Archive for January 6th, 2009

Hard Boiled Cultures

2009 Jan 6

Last post of the day, I promise. While I’m still working on Mortal Coil Revised layout and getting Murderland reviews out, Fred’s finished up #3 of my current Top Five projects.

(linked to the One Bad Egg page)

Basically, I told Fred about Simon Carryer’s method of developing culturally rich NPCs, he drafted out his take on applying it to the monolithic races in 4E, and I provided editorial guidance, proofreading, art direction for the cover (Polynesian dragonborn!), and some additional writing. It was a blast to do and makes me much more excited about the possibilities of 4E than I have ever been.

The product itself will be available this coming Monday (Jan 12) through IPR, RPGnow, and Paizo, but it’s actually available right now if you sign up with One Bad Egg’s bookshelf. I definitely think it’s worth checking out if you’ve played any 4E and are interested in making the core races more exciting and diverse. Who knows, I may do another project with the eggheads at some point, but only if we stumble across a topic as exciting to me as this one. No worries about me selling out to become a D&D freelancer :)

For now, I’m putting my nose back to the grindstone before Brennan and/or Mo skin me alive.

A Suggestion

2009 Jan 6

Hey Jonathan, Elliot, and Adam!

If we want to talk about Sim or how mainstream roleplaying design and play styles function (as opposed to dys-function), it’s probably best to do so somewhere besides the focused-game enclave (and chaositorium) that is Story Games. I’ve been mostly sticking to my blog when it comes to talking about structured freeform, because the environment there isn’t really suited for certain discussions.

Better to have the conversation some place that’s intended to be a hospitable and reflective environment for all perspectives and has a much slower pace, like Cultures of Play or some other microforum. I definitely think there are important issues to discuss there, but I’m not going to walk into that disaster zone, y’know?

Static Cling Spikeball Cities

2009 Jan 6

Why did I just buy material for making static cling decal stickers with my inkjet printer?

Because I’m eventually (after I finish the rest of my Top Five) going to begin work on an Agon hack, Super Spikeball, in which your Fate track is represented by the city itself. As you bring prosperity to your hometown, it grows, adding new locations (and new places to play spikeball). But when your city is attacked, those same locations can be damaged or even turned into piles of rubble that must be built over. And all this is represented graphically in the place space, looking a bit like SimCity 2000.


Can you bear this glorious burden? Can you fight back the city?

EDIT: Locations in the city, Spikeworth By-The-Sea, that I came up with during my lunch hour,

• Beachfront Beach – the starting location
• Spikeworth Ballosseum – the city spikeball stadium
• Megahumongoid Megacorp – a big business office tower
• Hurricane Farmacology – wind farm that harnesses man-made hurricanes
• Pyre Extinguishers – the local firefighters
• Spikeworth Intercrashional Zeppport – a dirigible terminal
• The Hospital Hospitaller – a militant medical center
• Futuretron Bizzaratory – a mad science lab
• Miskatonic Cthulhulogical Park – a zoo for foul horrors
• Captain Napbeard’s Anti-Piracy – buccaneers who fight copyright infringement
• Pagliacci State Clowniversity – a public, land-grant clown college
• Knievel Memorial Bridge – a ramp that allows you to jump the river
• The Carnival of Carnivores – a dinosaur park

Welcome to the Heresy, Paul

2009 Jan 6

We’re lucky to have you.

Great podcast, by the way. Everybody should give it a listen, as he really nails the ongoing shift away from the 1980s-1990s “roleplaying is adult make believe / modern oral storytelling” perspective currently happening in some parts of American tabletop (thanks to Nordic influences and the return of play styles that are less about story, thanks to Agon, D&D4, and the like).

As a long-time advocate of examining roleplaying primarily as a socially mediated experience, it’s exciting to see these kinds of ideas being voiced in public again. I don’t think Paul takes it quite far enough, since I believe that tabletop/larp roleplaying can take virtually any form, as long as you have a group of people creating an experience for themselves, but it’s probably good that there are folks a bit more theoretically conservative than me. It makes sense to define roleplaying both by what it is (what people are already doing that they call “roleplaying”) and also what it could be (what kinds of things could I, a roleplaying designer and practicioner, call “roleplaying” without having the community reject that label).

Thanks for HGWT:FAFGMmas, Paul. It definitely revived my excitement for thinking about and talking about games and theory, which had been waning recently (though I’m almost always excited about play).