DragonQuest Rules

June 23, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — rthorm @ 9:57 pm

5-600 RANGER

More heavily modified than Troubadour, it isn’t as much of a clone of the 2nd Ed. I found some other places to make changes and adjust things a bit more. Hopefully these are all positive changes.

June 22, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — rthorm @ 11:53 am

3-335 VISIBILITY from Arturo Algueiro Melo

June 15, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — rthorm @ 1:08 pm

June 14, 2004
Lessig Legal Team Seeks Copyright Stories for Brewster Kahle v. John Ashcroft lawsuit

Lawrence Lessig and his legal team are asking for your help. Kahle v. Ashcroft is a lawsuit that challenges changes to U.S. copyright law that have created a large class of “orphan works” — creative works which are out of print and no longer commercially available, but which are still regulated by copyright.

The Kahle team is collecting examples of people being burdened by these copyright-related barriers to the use of orphan works. Visit the Kahle Submission Site and tell us your story.


June 8, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — rthorm @ 5:13 pm

Subject: Make me the Pope’s killer whore
Date: Jul 15, 2003 9:21 AM

Great article about ideas on handline NPCs in RPGs. Plus it mentions Monica Belluci
and the Brotherhood of the Wolf and has the phrase “You spit in her decolletage.”



As we left the theatre after watching Brotherhood of the Wolf for the first time, I confided to Ramee that there was this role-playing game I had never given much thought to before, but apparently it was pretty much exactly like all that crazy shit we had just seen on the big screen, all that and moreso. Ramee walked over to the movie poster and pointed at Monica Bellucci and said, “I want to be her. If I can play her, I will play that game. Make me the Pope’s killer whore.”

Thus our ongoing 7th Sea game was born.

Last night we kicked off the first of several sessions that will focus heavily on politics and social intrigue. I’ve never pulled that off before ? not successfully, anyway ? and I’d been pretty nervous leading up to last night’s game. Our group has often run afoul of the perennial dilemma that surrounds social mechanics: how do you use dice without devaluing player input? how do you roleplay it without reducing the decision-making process to GM fiat?

In a game like 7th Sea, where witty courtiers are supposed to be viable heroes right alongside the
flashing swordsmen and daring pirates, I think it’s important that social skills have some sort of objective measure. Everyone in the group can quip in pseudo-medieval Olde Englishe with roughly equal facility, but a high rating in social skills makes your character unique, and provides a niche to fill. On the other hand, abstracting social interaction into a roll of the dice can disempower the player:

PLAYER: “I attempt to impress the Countess with my dazzling social acumen.”

GM: “What’d you roll?”

PLAYER: “I rolled a 1.”

GM: “Tough luck. You say something completely stupid and spit in her décolletage.”

Somehow, that just doesn’t play very well.

The solution I finally hit on was inspired, in part, by Jared Sorenson’s “I-system” and James West’s Pool ? which stipulate that the result of a die roll does not determine success or failure, but rather who gets to narrate the result. Now, our group is structured much more traditionally than either of those games, but I was able to incorporate that philosophy into one small part of the mechanics, I think to good effect.

All social intrigue revolves around the basic currency of favors. The NPCs are not merely information banks and clue-dispensers; the object of the game is to get them to do something for you, and to do that you have to do something for them in return. So all the improving and kibbitzing and Olde Englishe quipping eventually leads up to the critical moment where the player puts her cards on the table and says, “Okay, I’m trying to get this guy to do this for me.”

We roll an opposed test of her social skill vs. the NPC’s. Already this changes the “feel” of play from simply making a flat roll against your own skill. We have a tendency to interpret the results of an opposed roll relative to each other, rather than in absolute terms. A crappy roll doesn’t mean your character did something stupid; it just means your opponent did better.

If the player wins the roll, she gets to dictate the terms of the agreement ? that is, she decides what the NPC will do for her, and what she will do for the NPC in return. As the GM, I reserve the right to dicker a bit if the player gets ridiculously greedy (“Gimme the keys to the royal treasury, and I’ll buy you a hot dog…”), but for the most part the player takes the reins and determines the outcome of the scene.

If the NPC wins, then I get to dictate the terms of the agreement instead, both how much the NPC is willing to give and how much the player has to pay for it. The kicker here is that either way, the player still achieves her objective, which was to get a favor from the NPC. In no case does the NPC simply brush the player off and refuse to negotiate. A “failed” roll, then, does not signify a dead end; it just means the player now has to do more than she expected. Ideally, the player will have to do just a bit more than she can accomplish on her own, which should drive her to more NPCs looking for more favors, until the web of promises and obligations gets hopelessly entangled and then voilá ? instant intrigue.

It worked splendidly. Ramee’s character now has to find a way to convince the Lady Jamais Sices du Sices to spend one night with Prince Donello Falisci ? whom the Lady despises ? in order to get an important favor from him. Meanwhile, Brian’s character has already slept with Lady Jamais in an attempt to get a favor from her. And the most important NPC of all, Duchess Thérèse Rois et Reines du Roché, is the only person who can get the heroes what they most vitally need ? and she hates Lady Jamais with a boundless passion. Lord knows what she’ll ask the players to do.

And all that is from a bunch of failed rolls.

Lots of fun, and a great solution to an old problem. Can’t wait until next week.


Filed under: Uncategorized — rthorm @ 3:30 pm

Placeholder and reactivation

All the old stuff below was on here from earlier on, and is kept here for archival purposes.

A lot of what I’m going to be doing here is blogging about DragonQuest, but this is not exclusively about DragonQuest (Despite the title). There are other games I’m interested in.

I’ve been experimenting with ideas for a Gazetteer game and have tried to set one up (Vrinthia Gazetteer Game).

I may try to put something together for the Mombasa Elephant Society, a group of gamers who are going to be having monthly game get-togethers.

Thor, Pete, and I (and sometimes Mike) are doing occasional gaming of different stripes. And Thor is doing game design and discussing things on The Forge.

I’m intrigued by the mechanics for combat in Riddle of Steel, though some other parts look silly. Might mess around with that, somewhat.

I’m playing in a Flashing Blades campaign.

There are the DQ games: one I’m playing in, the other I’m GMing.

And there are general ideas of various sorts that may feed into one game or another, or may lead to new things. I’ll be posting ideas about that, as well.

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