30 March 2013


I want to like you, dude. Seriously, I want to like you so bad. You show me these barren slavic wastelands and rifles and toxic barrels and mysterious anomalies and I say to you "Yes! I want to play that! Let me come over there and play that."

And you give me guns that can't hit a man twenty yards away with ten bullets. You give me enemies that walk past me twice, then spin around and slaughter me with two bullets. You give me enemies that can see (and shoot) me through walls. You give me the horrible voice acting, and the oddly ineffectual bullets and you know what, enough is enough.

I'm sorry, STALKER, but I think we're done here.

I really wanted to like you. If I play you again (and I will), I'm going to mod you until you finally are playable. Why I have to do that, I have no idea. Why they released a game that was half-playable and completely ridiculously unfinished, I have no idea.

Until then, my Russian friend.

26 March 2013

Wounds Happen

I like hit points as a way to vaguely track your health, but is it too much to ask for a system that keeps track of your injuries?

It doesn't even have to be something deep, but there should be something. Ignoring effects other than immediate hit point damage is like ignoring the effects of having dragons around. You can, but why would you when it's not even that hard to add?

24 March 2013

Real Choices

Why are monsters always just an obstacle to be overcome? Why do we always assume we have to "let" the players win?

I understand that it's difficult finding a balance between possible and impossible, and you have to temper your designs with the fact that you are still writing a game and, like any game, it needs to be entertaining or else people will not want to play it.

But that doesn't mean you have to let people win.

Here's a good example. The Griffin in the picture above is from Dragon's Dogma, a very good action adventure game. Sometimes you'll be walking to wherever it is that you like to go, and it'll swoop down and kick the shit out of you. I mean, seriously, beat you into a grimy pulp. The thing is huge, it has three life bars, and it can fly. It swoops around and pounds you into the ground, it thrashes like a maniac, and if you start to win anyways, it flies away. If you try and hang on to it while it flies away, it'll shake you off and you'll drop a hundred feet to your death.

It's also one of the coolest things so far in the game. Why?

Because it makes the world feel more real. Not every threat can be taken out by three random people  in a field. Unlike some other threats (bandits, goblins) which exist because nobody really cares, the Griffin is a serious threat that still exists because it's smart and tough. It's a part of the world that remains dangerous in a very real way.

So the next time you tone down, say, a band of Ogres because "the players couldn't possibly kill them," stop right there. Let them be a threat to cities, and let them be big, aggressive, and dangerous. Let it happen that if the players stumble on to them while they're unprepared, they get messed up and maybe die, because that says a lot about your world. It says "you are not the center of this world."

It says: "The encounters are not scaled to you. The world does not care what level you are, or if you forgot to bring rope or you're at half health. You should know better, and if you don't, you will next time."

It assumes that you're capable of making decisions, especially about whether you should run or stand and goddamn it, I want more of that in the games that I play.

(I'd been meaning to write up all the stuff I said I'd write, but Dragon's Dogma went on sale and you know how that goes. It's so very good. I can't stop playing it.)

17 March 2013

The Heroes of Urgek-Lesh, Part II

(If you've missed it, the first part can be found here. It'll probably help you understand what I'm talking about.)

Your choice (in the last post: whether to keep adventuring, take a position with the local soldiery, or strike it out on your own) depends on what kind of game you want to play. In essence, at this point, you're being asked whether you want to keep on doing what you're doing, or whether you want to do something else. Furthermore, it's asking you if you want to skip the middle step (working your way up the chain and attempting to grab the reigns from there if you like) and go right to the "Let's just rule it on our own, then."

And you can make whatever choice you'd like to make. It's completely open, because all three of those choices are completely acceptable. Seriously, you can do all of them. But there's a couple of things that will conspire against choice one.

First, you're increasingly famous. Doesn't that just encourage you to keep adventuring, though? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it's a very obvious reward that you're being given increasingly cushy treatment from people. Stay here, hero, and drink of my wine. Stay in my own home, sleep in my guest bed, and share in my feast. Please, adventurer, the meal is on this poor tavern-keeper's dime, please, enjoy! Part of the fun of being an adventurer is that you do get to be famous, and it's fun to have people almost beg for you to take their free stuff.

What people don't always realize is that these people aren't being nice just to be nice. They always want something. That's how people work The tavern-man just wants to be able to swap stories, probably, build a reputation, and be able to brag about who was just here last week, you wouldn't believe it, but!, and they probably wouldn't mind a nice tip. They know you've got the gold, after all.

The lord who gives the hero a nice bed and a feast expects something in return, too. It might just be advice. It might be a job offer. And it might be a very good job offer indeed. Knighthood, a good horse, a parcel of land, all in exchange for just keeping an eye over a troublesome region. Household guards. Maybe even a small army, and an offer to turn a frontier into the players' own fief. And why not, the player wonders? There'd be plenty of excitement, an opportunity to get plenty of money, and when the wanderlust strikes him, he'll find a way to sneak off and have an adventure or two, right?

And so it begins. The player finds that he can't trust his regent, or that things require a more personal touch, or that the person he's placed is incompetent or doesn't understand what he's trying to do. Or maybe his fief turns out to be nearly worthless, a real barren plot of land, and now he's got to figure out what to do with these angry, hungry peasants. Or maybe he's being invaded, and now he's got to break the siege!

Secondly, like in real life, there's a lot of stuff to do, and so plenty of jobs to be had by wandering from village to village... but, like in real life, the people who need help the most are the ones who are least able to pay. People will ask things of your characters that are beneath their notice. They're not going to slay a cheating husband or find a lost goat, because those are not interesting and they're not even getting paid. A village might love to have a troll removed from a nearby forest, but they just don't have any money...

Or maybe they might lie about exactly how much money they do have, so the adventurers find themselves working entirely too hard for entirely too little. And when getting injured means that you're lying in bed for a week, or months (while the entire time, the innkeeper is asking for rent - "You were a great help, it's just that the harvest has been bad and there haven't been any travellers and, well, tavern keepers have families too," and it wouldn't be a problem to pay him except the damn town hasn't paid you a single bent copper yet, and the whole reason you were travelling was because you didn't have much money...), it means that you're no better off when you got there than when you left! You're wandering around, helping people from the good of your heart, when you realize that there's got to be a better way!

So you go to the guy who's supposed to be taking care of the place (probably some sort of Hersir or Jarl, right?) and you bust into his hall and demand an audience and you're not used to taking no for an answer. You tell him who you are, but he doesn't care- some wandering fools are of no concern to him! And you tell him what's going on and ask him why he hasn't done anything about making anything any better, and he waves you away and tells you that he's doing the best he can, but soldiers cost money and there simply isn't enough to go around, and it's more important that he defend his hall because, after all, without a king who will defend them from the real threats? And you notice that his table's feast isn't any poorer for his claims of being poverty-stricken, and half of his personal guards are looking at you with an odd look that tells you that you'd really better be getting out of here. You hatch a plan- we've got to depose this guy and put somebody else in charge, somebody who's going to do a better job!

And who could be better than the players?


The best part is, this fits nearly anywhere, no matter what sort of world you've got. If you've got a world where being rich means owning a horse and a sword (like in the real-life ancient ages), then it's easy to have this happen, because finding a treasure cache means that the players are the richest people in the region, and with no magic items to spend it on, all that's left is building, trading, and other Big World activities. I mean, what else are you going to spend 30,000 gold on if not a castle, mercenaries, livestock, ships and all? And won't the local king notice? He'll demand his taxes and then offer to give you some land (since it's better than you using all that money to try and depose him, because even if you don't succeed, being attacked is not particularly fun), and look at you now. Welcome to the feudal system, Baron.

If you're playing in a game (like a lot of modern fantasy games like Pathfinder or D&D 4th edition) where the players chance upon small mountains of gold every time they kick over a goblin's house, well, that's easy, too. All you have to do is take away the gold-sinks that are traditionally there. This has the added benefit of getting rid of the silliest parts of the game (does anybody realize that 10,000 in solid gold coins weighs 180 lbs? Why does every ogre have a +1 sword and +3 chain mail?) it also means that your players will have to do something other than increase their raw character effectiveness with their money.

Of course, given the massive inflation that happens when you have multiple fungible types of currency, you've also got to inflate the prices on livestock, because the people with the +4 swords and 12 levels in Warlock probably could buy up an entire country's worth of sheep if you use anything resembling real-life prices, but it's still possible. Just think in terms of Zimbabwean hyper-inflated dollars, except without the whole "we'll just print bigger numbers on them," since gold coins are mostly valuable for their metal content instead of what's printed on them.

Pictured: A beggar in D&D 4.0 Modern, cashing in to buy a slice of bread
So, again, what happens is that people have to do something with their money, even if it's just hoarding it. And what happens if they hoard it? 

Funny you should ask. 

People start to follow them around. They attract thieves and beggars. But more than that, probably, are people wanting loans. Some of them will be asinine, but some will be legitimate. Barons asking for a loan to hire mercenaries to win a war. "I'll repay you when we win, " he promises, "plus more!" Or merchants, wanting to fund a new fleet of ships, since their old ones were ruined in a great storm. A sage funding an expedition to recover an ancient artifact from a forgotten crypt, the recovery of which will advance our understanding of the ancient Lords of High Querra. 

Some of these sound like adventures, and they kind of are, still. But they're an adventure where the player is in charge of people, working with people. They're bigger adventures- they take place in the Big World, not in the small world of dungeons and delving. 

Even if they say no to every debtor, they still have to spend it. And so now the players are engaging in what they like. Maybe they commission a ship and become pirates, and stash their treasure somewhere safe, just in case. Maybe they purchase a house, somewhere discreet, reinforce it, and hire watchmen. But is it good enough? What if a burglar makes a routine break-in (if it's got guards, it must be something good!) and finds more treasure than he knows what to do with? Well, what do players do to safeguard their haul now?

Would a castle work? Welcome again, Baron. Glad you could join the feudal system.

So what do you do now? The players are used to thinking about things in terms of progression, and removing the carrot means that some people aren't going to want to play. After all, the most popular game in the world (World of Warcraft) hinges its entire business strategy on the fact that players just love that treadmill. People get addicted to the feedback and so play for months or even years after they've stopped finding enjoyment in the game mechanics or the social aspect. And there's nothing wrong with that! Getting a reward for putting all that work into beating down an enormous monster is very satisfying.

Don't worry, I've got a solution.

I'll talk about it in a minute. 

16 March 2013


I was doing this for myself (you know, the one project I won't shut up about, the one where you build shit?), but I figured maybe somebody else could use it, too.

In real life, based on this Hodges list, 1 pound (L) is worth 20 shillings (s), and 1 shilling is worth 12 pence (d). 1 penny is also worth 4 farthings, if you're curious. There's a footnote that the names are equivalent to the French Livre, sous, and denier, which come from the Latin liber, solidus, and denarius. I don't know, maybe you're interested in that sort of thing, but personally, none ofthose names make any sense. Makes me wonder where the damned farthing comes from, though.

The prices are all given in that format, which is fine, because check this out.

15 March 2013

The Heroes of Urgek-Lesh

So you've made it. You've plunged through the Catacombs of Urgek-Lesh, deposed The Necromancer that lay within, and received your accolades from the town. The Hersir himself came to thank you, and to offer you a position with him. He could use talented warriors like yourselves, and he'd welcome to chance to have the Heroes of Urgek-Lesh on his side. He's willing to groom you for his own position, if you'd take it, but like any other recruit, you'd have to prove you can follow before you can lead.

You know that this is a good position. But you're not sure you're ready to give up the travelling life just yet. There's so much more of the world to see!

The Hersir is waiting for an answer. What do you do?

14 March 2013

Cats and Dogs, Cold and Hot... and Magic?

It came to me in a dream last night.

I had escaped; from what I don't remember, and it didn't really matter. I was in a verdant green place with a couple of my companions- it was composed of a wide grassy field interbroken with thick forests. A sort of path lie ahead of me, but the thinning treeline let me see further. Ahead of me was a tree missing chunks as though plucked. I wondered at it, briefly, before the culprit was made clear. It was a huge herbivorous dinosaur with an elongated neck, standing on what looked like a stone temple, casually tearing huge tree chunks out before retreating its head behind the temple with its bite in tow.

I drew my bow; my companions readied their steel. Where there are herbivore dinos, there are carnivores, and surely enough, here they came. Smaller than the herbivores but still larger than me, no more than five or six uncoordinated dinosaurs rushed at us from behind stonework. We had a fighting retreat, doing our best to keep their jaws from our skin as we tried to make for a more convenient spot. A purple-skinned fairy attempted to trick me, but I shot an arrow through its chest with simple ease. I wondered "Why did that work so well, when I remembered: Fairies and Men are opposites, just like cats and dogs, and hot and cold."

And then I realized- that is the entirety of a person's personality. It was such a striking idea that I startled my wife by waking up and writing it down at four in the morning. I wanted to use it immediately.

Here's how it works: You have a rating of Magic, Temperament, and Personality. They go from -5 to 5, for a total range of ten or so. You probably start with 0 in each, as a completely normal person.

A low magic means you're on the side of Iron. You're resistant to spellcraft, and magic items are completely useless to you. But on the plus side, you're more durable and tough. It's as though you're taking on the attributes of Iron yourself.

High magic, on the other hand, means that you're a flighty, elfin sort of person. You are capable of wielding powerful magic, and magic items are useful to you. But your spells don't affect iron, or those with an affinity towards Iron, so you try and keep away from them if you are able. Most high-magic people stay away from civilization, forming their own secret societies in the wilderness.

Low Temperament means that you're cool, collected, and calm. You can even be described as icy. Having a cool temperament means you're harder to surprise, and you're probably the one with the ambushes. You probably take a while to get up to steam, but once you get there, you're there. You're like the ocean- slow and steady to build up, but a crashing tsunami when ready.

High Temperament means that you're active and ready to go. You rush on in there, all crazy-like, and smash whoever's around. You stumble into traps because you don't care, and you're generally the one being ambushes (because you charged instead of waited). You're the active element in most battles. You tend to be impatient, but brave, grandiose but honest, aggressive but direct. You can run out of steam if foiled. You're pure fire.

Low personality is a bit of a catlike thing. You're more reserved, and quiet. You tend to be aloof, free spirited, and unemotional about most things. People just can't get your dander up, but when they do, it can often be catastrophic. They've got to get you right in the things you care about, because there really are only a couple of things that get to you. Those things you do care about, you care about deeply. You are a person of deep passion.

High personality is a dog person, for sure. They're not too bright, but they're dependable and solid. They're there for you, no matter what you need. They need security, and they can be a bit emotional and attached. If a high personality person thinks you're their friend, they'll be with you for good.

Here's the way it works: Things that you want to do have a rating attached to them. Something like forging a sword is a pure Iron thing- although you need heat and creativity, you also need to be persistent and intelligent. So if you've got high Iron, you're good at working with metal. It doesn't matter about your Personality or Temperament too much.

Laying an ambush might be a Cool Cat thing to do. Shooting lightning? Hot Magic. Charging into battle? Hot Iron. Arguing on behalf of a friend? Pure Dog. Slipping poison into a political enemy's drink? Now that's a Cat, and a Warm one, too. A Cool Dog would be better at preparing oratory, or working with his community.

Pretty neat, right?

I want to use this for something.

12 March 2013


Sometimes I wonder if it could get any dumber. If mass-market video games have reached their nadir.

And then I see this.

How is this a thing? Did they string together words and then make the single most bland advertisement ever on purpose? What's next? SNIPER DEATH WARRIOR? Or maybe the beloved SNIPER GHOST: WARFIGHTER. I'm thinking "DEATH WARRIOR: SNIPER OPS" could be the next big hit.

Look, guys. If you want the Call of Duty crowd that's fine, but if you're aiming a little higher, you might want to tone down the machismo. There are people that like realistic military simulations, and there are people who like to be Sniper Ghost Assassins. You need to pick one, and stick with it.

Although looking at the title, it seems like they've already picked.

Difficulty Verus Time Spent Playing

I saw this chart and immediately fell in love. Especially since it applies directly to pen-and-paper game design, too. It should be obvious, but in case you've had a long day:

Time Spent Playing is the time you spend actually playing the game. Not looking up rules or creating characters or rolling stacks of dice, or arguing about said rules, but the part that you actually can recognize as play. The part with the real conflict, where there is something to gain and something to lose. A roleplaying game where you spend most of the time playing is probably fairly light, like Risus. A roleplaying game where you spend less time playing is something fairly complex, like 3rd edition D&D (especially at higher levels).

The difficulty you can think of as complexity, if you like, because in this case it's how hard it is to "grok." In other words, how much mental effort you're using to keep the game moving. This one's pretty easy. A low-difficulty game is something where you can keep all of the information in your head at once and there's probably just the one die roll; something like Microlite 20. A high-difficulty game is where you have a lot of stats and backgrounds and lots of different dice rolls; something like GURPS, say. Or FATAL, not that anybody actually plays that.

The fun thing about it is that there's a really wide arrow in the middle that shows you that there's probably a good mix in there that makes it fit. If you have a very complex game with lots of stats, it either needs to be all up-front (so you can actually play now that you've got the complexity out of the way) or be spread out so that the game tends to progress in little bursts. You'll notice that's about true- a game like Warhammer 40k has a lot of setup and preparation and rules to memorize, but once you know them, you can play almost without referencing anything. D&D is pretty freeform except for the parts that matter to the edition you're playing (earlier editions care more about equipment, treasure, and exploring; later editions about character generation and combat), and so you play in little spurts. You find treasure, roll it up, haul it around, then go back into the dungeon, maybe fight a thing.

If you have a light game, it's in your best interest to keep it moving, because nobody wants to play a grindy, highly diced game of Risus for the same reason nobody over a certain age wants to play Sorry!(tm) or Candy Land. There are hardly any mechanics, after all, which means that if you strip away the "imagining things are happening while hanging out with friends" part there's really not a very compelling game.

I wrote more about this than I had intended, but I like the chart. It's probably possible to mark yourself on there. Doubly so if you assume that there are games that you can peg there definitively, and then draw where you'd be around it. I bet that your favorite games all cluster around themselves. I bet that if you include your house rules and how you played it (versus how it's written) it'd cluster even more tightly.

11 March 2013

Spies Spying On Spies

In my never-ending quest to be unhappy with anything that's been produced in the past, I'm now on a quest to create a game about spies. But not just any spies- about Cold War spies. Or even earlier, I guess.

See, look. It's not about the technological gizmos, although they have some very neat things, like satellite communications and wire taps, but it's not about the toys or whatever. It's all analog and the world is still a place dominated by men, not machines. Daring and bravery and sublety gets you the information you need, and then you sneak away into the night.

The worst part is that spies don't lend themselves easily to the sort of party-based hijinks that people are usually interested in. You're kind of limited to one or two people, max, and even then they're as likely as not to be completely at crossroads. I mean, how are you going to try and sneak two people into the same place? 

So I figured, "Let's run with that."
Looking over your back constantly is stressful

You play as a spy, and so does the other person (or people). And at the beginning of the game, you decide what your spy is good at. You decide what sorts of things they've got. And you decide who they're working for and where they're from.

But the thing is, that's just who you've overtly working for, because on the back of your character sheet you're writing who you actually working for. And you write your secrets on there too, like what your real name is, where you're really from, what sorts of things you've got hidden on you. And you never, ever show the back of your character sheet to anybody. Why would you? Are you sure you can trust the guy next to you?

They seem American, but are you sure they aren't a communist? Are you sure they're not a double agent? Or even a triple agent?

And why do you keep bumping into the same guys?

Why does your government keep insisting that you work with a guy that you're sure is a Communist? Are you being set up, or are you wrong?

Only one way to be sure

If you've ever played Mafia, you can understand where I'm going with this. You've got your overt side, and then your covert side, and you can only get experience by giving information to your covert source, which means that you're probably getting experience for betraying each other. Giving your organization old or wrong news isn't worth nearly as much, and if you keep it up, you'll find yourself reduced to a pawn and out of the game entirely.

If that wasn't enough, you actually get more experience for betraying each other. If you tell on your "friends" you can increase your own experience, in exchange for making their lives harder. But like everything else, the more renowned you get, the more the other side is going to offer you. It's not just monetary rewards, it's information, it's the knowledge that the side you thought you were on might not have your back as much as you thought...

It's a game about shifting loyalties, watching your own back, and above all, breaking international laws and selling the information.

05 March 2013

The Joys of Middle Management in the Middle Ages

A lot of times it's easy to get bogged down in details when you're creating your nation, or to stick a bunch of shit in there that seems really cool but absolutely is irrelevant to 99% of your nation's decisions. You might think that the High Council of Orhz having advisory power over the King's Inner Sphere sounds really cool (I guess), but what do they do? What do they matter?

And it's easy to see this sort of careless influence being applied to geopolitical matters, too. You see maps that are static for thousands of years, belying a stasis that is completely non-historical, with monolithic ethnic blocks that never existed, with nations that are content to sit in their little corner, places with no hooks or interesting parts, nations that are determined by the actions of heroes. Tolkien wrote like this, where nations kind of sat around until a hero kicked them into high gear, and there's nothing wrong with that, per se. The man knew what he was doing; what he was doing was writing a fantastical history based on legends, where that's exactly what happened. And in most history books of his day (and today, naturally), most of the important things that happened have been attributed to one or two heroes. Alexander may have been a great general and a great thinker, but where would he have been without his advisors, his generals, his lieutenants? Caesar may have made the Roman Empire into a powerful state, but it was the Senators that made things possible. And the Spartans under Leonidas? Same deal.

Unfortunately, people are very good at copying what influences them without understanding why it works, and so we have a hundred thousand derivative books about people sitting around happily until a hero just happens to come around and shake things up. Because that's what happens when you apply modern knowledge (governments are static and persist for a long time) and combine it with what you've heard about old timey stuff (things take a long time to happen, people are uneducated) without doing any research! The ancient and medieval times, poor as they may have been to the large lower class, weren't static and boring; they were composed of incredible and interesting feats of daring, of remarkable progress in innumerable fields (did you know they invented the crane in 515 BC? Or paper in ~200 BC? Seismometers and crankshafts in 200 A.C.?), and of creative individuals all across the world who were creating and destroying vast monuments and feats of engineering that we can't be assed to replicate today.

Picture related: incredible feats of mortarless masonry
But that's neither here nor there. That's all just so we're on the same page. It's a problem, to me, that the background information of a lot of stuff is really bland, because that means that a game like Yer Lordship doesn't have anything good to offer you. It means that you don't want to run a kingdom because they don't actually do anything interesting. It means that you'd rather run around and be an adventurer forever, because at least they get to do something. You get to use your character's powers and I mean, isn't that what it's all about? What's the point of abandoning all your cool character sheets with their concrete benefits to run now play an abstract nation-builder?

So it hit me.

In the vast majority of games, the important parts of the game are spelled out for you on a character sheet. In Descent, for example, your health and armor and offensive potential are all spelled out for you, because that's what important. In Chess, nothing more than their movement potential and their ability to take other pieces are spelled out, because that's all that matters in that game. In roleplaying games it's more complex, but it's still all there; if you take a peek at any decently-designed character sheet you like, everything that you might need during play is on there, and usually on the first page.

It's safe to say that what's on your character sheet is the entirety of what matters about your character, and not having those things on the character sheet is why people don't wanna change. You put all this work into getting a magical sword and gaining hit points and amassing treasure, and then you throw away all that plate mail and +2 swords and stuff and for what? So you can bark orders to some idiots and ignore all the cool loot on your character sheet? What's the point? I don't want to ignore what's on my character sheet, what was important for 95% of the game up until this point!

So why not give them a new character sheet?

They can still have their old one, but it's not going to be very important, because they aren't raiding dungeons- they're collecting taxes or overseeing the training of the army, or leading a sortie on a battlefield two hundred miles from their fortress, or managing trading routes, or other big stuff. So now they have to figure out how much Command they have; how much Influence they've got with other kingdoms, their Reputation, and the other sorts of things that generals and lords need to have.

Well, if their attributes are new things, what are their equipment? What are their skills? Can you guess? It's other characters in the game.

If you're a Reeve, your equipment is whatever helps you do your job, right? So your assistant is on your character sheet; he gives you +1 to Logistics, which is your main stat. Sometimes he's away, or injured, or dying, and that's like losing a good sword. You'll miss him, but you can get a new one, right? And maybe your stats aren't the greatest for your job (imagine a fighter with low stats) but you can still do your job! Your stats are only so important, right?

If you're a General, your equipment would be your army, yes, but more pertinently, it's your exceptional captains. It's what you would be, as a player character, if you were in this army. They're the guys that give you +1 to Logistics, +1 to Command, +2 to Reputation, because they're what makes your life easier. They're your equipment, because they're not an intrinsic part of you.

Pictured: A War Leader and his equipment: a +2 Sergeant, +1 Warriors, and +2 Warship
Your skills (like the fact that the Fighting Man gets a strength bonus or multiple attacks or whatever, or the Cleric getting healing spells) are still part of the game, but now they're a measure of How You Rule. You can be a tyrannical feudalist Fighter or a benevolent aristocratic Cleric, because your class doesn't matter, because you're not fighting people with your swords any more. That's what you hire people to do for you, right?

"What if you can't think of cool things for a Commander to do," you might think, "or a Logistics guy? Isn't that boring?"
Well, that's kind of my job, isn't it? Whose fault is it if a supplement isn't interesting, or if you can't get how exciting it would have been to have been a Guard Captain on a borderlands between you and barbaric ogre tribes, or to be a small, weak Baron when people are slaying each other over matters of birthright?

If you read this far, I just want to thank you, because I like writing about this.

04 March 2013

Yer Lordship

I don't really feel like writing today, and I haven't for a minute, so I'll just say what's up and then go: I've been writing a game about being Lord of All You Survey based on the very vague idea that you're "supposed to" start building castles and raise armies when you get high enough level.

That and the fact that there have never been very good guidelines for doing so. The vast majority of information concerns what monsters to bonk and what kind of neato powers you've got that enable you to steal ever increasing amounts of loot that you can't spend on anything reasonable because magic item shops are stupid, or on books detailing somebody's generic homebrew world that's a pale imitation of Eberron, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Ravenloft, or whatever 4th edition's world is called.


I've been doing a lot of research on farms and milling and bakeries and ancient logging techniques, and it's honestly extremely interesting and I hope that the information that I glean will make for a decently granular simulation. Time will tell!

Looking Back

They say that if you don't look back at who who were from a year ago and cringe that you haven't grown enough. What if I look back f...