• GURPS’ next big release gears up to tackle… the dungeon!?

    At the end of August 2016, Steve Jackson Games (SJG) announced its next big thing: a Kickstarter campaign for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. No one reading this site needs to hear this news from me – in fact, you, Reader, most likely backed the game on Kickstarter and are now counting down the days (or months, anyway; the shipping date isn’t exact yet) until its maps and original Cardboard Heroes figures adorn your table.   But here it is in a nutshell anyway: Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG) is an upcoming boxed game from SJG that bundles a complete “dungeon fantasy” roleplaying set into one box, with everything you…

  • Thanks for the games, Gary

    There’s been a big outpouring of thoughts and sadness over the passing of D&D creator Gary Gygax. The words put down by other writers are far better than I can summon, so I’ll add a very short note: As RPGs moved beyond the foundations Gary built, it’s been easy to cast stones at the “clunky” rules and strictures of his original creations and their direct descendants. “THAC0? Alignments? Classes? Ha, that stuff’s crazy…” I, too, like today’s more modern, streamlined games. But I’ve always kept respect for the D&D world, whether I play the game any more or not. Like so many, many others, I point to D&D as my…

  • Rules Bit (D&D): Real Hit Points for real people

    Intro: “Can I have some real hit points, please?” As we all know, D&D has that “hit point thing” going on. I’m not here to put it down or even debate it. In fact, I’m fine with D&D hit points as some opaque, totally unrealistic luck-plus-heroics-plus-partial-defense cinematic furball, as long as the game presents it as such, and players accept it as such. I wouldn’t design a new game, even a cinematic fantasy one, using hit points in the same way, true – but still, where’s the harm? It’s hard, though, to like the tremendous disparity in hit points, especially at first or second Level. Any “normal” human, even a…

  • Game design musing: It’s about time (Part III)

    Part 3 of 3. If you thought the articles were geeky before, be warned: it gets worse here.The past two articles: Part IPart II Jumping into the new: Action points, Version 1 In the last episode, I detailed some of my early endeavors at gaming more varied action times. Enough of that. Here’s another general method: action points. I can’t point to any single system as an example; I’ve seen many variations in home-brew games or as options for existing systems. One reader (see comments in first article) points to an AD&D version from an old Dragon magazine. The idea is simple: give each character some number of “action points”…

  • Game design musing: It’s about time (Part II)

    More on the subject of attack time and pacing in RPG combat systems, focusing on a couple of old home-brew efforts. Continued from Part I: On to another round of writing. I planned to wrap this up, but it looks like there’s going to be a Part III as well. (One note: With occasional digression, I’m discussing melee, not ranged, combat.) Recap Looking at how a few game systems (including some I haven’t mentioned) handle action time and pacing in their combat systems, the below seem par for the course: Combat actions take place in turns, with a default of one attack per turn. Under turns, there’s typically no mechanism…

  • Game design musing: It’s about time (Part I)

    Gear up, spelunkers! It’s time for a dizzied descent into the dankest depths of game-design geekdom. In a very old blog post I briefly pondered the topic of action pacing – especially combat pacing – in RPGs. Below are some thoughts on how three major game systems tackle the topic. A caution in advance: while I know my GURPS, please accept my apologies where I mangle HERO; it’s been a long time since I last played. And I really risk disservice to D&D, as my only familiarity with 3e rules is from perusing the books, not actual play. Corrections to my text are greatly welcomed. Timing Basics In the three game…

  • GLAIVE weapon design system for the d20 System

    d20 version and article by Tail Kinker ( http://tailkinker.batcave.net ) Based on GLAIVE, by Tbone. Call me a traitor. I don’t care. I’ve grown to really like the d20 system. Doesn’t mean I’ve given up on GURPS. Far from it; my GURPS library remains central to my gaming needs. Not just for running, but as a bridge to other systems – like d20. But the weapon system for Dungeons and Dragons is just plain dreadful. So here I go, trying to update it. This system will not faithfully reproduce the weapons from Dungeons and Dragons, but if used consistently, will give a good play-balance while fixing some of the more…