RPG Blog Planet Coming Soon

This isn’t the announcement I was hoping to post today, I’ve got some more work to do before I’m ready to open the doors on the RPG blog planet.

Things are coming along, but I am now looking for more data.  Right now I’m pulling from a couple of my own blogs, plus a couple more who said they’d sign up when this goes live (thanks Brendan and Erik!), but I could really use a broader sample.  Twenty feeds would be good, fifty better, a hundred would be crazy great.  I need to see how the various templates and widgets and doodads and thingamies work when I’ve got a broader set of blogs.  Not all feeds are the same, so making sure everything works properly needs a fair bit of varied input.

Yes, I could just grab some feeds and remove them later, but I don’t really like doing that.  For something like this I’d like to see opt in, and it saves me time later.

If you’d like to help out, please leave the name of your blog and/or the RSS feed in a comment below, or send it via the contact form.

As described, the new RPG blog planet will pull the feed and store the articles in their entirety for search and indexing reasons, but will display only excerpts to readers.

What is the Bare Minimum?

A question for RPG designers (pro and amateur, whatever):

What is the bare minimum core rule set required to get a game off the ground?


  • Characters are already created (half a dozen pregen).
  • Character-specific rules are attached to the character sheet and don’t need to be repeated, spells and feats and skills and stuff count for this, as does character advancement.
  • Truly introductory stuff (what is an RPG?) is irrelevant, at this point this isn’t going to be picked up by someone who doesn’t already play.

Additional Context:

  • Probably focus on D&D-trope play.  Maybe have the seven iconic classes (fighter, cleric, wizard, thief, elf, dwarf, halfling) as sample characters.  Oh, and ‘bear’ because I’d goofed on the original version of this post (“the bear minimum core rule set”) and got caught… and decided why not go for it?
  • There would be a simple adventure or something (because this does not provide the rules or guidelines for constructing one) with the information needed to run them.  “This room has a fire trap, so roll a Reflex save to avoid when someone triggers it by stepping on the red square.  A character with the Trapfinder ability can roll a Spot check to notice it before anyone steps on it” sort of thing.  Probably five rooms or so, to exercise more than move, kill, loot.

I see:

  • common game elements (ability scores — what each one does; does not need ability score modifier tables because those are on the character sheets already).
  • task resolution (including basic combat and skill/ability checks).
  • game processes (like ‘how a fight works’).
  • … I’m out.

This is not for a rule set to be built upon, nothing about character design or construction, nothing about writing adventures, no monster or spell selection or design considerations.  These things should be known in order to build this package, but I’m looking for the bare bones get-to-the-table content.

Looking for Sourcebooks

I’ve been looking through some older D&D materials.  I know I’ve seen something in at least one of them about non-linear adventure design, but haven’t been able to put my hands (or eyes) on the one I want.  I remember a section in a book that talks about trying to track down a wizard, and how there were a number of sites to look in.  I seem to recall a diagram showing relationships between the various places to look (a two-dimensional array of houses or towns or some other such symbols).

So far I have checked (in no particular order)

  • AD&D 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Design Kit (I thought this was the one I wanted, but evidently not)
  • AD&D 2nd Edition DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide (does have a paragraph or so on ‘matrix-based scenarios’)
  • AD&D 2nd Edition DMGR5 Creative Campaigning (does have a paragraph or so on ‘matrix-based scenarios’, the sample adventures suggest that there is a likely path through the encounters but that there could be some variance)
  • AD&D 2nd Edition Dungeon Builder’s Guidebook (didn’t see anything)
  • AD&D 2nd Edition World Builder’s Guidebook (didn’t see anything)

If anyone knows what I’m looking for and can find it, I’d welcome the information.

Also, I seem to recall seeing a Dragon Magazine article that talked about relationships between NPCs and groups of NPCs that was represented as a directed graph.  Nodes were NPCs or groups, edges indicated a relationship and identified the general type of relationship: ‘fears’, ‘follows’, ‘commands’, and so on.  If anyone has an idea what issue this was in, I’d welcome that information also.


Campaign Setting Design: Published Guidelines

As part of my research for these articles, I’ve been reviewing published guidelines for adventure design.

In the last couple days I have reviewed DMG 3.5, DMG II, Green Ronin’s Advanced Gamemaster’s Guide, and the Pathfinder GameMastery Guide. They have all had much the same advice for developing adventures: devise a plot, design the encounters, then run the players through it until they reach the expected end.  If you want, put in some plot twists to surprise them, and allow some alternate branches and routes along the way.

This is really close to ‘write the story the players will experience’.

I suppose it shouldn’t be that big a surprise that many published adventures follow such a format.