Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[Art Preview] Delf Sentinel and Sorceress

Here are two freshly made illos for the Dungeonteller monster book. Delves are the hostile underground elf race of the Dungeonteller world. I'm aiming to include them as a hero class down the road.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Iso Dungeonteller Heroes

Iso counters for the six Dungeonteller heroesConcept tests for a possible dungeon mapper set. Meanwhile the monster book is still coming together.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Random Character Generation in Dungeonteller

Anthony asked me if the full-on Dungeonteller book includes rules for character generation rather than using the optimized character sheets included in the game. I don't have any philosophical objections to random chargen, but I feel that the "rolling up a character" process is a huge turn-off for newbie players and non-gamers. They usually get so much hand-holding and railroady advice from the DM and more experienced players that the PC they end up with might as well have been handed to them.

Here's how I would do it in Dungeonteller.

1. Pick two lucky numbers from 1 to 6.
2. Roll ten dice for each action (Battle, Magic, Make, etc.) and count the lucky numbers as successes. Each success equals one action die for that action.
3. Decide which of the six hero types you want to be and use that hero's starting cool powers list.

[Excuse me while I grab some dice, BRB]

OK, here's what I got, rolling 10 dice for each action:

Battle 1
Magic 4
Make 5
Muscle 4
Notice 2
Resist 5
Shoot 2
Sneak 3
Stunt 2
Talk 5

Looking at the relatively high Magic and Talk, maybe a rogue or an elf? Nothing stands out for me on that guy.

Let's try again:

Battle 3
Magic 7 
Make 4
Muscle 2
Notice 6
Resist 5
Shoot 3
Sneak 1
Stunt 5
Talk 4

I picture this hero as a charismatic, strong-willed wizard. Low Sneak and high Stunt is an odd combo -- maybe he never shuts up and that's why he can't sneak?

This is fun, one more time:

Battle 7
Magic 2 
Make 3
Muscle 1
Notice 3
Resist 5
Shoot 0
Sneak 4
Stunt 5
Talk 3

This guy strikes me as a nimble but willowy paladin -- high Battle, high Resist, high Stunt, low Muscle, zero Shoot.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Full-on Dungeonteller RPG Book is Here!


The Dungeonteller RPG book is now available for sale at drivethrurpg.com!

It includes the complete free player's pack plus:

  • complete descriptions of actions and cool powers
  • rules for running the game (lighting, movement, combat, environment)
  • The Quibble Marches "Big Hexyland" hex and a map and description of Stormgate City and the Tides Inn to serve as a background for your first adventure
  • Plot, villain, and dungeon generators
  • Treasures, including gems, potions, wonders, scrolls, and gadgets
  • Five preview monsters from the upcoming monsters book due to hit the site in August!


Click here for a direct link to the product page.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[Preview] Dungeonteller Cover Art Promo

I am are very close to publication of the dungeonteller full PDF, which will include everything in the free player's pack plus detailed descriptions of actions and cool powers, the Stormgate city map and location descriptions, the Quibble Marches "Big Hexyland" map, plot generator, villain generator, dungeon generator, lots of microposters for explaining turn order, combat and movement, illustrated treasure tables, and a few sample monsters from the forthcoming monster book. This is my love letter to the Holmes blue book and I hope the love shows.

While you're waiting for it to appear on drivethrurpg.com, show me a little love by purchasing a poster, mug, or tee shirt with the cover art at my crappy little merchandise shop:

Heady days!



Monday, July 7, 2014

[Review] Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules PDF

Whatever else I might say in this review, it shouldn't overshadow the fact that mere existence of a free basic ruleset is always a good thing, and that anyone who complains about what's in it, including me, is not entitled to a full refund. I say good on you to any publisher who puts out free material. 

Second, I'm happy to see Kevin Kulp's name in the credits. I can hardly claim him as a close friend, but I've been lucky enough to run a couple of Northern Crown games at his Boston game days, in an atmosphere of comfort, acceptance, and fun. As for Zak S and Pundit, I can't believe the spite-envy piddling out of the dorkosphere because WotC asked two prickly and very self-aware gadflies to give their game the scoff-test. If you're a cynic you're going to see it as a move by Wizards to co-opt two potentially damaging critics and turn them into rah-rah boys. If that's true, then at least they co-opted the entertainingly opinionated ones.

My big takeaway on the rules architecture is that it's more D&D than 4th edition was, and that's a good thing, but sadly it's at least as much D&D as 3rd edition was, which is a bad thing. I am not an OSR booster, but what I do like about the OSR philosophy is the lack of post OD&D epigenetics/barnacle growth, which sadly the new edition doesn't seem to have mustered the gumption to scrape off, and has even added to. Is it nostalgia? An artifact of how Mike Mearls likes his games? What?

Damage types, for example, seem to front and center in the combat system. Bludgeoning, slurping, and cankering are the three main categories, and they exist to make damage resistance more nuisance-ey. I question whether it's worth having every D&D player for the next 8 years write "slashing" next to their scimitar just so it can do less damage when you smack a gargoyle with it. I would prefer that such exceptions reside with the monster stats rather than cluttering up the character sheet.

Spell components are back. Again, I question the cost/benefit ratio. Requiring spell components is an onerous chore that has never added fun or wonder to any game I've played in. It's a designer's bandaid fix on spells that are too powerful to be cast without gouging the caster. Can we just say you can't cast a spell if you're gagged or your hands are tied? If you really like the idea of auditing your players' gear lists to make sure they have enough grasshopper legs, be my guest.

Backgrounds, personality traits, ideals, bonds and flaws. I can't keep them straight in my head yet, but the only one that has a formal influence on game play is your background. You might get a shovel and an iron pot if you choose your background wisely. I'm serious. 

OK, its twenty minutes later, and I can tell you that personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws are scripted ways for your character to act. Personality traits are more like habits, some good, some bad. Norman Bates liked to eat candy. I say "actually" too much and I have an evil cackle when I'm truly amused by something. These things make me endearing. Ideals are beliefs, like, "The thicker the cushion, the sweeter the pushin," except less fun to test empirically. Bonds are what you would see at the bottom of a teaser poster for an X-Men or Avengers film, like "You won't like me when I'm angry" or "I have breasts but I endorse male-centered power fantasies."

While you were reading the last sentence, I just made a sage who uses polysyllabic words that convey the impression of great erudition; who believes nothing should fetter the infinite possibility inherent in all existence; whose life work is a series of tomes related to a specific field of lore; and who overlooks obvious solutions in favor of complex ones.

Holy crap — I'm playing a designer responsible for 3.5e!

This all seems very GURPSy to me except that the ads/disads/flaws aren't mechanically effective in play except for the shovel and iron pot.

This fluff fills up a lot of space and shows a lot of sweat, which gives me leave to speculate about who exactly are Mearls & company pitching D&D to in the year 2014. Show me the legions of players who will put up with spell components and damage types AND need to be told that "There's no winning or losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game" AND need to be handheld through the process of flufferizing their 1st level PC. Who is that person? Can we stop pretending that a rule set which opens with four pages of unrelieved text is the way to introduce a game to anyone?

I hope the box set has a clearer vision of its audience because an accessible, attractive iteration of D&D is good for all of us — it will always be the gate that people walk through into this hobby, and so it better look good and play nice.

The big question: does this version of D&D model the swords-and-sorcery tales it claims to take inspiration from? No. I don't think D&D ever did this, except in the sense that OD&D and the Holmes blue box set left enough empty canvas so that you weren't explicitly prohibited from modeling any particular genre. All editions since then have had various degrees of success at modeling the experience of sitting around a table playing D&D, which can be super fun, but there's no room for wonder or enchantment in it. I get that most people who play D&D are cool with that — I have lots of players whose love of the game comes from choosing character options and seeing what advantage they give you in combat. D&D has been really good at that for a long time and it looks like it will still be that in future.