Showing posts from August, 2022

Beyond Ability Checks, Beyond Traditional Play

It is not uncommon for a rulebook to introduce itself by its universal resolution procedure. It's become a cliche at this point, so let's say it together: "When your character attempts something difficult or dangerous, [perform procedure] to see whether they fail or succeed." The exact nature of the procedure differs from rulebook to rulebook, whether you roll a twenty-sided dice or a bunch of six-sided dice, whether you aim for high or low numbers, whether there are degrees of success (or failure), whether the distribution of results is even or biased towards the center, et cetera. Whatever the exact method, the universal resolution procedure looms over many rulebooks published today no matter the play culture they are a part of—traditional, story game, or OSR. The universal resolution procedure is often associated with Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition (2000), the first edition of the game developed and published by Wizards of the Coast. It was famous for int

Minecraft Series, 1: The Ender Dragon

I thought I'd write a series about converting different Minecraft encounters and monsters to tabletop, because there are some interesting things to learn as far as monster behavior and environmental interactions. Stats given are loosely for OD&D , but are broadly applicable. I mean, this one is just a dragon. The actually important part is structuring the encounter and its 'stage' using interesting patterns of behavior and restrictions of movement. The Ender Dragon HD 10, AC as plate, Mv. 240’ flying The Ender Dragon is a black and purple dragon that lives on an island in the sky (or in another dimension, of sky islands). As usual for dragons, the Ender Dragon has an age value from 1 to 6 (representing age levels from infant to elderly). Instead of rolling for HP, you multiply its total HD by its age level. Thus an Ender Dragon of age level 3 has 30 HP. All physical attacks against her deal half damage except on a to-hit roll of 20, representing a blow against

Deconstructing 2d6

Check this out. Just take a look. Come on. 2d6 d66 2 11 3 21, 12 4 31, 22, 13 5 41, 32, 23, 14 6 51, 42, 33, 24, 15 7 61, 52, 43, 34, 25, 16 8 62, 53, 44, 35, 26 9 63, 54, 45, 36 10 64, 55, 46 11 65, 56 12 66 Do you see it? You can map the individual dice of a 2d6 roll onto a d66 table [1]. In other words, or for people who aren’t very familiar with d66, we know mathematically which permutations of the two dice will result in which total sums. One plus one is always two, and three plus four is always seven. This means that we can treat the set of possible permutations for each sum as its own table. This is most useful for sums which are most frequent. Obviously, you can’t use it for sums of 2 and 12 since they both only have one possible dice permutation (11 and 66 in the d66 format). However, sums of 5 and 9 each have four permutations, sums of 6 and 8 each have five permutations, and a sum of 7 has six permutations. Isn’t that

Combat Across Chainmail, OD&D, and Greyhawk

OD&D 's "alternate" combat system was derived from Chainmail and became the basis for the standard D&D combat system as developed since Greyhawk , but it has certain quirks which distinguish it from its predecessor and its many successors. I'd like to offer an alternate development of the "alternate" combat system from Greyhawk , with a view to doubling down on its innovations rather than reconciling it with what came before or after. First, though, I'd like to summarize the development of combat systems from Chainmail to OD&D to Greyhawk . Abbreviations for citations, most of which I'm taking from the annotated Delving Deeper Book I: Heroes & Magic , a retroclone of the original Dungeons & Dragons : CM3: The third edition of Chainmail , 1975. The first edition was published in 1971. M&M: The first volume of the original Dungeons & Dragons , Men & Magic , 1974. M&T: The second volume of the original Dungeon

New URL!!!

Now I get to be Traverse Fantasy on all my awful tabletop game-related profiles. Yippee!

Before and Beyond D&D Reaction Rolls

Most treatments of the reaction roll have the referee roll for reaction once at the start of the adventure, to see how the NPC immediately reacts to the presence of the player-characters. This manifests typically as a 2d6 roll with lower scores indicating a negative reaction (including aggression or hostility) and higher scores indicating a positive reaction. Besides injecting uncertainty into every random encounter, with no guarantee of how an NPC will react to the player-characters, there has been some interesting work building upon it; for example, the total score in Errant represents how many exchanges of words will take place before the NPC ends the conversation; in Troika! , monsters have their own type-specific reaction tables. I don’t want to condescend anyone by acting like y’all don’t know what a reaction roll is or like no one has talked about them before, but I think there is an aspect of random reaction in OD&D which is elided by later editions of D&D and its r

David Graeber's Debt: An Informal Review

I’m worried this post is going to make me look stupid, so I wanted to say first that I really enjoyed David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years as an anthropological work and as a critique of the barter myth which has persisted since Adam Smith imported it into the western economic field. Learning about the origin of money not as a medium of exchange but as a unit of account is really enlightening, especially considering how debt generates the preconditions of the market which we take for granted. This is my sincere attempt to engage with Graeber and to salvage what I think are the useful bits from the bits which still carry presuppositions about social value and relationships. Debt is a historical argument about the origin of money from credit, or how units of account have emerged in the past from attempts to quantify relationships between people. The key point about relationships in general is that they are predicated on a give-and-take, where by doing things for other people (or