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Showing posts from June, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #25: The Sweet Spot

About 18 months ago, I was given a copy of the preview developer notes for the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The friend who gave me the copy was really upset for two distinct reasons; first, he was upset that the bard wasn't a standard class in the regular Player's Guide, second, he was upset that neither gnome's nor halflings were considered a part of the basic set of standard races.
I found quite a few things interesting in the document, even if I didn't like the idea that they were turning the game away from characterization and roles, and back to statistics and rolls...back to it's one-on-one wargaming roots.
I've just tried to find the booklet, but couldn't...I was planning to quote something that struck me when I first read it. I'll just have to paraphrase.
I read something about a sweet spot in D&D 3.5. If I remember correctly, the basic idea was that many players found the third edition of D&D to really hit it stride at levels 4-10, …

Rajah Spiny Rat

A few days ago, I finished a game for the Random Cover RPG challenge. This game was Rajah Spiny Rat.
Like Guerilla Television before it, the game was another step in the evolution of Quincunx.
Guerilla Television was a good testing ground for a number of concepts and it taught me a few good lessons. I'm actually hoping that Rajah Spiny Rat will teach a few more things before I assemble Quincunx for GenCon Oz.
Looking back in retrospect, The Eighth Sea was a rushed game. It could have done with a lot more playtesting before it was exposed to the public, I'm going to ensure it gets a decent amount of further playtesting and revision before I put up a new version for publication. It will certainly get that revision before I make the game available on the assorted roleplaying web stores.
I honestly don't think Quincunx will be fully ready for release at GenCon, but I'll make some ashcans available at that time.
For the moment though...Rajah Spiny Rat.
A game about civilised a…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #24: Inter-Related Values

I hadn't really thought about the way that inter-related values really say something in a game, but a few instances have come up in recent exploration of the internet.
One of the more interesting versions that has seen it's fair share of discussion is the concept of insanity and knowledge of the Cthulhu mythos in the game Call of Cthulhu. Basically everything in this games works of a percentile system. There are a few ways that a character can be removed from play, but these predominantly fall into the categories of "Death and Injury", or "Going Insane".
Characters start with hit points that measure their physical injury, these can be rapidly depleted through conflict, but they can be healed. Sanity is a slow loss, but it can't be healed (except in a few variants in specific sourcebooks and home rules).
One of the major destroyers of sanity is knowledge of the dark, macabre and malevolent spirits that exists on the edge of reality. Once you know that human…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #23: Mega Damage

It's about time I added a game mechanism I HATE.

This series of entries isn't just meant to be about things for groups to introduce into their games, it should probably act as a beacon of things to avoid. But in the interests of constructive criticism, I'll add a few alternatives that I find far more palatable.

The system I hate is "Mega Damage" from Palladium Books.

It had it's place in the game where it was first introduced, but it's application to other parts of their game line was stupid in my opinion.

There is plenty of dialogue on assorted forums and blogs about the origins of the Palladium gaming system as a mutant offshoot of early AD&D, then a series of hodge-podge additions to that core systems in an attempt to create something rivaling "GURPS" and other generic systems in development at around the same time. Some would claim that Palladium did the "generic" thing before GURPS, other would say that GURPS did it better and the…

The Pervasiveness of Gamer Culture

Last nigh, Leah and I went to see the absurdist, beatboxing, comedic showman Reggie Watts at the Sydney Opera House.

Awesome show.

Well worth the ticket price, I'd probably see him again (if it weren't the last show of his current season).

The only thing that bugged me is that there was no merchandise for sale after the show. I'd love to have bought a CD or something...

...actually a CD would be great because he threw a real curve ball during the show.

I expected to hear profanity, especially given one of his notorious songs. I expected to hear references to marijuana given his recent album title "Pot Cookies". I even expected to hear numerous character voices, strange accents, non-sequitur humour and wide variety of pop culture references.

I was not disappointed, all of those appeared.

In fact, with a wide assortment of character voices I'd wondered what he'd be like to roleplay with...or even if he was familiar with the concept (beyond the token "I've…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #22: Items of Power

I had an idea a while back for developing items of power within a game.

These items could be artifacts that have shaped the course of a culture, relics that hear the power of the divine within them, they could be strange technologies, sacred bones of martyrs...it really doesn't matter.

What matters is that these items have some kind of special effect, and while there may be a few of them present within a setting, they more powerful items of power become exponentially less likely to appear in a game.

The first thing that you need to consider is what type of effect these items might have. Do they allow a character to advance one of their abilities beyond "regular human limits"? Do they provide access to an ability to most characters would not be able to possess normally? Do they impair the people around them, while keeping the wielder at full strength?

Each of these options tells something very different about the item of power.

The second thing to consider is how far the expon…