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Why do we all have different preferences in RPGs?

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welcome to my mountaintop The NSR Discord server is really something unique, I think. For one thing, it's the only server that's got me hanging out regularly! But, more importantly, it has a wide range of people who hail from a wide variety of play cultures. ( This is essential reading if you don't know what I mean by that.) We have a lot of days where those partial to a Culture A and those partial to a Culture B have a conversation along the lines of: CULTURE A PEOPLE : "I just don't get Culture B for reasons X, Y, and Z." CULTURE B PEOPLE : detailed explanation and/or theoretical refutation of X, Y, and Z SOMEONE, EVENTUALLY : "Well, at the end of the day we all have different preferences and that's okay!" Don't get me wrong for a moment: These are often  fantastic conversations , people learn a lot, and some people end up discovering a new style of play that they enjoy. And, yes, we all do have different preferences, and that is okay! Jus

LORE DUMP: On the Origin of Gods, Monsters, Magic, and More

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The following post is about lore I'm thinking of using for my next campaign world. If you think you'd like to play in a game of mine some day, perhaps you'd rather discover it in-game alongside your character, if it even comes up at all. (Personally, I don't think it's much of a spoiler, and a little out-of-character knowledge might give you context for how your character would understand the world.) I. Sapient species produce souls. This phenomenon is poorly understood, but what is known is that, unless the soul's host experienced some serious trauma , the soul sinks to the center of the planet and joins a mass of soul-stuff called the World Will. A select few, called "prophets," are born with the ability to encounter aspects of the World Will through their dreams. Through such encounters, the prophets come to categorize, personify, and interact with such aspects, which they conceive of as "gods" or "spirits." (In truth, the manifo

Where I Came From and Where I'm Going

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I. Five or six years ago, my friends and I were in high school, it was lunch period, and we expressed interest in playing D&D. So my good friend Max said, "Sure, we can play D&D," and he pulled out some dice and we made up some characters and he improvised a dungeon on the spot. I must have had some familiarity with D&D tropes back then, because I made up on the spot that I wanted to be a quarterling (half-halfling, half-gnome) and that my name would be Borris Bilburrow. I had just read The Hobbit for the first time, and I think I was trying to poke fun at the concept of fantasy races, which I thought seemed especially dumb. We didn't get very far that day, but we played a few more times and I always used the same character. Max got us to fill out full fifth-edition character sheets sometimes, but I don't think we were ever using the actual rules of 5E, and my impression is that he never had much at all prepared. It was a free-wheeling kind of thing with

What If I Had to Run a Campaign?

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i’m so sorry for making this image I don’t want to run campaigns anymore . But if I had to, what system would I choose? I know a lot of people run extended campaigns using OSR systems, or even using lighter systems like Cairn or Into the Odd . Honestly, assuming several months of weekly play, I think I would get pretty bored. These are systems that, to my mind, are very focused on one style or, perhaps more accurately, structure of play. You’re “crawling” through something—dungeon rooms, hexes, points. There are things that drain your resources. You can only afford to lose so many resources before you die and have to make a new character. It’s a fun structure! I’m literally designing two whole games around dungeon crawls. But, I’m impatient. I want something new or exciting to happen every session. I get bored doing the same thing, playing through the same kind of scenario over and over again. With Goblets & Grues , I hope that I will be able to get a lot of excitement out of run

W.I.P.: The Goblets & Grues Virtual Box Set

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EDIT July 1, 2021 : I have updated this post to reflect slight changes to the project as it has progressed. If you want to support the development of the G&G Virtual Box Set, please consider paying-what-you-want for Squires Errant  over on itch.io. Version 3.0 of Squires is mechanically identical to the current draft of Expert G&G, but it uses a simple class system instead of d66 packages of starting equipment. Onward With the Post, Then... I recently decided that I want to release all my little D&D-a-like projects as part of one package. I’m calling it a Virtual Box Set because I listened to Chris McDowall’s interview of Chris Bissette and I thought: “Oh, huh, box sets sound nice.” Here’s what I’m currently planning to include. A Pair of Games Goblets & Grues , an FKR-inspired game. There is a real-time limit to recover a treasure, after which your lantern goes out and you are likely to be... well, you know. Based largely on Adventure Hour . Expert Goblets & Grues

Falling out of love with the dedicated table

As far as I can tell, there are three structures for running a D&D-like game: Mini-Campaign . A small, temporary group runs through a single adventure over one or two sessions. Maybe six at most. Dedicated Table . A small, dedicated group explores a wide-open sandbox at a regular meeting time for a few months to a few years. Open Table . A large group of players explore either a megadungeon or a hexcrawl (“West Marches”), joining sessions as they are available. No one is expected to join every session. I have a few thoughts. Thought #1: On Levelling I would rather have three separate games for each of these structures than trying to bend a single game to serve all three. OD&D was designed for the open table. I think character levelling is the key example. In a large, community game, it helps a lot to have a “score” that instantly communicates how long you’ve been playing, how long you’ve survived, and how powerful your character is. The same principle is at work in MMORPGs. Wha

A Game to Serve the Setting

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Part I: A World Where Everyone Gets to be Conan In “ d&d is anti-medieval ,” Paul over at Blog of Holding argues that Original D&D from 1974 does not represent a medieval, European society on either a fundamental or a superficial level. Unlike a medieval or even a capitalist society, the bulk of the land is free and unclaimed. You can wander the wilderness killing monsters and looting tombs without attracting the concern of a nobility that might fear violent and wealthy peasants. Paul refers to the setting as both social-classless and stateless, but “classless” would properly describe a setting without wealth disparity. OD&D is merely stateless, an anarchist or libertarian society absent modern technology. Paul concludes that this unique social model is “an American fantasy of empowerment and upward mobility,” either a subconscious or deliberate attempt by Gary Gygax to give his fantasy a Wild West or “New World spin.” I’d like to propose a more concrete explanation. Conan