Links Roundup: 19th December 2010

DriveThruRPG enters a Brave New World, via Stargazer’s World. A review of DriveThruRPG’s new print-on-demand service. This could become something important for the RPG industry.

Understanding the Economy of Actions, via Sly Flourish. An in-depth analysis of actions per round in D&D 4E. It discusses the difference between heroic tier and high epic level, and ways for DMs to counter PCs with a ludicrous number of attacks per round.

Five Reasons to Love Gamma World, via Sly Flourish

Did I miss anything good this week?

Links Roundup: 13th December 2010

The Things We Do For Love, via Penny Arcade. Webcomic on DM burnout.

Semiprecious Stones, base 50gp value, via Jeff’s Gameblog. Actual photographs of gems from the D&D treasure list. See also last week’s Links Roundup for the 10gp base value gem list.

The Largest RPG Download Store introduces POD, via Stargazer’s World. In short, Drive Thru RPG is doing print on demand now.

The Executive Barrier, via Kayinworks. The designer of I Wanna Be The Guy discusses reward, skill and difficulty in game design.

89 Colorful Kennings, via Kobold Quarterly. Metaphors from Viking myth. I can’t think of a way to integrate this into a D&D game but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Understanding the Economy of Actions, via Sly Flourish. Fourth edition mechanics.

Five Reasons to Love Gamma World, via Sly Flourish.


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Links Roundup: 5th December 2010

What I Learned Running a 1 to 30 D&D Campaign, via Critical Hits. Now that D&D 4E’s been out long enough for a campaign to have run to completion, Mike Shea gives his insights into what we used to call “the new edition”:

Near the end, there wasn’t any bad roll that couldn’t be boosted up by five points using some combination of forgotten feats, situational bonuses, magic items, or triggered actions. People would say things like “deep rumble strike” and then hit an invisible monster for 130 damage. […] There wasn’t a way in hell I could tell if they had a real power or were just making up nonsense words and then doing whatever they wanted to do.

I sound like I’m complaining but 3.5 was even worse for me. Chainwielding half-orcs and solid fog spells trivialized every monster I ever threw at them. High level D&D games pre-4e seemed to end up as coin tosses. Heads you kill them all, tails they kill you all. […] Of course, with 4e, I miss having monsters even potentially that lethal.

The (Lost?) Art of Trap Placement, via JD Wiker.

R.A. Salvatore Is A Grognard from Cave Of Chaos, via Cave of Chaos.

Real Steel: The Tetsubo, via Kobold Quarterly. Interesting article on the Japanese long spiked club.

Maybe there’s method in Wizards’ madness after all, via Greyulf’s Lair. Brief speculation on Microsoft’s port of Silverlight to the Xbox 360 and what this could mean for the D&D character software.

State of the Mongoose 2010, via Paranoia blog. While the Paranoia: Troubleshooters core book has sold well, the alternate core books Internal Security and High Programmers have been less successful. The news is excerpted from Mongoose’s 2010 report, a mammoth 10,000 word document of interest to anyone in the RPG industry.

When Is It OK To Railroad?, via RPG Blog II.

Ornamental Stones, base 10gp value, via Jeff’s Gameblog. Picture of the gems appearing on the low end of D&D’s treasure chart.

That’s probably the perfect mentality, I think:, via Quote Unquote. On developing a game, whether a video game or tabletop RPG.

How to Captivate Your Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright), via Copyblogger. Advice on story writing applied to marketing, but equally valuable to the tabletop games writer and Dungeon Master.

Possibly Intriguing D&D Virtual Table News, via Grognardia. There’s a rumour that D&D’s virtual gametable will support systems other than D&D 4E. Nothing that Maptools and OSU-GT Gametable don’t already do, and I suspect that few oldschool-only players will subscribe to D&D Insider at full price just for the Gametable, but still.

The Smallest of Gaming Groups: DM+1, via Newbie DM. How to run D&D 4th edition for a single player.

competing processes of play, broad appeal, and improving D&D, via Elliot Wilen’s RPG theory/design/philosophy journal.

Links Roundup: 29th November 2010

Two Holiday Sales, via Greyhawk Grognard. Goodman Games has 33% off all PDFs until Tuesday, and Chaosium has 25% off until early Tuesday.

On the topic of “Fun”, via Kayinworks. The creator of fiendishly difficult platformer I Wanna Be The Guy, on the difference between something being “good” and something being “fun”.

The problem with Risus, via Greywulf’s Lair. The rules-light Risus RPG.

Thank You, Ryan Dancey, via Grognardia. A forum post by Ryan Dancey on the OGL in 2010.

Links Roundup: 23rd November 2010

Twenty Ways to Improve Your Game, via Robert J. Schwalb. Robert recommends reducing the hit points on all monsters in D&D 4E, and give how prolific a writer he’s been for 4E, I agree with him. Surprisingly, he recommmends against the use of item wish lists:

Magic items have become a character-building tool. Players regard their magic weapon as integral to their character design. This is a problem since it adds yet another exploitative element that can create difficulties at the table. Magic items should be strange, wondrous, and exciting […] If a player wants that +5 holy avenger, create ways to gain the item, environments the player must explore and quests the player must complete to secure the item.

This is close to the attitude taken in my 2007 article, Realistic Magic Item Shopping, so I like the sound of it. In 3E terms you can have your players roll a Gather Information check to discover the locations of items they want; I forget the 4E equivalent to this skill check off-hand.

Are There Too Many Retro-Clones?, via RPG Blog II.

NewbieDM Reviews: Essentials Monster Vault, DM’s Kit, and The City Dungeon Tiles.

Stealing the Idol’s Eye, via Robert J. Schwalb. How to make D&D 4th edition feel more like AD&D 1st edition. Interesting suggestions include using the AD&D equipment list, granting XP for treasure found, training to level up, strict light-source rules, and rewarding unconventional solutions.

In Praise of D&D III, via Grognardia. James explains very neatly the atmosphere that inspired the old-school revival and anti-WotC sentiment:

The advent of v.3.5 — even its self-designation is awful — presaged a shift in tone, content, and business plan that slowly lost me.

DDI Virtual Table goes Beta!, via Square Fireballs. A 2D version of WotC’s gametable is in production, but can we trust it after a disastrous month in which D&D Insider released an unusably buggy new Character Builder and an unfinished Assassin class? What features will it have over Maptools or OSU-GT Gametable?

Truly, the End Times are Upon Us…, via Trollsmyth. Another opinion on the DDI Gametable.

Review: Essentials D&D “Heroes” Books, via Critical Hits.

Win a copy of Dungeon Tiles Master Set: The City, via Newbie DM.

40 Great Name Resources, Lists and Generators, via Campaign Mastery.

Postcards from Minecraft, Part 5, via Twenty Sided. You’ll appreciate this if you enjoy Minecraft, but check out that giant d20 construction. Anyone remember the Bone Ooze?

Save Ends, via Mousferatu. D&D novelist Ari Marmell offers a solution to the mess of D&D 4th edition ongoing effect status.

D&D 4E campaign management software Masterplan announces version 9.9.

Links Roundup: 14th November 2010

Look what I found on the Internet.

4e D&D Plays Like a Video Game, and That’s Awesome, via The Dread Gazebo.

The Powers That Be, via Newbie DM. The presentation of powers as fluff in D&D 4E, and how they can be handled well.

Historical Steel: The Haft of It, via Kobold Quarterly. Polearms though history. The difficulty of refining steel before the 19th Century meant that swords were usually too expensive.

Coming Soon: Microlite75 Version 0.9, via RetroRoleplaying. There’s a new version of the extra-lightweight Microlite75 ruleset based on oldschool D&D.

5 Reasons Why I Love War Campaigns, via The Red Box Blog.

JParanoia software to go open-source, via Paranoia. This is about the software for playing the comedic Paranoia tabletop RPG online.

D&D Essentials and the 4.5 Edition Issue, via Critical Hits. Is there going to be a “4.5E”? Has it happened already?

Evolve or die… or, A diatribe on my feelings about new editions!, via Stargazer’s World.

Links Roundup: 10th November 2010

Happy Halloween!, via Grognardia.

Why stop with the Anti-Paladin, via Greywulf’s Lair. Interesting antithetical character class concepts.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, via Grognardia. Announcement of Goodman Games’ upcoming oldschool RPG.

6d6 Shootouts — Free Download, via 6d6 Fireball.

Ask the Kobold: Taking the Initiative, via Kobold Quarterly. Skip Williams gives some interesting insight into the development of D&D 3E’s initiative system.

Essentials ranger preview: Redeeming Twin Strike, via Square Fireballs.

Analyzing the Essentials Assassin, ia Square Fireballs.

D&D’s Gorgon Found!, via Trollsmyth.

New City of Greyhawk Maps, via Greyhawk Grognard.

More Gamma World? YES, via Blog of Holding. Some thoughts on the new wacky post-apocalyptic Omega World RPG.

The Architect DM: Give It Some Structure, via Real Steel: The Katana, Kobold Quarterly. A swordsmith describes the creation of the real-world katana.

Ritual, via NeoGrognard. Some excellent insights into the development of D&D 4th edition by Stephen Radney-MacFarland, former WotC writer:

There was this idea that if you could make D&D speak less jargoned, that new people would have an easier time learning it. […] I’m willing to bet that some kid who grew up reading Harry Potter novels and playing console RPGs doesn’t need to be glad-handed with less jargon, they need to be inspired. They need to find a new world to explore. They know the jargon game. Some of them love the jargon game.

Thanks to the blogs and articles linked for their work over the past three weeks.

Links Roundup: 9th November 2010

Real Steel: The Danish Axe, via Kobold Quarterly. Professional bladesmith Todd Gdula describes the real world viking weapon that became D&D’s greataxe.

Essentials Paladin: Defender’s aura, shift prevention, less choices., via Square Fireballs. Analysis of 4E’s new Essentials Paladin.

Twenty Ways to Improve Your Game, via Robert J. Schwalb.

Restructuring Skill Challenges, via Gamecrafters’ Guild. On 4E skill challenges.

A Monster a Day …, via Gamecrafters’ Guild. Announcement of a new 4E monster statblock every day for the month of November.

Greywulf’s Guide to 4e Character Generation by Hand, via Greywulf’s Lair. Very useful if you’ve relied on the Character Builder so far but aren’t renewing your subscription, can’t use the online tool at your gaming table, or miss the old fashioned way of doing things.

Neurons & Lobes: Examining Psionics, Part 2 of 5, via Campaign Mastery. A huge work of pseudoscience on the way psionics works.

Interviewing Potential Players, via Campaign Mastery. What can you do if you’re hesitant to add a new player to an established group, but need to fill an empty chair? See also This Survey For New Players Ensures A Good Fit.

Plot flowchart example, via Campaign Mastery.

25 Cleric Character Hooks, via Campaign Mastery.

New Generator: Roleplaying A Black Dragon, via Campaign Mastery (again).

A better formula for minion damage., via Square Fireballs.

Thanks to the blogs linked for their efforts.

Links Roundup: 8th November 2010

I’ve been hoarding links for the past three weeks, expecting only a few top-notch articles. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I’d accumulated thirty-five links worth sharing. I’m going to post the rest over the next three days.

Return of the Immortals, via Stargazer’s World. Rambling on the old D&D Immortals set that puts the I in BECMI.

My rant on WotC’s new Character Builder, via Stargazer’s World. A summary of common concerns on the new web-only 4E character builder. The new version will require an internet connection, makes account sharing harder, and can’t be used without an active subscription.

The End of The Forge, via Stargazer’s World. Indie RPG forum The Forge is set to close.

Why I Don’t Want Anime In My D&D, via More Than Dice. Gestalt Gamer notes the influence of the hyper-exaggerated elements of Japanese animation on tabletop RPGs.

RPG Alternate Histories, via The RPG Corner. What would RPGs look like if Gary Gygax hadn’t created Dungeons & Dragons in the 1970s?

Dungeons & Dragons: Opening the Monster Vault, via The Escapist. A short video review of Monster Vault for D&D 4E. The set includes an adventure module, a monster manual complete with actual fluff, and ten sheets of paper pogs for miniatures.

POGS Or Minis?, via The Kyngdoms. With a new cardboard pog product out and the cancellation of a miniatures line, what is the future of D&D miniatures?

Taking Aim: A Primer on Traditional Archery, via The Art of Manliness. Background information on real-world archery.

Transitional Technologies and RPGs, via Grognardia. A long-winded tale of how tabletop RPGs have lost ground against video games, but they’re still good.

Character Builder goes online!, via Square Fireballs. An extended analysis.

Is D&D Esssentials Worth It?, via D20 Source. I’ll put this here and see if anyone notices I’m linking my own blog.

Ask Dr. Evil: Better late than never?, via Robert J. Schwalb. Encounter building advice for D&D 4E.

If you can’t wait until tomorrow, October’s links collect fifteen good articles.

If you’re the author of one of these articles, thank you for your contribution to the RPG blogging scene!


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Weekend Links Roundup: 17th October 2010

This week, I’ve scoured the blogosphere for the best Dungeons & Dragons posts. It’s been a while since I last made one of these, so a few of these actually go back as far as September, some further.

Clerics versus Undead Monsters, via Grognardia. James Maliszewski provides his usual insights into the film and literary origins of the cleric class.

Your Whispering Homunculus: When You’re Alone, You’re Alone, via Kobold Quarterly. Dungeon mastering advice on how to create mood in D&D.

Sage Advice Compilation, via Grognardia. James Maliszewski gives his opinion on this archive of D&D Sage Advice questions dating back to Dragon Magazine #31. Really interesting to see how the game’s focus has changed since the 1970s, from world simulation to character development and tactical combat.

"Not as Bad as it Looks" is Still Bad, via RPGpundit’s Xanga. Outspoken critic RPGPundit reports that Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG is tied for sales with D&D 4th edition in hobby stores.

Fatigue: An optional rule for characters without healing surges, via Square Fireballs. A 4E variant rule that allows characters to spend a healing surge after their surges have been depleted, at the cost of being fatigued until they take an extended rest. If they are already fatigued, they are instead weakened and grant combat advantage for one round.

Devil’s Advocate, via Grognardia. James Maliszewski notes an odd coincidence.

Teaching RPGs, a Quick Retrospective, via Critical Hits. The Chatty DM links to a collection of articles on introducing new players to tabletop roleplaying games.

Do the Evolution, via Critical Hits. RPG writer Chris Sims discusses how tabletop RPGs have changed since the original release of Dungeons & Dragons.

Real Steel: The Mystery of Steel—Myth and Fact of Forge Folding, via Kobold Quarterly. Todd Gdula gives a real-world insight into the art of modern and historical weaponsmithing.

Healing Surges revisited, via Square Fireballs. Discussion of D&D 4E’s healing surge mechanic, how it changed the game, and its flaws.

Review: “Gamma World” RPG, via Critical Hits. Dave Chalker reviews Wizards of the Coast’s new wacky mutant future RPG.

Pulp Fantasy Library: Rhialto the Marvellous, via Grognardia. A look at the the literary works that originally inspired Dungeons & Dragons’ magic system and implied setting.

Reexamining the Dungeon, by Robert J. Schwalb. A writer for Wizards of the Coast, Schwalb gives insights into the “tactical encounter” format introduced late in D&D 3rd edition and used heavily by 4th edition. He looks at where the format succeeds, where it fails, and how those issues might be solved.

Re-examining the Dungeon: Section, Factions and Fronts, via Critical Hits. The Chatty DM posts in agreement with Robert J. Schwalb’s deconstruction of the tactical encounter format, and suggests a solution inspired by old Gygax-style dungeon modules.

D&D Trivia Archive May 2010 via Critical Hits. Former Wizards of the Coast game designer Chris Sims shares interesting D&D factoids, including some secrets of 4E’s development. For example, 4E began early playtesting in 2006, the original 4E Monster Manual draft had more fluff, and minions had more hit points but were reduced to 1HP for easier tracking.