Posts Tagged ‘Fight On!


Do Not Read Fight On #9 If…

Pity my poor players, for whom some of the content of this excellent zine is off-limits

The new issue of Fight On is out now. Among the many awesome things it contains is an adventure called “Caves of the Beast Mistress”, which I wrote both as a tribute to Paul Jaquays’ Caverns of Thracia and “Night of the Walking Wet” and a memorial to my friend Sang Lee, whose monster illustrations grace the adventure.

Players in my White Sandbox campaign are hereby forbidden from checking out this part of the issue until they’re sure they won’t want to pursue any still-unexplored directions within the “side entrance” to the Beast Lord’s cave!

When y’all finally do clear these areas, the reward for your patience will be seeing that the names of the characters from the last few sessions are credited as playtesters.

EDIT: You may have trouble finding my contribution to this issue in the table of contents, as your attention is likely to be distracted by the familiar-looking name of ¬†Eric Minton: Purchasing Potions (p. 25) and Grognard’s Grimoirs (p. 114). I am mortified to have forgotten to celebrate Eric’s pieces, which I hope will inaugurate an ongoing takeover of all printed matter everywhere by Mules.


Fight On! #7 Is Out, Huzzah!

The new issue of Fight On, my favorite gaming magazine, is now available at Lulu. This one does not include my “Random Events Make You Say Yes” essay, which has been held over to #8. That issue is devoted to Erol Otus, which may inspire me to write a second piece devoted to how at Anonycon I was able to use the evocative player handout illustrations he did for The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan to let the players’ input do the work of improvising a trap/puzzle encounter. What better way to pass the time while you’re waiting for all that than to read and re-read #7? The robots at Lulu are printing mine at this very moment, but the table of contents indicates that it contains such delights as Adam Thornton’s “Wandering Harlot Table” and “One Time at D&D Camp” by Harnish & Robbins. Enter the code “HUMBUG” when you checkout at Lulu and save 10%!


Random Events Make You Say Yes to Links

I’ve been writing an expanded version of my post at Finarvyn’s OD&D boards, which sparked some interesting discussion. The long version will hopefully be in Fight On! magazine #8 – while you’re waiting, go read the other seven!

One thing that doing this made me realize is how much I like using hyperlinks to support digressions and scholasticisms. Not having been able to do that in the essay, here is a repost of the original thoughts about random events, followed by a collection of related links.

I flew back from Gen Con on the same plane as nerdNYC’s jenskot, who turned me on to an e-book by Graham Walmsley called Play Unsafe about using improv techniques to become a better player. I was particularly primed for this, having just played in a game run by my old Ars Magica homie Bob Karcher, whose Second City long-form improv chops let the scenario seem both beautifully planned in advance and responsive to our choices, when in fact he admitted later that he had nothing more than three broad ideas to start with!

Three of the things Walmsley talks about strike me as particularly relevant to old-school play, which uses dice to achieve / reinforce the goals he identifies:

– Always say yes. Accepting that the dice have spoken is very useful training in this. Instead of rolling a random encounter/treasure/etc. and rejecting it as nonsensical, find a way to make it fit. Instead of fudging to make the players succeed, say yes to the possibility of failure and see what the next step in the story is.

– Don’t plan in advance. Having random event tables goes a long way to making me feel comfortable with this. Using raw dice rolls to determine things like morale checks and NPC reactions that can have a huge impact on how a situation plays out forces me to be open to the unexpected. The first time I started using these old-school techniques it was extremely liberating to have a dice roll say to the players and myself “look, I’m not invested in any particular way this encounter might turn out, there’s no wrong answer, let’s all see together where this is going to go.”

– Hold ideas lightly. It’s OK to do some pre-planning if you accept that your plan might never happen. For me, making my own table of random events is one of the easiest and most potent kinds of old-school world-building, and it’s a great exercise in coming up with a bunch of ideas that might or might not be used in any given session.

Lots of the other things in the book, like saying the obvious and using reincorporation to make earlier random events into meaningful closure, also strike me as very useful techniques for participants in any kind of RPG.

Chgowiz’s accounts of games played with these ideas in mind are here and here at his kick-ass blog.

Some evidence that you can trace just about any possible thread of human intellectual history through Major David Wesely appears in the “Fantasy Vietnam” post in The 20′ By 20′ Room blog. A good place to get started on the history of Braunstein and its relationship to Blackmoor and D&D is Ben Robbins’ ars ludi post.

Soon I’ll find a good link to Arneson talking about dungeons as a way to constrain player choice.

Kellri’s CDD #4: Encounters is mentioned in the comments below, and it is awesome, so I linked it here – also the random name generator I used to get Philomena’s name.

Also Tables for Fables, Jeff Rients’ Miscellaneum of Cinder, and the OD&D boards Resources for Randomness thread all deserve links.

Past Adventures of the Mule

January 2023

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