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Showing posts from March, 2011

Megadungeons: Why Bother?

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Today, I will briefly continue my ruminations on Megadungeons, specifically three of the distinct advantages I've found they have.

#1: A smaller, more localized area.

A Megadungeon rarely, if ever, requires that the heroes travel far afield, and this makes it more easy to GM, as you won't need to consider every single faction, nation, and locale when you build your game. Even when using a purchased campaign setting, you'll find it can be a lot of work to enjoyably maintain all the various towns, cities, and NPCs you'll need, if you want to create a deep and compelling game.

With a Megadungeon campaign, you can focus on one or two principalities, developing greater detail for the NPCs, and even having an easier time of managing a more living world. Even when using the dungeon itself as a living world, with numerous factions and groups, it is a contained world, subject to easier laws than the round (or flat, your choice) world your characters inhabit.

It's hard to rememb…

Wrestlemania the RPG

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I wish it existed.

With Wrestlemania this weekend, my thoughts as always turn to the exciting world of the squared circle, and how to turn that wonderful spectacle into a decent game.

There have been wrestling board games, some pretty cool video games, and even a couple of RPGs. I actually really like The Squared Circle, and it barely missed being on my List of Favourite Games I've Never Played (Never played because my current gaming groups aren't much into pro wrestling). I also tried a live-action wrestling "RPG" while I was in university. Once. I fortunately made it through unscathed, but one guy sprained his ankle and another got a nasty cut on his back when I threw him into some lockers (It was a hardcore match, obviously). We didn't try it again after that.

Memorial University of Newfoundland Hardcore Championship of the World, 1999

But something we DID play a lot in university, and that worked brilliantly, was a special style of RPG called Fantasy Wrest…

Saturday Sorcery - Ancient (15 year-old!) Magic

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You've heard me gripe about clerics before. While I still maintain that playing them sucks, there was actually a time many years ago when I strongly encouraged people to play priests in my campaign. No, I wasn't trying to screw my players, hear me out. I was deep into my Fred Saberhagen phase, and the background of my campaign borrowed (*cough* stole *cough*) heavily from his Sword of Power series. One aspect that I lifted was a pantheon of "gods" that meddled openly in the affairs of mortals. I figured that since the gods were so prominent, their priests should be, too. I developed a variety of priestly traditions, each with their own unique beliefs, spells, rituals, weapons and powers. My players seemed to really enjoy this, because at one point I think I had as many as four different priests in the party, each worshiping a different god. Not only that, but they actually started creating their own spells, based on the unique powers of their deity.

Today I pr…

Links of DOOM - 03/25/11

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John is off doing "important" things, so it falls to me to remind you about all the cool gaming stuff going on this week.

There's a great article at RPG Musings by the Opportunist discussing why starting at Level 1 may be rough for some players, but it's important to character development.

I'm sure many of you reading Rule of the Dice are well versed in Old School Gaming, but I know some of you may not be. Here's a handy overview from The Dump Stat. It also references Matthew Finch's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming, which should be required reading for all gamers, new or old, so at least you know what the fuss is about.

Speaking of which, I don't care if you're old- or new-school, getting paid to write D&D is awesome. Kudos to this guy.

This is just a cool trailer for a new Dungeons & Dragons video game.

Much like in movies, you can never have too much sex in your role-playing games.

Anyone writing or thinking about writing adventures or m…

The Megadungeon...

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The Megadungeon. A dungeon so vast and epic, players were expected to spend their entire lives plumbing its murky depths. A dungeon that might easily top 20 or 30 levels of sheer madness.

Feared by some, adored by others, and quickly becoming a relic of an older age of gaming. Now, sprawling epics that take the players from land to land, environment to environment, are more popular with both players and publishers. And who can blame them? Did the Fellowship of the Ring spend their lives exploring one damp, lonely old dungeon? No. Did Conan drop into the same fetid pit time after time, seeking to delve ever deeper? No. Heck, even Lara Croft, the world's most famous tomb raider, sought new locales after a hard day's plundering!

So why would gamers want to spend their entire campaign in some Kafka-esque hell that never really ends?

And yet, when done well, a Megadungeon (yes, I like to capitalize it to show off its awesomeness) can be extremely entertaining. Of course, I am clea…

My Favourite Games (That I Have Never Played)

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I've read a lot of RPGs in almost 20 years of gaming. No one can possibly play every game out there (unless you don't have a job, but even then there probably isn't enough hours in the day). I've bought, been given, or found free PDFs online for many games that I have read but never played. Many of them are forgettable, and most have been lost or given away over the years (I used to move A LOT, ask Jsalvatori) but sometimes I hold onto a game even if I've never played it. Perhaps I still mean to play it someday, or maybe it just has some really good art or background material, but for whatever reason I've kept it, and it still has a special place on my bookshelf even though space there is at a premium.

Let's take a few down and have a look at them, shall we? Here are my Top 4 Favourite Games (That I Have Never Played):

1. ACES & EIGHTS (Kenzer & Co)
If Star Wars d20 is D&D in space, then this is old-school D&D in the Wild West. Somehow…

Tactics vs. Role-Playing

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There are two parts to RPGs: The "Role-playing" part and the "Game-playing" part. "Role-playing" involves developing a character, improvising, telling a story and making a fool of yourself in front of your friends. "Game-playing" involves
rules, dice, strategies, tactics and arguing for hours over whether or not you can somersault over a pit of lava without an "acrobatics" skill on your character sheet. Most RPGs, like most gaming groups, lean toward one side or the other, but some of the best games find a nice balance between the two.
My question is this: What happens when the two sides contradict each other?

D&D 4E is a game firmly on the rules side. It revolves heavily around tactics and combat. It expects that characters (and players) to act in a certain way, and rewards certain strategies and actions. Sometimes you just HAVE to play the game in a prescribed way to defeat certain challenges. Now, many hardcore "role-players&q…

Some Quick Tools

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Bear with me. I don't normally try to do a whole post of links, but today I'm already running a little late.

For the past four days all of my off time has been spent shoveling out snow amid wind, occasional rain, and general discomfort. No, don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into a whining rant against Mother Nature and her sick sense of humor. No, this is going to be a short topic on some of the tools one can use to help speed up your RPG planning when life starts getting hectic.

I've got to run this weekend's game for my group and, thanks to my schedule, haven't had much time to plan out any kind of plot advancement after they completed the last major plotline. I can, of course, just wing it, but that could be trouble if I don't mentally prepare myself. I could also just run a one-shot, but that's not my usual purview.

So what do I do? I take to the Internet and use some (or all) of these handy free tools to make my job just a little easier. …

3 Reasons Why PBEM Sucks

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Last week I wrote about why playing RPGs via email is awesome. To recap - it's convenient, it's fun and it lets you do things you can't do in person. Sadly, however, like most good things in this world, PBEM (Play-By-E-Mail) also comes with its drawbacks.

So, as a follow-up to last week, please enjoy my 3 reasons why you should think twice before PBEM:

1. It takes a long time
In tabletop roleplaying, the DM describes the scene and the players respond immediately, and then the DM describes how they fail at their pathetic attempts at heroism. In PBEM, the DM describes the scene, sends it out, and then everyone waits. One guy is always sitting at his keyboard and replies 30 seconds later. Another guy (or girl) checks his email when he gets home after work and sends his response a few hours later. Yet another guy reads the message and then his S.O. calls and tells him he forgot about dinner at his/her mother's place and he had better get his ass over there or he's n…

Saturday Sorcery - A Couple of Questions

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For this weeks Saturday Sorcery I would like to ask  our readers a couple of questions. I am always curious to hear how other people treat pivotal things like magic in their campaigns.
Here are the questions...
What is the standard magic level in your campaign, and how is magic viewed?
For me I like to keep the magic relatively sparse in my campaign. There aren't a lot of wizards in my worlds, and magic scares the shit out of most sensible people. The wizards that do exist are a very secretive bunch that have unknown agenda's and esoteric interests that few beyond their ilk understand, or care to understand. They're a lot like Freemasons, if Freemasons weren't actually lame, and really did the stuff that conspiracy theorists think they do.

What is the frequency and power level of magic items in your campaign?
In my campaign world the magic items are rare, but usually powerful. Most magic items were created for specific purposes, like; A magic sword made to kill the troll ki…

Awesome Pic of the Week

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This weeks picture is a cut above the regular awesome, and is a Batman fighting a shark with a lightsaber kind of awesome...


There is possibly no higher awesome than that. The only way things could be more awesome would be if, like, all the cast from Star Wars was playing in a metal band or something....


Holy shit.

Review: Mutant Future

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Mutant Future review.

Mutant Future is a post-apocolyptic game by the makers of the D&D retro-clone Labyrinth Lord. Unlike Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future is not a direct clone of an existing game, though it shares more than a little DNA with the sci-fi classic Gamma World.

It creates a world where technology is gone, civilization turned into a violent, desolate wasteland of swords and mutants. The game lacks a detailed setting, but the implications are clear and easy to adapt to your own, more detailed setting.

The character classes are the first thing I noticed. They are a melding of the old and the new. The standard D&D statistics apply, though slightly altered in their purpose to fit the new setting (no more Dragon Breath save), and the creation is random roll. From there, you select a class, including Mutated Human, three different kinds of Androids, Mutated Plant, and Pure Human. Each has unique abilities and, honestly, you can play a mutated plant! A deadly daffodil! That …

4 Reasons to Use Google RPG

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I often find myself without a regular local play group. For various reasons - distance, work and family commitments, apparently I'm a big douchebag so I can't make new friends - it's simply not possible to get a bunch of people together on a steady basis to play role-playing games. In absence of a local play group, I usually resort to PBEM - Play-By-E-Mail - which is certainly not the same as playing "live" but it works in a pinch.

For those of you unfamiliar with this high-tech yet archaic system, Joe Nelson mentioned it in a post a few weeks ago, but while he looked at online role-playing in general, I'm going to focus on PBEM. The idea behind it is that the DM (me) sends out the scenario or encounter via e-mail and the other players reply with what their character wants to do. The DM in turn replies to their character's actions and the story keeps going until suddenly you're role-playing! The reference to Google in the title refers to how that …