Links of the Week: November 14, 2011

Okay, I’ve learned something today: I hate one or more of

  • hacking PHP
  • hacking WordPress
  • hacking this theme

Since I’m more or less satisfied with WordPress and can accept PHP, I’ll have to guess it’s this theme.  If I’m going to revise the appearance of this site and integrate link management a little more thoroughly, it’ll have to start from scratch with a more hack-friendly theme.  Annoying that I have to do that, but doable… and I honestly think that ultimately it’ll get me where I want to go.

In the meantime, a fair bit of reading this week.  All sorts of topics covered — mapping, crafting props for use during play, magic item descriptions and new rules, and some questions to consider when designing a setting.

Big Ball of No Fun

Where Did the Dungeons Come From?


Just as the title says.  Dungeons are handy from a game perspective (they give a constrained environment to explore), but really, why are they there?  This post suggests a number of reasons.

Blog of Holding

4e spells as treasure


Like Geek Ken, below, Paul describes how scrolls could be returned to use in D&D 4e.

4e: spell scrolls for non-wizards


Why should wizards be the only ones to have a mechanism for gaining more (or improving existing) powers?  The idea gets expanded to other classes.


The Crowns — A Human Gang


So far I’ve seen a halfling gang and an elven gang, now it’s time for the humans to group up.  At least, those of the right breeding.

Casting Shadows

Cracking Open the Skull of Evil


This month’s festival is “How to Think Like a Villain”, and Runeslinger provides some good insight on the matter.

Dice Monkey

Amazeballs!  An Awesomesauce Supplement


Mark’s working hard, getting out yet another supplement, Amazeballs!

There’s also a pocket version of Awesomesauce now available.  Having a portable version of this game is a great convenience, in case you need to look up a rule or something.

Dungeon’s Master

Adventure Hook: The Magical Bazaar


Instead of Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, what if it were a (maybe) regularly scheduled event at a (or several, depending on circumstances) particular location?  Almost anything is available for a price, but because everyone who is anyone knows this, it could be a bit of a madhouse.  Good luck!

I like it.

Ameron’s Game Room


Nothing really important or profound here, just kind of fun.  I like to see where people play, and I’m always up for some book porn (distinctly different from porn books, which… okay, I’ll cop to it…).

Echelon d20

What Value Ability Scores?


I ran into a design problem regarding ability scores in Echelon.  This led me to question whether I need a particular game element, or have been including it from habit.

Do we really need ability scores?

Emergence Campaign Weblog

Worlds of Secret Magic


I hadn’t really put my mind to it, but it looks like Thoth provides a pretty good explanation of why literary and cinematic magic might work the way it does.

I’ve seen similar concepts in other games, where ‘trivial effects’ (in terms of their story impact) are relatively easy, but doing something that matters is rather more difficult.  The example given at that time was a vampire who regularly arrived at meetings by flying through the window in bat form and transforming back to human form.  Here, it’s a throwaway bit of flavor, but doing these things when they will make a difference (he could have just walked up the stairs) there might be resource costs, skill checks, and so on.

I don’t see why a similar idea couldn’t apply at larger levels, and Thoth describes what that might look like.

Encyclopedia Mythica


This looks to be an immensely useful resource, with information specifically regarding mythology.  The information is fairly sparse (you may want to go to Wikipedia or do more specific research for more detail), but this looks to provide a more approachable, and more focused in navigation, view.  What I’ve seen so far suggests this would be a good starting point, rather than definitive reference… which is itself a useful thing.

Escape Artist of Reality


This is a new site, building a roleplaying game based on the old White Wolf World of Darkness system and modeling a world with aspects of space opera, sci-fi, anime, cyberpunk, mecha, and fantasy.

Not my usual sort of thing (base game system or setting elements — I’m more a d20 and fantasy kind of guy) but I expect to keep an eye on it.  I’d like to see where it goes.

Evil Machinations

18 Adventure Archetypes


Jade provides a list of eighteen adventure archetypes.  It looks useful, on my own I tend to use only a small subset of these archetypes.

Geek Ken

Scrolls for 4e — Part 1


Evidently people miss scrolls in D&D 4e (I didn’t even know they were gone).  Geek Ken suggests rules for bringing them back.

Scrolls for 4e — Part 2


And now the second part, scroll creation rules.

Hack & Slash

On the Blogos, Something you Might Know?


Mm.  This place sounds familiar.

Hari Ragat

Recipes for Gamers: Rosemary-Crusted Roast Pork


Another tasty recipe from Dariel.  I would skip the panko crumbs (I try to avoid grain), but I think if I replaced them with coconut flour it would all be cool again.

The Iron-Bound Tome

Ars Magica Perspective on 20 Quick Questions


Jeff Rients’ Quick Questions (link below, under “Jeff’s Gameblog”), answered for an Ars Magica campaign.

Jeff’s Gameblog

twenty quick questions for your campaign setting


Jeff Rients provides a list of twenty things to consider in a fantasy campaign, focusing primarily on things the players will care about rather than general fluff about the world.

Land of Nod

Notable Nobles — Part the Third


Matt continues his quest to provide meaningful epithets to the nobility, with the third table in the set.

Hell South — Preview 1


Matt’s continuing his trip to Hell, and I like how it’s going.

The Dark Demi-Humans [Art]


Matt gives us a look at some of the darker races in his hex crawl.  Old-school line drawings, but I think they’re better-executed than I remember from the books and modules of the time.

Notable Nobles — Part the Fourth


More noble epithets and some nobles from Araby (kind of).

Lawful Indifferent

Masterwork Weapons


Another post on separating “well-made” and “magical” elements in weapon construction, and basing any numerical benefits from magic items on character level rather than item enchantment.

This seems a popular idea, I’ve seen it show up in a number of places.  This may be the first time I’ve seen it in a generally old school blog, though.

Reinventing the Dragon


N. Wright likes dragons, but doesn’t like how they’re done in D&D.  I’m okay with that position — I’ve worked with D&D rules for dragons for quite a while, and generally look for ways to subvert them.  In fact, I’m pretty sympathetic with his position.

He describes Searing and Brawling Dragons, and promises a followup article to cover off Dragon Mages.  I’m looking forward to it.

Online Dungeon Master

Skills in D&D 4e part 1: Passive skill use and training


‘Skill training’ in Echelon goes somewhat farther than it does in D&D 4e, but I can see applying rules similar to what are described here.


RPG Mapping Tools Part 3 – Region Maps


Geek steps out of the dungeon and into the wilderness, exploring hex maps for overland work.

He also provides a link to a page at The Welsh Piper with a number of Hex Templates that look to be useful for hexographers.

Roleplaying Tips

How To Create Deep & Compelling Magic Item Backgrounds In Just 60 Seconds


A natural followup to an article I linked a couple weeks ago (How To Create Great Magic Items In Just Three Minutes), a brief set of considerations for creating magic item backgrounds — or backgrounds for any number of things, really.

I think I’ll grab these two posts and add them to my GM notebook.

RPG Hacker

DIY Pathfinder Beginner Box Style Pawns


If you like having nice-looking pawns in a style similar to that in the Pathfinder Beginner Box (and they are nice, and convenient) and are at all crafty, Stan provides straightforward directions for creating comparable works.  His pictures look pretty sharp, too.

… and the sky full of dust

Magic Monday: the Necklace of Saint Barry


Simon provides a nice, simple, flavorful little magic item that I can see being very useful to the right user.

Stuffer Shack

Writing a D&D 4e One-Shot


I don’t play D&D 4e.  I have no intention of playing D&D 4e.  I have nothing against the game really, I just have no interest in it.

This article?  Going into my GM notebook.  Even if I don’t use the adventure template described (I might for a one-shot, you want to keep those simple) the table mechanics and tools described are simple, applicable, and useful.  I can easily see myself doing this for ongoing table games, never mind just one-shots.  There might be a little more time spent on preparation, but not necessarily very much — and I think the additional polish this would provide would easily be worth the time.

Nicely done, Dixon.

Playing with FATE: Using Different Scales in Combat


I don’t remember reading about using different scales concurrently in the FATE books I’ve got (Dresden Files RPG, basically), but it looks like a clever way of dealing with distances and ranges and the like in a consistent manner in FATE.  I’ll have to go find that section and reread it.  Or find a copy of Strands of Fate, since that is the book Richard refers to, and read it there.

Oh noes!  I’ll have to get and read another RPG book!

(normally I’m rather better at sarcasm)

Tenkar’s Tavern

TTopRPG 2.0 — A Free Virtual Table Top


A possible replacement or alternative to MapTool.  I’ll be taking a look for this, especially since I (still) want to run that open table game I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Zombie Toast

New Savage Powers… of Dredmor


Orion gives Savage Worlds some more love, this time focusing on the Dungeons of Dredmor, from Gaslamp Games.

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