Links of the Week: September 26, 2011

No real theme this week, but I am unusually excited about the West Marches material (as shown by my post yesterday talking about starting my own campaign in a similar style).

Topic: “My Edition of D&D”

I’m going to start off with a couple of related posts.

With Monte Cook returning to Wizards of the Coast, some of Mike Mearls’ posts over the last few months, and some other observations, many people suspect that D&D 5e is in the works.  This has prompted some discussion of “what I would do” on several blogs.

I could have sworn I saw another one or two posts about this topic this week, but I can’t seem to find them now.

ars ludi

Grand Experiments: West Marches

An open table in a sandbox environment.  The GM constructs the world and runs the game, but it’s up to the players to assemble into groups for each adventure.  The specific players involved at any given time can vary, game day can vary (within limits — the GM has to be available), but apart from setting the stage and adjudicating, the GM doesn’t plan the adventures.

I like the idea.  I want to think about it a bit more, but this might work rather well for me running games online.

Critical Hits

The 5×5 Method Compendium


A list of articles about using the “5×5 Method” of campaign design.  I haven’t read them all yet myself, but the method does appear to be compatible with my own campaign setting/scenario design techniques.

Dice Monkey



Cruel Divinity


A couple of related posts, where Mark describes the names used for ‘divine’ characters (D&D 4e power source) associated with particular gods.  I like the flavor this brings — simple mechanism, just provide characters of this type with a patron-based title, but it works.

Division Nihil

The Problem with Magic


Marshall describes some problems with magic in an RPG setting.  He doesn’t yet identify solutions for these problems, which is unfortunate because I don’t see any good solutions yet either.  I’d be interested in seeing some ideas to address the issues he’s identified.

Dungeons N Dragons

Dragons Articles


A set of related articles describing “real world mythological dragons”.

Earthdawn Blog

Magic in Earthdawn and the Mayan Calendar


This is an interesting analysis linking various epochs in the Earthdawn/Shadowrun world, and the Mayan calendar.  I have always liked the taste of Earthdawn and even though it has little to do with my current projects, I like reading things like this.

Exchange of Realities

Getting from Setting to Plot


Ravyn provides a set of things to look at when going from ‘setting’ to ‘scenario’, including some short discussion of each.

Short form of the questions:

  • What conflicts or challenges are inherent in the setting?
  • What mysteries are there waiting to be unveiled?
  • What’s the most that one person can do to screw things up?
  • What kinds of ways might people want to rock the boat?
  • What’s the smallest kind of story you can tell and still be interesting?

I tend to look at similar questions when I’m designing a setting and scenario, but I don’t recall if I’d enumerated them clearly anywhere.

Habitual Indolence


Home of the Masterplan adventure design studio, “an adventure planning / campaign design tool for Dungeons & Dragons (4th edition)”.  I don’t know much about it yet, but the one who told me about it suggests that, game system aside, it may be fairly compatible with my own campaign setting/scenario design techniques.

Hari Ragat Games

Recipes for Gamers: Chicken Inasal


I’ve mentioned before how much I like cooking.  This recipe looks like a very good one.  It’s quick, simple, and looks like it’ll taste pretty close to awesome.

The Kingsmead Chronicler

Gods, Goddesses, and Ascension


My last couple of campaigns assumed gods were ‘natural born’ outsiders, but I do like the idea of mortals ascending.  This post doesn’t get into mechanics at all, but describes a bit about how it works in-campaign.

Land of Nod

The Wages of Sin


This idea alone makes me want to consider a campaign set in Hell.  Perhaps lean on the Infernum rules from Mongoose.

Such a simple idea, and yet evocative… and I can easily imagine a character desperately looking for a specific coin, something like the Pillar of Souls I posted a few (four!) years ago but a little less benign.

North of Nowhere

Idea: The Long March, or a way for your players to help create the world


I like almost anything to do with collaborative world design that involves the players.  I look forward to seeing where this goes as it becomes more concrete.

Nevermet Press

Challenging Terrain: Hysterical Mob


This strikes me as a practical and reasonable approach to being overrun by a horde of undeliberately damaging creatures.

Reality Blurs

The Life Cycle of the Creative Process


I can’t say I disagree, it’d certainly help me get things done if I followed these steps.

Reality Refracted

Alternatives to Dice


A. L. considers alternate randomizers… which reminded me that I’ve wanted for a while now to write up a Dominion-style resolution system for a roleplaying game.  I’ve already got it drafted here, I just need to finish it.

Roleplaying Tips

Reader Tips: Game World Management


“A reader named Beleaguered in South Africa asked for help managing the details of his extensive game world. Here’s how GMs responded:”

Turns out a comment I’d left on the original post got copied to here, pointing at my campaign setting/scenario design techniques.  Sweet!

How To Turn A Haunted House Into An NPC


I’ve heard of “character homes” before, but Eric takes this to greater extremes.  The idea reminds me somewhat of Castle Heterodyne (as I commented on the post itself).

Big Secrets and Big Plots in Roleplaying Games


Heather describes how secrets may be managed in an RPG.  There’s a balancing act between keeping secrets and spilling secrets, and a secret that nobody ever learns is usually kind of pointless.

Surprise Round

D&D Chess (with 4e framework)


As the title says, a D&D 4e-based framework for playing chess.  Each piece (type) has different abilities, and ‘taking a piece’ doesn’t work quite the same in that they actually ‘fight it out’ — it’s not as simple as moving into the target’s square, there are dice rolled and hit points lost… and different pieces have different powers.

Interesting idea.  I have no idea how it well it’ll work, but I remember considering a similar thing back when I was about twelve years old (and never got around to working on).

Sycarion Diversions

How Dragons Are Born


It’s not how you might expect.  I see no “when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much” going on here.

Yet More Primordials


John describes earth and air primordials… and they’re not that much like elementals.  It looks like he’ll soon be moving to “non-elemental” primordials.  I’m looking forward to it.

The Tales of Kaelaross

Weapons of Law and Chaos


I’ve mentioned before that this site deserves some more time from me — every time I find an article there it interests me at least, and reminds me that delving through the site is on my List Of Things To Do (but note that “find a tool to organize my List” is somewhere around #7 on the List… so I don’t get to everything I want to do.  Priority queues are a bitch, as Comp 204 — Operating Systems — showed me).

I really don’t like diametric opposites that are just reflections of each other.  D&D 3.x has ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’ weapons that do exactly the same thing: +2d6 against the opposing team, and if one of them picks it up they suffer a negative level until they put it down.

What color is your cosmic team jersey?

John describes a handful of weapons associated with Law and Chaos that have greater variety in their effects than the simple weapon qualities I’ve mentioned.  I like this approach much better (it colors talent design in Echelon — Law and Chaos are more than cosmic team jerseys, they have fundamental properties that exhibit themselves rather differently).

In short, this article pushes a few buttons for me.  It even reminds me to dig out the Role Aids Fantastic Treasures supplements.  Nice work.

Vaelorn’s Dragon Age

AGE of Conan modification, draft version


Dragon Age rules, Conan setting.  Two good flavors, let’s see how they are together.

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