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Writing Historical RPGs, Doing Diversity

For a few years now, I've been seeing things like this and reading pieces elsewhere about apparent conflicts between historical accuracy in historical or pseudo-historical fantasy games and issues of deep interest to some parts (and some potential parts) of the modern gaming audience. I tend to write things which are both connected to history and are written to enable the fantasies of modern people, some of whom have a specific interest in not reproducing problematic parts of the past and present in their recreations, so it's something which touches on stuff that I do. And I think I tend to move and write in circles where this tends not to get much thought or attention even though I write for a game which makes accuracy a priority, so while none of this is new to people who grapple with these issues regularly, I'm thinking maybe I should say something about it to get it into spaces where I work.

So, how do I approach the demands of both accuracy and diversity in the stuff …
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Selling Priceless Items

As part of something I'm working on, I've run into the question of "how much can you sell a priceless item for?" If you come across, say, Excalibur or the Ark of the Covenant in the course of an adventure and you want to sell it, the question becomes less how much people are willing to pay for it and more how much people are capable of paying for it. This is different from selling a large hoard of loot. If you come back to town with a wagon full of potions and magic swords and the like, merchants can split it all up into smaller lots broker multiple small transactions. Here, you have to find one person or entity with a large sum of money. So here's something I'm toying with for DF:

Any item designated as "priceless" has a base value of $1m for purposes of figuring resale value. All modifiers for the seller's Wealth and that sort of thing still apply. That's the maximum value one can get in a typical Town. If the seller chooses to do so, howe…

Writing GURPS Adventures

Someone over on the forum asked for advice on writing adventures for GURPS. Or more specifically, in context, writing GURPS adventures with an eye towards publication by SJ Games, which is a very different animal. Whatever method and structure you have for writing up adventures for your own use is, of course, the best and you should use it for your own purposes. But we're talking about commerce here, not just art, so this should be thought of as advice on how to do business with a particular publisher, not generally useful advice on how to write adventures.

I need to start by defining a term. SJ Games means something specific by "adventure." As the wish list uses the word, an adventure has a plot, or at least something plot-like in it. It presents a specific problem to solve through a progression of encounters. They are not sandboxes. Sandbox-style adventures, with their multiplicity of possible PC objectives, are, in the terminology of the wish list, locations. There ar…

Alea Iacta Est

Devices to ensure fair play in dice games go back a long way. The Greeks and Romans used devices like internally-ridged dice cups to make sure game players couldn't unfairly control the spin and roll of the dice.

And, of course, they invented the dice tower. The earliest known dice tower is a 4th century item found near Cologne.






I started playing with a 3d-printed implementation of it a while back, forgot, was reminded of it, and finally got around to finishing.


It's not a perfect implementation. It lacks the pine cones of the original (not included in the picture above), nor the little bells, nor the dolphins, but those can be added easily. It isn't hinged like the original (Lightweight PLA hinges? Nah.). And the steps appear to go up a bit higher in the original. Still, it gets the job done and looks reasonably Roman.


And for anyone interested in making their own, I've put the files on Thingiverse.








Cardboard Miniature Stands

I like paper miniatures like Cardboard Heroes. The price per figure is tiny compared to miniatures, they don't have to be painted, and they're easy to flatten out and store. Unfortunately, they're not particularly durable (though, with digital files where you can print as many as you like, that's a significantly smaller problem these days--go a head and set fire to those orcs when you kill them; I'll just make more) and their light weight makes them liable to being knocked down if someone bumps the gaming table or a light breeze blows through the room.

The Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game contains a very nice accessory: plastic stands to put the miniatures in. They're sized for the cardboard on which the DFRPG figures were printed, but they do a perfectly good job with folded paper ones, particularly if it's thick stock. They line up nicely with the hex grid, add a little heft, and bring the center of gravity down to make them even harder to knock over. The…

DFRPG GM's Screen Frame

What could improve the GM's screen for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game?

Not much. But that didn't stop me from building something to go with it. This is mostly just scaled-up OpenForge pieces, artfully connected to one another at a suitable scale to frame but not cover up too much of Brandon Moore's art, and of course painted to a nice stone look.


The really nifty thing about it is that the crenelated wall forms a parapet where the GM can put dice, pens, and other small items, keeping them out of the way until needed.



Against the Rat Men Designer's Note

The DFRPG Kickstarter update #88 addresses Against the Rat Men, so I'll add a note here of my own. This is one of those "how the sausage is made" things which doesn't actually help anybody's gaming.

When I was offered the chance to write Dungeon 2, aka Against the Rat Men, for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game, it came with an additional consideration about components. It had been determined that Dungeon, aka I Smell a Rat, would require three maps. Two of them would occupy the sides of one large sheet in the boxed set, but the second map would have blank back. That side could be used for a map for Against the Rat Men.

But there was a complicating factor. Unlike the electronic products I usually work on, which are rather flexible until quite late in the game, there were a physical product with its own serious deadline involved and a cartographer who wasn't me to work with. I had to finalize the map in a matter of weeks, well before the adventure was finish…