Category Archives: tabletop RPGs

Beyond Nine Alignments: D&D as an Ethics Playground

I’m currently preparing to play a wizard in a D&D 5e game that a friend of mine is running (my first ever wizard, in fact. I prefer the sorcerer playstyle, but I wanted to branch out). My wizard is exceptional because, as part of a curse, he has perfect recall of his own memories and those of his parents and grandparents.

While I’ve played elves and other long-lived races before, this curse/blessing had me keenly considering the implications of a character with a very large scope of experience—specifically, how that large scope would impact that character’s approach to ethics, systems of right and wrong.

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Books in the Wizard’s Library, Volume 2

More Books in the Wizard’s Library (some translated into Common by the Society for a Vernacular Zenith)

1: The Internality of Externality, by Zygwiliv Abraskos (written in cypher, book appears inside out [covers in middle])

2: Lachrymosa, by Slaugreb Uvashi, S.V.Z. Classics edition (sahuagin epic poem with appendices, printed on shark leather)

3: The Infinite Staircase, various authors (wooden front cover opens by rotating and pulling up, pages form double helix)

4: A Self-Censoring Introduction To The Far Realm, by Hadrius Fellweather (alien on cover, book seems entirely blank)

5: Construction of the Arcanist’s Sentinel, by Royal Demiurge Penzugar Eshiiki (all pages have been ripped out and stitched back in; many are upside-down)

6: On Predestination and Temporal Malleability, by Fasaal Ibn-Ezesh (iron cover, roll on morphic time table to read)

7: A Brief History of the Multiverse, author unknown (in Celestial, foreword by SVZ, literally impossible to finish)

8: Performance Of & Protection Against Advanced Scrying Techniques, by Anonymous (watchful eyes in every margin)

9: The Hotel Pinfeather, by Mayberry Slipjack, signed (a pocket dimension concealed in every page of this pulp comedy)

10: Spoor, Castings, and Corprolite: A Scatology of Common Burrowing Monsters, by Regros Dupara

11: Cross-Cultural Responses to the Self-Materializing Monolith, by Harazu Falasheer, trans SVZ (rakshasa sociologist)

12: The Final Debate of Atliskadriavythets and Rizuvakralandor, trans. by SVZ (transcript of two-dragon dialogue)

13: Will of Iron, Hand of Steel: Somatic Integration in Martial Arts, by Wolfram Ahensi, Diamond Way Grandmaster

14: Living Texts: Decoding the Mysteries of the Snake Readers, by Ridharrow McCall (recently assassinated)

15: Witchcraft And The Threat It Poses To Society, by Lt. Holburn Greaves (leader of the Order of the Brilliant Dictum)

16: Hail and Fire: A History of The Cloud Mountain Coven, by Gaelrendor Futhrim, trans. SVZ (illusions help tell story)

17: Vagrancies I:1: Spells I Developed On The Road, by Sleestack Lightning (issue #1 of journal from famous adventurer)

18: An Ethnography of The Cult of the Magic Missile, by Alexi Sumbreal (perfect hole burned through middle of book)

19: When All Signs Correlate with Sorcery: Recognizing and Aiding Youth with Magical Potential, by Rastault venTaragin

20: A Study in the Language of True Naming and the Words of Power, by H.S. Begraven (noted member of SVZ)

 

Look for more installments of Books in the Wizard’s Library in the future.  -ð

Dev Log 3: What are “Communal Action” RPGs?

I described Stars Fall Up as a “Communal Action” roleplaying game in the launch post. It’s a term I came up with myself, so I figured I should elaborate a bit more. In a roleplaying game that uses the Communal Action model, all players share equal power in creating the world they’re playing in, and determining the consequences of the actions their characters take. Many would recognize similarities to improv theater or collaborative writing.

Continue reading Dev Log 3: What are “Communal Action” RPGs?

Xed by Design: Breath of the Wild and TRPGs

Welcome to Xed (Crossed) by Design, a new article series in which I’ll be examining a game feature that two different creative mediums have in common. In this inaugural post, I’ll be looking at the dynamics of puzzles and player interaction in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons.

Here I’m going to make a case that we can study Breath of the Wild to learn how to make better puzzles and encounters in table-top roleplaying games.

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Dev Log 2: Stars Fall Up (redesign 2.0 finalization)

This is the second Dev Log for Stars Fall Up. One good piece of criticism I got about the last Dev Log was that it was more about my personal philosophy on game design, rather than focusing on my process or the mechanics. It’s true, and the latter is where I want to be focusing with these Logs.

However, I’m also letting myself write about what’s buzzing about in my mind most, so a balance may have to be struck. This Dev Log is more about “game writing” than “game mechanics”, and I’m fine with that.

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Twenty Goblin Fruits

Goblin fruit grows in the Feywild and the Hedge that seperates it from the world of humans.  Whithin these hypnagogic realms, there are millions of varieties of local flora ready to bring ruin or respite for anyone willing to pick them, but because of the dangers involved, and the mercurial nature of the lands of the Fair Folk, attempts to catalogue them have proven futile.

Here are some goblin fruits that your players might find in faerie realms or other magical verdant places.  5th Edition D&D rules are given, but hopefully it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to port them over to Changeling or any other system you please.

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Dev Log 1: Stars Fall Up (redesign 1.0)

So, I’m writing about working on my game while I should be working on my game. Great.

For those who haven’t seen it on our Current Projects page, Stars Fall Up is a TRPG I’m working on—or, more descriptively, a mini-RPG for Us Damn Millennials.

A design factor that’s been on my mind a lot with this project is simplicity. That’s the word my brain goes to, but the full concept has more facets than the word “simplicity” can portray. I’m talking about simplicity in the way of “stripped of non-essential fluff and mechanics”. It’s the minimalism of game design. To be honest, this kind of simplicity is my modus operandi for creating games; I want to make games that other people who have little to no knowledge of TRPGs can pick up and be encouraged, not daunted, to try them out. I want mechanics that don’t feel like they have to be comprehended like the rules of a board game before any kind of fun can begin.

Continue reading Dev Log 1: Stars Fall Up (redesign 1.0)

Dungeon Days: The Haunted Manor

Prince of the Apocalypse, one of the official campaigns for 5th Edition D&D,  has a side trek wherein your party travels to an abandoned house to negotiate with a black dragon. Cool, right? Well, in theory. When your adventuring party has eight people in it, “talking to a black dragon”, no matter how big it is, translates to “killing a black dragon and taking its stuff”. There was no amount of spooky foreboding that was going to divert this party’s urge for big-game hunting.

So, I had to redesign the encounter. In fact, I redesigned it on the spot. It helped that I had finished reading through Kiel Chenner’s The Hell House Beckons a few days before. Today, I went back to my notebook, transcribed what I’d written, cleaned it up a bit, added some stuff, and redrew the maps. Here’s the result.

Rundreth Manor was once a grand estate—a little remote, but when you’re wealthy, a little remote goes a long way. Something horrible happened here, though, and the manor fell into disrepair. Here’s how it stands now. All doors are made of wood and unlocked unless otherwise noted. Areas 6 and 12 through 16 are pitch-dark unless characters have fallen into them. Other rooms are lit by daylight.

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Books in the Wizard’s Library, Volume 1

Books in the Wizard’s Library (some translated into Common by the Society for a Vernacular Zenith)

1: Trans-Substantiality in Theory and Practice, by Sylas McCobun (important early book on astral projection)

2: A Treatise on Exospatial Psionics, Book I, by Hoexithrask Ith, trans. SVZ (rare text on inborn mental ability and its metaphysical source)

3: Second-Wave Necromancy: A Retrospective, by Parko “Bloodskull” Malgura (noted half-orc warlord-turned-sage)

4: Lost Gods, Ancient Pacts: The Vestigial Condition, by Aluzech the Weathered (burned at the stake by a lawful church)

5: Guards and Wards: A Beginner’s Guide, by Zaiger Jarnak, 2nd ed. (a well-loved book, worn from many readings)

6: An Angle Perpendicular to Everything: The Architecture of Fasil-Umbar, by His Harmoniousness Pelshai Quvanek

7: Secrets of The Philosopher Race, by The Comte S. Werthen (an unfinished work, prefaced by Faelis the Unborn)

8: A Millenium, by Yurogulvashenzugastriatanezareth, trans. Eluasha Tristavi (a bronze dragon’s memoirs, in Elvish)

9: Concerning the Curious Apotheosis of Taen of Melgranad, by Bodillo Vortivesk (avant-garde historical fiction)

10: Evocation for Fun and Profit, by Buskin Underhill (full of bad puns, someone has defaced every page in red ink)

11: A War on Two Fronts, by Lagazi Simreesh (tiefling ranger details battles with his heritage and with titan slaver)

12: My Will Be Done: The Art of the Well-Worded Wish, by Orestia Traenor (old, heavy clasp, describes efreeti & djinn)

13: The Manifold Self: The Psychological Effects of Spell-Induced Shapeshifting, by Piero Salazini, with Brek Fulaskis

14: The Red Scrolls of Ahm, by Ahm Alrashid, translated and compiled by Simon (exhaustive codex of demonic lore)

15: Mishaps in Resurrection: A Pathology, by Faelis the Unborn (itself an astral entity “resurrected” onto the Material)

16: Familial Religious Affiliation and Its Impact on Spontaneous and Learned Arcane Practice, by Sunali Moyangoko

17: Magical Vehicles Ancient and Contemporary, by Shoshana Wintergard (from personal flying machines to juggernauts)

18: A Practical Guide to Gem-Cutting for Maximal Effect in Ensorcelled Brandishables, by Olbrecht Dorvastengrad

19: Effects of Verbal and Somatic Variations on Common Pyrokinetics, by Kyroth Vyzaltar (founder of the Silver Legion)

20: The Book of Black Earth, by the Wardens of Sallowseed Grove (one-of-a-kind source text in original Druidic)

 

Look for more installments of Books in the Wizard’s Library in the future.  -ð