Links of the Week: October 17, 2011

So.  Many.  Links.

I’m surprised, according to the thumb on the scrollbar, this is actually about normal.

I think perhaps I need to be a little more selective in what I read, so I actually have time to write.  But there are so many good articles out there, and I’m finding more blogs every week.

Akratic Wizardry

‘Swords & Sorcery’ House Rules Index

(http://akraticwizardry.blogspot.com/2009/07/swords-sorcery-house-rules-index.html)

This page has links to the rules mentioned in the Wrath of Zombie article linked below.  These rules attempt to capture classic swords & sorcery using the Swords & Wizardry rules (which I don’t have a copy of yet, should probably fix that).

Between Are the Doors

No Printing Press

(http://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/no-printing-press-blog-carnival-loot-as-part-of-the-plot/)

Books as treasure.  Not necessarily even magic books.

Those who know me, know I love books.  I like where this post goes.

Blood, Sweat, and Dice

Safe at Home

(http://bloodsweatdice.com/?p=868)

I like my PCs to have a home base.  It’s one thing to have a home town, but I think it’s even better when it’s a stronghold or other location that belongs to them.  This article discusses the same topic.

Dice Monkey

Savage Worlds Transformers

(http://dicemonkey.net/2011/10/11/savage-worlds-transformers/)

Savage Worlds?  Check.  Transformers?  I’m a child of the 80s, check.

I avoided the nerdrage indicated by reviewers by the simple expedient of not watching the movies.

On the other hand, the original, animated movie wasn’t so great either, so it’s not like anyone should have been surprised.

That Savage Worlds appears to be able to model Transformers?  Very cool.

Digital Orc

Table-Making Tool

(http://digitalorc.blogspot.com/2011/10/table-making-tool.html)

A handy little table of the number of different outcomes for multiple die rolls.

Two Thoughts on Railroad/Sandbox

(http://digitalorc.blogspot.com/2011/09/two-thoughts-on-railroadsandbox.html)

More Thoughts on Sandbox Design

(http://digitalorc.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-thoughts-on-sandbox-design.html)

Some ponderings on what makes for a good sandbox.

Optional System for Ruling (OSR)

A one-page resolution system.  A little light on detail for an RPG, but very simple and easy to apply for quick and easy roleplaying in the hands of an experienced GM.

DM Fiat

Choosing Last Names for Characters

(http://www.dmfiat.com/bardic-musings/choosing-last-names-for-characters)

Naming things has always been a bit of a difficulty for me.  Ophelia provides some guidelines and suggestions for finding surnames (lots of places for given names, since surnames in our culture are usually already there, from the family).

Dragonsfoot

Footprints

(http://www.dragonsfoot.org/ft/index.shtml)

“The official e-zine of Dragonsfoot.”

I’ll have to check this out.  Thanks, Needles, for bringing this to my attention.

There’s Dungeons Down Under

(http://theresdungeonsdownunder.blogspot.com/)

Another old school site.  I just saw an article on variant wizards that suggests I’ll want to delve into this site some more.

Echelon d20

Reconsidering Level Bonus

(http://www.echelond20.org/2011/10/15/reconsidering-level-bonus/)

Reconsidering Level Bonus: Talent Slots

(http://www.echelond20.org/2011/10/15/reconsidering-level-bonus-talent-slots/)

Reconsidering Level Bonus: Difficulty Classes

(http://www.echelond20.org/2011/10/16/reconsidering-level-bonus-difficulty-classes/)

Reconsidering Level Bonus: Hit Points

(http://www.echelond20.org/2011/10/17/reconsidering-level-bonus-hit-points/)

I’ve been busy this weekend.  I wondered if Echelon would work better if I made Level Bonus equal to level rather than level/2 (as in D&D 4e).  So far I’ve written four articles and some 6,200 words exploring this.  (Even though many of these ‘words’ are in tables, given the fiddly nature and effort required, I’m not going to discount them; prose is usually quicker and easier).

So far, it seems okay.  It doesn’t look like it’ll cause me all that much more work than I was going to do anyway.

Incidentally, D&D hit point curves suck.  They really don’t work the way most people might think they do.

Exchange of Realities

Things You Might Want To Know When Dropping Into a Culture

(http://www.exchangeofrealities.com/2011/10/10/things-you-might-want-to-know-when-dropping-into-a-culture/)

Ravyn identifies a number of questions worth asking when describing a culture, and interacting with a culture later.

Culture Acclimation: Five Ways to Not Give Offense

(http://www.exchangeofrealities.com/2011/10/12/culture-acclimation-five-ways-to-not-give-offense/)

Okay, now that you know a bit about a culture you’re visiting, what do you do with the knowledge?  How about ‘not get into fights unwittingly’?

Fantasy Shields

(http://www.fantasyshields.com/)

Fantasy Shields provides an easy to use tool for generating heraldic shields.  It does a good job and is simple, but I think I prefer Inkwell Ideas’ version (linked below) better.

Geek Related

Making Wilderness Travel Matter

(http://geek-related.com/2011/10/15/making-wilderness-travel-matter/)

A number of things to think about regarding wilderness travel and adventure.  There’s a reason most people stay home.

Houserule

If I Were a Rich Man

(http://www.houserule.com/?p=341)

Edward considers wealth in an RPG, and I think his ideas sound rather better than how wealth is handled in D&D 3.x.  Wealth by level doesn’t work well for me.

Inkwell Ideas

Coat of Arms Design Studio

(http://inkwellideas.com/coat_of_arms/)

Inkwell Ideas’ Coat of Arms designer is much richer than the Fantasy Shields one.  However, with great flexibility (often) comes great(er) complexity.  It’s not quite as simple to use as Fantasy Shields, above, but I find it better suits my needs.  In fact, I just paid for the pro (standalone) version, which is a little more capable yet.

Land of Nod

Hell Preview 8 – Asphodel, First Circle of Hell

(http://matt-landofnod.blogspot.com/2011/10/hell-preview-8-asphodel-first-circle-of.html)

I like well-described planar locations, and I think Matt’s done a very good job describing the first circle of Hell in his campaign.  I wouldn’t mind using this in a campaign, I certainly wouldn’t want to visit.

Hell Preview 9 – Hellish Halflings, a Sinister Salesman and a Demoted Demon

(http://matt-landofnod.blogspot.com/2011/10/hell-preview-9-hellish-halflings.html)

Matt’s making his Hell campaign look even more intriguing.

The Mandragora

Dresden Files and Dark Edinburgh pt. 2

(http://www.themandragora.com/2011/10/dresden-files-and-dark-edinburgh-pt-2/)

Edinburgh, as presented in Bill’s Dresden Files campaign.

Mind Hacks

Games of Invention

(http://mindhacks.com/2011/10/12/games-of-invention/)

Tom describes how he uses Brian Eno’s deck of Oblique Strategies to break mental blocks.  It sounds like a useful technique, I think I may look into it.

Also, I really should read Mind Hacks.

The Quirky DM

Re: The One Real Problem with Magic Items

(http://quirkydm.blogspot.com/2011/10/re-one-real-problem-with-magic-items.html)

This link appears before the Stuffer Shack link below (I order them alphabetically by site name), but is more a follow on to that post.  More ideas for getting away from the magic item Christmas tree effect.

the random dm

Numismatics for plot advantages

(http://randomdm.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/numismatics-for-plot-advantages/)

As with special books, I’ve always held a place in my mind for detailed coinage systems and specific coins.  Sadly, I’ve never had players that shared that interest, but this article provides a means of randomly determining what a hoard of coins might look like.

What is this Hoard that we have here?

(http://randomdm.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/what-is-this-hoard-that-we-have-here/)

A set of simple tables that provide shape and theme to hoards, collections of treasure (or at least, valuables).  I’ve never really liked entirely dissociated sets of treasure, so this is nice to see.

Roleplaying Tips

Weapons Permits

(http://www.roleplayingtips.com/gm-techniques/weapons-permits/)

A good explanation about why PCs might be viewed as dangerous people, and why they might be asked to park their weapons somewhere safe.

I’m not entirely certain how well this would go over in most groups, I know I’ve had players balk at it, but all in all it makes sense.

Savage Legend

The Power of the Runes

(http://savagelegend.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/the-power-of-the-runes/)

A short post on rune casting in Savage Worlds.  Nice work.

I’m really starting to like what I see in Savage Worlds.  I picked up the Deluxe Edition at my FLGS a few weeks ago and have been making my way through it.  It’s rather lighter than what I’m used to, and that’s just fine by me.

Sea of Stars

Putting the Wonder back into Wondrous Items

(http://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/putting-the-wonder-back-into-wondrous-items/)

Making magic items unboring — as they should be — seems to be a major theme this month.  This article, however, was written more than two years ago… and is as applicable today as it was then.

Though reading many of these articles, it seems that people are talking about enhancement bonuses being unexciting.  I can’t say I disagree, I started encouraging “+0” magic arms and armor (they could have weapon and armor qualities instead, starting at +0 instead of +1) seven or eight years ago, and I decided about four years ago that enhancement bonuses could go away entirely, in favor of something actually interesting.  Like the ability to use a fire sword to lay down a line of fire to burn the enemy, or to deflect fire attacks against the wielder.

… and the sky full of dust

City Design: Rethink

(http://www.theskyfullofdust.co.uk/?p=1364)

Initially he thought to do a fairly plausible (for our world) city, now he considers something a little more fantastic.

Spirits of Eden

Factions in Adel II: Now Hiring

(http://spiritsofeden.com/2011/10/13/factions-in-adel-ii-now-hiring/)

Three organizations that might serve as patrons (or at least, helpful contacts) of PCs.

Stargazer’s World

Free FATE

(http://www.stargazersworld.com/2011/10/10/free-fate/)

I think I’ve mentioned before my love of FATE (especially with regard to aspects and the like).  Stargazer provides a link to Free FATE, a minimist version without the setting-specific materials you usually get in published FATE games.  Reformatted System Resource Document, as it were — it’s even OGL.

Interview: Sean Preston

(http://www.stargazersworld.com/2011/10/13/interview-sean-preston/)

Stargazer interviews Sean Preston of Reality Blurs, who talks about work he’s doing with Savage Worlds.  This includes Agents of Oblivion (horror and espionage), Realms of Cthulhu (Mythos and Savage Worlds?  Yes, please), and Iron Dynasty (steampunk samurai… sounds a little like Ninja Scroll, so I’m certainly interested).

Stuffer Shack

I Challenge Your Thieves Guild (Assassins, Too!)

(http://stuffershack.com/portfolio-item/i-challenge-your-thieves-guild-assassins-too/)

A well-presented argument against the silliness of the common ‘thieves guild’ trope, and an alternative that I like much better.

Classic Fantasy Character Concepts and 4e Magic items

(http://stuffershack.com/classic-fantasy-character-concepts-and-4e-magic-items/)

Another examination of what to do with magic items.  I understand D&D 4e was supposed to get rid of the ‘Christmas tree’ effect, but I also understand that it didn’t much work.  Jonathan suggests a few alternatives to the 4e model.

Also, I should go through and take a look at the Classic Fantasy series of articles here.

Swords & Stitchery

Of Gods & Men – Primal Order

(http://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/2011/10/of-gods-men-primal-order.html)

Ah yes, The Primal Order.  The edition shown in this blog is not the same one I have (I have the later one mentioned), but I remember being rather excited by how they managed to make gods and servitors of the divine playable.  I think I would do it differently than presented here, there are levels of detail beyond what I would do.  However, given when it was written (my edition was mid-90s, so AD&D 2e era) it didn’t seem out of line… and I remember the material being evocative.  It’s a shame Bishops (one of the later supplements; I have Chessboards, Pawns and Knights) never got released.

Telluric Currents

Pillars

(http://anarkeith.blogspot.com/2011/10/pillars.html)

anarkeith describes a descriptive tool that sounds rather like FATE’s aspects.  Since I really like them, I’ll be watching this series to see where it goes.

Wrath of Zombie

My Castles and Crusades Hack Incorporating Akratic Wizardry’s House Rules

(http://wrathofzombie.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/my-castles-and-crusades-hack-incorporating-akratic-wizardrys-house-rules/)

With the resurgence of the OSR I’ve been exposed to a lot of blogs discussing old school play — the sandbox especially, but also classic-style D&D.  Castles and Crusades is clearly in that area, and I’ve got the player’s guide and the monster book upstairs (I don’t yet have the GM’s book).  When I get to review that more closely I’ll want to reread this article — this article has material I’m certain I’ll be interested in, but I don’t know the subtleties yet.

Yog-Blogsoth

(http://yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com/)

I won’t lie, the title of this blog was itself enough to get me to take a look, I love Mythos plays on words.  However, quickly skimming the blog, it appears this is a nice little list of Mythos creatures, with summary descriptions and pictures.

I’ll be coming back here when it’s time to dig into this sort of thing for my campaign.

Zombie Toast

Tales of the Real

(http://z-toast.blogspot.com/2011/10/tales-of-real.html)

I would so use this in a Dresden Files game set in Memphis… especially since the factual elements are true.  The interpretation, what it means, is perhaps unknown and fits Dresden Files rather well.

Awesome RPG Papercrafts

(http://z-toast.blogspot.com/2011/10/awesome-rpg-papercrafts.html)

As my recent Link of Fame might suggest, I appreciate well-made props and playing areas.  In this article Orion provides links to a half-score of sites he considers good papercrafting resources.  I haven’t had a chance to review them yet, but I plan to.

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