On November 5th, Mike Shea of SlyFlourish interviewed Rob Heinsoo, one of the lead designers of 13th Age, live on Google Hangouts.
Back in one of my earliest Architect DM posts I said that structure was one of the most overlooked elements of dungeon design. These days most of the published dungeon maps that I see are not bad with regards to structure, but from what I’ve heard this is still something that a lot of people would like to learn about for their personal, hand drawn dungeon designs.
Whenever I get a chance I make a pointed effort to read about or look at a map of other DM’s and GM’s roleplaying game worlds. I find it fascinating to look at them both objectively and subjectively, to see things that I may never have come up with or elements that are similar to things in the worlds I’ve created. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a handful of elements that pop up in the majority of people’s fantasy game worlds and these elements have been some of the inspiration for earlier world building posts in my Architect DM posts.
If someone asked me for a single bit of advice to improve their roleplaying games, whether as a DM or a player, I would tell them to spend as much time as they can reading the great fantasy and sci-fi books that are out there. For the first several years that I was playing RPGs I was not an avid reader and had not even heard of many of the classics, including ones that everyone should have heard of like The Lord of the Rings. At the time I thought many of my friends were insanely creative or stricken by some miraculous form of otherworldly inspiration, but as I’ve read more and more of the books out there I began to realize that most good ideas in our RPGs have been inspired by or even directly ripped from other sources. For example, in one of the first D&D games that I ever DM’d a player showed up with a character named “Muadib” and I remember thinking that it was a very unique and interesting sounding name. A year or two later I started reading Dune and groaned when I realized he’d simply lifted the name straight out of that book.
Charrette is a word that most likely means nothing to you, unless of course you studied Architecture or Design in school then it is a word that can mean quite a lot and the emotions it brings up vary widely from person to person. Charrette is a word used among architecture students to describe a design crunch/cramming session that derives from the French word for “cart”. The term became popular because schools in Paris would have carts pushed around to collect student’s drawings and it was not uncommon for students to continue working on their drawings for as long as possible by riding in the cart. For better or worse, the term has stuck through to this day and architecture students are still as bad as ever at finishing their projects before rigid deadlines.
It’s good to be back! The first week of August saw us at GenCon and very happily winning a Gold ENnie award, and then in the weeks after I’ve been catching up on things post-convention and getting back into the swing of things. Lately I’ve been discussing and toying with the concept that the best world building happens through playing a campaign, and so I suggest the world building DMs out there spend less time before play and just jump into things with a published or a bare bones adventure and then let the world build from there. This also opens your game up to the possibilities for players to contribute to the world building which for me has always turned out better than I could imagine.
Most Game Masters do it. Hacking your favourite RPG is as old as the hobby itself. However, one can often get bogged down with rules that defeat their intent and make the game less fun. Others have so many house rules that players and master alike get confused and lose sense of what game they’re playing.
I took introducing my players to this new system as a personal challenge. How would I introduce the system? How would I avoid overwhelming them with the intricacies of the game system, but still get the game up and running quickly? How would I make this new game experience easy for the players while still satisfying my personal urges to immerse them in the world and the story I was developing?
I think one of 4e’s problem is that the DM tools are now so structured, it becomes a hindrance for people with creativity issues to push through the proposed models and discover “new tech”. I know I’ve been having a hard time selling some of my weirder ideas like “Trap-Monster hybrids” and “The whole party stuck in the same body” because it seems people can’t see it done (or can’t afford the effort to squeeze the concept) in their 4e games.
Last week, I got an interesting email from M. asking advice about dealing with “That Guy”. Now contrary to the ones we discussed in that panel in Toronto, everything seems to indicate that M.’s guy is one to get the generic “you have to be the flexible one to fit him in your game” answer. Quite the contrary.