Monthly Archives: March 2013

Inspired by RPGs

“I became a writer because I couldn’t be a DM,” Lipsyte told Riesman.

Sam Lipsyte is an author I have never read, although I’ll be looking out for his writing after watching this video.


Factions Revisited

Andy, in the comments on Factions, wrote:

First thing that comes to mind is bonuses and penalties to diplomacy type rolls and selling/buying prices. One simple chart should do the trick I think. Maybe if you get a high enough score with one faction you get the opportunity to buy some of their “special, unlisted” items. Or maybe you get a house in that city or an awesome item if your score is maxed out. Marriage proposals, orgies at the local brothel, etc. Just some ideas.

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Night of the Zombie King

Do yourself a favor and watch this miniseries.


Each episode is between 5-8 minutes, and there are 6 episodes total, so we’re talking about 30-45 minutes here.  In that very short amount of time, the people behind this series take you through a wide range of emotions and stories that anyone can relate to.  There’s reunion, regret, excitement, hopelessness, love, anger, humor, and sacrifice.  It also a rare mature-view of what it’s like to play RPGs and the social implications and how it all fits into a person’s life.  It’s been around for awhile (2010), but it’s worth a second look even if you’ve watched it before.

Its bigger cousin, Gold the Series, is good, but I think Night of the Zombie King is quite a bit more powerful and gives you a lot more bang for the buck.


Novels tend to have a protagonist, or heroes that aren’t just traveling 100% of the time with the other heroes of the story in a “party.”  In movies, you could have a movie like “Iron Man” where the main hero gets most of the spotlight in the story, and then a movie like “The Avengers” where all of those interesting heroes have to share the stage.  How do we reconcile our expectations from novels and RPG video games to tabletop RPGs where the players are on a team and forced to share the attention throughout the gaming session?

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RPGs on Nightmare Mode

I was turned onto Raph Koster’s (lead developer of Ultima Online) site awhile back, but I have to admit I hadn’t been there in awhile until Alexis over at Tao of D&D referenced this post about game design thought out in game difficulty modes.  From the post:

Basically, these are the difficulty levels for game designers. Easy mode is the cop-out game adaptation, the easy answer. A more adventurous team might go for normal mode. But Hard and Nightmare are the regions we rarely venture to in games… some would argue because they aren’t commercial enough. But the movies mentioned all get these points across — in commercially successful content even… so why couldn’t the games?

Raph goes on to describe several games as designed with various modes of difficulty.  Now, the thing about a good RPG, and I certainly hope Lost Worlds will be that someday, is that I think the design of the rules themselves are trying to get out of the way of the people playing – and that the combination of GMs and players, far moreso than the game designer of the framework, determine what mode we’re all playing on.

Because of the hierarchy, it’s simple to judge “Easy Mode” as worse than Hard Mode, although I don’t think that’s true.  If RPGs are a diversion for you, you may not want a game that, as Alexis puts it, “forces players to question who they are, challenging their belief systems while psychologically re-engineering their habits and expectations..”  Though I’d love to give that game a try sometime, that type of game would be hard, not just to create and run as the GM, but to play in.  Of course, that’s the point of Raph’s analogy.

I wonder too if Alexis would have a rebuke for me here as well.  I just think people are looking for games with different difficulties – and even the same person might want to play games at different difficulties.  Sometimes I want to read Crime and Punishment, and sometimes I want to watch Indiana Jones.  I think the same applies to gaming.

Lost Worlds

So, Andy and I ran into this book at Owlcon.  *sigh* Maybe it’s time to find a new name for my RPG.


From Wikipedia:

Lost Worlds is a “combat picture book game” designed and trademarked by Alfred Leonardi and originally published in 1983 by Nova Game Designs. The game has had many publishers, including Chessex, Emithill, Flying Buffalo and Greysea. In 1984, Lost Worlds won the Charles Roberts/Origins Award for Best Fantasy Boardgame of 1983.[1]

In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Lost Worlds as one of the Millennium’s Best Games. Editor Scott Haring described the game as a “great, short, take-to-a-con and kill a couple minutes kind of game

There is also Lost Worlds the TV Show, but I’m not as concerned about that one.