Role-Playing Link Roundup: Coming Events Edition

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RPG Link Roundup, Dissociated Mechanics Edition

  • Steve Winter is rapidly heading to the upper echelon of my favorite RPG bloggers’ list, with articles about game design like this one: Effects vs. Meanings. Do we design from a desired effect to a cause, or do we design a cause and then figure out what effects it has?
  • His post was inspired by this one, On The Failure of Tactical Combat. The writer raises the concept of the “dissociated/disassociated mechanic”, pointing out that when you design an ability from the effect side you have a very narrow tool with little practical application outside of combat.
  • Justin Alexander, another favorite blogger-designer and fellow Minnesotan, first talked about dissociated mechanics back in ’08 prior to the launch of 4th edition – his critique forms a continued basis of criticism for the system four years later. Taken together, the three articles are worth serious consideration by any game designer.
  • Also, a hat tip to the Stormwind fallacy, a term mentioned in the Steve Winter piece that I wasn’t familiar with. The fallacy is that building an optimized character necessarily implies poor roleplaying skill, or building a deliberately suboptimal character necessarily implies good roleplaying skill.
  • Somewhat related, as a critique of the kind of game that 4E rules inspire: How a Blind Player Improved Our Game. “GM as if your players are blind” is an intriguing axiom to consider for future games. ‘Ware the battlemat!
  • Pathfinder is becoming an MMO
  • An AMA with Pathfinder author/writer James L. Sutter – All of these cool people live in Seattle!
  • A kickstarter by Steven Long, Hero Games product lead for the past decade, for a Mythic Hero RPG supplement
  • And another kickstarter for an interesting-looking set of “brainstorming cards for storytellers“, Story Forge – might be worth picking up a set once they’re released
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Role-Playing Link Roundup, March 15th Edition

  • Robin Laws wrote a seminal piece in 2001 on the different types of players, the psychology underlying this deserves some serious thought from a design perspective
  • Related, “System Does Matter“, the foundational document of The Forge mastermind Ron Edwards. A good GM can run a game in any system – but why burden the GM with the need to house rule when there are systems better suited to her group’s play style?
  • Both of the above are partially sourced from work by John Kim, who hass done a lot of thinking about role playing game design
  • D&D publishing veteran Steve Winter presents a compelling case for why large-scale RPG publishers might be inherently bad for themselves and their players. His blog seems worth reading overall
  • Hill Cantons further speculates: Do we even need an RPG industry?
  • Also via Steve Winter, Kobold Quarterly (an interesting-looking publication) contains a column from him: “Complexity and Option Fatigue“. More good lessons in RPG design.
  • Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is announced! Just when I’m close to beating BG2 for the first time. Some sort of action RPG is in the news as well… and Anachronox is up at A good day for PC role-playing gamers.
  • A list of monsters not included in the D&D Open Gaming License, meaning they’re not free for use by other for-profit publications. No beholders or mind flayers in Pathfinder, alas.
  • Finally, more discussion at Reddit of death and dying and how it should be implemented in the next edition of D&D.
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Ye Olde RPG Link Roundup

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Semiweekly RPG Post Roundup

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Weekly (?) roleplaying link roundup II

Another listing of recently discovered articles and resources of interest:

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Roleplaying link roundup

Gleaned from internet wanderings after a week of absence (largely from r/rpg), to get these links out of tabs and into storage:

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Gary’s Games and Hobbies

I stopped by Gary’s Games and Hobbies last Sunday in the ongoing quest to experience the local geek hubs, hives and dives of Seattle.

In this case, a picture speaks a thousand words – Gary’s fits the bill. The interior is split into two sections; the main shop is one, with a couple of gaming tables available in an area otherwise packed with overflowing bookshelves containing a veritable cornucopia of RPG sourcebooks, board games, and miniatures. The second is an annex that opens into a section with model plane supplies and a larger gaming-ready space.

The atmosphere inside is jovial and very lived-in, in a way that tells you “this is home – pick up and browse!”. The merchandise is in good condition and some of it is vintage, including “used” section (as a side note, I had no idea Tunnels and Trolls was still in print). The building itself isn’t in perfect shape, but for anyone familiar with hobby dives (like The Source in the Minneapolis area or Kin-Kon-Kan in Isesaki, Japan) it’s an atmosphere that will immediately feel familiar. The staff were pleasant, informed, and obviously passionate about what they were selling.

I picked up the Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide and Bestiary, a Chessex battle mat and an oversized 20-sided die. I’m sure I’ll be back to Gary’s Games and Hobbies in the future – the ambiance and selection of product is spot on for what I enjoy in a game store.

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Birch Boys

A post on /r/rpg was discussing various alternatives to using expensive and time-consuming painted miniatures to represent characters in a tabletop RPG play space, and among the great ideas in the thread was using Birch Boys to represent both players and enemy units.

Birch Boys make for a cheap, customizable RPG unit display option.

They’re cheap, stylized enough to represent just about any humanoid while not being completely abstract (like using dice to represent units), and can be widely customized. At the price on Hobby Lobby I couldn’t resist picking up a few packs to help visually conceptualize combat as development on Tyth goes forward (and for other potential upcoming GMing needs).

Simply being able to write “Orc Grunt” or “Skeleton Archer Captain” on their heads in sharpie would be really useful for keeping track of units in the thick of combat, and giving the players ‘minis’ to decorate themselves could provide a bit more fun personal identification with their characters’ physical representations.

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The Ancient Sitar

Inspired by this post, I’m currently designing an instrument for the tiefling bard I’m running in a 4th Edition D&D campaign at work. The idea is that it’s a cross between a lute and a harpsichord, which lends it the proper classification of a new form of instrument:

The Ancient Sitar, otherwise known as the Harpsitar.

Design of this magnificent instrument is ongoing.

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