Monday, 12 May 2014

Around the Campfire

If you are not reading Telecanter's Receding Rules (and you should be!), and if you have not come across this in your wanderings about the InterWebs, then stop and read this excellent post.  It is a great example of how the GM, as game designer, asks himself, "How should this feel in the game?" and then proceeds to investigate mechanics that might create or enhance that feeling.

For those of us playing the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Luck offers a great incentive for any type of play the judge might wish to encourage.  Luck bonuses or penalties need not be permanent; temporary changes based upon circumstances are absolutely appropriate.  The judge can, for example, grant a temporary +1 (or even +1d3) bonus to Luck for all characters on the day following a camp with fire, fresh food, and good cheer.  Because Luck is important when rolling over the fallen to determine whether or not they survived (as well as being used to modify rolls), this is potentially a bonus worth accepting a little risk for.

This can also be used to make joining the inn's company more attractive (rather than staying in one's room), with the added bonus being based upon what one contributes.  Similarly, events like marriages, births, religious ceremonies, etc., can modify the Luck of those who attend them...and those who refuse.

While we are gathered around the campfire talking, here is some other news or bits to ponder.  I would be happy to hear feedback on any of these items:

  • FT 1: Creeping Beauties of the Wood is written, formatted, illustrated, and (as far as I know) just waiting for approval.  Hopefully, that will be available soon.
  • I had been considering writing a countdown of published DCC adventures, excluding my own, from the least to the greatest, but that would require putting someone in the "least" position, the "second least" etc.  The DCC adventures are, overall, quite good.  Joseph Goodman sets a reasonable bar for approving adventures, and I don't feel good about suggesting that any are less than worthy.  I am considering just making a list of my personal "Top Ten", though, if there is any interest.
  • I have never even seen a pdf version of Pesh Joomang, the Ultimate Patron, which was written as an exclusive stretch goal on the Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between Indiegogo project.  Emails to Sean Connors have never been returned.  So far as I know, no one has received this.  I am interested in hearing if you have, as well as your thoughts about including Pesh as a blog post here.  After all, it seems unlikely that Pesh will see the light of day otherwise, and the in-jokes in the write-up are becoming dated.
  • I am strongly considering running the DCC Free RPG Day adventure, Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box, at a store in Toronto for Free RPG Day.  It would make a good start to running World Tour 2014 games, which I have yet to do this year.


  1. Torchbearer actually does exactly this kind of thing, offering players the chance to recover, practice skills, cook, etc. It definitely puts a pause in the action and makes the camp phase more than just wizard recharge time.

    1. I have read some reviews following your comment, and it seems that there is a lot of baggage coming with that in Torchbearer, though. I personally prefer rules to be lighter than what I am reading, and am not a big fan of turning talking into a mini-game. To each his own, though.

      Making things like torches and rations matter has never seemed all that difficult to me. Simply enforce the limitations of running out of either, or of letting the torch go out, and that's that. A dungeon can become oppressive for players simply by a combination of description and the realization of what one must negotiate in order to retreat. Confounding expectations also helps, as does three-dimensional terrain, so that hiking a wounded comrade out becomes truly challenging.

      I can see how structured rules might help the players and GM remain mindful about the conditions that the PCs face, though. I just think that easier rules can go a long way towards this, without requiring role-playing to be hooked so strongly to metagame decisions. I prefer the players to be able to determine what their characters do from within the rationale of the milieu, rather than as a strong artefact of the rules.

      I haven't read it, though, so it might just be that the descriptions and play examples I was able to read were not a clear enough picture.

    2. There is definitely a more rigid structure in TB than most games, but it's not oppressively so. The issue I've had is that time is so abstracted in most games that it gets applied inconsistently. Of course, depending on your preferences, this may be a good thing.

      This is TB in a nutshell. Every time players roll the dice, they advance the turn clock by 1. Conflicts only count as 1 turn. Each kind of light source only lasts a certain number of turns. There are hard rules for inventory management (just as precise as encumbrance but far more elegant, I actually think they were inspired/lifted from LotFP). What this means is that every piece of equipment is meaningful, at least in the sense that you don't have room for non-essential goods. Food, light sources, weapons, maps, and loot, that's it.

      TB is also a little different in that it's not an all-purposes FRPG. The game is specifically built to handle dungeon-crawling in its minutiae. Since your character's goals are focused around exploring dungeons and hopefully making off with the goods, this rigid structure supports that kind of play.

    3. Hey, thanks for the follow-up! There is no such thing as an all-purposes RPG, IMHO, just RPGs that suite this or that purpose better than others. Any game that has steal-able ideas is a game that I am happy exists, even if I do not personally steal from them.

      In Gygax-era D&D, that each roll did not cost a turn was an important strategic consideration. Searching an area, for example, takes more time than simply moving through it. Time results in additional checks for encounters, as well as the chance of resources (such as your torches) running out before you get out. I prefer the idea that some actions take more time (which is a precious commodity) than others.

      I also know that when I personally go into a wilderness or cave-like environment, I like to have a few non-essential items with me....although that begs the question as to what is essential. When I was a kid, and really lived in the boondocks, there was a time in which I considered a spool of thread and a needle somewhat essential.

  2. Replies
    1. Then you are in luck. It just became available.

    2. I saw! Can't wait to get home to check it out!