I think about this Octavia Butler quote a lot when I'm editing, and I notice something that's going to take some extra effort to fix:
“If you notice something that needs fixing, fix it, no excuses. There will be plenty that’s wrong that you won’t catch. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring flaws that are obvious to you. The moment you find yourself saying, “This doesn’t matter. It’s good enough.” Stop. Go back. Fix the flaw. Make a habit of doing your best.”
Does your D&D game need 100 shopkeepers?
No? That's way too many?
Well too bad. I wrote 100 shopkeepers and now it's your responsibility to justify the way I spend my time by using this resource in your game:
This is a really singular blog post. I've long admired John's ability to parse complex situations and explain them in a clear and accessible way, and he's at his best here. This well-sourced explanation of the various cultures of play that exist within RPGs ought to become standard terms for anyone who wants to discuss games online.
It's really weird that one of my biggest legacies from 10 years of doing RPG work is that sometimes when people write about encumbrance they distinguish between "Significant Items" and "Insignificant Items."
Like, on the one hand, I am legitimately proud to have had any influence on the scene. I am manifestly not a major player, so seeing terms I've coined here and there makes me feel good about myself.
But on the other hand "significant/insignificant items" is such clunky terminology for describing something I haven't written about since 2012. Folks could definitely have come up with something better by now.
Miscreated Creatures is now available!
I've been trying to get to this point for 8 years. Any signal boosting anyone wants to do would be greatly appreciated.
OSR RPG Scene Drama
TROIKA's current dominance of the design space is thanks to a few factors, by far the most notable of which is the decline and fall of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Raggi was a king, Raggi behaved like an adolescent chud, Raggi willfully tied his brand to an abuser. I shed no tears over LotFP losing its dominance of the scene.
That said, the way TROKA staff are always found at the center of LotFP hate mobs is transparently avaricious. Part and parcel of a set of tactics which ought to be familiar: a thin veneer of Leftism to justify sending mobs after personal enemies and business rivals. All the while dangling promises that folk can totally make a living writing RPGs, so long as they fall in line.
The only trick with the tactics was that one needs an intact reputation for them to work. Someone was always going to figure that out and try to employ them again.
Very few of us were as diligent about watching for them as we promised we would be two years ago.
A good dungeon will have many places in it that the players wish to go. On their way, they will need to overcome many obstacles which make their journey interesting. Sometimes the “lock” they encounter will be a goblin, and the “key” is a sharp sword and a good attack roll. Sometimes the lock is an illusory wall, and the key is realizing there’s a breeze coming from nowhere. Sometimes the lock is a literal lock, and the key is in a chest at the other end of the dungeon.
One must always remember, however, that in Adventure Games, no lock is always going to be overcome with the intended key. The goblin could easily be avoided with some clever sneaking, the location of the illusory wall could be bullied out of the goblin, and that locked door could have its hinges popped out. One must never get too attached to their keys, and sometimes I do not even plan out a key at all. I simply trust that the players are clever enough to figure their way past an obstacle.
The Dungeon d100s day 5: d100 Dungeon Factions
Two or more factions competing for resources might be the most vital element of a good dungeon. Certainly they are the bedrock of the social dungeons that most excite me.
Nothing on this list is meant to be exchanged for money, nor could most of it be described as “magic items” in the traditional sense. Both those things are excellent rewards for players to find in dungeons. Both have even been subjects for my own writing. However, my goal with this table is to focus on the sorts of treasures that are often neglected when planning a dungeon. Things like relationships, information, opportunities to be creative, unusual tools, character modifications, and access to tremendous and terrible power.
It has been my experience that even the most creatively written dungeons tend to ignore the opportunity to be creative with their basic building blocks. This isn’t the worst thing. Stone walls and wood doors work. Dungeons don’t exist to be flashy, they exist to channel play into interesting situations. That said, something as simple as giving your dungeon carpeted floors and steel doors goes a long way towards making it memorable. After being introduced those details can easily slip into the background, until brought forward again when the Magic User tries to power up their Lightning Bolt by rubbing their socks on the carpet.
A cool and chill place for cool and chill people.