Thursday, October 31, 2002

Anybody who thinks they've got a lot of ideas should sepnd a few minutes playing with the >>INFINITE WHEEL<<

The Tower

The Tower is infinitely tall, as far as anyone can tell. Or maybe it's not even "tall," maybe it's just all that exists in this universe. Certainly no one's ever found the top or the bottom, and looking out from the Tower, all that is visible is sky and clouds, sunshine or starlight. The Tower varies in size and shape. Sometimes it's as narrow as a skyscraper, 100 yards across (I guess -- how wide is a city block?), sometimes it's a mile, two miles, maybe more. Sometimes it has a regular shape, circular or rectangular or other, and other times not.

The Tower has many environments. Forests, jungles, swamps, deserts, grassy plains, rocky wastes, even snowy tundra, all can be found on various levels -- often mostly open to the outside, but sometimes fully enclosed, and sometimes in between. Small lakes may spill over to the next level or lie serenely (or sullenly) in the midst of one. Of course, other levels are interiors, in any style imaginable that uses stone and brick and wood for building. Nothing we would consider modern, no levels built of steel and plastic and glass, but ranging from the finery of Versailles to the stone houses of the Anasazi Cliff Dwellers. Some levels are like basements and sewers and tunnels beneath a city, with fouled waters and refuse and crawling things. Others are like mountaintops with pure springs of water, or carefully tended gardens and penthouses above a city. But there is always another level above, another level below.

The Tower, of course, also has many inhabitants, with cultures as varied as the levels. Some of the inhabitants control multiple levels, others just a corner of one. The inhabitants are humans and near-humans, dwarves and giants, winged men and ape men and serpent men and... others. Some trade with others, some fight with others, some lead quiet, hidden lives, some wander from level to level while others spend generations reshaping a level into their own idealized home.

Who created the Tower? Is it truly infinite? What is its purpose? How did the inhabitants arrive? Is it the only Tower?

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Every now and then, someone will see my Fading Suns books on my shelf and ask why I bother with that game. A big part of the reason in Pen & Paper :: Art Gallery >the artwork of John Bridges.

A Modest Proposal:

Don't call it a "one-shot", call it a "pilot".

Alternate: call it a "concept album", or a "short" and see how that changes your perspective on game mastering.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Another one-shot idea: Pixels, the RPG

This ties in nicely with a conversation John and I had last night. Role-playing games tend to have certain conventions that may seem strange and arbitrary to outsiders, for example the arbitrary and dubious morality of killing monsters and stealing their treasure, and how that clashes with attempts to make games "more developed" by giving said monsters families and cultures and societies. In some ways it makes more sense to keep the monsters mindlessly, culture-less-ly evil: they're just swarms of goblins, they have no homes or families.

Well, there's another type of game that has similar bizarre and arbitrary conventions for the "worlds" where it takes place: the video game. I'm thinking specifically of the Super Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog type games. Players make up whimsical, cartoonish heroes, with a very simple and specific quest: rescue the princess and defeat the Big Boss. Opponents of course are somewhat mindless, endlessly spawned minions with no families for you to worry about -- kill at will. They don't really "die" in the messy blood-and-guts manner, anyhow, they just make a cartoonish grimace and drop off the playing field. Meanwhile, your hero is busy finding and collecting magic rings/tokens/coins and power-ups so they'll be strong enough to defeat the Level Boss and ultimately the Big Boss.

This would probably work well with the BESM rules. You could play in classic two-dimensional side-scrolling mode, which would offer interesting situations (and some cool feats, to use a d20 term even though I suggested BESM) to deal with, or go for the state-of-the-art three-dimensions. Heck, I just may run this myself as part of our campaign season break.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Link: Massively Multiplayer Online Chess, a proposal from

Link courtesy of my friend Milo.

Man with a Mission

This one's for playes who can never decide what kind of character they want to play. In this game, you don't play a character, you play a mission. As the campaign progresses, you follow the goal of the campaign from inception to success or ultimate failure. This could take many forms: a secret cabal of Wizards discovers a threat that could destory their world and set out to correct it, an organization is dedicated to overthrowing a corrupt government, an artifact of great power and destiny surfaces in an unimportant fronteir town. This could be in any genre or world. The players take the role of a character until that character fulfills their part in the overall quest, then switch to another. For example, in the lost artifact scenario, the characters start as a group of commoners who have no idea how important the item they have found is. They overcome various difficulties, but eventually trip up and are slain by bandits. The party then takes on the role of the bandits. Eventually, an elite theif (who actually knows what the object is) steals it. The party then takes on the role fo the theif and his associates. There are a lot of interesting ways you could twist this. For example, you could put an interesting take on the old saw of the order of powerful mages who recruit some adventurers to be heroes to save the world. In this version, the players would start out as the recruiters. You could do a spy game where each week the players undertake a different mission as different operatives in a different part of the world. This week they are elite assassins. Next week they're ordinary guys who are being manipulated by the CIA. Eventually, as the players start to put the pieces to gether and understand what's really going on, they play some FBI investigators who've started to put thei pieces together and understand what's really going on.

This could be an excuse to pull out my GURPS Illuminati supplement...

Link: Campaigns I've Never Run, But Want To
An idea goldmine, from

The Followers of Rambaldi

This is a pretty clever "fake history" site about a Da Vinci-like inventor/genius/madman called Milo Rambaldi. The faux-antique illustrations are well done and might work as handouts in an alternate fantasy setting, or modern-day conspiracy game.

Monday, October 21, 2002

I found an old file of RPG setting ideas the other day. Here are some notes from one of them:

U'Duasha: A massive black city of minarets lit by a lake of fire.

The Halim -- flying magicians on magic carpets
The Sualim -- Giants with bronze skin
The Goalim -- Wrapped from head to toe in black gauze and bound with silver wire
The Jalim -- soul-less ones who wander below
The I'Yalim -- bearers of the blade
The Rayalim -- the priesthood of Raya, the god of Suffering

Technology: Bound demons. Most everything runs on the power of bound demons. The more powerful the "tech" the nastier the demon.
Magic: Enchanters bind demons into things. Magicians memorize incantations that force demons to appear and do their bidding. Demons are called Sithani.

Friday, October 18, 2002

So you wanna run a one-shot...

Seriously, the topic of one-shot adventures came up over beers the other night, so I thought I'd open it up. Have you run any one shots? How did they go? Any one shots that you've always wanted to run? Tell us about them? What about themed games? Here are a few that came up in our conversation the other night:
  • Pick any fictional character. You are playing that character.
  • Pick any historical character.
  • Players each pick one deity from the Dieties and Demigods. Once they're assembled, a Gamma World death machine comes through a dimensional portal and kicks their butts (John got this one from a session that was apparently really played)
  • You play your real-world self (always hated this idea, but it's got possibilities)
  • Each player gets a blank character sheet. The PC's all have amnesia and someone's trying to kill them. As they discover their capabilities, they get to write them down on their sheet (John came up with this one, too).

[edit -- here's a few more -- JSH]
  • Play children. City of Lost Children, The Golden Compass, etc.
  • Play the monsters that inhabit a D&D dungeon. Hardly original, but it could be fun.
  • Everyone plays the exact same character. Perhaps they're clones, or copies from other dimensions, or victims of a bizarre curse.
  • Doomed characters. Passengers on the Hindenburg or Titanic. The Roanoke colonists.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Top five names that have never been used for a campaign setting...
A primer for game desigers...
  • Bob's Bowl-a-rama
  • Dial "H" for "HTTP"
  • Tiki!
  • Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica Roleplay
  • Sardine-world

Monday, October 14, 2002

Home Page: The Game

This is an idea we discussed this weekend, based on John's mention that a local gaming store carries a wide variety of dice, including dice that generate hexadecimal numbers. Hexadecimal numbers are probably most widely used in the HTML coding system for colors. So, roll for background color: #dfdc09... ooh, a nasty shade of mustard yellow*, and not web-safe to boot. You lose 10 hits. Of course, the point of the game is to get the most hits on your home page. Do you post samples of your artwork, photos of your cat... or free pictures of nude women? Intelligent debate about the news of the week, self-indulgent whining about your comfortably miserable life... or more pictures of nude women? Those naked pictures are worth 500 hits apiece, but if you keep them up too long, copyright holder Playboy will come around and have your page shut down (lose 5 turns (days) while finding a new host and content). Samples of your artwork -- roll for hit value, 10 to 50 hits apiece, but beware -- the better they are, the more likely someone will steal them and repost them (without credit or permission, of course) to boost their own home page hits. Self-indulgent whining and photos of your cat: 250 hits apiece, it's amazing how many people love this. Intelligent debate about the news of the week: 10 hits. Nobody cares about that stuff. Once your page gets above 5,000 hits, you have to start worrying about bandwidth and server costs, are you going to stay on a free server, are you going to carry banner ads... Heck, is this even a game anyone wants to play, anymore?

* Apologies to my sister, but after all, that is the point of that particular web page.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Fantasy cartography that will kick your ass:
This is the same guy that made the Ultimate Gaming Table. Will someone please tell this guy to stop rocking so hard?

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Link: Cool places to set a fight scene

... Inside the chambers of a dying giant's heart
... On the hands of Big Ben
... Inside a structure built from hypercubes- with attacks coming from the past and future

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

I thought this might be a good time to bring up 1000 Blank White Cards. The rules of the game are simple. You take a bunch of blank cards. You draw stuff on them. You deal some out and leave the rest in a pile. Each round, each player must draw 1 card and play 1 card. Everything beyond that is up for grabs. There also the Discordian Variant which adds some more meta rules. Each deck tends to take on its own look and feel over time, since all the participants are encouraged to draw new cards. There's at least one deck making the rounds here in Seattle (besides mine, which is not available on the net). Several random card servers have been set up. Zannah has links to some of them. There's also An article I wrote on Gamegrene about the game with a rather flawed attempt to design a game of my own as a variation of the 1kBWC theme.

wuthering heights roleplay

"The Actor should check the box corresponding to " Worried " & " Tired ", the default mental & physical states."

I have a feeling this is going to be a good day for blogging.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Who can come up with a game based on this picture?

[pic is copyright 2002 Tim Bradstreet]

Friday, October 04, 2002

Star Wars Galaxies - Official Site

"Certain advanced missions may have a player bounty attached to them. If you choose to take one of these lucrative missions and fail to complete it, a player bounty hunter may be assigned to hunt you down. This bounty hunter becomes your enemy and can attack you, but you can also attack them."

A little dev news from SWG that caught my attention. Apparently, failing certain missions will put a price on your head that will be assigned to a randomly selected bounty hunter. This bounty hunter will then be able to hunt you down and, well, kill you. Great fun for all involved!

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Here's an idea I had for a gimmick in a D&D game.

The Rings of Glannor
This set of matching rings is a legendary artifact from the time long ago. It is said that the patron goddess of heroes, Glannor the Silver-eyed, forged them in the burning fountains of the Mount of Ages, when the world was young. These rings posses the unusual ability to summon a heroic figure from the Sea of Souls. Each morning when the sun rises, if a Ring of Glannor is not worn by another, it gathers the soul of a hero from the invisible sea beyond the world and brings them into the land of living men. This hero is dimly aware of the history surrounding the ring he (or she) now wears. Recent events are most clear and ancient deeds fade with the mists of time. The hero feels safety and companionship with the others who wield Glannor's rings and together they are compelled to travel into the dark places of the earth and do battle with those evils that have yet to be purged from these shores.

If a hero of the Ring is slain, and his heart is strong and pure, his spirit ascends to the throne of Glannor to stand at her side in the hall of heroes, until the final battle. At the next sunrise, a new hero takes his place. And so it goes, through the long marches of the years. The Rings of Glannor insure that there will forever be heroes in the world to do battle with evil, lest it consume mankind once and for all.

Of course, this is just an elaborate framing device to explain the party of heroes, why they adventure, and where new party members come from when old ones die. It allows for a fairly high mortality rate for PCs, if you're into that sort of thing.

This post is by Tony Dowler -- I'm just re-posting it. [JSH]

So who can come up with a game based on this picture?

This post is by Tony Dowler -- I'm just re-posting it. [JSH] The Forbes Fictional Fifteen
Who's richer, Lex Luthor, or Bruce Wayne?

This post is by Tony Dowler -- I'm just re-posting it. [JSH]
The other day, I was mixing around some ideas in my head. I had just read Michael Gentry's hobo game Hard Travellin'. I wanted to come up with a similar concept in a more sci-fi setting. The result was Crossroads, a game setting of wandering the crossroads in a dystopian future. I wrote the idea and put it in this rtf file: crossroads.rtf for anyone who's interested. Enjoy!