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Showing posts from July, 2020

The Original D&D Skill Rules

Critics of role-playing games with skill systems sometimes support the idea that the Gamemaster should decide outcomes by fiat or by ad hoc rulings on the odds, be it in negotiation with players or by assessing the quality and likelihood of the player’s description of the character’s action. Though often presented as a return to the sources and a putative original play-style, and away from more complicated “modern” rules, the impulse to go back to the sources is quite modern. It’s also right in line with the most ardently free-form storytelling gamers, only with a strongly empowered GM. Fewer rules, more GM fiat. Some seem to think that the original D&D rules of 1974 do not include skills. In fact, they do. It’s just that they did not call them skills, just as they did not call it a “role-playing game” in 1974, either. The original skill rules were disorganized. They have no uniform method of resolution. Some are “have/not have” skills. If you have them, they work, and if you do

Fortune Favors the Bold, An alternative to XP for GP

In the old days I would give experience points (XP) to players for good role-playing and, generally, success in adventures, not specifically for gathering treasure or defeating foes. That was in line with the common practice for practically all games besides D&D, a game that gradually diminished in importance across the gamersphere during the years I'd been playing ('80s through the mid-'90s) until I stopped playing for a few decades. It's worth emphasizing, in 2020, when the attention of gamers seems to be overwhelmingly focused on one version of D&D or another, that most role-playing games--those hundreds of other games--don't give XP for treasure or killing per se. So my way of doing this in the days of old was perfectly normal and mainstream. Now that I'm back to running role-playing games, and coming to terms with a world full of gamers most of whose attention, if not their entire practical experience, seems to be limited to finely-grained variation

Luck Stats in Early Role-Playing Games

It may seem strange for a character to have a Luck stat in a game that already determines outcomes of events through dice that generate random results. Why do you need a luck score ? Isn’t luck a matter of dice rolls? The answer is yes, it is, but Luck stats do interesting and useful things. To be lucky in any role-playing game, the numbers you need to roll against are determined in advance to move the story through one dilemma to the next through the dice. When you made your character, you may have determined stats via preliminary dice rolls that fix parameters for subsequent dice rolls. Or maybe you made your character by distributing points to stats, hedging your bets on what you want to roll dice for , and maximizing the likelihood that you’ll succeed in doing the things you want your character to do most. Either way, your odds of success are usually linked to things on your character record sheet that you determined beforehand, which represent your odds of success in different ca