Montag, 1. Oktober 2018

Two takes on overcasting

One of the common complaints about magic in a Vancian or spellpoint/mana driven system is that casters are awesome while their magic lasts, but useless when it's gone. This led to the idea of the 15-minute-work-day or adventurers (because then everyone rests until the next day) and a general attempt to give casters more caster-like stuff they can do more often (cantrips or whatnot).

Sonntag, 23. September 2018

How to run a continuous game without continuous players (a follow-up)

In https://oliof.blogspot.com/2018/07/how-to-grow-audience-as-referee-ineptly.html I described a bit how I am organizing my current campaign, and a recent discussion on tabletop.social led to some discussions about coherency, emergence of story and other aspects that people assume happens when you do not have the tightly knit group of regular players you "need" to build a "coherent story". That I am putting these into quote marks should give a hint of what I think about this today -- for me it's not necessary at all. What follows are some thoughts on why a game without a stable set of players still can be satisfying in terms of "creating a compelling a narrative" ...

Montag, 23. Juli 2018

How to grow an audience as referee (ineptly)

In a recent G+ Post I wrote about the good problem to have as referee: More players interested in joining your game than you can host in a single session.

Markus Wagner asked me how I did manage to grow the player base, and I answered with
... an open table policy, rewarding attendance nonetheless, player recruiting via special interest Facebook group (English speaking RPGs in Berlin), and word-to-mouth by players.
Sounds simple if written down like that, but I need to unpack a bit because I think each point warrants it's own consideration


Dienstag, 5. Dezember 2017

Mysteriously Missing Monstrosities Pt V: Using the Re-worked Hypogean Travel Shenanigans Tables

Back in May 2017 I wrote about how I re-worked the encounter tables to make them easier to deal with at the table and I ended that post with a promise telling you how this worked out. Using these tables changed a couple things, and some more changes followed a bit later on ...

Samstag, 10. Juni 2017

Quick Review: Macchiato Monsters ZERO (and Extra Shots)


Macchiato Monsters ZERO is a hack of hacks (Black Hack and White Hack, neither of which I know myself). It has some nice mechanics that a both tight and loose, comfortable in a word. The game is complete, has some nice mechanics (I like the death-spirally/doom-clocky risk dice, and the roll all the dice fast equipment generation method). I guess some people will take umbrage with the single-die-roll-combat resolution (players roll and do damage on success/take damage on failure), but I guess that is more about how that feels ... Dungeon World players might feel right at home.


The recently added Extra Shots has a number of referee facing tools that uses the resource die mechanic to have semi-dynamic encounter / event tables: The worse the circumstances, the lower the die size, the worse the result. It's nice that in the current work-in-progress the extra shots each fit one page.

There are also some in-progress die drop tables which are another bunch of tools for quick off-the-cuff prep in the macchiato-fantasy, which is described as "borderlands style" (i.e. exploration of dangerous mostly unknown area, plus safe havens/points of light to return back to).

The map generator deserves extra mention because it is not purely random but somewhat procedural. This promises somewhat more natural looking maps.

Macchiato Monsters is probably the system I will use for short-notice games (at conventions or similar). I am also seriously considering mashing it up with Wonder&Wickedness for a Principalities of Glantri vs. The Grand Schools of the Hypogea spinoff of my current campaign; i.e. Make Total Destroy with Nuclear Powered Lich Mages discovering Hypogean Mana Tar ...
Macchiato Monsters ZERO is available in print from Lost Pages, and in PDF form from OBS





Dienstag, 6. Juni 2017

OSR, Remix Culture, Boxed Sets

In a G+ Post+Alex Schroeder writes about the Unified House Rule Document Update by +James Young:
[T]his is the best part of the OSR, as far as I am concerned. People start with some sort of D&D and then they add stuff and remove stuff, tinkering and transmogrifying shit until it's uniquely theirs, and then they share it in order to help others. Download, browse, experiment, delete, adapt, lift some stuff, it's all good.
And I have to agree: The biggest advantage of the OSR is the use of lingua franca like the old D&D rules or their successors, re-implementations, clones, etc. ... Even if you left these rules behind in your games a long time ago, most parts are easily  recognizable. Some games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess create a distinct profile by adding, removing or changing particular details (like the peculiarities of LotFP classes), sometimes deviating quite wildly (like the class-less Macchiato Monsters which is still pretty much D&D-ish, but with a lot of "modern" rules ideas). And despite all the differences and deviations, you can use LotFP adventures with Macchiato Monsters, one page dungeons in most/any game, exchange/add/remove spell-casting rules, replace character classes (like I did for the original BX based Sylvan Realm) or even switch out complete sub systems like combat rules (I used the Old School Hack combat tracker with Labyrinth Lord for a while, and switching to and back from it was very simple). So, a manifold of options, remixable and changeable as you want or need for your campaign (or campaign leg).

So, the part of the OSR where we never stop tinkering is the most interesting one in my book box, as well. Which brings me to Boxed Sets (like LotFPs Grindhouse Edition box, the Tunnels&Trolls box, or the Chthonic Codex boxed set): It makes it very easy to tinker and add by just printing out a couple pages and adding them to the box. For example, while I do not need most of the house rule document linked above, the chase rules seem like a nice addition to my (tool) box, and if they're not too gimmicky I will keep them.

So, yeah: Have a box, keep all your stuff in it. If you publish a box, make sure there's some space left for people to add what makes their game complete. If you don't publish a box ... reconsider? Or at least make sure your book would fit a box. Oversized full-color hard covers are not the end-all be-all (-:

Montag, 5. Juni 2017

Better campaigns through Character sheets

Running an open table game means that I have new players at the table every now and then, and most of them have no idea what they are up to before the first session. That's alright -- my games are prep and homework free for the players (not that I would stop them, but it's certainly not required, even if the campaign wiki has many entries describing parts of the world, previous sessions, as well as PCs and NPCs.

My game is also a bit West Marches inspired; i.e. the players are open to go where they want. But most often, the players just pick the most straightforward next thing, even if I have some other options at the ready. My biggest shortcoming here is that I usually fail to give the players proper choice (although in the next-to-last session, they simply decided not to explore the ruined underground city, which was a bit sad considering all the fun they could have had there, but player choice is player choice ...). So, to make sure that players are aware that each character can have their own goals and can try convincing the others to help them pursue those, I'll leverage AFGs concept of Accomplishments and a Character sheet re-design that puts these Accomplishments right on the table every time we play.