Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Weird Epiphany: If You're Not Playing OSR, the Concept of "Railroading" is Might Just be Vacuous

I was lurking around on rpg.net and saw this thread about railroading, and I decided to read through it because the topic interests me.  The thread inevitably devolved into pointless argument about terminology, as all such threads on just about any forum I've ever seen do, but why?  Why can't gamers discuss the concept of "railroading" (or its close cousin, variously termed "DM illusionism", "the quantum ogre", or "Schrödinger's dungeon", wherein the DM cleverly hides the fact that he's railroading the PCs by quietly moving encounters into their path, regardless of the path that they "choose") without the discussion turning into empty wankery about what all the participants mean by words like "railroad" and "agency" and "DM"?

And I think that I've had a sudden realization that explains it: most gamers cannot have a coherent discussion about railroading because most gamers are playing games (or maybe a better way of putting it would be "most purported role-players are participating in activities") where railroading is not inherently verboten and doesn't really have a reason to be.  Simply put, most hobby-gamers aren't actually playing role-playing games in the strict sense, where choices matter and the GM isn't just pulling their strings like a maestro puppeteer.

Actual gears make the perfect tokens for a steampunk campaign

The major difference between the Engines & Empires Core Rules, which are intended to handle a variety of settings (ranging from early modern to pulp adventure), and the World of Gaia campaign setting specifically, is the way that non-human races are handled.  Both require that non-humans belong to a multi-class combination which starts out in that race's favored class, and both limit non-human progression to 8th level (or 10th if the optional epic-level rules are in play).  But E&E Core gives non-human player characters no particular special abilities; all of their inhumanity is otherwise supposed to be portrayed through role-playing alone.  The Gaia setting, however, puts into play an optional rule from E&E's Appendix A, known as "traits and tokens".

This rule grants each character one "token" per game session (or two per session if the character is 8th level or greater) which may be spent to re-roll a d20 roll; but it can only be spent on rolls that have something to do with things that particular race is stereotypically good at.  I decided upon this route because it opened the door to a single, simple, easy-to-remember rule that has much the same effect in broad strokes as the usual "+1 or +2 modifiers to these kinds of actions"—but without ever having to actually account for the modifiers, which itself can throw the math of the game off-kilter if you let it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Engines & Empires Core Rules and World of Gaia are now officially published!

Aaaand away we go!

The stand-alone (or as some folks might call it, "OSR third wave") version of Engines & Empires has been published.  Find it here—

« My Lulu Store »

—where the ebook versions remain free to download and the print versions are modestly marked up to nice, round, pretty numbers.

Needless to say, I'm pretty frelling stoked to finally have this all done.  (And hopefully Retro Phaze soon too.)  A steampunk dungeon-fantasy RPG that doesn't have game-breaking Vancian magic, but otherwise hews pretty close to the classic tropes and ways of the Grand Auld Game.

Feels good, man.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Retro Phaze VI update

So—after finally getting back into working on this, the character classes are finally hammered out.  I really like how I've tweaked the fighter.  And now it's time to move on to writing up the spell-like powers for the new class-promotions I've added to the game.

Here's a quick summary of RΦ6's new class structure and the major changes to the old classes:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Been a while…

Weird that I haven't touched this blog in so long, but I kind of fell away from gaming and all things game-related for several months there.

Today, at last, I finally finished editing my two E&E books and (hopefully) correcting the illustrations for the printers; another round of proof copies have been ordered, and if they look all right when they come in a couple of weeks, I'll finally be able to publish the print versions (at long, long last).

No idea when I'll get back into re-writing Retro Phaze, but I want to take care of that soon as well.  It badly, badly needs an update.  Anyway… grad school's crazy busy, so there's that; not seeing much free time in the near future either.  But maybe I'll squeeze in some more re-writing and editing when the next holiday comes along.

Uh, what else… oh, yeah, some neutron stars were detected colliding, that's pretty friggin' sweet.  The gravitational waves detected by LIGO (which now has a third detector in Italy, the VIRGO) matched up with the gamma-ray bursts detected by conventional means, which more than cinches the already pretty solid discovery of gravitational waves not too long ago.  Einstein vindicated yet again, w00t.