Sun, 04/25/2021 - 13:31

You ever have that sort of relationship where you shower someone with respect, love and affection, and they never give anything back? Like, they promise that they’ll love you and treasure you, but you always end up hurt in the end? FTL and I, we have that sort of relationship.

Well, it’s payback time.

Time for revenge for all of those times when you left me devastated, considering my own mental capacities, hopes and dreams. For all those times when I uninstalled you, and told myself “Never again!”, only to succumb to temptation a few days later.

I’m here to say it. FTL is not a perfect game! *raises fist defiantly*

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 21:57


The barbarian?!?

But barbarians are cool! They get to hulksmash things! And they are near impossible to kill! Why do you want to fix something that ain't broken?

Hold on to your panties, youngling, and let me tell you why I would never ever ever play a barbarian in 5E. 

Come, let’s walk the path of rage and recklessness.

Sun, 04/11/2021 - 01:04

As mentioned in a previous post, an RPG fundamentally consists of two different elements. The roleplaying element holds the promise that we will be able to express our character. The game element holds the promise that we will be able to beat the challenges that the game presents using our mental faculties.

So, what happens when we take the best practices from one of these elements, and apply it to the other one with the goal of enhancing it?

Wed, 03/31/2021 - 12:13

Playing D&D can generally be split into two parts: combat aka the fun part, and everything else.

While this is clearly a bit of a joke, it is no secret that combat rules in D&D are much more elaborate than the other aspects of the game. Some even go so far to claim that D&D is not even a roleplaying game because of this. That we need hard and fast rules for the talking parts. As elaborate as fighting. Otherwise D&D is just a board game. Or *shudders* an MMO.

While I find these arguments severely flawed and misaligned with my own perception of the RP part of our RPGs, I do believe there is something fundamentally wrong with how the talky talky bits of D&D work. How they are out of line with the rest of the game.

Sat, 03/27/2021 - 11:32

Every person that’s ever been involved in any kind of creative process will go through the same two phases of doubt.

The first occurs when you’re just starting out. You’re doubting whether the thing you want to do makes sense and whether you will even be able to pull it off.

The second occurs as your work nears its end. You are not sure whether it really is done, or whether you should polish it just a bit more. Add a few more things to it. Make sure it’s all it can be.

That first phase is easily overcome by just starting to do the thing. As times goes on and the more you work on it, the less doubt there will be.

The second can be quite a bit more insidious. While iteration is key to any creative process, there comes a point where you just have to call it. Not just because you’ll otherwise never complete the thing, but also because further work on the work may be actually detrimental to your thing’s quality. You might accidentally overdesign your thingie, make it too complex, too intricate.

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 10:37
Blades in the Dark

Ah, Blades in the Dark… a real gem in the rough. A game that, despite its occasional overindulgence in complexity and procedurality still remains one of the most audacious and ambitious games I've ever played. And I love it for it. It tried so hard to do something original and different that, even when it doesn't deliver completely, you still want to give it a good pat on the back for trying. For trying to be new and brave, instead of just another half-assed attempt at a better D&D. Or another low-effort PbtA hack.

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 19:14
RP issues

With the previous two articles on the topic of designing roleplayable scenarios or adventures, we focused on a few issues in designing RPG adventures, and how to solve them in practice. While I don’t think the ideas discussed in these two articles come anywhere close to being a magic bullet in terms of adventure design, I do feel they provide a decent enough starting point. In the end, neither game design nor narrative design are a hard science with one true answer. The closest we can come to are decent guidelines that will allow us to develop specific situations suitable for our game and/or our set of players.

However, what I intentionally omitted from these previous articles are certain issues that will crop up in designing and playing adventures in RPGs. These are issues that I feel do not have a proper solution, nor can there be decent universal guidelines to resolve them. We will attempt to define these issues, take a look at what makes them so hard to resolve, and then suggest a few starting points to tackling them before they become a point of contention at your table.

Let’s go.

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 22:36

In our previous entry in this series, we discussed the 3M method for creating a roleplayable character, arguing that such a character needs Motivation, Method and Mannerism. Furthermore, we split the very act of roleplaying into three categories: pastime, depiction and action. The key roleplaying type for us at this point is action, since it is the only type that we can actively design for.

In this article, we will discuss how to create deliberate and universally applicable scenarios aimed at requiring action, and thus significantly increasing the likelihood of roleplaying happening at the table.

If you need an extra hook for reading this article, just imagine that it's titled:


Wed, 02/03/2021 - 22:06
Drama masks

For a term that is used so often in tabletop RPG circles, and one that is often deemed crucial to our play experience, it generally seems to me that many, if not most, RPG players still struggle with understanding what roleplaying means and entails. I count myself among these people, as I am still not completely sure what the term means or should mean, even after having played RPGs for more than 5 years and having done quite a bit of research on the topic. 

The specific goal of this article is to take a closer look at roleplaying as found in tabletop RPGs and try to analyze it in a way that allows us to facilitate and enhance roleplaying itself. In other words, we will attempt to create a design framework for roleplaying. Any definitions proposed by this article are to be seen merely as the foundation used to analyze the various facets of roleplaying, and to see if we can find a way to reliably and continuously inject roleplaying in our RPG sessions. They are not be-all-end-all watertight definitions that must be taken at face value, and they remain open to discussion and change.