Casting through the Gap
October 9th, 2017

Þar munu eptir | undrsamligar
gullnar töflur | í grasi finnask,
þærs í árdaga | áttar höfðu.

In wondrous beauty | once again
Shall the golden tables | stand mid the grass,
Which the gods had owned | in the days of old

 

Völuspá, Poetic Edda, Bellows translation

The game system for Niflgap, as a stand-alone product rather than a Series Pitch for Pelgrane’s Drama System — and even back in the days when Niflgap was still titled Dead*Space — was one of those items that consistently resisted development. I knew the direction I wanted the rules to take, in an aesthetic sense, but developing a specific, concrete design led to dead ends or design paralysis.

A while back I came across one of those design attempts still lurking in Niflgap’s folder, and decided to polish it up, hoping it might be of use or spark some creative advancement on the rule-design. It has not. But the core of conflict resolution has always involved the use of runestones. To that end, here is some advice on how to design your own set.

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What the Morning Brings
May 5th, 2017

Appropriately enough, I woke up this morning thinking about At the Dawn. Specifically, I’ve always worried the penalties are too harsh — they’re not, they’re brutal, and that’s good because, in this case, it drives the narrative conflict — but my brain was whispering to me “Why not change the penalties into an increased Threshold?”

Which is not half-bad as an idea: it still ramps up the difficulty and removes the (appearance of the) penalty death spiral, might make those precious additional dice more important, and doesn’t require quite as much record keeping for a player.

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You Only Roll When…
August 17th, 2016

A blog post about the skill system in Traveler recently helped me better concretely conceptualize the “only roll dice when people are going to die or things are going to explode” method I’d originally attempted to detail in the rules for my abandoned dark military sci-fi RPG, eXpendable.

I’ve always been really fond of that bit of design work, and am happy I was finally able to expound on it in a clearer fashion. Since eXpendable is highly unlikely to see the light of publication–it just never came together as a whole–this is the clarified method, minus rule-specific bits, for those who may find it or the reasoning underlying it useful to their own approach to play.

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Blood and Illumination
May 3rd, 2015

At the end of 2014, Wild Hunt Studios embarked on a new project, the creation of an illuminated manuscript titled Rose, Thorn, and Mist: Elves of the Bloodwood developed by way of patronage through the Patreon website. Patreon is based on the historical concept of patronage (very fitting, given the nature of this project!), allowing individuals to support artists and creators by pledging small donations in return for content — some artists are using Patreon for music, others for webcomics, maps, paintings, or even whole magazines.

At its heart, this project is a pseudo-travelogue about a grim enclave of elves, their forest homeland, and its history, based more on classic legends about the fey folk than on Tolkien’s own take on the same, done in an illuminated style of my own design. It is not specifically a game-related product and is not tied to any RPG system, but presents ideas that can be used for such, as well as enjoyed simply for pleasure and its aesthetics.

You can learn more about the project, and see the pages that have already been completed, by heading over to my Patreon page.


Fairies and Half-trolls and Liches, Oh My!
March 11th, 2015

Over on Nerdwerds, a point was raised about letting players with wild character concepts play those characters, and play them as conceived rather than hosed versions of them. And it reminded me of a few times this has come up in my own gaming history as a GM.

Around a decade ago, for an on-line game I was DMing, our group had put out a call for new players. One of the applicants had a character concept he insisted I should give a chance, that it was a great character: a high level multi-class half-troll (a rogue-cleric-mage). The character could regenerate, the Ability scores were insane. I think there were some other bits that resulted in quirked eyebrows, but those things are what I recall.

I turned the character down for being much too powergame-y and didn’t think much about it.

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