Friday, April 28, 2017

DM Tips - Campaign Building: Of Cabbages, Kings, Languages, Trade Routes, Orcs, Pies, and More

In 1979 I started my own campaign world, called Seaward. It had a village (5 houses, an inn, and a trading post), a coastline, and where the pirates were. For 5 months that was it.
Thirty eight years later it is a 124 page book of rules, 5 active notebooks (1,000 pages), 14 GB of digital documents, and 4 GB of maps. Stuff out of rotation is about 20,000 more pages and 20 more GB.
But how much do you need to play a TRPG?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Misunderstood and Improperly Played: Save or Die Mechanics.

Not too long ago I ran into episode 43,912 in the unending series of posts that can be summed up as 'Save or die is teh stoopid'.

As much as I want to reply,
 "No! You're stupid! you're stupid and you play wrong!"
I didn't.

Well, until now.

Your Party Had Better Have More Than Four People In It - Hints for Players and GMs

When I was just starting out as a wee DM of 11 years old I had to make due with the players I could find. Before too long I was good at recruiting and training players. I typically had 3-7 people at the table with me.
But I always had 6+ characters in the party. Sure, sometimes they were henchmen, but always 6 or more.
When I joined Lew Pulsipher's group he had a pretty firm rule - at least 6 'tough guys' (meaning PCs or close-to-PC-level henchmen) in the party. Eight full PCs and their henchmen is best.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Movie Game I Play With My Kids

I love movies. I studied film in college and teach film classes. I watch movies all the time, talk about them all the time, and so on.
About 5 years ago I started playing a game with my kids called 'as this movie is to you...' where I would look at a relatively recent film and compare it to a film from my own lifetime, or vice versa.
Unclear? here is a broad example.

1939 is called Hollywood's Golden Year, widely considered the year when the best crop of movies to be released in a single year was issued. Son of Frankenstein, Ninotchka, At The Circus, The Man They Could Not Hang, Destry Rides Again, The Women, Gunga Din, Tarzan Finds a Son, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Only Angels Have Wings, and You Can't Cheat an Honest Man were the c-list movies that year! Dark Victory, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, and Gone With The Wind were some of the movies nominated for Best Picture in 1939.
So here is how the first half of the game is played. I am 49 years old so 1939 was 28 years before I was born. What were the biggest movies made 28 years before you were born if you were-

39?- All the King's Men, 12 O'Clock High, and A Letter to Three Wives
29?- Anatomy of a Murder, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Ben Hur
19?- Hello Dolly!, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Midnight Cowboy

Here is how you do the second half of the game.
I remember seeing Big Trouble in Little China in the theater the week it came out and really loving the experience (what can I say - I'm a cult movie kinda' guy). I have seen the film a ton since it was released the year I turned 19. So - what cult/fringe movie came out the year you turned 19 if your current age is-

39?- Fargo, The Cable Guy
29?- Beerfest, Lady in the Water
24? (it takes a few years to ID a cult hit)- Hobo with a Shotgun, I Am Number 4

We play this game for fun, but there is a fair amount of information about trends in film if you pay attention.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Adventure Design Philosophy, Random Encounters, and Notebooks

Early in the week I started an adventure for the family. We hope to finish it tomorrow before the Easter Vigil. But the adventure made me think about my design philosophy.

So let me share a bit.

Bullet Reviews: The End is Nigh

I just finished a collection of short stories about the beginning of the end of the world. The End is Nigh is edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey. It is the first in a set of three set just before, during, and after various apocalyptic events. I will be doing bullet reviews of each story.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Refutation of Rebuttal to a Response to a Defense of a Review; or, Let's Get Meta!

  Earlier I wrote a little something about an article by Mr. Genesson where he attempted to 'defend' Dune against a review one of my sons wrote.
  He has responded.
  His response is, well - more of the same.