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'Design Discussion' Category

Myth of Blades

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

 

One of the inspirations oddly missing from Band of Blades is acclaimed 1990’s computer game Myth: the Fallen Lords, a real-time strategy game by Bungie. The game tells the story of a continent over-run by armies of the undead, led by powerful (bickering) sorcerer-generals, who are themselves enslaved and corrupted by an ancient sorcerer-king; against them is arrayed the Legion, an army of men and their allies led by nine powerful sorcerers, who are desperately fighting to hold the line and protect the last bastions of humanity from being overwhelmed.

Sound familiar? Yes, that’s pretty much Band of Blades. Almost certainly because, just like Band of Blades, Myth: The Fallen Lords is also an homage to Glen Cook’s Black Company series of novels, and therefore borrows a number of similar elements. Now I enjoyed the Black Company, a lot, but I love Myth: TFL. Myth is my single favorite game ever of any genre or type of video game. It has been almost thirty years, and I still fire it up on occasion to throw exploding bottles at the shuffling hordes of thrall and hack down myrmidons.

After playing (and re-playing) the video game, I’ve always wanted more, and to be able to experience it at the tabletop. Since Band is so closely intertwined with Myth on a conceptual level, this is my chance to make it happen as a role-playing game using a system supportive of the nature of the fiction.[1]

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Cut it Like a Pie

Friday, August 21st, 2020

 

Forged in the Dark games tend to have a multi-part meta-structure to play that I am finding very enjoyable. The types of actions and play that take place in each phase of that structure are differentiated from one another and simply utilize variations on the core mechanic.

This started me thinking about how OSR-type games could benefit from this meta-structure, and how I already use a pseudo-structure like this in play: for example, how downtime and travel are separated into mechanically-discrete phases of play when I run a game. I started wondering what this BitD meta-structure would look like for an OSR game, and a quick sketch emerged with around eight phases of varying complexity and length…but that’s a lot of phases, so I went back to ruminating on the issue.

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Make Mine a Challenge

Monday, August 10th, 2020

 

Your players announce the following ideas during play, maybe during Downtime, maybe in the middle of an adventure:

  • “I want to convince the head of the depository to give me a loan!”
  • “The queen is pretty lonely…let’s say I seduce her…I know! Maybe convince her to marry me?”
  • “The texts I need to complete this research are in the grand library in the capital? I want to go there to access them.”
  • “I’m going to punch this guy in the face for lying to me about his qualifications!”

How would you handle each of these ideas from a player?

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Positions, Puzzle Boxes, Adversaries and More

Friday, June 26th, 2020

 

One of my BitD groups recently had a discussion about play styles due to some questions involving how one goes about negotiating for Position and Effect. One of the players, frustrated by the system, wanted to know what the normal difficulty of an action should be. The thing is, in BitD, there’s no real answer to that question.

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Completely Exhausted!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

 

Apparently there is this mechanic in 5e called “exhaustion” that takes effect when…reasons. I don’t really know beyond “falling unconscious” triggers the effect. I’m only aware of the mechanic because I read a play report regarding a desert chase scene an adventuring group undertook while in bad, bad shape, which exhaustion only made worse (slower movement, inability to spend or regain HD, etc). The idea intrigued me, as it seemed to add a level of tension to play that simple hit point loss does not.

My understanding is that there are levels of exhaustion, from one to five. The first level of exhaustion doesn’t seem to have a huge effect, but level five means you can’t move, defend yourself, cast spells, use HD, or regain hp, or pretty much act in any way until you bring down your exhaustion level with a full night of rest (healing spells don’t help).

My inclination is not to add this as a constant mechanic to the game, but to add it as a sparingly utilized mechanic for tense, long-term situations — wilderness treks, pursuits, moving through extreme environments, failure to take regular long rests, severe injury and unconsciousness, and so on — and to have only three levels of exhaustion, from “tired, but fully capable” to “halved movement, penalty to all actions” to “completely incapable”.[1]

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