To better fit my current projects, and to be more memorable, I have changed the name of this blog from “Mhu Thulan” to “The Wrong Kind of Wax”.
I’ve been thinking some more about my concern in my previous post – that “high production values” are a net negative for my pleasure in rpgs. There are three reasons for this. For clarity, I will express them purely in terms of art:
First, if the art doesn’t work for me, it damages my fragile images of the imagined world. For example, anything cartoony feels wrong to me — Dungeon World, Masks, Fate… even D&D 5e is too far down this path. I’m sad to say that Silent Titans gives me trouble, too — I find Leichty’s art powerful, but too abstract and far too garish. It thus prevents me visualising the Silent Titans world.
Second, even art I like can be a problem if creates an unwelcome contrast with things I’ve brought to the table. My own rules and texts have basic typography and little or no art. I might have art printouts or a Pinterest board, but they’ll have a mishmash of artists and styles. I might have made a map, but it will look a bit shit. If there’s a game text on the table produced to a high standard, my work will look poor by comparison.
Some years ago, I created a play-sequence checklist for Burning Wheel Gold, explicitly to remind me of those rules features I was most prone to forget.
- The tax benefits were substantial
- The priest insisted
- One is anxious, one unflappable
- One is slothful, the other beats them
- A love potion, mistakenly administered
- One made the other, and felt responsible
- One rescued the other from a troll
- One talks too much, one never listens to anyone
- They are both a strange shape, like a lock and its key
- They have never thought about it, they just are
- One’s mother schemed extensively
- For the sake of the child
- In the hope of a child
- So that the child would face the curse, not them
- Because no other would have either
- The thing in the well told them to
- Only one had money
- Only one had good sense
- To make eachother keep a secret
- It was the only way they could share the treasure
- They’re actually not, but nobody knows that
- …not even them
- The authorities won’t be looking for a married couple
- The presence of the animal made it necessary
- They already had the same name
- There was nowhere else to hide
- They are always ill in different seasons
- They were born married
- They are actually one creature with two bodies — saying they are “married” is just the least-hassle way to describe it
- No reasonable explanation, but here they are
F M Geist, while talking about a variety of things in response to a post by Emmy Allen —
I’ve always thought of clerics as being like young men from the lower classes in any theocracy: they’re sent out to wage holy terror against others so that the religious order, hierarchy and viewpoint is not challenged because young men who might found a schism are busy dying somewhere. Also it would account for Clerics being somewhat capable fighters and devoted to weird shit about their religion.
Joseph Manola’s vision for how he would do Warhammer Fantasy now — http://udan-adan.blogspot.com/2018/10/bringing-down-hammer-part-12-my-own.html
Manola again, on how his dystopian setting Against the Wicked City is, against appearances, a romantic fantasy setting — http://udan-adan.blogspot.com/2016/06/romantic-fantasy-revisited-4-so-what.html .
I’ve been played Dead Cells today. It seems surprisingly good, and has given me ideas for rpgs, particularly dungeon/hexcrawl ones, and perhaps particularly for open table games:
- Parcel out knowledge in little, mysterious hints of one or two lines. In session announcement emails, on playbooks and other props, hanging on the back of the GM screen today…
- Random roll when you enter the dungeon for major state-changing events that day. E.g.
- There’s a goblin raid ongoing in the section
- The Goblin King has recalled all goblins for a feast, so there are no goblins other than there
- Dungeon World (or similar) location moves that don’t supplement but replace the standard set. Have as cards/sheets that you stick over the standard list while in that area.
- Enemies you can harvest for rare ingredients (seems obvious, but I’ve never done it)
- Dole out world knowledge in tiny parcels through item names, in-game events (hearing that the Hate-Dwarves attacked means that you now know Hate-Dwarves exist), creature types (knowing that the Funnymen are wretched humans with bizarre things grafted onto them implies the existence of a malevolent grafter)…
- People love treasure, especially if there’s a chance of a rare and valuable item. I’ve never got good at treasure — my default is to forget it entirely, or be realistic (and thus give far less than is best for player reward experience). For some games that doesn’t matter, but I rarely shift gears properly for games where it does.
- Let players unlock things that will outlive their character — perhaps for them, perhaps for all players. Advantage of latter is that it makes player-player balancing easier.
Want to explain a missing family member? Want to put a backstory to a grave? Want to be a dick and stop the players talking to that crucial NPC? I am the OSR, roll d30:
- Fell through a rotten floor into a nest of vermin
- Thrown from their horse when it was spooked by a ghost
- Skin sloughed off and blew away on the wind
- Became maudlin, stopped eating
- Hung themself out of spite
- Limbs turned into snakes and slithered off
- Challenged someone to a duel, killed them, killed in turn by a sibling
- Cursed by a boggart, dried out, shrivelled up
- Got an infection, swelled up, burst
- Took patent medicine for a headache
- Took to bed, raved prophecy for three days, expired
- An excess of laudanum administered for joint pain
- Ran wild with joy, fell in a pit
- Hit by an arrow meant for a cheating spouse
- Cheated on their spouse
- Ate very old beans
- Key parts wore out
- Bones ran away from them
- Years of hard living
- Years of loose living
- Picked a fight with a bear
- Jumped in to save another
- Something came at them out of the dark
- A long suffering neighbour put them out of his misery
- With each passing year, another ailment
- Was careless with tools
- Was barely noticed amid the many that winter
- Slowed to a halt over many years
- They shrank as their spouse grew
- No reasonable explanation, but here they are