Wrathofzombie had an idea — bloggers post lists of their top posts of the year so others can see what their sites are about. This rather appeals to me, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Top Posts of 2011
I’m a little surprised that my Links of the Week posts feature so prominently, especially since they started as a just-because idea. I’m extending the list until I’ve got ten that aren’t Links of the Week posts. According to Google Analytics these are the top (most visited) posts over the last year.
- Breaking Rumor: D&D 5e in the Works
- Learning from Experience
- Failures of D&D 3.x, Part 3
- West Marches Style Sandbox Campaign (I still need to get back to this)
- Links of the Week: September 5, 2011
- Ability Damage in Echelon
- Links of the Week: September 26, 2011
- Campaign Setting Design: Putting It All Together
- On Hit Points and Healing
- Links of the Week: October 17, 2011
- The Rule of Three
- Extending Geomorphs
- Failures of D&D 3.x
- Links of the Week: September 12, 2011
These are the posts I am either most proud of or most enjoyed working on, regardless of when they were actually published. Some of them show up in the list above or are related to those in the list above.
Failures of D&D
This has been a consistently popular series, even though there are only three posts in it. These posts identify most of the things I think D&D 3.x doesn’t get right — I don’t worry too much about specific details like “this feat is broken” so much as explore things as a whole.
- Failures of D&D 3.x — Systemic failures, places D&D doesn’t work so well.
- Failures of D&D 3.x, Part 2 — Difficulties with application of the rules.
- Failures of D&D 3.x, Part 3 — ‘Setting Failures’, ways obvious application of the rules as written cause weird results.
Goals of Echelon
The Failures of D&D posts gave me context for describing the Goals of Echelon. Echelon d20 is my variant RPG based on D&D, and this was the first post where I really explained in relatively concrete terms where I wanted to go with it.
Campaign Setting Design
This is probably the most popular post category on my site, or at least the one where the most people go to the category page.
- Challenge, Response, and Secret is one of my oldest blog posts (it predates any of my blogs, in fact, though I have it here now) and combines Dariel Quiogue‘s Challenge and Response techniques with Dungeoncraft’s ‘give everything important a secret’ guideline.
- Campaign Setting Design is the introduction and overview of how I devise game entities (called ‘features’ in this post).
- Campaign Setting Design: Definitions is one of the pages I refer to most often, because it has the outline I use in defining the game entities. The same outline can be used for almost all entities, since I’m mostly interested in the same things each time — what is it, why is interesting, how does it affect the campaign and/or the players, and so on.
- Campaign Setting Design: Scope Level Sizes is largely a clarification of the Scope Definition section of the previous post. The techniques I use can be applied from anything from a scenario through a campaign (set of related scenarios) through a setting (set of related campaigns), and I think it important to recognize the differences when you switch scope levels.
- Campaign Setting Design: Scenario Structure is where the definitions in the previous posts starts to be applied. Up to this point the posts describe how to document the game entities, this post provides more information about how to link them up. This particular post was heavily influenced by Justin Alexander’s Node-Based Scenario Design essay, though I expand its application to larger scope. And I just remembered, he wrote a follow-up I want to read in greater detail.
- The Rule of Three is one of those little tools I like to keep handy. ‘About three’ is a good number for many purposes and applications, but ‘The Rule of Two to Five’ doesn’t really flow. I find that somewhere around three is a good number for encouraging player engagement, providing sufficient information for meaningful decisions, and provide enough options to feel like the choice has meaning while constraining the number of options to something manageable.
- Campaign Setting Design: Putting it all Together basically wraps up the series and hooks all the pieces up. Where the previous posts get into more technical detail regarding the information and techniques, here I talk more generally. I do talk about how to modify a specific set of adventures (the G series of modules, against the giants) to better suit the structures described in these posts.
At some point I should include some information on how Microscope from Ben Robbins can be integrated into the process. Incidentally, Microscope has been one of the best RPG purchases I have made in years.
Strictly speaking a Microscope session might not be mechanically part of the processes here, but Microscope is a wonderful tool for building up campaign information. Ben devised it primarily for outlining chronology, but I can see ways it can be tweaked to bring more locations and personalities and objects (i.e. entities other than just events) into it. I’m not the first person to take a run at it, though, so I’d want to review their work to see how it aligns with my thoughts.
Other things that aren’t part of larger series.
- West Marches-style Sandbox Campaign. Ben Robbins had a campaign he called the West Marches that exhibited some characteristics that would very much suit my opportunities to actual play. I really want to give this a try, when I get the time.
- Kobold Kommandos is a funny story told to me by a friend online, and has been corroborated by another who was present for this epic session of roleplaying… and evidently this story still doesn’t do the session full justice.
- Recalibrating Saving Throws is an analysis I did just over three years ago that tries to illustrate the problems in D&D 3.x with how saving throw bonuses and Difficulty Classes don’t really work well.
- On Hit Points and Healing and Implications of Changes to the Hit Point Model are relatively recent posts that I think make sense of the hit point abstraction used in D&D and make use of that abstraction in ways that will do some good things for me.
- Character Design Requirements was a recent post inspired by a conversation with the same person who GMed the Kobold Kommandos adventure above and sent me the story.
I hope this provides a useful overview of this site and what I write here, and that you’ve enjoyed looking the various posts over.