Fantasy Adventure #4: Downtime and Adventure

After a brief bout of illness, back on track with my routines, including laying down track on my version of challengeful fantasy adventure. The topic this time is bootstrapping for adventure; this is not exactly at the center of my vision as far as my personal interests go, but it’ll probably be useful to understand the context in which the rest of the rules are supposed to operate. This is also an often neglected part of rules in this kind of game design, so it’s good to say a word or two about it now and then. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fantasy Adventure #3: Combat system basics

The combat system is at the heart of classical D&D, which is something that is actually a bit annoying for me. The core content of adventuring never was violence for me, so the relentless focus on fighting strikes me as a bit dull and wrong-headed. Thinking back, this is the main reason for why I preferred systems like Runequest or MERP to D&D during the ’90s as well: while those systems as games are just as violence-focused, the basics of character depiction, which is the kind of surface feature a teenager will get obsessed about, strived for more of a balance in depicting the life of a fantasy adventurer.

Regardless, combat needs resolving, and I want to resolve it in ways that both synch well with other means of conflict resolution and allows interesting combat-specific tactical options. I also want to move away from the unrealistic and dull initiative systems of old, which requires a system pretty different from D&D. Read the rest of this entry »

Fantasy Adventure #2: Classes and Levels

Continuing my notes on my own version of the traditional fantasy adventure game, next up are character classes. My approach here is to preserve the 3rd edition multiclassing kernel and the way players define their characters as combinations of different classes. Meanwhile I also want to utterly decimate the D&D idea of preplanning character advancement far into the future. Likewise, experience as the primary reward mechanism receives a critical look. Read the rest of this entry »

Fantasy Adventure #1: Abilities

Re-creating Dungeons & Dragons is a common pastime of rpg enthusiasts. I started doing it myself with the 3rd edition in 2001 or so, when I decided to run a traditional fantasy campaign with the rules set. At the time I ended up rewriting the whole game starting with the combat and magic rules and ending with experience, character classes and races. The fundamental core of a traditional adventure game was there still, however.

Looking back now, I think I’m at least double as smart as I was then. I haven’t put a pen to the paper over this topic for years, but I have thought about it now and then. Tonight I feel motivated to jot down some fundamentals on a new game that strives to do challenge-based adventure roleplaying in the D&D vein but without the things that annoy me in D&D, like the combat mechanics and cumbersome rules details. Sleeker, faster and more focused. Read the rest of this entry »

Diplomacy: The Triangle Theory of Variant Design

I’ve been fiddling with a couple of Diplomacy variants based on the Baltic area during various times in European history. My interest has mostly been in figuring out how to make Diplomacy work well for different numbers of players. This is a non-trivial task, as most Diplomacy variants tend to leave different players in grossly different situations. While this isn’t alone much of a problem, it tends to leave a bad taste for players who didn’t expect the situation. A recent concrete experience had me play an 8-player variant from the variant banks called Medieval Diplomacy with the teenagers around here, and I can’t say that I’d been entirely happy with it. The variant has half the players fighting over the Italian centers in the middle, while the rest go about calmly picking and choosing their targets. Especially Turkey is in an idiotic position; an attack from the north takes a full two years to reach a Turkish center by land, which basically means that the Turkish player never needs to worry about such an attack.

Anyway, my topic: as part of my variant exploration efforts I’ve produced a number of graphs concerning the triangle theory of Diplomacy map construction. I’ll present those and explain the triangle theory, too, in case the reader is not familiar with it already. Read the rest of this entry »

Gaming Pedagogy

Inspired by the game carneval ludopedagogy seminar I attented last month, some basics on the topic follow. This is mostly just unwinding stuff from my own head without a particular goal to it in the short term; in the long term I wouldn’t mind working on some new pedagogical gaming; it’s an interesting topic, after all, and definitely worth exploring. So consider this material simply preparatory, and perhaps I’ll come back to it in some more concrete manner at some point. Read the rest of this entry »

Game Carneval of Oulu

I visited Oulu for a long weekend last month, to participate in the game carneval around there. It is a most fascinating experiment, a gaming convention distributed into theme-coordinated events along a month’s time and funded as a cultural project. (They even paid my travel expenses, which is one surefire way of getting me to visit your town.) My weekend at the carneval indicated that participation had been horridly undercoordinated, though; I have personally met more gamers from Oulu than the handfuls that appeared for the events during my weekend. Other than that, though, a top-form programme. Read the rest of this entry »