Friday, January 18, 2013

Five for Friday: Week of 1/11/2013 - 1/17/2013

The second edition of my Five for Friday (I'm on a roll!) It leans a little heavy on RPGs this week, but it starts off with an article written by a wargaming pioneer:

Chessboard War from Tabletop Talk
Bob Cordery got me hooked on the idea of grid-based games. Morschauser solidified that interest (yes, Morschauser had the idea before Mr. Cordery, but that's not how I encountered them). And now, as seen on Tabletop Talk (a blog connected with Historifigs, keepers of the Jack Scruby figure lines), it appears Tony Bath also had a set of gridded game rules.

Gridded games aren't everybody's cup of tea ,but I find gamers of note, like Featherstone, Grant or Bath, fun to read regardless of whether I would ever use their proposed idea in a game or not.

Dungeon Construction from Matakashi's Teahouse
Matakashi does amazing work with DIY terrain and scenery. Most of the time, I look at it and think, "I doubt I could ever do that." However, this project is one I think anyone can do - possibly even using generic Jenga blocks or children's wood blocks to save yourself the cutting. I suspect such a thing could be done for sci-fi interiors as well.

Fridge Logic & Dungeonsc from Tao of D&D
Love him or hate him, Alex of the Tao of D&D posts thoughtful, interesting articles and this one is no different. Alex discusses the peculiarity of monsters hoarding gold when, in their daily lives, they have no need of it.

As I don't strive for verisimilitude in my dungeons for the most part, these things don't terribly concern me, but for those who do, it poses something of a problem if thought about logically. As an aside, I think it's a strong argument in favor of why gold and experience should not be equated  (although I don't think that was his point).

Secret Party House of the Hill Giant Playboy from roll1d12
Download a free module from the mind behind a website dedicated to the neglected d12? Don't mind if I do.

I've had a read through it and it seems very solo-able with plenty of random tables, interesting NPCs and even a new monster. I would probably solo this using Mythic and Labyrinth Lord; it looks like it'd work equally well playing as the PC or the GM.

Random Tables - Inspiration or "As Rolled?" from Tenkar's Tavern
Tenkar's Tavern is one of my favorite RPG blogs out there, always insightful or thought provoking questions, without being unnecessarily serious. In this post, well, I think it's pretty self-explanatory.

I posted in the comments on this one, in favor of making an effort to use results from random tables "as rolled", before giving up and either choosing or rolling again. Perhaps it's because as a solo player, I'm usually designing encounters and such "on the fly" and typically I have no preconceived notion of what exactly I should encounter (unless I've set up a special encounter list, as I did for the goblin territory in The Ever Expanding Dungeon).

My job is to rationalize the random result given what I have already learned about the game setting.

This also touches back to the question of verisimilitude; it's not terribly important to me if the logic of the game world doesn't make sense compared to our world generally or in my mind specifically. But, then, I am happy to sometimes drift into surrealism if that's what occurs. Often it doesn't, because I impose the laws of this reality on the narrative or the very random tables I am using have pre-limited the possible results to things that make sense in the broad game world, and while they might not often appear in the same space there, they are not mind boggling in their weirdness individually.


  1. Even from the earliest days of D&D I have always considered "treasure" to be its own reward . . . and that it has nothing to do with gaining experience.

    I also tend to seriously "cut down" any treasure and to use a much more expensive price list (particularly for armor).

    -- Jeff

    1. I think my problem is that as a kid, I just accepted 1 gold = 1 xp, and even as an adult, when I've played the game socially, the DMs I played with used the rules as written. It's been hard to shake.

      While I understood that other things were worthy of xp - and indeed in non-fantasy games, gold isn't even to be found - combat,which is the only other obvious source in Basic/Expert, is a high risk/low reward proposition and the old rule books give little guidance about what else might be worthy of xp.

      That gold is a reward unto itself (like magic items) should seem obvious. Reading Tunnels & Trolls opened my eyes to how PCs could still advance in a game when gold is factored out.

      I've been toying with adapting the T&T xp suggestions, as well as some ideas I've seen floating around the web, if I don't have a single PC to 2nd level by the 10th session (assuming any survive the current situation). That probably sounds arbitrary -but I'm trying to imagine how a player would feel if they played a game for 10 weeks and were still first level


  2. Well I've always given XP for good "role-playing" (as opposed to "dice-rolling".

    I've also handed out ballots to players after a session. They have x number of points (usually about 10) to divide amongst the other players (and can't give any to themselves) for good role-playing of their characters.

    I then total these up. If a player got (for example) 7 points, he gets an additional 70% added to his XP for the session.

    Unsurprisingly this tends to get most players much more into their characters (and out of the rule book).

    -- Jeff

    PS, of course this won't work for solo play

    1. I like the idea of letting the players have a say in who gets a bonus - especially if it helps keep players focused on doing cool things with their characters, rather than worrying about what stats and rules.

      For solo play, I might try a variation on that, where,if a character takes the spotlight they get a bonus on their XP for the session. The idea is that it would help me stay aware of who's getting too much story and who isn't getting any. And make sure I rotate through the characters (NPCs excluded) - sometimes it feels like I'm playing a single character, "the party", with many aspects, rather than multiple individuals with their own quirks.

      It would also help keep the idea of NPC hirelings more meaningful as they would intentionally not get the spotlight.

      As always, thanks for the comment!


  3. John,

    An idea occurred to me as I read your comment. As I recall, you are using D30 to create your characters. As part of that creation there is their "Motivations" . . . perhaps focusing more on those will help bring individual characters into better focus.

    -- Jeff