Fables of Camelot – Beta

Fables of Camelot is a roleplaying game I wrote with Sami Koponen this last summer; Sami had been thinking of the problem of introducing roleplaying to new people in a convention environment, so when he came to visit me for a week we put our heads together and cooked up a game to fulfill his spec. I’m really happy with the result, although somewhat chargrined as well: I’ve been hitting my head against my own newbie-project Eleanor’s Dream for a while now, and it’s just not cohering, while this particular game was essentially made in five hours of planning with Sami. Read the rest of this entry »


Olranthi Crunch Landscape for Solar System

As discussed earlier, I started a Gloranthan Solar System campaign recently, which obviously means that I needed to put together at least a preliminary crunch landscape for the thing. This is actually massively indimidating job – Glorantha is a deep setting, and better minds have spent a lot of time figuring out how to represent it in a roleplaying game. It’s not really very likely that I’ll be happy with whatever we cobble together initially, but luckily SS as a game system is very retcon-friendly; we’ll just put together enough at a time to play the game, and then expand and revise as necessary, thus hopefully approaching something good. Read the rest of this entry »

Playing Doom with a source port

Doom is in retrospect probably my favourite video game insofar as real play hours can be used as a measure. For a couple of years in the mid-90s it was a solid baseline for my gaming; not a memorable experience of art like Ultima Underworld or some of the other games of the era, but a staple that defined the well-balanced action game for me. This includes Doom II, Heretic and Hexen, which are all basically variations on the theme.

I installed Doom last week out of a random impulse, as has been my wont through the last couple of years now and then. I’ve been gearing up to play the Inferno (the third episode of the original game) on Ultraviolence (the fourth difficulty level), mostly because I played through Knee-Deep in the Dead and Shores of Hell (the first two episodes) a couple of years ago, I seem to remember. Inferno is hard, though! I might have to gather some momentum by looking at Shores of Hell again; I’m not quite convinced that I actually finished it last time I had the game installed. Perhaps a run through that will hone my rusty skills enough to allow me to finish the Slough of Despair (the second level of Inferno) with some ammunition left. Read the rest of this entry »

Glorantha in Solar System

Related to the reading I’ve been doing, here are some notes on a Solar System implementation for Gloranthan gaming. I’m mostly going by the 2nd edition Heroquest book here, particularly its tripartite cosmology and emphasis on the social role of heroes. The idea is to give some mechanical backbone to the whole idea of three separate Otherworlds, as outlined in my earlier post on the cosmology. Read the rest of this entry »

Games and Toys and Defeat Horizons

I’ve continued playing Wesnoth and trying to figure out what it is that annoys me in the game. I think I’ve got at least a part of the answer here: the issue is that what we call “games” actually consists of two different types of interactive objects, and mistaking them for each other is a recipe for disaster. Just an idle thought, let’s see if it goes anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

A Zombie Cinema variant of sorts

I’ve considered writing some sort of sequel for Zombie Cinema for a couple of years now, mostly because I’m personally a bit bored of playing Zombie Cinema and want a bit of variety; it’s a tricky business, considering the number of constraints that I take on in any such design. I’m pretty happy with my latest effort mechanically, it’s just that the game lacks in really functional genre. Here’s how it works: Read the rest of this entry »

Finally finished!

I haven’t been blogging this summer, as I’ve been writing my new TSoY book. It’s the largest book I’ve ever written (though not the largest I’ve designed), although I did have some help in the form of prior art by Clinton and Josh and other TSoY enthusiasts who allowed me to use their work. Very, very much work, I haven’t pushed this hard since -05.

I deliberated on the name of the book for quite a while, and ultimately ended up calling it The World of Near. The issue here was that I didn’t want to use the same name Clinton had used for his own book, but I wanted to make it clear that this was a TSoY sourcebook. “TSoY” is still on the cover as a sort of brand logo, but the actual name of the book is different. I never cared much about the rpg (and textbook) industry practice of publishing new editions of the same book even where the creators, intent and structure of the work were completely reworked. Read the rest of this entry »

A Peculiar Combat System

I’m supposed to concentrate on writing TSoY, but a short note about something else should break the pace nicely. The following came to me yesterday when I pondered the system aesthetics of fantasy adventure games: if I were to design a beginner-friendly fantasy adventure game, I would consider the d20-based D&D mechanics and pool-based Tunnels & Trolls mechanics both too dependent on special tools – strange dice shapes or too many dice, to wit. So I started thinking of how I’d create a traditional fantasy rules set using only a deck of playing cards. Read the rest of this entry »

Levels at Jyväskylä

I haven’t been blogging much lately, what with being busy doing real work. A little convention report should be doable, however: we were at Levels in Jyväskylä this past weekend with my brothers to represent and advocate for roleplaying game culture amongst the other game programming. Levels is a small video game convention (500 people or so) with a delightfully comprehensive view on the boundaries of game culture, encompassing and supporting quite a bit of non-electronic gaming as well. This was only the second year Levels has been convened, but perhaps it’ll continue; the convention is arranged by the local university of applied sciences as a student project, I understand, so it has some chances of becoming an institutional event in perpetuity even after the current crop of students leaves the house. Read the rest of this entry »

Challenging the Diplomacy rules?

I’m something of a fanatic when it comes to the rules of Diplomacy. I have a reverence for them that must be quite unhealthy – I consider the game one of the most perfect designer games, a wonderfully powerful and robust engine that does exactly what it purports to. Thus I’m very hesitant to give my blessings to even small deviations from the rules, unless they display the same sort of universal power we get with the Calhamer rules. (Ironic how I am still capable of participating in those detailed arguments about convoy paradoxes and such; those parts of the rules text are and have long been a mess, even if the rules as they are played around here are very clear and logical. As always, I try to play according to the Platonic ideal of the rules, not so much based on any particular edition of the text.)

I myself haven’t had any strong inclination towards changing the rules of Diplomacy with house rulings of any sort, and I usually just yawn at any variants that add things on top of the basic structure, making it more complex. So it’s quite surprising that for a while now I’ve been iddly wondering about one particular rules change that I can’t quite dismiss on the grounds of inferiority. Could I have figured out a rule that actually improves Diplomacy? I’ll need to test this one and find out! Read the rest of this entry »