09 August 2020

The Best Format for Adventures

For me — and I speak only for myself — the perfect format for a physical copy of a role-playing adventure is the zine. I do not mean a standard size adventure shrunk to zine size. I mean an adventure that has been formatted specifically for print as a zine. After using such adventures at the table, I find the format far more practical and enjoyable.

There are several factors that contribute to this. First, of course, is the physical size. It takes up less room behind the GM screen, and I can hold it open comfortably in one hand if I wish to stand up and walk around. Maximum GMing convenience.

Font choice is critical. A proper zine adventure needs to be of a readable typeface and size to facilitate ease of use. I don't need anything fancy. I just want to be able to read it quickly and without squinting. This, I'm afraid, is an all too frequently undervalued aspect of adventure (and rule book) publishing. Save the ornate fonts for handouts (torn pages from tomes, letters from the regent, secret notes passed by spies, et cetera).

Each room description (or other location description) ought to start a new page — no searching the page to see where descriptions begin. The only time a page should contain more than one room description is if those rooms are empty or otherwise identical. Any space not filled with text or illustration can be used by the GM for note-taking.

Each map ought to be given its own page. Larger maps ought to be printed on a separate sheet, folded, and inserted in the centerfold. (If there is more than one map on a single page in a zine, the maps are too small.)

If you've never run an adventure in zine format, I encourage you to try it. Some things, like rules, only prove themselves through use. (I recommend "The Sanctum of the Snail" included in Crepuscular #1.)

27 July 2020

Role-Playing Online

My recent birthday weekend marks my first time role-playing via Zoom. Previously, I had tried Google Hangouts and Tabletop Simulator, but this latest experience was the most successful. Not everyone has the same needs for online gaming, but mine is simple: I want real-time audiovisual communication. That's it. Players can have their own character sheets as long as I have a copy (or at least the information they contain). Players can roll their own dice. (I trust them. If I didn't, I wouldn't invite them to my games.) If players want maps, they can make them the old-fashioned way with graph paper and a pencil using my descriptions. Yes, my role-playing is very much of the "theatre of the mind" sort, and although I occasionally make use of battlemats and miniatures (primarily to show marching order), I can easily dispense with them. I miss being able to distribute actual handouts, tokens, cards, and possibly even props, but it's a luxury I can live without as long as everyone at my virtual table can see and hear one another.

What did we play? The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG adventure, Frozen in Time, the third adventure for Billie the Once Risen (formerly known as Billie the Squire), George the Witness, and Francis the Creep. It was a three hour session, and I think there will be one or two more before they complete it. I look forward to many more (and of other role-playing games, too).

I was apprehensive about online gaming, but now that I've found something that works for my players and me, the gaming future looks brighter.

30 June 2020

One Page Dungeon Contest 2020 Deadline Extended

The deadline for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2020 has been extended to 15 July. That's July the 15th! The Fifteenth of July! Two days before my birthday! Learn more (about the contest)!

21 May 2020

Good Gaming Advice from Goblin Punch

April was a good month for blogging partly because April puts me in a whimsical frame of mind, but equally because I was on furlough due to the pandemic. For weeks I would devote my mornings to one or more of my blogs, and it was pleasant indeed. I resumed working at my job later in the month, and alas, I'm posting less frequently. Even now, I only have time to point readers to someone else's blog. Advice for OSR DMs is a nearly perfect summary of the style of fantasy adventure gaming I prefer. It's not the only style I like, but as far as level-up role-playing games go, this is exactly how I do it. (I'm flexible on 0-level funnels, though. Sometimes they are the right way to start a campaign; sometimes they're not.) Goblin Punch has plenty of other insightful articles like this one, so plumb its depths, spelunker!

20 April 2020

Random Alignment Generator 2

In a previous article, I described the official RPGA alignment dice I purchased in 1980-something and how to replace them with the superior (and more flexible) Fudge dice normally used in Fudge and its offshoots. Whilst I continue to recommend them (they can be ordered direct from Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; or you can request your favorite local game shop to order them through Impressions Advertising), I recognize that some may need a table for use with the dice they have as they wait for their Fudge dice to arrive. So, here is the d6 version of the Fudge-powered Random Alignment Generator:

 1st d62nd d6

Combined, we may generate the following results:

1-2Lawful GoodLawful NeutralLawful Evil
3-4Neutral GoodTrue NeutralNeutral Evil
5-6Chaotic GoodChaotic NeutralChaotic Evil

19 April 2020

Table: Misspells (Table of Many Tables)

Are these Mis-Spells the result of caster error, inaccurate transcription, or a combination of both? Or are they the magical norm in a parallel universe? This is but another mystery of the Table of Many Tables!


Roll 1d30

1. Ape Change
2. Auntie Magic Shell
3. Cone of Old
4. Clown
5. Cymbal
6. Disinterest Grate
7. Firball
8. Fold Person
9. Geese
10. Glasstool
11. Glossee
12. Gourds and Words
13. Invisible Stocker
14. Lightning Belt
15. Lizard Wok
16. Meteors Warm
17. Mordenkainen's Sore
18. Moss Charm
19. Moss Invisibility
20. Move Hearth
21. Otto's Irresistible Dunce
22. Phantasmal Farce
23. Power Word, Blond
24. Remove Purse
25. Reverse Gravy
26. Shocking Grass
27. Simulacrumb
28. Tenser's Floating Disco
29. Varnish
30. Weeblemind

18 April 2020

Table: Spells (Table of Many Tables)

These spells have an instantaneous casting time and therefore cannot be interrupted, disrupted, or cancelled. So, cast with care! Table of Many Tables!


Roll 1d20

1. Alter Weather Slightly
2. Annoying Servant
3. Awkwardness 10' Radius
4. Baleful Baa
5. Call Snow
6. Color Play
7. Cone of Shame
8. Delayed Bluster
9. Eerie Glow
10. Find Friend
11. Improved Befuddlement
12. Phantom In-Law
13. Polymorph Condiment
14. Prismatic Invective
15. Ray of Deconstruction
16. Spectral Pet
17. Summon Volcano
18. Tectonic Shift
19. Wall of Mist
20. Xaxall's Extemporaneous Explosion

17 April 2020

Table: Family Heirlooms (Table of Many Tables)

You may be embarking on your first adventure, but at least you have your family heirloom to worry about. Something something Table of Many Tables.

Family Heirlooms

Roll 1d12

1. The Sacred Icon Which Speaketh (a little too loudly at tymes).
2. The Vial of Blessed Tears (miraculous and delicate).
3. The Crystal Egg (mysterious and fragile).
4. The Clarsach of Sublime Beauty (a temperamental harp).
5. The Sword of Heroism (bronze, unfashionable).
6. The Helm of the High Ruler (very tall remnant of royal parade armor).
7. The Ancestral Gourd (bulky, but amusing).
8. The Book of Memories (heavy, but useful as a footstool).
9. The Ruby of Authority (entrancing, distracting, and very coveted).
10. The Skull of the First (encrusted with jewels, cursed).
11. The Marzipan Homunculus (eerie and mostly controllable).
12. A Stradivarius.

16 April 2020

Table: Alternative Alignments (Table of Many Tables)

Perhaps you are unsatisfied with the traditional alignment system of your current role-playing game and would like to replace it or supplement it with a new one. Perhaps the Table of Many Tables can help!

Alternative Alignments

Roll 1d12

1. Moral - Amoral - Immoral
2. Heroic - Well-Intentioned - Villainous
3. Civilization - Nature - Barbarity
4. Law & Order - *shrug* - Crime & Passion
5. Good Guys - Extras - Bad Guys
6. Federation - Neutral Zone - Romulan Empire
7. Scientific Romance - Science Fiction - Scientifiction
8. Uptight - Normal - Bonkers
9. Gentle - Permanent Press - Heavy
10. Masculine - Neuter - Feminine
11. Cooked - Raw - Live
12. No Flash - Flash

15 April 2020

Table: Useless Acquaintances (Table of Many Tables)

Sometimes you know people you don't really need to know. Am I right, Table of Many Tables?

Useless Acquaintances

Roll 1d12

1. Ham Dram the Village Idiot
2. Plinky the Town Oaf
3. Gummer the Local Buffoon
4. Nedred the Aged (who never stops talking)
5. Polwin the Widow (who shows you her boils)
6. Jim Kneecap (imposing Village Idiot)
7. Pointy the Fool (professional court fool)
8. Lester the Jester (freelance talent)
9. Loaf the Laggard (half-hearted baker)
10. Minim (quizzical child)
11. Drune the Alchemist (overly excited experimenter)
12. Hewart the Touched (holy expounder)