I am torn here: I hate industry stuff but I love fact-checking. Here are some predictions Matt Finch made about 2011 before 2011 happened. How right was he? I'm asking. He was mostly right, right? Lemme know if I'm missing anything. And Matt, if you're reading this: where are my keys? "Matt Finch•2 years ago
1) I also think that James Raggi will continue to gain traction, partly due to a big brouhaha about the art and content of his material. I don't think he will have cash flow problems. I do think that he will have more copies of his game than he can sell during the year, and that he will respond to this with discounts or packaged bundles of game + modules.
2) Frog God Games will continue to publish a steady stream of materials for Swords & Wizardry / AD&D / OD&D. Some people will hate this, some people will be happy about it.
3) Old school gaming will gain traction in the mainstream community via the larger clones gaining more name recognition. This will lead to a gateway effect that brings younger gamers in, and return gamers in. This will result in message boards becoming more elitist about their new and old members. A new message board might even spring up as a result, but I doubt this.
4) OSRIC will get more aggressively published, which will lead to more edition-warring among the clones. Publishers will try to stop that trend, and will succeed to a large degree, but it will remain a low-level feature of the landscape from then onward. AD&D will get new players through OSRIC in the same way that other clones have a "gateway" effect.
5) There will be a lot of controversy about Joe Goodman's "old school" game as publication approaches. It will be generally hated in the old school message boards, but will get some traction in the mainstream. It might or might not succeed - that will depend on its quality and whether Goodman supports it in 2012.
6) WotC will not bother with the clones; their problem is Paizo and Pathfinder, and the clones are minuscule compared to the threat of Pathfinder. Last year, WotC could have used the clones to explain their weakness to HASBRO (incorrectly, but still a good straw-grasp). Now, with Paizo building so fast, it's simply too clear that WotC's weakness lies elsewhere than the clones.
7) The value of the D&D trademark falls, as Pathfinder rises. WotC will seek to use it for collateral purposes - movies, novels, card games, whatever they can do to change it into a generic franchise rather than a purely gaming franchise. 8) 4e recovers a bit of ground after the disastrous launch, but continues to lose ground to Pathfinder - more slowly, but still a frightening trend for WotC brand management."
(I'm pretty sure clicking to enlarge this sucky cameraphone pic of the drawing I drew is worth it)
Red Rooks Magical creatures (Red House)
Rooks are hulking grotesques that lie inert for days at a time. They Red Rooks (or Moddochs) serve the Red King and outrank pawns, bishops and knights. They possess gruesomely frowning domelike faces and arms and legs like afterthoughts. By night, they are moved about on palanquins by teams of red pawns.
HP 100 Speed Sessile
AC 5 or 15 Intelligence 15
-Riddle: Red Rooks may ask one foe a riddle per round:
*The foe may not move (though s/he may speak) until the riddle is answered.
*An incorrect answer does 2d6hp damage to the victim (who still may not move).
*Saying "I don't know" or otherwise giving up inflicts 3d6 damage to the victim (who still may not move).
*This state of affairs lasts until the Red Rook is slain or the riddle is answered (by anyone in earshot of the victim).
*However: Red Rooks (and GMs that run them) are known to frequently give nonsense riddles intended to have no answers, such as "What has 47 claws and is made of pain?" in which case "That riddle has no fucking answer" or suchlike response is wholly acceptable, and will break the spell.
-Throw things: pull of clods of earth or floor and throw them +6 to hit d8damage.
-Bite: +4 to hit d8 damage. (If being attacked with a weapon keeping the attacker at arms reach, may bite the weapon.)
-Misericorde: A cruciform hardwood (lignum vitae or ebony) stiletto specifically designed for impaling vampires. In a pinch it can be used as an ordinary weapon: d4 damage, no to-hit bonus.
So, there's a website where people talk about games.
This conversation occurred there where they were complaining about OSR dice notation:
My blog's not called "Playing D&D With People Who All Graduated High School". I will tell you right now, if I tell Kimberly Kane* she's got a 3d6 weapon or a 4d4 spell she will not know which does more damage.
Dear God. The misogyny, it burns.
A Hungry Mouth
"My female sex worker players are literally too stupid to do third-grade multiplication" isn't misogyny? I guess he just could be generally misanthropic.
Um, this is getting gross and disturbing in the assumptions you're making but I'm KK's math tutor for the GED--I know what math she can and can't do.
She should probably get a different tutor if you can't teach her how to multiply two numbers.
A Hungry Mouth
At worst it's "Some of my players, specifically Kimberly Kane, have trouble with simple math," which for all I know is true. You guys realize that people who are illiterate/innumerate/have extreme difficulty with reading or mathematics actually exist, right?
e: PeterWeller you're being kind of mean and I have no idea why.
God drat you guys are being a bunch of dicks. Especially you Gau, what does her being a sex worker have to do with anything? Nobody brought that up and it's not relevant to the conversation.
Yeah. This is hosed, I am out.
Zak S is saying this works for him and his group, and you guys are jumping all over him like a pack of hyenas. It's dumb as poo poo. Stop.
Now all this happened here and you can read it for yourself--I left out stuff for clarity if you want to check the thread for context.
It has more to do with the fact that Zak was a misogynistic rear end in a top hat who just assumes that his HOT PORN STAR PLAYERS are uneducated and can't determine which is bigger: 1d4 or 1d8.
This is a lie, obviously but he is telling people this lie about my attitude toward my best friends and this evidence needs to be here so that no-one believes it, because that shit is fucked. Like really fucked far beyond just some dumb monkey shit-fight about games. Ever wonder where the line is? This is where the line is.
Say what you want about what you want about games and game designers but don't do that.
I'd post it there but I am, of course, banned.
So this worked out, we now have Gau's acknowledgement and defense. I'm putting this here for anyone's future reference:
I apologize for the interruption of service for "Troll Psychology Theatre", we will resume rebroadcast of awesome game stuff tomorrow or later today or next time I think of something.
*KK is very open about working on her GED and her lack of math skills, it's not like I was blowing her up here, if you're wondering. She is, however, awesome.
This particular bit of the "Why do the instructions explicitly tell you to give your female paladin one of four names?" part of the conversation was, like the post title says The Weirdest Thing I've Ever Heard About Games.
Check it, a DW fan said:
"Giving a list of names breaks one of the longest, most pointless worry points in character generation down to a quick choice. Rather than having to think about all possible names you have a limited number of choices. "
Apparently there are folks for whom choosing your character's name is:
Long (not just long, but apparently, routinely usually long. One of the longest parts of character generation.)
I did not know before yesterday that such people existed.
(Ok well I knew McCormick existed. But a list wouldn't have solved him.)
I think I find "pointless" the weirdest part of that.
Anyway, this is why I like writing about games. It's like when they go down to the thermal vents at the bottom of the sea and there's chemosynthetic worms living all day at temperatures so extreme nobody knew any living thing could survive them.
EDIT: Getting Reddit trackbacks. Tl;DR--I wrote Red & Pleasant Land, Vornheim and half of Maze of the Blue Medusa. Dungeon World is not my bag--it is too easy and the system makes all the parts of games I like trivial because co-authorship gets in the way puzzle set-ups and things like that (a Rubik's cube is easier if you helped build it). I do not recommend using it for anything I write because my game stuff emphasizes the exact kind of problem solving DW is meant to elide. If you have questions about my game please leave a comment on my blog--I'll read it and answer, it will be way less confusing than asking 300,000 people on Reddit. If you are a condescending storygamer who thinks anyone who doesn't like your games just doesn't understand them, please get in touch, I will listen carefully explain the mistakes you made to you
Fuck Space Dracula, ok?
Last summer he killed my 4e Gamma World guy with his Draculasers and now he's back again in this Dungeon World playtest trying to kill my paladin, Axl the Claw.
It's not easy.
My paladin always lied (he tried to trick the space draculas into fighting the aliens, didn't work), Reynaldo's paladin always told the truth (he had an oath or something). That really confused the space draculas.
Then we met the devil but we didn't fight him, I just confused him talking about real estate while this pangolin attacked the ceiling. Also there was a math wizard. Trust me it was fun.
Anyway: Dungeon World...
No matter who's GMing or who is playing, all D&Dlike games that I've played in feel similar enough that you forget what system you're using, especially when you aren't in combat. In the last year I've played DCC, LOTFP, WFRPG, Rolemaster, 4e, Swords & Wizardry, Petal Throne, Castles and Crusades, Basic, OSRIC, 3e, 0e, Stormbringer, NGR, Runequest, AD&D and Labyrinth Lord and I'd put all those experiences in this "D&Dlike" category. At least when I'm playing them with the people I play with.
And no matter who is GMing or playing, all the following storygamey games felt different from the D&Dlikes but also felt very similar to each other in practice: Over The Edge, Marvel Heroic RPG, Dread, S/Lay With Me, FATE, the 3 quickie story games I wrote (STACK, the superhero one, and another one I never blogged up) and Burning Wheel.
So now does Dungeon World, a game that bills itself as "A Game With Modern Rules & Old School Style" more resemble that first batch of games--the D&Ds and D&Dlikes--or that second batch, the storygamey games?
When we played it--definitely the second batch. It's got rules and ability scores and whole lists of spells and details and looks very D&Dlike on paper, but in practice it felt like a totally open-ended, do whatever, whenever game.
Characteristics of the "second batch" games when I play them:
-They feel really "easy". Both to solve the problems the character has in the game and to think up the kind of textured narrative explanations that these games run on.
-The tenor of the game is extremely dependent on the relative levels of seriousness and extroversion of the players involved. One or two loud serious players can make the game serious, one or two loud silly players can make the game silly. Way more than in the D&Dlikes, which kind of hover in a narrower band of funny-reality/serious-game zone.
Really, though, probably down to who I am and know, it's usually just a question of time before the storygamey designs meltdown into total silliness. Players used to puzzle-solving style play (everybody I roll with) run roughshod over these games--stuff gets weird very fast.
-They are fun. They are basically about as much fun as hanging out with the people you're playing with even without a game, though.
-At no point am I afraid of dying or, really, of any consequences at all. So that tension isn't there if, like me, you like that kinda thing. (Exception: Dread.) I suppose if you were really invested in having the characters do this thing (and be alive) instead of that thing (and be alive) you might start to fear consequences but I never feel that feeling ever about fictional characters so it's kinda lost on me.
-If you're one of the louder people, by the time the game's over you feel as if you just GMed the whole game yourself. You also have to be conscientious about not talking over the quiet people in a way that's not such an issue in more traditional games, there's not a lot of regulation on who talks when.
-When you play them and post about it on the internet two things happen:
1. The people who wrote the games and/or the people who got excited enough to GM them for you read what you have to say and go "Yeah, I can see that, good point".
2. Lonely defensive indie-game evangelists read the exact same things and freak out and call you names.
Some Things That Made It Like That
-No initiative order and no limit on how often you can act. So: loudest person does more stuff than everybody else.
-Characters are really rrrrrreally powerful relative to the environment. Hitting stuff is easy and I had 21 hit points and didn't take any damage the whole time. If my paladin took an oath I could've made it so I could unwaveringly sense whatever I was looking for or been immune to the attack form of my choice.
-Characters are not just very powerful but able to warp reality at first level in ways that can totally change the terms of conflict. Like the level of narrative control is such that you can completely jiu jitsu a traditional dungeon without even trying if that's the direction your instincts lean.
-It has a really simple basic mechanic: 2d6 + stat bonus to do anything. As far as I can tell (which isn't that far, I only played one session) it relies on the players and GM to make the game scale up (in terms of the kinds of monsters you face, environmental difficulty, how-long-do-you-have-to-play-before-you-can-try-to-assassinate-the-duke etc) over time in long term play. Like the numbers don't do it for you as much as in trad D&D. But we only played one game so it's hard to tell.
-The weird restrictions on the names, PC classes, and appearance I noted yesterday had no effect on anything in the game and I'm still kind of mystified as to why they are there.
-The PC bonds (formal descriptions of relationships between PCs and other PCs) didn't change much, really, it was mostly the kind of thing that would get sorted out in the first session of any RPG anyway. They have a tiny mechanical bonus that seems fairly throwaway--at least from what I got to see.
-The "there are no turns but if you stop talking the GM can attack you with monsters" thing--I don't know how it's spelled out in the actual rules--seems to compress the story. You begin to fear lulls in the dialogue and it seemed, in our game, to squeeze out inter-PC roleplaying.
-The group's overall take is the people who'd like this game best would be not people who just wanna kill monsters and solve problems and not people who can invent a crazy story with lots of textured details out of their head at a moment's notice but a kind of person in the middle who wants to create a crazy story out of their head but isn't naturally going to do it and so wants a game structure that keeps prodding them to do that at intervals.
-There are a lot of either/or choices built into the system for partial successes like "Ok that was an 8, you can either knock it out of the monster's hand or cut it in half". These seem like the most promising thing in the design. It's an old and good GMing technique, but I don't know enough about the game from the GM side to know how much the game requires you to do it procedurally.
NOTE: SORRY ABOUT THE FORMAT OF THIS, BLOGGER HAS GONE INSANE. THE ITALICS ARE ON PURPOSE. Ok, I gotta make a Dungeon World PC for Ian's game... Let us now turn to the Character Generation section... Making Dungeon World characters is quick and easy. You should all create your first characters together at the beginning of your first session. Character creation is, just like play, a kind of conversation—everyone should be there for it. Well they aren't. Look over the character classes and choose one that interests you. Everyone chooses a different class; there aren't two Wizards. Fuck that noise forever twice.
So far we have 2 ideas, one is unfeasible and one is terrible, but...hey, maybe these are both hack-around-able and inessential to the game. I am hoping they are. Really I am.
__ Now some people will tell you you should always play a game as-written first because by ignoring rules I am stacking the deck against it and it will break and then I won't like it and it's not its fault. Well, you got a choice: I play a version of Dungeon World where I can make up a character in the privacy of my domicile and we can have two wizards or I go "What a boring game, let's not play it." Like everyone does with all the millions of games they aren't playing because they don't sound fun. In other words, I am being really nice to Dungeon World by not holding the obvious unappealingness and impracticality of these rules against it. Me not holding it against it and ignoring these rules may mean I somehow break some essential somethingness deep within the game, but I wasn't going to play anyway otherwise so I don't have much of a choice. ____ Anyway, class picked, I'm a goddamn paladin like everyone didn't already know that. ___
2. Choose a Race
Every class has at least two race options. Choose one. Your race gives you a special move.
Uh, wait, it only has one race under paladin which is human. I'm confused. I will live with my confusion. 3. Choose a Name
Choose your character’s name from the list.
Yes, kids, that's what it actually says: "from the list." There are 11 (deeply turgid and Latinate) choices, and if you want to be female it's down to about 4. Now this rule is kind of like having the cover of your rulebook drawn by Jon Bogdanove--yes, it has no effect on the actual game since everyone in their right mind will ignore it, but it is such a stupid idea (I'm gonna go ahead and call this objectively stupid, not even subjectively stupid. Like if this were Paranoia? Sure, it's funny to play a character with one of 11 names. But in this game it isn't a joke.) it suggests the people writing the game are not good at making things that are good. If anyone can think of any context where this idea is not stupid, please let me know.
This is the storygamey "game book as complete recipe" thing taken to an extreme so extreme you kind of wonder if the game will be shipped with mittens and a packed lunch.
Ok, you get it: I'm kind of terrified by this name thing.
I am pushing through it though, ok? All my favorite games have some stupid rules.
I'm trying to be fair.
I'm trying to be fair.
4. Choose Look
Your look is your physical appearance. Choose one item from each list.
Choose one for each:
Kind Eyes, Fiery Eyes, or Glowing Eyes
Helmet, Styled Hair, or Bald
Worn Holy Symbol or Fancy Holy Symbol
Fit Body, Bulky Body, or Thin Body
Oh my god. Christfuckhatedeathfuck...
Deep breaths. Deep breaths are now being taken by me...
They're really doubling down on this "mechanically irrelevant but aesthetically revolting" thing aren't they?
Did I mention bard is a core class? Ok...
Let's at least try to understand the logic here:
"People come to RPGs in order to emulate stories they've seen outside RPGs!" (Not true, only some people do.) (And these people are often disappointed unless they're playing storygamey games and then they're really happy.)
"Each RPG should be designed to emulate a certain genre of story!" (Ok, if you are the kind of person who is into premise 1, then I guess that would make sense.)
"D&D inaugurated its own genre of story!" (Pretty much true.)
"Let's make a game that gives you the ability to emulate that story!" (Uh....ok. I mean, there's already a few of those, but rock on, guy...)
"The best way to emulate a genre is to not just start with- but use all the cliches in it!" (Oh dear.)
Storygamey design can and has been done better than this.
Whereas a well-designed traditional RPGs gives you the cliches like a set of tools to use, not use, or replace (goblin, sword, tentacle), a well-designed story game works by pushing toward the kinds of underlying set-ups that generate genre cliches. Neither of them go: HEY PRIVATE DICK, NOW YOU'RE SHERLOCK MARLOWE, GO FIND THE MALTESE BASKERVILLE! Unless it's a game with a comic edge like Primetime Advetures or Toon. In literary terms saying your Paladin is named Horatius and has "Kind Eyes, Fiery Eyes, or Glowing Eyes" isn't about helping you put a story in a genre (the genre called D&D-style fantasy) it's about giving you a pastiche of D&D-style fantasy.
Ok my human paladin has
An off-the-rack holy symbol, and
A body like seriously why do you care, character sheet?
None of this is so bad, really, I guess. It's just a game for people who aren't like me (so far).
Hilarious note: the game instructions demand you pick which of the three kinds of eyes you have and how old your holy symbol is but nowhere does it say you have to decide whether you're male or female or some other thing or neither.
Alright, Step 5 is stats. I am allowed to roll these in order instead of try to figure out the relative importance of all this stuff during character generation (yay!) ...
Moves: detect evil, heal a motherfucker, ignore "clumsy" tag on armor, tell NPCs what's what on account of God, aaaaand when I dedicate myself to a holy mission I may choose 2 bonuses from the list which I am not bothering to read right now but which are things like "invulnerable to fire"
Your Load is 18 (I think I was in that movie). You start with dungeon rations (5 uses, 1 weight), scale armor (2 armor, 3 weight), and some mark of faith, describe it (it looks like the thing on the cover of God Hates Us All(0 weight). Long sword (Close, +1 damage, 1 weight) and shield (+1 armor, 2 weight) ___
Adventuring gear (1 weight)
Dungeon rations (1 weight) and healing potion
_____ Adventuring gear is a collection of useful mundane items such as chalk, poles, spikes, ropes, etc. When you rummage through your adventuring gear for some useful mundane item, you find what you need and mark off a Use. Well that's suboptimal. Not even the option to buy stuff separately.
Article of faith over here is it's fun to have texture and tactics instead of an out-of-the-box package: you have a slim amount of gold--spikes or a grappling hook? Huge thing there when you're running from the giant rat you just set on fire.
But y'know what? Lotsa D&D games aren't about that. Even ones I run. You can do that if you have to, Dungeon World. The only actually annoying thing about it really is it does suggest that the people who say "Oh you wanna play D&D? Dude, play Dungeon World! It's the same thing only better!" are missing some obvious reasons people who aren't them might wanna play D&D or another D&Dlike instead...
11. Introduce Your Character
Now that you know who your character is, it's time to introduce them to everyone else. Wait until everyone's finished choosing their name. Then go around the table; when it’s your turn, share your look, class and anything else pertinent about your character...
This is also the time for the GM to ask questions. The GM's questions should help establish the relationships between characters ("What do you think about that?") and draw the group into the adventure ("Does that mean you've met Grundloch before?"). The GM should listen to everything in the description and ask about anything that stands out. Establish where they're from, who they are, how they came together, or anything else that seems relevant or interesting.
Now this is just a cultural difference. Storygamey games usually assume everybody has time to have a whole character generation kibitz and sit around and talk about everybody's dwarf for a while instead of assuming that players show up after getting off a delayed flight from San Francisco after shooting for fuckingmachines.com for 6 hours and left their character sheet under a table in the Burgundy Room and need a character now because they need to fucking fight monsters in a dungeon before their deportation hearing in 2 hours.
But hey, different strokes, fine with me...
Once everyone has described their characters you can choose your Bonds. You must fill in one bond but it's in your best interest to fill in more. For each blank fill in the name of one character. You can use the same character for more than one statement.
Wait, it's in my "best interest" to fill in more? Does that mean "it makes the game more fun" or "it makes the game mechanically easier for my PC"? Because I want the game hard for my PC, not easy, otherwise I am going to be bored.
Reading down....ah, Bonds make things mechanically easier for my PC. So let's have as few as possible...
Rey's paladin "has stood by me in battle and can be trusted completely."
Easy, can I play now?
13. Get Ready to Play
Take a little break: grab a drink, stretch your legs and let the GM brainstorm for a little bit about what they’ve learned about your characters. Being the GM is a big responsibility! Once you’re all ready, grab your dice and your sheet and get ready to take on the Dungeon.
Now whenever I write anything about any game that is currently being published people pop up in the comments who make up things that are not in the blog entry, decide that I wrote them, then get mad at me for writing the thing they just made up.
Google + is now the hands down absolute best place to talk about RPGs. Pretty much almost no matter what you're doing with them.
After a little more than a year since the mass immigration, it's all good: High signal, low noise, trolls and backbiters die fast, people with different ideas crawl out of the woodwork every day, new ideas come out of nearly every discussion, it's kinda amazing.
And by "amazing" I mean "way less boring than the internet is supposed to be".
You can put up almost any idea and get useful new ideas back, mud-slingless. Almost all of the most well-known game designers post there and have actual conversations that actually go unexpected places and they can have them without any droolers showing up.
Thing is, it works on a nonhierarchical, no-boss, no-mod. social-link model. In simple terms: if you bore people, you're out, you can't even read the good stuff any more, much less comment. People with nothing to say are just left looking at each others' cat pictures, where they belong.
Now trolls and jackwads all have some things in common:
-They bore people and get blocked.
-They have an insane compulsion to talk even when no-one's listening, cares, or gets anything out of it.
-They do not consider themselves trolls or jackwads. Or at least not so much that they can understand why nobody wants to talk to them.
Which suggests the following thing is going to occur: all the RPG forums which aren't Google + or aren't on a similar social opt-in model are all going to get worse. Because the major reason to go to them will be that nobody on G+ is circling you and nobody wants to hear your ideas.
Which is nice, in a way, as it centralizes things while linking them, but Google + is not a very good gateway for new gamers--people who are not playing yet but are curious. They'll more likely find the blogs and forums.
There probably is some tag or group on Google + that sees itself as the gateway to newbies into RPGs but so far I haven't heard of it, which is a pretty good indicator it isn't easy to find or know about.
So....someone should get on that.
Oh, P.S. Google + tip:
You need to have an "inbox" and an "outbox." Anyone who posts cat pictures goes in the "outbox" and they can read your stuff but you never read posts in your "outbox" unless you're really bored. Just log on and read the "inbox".
Here's a bit from the upcoming thing and a crappy digicam pic of one of the pictures--the piece of board I'm drawing on's too big to fit on the scanner... Imagine a grid or lattice laid over the land. The graph paper lines are rivers and hedgerows, narrow as alleyways, running at angles, defining squares the size of city blocks. Now build, in your mind, tall buildings of different heights up from these neighboring square foundations: one big skyscraper in each--in stone and in a medieval style, some ten, some twenty stories high. Give them gardens on their roofs and across their terraced balconies. Now link them with bridges. Now destroy them with time.
Some tumble, some crumble, some rot, some have four stories or five, some are half-left, some are squat, some are flat, some are holes in the ground, exposing the corridors under the Earth's surface. The remnants of the gardens spread over it all like a moss, or the icing on a cake the day after the party, coating Voivode's rainward face in a mask of friendly green, with the occasional window, door or rabbit-hole poking through, allowing access to the layered interiors.
Some say it looks like a house of cards made with too many decks laid out on a chessboard made with too many squares, all covered in grass and dotted with blood.
I have basically finished writing and am very happily working away on the drawing Eat Me--my Alice-themed thing for The World's Most Popular Role Playing Game And Its Modern Simulacra--that James will be putting out.
Anyway, I figured I'd ask--because maybe it'll be interesting and maybe it'll make me think--what ideas do the Alice stories make you think of? RPGable or otherwise?