The Week in RPG Blogging: 2010-01-25

I’ve decided to start including a round-up feature to highlight some of the reads I’ve enjoyed in the RPG blogosphere.

Recently, Danny Rupp aka Bartoneus at Critical Hits, second guessed the widespread aversion that players and DMs have towards ‘railroading.’ He notes that this “leads to the knee-jerk reaction from most DMs and players of avoiding it completely,” but that in many instances this aversion can lead to campaigns that have, “gone off course or even worse in a direction that led absolutely nowhere.” Bartoneus notes:

“If we try to avoid all aspects of railroading it can work, but it requires a DM who can think on their feet and is comfortable running a game with an uncertain future and resolution. If you have a good DM, good characters, and an intricate world to play in then having no rails at all can certainly be a rewarding and extremely fun prospect. However, I would bet that no matter how good it is every now and then an important plot line dangles unresolved or an adventure simply falls flat due to a lack of direction and overall guidance,”

Ameron of Dungeon’s Master notes that adventurers in a D&D campaign are more than just monster-slaying treasure-taking machines, but exceptional individuals with above average abilities that give them a special relationship to the townsfolk as problem solvers. (Heck, how many quests to clear out abandoned keeps and family manors are given by townsfolk?) As such, Ameron suggests the use of skill challenges to involve players with their base town with “CSI: D&D” type problems.

“But every once and a while a situation arises where the solution isn’t as simple as swinging a blade or casting a spell. Sometimes the PCs need to be detectives. Their considerable experience allows them to size up a situation differently then regular folk. The PCs are more likely to notice a clue or detail that the locals missed or took for granted,”

At Playing D&D With Porn Stars, Zak Smith demonstrates one of the more creative instances of developing a clerical deity. The result is a well-endowed, horn-headed goddess of the natural world known as Titivilla, Horned Goddess of All Flesh.

Ok, let’s say she looks like a succubus, only with big curling goat horns to balance out those boobs, visually.

Why are we balancing the boobs? Can’t we just tip the balance in the direction of boobs?

I feel gods should have things coming out of their heads–it makes them seem regal and intimidatingly static.
Ok. And she’s a goddess of both medicine and… change, the body, the warping of the body.

Antioch at Points of Light argues strongly about the issue of balance. However, rather than defend the matter of balance, Antioch chooses to argue in offense against those people who get “get all butthurt,” simply “because they think that for some reason games are actually magically worse off for the designers trying to implement some, if any, degree of game balance.” It’s a great post, and I think shows that even if 4e has its problems, its core design ethos has significantly advanced D&D towards a more consistent level of fun for players.

Think how in 2nd Edition D&D, how you could pick a “better” class if you were lucky and rolled high. Thats bullshit. Lucky players are rewarded? Fuck that. […] We can look to 3rd Edition [where there were (are)] plenty of terribly designed options that would often result in a disfunctional character, something a handful of players just handwave because they think that it’s part of the “challenge” is to figure out whats sound and whats shit. […] I’m not talking about making fighters better at diplomacy than a bard, or allowing a barbarian to be better at stealing than a rogue, I’m talking about integrating those traits into a character as part of a concept, but not having it fucking backfire into your face.”


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