D&D casts a long shadow in the tabletop roleplaying world. It’s the original RPG, it’s been around for over 40 years, and it’s the most popular. On top of all that, the OGL (Open Game License) introduced in 2000, gave rise to a huge number of games built around the core D&D mechanics, and eventually gave rise to the OSR movement. These underpinnings are usually referred to as d20, because a twenty-sided die (d20) is rolled to determine success or failure, but they also share other features such as character attributes and use of classes and levels.
There are many advantages to sticking with d20 mechanics: You’ll always be able to find players for a d20 game, because so many gamers are familiar with them. Aside from D&D you can delve into 13th Age and Pathfinder, as well as Swords & Wizardry and many other retro clones. Learn one and understanding others is straightforward.
But what if you’re looking for something beyond D&D and its kin? Where do you start? Read more
My day job has become my day, night, and weekend job. Between that and family, I have very little time left to devote to gaming, and even less time for maintaining this site. So in the interest of sanity, I’m going on sabbatical for an indefinite stretch. Read more
In the software development world, the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) approach has gained mainstream acceptance because it works. MVP dictates that your first release of any software product should incorporate only those capabilities that are vital to the success of the product. By releasing only those key capabilities, you can validate your initial assumptions about what works for customers, get your product to market faster, and avoid wasting time building features nobody really wants.
Managing the development of software projects has made me acutely aware of the power of the MVP approach, and over time I have adapted its core principles to my tabletop roleplaying campaigns. I call this MVC, for minimum viable campaign. Read more
It’s been a long time since I’ve painted miniatures. Recently my interest has become rekindled. At the same time, my collection of decades-old minis has been taking a beating because my boys are using them in the D&D campaign I’m running. What better time to photograph minis I painted two and three decades ago, before they succumb to the ravages of small hands?
On Amazon I found the well-reviewed Aukey Ora 10x Macro Lens. I popped it on my iPhone 6+, set up some minis on the kitchen counter, and started shooting.
Opaque Industries has launched a Kickstarter for Song of Swords, their new fantasy/historical RPG. The Opaque Industries folks grew up in Santa Cruz, which is also my town, so I had to check it out. After giving the beta rules a quick read through I asked Taylor, the Project Manager for Song of Swords, a few questions about the game. Read more
Maybe it was a zombie apocalypse. Perhaps an alien plague wiped out civilization. Or it something we engineered ourselves. Regardless, most of humanity is destroyed.
What happens to the buildings, bridges, and dams when we’re not there to look after them? How long will concrete and steel resist armies of vines and rust? Which animals will rule over the ruins we once called home?
And when humanity rises from the ashes, how will it climb slowly back up the technology ladder? What will humans need to know to protect themselves, grow crops, and reconquer nature? Where will we settle, and what hard-won knowledge will we recover first? Read more
Matt, one of the two primary GMs in our group, supported the Tales from the Loop Kickstarter, spurred on by the splendid Simon Stålenhag art from which the game germinated. The rules are still being polished, but he and the rest of the group started playing with the latest PDF from the Kickstarter. They really enjoyed the first session.
Originally I wasn’t all that interested in the idea of playing as a teenager in the ’80s. I’d actually already been a teenager in the 1980s, and I wasn’t sure visiting an alternate Swedish sci-fi mystery version of it would be very compelling. After hearing about their characters and the fun the rest of my group had with the first session, I was intrigued. Then I got an unexpected opportunity to play. Read more
Inspiration tends to be nonlinear – at least for me. While reading rulebooks, modules, and actual play accounts often gives me interesting new ideas and ways of thinking about the games I’m playing, it’s often non-gaming media that provide the most powerful inspiration. Read more
I started Learn Tabletop RPGs in January, 2013. I picked the domain LearnTabletopRPGs.com and targeted the term tabletop RPG in order to help search visibility. The tactic worked, but let’s face it, Learn Tabletop RPGs is a pretty generic name. It’s also restrictive. While the site had become about more than learning how to play tabletop roleplaying games, the domain and site name had stayed the same. Read more