17 May 2023

When You Cannot Miss

The more I game the more I appreciate minimalist role-playing games. Simpler rule systems can be learned and taught quickly, are easily internalized, and free us to concentrate on what many of us enjoy most: creative problem-solving and playing roles. Much of this is achieved by reducing certain concepts to abstractions. For example, encumbrance becomes slot management; wealth becomes an attribute; attacks always hit.

Attacks always hit? Yes, in certain minimalist role-playing games and their derivatives, all attacks are successful and one needs only to roll damage (if the damage isn't already a static value). The intention, I believe, is to make combat quicker (a laudable goal if one has played certain ponderous combat systems) and more lethal (to encourage the pursuit of trickery, retreat, or diplomacy). I'm always in favor of quicker combat resolution in a role-playing (as opposed to war-gaming) context, and non-combat options ought to be uppermost in mind for many reasons, but "attacks never miss"? For me, that immediately breaks immersion—in what universe does no one ever miss?—and makes combat less interesting. I see combat as another form of problem-solving (or, in many cases, problem-causing) where creativity ought to be rewarded. I won't bother to extrapolate on the type of society that would exist where anyone can always attack anyone else with unnerring accuracy and no one possesses the instinct or ability to dodge (other than to say it would resemble nothing in reality or fiction), but I would suggest that perhaps a better way to discourage combat (if that is the aim) would be to make it more grounded in reality. Increase the damage potential. Increase the recovery time. Increase the difficulty or reduce the efficacy of medical treatment. Add lingering health problems from injuries. Make attacks more challenging to avoid, but don't make them impossible to avoid. All of these are logical ways to make players think harder about whether to fight without breaking the willing suspension of disbelief.

Any game is anyone's game, but I prefer rules that elicit the response, "That makes sense."

04 May 2023

Knave Second Edition Crowdfunding in Progress

The Kickstarter project for the second edition of Ben Milton's retro-D&D-compatible role-playing game, Knave, has had an explosively big start and it's easy to see why. I'm backing it. Are you?

01 May 2023

Your Dungeon Tour Table: Epilogue

This year's Random Generator Month was the most productive since I started the tradition. Your Dungeon Tour Table ended as a 1d30 table, and I think part of the reason is that this was the first Random Generator Month in which I was guided by a procedure: creating an integrated random dungeon generator inspired by that found in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide Appendix A. If you start with the Occasional Checks table, it actually leads you to the tables you need as you map an original dungeon. It was a fun exercise, and I plan to put it to the test very soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, feel free to give it a try and share your observations in the comments.