An ex-coworker told me that she thinks I may not be "living up to my potential" at my current job. Technically she's correct, but just because my "full potential" wouldn't involve a job at all...

(cont.) Further, I'm not even really afraid of contradicting myself when I do eventually answer how and why questions, provided that the conflicting answers/interpretations at least make sense in the setting.

Information about the world is imperfect, contradictions are invitations to investigate further, we play to find out the real story.

Show thread

(cont.) ...It didn't actually come up.

This is an example of "draw maps, leave blanks" in that I don't feel like I need to rationalize every detail I put out there, instead we can "play to find out" the answers. This increases the amount of detail and atmosphere I can add because I don't have to spend all my time writing detailed backstory that the players likely will never hear.

I haven't mentioned the system, though you can probably guess, because I think this approach is system-neutral.

Show thread

So the castle of last night's crawl had an unusual configuration: a new castle built around an old one in the center. Natch the old castle is haunted and its occupants hostile to outsiders.This set up some faction play and glimpses of the deep history of the inner castle.

But why was the outer castle built around the inner one instead of knocking it down and replacing it? And whence the animosity? I didn't really know when putting it together, but trusted I could answer it when/if it came up.

Fun thing from a castle-crawl I ran last night: set up a slightly contrived situation where after 2 hours -- in game time *and* real time -- the castle guards would come looking for the party.

This was a soft time limit: they weren't cut off after two hours, but going over would change the situation and make escape more difficult.

Ofc they went over but it really sped up the end of the adventure, made the escape super exciting, and we were able to do the whole thing in <3h total, incl. setup.

Now I'm not saying that all modules should also release the source text, and I recognize the gray ethics of using this unauthorized reproduction of the module text. But it was striking to me how different this experience felt and I wanted to share.

I acknowledge that there is something to preserving and presenting the authoritative version of a module so that players from different games, even different eras, can have a shared experience.

But there's no denying the thrill I found here. (fin)

Show thread

But it was totally game-changing to just... change the text of the module. No longer was there a separation between the "authoritative" text and my annotations, as soon as I saved my changes they were indistinguishable, on equal footing.

As I prepped and ran the module, the document grew in some sections and shrank in others as I added notes, changed encounters, even deleted whole chunks that didn't fit what I was doing.

Dear readers, it was exhilarating. (cont.)

Show thread

As such it was pretty simple to convert it back to a Word document. A bunch of the formatting was off so it took a little while to fix the styles and formatting, but when I was done, I had a 95%-complete, *editable* version of this module.

And let me tell you, it was a revelation. I always make tweaks to modules, my hard-copies have post-its and notes in the margins and pages stuck in; my pdfs have lots of annotations and highlighting. (cont.)

Show thread

5e is close enough to 1e/2e that conversion is generally straightforward so I wasn't really looking specifically for a 5e *conversion*, but more like some additional clarification and fan-suggested tweaks, etc.

However I did find a 5e conversion of the module from before CoS was published. This isn't that big of a deal by itself, the text was mostly copied from the module, but I could tell this pdf was exported from MS Word (cont.)

Show thread

So as I'm reacquainting myself with the old module via pdf and doing some work to insert it into our campaign, I look around to see what kinds of updated resources I can find for this classic module.

BTW I know Curse of Strahd exists, but I didn't need a whole campaign setting, just a creepy town with a gothic castle and the classic pdf is $5!


Show thread

Recently I had what felt like a revelation in one of the games I run. Let me share.

I've been running a 5e Forgotten Realms game for almost 3 years. It's fun and experimental, the players were all new to RPGs when we started so there aren't a lot of sacred cows. I wanted to experiment with running classic modules in a 5e game and circumstances converged such that it would be appropriate to run classic 1e Ravenloft. Very exciting for me! (cont.)

So in your game, bringing the "bad guy" to the authorities might be totally moot. Are the PCs prepared to dispense justice and deal with the consequences?

Ibid.: " For most of Republican history there was no formal law criminalising homicide: the Roman government was so deliberately decentralised that it did not see itself as a state which was harmed by private homicide. The murder of a private person did not affect the various magistrates’ power, and therefore the state need not interfere."

Show thread

Through books, movies, oral history, etc., most or all of us have some idea about other government types outside of our lived experience. But what about justice systems?

"Rome, however, had a predominantly self-help justice system, where private families and individuals investigated and punished slights against themselves. It was not the role of the state... to interfere with such private matters as a vengeance killing within the family."

On a somewhat related note, I often need to remind myself that most people in this hobby *do not* read the same stuff as me, and that what may be considered a consensus opinion of one corner of the interwebs may have little bearing on IRL people's preferences or opinions.

A corollary to this is that your opinions/thoughts/advice, even if you do not consider them to be original, may be totally novel to audiences outside your little bubble.

Show thread

Sometimes when wading through the OSR blogosphere, I feel like I'm the only one that doesn't especially care what was going on in Geneva, Wisconsin in the 1970s. I know that's not the case, people arguing the relative merits of Gygax v. Arneson are few and far between to be sure, but jeez some people have a lot tied up in the origins of their hobby. I guess it's the same with any subculture: Ramones vs. Sex Pistols, Woz vs. Jobs vs. Gates, Newton vs. Leibniz, but dang, maybe write something new?

"Faeries" by Brian Froud

There are several editions of this book, some way more expensive than others, so it must be a classic with some audience. In any case, this book provides an excellent, almost encyclopedic, overview of a particular conception of Faeries and Fae creatures. I've always found the D&D/Tolkien treatment of Faeries limiting and I wanted to present a more complex perspective in a game I was running; this book provided that in spades.

Show thread

"Feats and Wisdom of the Ancients"

This one can be a little hard to find but usually isn't expensive. Probably not suited for the real history buffs out there, this can sometimes read like a Buzzfeed listicle of "22 Ancient Wonders You've Never Heard Of" or "Ancient Wisdom or Alien Tech? You Decide!" Aside from that giant caveat, the speculative, nonscientific tone is effective at providing inspiration and jumping-off points for your own fantasy stories.

Show thread

ITT: Non-game books we use for our games.

"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Mythology"

A perennial bargain book at Barnes & Noble, I love this book for its focus on mythological heroes besides the deities. Also several focus sections break down particular elements and tropes common across mythologies. Tons of art adds to the incredible value here.

I'm new to scifi rpgs, so this may be obvious to you all.

In the Stars Without Numbers game I'm running, my players ended up stealing an old, half-junked shuttle from some pirate-slavers. They bartered to get a spike drive installed, but I told them that the shuttle is 3 maintenance periods behind schedule, effectively creating a "debt" that needs to be paid in the medium-term. I have since been informed that this reflects how Classic Traveller starts the PCs with a ship and in debt. Neat :)

Show more
Tabletop Social

We are an inclusive Mastodon community for everything tabletop (and more).