination)

Image (cc) Cameron Daigle
I happened to chance upon the brilliant Twitter bot @doskvolscores and it prompted me to start thinking about bots and automation.

I had been playing with some of the old automation stuff the blog was set up with long ago; it seems the feed aggregators are mostly gone, as RSS has gone out of fashion, but the feeds are still going strong. They're what power a lot of the links in the sidebar as well as the blogroll, so I started seeing what I could do with them.

Monday, 24 June 2019

RPG Blog Carnival - One Roll Fae NPCs

Since my last Carnival post I've been thinking about Faerie NPCs, what sort of things they might want and what interesting trades they might offer unwary PCs … grab a set of polyhedral dice or use the JavaScript roller below to find out!

The d6 - Type
  1. Dryad or other female Fae
  2. Satyr or other male Fae
  3. Sprite or Leprechaun
  4. Pixie or Faerie
  5. Wild Elf or Gnome
  6. man-beast of some kind: Faun, Centaur, Kitsune...
The d4 - It has an aspect of
  1. spring - bright green shades, suggestions of flower buds
  2. summer - vivid colours, suggestions of flowers in full bloom
  3. autumn - red / brown shades, suggestions of fruits and seeds
  4. winter - grey or white shades, suggestions of bark or twigs

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Gaming With The Kids at Ambush Wargames Show

Yesterday I took my two eldest to Ambush which is run annually by my FLGS at our local showground.  I wasn't sure what to expect, and how long they'd want to stay...

  • After a look round the stalls we enjoyed an introductory game of Blood Bowl run by the local gaming club Wolds Wargamers.  Both of them had so much fun they wanted to buy a copy straight away! It was a close and very swingy game, ending in victory for my daughter from the jaws of defeat.
  • Both wanted to have a go at painting so we grabbed a free mini each and spent an hour or so in the painting area while the painting competition was being judged.  Suffice to say we didn't produce anything that could compete!
  • We all got talking about all sorts of games - we didn't even get to play any of the boardgames which I thought they would make a beeline for - and my son even wanted to have a quick game of Infinity when we got home, so all in all a positive experience.
Is this a shameless plug? Maybe … but it was a great event, all very friendly, and the work put in deserves recognition. It's running today as well, and then hopefully back bigger and better next year.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Railroad / Sandbox / Other - The Third Alternative

Image (cc) Dean Peters
There is a sliding scale between the "Railroad" and the "Sandbox" when it comes to RPG campaigns, and between pre-planned and on-the-fly content.

Railroads are pre-set linear story paths that the players can break by deviating from them; this is the main criticism that tends to be levelled at traditional published adventures.  The storyteller in me wants a beginning, a middle, and an end for my campaign "season" just like a TV season, but I don't want to railroad the players. And I don't want to prep it all up-front!

Sandboxes are environments that let the plots be driven by the players; the GM leaves hooks and clues for them to find but the story follows the players' choices.  The storyteller in me loves this, I love to build in player stories, but I don't want to prep a load of stuff that won't get used and I don't want to wing too much

But these aren't the only structure options, these are just the options we see in modules because they are the options that are easy to publish.  I'm looking for a low-prep option 3.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Blog Posts I've Enjoyed Reading in June

Image (cc) Rachel Swallows
Here's a brief rundown of some of the gems I've found in the RPG blogosphere since the last digest, I'm going to try to do this every month...

Sheep and Sorcery breaks down what I always felt about how people build characters in D&D/d20 games vs other games. It's interesting reading as a player and a DM.

DIY and Dragons makes a very valid point about hallways and how to describe them, and provides a link to this very interesting post on how (not) to describe dungeons; we've all been faced with arbitrary left-or-right decisions...

I have enjoyed the idea of "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading" over at The Other Side, and the few of the featured blogs too, you should check it out.

Rolls, Rules and Roles provides thought provoking insight into "Post-OSR" gaming and the Interactionist mindset - which I never realised I belonged to until it was pointed out here.

I stumbled upon this (admittedly OLD) post on Coins and Scrolls about an OSR Pirate game - I've always wanted to play a Pirate game - and from there to the fascinating concept of the "Counter-colonial Heistcrawl"...

There's a very interesting article on Legacy of the Bieth on a Leftist OSR and PCs investing their spoils of adventure in the community - It appeals to me as a way to root characters in the world and have them drive and see change.

Meandering Banter meanders into player death and the brilliant idea of letting the rest of the party sit in judgement of where the character ends up in the afterlife.

Unlawful Games has a fantastic d100 Bottled Things table which frankly just about covers everything one could imagine!

And of course the Blog Carnival is focusing on Faerie/Fey themed content this month; head over to Pitfalls and Pixies for the prompts and links.

Please support the blogosphere and let me know any great finds of your own in the comments.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Dungeon World + Trilemma Adventures

Last week I got to run a one shot of Dungeon World - for all my enthusiasm about it I had never actually played it - but I'd heard good things.  I'd also heard good things about Trilemma Adventures so I decided to grab one of their free dungeons to play in.  How did it go?  Read on, bold adventurer...

We played The Sky Blind Spire by Michael Prescott

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