CW: discussions of sexual and emotional abuse, as well as trauma and coping mechanisms.Continue reading
Hello! So, we’ve run past Kickstarter’s word limit while adding Stretch Goals for Brinkwood. One might take this as a sign that it’s time to stop. Adding. Stretch goals. But not I! So, here’s a list of the stretch goals that have already funded for Brinkwood: The Blood of Tyrants. Now available on Kickstarter!Continue reading
I recently had the privilege to attend a presentation given by Orion Black (@dungeoncommander on twitter) on Circle Theory, while I was at Orcacon 2020. While I wasn’t able to stay for the practice portion of the presentation due to some noise sensitivity issues, I did learn quite a bit, and as soon as I was able, I sat down to “diagram out” my own upcoming game, Brinkwood: The Blood of Tyrants using Circle Theory.
It is my belief that one strength of Circle Theory is in illustrating to the designer where the most important intersections of their game lie, and which mechanics are essential, and which may be perhaps removed from a design in order to “focus” it better.Continue reading
When I sat down to read “The Wild Hunt” by Samantha Marie Ketcham Seguinte, I was thinking about doing a twitter read-through of it, as I typically do with shorter games or even longer ones I want to highlight. But something about it defied the type of writing I usually do for my read-throughs. Typically, I try to break a game into it’s component parts, circling certain segments and trying to create some narrative on how they build into each-other. But for “The Wild Hunt”, such an approach seemed inappropriate. It’s not as if there’s nothing to highlight, far from it. But each piece links together very intricately. It seemed like to focus on any tree would be to miss the proverbial forest.
That said, I am in murky waters here, as I’m really going to extrapolate my own meaning from the game, rather than trying to discover the mechanics that underpin it in order to create what I think was the designers’ goal. So be aware, in trying to understand the forest that is “The Wild Hunt”, I’m looking through my own set of eyes.Continue reading
Every so often on twitter, as I scroll through the #ttrpg tag, I see a certain type of tweet. It’s always from an account with a game-studio-sounding name I’ve never heard of, something like Darkwood Games or Blathersplotch Studios. In the tweet, they announce an exciting new UNIVERSAL table-top roleplaying system! Finally! A system that puts YOU in control! You can do whatever you want with it! Be a pirate! Or a space captain! Or (insert third generic genre here)!
It always breaks my heart a little to see these posts, maybe straggling along with one or two likes. I add my own little heart icon, because hey, buck-up champ. We all deserve a shot, right?Continue reading
In re-reading this Alexandrian article, I was struck by the idea of the “toolkit.” In the context of the article, they are designed as the tools that the villain uses to thwart the goals of the party. These are the sources of conflict, and, by my estimation, roughly analogous to the sort of go-to obstacles a villain (and therefore a GM) can throw at the players. The article divides the tools into toolkits into categories of personnel, equipment, physical locations, and information.
There’s a trend in nerd culture or fandom to attribute moral failings to the things we don’t like. It’s not enough for something to be not our cup of tea, or bad, it must also be harmful, destructive, problematic, etc. And to be sure, there is a great deal of harmful, destructive, and problematic stuff in fan culture and media. I bring it up only because that is what I don’t, in this case, want to do for some of the games (or types of games) I talk about generally here. I don’t think these games are morally corrosive or even necessarily bad. I’ve enjoyed a few, in specific circumstances. They just, generally, lie firmly on the “not my cup of tea” end of the spectrum, and I’d like to talk about why.
I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction. Or the apocalypse either, for that matter. In my mind, it’s usually portrayed as wish-fulfillment of the worst sort. Everything has gone to hell, things are awful, but hey, you made it through unscathed. And look at all the zombies, raiders, or insert-other-here, just begging for a violent comeuppance. There are the occasional vague gestures towards to how “terrible” things are, and how bad you should feel for enjoying this consequence-free land of violence and pain, but it always rings a bit hollow to me. At least Day of the Dead was honest about it.
For it’s part, Mutants in the Night harkens back to the sentiment and message of Night of the Living Dead more than Mad Max. Your protagonist might be trapped by zombies, but at the end of the day, it’s racist cops that eventually put you in the ground.
Hello there! Let’s talk about Other Worlds. Other Worlds is a writing series I’m going to try doing more of on this blog. My aim will be to offer critique and analysis of indie tabletop RPGs that I don’t see getting a lot of attention. Now, there’s new TTRPGs every day, so analyzing them all would be literally impossible. So instead, I’m going to try to go in-depth on games that have ideas or mechanics that are personally interesting to me.
This is NOT intended to be a review series, and the goal with these essays isn’t to convince you to buy / not buy a given product. Instead, I’ll be trying to focus on what games do well and what interesting ideas they bring to the table. I’ll be focused on what’s in the text of the games, not what I think “should” have been written in or expanded on.
Anyways, that’s what’s up. Hope you enjoy!
As I continue to play-test my Blades in the Dark hack, I’ve done more and more fiddling with some of the “side” mechanics that are a bit off to the side of the core game-play loop. And, once again, I find myself looking at re-rolls.
My original intent in investigating this was to replace the “Devil’s Bargain” mechanic in Blades. In Blades, anyone at the table can suggest a twist or complication the active player can agree to in order to gain +1 die to the roll. It is a good, thematic mechanic for Blades, because it is inherently risky. A +1 can really help you out, especially if your dice pool is low, but it could also just as easily provide no benefit, as you could easily have rolled the result you needed without the extra die, or the extra die could not give you the result you want. It’s less a bargain, more a gamble, with fits with the roguish, things get you into trouble theming of Blades.
For my game, I want a mechanic where friendship, relationships, etc pull you out of trouble, where your friends are team-mates, there to help you when you need them. I think this is where re-rolls excel, because they are most effective as a ‘saving throw’ then an added gamble. The Devil’s Bargain asks you what your willing to risk to get a better shot at winning big, while Intimacy, like the FATE mechanics it’s roughly based on, asks you what you’re willing to spend or sacrifice to avoid failure.