Links of the Week: October 10, 2011

I’ve been busy this week and haven’t been able to spend so much time reading other blogs… but I think I found some good links this week anyway.

Topic: “My Edition of D&D”

  • The Rhetorical Gamer goes into how he might change races if he were redesigning D&D.  Short form: your race should grow as you do, becoming “more archetypal” as you reach higher levels, in parallel with your class levels.  I can’t disagree, my early class framework had every third (or fourth?  it’s been a while) feat drawn from “race-appropriate” feat groups, and Dawnforge had development paths for all races.  Echelon certainly includes this concept, though it’s optional for most races (you can stick to the base racial abilities, or further develop them; in some cases the race is ‘big’ and may require that you keep it up).
  • The Rhetorical Gamer also goes into “stuff“, focusing primarily on the dependency on magic items and the consistent churn as better items are found.  I agree with him that this takes something from the game and that it can and should be improved.

Berin Kinsman’s Dire Blog

[World Domination] Composition Book Hacks


A Lifehack-quality post for capturing day to day information, including project-specific ideas and content.  It’s a little more rigid than the way I’ve been doing it, but I have to admit it looks like it would work rather better.  The only other addition I can think of would be to transfer the information from the raw format (written in the book) to a ‘better’ format (project-specific documents/web sites, say) on a regular basis.  I know I’ve got a shelfful of personal notebooks that I frankly dread trying to delve into because of the work now involved.  It would have been rather easier to do on an ongoing basis than as a single migration project.

Blood, Sweat, and Dice

Into the Sandbox — Casting Plot Hooks


Matthew asks (and answers) the question, “How can you get the players to grab the hook and move the story forward without forcing their hand?”

Making Magic Items Special Again

Dependency on magic items seems to be a common theme this week — Matthew’s talked about it, MorrisonMP’s talked about it, Monte’s talked about it (and possibly led the others to), and I’ve seen several other posts on the matter this week.


Secret of the Runes II


Argon provides some information on the origin of runes, runic practices, and a Rune Caster variant wizard class.  The actual runes will be provided in an article to come later, I’ll be looking for it.

Exchange of Realities

Revisionings: Dwarves are Afraid of Deserts


I’ve posited dwarves being afraid of deep water (such as lakes and seas), but Ravyn’s suggestion that the impermanent earth of a desert could prove worrisome to dwarves makes sense too.

Eye of the Beholder

D&D Campaign Mode


Greg discusses how major (one week or more) of ‘downtime’ might be handled, and what things might be done off-screen during such times.

I’ll want to follow this series closely, it’s of significant interest to me.

Geek Ken

Obsidian Portal – An essential campaign tool


Geek Ken describes how Obsidian Portal is a great tool for managing campaign information.  I agree, even though I haven’t had enough time to play myself, and thus build campaign information up.  I expect to use it more when I get my Many Kingdoms sandbox campaign rolling.

Geek Related

Campaign Planning


The Geek describes how he plans campaigns, and how this planning is amenable to change originating with teh players.

The Iron Tavern

TPKs Aren’t All Bad


No, Total Party Kills aren’t necessarily bad for a campaign.  In fact, my open table sandbox is explicitly clear on the matter: TPKs can happen, it’s up to the PCs to prevent them.  Life is cheap on the borderlands, and death is even cheaper.

The Land of Nod

When Dragons of Different Colors Fall in Love


After Matt described alternate colors of chromatic dragons, it’s only reasonable he should delve into what happens when they interbreed, right?

(spoiler: no tartan dragons…)

Lawful Indifferent

Orders and Advanced Classes


Continuing this series (first reported in last week’s links), this article expands somewhat on what Orders are and why they exist in a campaign.  The reasoning makes sense to me, I’ve been doing it this way for quite a while now and for the same reason — to given ‘adventurers’ a place they fit into society.



Why haven’t there been more city-state RPG campaigns?

I want to think about this some more.  I’d assumed my Many Kingdoms campaign was going to be a collection of nations formerly members of a fallen empire, but city states might be an even better way to go.

Newbie DM

Cheap poster map printing


newbiedm describes getting poster maps (11″x17″ and 18″x24″) printed and laminated for use at his table.  I didn’t realize it’s getting that cheap (<$5 for the 11″x17″, $10 for the 18″x24″ — with a discount, normally it’s $18).  At those prices, when I get good maps together it might be worth getting larger versions printed and laminated.

the random dm

Loot, the consequences


So, what happens when the PCs show up in town with a recently-acquired dragon’s hoard?

Reality Refracted

Social Combat


An argument about social combat, and why it is just as appropriate and applicable as physical combat in an RPG.


Scenario Writing: Non-Linear Plots and Node-Based Design


Anthony describes how the Node-Based Scenario Design techniques at The Alexandrian (specifically… oh, hey, he’s referring to a new article I haven’t read yet, I’ll have to go back to it later) formalizes how he’s been designing scenarios, and how it works well for him.  Seeing as my own scenario design methods have been influenced by the same material I’m naturally interested in what he has to say.  There are some related articles at Roleplay-Geek that I’ll be checking out a little later.



A wiki all for Savage Worlds material.  Sweet.


Page 7 – The structure & components of a game: Campaign, adventure, session, scene, characters & conflicts


Patrick describes major game campaign components (things I call ‘entities’ in my design documents).  I’ll be going over his list in more detail to see how we compare.

… and the sky full of dust.

Designing a City: Part 1


Showing the development of a city for an urban campaign.

Sly Flourish

Poster Map Visual Index


Mike provides an index of pictures all the poster maps he has from Wizards of the Coast.  This looks to be a useful tool for those who are using the WotC maps.

Stuffer Shack

Playing with FATE: Using Zone Aspects


Have I mentioned lately how much I like FATE?  This post illustrates part of the reason, the ability to compel or invoke aspects of the scene’s location.  In this case, deep snow and thin ice are both called into play to affect the outcome of the encounter.


Dungeon Generator


James provides links to a dungeon generator he created, which itself has links to other random generators.  I’d need to explore the dungeon generator site more carefully to come up with good links, it’s, uh, kind of old school web design.

This is My Game

The Dresden Files Files: Maps!


Given that Dresden Files campaigns can happen in literally any city of the world, and because of the close relationship each group tends to have with its “home town”, it would be rather difficult for Evil Hat to provide maps that would be generally applicable.  Thankfully, the solution is pretty simple.

Trollish Delver

The quest sandwich {Campaigns}


Trollish Delver describes how he organizes his campaigns, with a mix of over-arching story and stand alone adventures.

TV Tropes

Story Generator


If you have never been to TV Tropes before, I have to apologize.  This place is a worse braineater than Wikipedia.  So, I’m sorry, but I’m also not because it is full of tropes, recognizable story structures that can make your game better.  Or worse, if misapplied.  It’s like that.

This particular link, though, looks like it can be an excellent idea generator, shaking up preconceptions and jarring the user out of normal adventure design patterns.  It identifies seven tropes that can be used in constructing a scenario.  I’ve just run it a few times and though I don’t recognize some of the tropes (which is good!  It means I haven’t read the entire site yet) and in others I’m not sure how I’d apply them, it does bring to my attention various character types or situations I might not otherwise consider.  by looking up the specific tropes I also have a good description of the trope to work from, including identification of various sources (anime, movies, tv shows, books, and so on) that exhibit the trope and that I can use for further research.

For something so simple, it actually looks like it could be incredibly useful.  Or a total productivity killer, it does link into TV Tropes….

A Walk in the Dark

Mapmaking for the Non-Artist, Part 1


David is starting a series on creating digital maps.  From the title and his own admission, he has “zero artistic talent”, which suggests to me that he will be relying on process and procedure to create his maps.

I’m a decent compositor, but I’ll be the first to admit I can’t draw worth a damn, so this sounds like something I’ll be rather interested in.

Zombie Toast

More Savage Powers


Just as it says, more powers for Savage Worlds, this time drawn from classic D&D spells.

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