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Showing posts from 2022

Why D&D has Hit Points per Level for the Acquisition of Gold

The hard-working Hit Point remains one of those aspects of D&D that its players continually debate. It's not just what hit points represent. It's also how they increase per level. This post is about the latter factor. In D&D, the older a character is, and (in most cases) the more injured the character has been through trials, traps, and monster attacks, the more resistant to further attacks the character will become, because surviving bloody injuries implies success and, indirectly, leads to leveling up. That's how D&D has always worked: characters who have been beaten within an inch of death come back not with permanent injuries, but even harder to kill because they level up afterwards, which is normally what happens when you survive in D&D. (Yes, I know of many house rules that introduce permanent injuries, but hit points still go up per level.) It's as if serious injuries just make you healthier. Anybody who has spent time in a hospital knows other

Starting Equipment Packages in Older Games

When new D&D characters are created, you know how the players can be stuck for a long time shopping for starting gear. Yes, that is a drag, especially for new players who often have little idea what each new piece of equipment is for. What are iron spikes for? The delay to the beginning of play can be boring for players expecting to dive right into adventure. The Prismatic Wasteland blog has an interesting post about different methods for determining starting equipment expeditiously. P.W.'s post also gives a link to Necropraxis' post from ten years ago in which an excellent table is provided for determining starting equipment packages for OD&D characters. The higher you roll on 3D6, the better the package of gear, with one column per character class. Inspired by Prismatic Wasteland, this post is just an addendum about the rules lineage of "starting packages" of equipment. I have some notes about earlier RPG rules that addressed the problem of starting equ

The Commodification of Fantasy Adventure Games

Commodification Signifies Value My son recently introduced me to some card games that he learned from friends this summer. He taught me the rules orally on the spot, and then we played; he had learned the rules orally from friends; his friends who taught him had learned the rules orally. There was no game book to study, no examples of play to read. It was just rules transmitted as folklore and a deck of cards. We didn’t need to buy a rulebook to play. (He easily beat me every time.) Now imagine these two different attempts to recruit young players to fantasy role-playing games. In one attempt , you pass around colorful, glossy D&D books and tell them you are going to play Dungeons & Dragons , a game played by millions of players over the last fifty years. The new players see and appreciate the fantastic art on every page of the lavish hardback books. They see that you have invested at least a hundred dollars on these books. The art communicates genre expectations to the

On RPG Play-sytles, Part 3: Classic Playstyle versus Trad Playstyle versus OSR?

In April 2021, a fruitful essay appeared called " Six Cultures of Play ," by blogger Retired Adventurer, receiving a lot of deserved attention. It seems to have established some terms for further and ongoing discussion since then. In this entry I address the distinction construed there between the earliest two "cultures of play" and how they differ from what is known as the OSR (Old-School Revival). The essay rightly calls the OSR "a romantic reinvention, not an unbroken chain of tradition." For some reason, this instance of the claim (which is true) seems to have registered with gamers who read this essay while earlier, similar statements did not. One reason for the growing acceptance is that gamers who care about these things have begun to digest Jon Peterson's book of late 2020, The Elusive Shift (which I reviewed here ). This book is leading even the most dogmatic and grumpiest OSR-aligned players to admit that the neat "old"/"new&