I know, it feels like just yesterday that I set up this little site, but such is life. Tumblr’s alright an all, but honestly, I need a little more adaptability on a post-by-post basis. …which is why I’ve set up Thought Check Games! It’s my site to… well… self-publish the stuff I come up with. Yeah, I’m monetizing my paradigm or something. At some point...
BUSINESS CARD DUNGEON CRAWL
…I need to change my hosting. Tumblr is not ideal for my purposes. But until then, I’ve got a new game, an exercise in minimalism. Look for it right here, if you will. It’s a dungeon crawl. Its my business card. It’s whatever it needs to be. Enjoy!
One Day. One Page. One Shot. Slenderman RPG And boy, when I say one day, I mean I had the idea four hours ago and decided to plug it through the night so that she’d be done before Halloween. When I say one-shot I mean that the game ends when all the players are dead, insane, or worse. When I say one page… … well, I mean in a cramped little font in two columns with...
Lifestyles of the Lich and Famous
I did it again. Or, attempted it again. I saw this informal contest, and though I was certainly too late to actually participate in this little bit of business, by a week even, I was inspired and compelled to take part in it. Sort of. “Sort of” in the sense that Mr. Macklin was looking for a five hundred word gamelet and I just about tripled that. So, rather than forcing myself to...
The Narrative-Assisting Dice Pool
Ryan Macklin is an interesting fellow whom I’ve had the pleasure of playing with once or twice a few years back… he gave me a Fate Point for using the phrase “All’s fair in love and necromancy” after I created a chariot of dead former co-workers and my boss complained. Ah, good times. ANYWAY, I mention this mostly because I think this is an interesting post,...
More on HoL
Okay, do you deserve a little more description of how last post’s House of Leaves RPG would theoretically work? No. You deserve NOTHING. But I will give this to you anyway, because it is a “productive” day, and I am going to attempt “productivity” as measured by “talking about games on the Internet” because I’ve never been one for “proper...
House of Leaves
Hey, here’s a thing. So, I tried to do another iteration of one-day, one-page, one-shot and, well, failed. Utterly. Days later, the document has stretched unto the twelfth page with little sign of stopping. It’s a one-shot though, so… that’s something. But in the interests of having a thing to show for it, I’ve made up a character sheet for House of Leaves,...
Steam and Storm
I set myself a challenge the other day. A GAME DESIGN challenge. One-day One-page One-shot By “one-shot,” I mean that I was to design a game meant to be played to completion in only one session… in practical terms, a game with a mechanically-derived narrative, rather than a GM- or player-constructed narrative. By “one-day,” I mean that I would come up with...
Cultist: the Harbinger: Part II
Part II in a two part series (unless I feel like adding more parts, which I don’t intend to, but you know, whatever). We got the basic run-through of Cultists and Rites, so what’s left? The Mark which defines a Cultist and… oh right, the gods. Here we go! — So, as a Cultist you have been Marked by a god. The manner in which you were Marked is, for want of a better...
Cultist: the Harbinger
World of Darkness. It’s a goofy friggin’ world. I mean, the official sourcebooks have vampires, wherewolves, wizards, ghostly-dudes, frankenstinian monstrosities, fairies, and badass monster-stabbers all co-existing in a world which is nominally supposed to be ours. Open up fan-made supplements, and you’ve got mad scientists, and alien creatures, and straight-up zombies, and...
Let's design a system of morals/corruption!
“Yes, le- what?” A corruption mechanic. “What do you mean?” I mean something akin to, say, World of Darkness’s omnipresent purity stat, whether it be named morality, humanity, balance, sanity, or what the heck ever. “Why would we do such a thing?” Short answer, because we can. Long answer is longer… “I’ll take it.” ...
Let's design racial caveats!
Yes, let’s… let’s that thing. What do I mean by racial caveats? Well, one thing I want is for different races to play differently. Significantly so! A lot of this is up to the GM as he deals with, say, how a merchant interacts with an orc, rather than an elf (protip: if the merchant is not an orc, he’ll probably give the elf a better deal. If he is an orc, he’ll...
Let's design a skill list!
Yes! Yes! For the love of all the gods in our setting, yes! And that’s what we have here. As far as divvying up the super-attributes, rather than strictly hewing to the wizard/warrior/thief triumverate or the physical/mental/social split, I decided to play off the racial essentialism I’m hoping to capture eventually and go a bit Darwinistic even; the skills are based on the eating...
Let's design some mechanical interactions!
YES! LET’S! So, last time I came up with the notion that all skills (and there are no attributes or passive resistances right now, it’s all skills all the time) be represented by a single die. I’d like to keep pursuing this notion and come up with a base set of mechanics that I can start hanging specifics on in the future. The other think I’d like to do is use every...
Building a sense of place...
… is funnily enough, a lot like building a place that makes sense. Ha! [Originally posted October 23rd, 2010] Okay, here’s a thing that impressed me with Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (besides the title, which is incredibly impressive in and of itself), which I don’t believe I’ve mentioned before, and which is absent in, say, Planescape or Fallout, at...
Greyin' it up.
[Originally posted February 7th, 2011] I’m going to talk about Fallout: New Vegas. At length. I just beat the game, you see. I’d been hanging out in the endgame for a while, doing some minor quests and thinking about doing some others, but hadn’t really played for a week or so. Decided, no, it’s time to DO this. Lest I get another Fallout 3 situation where too much...
Let's design (via elaboration) skills some more!
Yes. Let’s. I’d like to describe in a little more detail what I talked about earlier. Let us suppose we have a fighter PC. And let us further assume that there are only six skills in the world: PUNCH and SWORD are the Fighter-type skills, DODGE and HIDE are the Thief-type, and CAST and INFLUENCE are the Wizard-type. Obviously this is a minimal list of possible skills but, you...
Let's design attributes and skills!
Yes! Let’s! First, of course, let’s have a solid think about what attributes and skills ARE, and why they MATTER, shall we? Obviously there are many, many ways of designing an RPG, but if I think of five systems off the top of my head (D&D, the classic; World of Darkness, the counter-culture classic; Fallout, one of my personal favorites; Dragon Age, because I played that...
A simple, stealthy change...
…that will make me enjoy the “rogue” archetype significantly more in CRPGs. I know, it’s all about my enjoyment. YOU KNOW IT IS. I’m not a huge fan of stealth in most games… I find it awkward, slow, dull more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, I love stealing and sneak attack criticals, but I just… dislike stealthing. And that’s...
Let's design a setting!
Yes! Let’s that also! Yesterday I suggested magic, space travel, political intrigue, or all three as ways to keep a setting interestingly above normal. So fuck it. All three. Actually space and politics synergize really well. See Star Trek or anything like that. And magic and space work well together. See Star Wars. And for all of it together, see Spelljammer; a D&D setting sadly...
Let's design an RPG!
Yes, let’s! I know, it’s been ages since I posted anything here. And I am ashamed. TRULY. In my defense, I’ve had school, then graduation, then moving, and preparing for a wedding next month (mine, even) so it’s been a busy old time for me. How do I make it up to you, the viewer? By creating a tabletop RPG over the next few days. Caveat: I have no idea what I’m...
Taking turns is hard to do.
Taking turns! It’s important, in the sense that we do not want all of our orcs to move in unison, overwhelming the PCs by sheer numbers and collapsing them under a wall of meat and gristle and rusty, poorly-maintained weapons. I mean, they can do this, but it takes a while… unless you get unfairly surprised or unfortunately dazed, you have an opportunity to duck away, and thus...
Let’s talk about the D&D flavored alignment grid. You know it, the three by three grid, with good/evil on one axis and law/chaos on the other and neutrality hovering within. Notwithstanding requirements for paladins and clerics (which generally vacillate between “not enforced at all” and “enforced to ridiculous, dickish extremes” depending on the particular...
[Originally posted Wed, 15 July 2010] Let’s talk about conversations, shall we? Easy enough to implement in a tabletop game, whish has a basic “say stuff” interface; infinitely more complex on the computer, which can’t really understand what I’m talking about. How do we deal? A few options. Don’t let player characters speak, or at least don’t let...
Kaerlud: a history
[Originally posted Tue, 10 Aug 2010] [This being the equivalent of a fourth-grade social studies history… it sacrifices nuance for narrative, but it’s true enough that the only people who will look down on you for accepting it as fact are pedants, historians, and members of oppressed minorities whose struggles the official history conveniently elides over. There’s a bias built in, you...
Futzing with Fallout: Companions
So, I was playing Fallout 2, because I gotta learn me the classic, you know, and I ran into Marcus the Super Mutant and asked him to follow me; he said there was too much of a crowd about me already. I had two companions, and yeah, that makes us a crowd by the official rubric. I think the number of followrs I can have is affected by my Charisma, and I later took a perk which lets me have one...
Knocking levels off kilter.
[Originally posted Wed, 08 Sep 2010] I’m not the biggest fan of experience points. You do a thing, you get XP, you get enough, you level up… it’s a tried-and-true system, and it seems like a necessary evil in a level-based system, but I’m inclined to think that it’s not, actually, necessary at all. Y’see, a while back, I was calculating XP for a D&D group, when a player...
Futzing with Fallout: Perks
[Originally posted Mon, 06 Sep 2010] I wouldn’t say I’ve played an uncouth number of computer RPGs… I wouldn’t even say I’ve played many, though I think society as a whole might disagree with me on that. However I’ve played a few, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across a system of character advancement as compelling and useful as Fallout-style perks. Every X levels you gain a new power,...
Kaerlud: Investigative minigames 2: the Evidence
Sometimes, investigating police officers aren’t interacting with perps. Sometimes, they’re collecting clues. Scene of the crime or interacting with the body, they need to do a little forensics. Time, then, for a Evidence Challenge. Investigation, like chasing down a perp, is basically a Skill Challenge, in that the player suggests what they’re doing, and the GM decides what skill...
Reincorporating Multiple Endings
[Originally posted Wed, 11 Aug 2010] In games which are going to have a sequel, how does one deal with multiple endings? Fallout 2 assumed one of its precursor’s endings to be the “right” one, and went from there, and had about a hundred different endings. Fallout 3 circumvented the problem by taking place well on the other side of the country. New Vegas uses time and distance to keep the...
Kaerlud: Investigative minigames 1: the Chase
[Originally posted Sat, 31 Jul 2010] Because this is D&D, there will be combat, and because we have made life valuable, it will be difficult and exciting. There will be people to fight, and, yes, there will be monsters as well (giving our investigators the option to not pull their punches at all, because there’s Beholders about, or something like that. BUT, on the City Watch, it’s...
Discipline and Critfail
[Originally posted Tue, 27 Jul 2010] Critical hits have been a part of gaming for, eh, ever. Wikipedia suggests 1975, with Empire of the Petal Throne, which I have never heard of but sounds, really, fantastic. Some sort of Asian-influenced swordplay game? Must find out. Anyway, crits, attacks which deal a significant amount of damage, above and beyond what a character can normally do, and...
Kaerlud: Making killing count.
[Originally posted Fri, 30 Jul 2010] In the previous post, we made life hard to get back. Now, let’s make sure lives are valuable. Why don’t people go around murdering orcs like good adventurers? And more to the point, what’s stopping our PC PCs from casual killing? On the one hand, the answer is simple: we make it illegal. Someone who commits a murder, be they cop or not,...
Kaerlud: Making dying count.
[Originally posted Mon, 26 Jul 2010] Life is cheap in the current incarnation of Dungeons and Dragons. Seriously, resurrections cost 500 gold and you wind up sick for like a day after… this does not jibe with, say, a murder investigation. Because seriously, I’m cheap, but if scraping together a month’s salary to set aside in the event that I’m killed by accident or foul play is an option,...
Introducing Kaerlud, the D&D 4E police procedural
[Originally posted Sun, 25 Jul 2010] Part one in an X part series. It would behoove you to know how 4E is played first, but I’m not going to stop you from reading anyway. SO. Here I am, trying to cobble together a 4E setting. Why? Well, why the heck not? I like Dungeons and Dragons, I like 4E for all its flaws, and I think role playing games are awesome in general, but I hate dungeon...
As a form of inauguration for this, I’d like to present an old creation, slightly updated for increased playability: The Fop. It’s not entirely original, rather this is a class I designed for Dungeons and Dragons, Fourth Edition… but it is a delight, provided you don’t want to aspire past level one. It would be far more hassle than it’s worth to design more powers...
Sometimes, not often, I will come up with a brilliant idea. An absolute dilly of a thought which doesn’t attach to anything in particular. I suspect if you squish them all together into some sort of coherent whole, you would create the greatest game ever envisioned. Or, you know… a senseless mess of contradictory mechanisms with no linking structure and no plot or characters worth...
Futzing with Fallout
Ah, Fallout. I love Fallout. I love the series. I love the world. It’s a delight. It opened up the field of computer RPGs; it said you didn’t need to have classes, you didn’t need to have magic, you didn’t need to be Dungeons and Dragons. It gives you a remarkable flexibility in character creation, without sacrificing a coherent and, yes, compelling narrative. It creates...
Dungeons are neat, yes. Dragons… everyone loves them, no doubt. And I can’t fault folk for enjoying manapunk and political intrigue, or horror movie tropes on parade, or wooden galleons floating though space, or popping into elemental planes for tea, or any of the myriad ways a fellow can enjoy playing D&D. But, I’m not a huge fan of the wilderness. I’m a city boy....
I don’t know much about design. I don’t know anything about design. But from time to time I get a bee all up in my bonnet and thing that designing an RPG is something I could actually do, like, from scratch. If I’m not just throwing mechanics into the wind but trying to incorporate them into a somewhat coherent whole, this is the place I’m going to do that. Projects...
Let's get intellectual about shiny things!
Because man, who doesn’t love doing just that? I like obsessing. I like nattering on. I like getting a bit over-thinky now and again. And I like having a forum for all of these. And what do you know, this is that. Sometimes I have half a mind to elaborate on these to full paper-length… but, ah. I’m also incredibly lazy. So, it’s a half-formed thought extravaganza up in...