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Rogue Games Tabbloid -- April 6, 2009

Rogue Games Tabbloid -- April 6, 2009

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Published by Rogue Games
This is the daily PDF collection of the various blog posts made by Rogue Games' Richard Iorio and James Maliszewski. This daily collection is a great mix of gaming history, design notes, and the various topics influencing Richard and James' writing and design work.
This is the daily PDF collection of the various blog posts made by Rogue Games' Richard Iorio and James Maliszewski. This daily collection is a great mix of gaming history, design notes, and the various topics influencing Richard and James' writing and design work.

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5April,2009   
T o d a y s T a b b l o i d    
PERSONALNEWSFOR
riorio2@rogue-games.net  
1   
ROGUEFEED    
 APR03,200905:55P.M.  Inthinkingaboutandcommentingonotherblogposts,IrealizedthatI  mightneverhaveadequatelyexplainedwhyI’mrunning   DwimmermountthewaythatIam:minimalrulesandmegadungeon-  focused.Dwimmermountisexplicitlyanexperimentinseeinghowboth   rulesandcampaignsdeveloporganicallythroughplay.Oneofmy   contentionsisthatthehistoryof
 D&D
isnotoneofnaturalevolutionat  allbutofforcedevolution,startingwith
 AD&D    
andcontinuingdownto   thepresentday.  DwimmermountstartswithanapproximationofOD&D
 Swords&    Wizardry
thatusesminimalmaterialfromthesupplements.I’ve   purposefullyavoidedcreatinglotsofnewrulesforusewiththegame,   becauseIwantnewrulestoevolvefromapressingneedinthegame   ratherthanby“designerfiat.”Forexample,we’reusingstraightD6for   allweapondamage.Wedecided,though,thatwieldersoftwo-handed    weaponroll2D6andtakethehighestresult.WhenIriadessajoinedthe   campaign,shestartedusingdartstothrowatenemies.Whatdamage   shouldtheydo?Onthefly,Idecidedshe’droll2D6andtakethelowest  result,becausetheyweresmallweapons.Itwasanice,simple,  straightforwardsolutiontoarealneedinplay.   We’vemadeabunchofotherlittleruleschangeshereandthere,but  almostnoneofthemweredecidedbymeinadvanceofactualplay.  Dwimmermountisthuspartiallyaboutseeinghow
 Swords&Wizardry   
 willnaturallyevolveasaresultofthesituationsthatoccurinweekly   gamingsessions.Already,ourgameisdivergingfromtherulesas    written,butthosedivergencesarenotbasedontheorybutonpractice.   Weareintheprocessofcreatingourowngame,uniquefromeveryone   elsewhoplays,andit’stheembraceofthisprocessthatIseeasatthe   heartoftheoldschool.Wedontplayintournamentsandsoseenoneed   todeformtherulesonan
apriori
 basistoaccommodateconvention   play.Neitherdowecareifgamersoutsideourgroupdothingsdifferently   intheirownsessions.UniformityofrulesisnotanidealIhold.  Dwimmermountisfocusedonthedungeonbecausethedungeonisa   good“trainingground”foranewcampaignit’sgeographically   constrainedandabletobedevelopedinmanageablechunks.Idont  thinkdungeonsarethebe-allandend-allofoldschoolplaybuttheyare   certainlyoneofthepillarsonwhicholdschoolplayisbased.Itreatthe    worldoutsidethedungeonmuchasItreatrules:itdevelopsthrough   playinresponsetoapressingneed.I’vedonetheworldbuildingthing   manytimesbeforeand,whileIloveit,IseenoneedtobuildmorethanI  needforeachsession.Thatoftenmeansmakingstuffupontheflywhen   theplayersgosomewhereunexpectedoraskquestionsforwhichIhave   nopatanswers.Butthatswhatplayersaresupposedtodoandbeing   abletocomeupwithanswersiswhatrefereesaresupposedtodo.  Ileavelotsofcluesandpointersandtidbitsfortheplayerstotakeup,   butIdontpushthemtodoso.Ifthey’reuninterestedormorefocused   onothermatters,sobeit.That’stheirprerogative,afterall.That’swhat  sandboxplaymeans:makeofthesettingwhatyouwill.Again,its   organic,notforced.Thekeyistobeabletothinkonyourtoeswhen   suddenlyaplayerwantstojourney“offthemap”intosomewhereyouve   givennothoughttoorwhenhewantstolearnmoreaboutahireling    who’dpreviouslyjustbeenagenericspear-carrierfromCentralCasting.  Thesetting,liketherules,arelivingthingsandtheygrowbestin   responsetostimulus,notbybeingforcefed.  Sothat’swhatDwimmermountisallabout.Itsanongoingexperiment  and,sofar,averysuccessfulone.ItswhereIputmytheoriesinto   practiceandseeifIhaveanyideawhatI’mtalkingaboutorif,assome   haveopined,I’m“fullofit.”Itsnotintendedasablueprintforanyone   else’scampaignnordoIthinktheapproachI’vetakenshouldbedeemed   normative.Thatsaid,Idothinkit’svaluableforgamersofallstripesto   understandtherearemanypaths
 D&D
couldhavetakeninits   developmentandtheonesitdidtakehadmoretodowithbusinessplans   thanwithcampaignplans.I’mdonebeingforcedtoadapttosomeone   else’svisionofhow
 D&D
shoulddevelopandamembracingmyown    visionwithoutapology.Ifthat’satallcontroversial,itsuresaysalot  aboutthecurrentstateofthishobby.  ROGUEFEED    
 APR03,200901:36P.M.  Serendipityisarealphenomenon,especiallyinatight-knitcommunity   liketheoldschoolbloggingone.Lately,I’vegottenanumberofemails   andcommentsaskingmeaboutmypersonalgaminghistory.Brunomac   overatTempleofDemogorgonevenwroteablogentry   inwhichhe   expressescuriosityaboutit.IwritesomuchonthisblogthatI  sometimesassumeI’vecoveredcertaintopicswhen,infact,Ihavent.I  guessmygaminghistoryisonesuchlacunaandI’mstartingtowonderif   itsbeenthesourceofsomemisunderstandingsaboutmeandmy   perspectiveonthishobby.  Ibegangaminginlate1979,overtheChristmasbreak.Agoodfriendof   
 
Today’sTabbloidPERSONALNEWSFOR
riorio2@rogue-games.net  
5April,2009   
2    
minehadreceivedacopyof
 Dungeon!
 Weplayeditoverandoveragain   inseveralmarathonsessionsandplayingitremindedmeof“aweird   game”mymotherhadboughtformyfathersomemonthsearlier.That  gamewastheHolmesbasicsetanditwasunopened,becausealthough   myfatherhadbeentalkingalotabout
 D&D
inthemonthsafterJames   DallasEgbertIIIhadvanished,hewasntactuallyinterestedinreading   thegameitself,letaloneplayingit.Sothereitsatinmyhallwaylinen   closet,nexttosomewashclothsandbarsofsoap.Iopenedupthegame   andtriedtomakesenseofit,using
 Dungeon!
asawaytofillinthegaps   inmyunderstandingofthetext.Ithentookitwithmetomyfriends   houseand“taught”himandtherestofmycohorthowtoplay
 D&D    
.  Naturally,IhadnoideawhatIwasdoingandthoseearly“  
 Dungeons&     Dragons   
”sessionsborelittleresemblancetothegameaswrittenbut   wehadfunandkeptplayingit.Myfriendsolderbrother,asurly   teenagerintometal,sawwhatweweredoingandroundlymockedus.He   played
 D&D
 withhisfriendsandpromptlytolduseverythingwewere   doingwrong.Weacceptedwhathetoldusatfacevaluehewasa   teenager,afterallandstartedplaying
 D&D
the“right”way.Thisledto   ourplaying
 D&D
everyopportunitywecouldthroughout1980,often    withmyfriendsolderbrotherandfather,whowasawargamer,actingas   co-refereesforourgames.Whentheywerentavailable,whichwasoften,  Iwasusuallythereferee,asitwasagreedbyeveryonethatI“madethe    bestadventures.”   Wedevouredevery
 D&D
productwecouldgetourhandson,beginning    withthe
 MonsterManual  
,whichwefreelyusedwithHolmes.The   
 PlayersHandbook
and
 DungeonMastersGuide   
soonfollowed.The   followingyear,weaddedMoldvay/Cook/Marshtothelist,justaswe   addedMentzerin1983andbeyond.Ourapproachto
 D&D
 wasextremely   “ecumenical.”Wedidntpayalotofheedtothefinedifferencesbetween   thevariouseditions.Wemixedandmatchedwithabandon,usingthose   ruleswelikedanddiscardingthosewedidnt.Givenhowsimilarallthe   existingrulessetswere,thiswaseasyandnooneeveroncefeltthatwe    weredoingit“wrong,”sinceeveryoneweknewormetatlocalhobby   shopswasdoingtheexactsamething.   WealsodevouredprettymucheveryRPGthatcameoutduringthe   periodbetween1980and1984orso,withafewexceptions.Weplayeda   lotof
Traveller
 backthenanditremainsoneofmyfavoritegamesofall  time.Butwealsoplayed
GammaWorld,TopSecret,Gangbusters,Call  ofCthulhu,Champions,BootHill,
andmanymore.Wealsoplayeda   numberofAvalonHillgames.Ourinterestswerequitediverseand,   becausewespentalmostallofourfreetimeplayingthesegames,it   wasntunusualforustohavemultiplecampaignsrunningatthesame   time.Indeed,campaignswouldstopandstartregularly,sometimesafter   months-longbreaks.
 D&D
and
Traveller
 wereourtwoconstantsthey    wereongoingalmostallthetimebuteventheyoccasionallywent“on   hiatus,”tobereplacedbywhatevernewgamecaughtourfancy.  IhappilyadoptedSecondEditionwhenitwasreleasedin1989andrana    briefcampaignwithitwhenIwasincollege.Butitwasverybriefandmy   gamingingeneralstartedtodeclineconsiderablyduringthelate80sand   early90s.TheonlygameIkeptupwithwas
Traveller   
,mostlybecauseI  loveditsThirdImperiumsetting.Infact,Ibecameinvolvedwithafan   organizationassociatedwith
Traveller   
calledtheHistoryofthe   ImperiumWorkingGroup.Thisledtomyfirstprofessionalpublications,  inGDWs
Challenge
magazine,aswellasinsomeofficial
Traveller   
products.Butit’sworthnotingthat,duringthistime,Iwasntactually   
 playing
RPGsmuchatall.IdidnthavethetimeandIlackedagroup,  evenatcollege,whereroleplayersseemedoddlyscarce.Instead,  “gaming”hadbecomemostlyanintellectualexerciseofworldbuilding   andanoutletformypent-updesiretobeawriteroffiction.   WhenIattendedgradschool,itjusthappenedthatoneofmycontactsin   theHistoryoftheImperiumWorkingGrouplivedinthesamecity.He   hadagroupofregularplayersandIjoinedit.Weplayedalotofgames   togetheroverthecourseofseveralyears,including2e,
TORG,StarTrek,   StarWars,GURPS,
and
CallofCthulhu   
.Ihadalotoffun,morefunthan   I’dhadinsometime.Thisreignitedthemyloveofroleplaying,leading   metocheckoutlotsmoregames,someofwhichInevermanagedtoplay    withthisgroup.ChiefamongthesewerethevariousWhiteWolfgames,   whichIinitiallyresisted,seeingthemastoo“pretentious”formytastes.I   waseventuallywonoverbytheclevernessofthecentralconceptof   
 Mage:TheAscension   
andthenlaterby
Wraith:TheOblivion   
,which   appealedtomeformorereasonsthanIcansay.   Aroundthesametime,mynewgrouphadfallenapartandI’dgrown   disenchantedwith2e,leadingtoseveralyearsduringwhichIdidntplay   
 D&D    
atall.Iplayedinseverallong-ishbutirregularcampaigns.What  characterizedmostofthemwasthattheywerevery“story-oriented.”  Thatis,therefereehadworkedoutlotsofdetails,includingscenes,well  inadvanceofourgettingtothemthroughplay.Backthen,thisapproach   togamingwasarevelationtomeandoneIreadilyembraced,emulating   itinmyownfailedattemptstostartupnewcampaigns.(Thisperiodwas   characterizedby
lots   
ofabortivecampaigns,allendedbecausethey   didnt“catchfire”withmyplayersimmediately)Ialsostartedwriting   professionallyinearnestatthistime,workingformanycompanies,  includingWhiteWolf.  Iremainedastrongadvocateofastory-basedapproachtogaming   duringthistime,neveroncefazedbythefactthatI’dneveractually   managedtogettheapproachtoworkinpractice.Itwasntuntilafew     yearslaterthatIrealizedwheretheflawlayintheapproach.Intwo   cases,campaignshadendedbeforereachingtheir“conclusion.”Sothe   refereelatertoldus,inveryprecisedetail,whatwouldhavehappenedin   thecampaignhadtheycontinued.Thesewere,Icannotdeny,great  stories.Welovedhearingthemtoldtousandweallregrettedthatwe’d   neverhadthechancetoplaythem.Theproblemis,we’dneverhave   gottenachancetoplaythem,because,evenhadthecampaigns   continued,theirdirectionwaslargelyforeordained.Ratherthanbeing   organicdevelopmentsthatgrewthroughtheinteractionofrefereeand   players,theywerenovelsinspokenform.Whatweprovidedwasmostly   dialogandsomeminorplottingbutthearrangementofscenesandarcof   theplotwerewhollyoutsideourcontrol.Andyetweateitup.  
 D&D    
sThirdEditiondrewmebacktomyoldloveandIplayedit  enthusiasticallyforaboutfiveyears,runningonelongcampaignand   playinginanother.Bothcampaignscouldbecalled“epic”and,again,   wereverystory-focused,withmanyeventsoccurringaccordingtoaplan   
 
Today’sTabbloidPERSONALNEWSFOR
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5April,2009   
3    
hatchedbythereferee.Neitherwasasheavy-handedasthosecampaigns   fromthe90s,buttheywerestillfarremovedfromthekindofanything-  goesfreeformplayIrememberfromtheearly80swhenIplayedRPGs   mostavidly.Icontinuedtowritealotduringthisperiod,particularlyfor   D20publishers.Ironically,Ithinkitwasmydeeperinvolvementwith   gameprofessionallythathadkilledmyinterestin3easapastime.Icame   toseeitasoverlycomplexmechanicallyandincreasinglyderacinated   culturallytoholdmyinterest.   Around2005,Ibegantolookintoalternatives.Istillwantedtogamebut  Iwantedtoplaygamesthatweremoreintunewithmygrowingdesire   forsimplerulesandliteraryantecedents.Thisdesireinitiallytookmeto   
Castles&Crusades   
,becauseIknewGaryGygaxwasassociatedwithit  andfiguredthat,ifitweregoodenoughforGary,itwasgoodenoughfor   me.
C&C
isagoodgame,butitdidntscratchtheparticularitchIhad.I  despairedforawhileabouteverfindingthegamethatwouldmeetmy   idiosyncraticneeds.Ispentsometimetryingtomakeitformyelf,  “rebuilding”3eaccordingtomyunderstandingof
 D&D    
soriginsand   focus.Bitbybit,though,IrealizedthatIwasjustreinventingthewheel,   whichiswhy,in2007,Iturnedmybackon
 D&D
initsmodernforms   andembracedOD&D(and,now,
 Swords&Wizardry   
).  Mygaminghistorycontinues,ofcourse.Itremainsinaconstantstateof   fluxandIthinkit’simportantpeopleunderstandthat.Thepastfewyears   havebeenveryinstructiveforme,asI’vebeenabletoexaminewhatI  likeandwhyandhavemadestepstowardensuringIhavemoreofthatin   mygamingratherthanless.Ithinkthetwomostsalientpointsarethese:  thebestgamingIeverhadwasbackwhenIjustgamedandlet“story”  takecareofitselfandIlikesimplerules.Takentogether,theyexplainmy   preferencefortheOldWays.  Theyalsoexplainmydislikeformuchofwhatisnowcalled   “roleplaying.”ItsnotthatIthinkthere’sanythingwrongwithother   approachessomuchasIdontenjoythoseotherapproachesanddont  seemuchcommonalitywithwhatIwantoutofgaming.I’vebeenthere   anddonethatalready,professionallyeven,and,mostoftheappealof   thatstyleislonggone.Butmakenomistake:I’mnot,assomewouldsay,  retreatingintothepast.WhatIamdoingnowwithmyDwimmermount  campaign,forexample,isnotnostalgia.I’mnottryingtorelive,letalone   recreate,mymemoriesof1981oranysuchthing.Icouldntdosucha   thing,evenifItried(orwantedto).WhatIamdoing,though,isusing    whatIhavelearnedtohavefunwithsomeoldgamesandencouraging   otherstodothesame.  That’swhatit’sallabout,isntit?   ROGUEFEED    
 APR03,200912:30A.M.  HerearetheremainingBoroughsofEmpireCity.Lookingoverthis   stuff,IcanseewaysIwouldhavedonethisbetter.Still,thisisaanold    work,andIamadifferentwriternow,thenIwasthen.  Iplanonmaking
 LostWorks   
aregularlyoccurringtheme.Igotalotof   stuffthatistakingupspace,andshouldbeoutthere.Ithinkwhatwill  seethelightofdaynextisgoingtobeasmallerpiece,andthenontoa   larger
W a r h a m m e r F R P  1 E    
piece.   Anyway,enjoy.  
B r o o k l y n    
HavingthesameboardersasKingsCounty,Brooklynspopulationof   2,465,326makesitthemostpopulousboroughinEmpireCity.Asoneof   thetwelveoriginalcounties,KingsCounty’sformationtookplacein1683   andnamedinhonorofCharlesII.Sixtownsdividedthecounty:  Brooklyn,Bushwick,Flatbush,Flatlands,GravesendandNewUtrecht.  In1898BrooklynjoinedthecountiesofQueens,Manhattan,Richmond   (StatenIsland)andBronxtoformEmpireCity.  
B r o o k l y n B o t a n i c  G a r d e n    
Foundedin1910atthesiteofaformerashdump,the52-acreBrooklyn   BotanicGardenincludesawiderangeofgardens.Themostfamousof   thegardensarethecherrytreeesplanade,Japanesehillandpond   garden,afragrancegardenfortheblind,awaterlilypondesplanade,and   abonsaitreecollection.  Typicallyapeacefulplace,thegardenhasseenitsshareofrecentactivity.  Themostfamousofwhichwasin1990whentheGuardclashedwith   IronDuke.TheirbattledestroyedtheRockGarden,whichsaw    constructionin1916.Destroyed,ittooktwoyearsandnearly$4-millon   torefurbishitandrepair.TheRockGardenwasreopenedin1992,and   sincethattimevisitorscontinuetoflockandmarvelatits’simplebeauty.  
C o n e y  I s l a n d    
OfallEmpireCity’sfamousspots,noneisbetterknownthanConey   Island.Locatedonastripoflandjusttwomileslong,andlessthan1000   feetwide,ConeyIslandliesonBrooklynsAtlanticShoreandiswestern   peninsula,whichisthehomefortheSeagateneighborhood.Seagateis   theonlyEmpireCityneighborhoodwhereresidentsownthestreetsand   notthecity.  ConeyIslandhasthreemainavenuesthatruneasttowest:Neptune   

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