What I Did Wrong at D&D: New Adventure Blues

I my table count has been doing some weird things, but this week, I did session 2 of a new table, session 1 of a new adventure for my gamestore table, and later this week, I’ll run the first session of my family game and SOMETHING for my Chaotica table. If I let it run long enough without making a decision, it might actually be a full Chaotica session, as that is the path of least resistance.

So I’m halfway done with my tables this week and I’ve identified some stuff that I think I did poorly, so hopefully it goes better the next time.

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Movie Talk: Captain America (2011)

I’m doing a movie Ultra Marathon: 30 movies in rapid succession. This is 1/30.

Captain America is an interesting character because of the things that aren’t in this movie. I’m told I should keep an eye on him, that he is the character with the real story arc throughout this all, but I can’t comment on that yet. All I know is that CA makes me think a lot more than the others.

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Dear Ryan Episode 1: One-on-One Sessions

Dear Ryan,

You mentioned when we last spoke that you were running one on one sessions of D&D with your wife. I mentioned I had some advice, but we parted ways before I could dole out my wisdom. Thus: a letter. (well, a blog post, but if we’re going to get all technical, this isn’t going to be a long series.)

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What I Did Wrong at D&D: In which the Problem Player is the GM

Been a while that I’ve written one of these. Not that I haven’t made mistakes, but they’ve all been small, piddly, water under the bridge stuff. I could make a list, but I’d be hard pressed to come up with it. That’s not the mistakes these articles are about.

WIDWADs are about sessions where I know I messed up royally but I’m not entirely sure how to run it better in the future. Talking (well, typing) through what I did might help you in future games, and it helps me sort everything out.

This weeks a doozy, because it deals with the hard questions: What is an RPG, what choices are players not allowed, and when is it wrong to not kill a character. Yeah. Strap in.

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Squad Based D&D

My brother Zaac had an idea, and I wanted to theorycraft it with the system I know best. His idea is that combat didn’t feel super real to him because solo heroes doesn’t make sense in a world as deadly as these game should suggest. To counter this, instead of playing as 1 hero, you play as a squad of, oh, let’s say 5. (Also, going to base things on Level 5 as well)

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RPG Design: Bypassing the pun title

Three points to talk about to day. “Should monsters roll for an attack?”, “Are these actually trees?”, and “Do items exist?”

I’ve run maybe two or three games by this point, using V1.4. And I’ve gotten some useful feedback that might involve me skipping publishing 1.5 and jump to 1.6, because the 1.5 rules are set in my head. But those aren’t the questions.

Should monsters roll for attack?

I like simplifying my life as a GM. I tried using 5e’s average damage once and got hooked. For years, the only damage die I would roll would be for a critical or a spell attack. Recently, I stopped having my monsters critical hit, which cuts out the more common die roll.  And Specialty suddenly has me rolling for attack, and then for damage, AND contemplating how to add a palatable version of initiative into the game. This feels like a slide backwards. I should be doing LESS work, not more.

So… I don’t know why I framed this as a question, as I know what I’m going to try.  I’ll try not rolling. My question is what do I do about dodges and fumbles, and well, making sure basic minions can get their licks in. Being able to abandon running monsters as a game and running it as a reaction and a movie might solve that problem.

Combining this with another rule I’m contemplating, my players might be in trouble.  Which is good, since they’ve been basically invulnerable so far.

Are these actually Trees?

Man, its hard to write these points when I’ve already figured out what I’m going to do. The problem is that Tech is SUPER good, as is Combat (previously Weapons). I don’t like the idea of skills that are always worth taking. Currently, Tech is one of those.

The solution is to make these not trees and build them like I have the force. There is a list of specialties, and a more generic for covering places you haven’t specialized. Which I did for the Force, and I’ll do for Tech, Pilot and Combat, looks like.

Now, the downside of this is we’ll probably lose Extension Dice. I don’t think it’s a big loss, but it is kinda sad? Rolling 3 dice as a default was kinda fun. (Not that *I* got to ever do it…) This will simplify the game a step, but not really noticeably, as it wasn’t a complicated step, I don’t think.

I call them “Blanket” Specialties in the doc. I’m not.. sparked by joy by the name, but I think it makes it better. And having it established in the rules will let me have things like Magic work easier, I think.

Truthfully, though, any skill worth expanding could be made into a blanket. I can see Scholar being a good candidate, but since no one’s really used it yet, I’m keeping it singular.

Do items exist?

Okay, this question sounds stupid without context, but it’s an important question. Really. I’ve used the phrase “Gygaxian complete” an article or three ago. While I know I need to define it more, I do know that having a robust system of currency and items to buy would be a big part of that.

However, I don’t WANT to do all that work. It’s a lot of work and if this is going to be a super flex game, where I have modules of different universe at the beck and call, I don’t want to design a currency for all of that.  I need something more abstract.

Hence: Accessories. A stupid name, I grant you, but powerful. It’s a specialty, except it provides no Stat Bonus. (which I’m sure will make stats MORE annoying to teach) And there’s a couple sub-items you can get. Look, it’ll be in the doc linked in the next section. That might be simpler.

Point of the matter is: Do items exist? Kind of? It depends what you mean by “Items.” How different is a Lightsaber to a blaster? Is there a plot difference between the Falcon and an X-Wing? What is a droid?

I still have no idea, but I’m closer.


This helped a lot, actually. These articles always do. Working my way through answering these questions for this solidified them in my head. As such, if you head over to the Forum, I’ve got a shiny new PDF with Version 1.5 up for your perusal.

Thank you for following along with this developer ramble.


RPG Design: The Empire (or whoever) Strikes Back

ah, we don’t even have to change that one!

The Proto-type game went reasonably well. Honestly, the things that were “eh” about it would have been things I could have predicted about that session, if I really had wanted to make some predictions. No-one read the rules, the game avoided combat like the plague, Character Creation took forever, Jedi and Sith in the same party proved to be a bad idea, and focusing on designing a game as opposed to prepping for the adventure wasn’t amazing.

In spite of all that (glossing over some good parts and players who were more prepared than I was) It was a blast, I learned a lot, and it seems my instincts were correct: I have a game with serious potential for a fun and flexibility.

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RPG Design: A New Scope

Hooray for pun titles.

Tomorrow is the prototype game. Today is my last day to get my PDF into my players hands before gameday. (Well, that was true when I wrote this. That was last night at time of print) And I have 2 parts of the doc that still need really figured out. How much can I skip and make this playable?

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