Conjecture — A good handy guide to GM prep moves needs to have, for each move:
- A goal, desire, or applicable situation — when should you use this? When is it worthwhile?
- A name of the move/technique — as a reminder for moves you know well
- A brief summary/prompt set — so you can do it there and then, from the aforementioned handy guide, if you’re moderately familiar with the technique
Continue reading “An rpg prep checklist needs goals and techniques”
- Goal — Make some interesting NPCs
- McDowall’s Mash-up Technique
- 3x archetype/cliche
- 3x e.g. animal
- (mix up)
- looks, voice, place-in-world, goal
As a GM, There are lots of reasons you might want to spend time on prep. I’ve sketched out below what I think are the major ones.
Prep as support for play
I.e. your motivation is to prep so that your game is good when you run it
This is the healthiest relationship, both psychologically and for the health of any game community who sees you at work. It’s the one that best matches the ostensible goal, so least likely to be distorted by motivations that aren’t obvious.
Prep as pure leisure
Continue reading “Some motivations for rpg prep are better than others”
As James V West noted some time ago, the BX thief is unreasonably weak as-written. To complement West’s suggestions for fixes, here’s a Reddit thread with a few more good ones.
On this site I have previously referenced articles by Zak Smith, and I’ve engaged with him in the comments section. I’ve not done this for a while, in the light of his past behaviour (see Patrick Stuart’s summary of Zak’s online conduct). In the light of his more recent behaviour, I have now gone through the site and deleted all such references and comment threads.
Futher to that — If you support, endorse, defend, or purchase the products of Zak Smith, or indeed if you would piss on him if he was on fire amid the stacks of the British Library, please do not interact with me in a hobby-games context.
Continuing my theme of Anki decks, here’s one for Stars Without Number that I created a few months ago while learning the rules.
As Patrick Stuart notes, BX D&D is core to the OSR. It has clarity, it has concision, and it is very clearly “D&D”. It has a clear modern presentation in Old School Essentials. Sadly, it has some serious problems. Here are some fixes. Maybe later there will be more.
First, up the amount of gold needed to advance in level is absurd, unless you want advancement to be ponderous. I’ve mostly concerned myself with how to meet that demand, but if you read my articles about it you’ll find links that suggest other solutions. (the comments on those links are often good).
Specifically, look at the intro to Tomb of the Serpent Kings — “Treasure amounts are balanced around the idea that 200gp is enough to level a single character”. That’s likely to be my model going forwards.
If you’re not writing adventures for others, I’d suggest you (a) give more than one xp per gp or (b) rescale all the level charts so they give the pace you want.
It’s not clear at all, in OSE or otherwise, how thief skills relate to the (obvious) ability of non-thieves to do those same things. James V West has about twelve ways to fix that — start reading at http://doomslakers.blogspot.com/2019/01/once-again-with-thieves.html.
Requiring “Read Magic” to use scrolls is excessive. Give Read Magic as an unlimited-use ability to all Magic Users — http://doomslakers.blogspot.com/2020/03/read-that-magic.html.
Previously, I talked about Baker’s idea of the “rollercoaster” that is Apocalypse World, whereby “real things, the dice and stats and so on, … give momentum to the fictional things”. I found his description pretty opaque , but managed to summarise it as “real-world actions are triggered from events in the fiction that are potentially interesting, and those actions make those fictional events more interesting”.
Mark Diaz Truman has since refined that a bit for me. He says Baker is talking about explicitly narrative momentum, a kind of energy in running game whereby a story is moving forwards. That doesn’t have to mean “following a pre-written story” ; it just means creating something that the players recognise as a story. As Mark puts it, it manifests as the “sense of making decisions that close doors and open other doors, of moving toward conflicts and decisions instead of just sitting and talking.”
In most games, the work of maintaining this energy lands on the GM, especially outside combat. PbtA rules, by contrast, often create momentum directly. Mark — “the moves themselves generate momentum. Even when you [trigger] a move and “things go smooth” a good move will generate new information and options that will pull you down the path of the story instead of just succeeding or failing on a test.”
In other words, the rules provide opportunities, building blocks, playing pieces, from which the the MC and players can build a story. And they put on pressure, rule out some things, make other seem natural or inevitable. This is often true even on 10+ (or 12+) results — PC successes can still have messy side effects.
As an example, Mark points to the basic move “Escape” from his Urban Shadows:
Continue reading “PbtA and Apocalypse World, Part 1b — Addendum to “Momentum and the Rollercoaster””
A while back, I created an Anki deck for the Zweihander rules, as part of learning them. Having done that, and played three sessions, I didn’t like Zweihander’s rules at all. So I’ve deleted it from my Anki set.
But, in case it is of use for some of you, I’ve zipped it up so you can download it.
(Those of you who don’t use Anki, but are curious, can see the cards in the “…_cards.txt” file. There are 192 of them, arranged one per line.)
You might find it useful for Zweihander itself, or as an example of how an rpg ruleset can be broken down into Anki cards.
In a previous post, I talked about a claim Vincent Baker made about Apocalypse World in a recent article. Here, I’m going to discuss another one.
In Section 4, Baker claims that PbtA games “collapse gracefully inward”. I.e. forgetting a few rules, unless they are from a small core set (e.g. the conversation structure) will have only minor effect on the game experience.
Questions that come to mind:
- Is that true?
- Is it more true than for other kinds of games (e.g. those that fall under Baker’s “D&D”, “point-buy”, or “Forge” design approaches? I.e. is this distinctive about AW (and, by extension, PbtA games in general)
I discussed those questions online, and concluded that Baker is right, with some caveats.
Continue reading “PbtA and Apocalypse World, Part 2 — (Possibly) Graceful Collapse”