Monthly Archives: May 2013

How Long Should an Encounter Last?

I’m very concerned with using the amount of time we have to game effectively, as I feel like the game framework and rules can have a big impact on this.  My question for the readers here is how long do you expect a normal encounter to last?  Do you want to spend two hours or one hour?  30 minutes?  15 minutes?  5 minutes?


Depth vs Complexity

I was turned onto Extra-Credits by Turn Based Living.  I’ve just started watching some episodes.  I’ve found it a little bit difficult to navigate the content, but one video I thought was worth sharing was this discussion of Depth vs Complexity.

I worry that I’m building more complexity into Lost Worlds than I originally conceived, and I hope that depth that the rules provide is worth that added complexity.  I think I’ll need to take a second-draft look at all of these mechanics and make sure I’m not making this design unnecessarily difficult to play the game with the amount of depth I want to play.


I’ve somehow been able to keep up with the blog for the last few months despite a brutal work schedule, but I’m starting to get behind.  If I’m not responding to anything, don’t feel ignored… I’ll be back on in the next few days (I think).  Thanks for your patience!

Counter Play

Another good episode of Extra Credits is this discussion about Counter Play.  This is important to an RPG like Lost Worlds, because all of those mechanics and powers we design for classes often end up with equivalent mechanics in the tool kits of the NPCs.  Essentially, I want to make sure that mechanics being used against the players make the game deeper, and more tactical for them.  The first mechanics that come to mind when I think about Counter Play are the myriad of statuses in RPGs (unconscious, stunned, paralyzed, entangled, grappled, petrification, insta-death, etc).  On the other hand, just because they limit options doesn’t mean the game is less deep because of it.  You might approach a cockatrice very differently than an archer, because of the Counter Play involved in the power being used against you.

Player Agency

I’m going to go a lot deeper into player agency in this post, so be warned it’s a little bit denser than my usual fare.  Reader wylliamjudd wrote the following comment on a post about setting the tone of a game to enable players.

I thought we were talking about player agency. I thought we were talking about a sandbox RPG, that gives players the freedom to explore and choose their own path through the game.

Maybe it would help if you explain what you see as the alternative to this.

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The Paradox of Choice

A pervasive theme I’ve had in this design blog has been providing a framework that allows for a maximum amount of customization for players.  This was a main topic in my last post, as well as in my design goals, but you can see the theme all over the place.  I recently watched this TED lecture from the author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less (thanks to Alexis at Tao of D&D for turning me onto it).

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Unlimited Options, Few Selections

One thought on how to allow characters to really differentiate themselves:

Give players unlimited options for their characters, but only give them a few selections from those options.

As long as the options are balanced enough that the players aren’t obliged to make the same opening selections, the limited selections is what lets players individualize their characters.  Too many selections from the option, and characters start blurring together.

This is one reason I do not plan to give clerics a very extensive spell list.  Each cleric should be granted specific thematic powers from their deity that truly differentiates them.  I need to think through how this philosophy can be applied to the other classes as well.