GM Sanctuary My random thoughts on Gaming

Giving Alignment Teeth

Alignment is an oft maligned holdover from the wargaming beginnings of D&D, where you could look at a PC or NPC and determine literally what team they were on by the alignment on their sheet. That’s why Alignment Languages were a thing: When coordinating military action, everyone on the same team has to speak the same language. Your alignment in early D&D wasn’t just how you acted, it was literally what team you were on in the grand cosmic war.

How does Magic Affect Society?

In some ways, my conception of the Five Spells universe is a special case of the more general Tippyverse. I’m planning on making my 5 Spells book System Neutral, or possibly tack on Savage Worlds, FATE, or some other generalized roleplaying system that are built to be adaptable, but there’s nothing that says that it couldn’t be part of a more “Rules as Physics” universe based on the D&D 3.5 rules, assuming that magic is actually limited to the five spells.

In game timekeeping

I had an extended conversation today with some coworkers about whether 12am is Noon or Midnight. Apparently the “official” answer is “Just write Noon or Midnight, don’t write 12am or 12pm, because they’re confusing.” But this brought up a few thoughts on time in gaming worlds that I’ve had over the last few months. We’re kind of spoiled in the modern era in that in the 1800’s we got nice standardized timekeeping devices and time zones, and the like.

What does "Balanced" mean?

People talk about “Unbalanced”, “OP” or “Overpowered” characters or monsters all the time, but there’s really no one standard for what that means. It can mean a few different things, in my experience. Spotlight Hogging The character in question is dominating the game, hogging the spotlight so that the other players feel left out. This is usually applied to characters that are way better in combat than the other characters, frequently one-shot-killing enemies that the rest of the group needs to spend several rounds whittling down.

Types of Spells

I’m trying to come up with a way of thinking how the existence of various spells might affect the world around them for my NaGaDeMon project. Here’s a first draft of my current thoughts. Offensive/Defensive Spells Spells like Magic Missile, Fireball, Acid Arrow, and even Shield and Mage Armor fall into a general category of “Warfare” spells in my mind. They change the face of conflict in fantastic ways. Since warfare is a constant concern of the human species, it makes sense for one or two of these spells to be of supreme importance, but having more than one of these types of spell doesn’t have a lot more impact than having a single one, unless you want to go with an uneven distribution of magic.

NagaDemon 2018 - Five Spells

I’m committing today to doing NaGaDeMon in November. I have an idea for writing up a system/guidebook for creating limited magic settings that I refer to as “Five Spells” settings. The idea came from a convention game that a friend ran years ago at a convention connected to the Enigma roleplaying game club from Los Angeles. The base idea is pretty simple: The DM solicts a list of five spells from the players, and the builds a world where those five spells are the only magic that exists in the world.

OSR Guide for the Perplexed

Answering Zak Smith’s OSR guide for the Perplexed questionaire. One article or blog entry that best exemplifies the OSR Too many to list, but my current jam is Mazes: The Monotony or how to run an actual maze. A few features stand out about it that makes it OSR to me: First, it recognizes an aspect of gaming that is boring and offers a solution to reconcile that boredom. It offers a simple house rule with minimal game stats as a solution, and then builds a whole adventure using random tables and even a save or die trap or two.

Should I let a PC die?

My wife and my roomate have been playing in an online game for a few months now, largely out of a sense of nostalgia. It’s an online “SAGA” edition of Star Wars, and she’s having a good time with the other players, and she really likes the majority of the people involved, but she plays every Saturday night, and every Sunday morning, she’s mopey and unhappy with the GM of her Saturday game because he railroaded the group into a 4 hour combat that nearly resulted in a TPK yet again, and nobody was having a good time, and she swears she’s not going to the game the next week, because she hates it.

What was Lovecraft Scared Of?

I’ve been awful at updating my blog, so I’m going to take a new tack at updating it. I’m going to post more stuff, but less edited, less polished stuff. I’m just going to start throwing junk up there, with half-finished thoughts and musings that might not make much sense. It’s kind of exploring the whole “Just write something.” Have fun reading it. A lot of ink has been spilled over Lovecraft’s racism and misogyny, and I’m sure that a cursory examination of the internet will expose you to a large corpus of discussion.

Cult of Ashod

Cult of Ashod Deep in the frozen wastelands of Stygia, The fortress of Kitoposh stands alone, far from the machinations of the other Devils. Ashod and his forces are composed entirely of Devils who felt their former masters were mistreating them. Ashod once served Geryon, but rebelled from him when he was ordered to infiltrate a well established demonic cult on the material plane. Convinced that this plan was an unnecessary risk, and quite possibly designed to kill a dangerously powerful underling, Ashod assigned an imp to the duty, and felt justified when the imp was torn apart by a demonic assault.