Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The First Paladin

Yesterday evening, I was invited to sit in on the filming of a new episode of The First Paladin, Peter Adkison's video series about his Chaldea campaign. The group is using the D&D Next playtest rules for the campaign, and they wanted to update their characters from the 1st iteration of the rules to the current, 3rd iteration. My contribution was walking them through that process and answering questions.

If you haven't watched any of the First Paladin vidcasts, check out a few. The campaign is highly political. That's not to say there's no fighting, because there's plenty of action. Instead of dealing with monsters and dungeons, the story revolves around the machinations of the ruling Swartout family. The Baron of Gaunt sits an uneasy throne and faces schemes from every direction, particularly from his own family. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Paying Dues

Guilds were a notable feature of urban life in medieval cities. If you were a craftsman of any type in Europe during the Middle Ages, you almost certainly belonged to a guild.

Guilds show up in fantasy RPGs and campaign settings, too; every city has a thieves’ guild and a wizards’ guild. It’s mostly lip service, though, because those guilds seldom do anything other than issue vague threats (thieves’ guild) or accidentally blast their guildhalls through dimensional portals (wizards’ guild).

So what should a guild do? What DID a guild do? Or in other words, why should your character pay dues? (Yes, there are dues. The name “guild” comes from the gold collected in membership fees.)

(Read the rest at Kobold Quarterly ...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Say No

In recent years, the philosophy of “yes, but” has become a hot ticket for GMs. Let me assure you, this was not always the case. I’m reminded a bit of the way philosophies come into and out of fashion in business management (are you a one-minute manager in search of excellence?).

If that sounds dismissive, it’s not meant to be. There’s a lot to be said in favor of “yes, but.” As GM philosophies go, it’s better than most.

It can, however, become a trap for the unwary or overly generous GM who’s trying to build a world with a strong theme.

(Read the rest at Kobold Quarterly ...)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Elevator Pitch

When designing a world as a setting for replaying and storytelling, condensing your concept down to an elevator pitch is a great exercise. Not that you’re likely to corner a venture capitalist and a Hollywood producer in an elevator and pump them to invest money in your idea, but because you are going to corner friends, players, and readers and ask them to invest something even more precious than cash in your creation—their leisure time.

I can’t talk about elevator pitches without declaring how much I hate the term. Once that proletarian complaint is out of the way, I’m ready to proclaim that the elevator pitch is a great tool for sharpening up a product.

Did I say “product”? Absolutely! Even if your worldbuilding effort is entirely for private consumption, treating the work as a product is constructive.

(Read the rest at Kobold Quarterly ...)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

World of Wonder

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I’m definitely not a reactionary type. I consider myself to be progressive about most things. But in some regards, I’m an unapologetic originalist. I almost always prefer the first recording of a song to the cover version, the original version of a movie to the remake, authentic ethnic food to an anglicized, family restaurant dish, and charcoal over propane. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that I’m not entirely sold on the whole theory of progress idea. Looking at the ancient world, one has to wonder whether we’ve really come as far as we like to think we have. Sure, modern medicine with penicillin and vaccinations is great, and it’s tough to imagine life without the Internet anymore even though it’s been around for less than half of my lifetime.

But ask yourself, what does the 21st Century offer to rival the seven wonders of the ancient world?

The American Society of Civil Engineers has a list of modern engineering wonders and, make no mistake, it’s impressive. Yet I can’t escape the nagging feeling that our steel mills, steam-driven excavators, tower cranes, and computer-aided structural analysis constitute cheating on some level.

(Read the rest at Kobold Quarterly ...)