There’s a degree of irony to the fact that the Old School Renaissance is producing some of the best and hottest artwork, modules, and GM resources in the tabletop roleplaying game industry right now–isn’t “old school” by definition staid and played out? As with all gaming communities, there’s a component of tabletop RPG culture that is grounded in nostalgia; the best OSR content is like a classic car that’s been retooled with all-new parts, parts that have emerged from thirty to forty years of deep thought, experimentation, and winnowing on the topic of game mechanics. The folks behind that movement might have grown up on AD&D or the white box, but me and mine, we grew up on version 3.0 or 3.5.
My group of five player characters recently arrived back on the world of Kryn after a mission took them to one of the planet’s four orbital moons. They returned by means of a warp gate built by the Technoss, a civilization that died out millennia ago, and ended up in one of their surviving data sanctuaries miles beneath the metropolitan sprawl of The Capital. It was here they learned how the Technoss blended magic and lost technology to create database and computer structures utilizing Metea, an organic plasmid substance that can store and transmit information in the form of thought-energy.
Here at BloodLetterPress, we’re all about supporting other designers and creatives like us in their kickass projects. One of the ways we do that is by interviewing these creators in the hopes that readers gain a deeper understanding of the ideas and the feelings that forged their work. But it’s also 2018, and we know that ain’t nobody got time to read a 3k word in-depth interview.
So here’s our solution; if someone can do an “elevator pitch” of a product, it’s also possible to do a carefully-curated interview in a similar time restriction; in this case, you can read this interview in the same amount of time it takes to get from the ground floor to the top floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in their super-fast elevator.
Our subject is Sean Billson of Timeless Caverns production studio. They are the lead designer for Fuel Priest, a game that was just successfully funded on Kickstarter! We gave them five hard-hitting questions about their game to inspire and excite new fans, and to spotlight more local creators in our community.
Roleplaying games. For some of us at BLP, they’re our bread and butter (I’m one of those lucky jerks who gets to play them as part of my day job). For some of us, they’re a recent discovery. Psychodrama, the performative act of becoming someone else in mind, and sometimes in body, is an ancient one that galvanized culture and led to most forms of art and entertainment in the present day. Roleplaying games connect us to aspects of other people and ourselves, and helps open our eyes to new perspectives. This week’s Going Around poses this prompt to our team of contributors: Tell us about an RPG character (tabletop or otherwise) who has stuck with you after the game is done.
To play Jokers & Journeys with Tarot cards, use the pip cards as usual. A Royal Family becomes that much more difficult to score; a Blackjack is played with the Page of each suit and its corresponding 10 (you can call it a “reversed reading” if you want to). The Major Arcana are as follows:
BLP had an amazing time running our game Stars Fall Up with folks who attended Jiffycon this past weekend! A huge thanks to all who showed up and hung out with us. Seeing people be excited about the game makes us 1020% more excited about it as well, and personally speaking, it makes me want to keep making supplements for the game.
So here’s our first offering. Below you’ll find six pre-generated character that we used at Jiffycon for our SFU session. They’re totally free to use and remix however you feel like, so go nuts. The character templates are purposely vague to allow for a great amount of customization from players, while not having to fret over coming up ideas for backgrounds and #tags.
Most of us know that you should never, ever try to use the wish spell to become immortal. For the rest of you…well…
Even More Books in the Wizard’s Library (some translated into Common by the Society for a Vernacular Zenith)
1: From Many, One, by Jenth Cooper (memoir of an awakened flesh golem, in Old Common)
2: An Ethnobotany of the Gleaming Swamp, by Ecalsis Wide-Eyes (in Sylvan, but trails off into pictographs and asemic writing at the end of each chapter; excellent botanical illustrations)
3: A Beginner’s Guide to Cobblecraft, by Ricki Hobnail (instructions on the creation and enchantment of magical footwear)
4: People of the Rune: a Study of the Ilumians, by J.F. Shmatz (iffy scholarship, but words glow blue and float off the page, so it ought to be worth something, right?)
5: An Anatomical Atlas of the Purple Worm, by Alysha Wroughtiron (includes a 10:1 scale foldout [8 feet long] with several layers of cross-section)
6: Where We Flock Together: A Living History of the Good Partridge Tavern, by Toastmaster Groth Jarlson (includes partridge-based recipes; book will hunt partridges by itself if removed from library)
7: The Definitive Museum of Fatespinner Textiles, by Lord Huecorro Sartor (one incorporated textile is poisonous on contact)
8: Shieldcraft, by Ulgurk Ulrich (book has been used as the key to a cipher; covered in scrawled notes, nearly illegible)
9: The Nopos Manifesto, by Orlog Siegetongue (made of cut-up bits of other books, preaches novelty and originality as the highest virtues of art; heated debate over this text distracted from several high-profile heists by its author)
10: The Monarchist’s Cookbook, no author (anti-insurrectionist explosives assembly manual)
11: Popular Folk Songs of the Asedia Lowlands, by Picadilly Stout (notation for mandolin, hand drum, and reed flute)
12: Grand Evocations of the Ancient Pistians (beautiful fake; curses thieves in 1d4 minutes, or explodes on anyone who opens it)
13: Interviews with Those Guarded by Unicorns, by Wasseli Fillamentra (constructed of cotton, wool, and other gently-harvested fibers, written with walnut ink).
14: Filvire Spangrov: A Life, A Death, An Unlife, by Dictus Abraxis (biography of lich by the detective who killed it)
15: Sentimentalism: An Ethical History of Charm Spells, by Rev. Lorelai Craishin (includes section on recreational use)
16: The Wizard’s Guide to Obtaining Free Labor, by The Great & Terrible Progadrius (hollowed out, pages glued together with dried blood; hollow contains copy of The Case for Lizardfolk Self-Determination by Genko of the Poison Fen)
17: The Theoretical Sixth Spellbook of Ivonne Dalehelm, transcribed by Fasaal Ibn-Ezesh (exists only when thought about)
18: We Love Macreedis Serpret, by his twenty-six homunculi (Serpret made this and other copies but keeps the original)
19: Sonnets by Glarthrek (flyleaf informs reader that opening book summons invisible horrors that attack if book is not finished in one sitting)
20: The Tome of the True Gourmand, by Gastrique, the Sultan of Spice (most recipes call for extremely exotic/expensive ingredients; careful perusal provides permanent +2 bonus to Profession (chef) or related skill)
Look for more installments of Books in the Wizard’s Library in the future. -ð
So, last week, I introduced the problem I was having with making engaging combat encounters with my teenage player group with a DnD homebrew system I’m running. And I promised an answer for my game design woes. Well, here it is:
I don’t really enjoy combat encounters myself. (Was that dramatic reveal worth the wait? Don’t answer that).
And from what I’ve seen, my players don’t either. But games like DnD are literally designed around combat encounters (or at least the first four editions were, I don’t have much experience with 5e); your character gains power and levels through EXP and loot obtained after beating up baddies. It’s more than something you’re encouraged to do via game mechanics; it’s the game’s M.O. It’s how you play the game.
A generational gap that divides opinions on what makes a game worth playing
My first roleplaying game experience takes me back to when I was 12 years old. I stepped out of a December snowsquall into Phoenix Games, a hole-in-the-wall game store squeezed into a strip mall five minutes down the road from my house. After purchasing the 3.5 DnD Player’s Handbook there, I joined a game group made up of kids who would become my closest friends for the next six to fifteen years. The game was run by the owner of the store, a late gen-X geek in his mid-twenties who got paid either nothing to way too little to put up with all of our teenage bullshit for the next few years. It was a seminal time for me, is the picture I’m trying to paint here.