Revenge of the Random Thoughts

Deep Blue Sea
The blue ocean strategy podcast is taking a bit longer to put together than I had hoped, in part because, when it comes down to it, it’s potentially a very broad topic. The thread I started over at Story Games has generated over 80 posts over the course of two weeks, and produced some very interesting discussion, that has in turn helped me better figure out what to do with the podcast. In particular, I think that while RPGs have done a lot of innovation in terms of what the medium can do, there hasn’t been nearly as much innovation in how people market and sell those games. (Though needless to say, design and marketing can and probably should inform one another.)

Four Ee
D&D4e is a great game for campaigns, but it’s really not that great for one-shots. I’ve yet to play in a con game that didn’t run for 6 or 7 hours, even with the party focusing on getting through the encounters. A 4e character has enough of a learning curve that it’s not worth playing one for just one session.

I got a copy of the new Eberron Player’s Guide, mainly because I wanted to see what 4e could do with a fantasy setting less generic than Forgotten Realms, though frankly it’s not quite wacky enough for my tastes, which makes me want to get around to working on the Nine Towers setting I’d tentatively started a while back.

Potential Spaces
At Webstock 09, Ze Frank gave a talk on “Potential Spaces”. Although he’s a very talented guy himself, where he really shines is his ability to create spaces for people to contribute, and over the course of his 50-minute talk he gives several fascinating (and uplifting!) examples. Early on in the video he also talks about the relationship between the rules of a game and what actually happens, and this is something every game designer should be thinking about.

Dragon Oracle
As kind of a short side project I’ve started trying to design a (non-collectible) card-based RPG. It’s a simple fantasy game, tentatively titled Dragon Oracle. I’m trying to stick to using two decks of 54 cards (a Hero Deck for the players and a Dragon Deck for the GM/Dragon Master) and as few other materials as possible (which is why it wound up being non-random), though I ended up having to allow for simple character sheets. The number of cards limits the number of classes for the base Hero Deck to 3, which will be Fighter, Mage, and either Thief or Acolyte (priest/cleric). I’m not sure where I’m going with this. If it works out exceptionally well I may see about POD printing through Guild of Blades, or try submitting it to game publishers, but it may just wind up as a free PDF, if that. Right now it’s kind of stalled, partly because of the dilemma over class choices (though I’m leaning towards putting in the thief and letting the mage heal a bit, so it could be Fighting/Magic/Trickery rather than Fighting/Magic [arcane]/Magic [holy]).

Sunset +3
Over on the Sunset Games blog they’ve posted up an announcement and cover image for the third and final Yuuyake Koyake supplement, Kore Kara no Michi (“The Road From Here”), which as I understand it will be about playing as humans. Ike‘s art is awesome as ever.

Slime Story
I haven’t been getting much done on Slime Story, but I did get the commissioned art for the game’s archetypes:
Karate Star (Matt)
Suburban Ninja (Phoebe)
Joe Hunter (Doug)
Custom Character (Rita)
Dedicated Archer (Christine)
Nerdy Alchemist (Kenny)
Monster Lover (Kelly)

Dragon Ball Zeeeee
I have a vague notion of trying to put together a DBZ game loosely based on the Budokai Tenkaichi (or “Sparking!” in Japan) video game series.

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3 thoughts on “Revenge of the Random Thoughts

  1. I love Rita’s picture the most, but her staff-holding hand needs to be fixed. The two fingers under the thumb, if they’re supposed to be holding the staff then they need to be even shorter, go under the thumb, and have some lines added to make it clear that they are.

    Currently it looks as if those two fingers had lost a joint.

  2. I’ve tried to play D&D 4e on several occaisions and just don’t like it at all, although I never considered that it may be because the game isn’t really built for one shots. The problem with that is if you don’t impress the potential player/customer in the ‘try-it-out’ one shot, there is no way you’re going to motivate them to play a campaign (or purchase the game).

    My own D&D-ish world has heavy comic book, manga and video game influences and I feel its to fast, dynamic and wild for D&D 4e ( and possibly any version of D&D at this point). Much like your assessment of Eberron I don’t know if the system is really best suited for anything too grandiose.

    AD
    Barking Alien

    1. Wellll… I don’t think 4e is at its best for one-shots, but I do think you can get enough of a feel to have an informed opinion about whether or not it’s the game for you within one session. Playing in the long term will help you better understand how to best employ the roles and powers and whatnot, but if you’re not digging rolling lots of d20s and picking powers to use and so on, there’s a good chance it’s not the game for you.

      I think 4e can handle crazier campaign settings, but the problem is that stuff like Planescape and Spelljammer and so on haven’t been sufficiently commercially successful for WotC to be able to publish them. On top of that, thusfar they’ve been insisting on making it so that every published campaign setting can use most if not all existing game rules. That means that for FR and Eberron alike there’s been a lot of shoehorning to fit the new cosmology, to allow for Dragonborn, Tieflings, Devas, and so on to be part of the worlds, often to the annoyance of existing fans. (Though complaining about radical changes to Forgotten Realms requires ignoring much of its history.) But, D&D has long been a tactical game, and a more freewheeling setting may call for a more freewheeling system like Spirit of the Century, Savage Worlds, etc.

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