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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keep meta sections short

Just a bit of advice for rpg publishers: when you are writing sections like "What is Roleplaying?", keep it short. If it goes over four or five paragraphs, most people aren't going to read it. In any case, if you don't have Dungeons and Dragaons on the cover of your game, 99% of the people buying and reading it have already played D&D and know what roleplaying is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The paradox of belief in AD&D

One of the things I loved about 2e (and especially Planescape) was that the gods gained more power if they had more believers. This does present an interesting paradox, though.

If a good priest is trying to get his congregation riled up to fight the forces of a demon, he has to convince them that the demon is powerful enough to be a threat. While this certainly works to get his followers ready to fight, they have to believe the demon is powerful or they won't bother. Therefor, they are granting the demon more power, because they believe in him.

I just think this is kind of funny, but pretty awesome, as well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What is Roleplaying?

Just my take on a "What is Roleplaying?" section.

What is Roleplaying?

For me, roleplaying is sitting around a table with friends, drinking soda or beer, and eating nachos and pizza. We're playing a game with no board, kind of telling stories, but with rules. Dice are used to provide an element of chance.

The Gamemaster (GM)  sets the scene, and acts out the parts of all the monsters and non-player characters (NPCs). He describes the world and introduces conflicts for the other players to overcome. The other players each control one character, that they use to explore the world, fight monsters, and maybe win a kingdom.

The main objective for the players is to survive and increase in power. The GM is there to provide the challenges they face. The GM is not the players adversary. His main objective is to make sure that everyone, including himself, has fun.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Low Magic Worlds - a twist

One of the things I've noticed about many fantasy settings is that they attempt to be low magic. Pretty much all of them achieve this by having the peasants hate and fear magic, and run around pitchforking mages. A growing subset actually makes magic inherently evil, granted by demons or cthuloids, which actually makes the angry peasant mobs make sense.

I'd like to see a low magic world but one where magic is celebrated. Powerful mages are the Hollywood celebrities of their era. They have fan-bases, and if they get into a big battle or magical duel, it's "televised" magically, and the mages involved get a cut of the proceeds.

Of course, magic is still rare. You have to find and read ancient, often encrypted, texts, which can be incredibly valuable. You also have to have the ability to cast spells. Many wannabes have read multiple tomes, practicing daily, yet couldn't even light a candle. Some marvels read a spell and can immediately turn invisible. It's kind of random. You just have to have the gift.

Of course, more than a few people are willing to fake it. They have elaborate stage set-ups, and perform phony "duels" with other charlatans, and reap in the profits. Their biggest worry is being challenged by a real mage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Great time for Gaming

I have to say, I was really not all that interested in the majority of new releases over the last few years. Maybe I'm finally becoming a curmudgeon, but most new stuff just doesn't interest me. Luckily, a lot of companies have decided to pander to me.

WotC has released new copies of 1e and 3e, and has 2e on the horizon. White Wolf has Old School Vampire, Werewolf and Mage either out, or coming in the future. Just about all of the WFRP 2e books have been released as Print-On-Demand. And lastly, Hero Games has released Champions Complete, which looks like it will be very similar to the old 4th edition book, but with 6th edition rules.

Hot Damn! (Now I just need the money to buy all of them).  ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I miss Dragon Magazine

I certainly didn't own every issue, but I had probably 40 or so. I used a lot of stuff from them. I really wish WotC had let Paizo continue to publish Dragon (and Dungeon). I'm still confused as to why they yanked the license.

Then again, with how 4e flopped, Dragon may have gone by the wayside in any case. I still loved reading the articles on monsters, magic items, and Ed's Forgotten Realms stuff. A lot of the fiction was actually quite good, as well.

Kobold Quarterly sort of took up the banner, but it is also going defunct. I think trying to split their magazines between both Pathfinder and 4e created too big of a divide, causing a good chunk of each issue to be less useful to any buyer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Character age

Just something I was thinking about.

When I was 12 and 13, I used to make all my characters 16 to 18 years old. I thought they were then old and tough. Of course, I now think that's young and inexperienced ;).

Lately, I make my fighters in their late teens or early 20's, because honestly, that is a great starting age for a beginning warrior. I make my cleric and mage characters either late 20's all the way through early 40's. It just makes more sense to me, as I think most people wouldn't either have the education (or at least access to magical tomes and scrolls) or religious insight until their 30's sometime to really justify these career paths. I know that's a bit silly, but it's how I view the world now.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Acting as bodyguards

A fun adventure that I have run is having the player group act as bodyguards for a noble or politician. Sometimes I have the noble be competent and basically nice to the group, and other times he is an idiot who abuses them at every opportunity. Either way, they have to keep him alive.

Assassins I have used included another well-rounded adventuring party, archers using poison, and someone loosing an owlbear into a crowded market where the noble was shopping (despite the players protests about him doing this).

It can be a very interesting dynamic. Players have to risk themselves, sometimes even jumping in front of an attack, to protect someone else. They don't just line up and kill everything. They have to look out for someone else, who often has no protection (and once only had three hit points and no armor).

It definitely caused some strong reactions from my friends. A couple of them loved it. The sit-there-and-roll-dice-but-rarely-talk dwarf player hated it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections in a fantasy world

Something that pretty much never happens in fantasy settings are elections. They really don't fit the genre, so it's not surprising. It's also MUCH easier to write about a ruler and his nobles than about a mob of ever-changing politicians.

Election security would be a nightmare. You'd have to defend against mages changing votes, legal duels between political opponents, and the random monster attack.

Serfdom would also be non-existant. You can't have serfs if they can vote. One way to deal with that would have only rich people vote, or maybe only elves can vote. Then you'd have an aristocracy with voting, which really isn't the same thing.

In any case, having election season roll around during a campaign would provide hundreds of potential adventures. Players could defend candidates, blackmail candidates, or even just straight-up kill candidates (either for money or because the guy did something to them).