Armor is a staple of most tabletop roleplaying games with some kind of combat system. The point of Armor is that you can purchase an item that will passively improve your defense. In D&D Armor improves your Armor Class which makes it harder for enemies to hit you at all in its binary “roll high” resolution system. In Dark Heresy the Imperial Guardsman of the group will be wearing armor that gives around 4 damage reduction – though many weapons in Dark Heresy outright ignore points of armor through their Penetration value, so this more complicated than it sounds. In Exalted, Armor directly reduces points of lethal or bashing damage inflicted on the character, or both at once. There’s many more examples of course. Lately though, I’ve felt kind of down on Armor, and have been looking for ways to remove its presence from my own designs.
Posts Tagged With: 13th Age
I normally only cover one product on my Kickstarter posts, and always one that I can write a little bit about or touches me personally in a way that gets me going. There are a lot of kickstarters than interest me and might have gone under people’s radars but that for one reason or another I’m not able to write full posts on each of them, usually because the products are very simple and speak for themselves. So I thought I’d round them all up in one post and write a little bit about them. It’s not that I don’t like them, after all – but I don’t think I could write 500 words on each of them alone! You deserve to know about them nonetheless.
Tavern Cards: Tavern Cards it a product of Chaotic Shiny‘s Hannah Lipsky, long-time maker of Random Generators for RPGs. This time you can help her kickstart a random generator for taverns in the form of a deck of custom playing cards, fully playable in your favorite standard card games like poker, while also containing colorful artwork. By drawing random cards from the deck you can generate a random tavern as explained in the description. $13 gets you a Tavern Deck, $45 gets you a deck and a signed print of one of the cards of your choice by the artist, and for $120 you can be a character on a card! Tavern cards has 14 days to go and is 3/5ths funded, and it’s a simple and interesting idea that I think is quite worth a look.
Thematic Fate Dice: This Kickstarter is essentially for a batch of Fate/Fudge dice that have symbols on the faces instead of just pluses and minuses. I normally use pretty stock dice, but I’ve seen people with all kinds of crazy dice on them that look great. $14 gets you one set of 4 dice, $21 gets you 8 dice, and so on. Most of the pledge levels are different amounts of dice and covering shipping costs. So if you’d like some new dice with colorful faces, you might give this a shot. They’re about halfway funded.
Gnomish Adventurers: I’m not really a Gnome superfan (there is a lot of evidence on twitter of me suggesting gnomes just be thrown out of fantasy games) but even I took notice of these cool-looking Gnome miniatures. The miniatures are already funded, so look to the stretch goals instead: $30 will get you a full set of gnomes, and then some special dice, character sheets and an additional figurine or sprue set. Higher rewards include more sets. Check the page for all the deets.
That’s it for the first batch, if you have any Kickstarters you’d like me to look at, feel free to email me about them. However, I will say that I’ve been getting a lot of requests, and sometimes they really don’t catch my eye. I can’t promise I’ll post about every one, even in these little collections, because sometimes either I’m not interested enough in it, I’d be uncomfortable talking about the project because of my own personal ethics and morals, or I flat out don’t really like it. I try to respond to every email as best as I can, but please take this into consideration before contacting me!
Briefly, I’d like to say that I think there’s still value to an unbroken, uninterruptible turn structure in an RPG, depending on what you’re going for with it. While it’s certainly useful in its own way to have a game without a turn sequence, and the idea of “spotlight” in RPGs is kind of dubious, I thought about why I wanted a turn sequence in my game, rather than bucking it as a lot of indie games have been doing lately. I also tried to think about it outside the box of “the bad player who runs over others in a turn-less game” because I try very much not to look at “bad player” arguments. My philosophy is that I write games where I assume and impart upon the group that they should be friends, talk things over, and should look after each other and cooperate – I don’t like to write mechanics that exist solely to punish the theoretical “bad player.”
1) It’s easier to play online: Turnless games and games with interruptible turns behave weirdly in a medium near and dear to me – play-by-post roleplaying. Playing D&D 4e in PBP is kind of a nightmare because of all the times that another person at the game is needed for input. You move, and someone can interrupt with an Opportunity Attack; you attack, and someone can interrupt with a power or you might need someone else to resolve your roll because of a lack of information; you give other players actions and then they resolve them on your turn, necessitating that they appear and post before you can continue. There’s a lot of places where you could potentially require the input of others – and that’s more posts in your way.
What I want from Uttarakuru is for everyone to have a turn, and for everyone to expect to resolve that turn alone. This means a turn structure, but equally important is open information. Important target values can’t hide behind a screen. Everyone should know off the bat what their targets are and what the consequences of their actions could be.
2) It’s more neatly organized: I’m a neat freak in RPGs. I ran my own Dungeon World mini-game for some IM friends the other day. I essentially asked for a turn structure on that because everyone started talking at once and I found it hard to follow. I love Dungeon World. I love The Conversation. But even when I play Dungeon World, rather than DM, I’m a bit demure – I still sort of “wait my turn” so to speak. I find a lot of comfort in sequence, and I’m pretty poor at doing things outside of a chronological order. I like to think of RPG turns as pieces of a story that all fit together as a puzzle. I want to bring that kind of neatness and organization to Uttarakuru. Scenes and Turns are each broken up into simple steps you can easily digest.
3) It’s easier to plan ahead: I’ve seen a lot of general stigma to “planning” things in RPGs. Listening to the RPG blogosphere there seem to be few things more vocally reviled than the GM who hunches over books and “plots things out” and comes to the game with encounters and story and other things in mind. I don’t accept that though, because I think this planning is still very useful as a guide or inspiration – a skeleton around which flesh can be arranged. When you have a turn order and a certain expectation that scenes may contain “rounds,” and that in turn those scenes themselves will make up units of an adventure, you can more easily generate material ahead of time, as well key your material to specific parts of that structure. You have a more comfortable environment to plot out. Not everyone is good at improvising, but I think planning and structure can be a great tool to help you become a good improviser. You can start on that road by learning to prepare material but also coming to the table knowing you will change that material and add to it as it suits the player’s actions and decisions.
Every so often I do reviews of products for Critical-Hits, but there’s a lot of products I get for review that really aren’t worth a whole article. DriveThruRPG is just chock full of little $1 products – maps, stock art, tokens, and, oddly enough, lists of 100 things. I’ve always been interested in 100 Thing Lists, but often the content just wasn’t very imaginative nor really entertaining. When I buy a list of 100 things I do it to get some ideas I wouldn’t just come up with myself by staring at the monitor a few seconds.
There’s very few of these that I’d actually use for anything, and for the longest time I just ignored the “lists of things products.” Lately though, I’ve been finding some gems, and all of them come from a single publisher, Lee’s Lists. Lee’s Lists is a recent appearance in DriveThruRPG, but its List products are for the most part the best I’ve seen around lately, and it’s always a joy to get a notification on my inbox that something new has dropped (and they drop every day).
Full disclosure, I’ve written stuff for these guys, so if you want to check it out:
But there’s an overwhelming majority of stuff I haven’t written but that I’ve acquired and reviewed on DriveThruRPG and would definitely use in my games, because it’s completely awesome.
Lee’s Lists has some incredible people behind some of this stuff, it’s pretty amazing. They fulfill my personal requirements for list products: funny, imaginative and full of content, where the items aren’t always cliche stuff I would get from cultural osmosis in fantasy games. You’ve got gonzo old school stuff like 100 Polearms. You have 1000 Norse Weapons which was my first exposure to Lee’s Lists, and then 100 Adventuring Motivations which is inspiring and hilarious. You have things like 100 Fantasy Plants and Fungi, which are legitimately useful and interesting around a table. A lot of it is witty, funny, charming, but ultimately also functional if you’re in a bind, or if you’re playing a sandbox game and don’t want to plan anything.
Check out their catalog, everything is either a dollar or fifty cents. You really can’t go wrong with dropping some change on this. You could buy a newspaper or you could buy 100 Strange Old Proverbs. Choice is clear, for me. I encourage you to check it out and keep checking them out in the future, if you’ve got a need to roll a d100 for things.
Most RPGs don’t require explicit challenge in order to be fun, and what exactly constitutes a challenge will vary by the individual. Challenge can be pretty abstract. Some won’t feel challenged until they’re at their wits end, pulling their hair out trying to figure out a solution. Some think that challenge is purely something the rules create while others think the very nature of conflict and resolution will always provide a challenge. I like challenge – but I’ve been thinking about what that entails for me.
Combat is the easiest place most of the time to quantify “challenge.” There’s usually numbers there that are going up and down and make it easy to spot where difficulty is being had. When things start to grind, you notice it. However, in “story scenes,” challenge can be harder to gauge. Yesterday I thought out loud about some of this stuff to a friend, today I’m posting my thoughts. I will definitely have missed something here, so you can add your own thoughts in the comments section.
(I don’t mean to imply combat is inherently devoid of story or that story is always the province of a different kind of scene, but I need a way to quickly differentiate scenes where you interact with the world and NPCs from scenes where you want to hurt them – because a lot of times these two have different game design priorities in RPGs.)
Because of continuing problematic circumstances I haven’t been able to write much but if I could write more I would definitely write about 13th Age. Because it is looking quite killer. 13th Age doesn’t quite need it though, but there’s some projects related to it that I definitely want to talk about, and one of those is Nightfall. Nightfall is a supplement for 13th Age that incorporates gothic horror trappings a la Ravenloft; a much beloved setting for D&D that has sort of fallen by the wayside of official support past its inception in 2nd Edition D&D. Nightfall is its own thing, of course, crafted by different minds for a different game with a different purpose – but I’d be remiss not to mention what it is likely to evoke in the minds of most D&D players.
Nightfall promises new classes and character races, new enemies to fight (or flee from in terror), as well as a setting to play in. It will include a robust section for the GMs out there on how to run Horror campaigns, which may be out of the ordinary for some. At $3500, Nightfall gets funded (and it’s already almost halfway there). Stretch goals include more art, material for systems such as Pathfinder, OSRIC and FATE, and a Tarot deck that brings to mind the old Ravenloft deck. Backer Perks include the PDF copy at the $20 level, a special PDF at the $10 level, hardcover at $35 (signed at $50), and if you want to put down $1000 you get to add a rather large piece of you to the setting itself! Give it a go if you want more 13th Age material and quick!
However, there’s more to it than that. Nightfall also gives me an opportunity to highlight one of the best Traditional Games communities I’ve ever been in, which is the Something Awful Traditional Games forum.
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