Author Archive

November 24, 2006: 8:54 pm: Cons

On Monday we opened up registration for The Black Road 2007 (June 29-July 1, 2007), and as of today we have 10 people registered. Not bad for a con that’s not taking place until next June, and one that’s small enough that ten is a significant portion of our usual numbers. I’m glad our mix of Amber-related and indie gaming is good enough to make people want to come back, though I’m hoping we’ll also be able to add some new people to the mix this year.

For me personally, TBR is likely to be the only Amber-related con I attend next year, as I’m not currently planning on going to ACUS, ACNW is the same weekend as World Fantasy Convention, and ACN is still dead.

November 13, 2006: 10:03 pm: Game systems

Apparently it was announced at Ambercon NorthWest a week and change ago that the rights to Amber roleplaying have been bought from Eric Wujick by Edwin Voskamp and Eric Todd.

Edwin later posted this to the Amber mailing list (which isn’t actually archived anywhere, so I can’t link to his post):

The reason why I pursued Erick Wujcik for the rights to Amber DRPG is not to ‘fix’ Amber, or for self aggrandization. I have had my most impressive, most satisfying roleplaying within the Amber DRPG community. I have also seen many GMs and Players leave the Amber DRPG community because it no longer excites them, because they feel they have seen everything.

Much of what Erick attempted to achieve with the Amber DRPG is obtuse, not made explicit. Much of what has been done by the community at large is not known everywhere. Much has been done since the book came out, 20-ish years ago.

Eric and I are looking to help rejuvenate the community, show what’s been done, what can be done, how people got from what was there then to coming up with something new. We are hoping to help retain GMs and players, bring in new ones, hopefully bring back some.

We are looking to do this in a way that involves the community, gets input, contribution from the community. Whether this list is the best way, Yahoo! Groups, forums, designer’s blogs, we have not determined.

We are looking to do this in a way, not by fixing the Amber DRPG, not by replacing it, but by taking its core, exposing design decisions, consequences, assumptions implicit in choices and by adding to it, to open up the game, in mechanics, setting and possibilities.

I have to admit that I’m a bit dubious about how this will end up working out, especially since it sounds like their plans for the second edition involve tweaking rather than an overhaul, and later comments seem to indicate that this isn’t yet a done deal anyway. Still, I wish them the best of luck with it, even if I don’t see myself actually buying a second edition of the ADRPG.

October 27, 2006: 8:47 pm: Game systems

As recently announced in this thread on Story Games, and explained in greater detail in this thread on his own blog, Troy Costisick is trying out a new way of selling his RPGs:

I am going to offer customers the opportunity to purchase a subscription to my games rather than purchase each new game as it comes out. A subscription would include four books that would come out quarterly (every three months) and be complete, self-contained games. This is not a model where I create one “Core Rules” and release supplements every quarter. Each game is a unique individual and very fun to play.

He’s calling it DL-Quarterly, and you can find out more (and get a subscription) on the official product page.

October 23, 2006: 9:43 pm: Game systems

Here’s something worth posting about.

Game designer Matt Snyder (Dust Devils, Nine Worlds) has come up with an alternate experience system for D20 games that he calls Wyrd (though it’s now been dubbed WyrD20 in this Story Games thread).

This is an alternative experience system for D20. Players must create and complete goals for their characters to advance levels. Each goal is called a Wyrd. It is a specific fictional goal (or “in-game” goal) that the player will try to fulfill for his player character. Completing a Wyrd earns the player experience points.

Basically, it replaces racking up levels simply based on what a character manages to hack and slash with a system that rewards creating and achieving character goals. Pretty neat, if still a work in progress.

October 20, 2006: 7:47 pm: Miscellaneous

The RPG forums I visit (which mainly means Story Games) have seemed pretty quiet lately, except for discussions about defining (or redefining) jargon and who’s picking on whom.

And I haven’t bought (or played) any new games for a while.

Which doesn’t leave me with much that I’m inspired to post about.

Which is why I haven’t been posting lately.

Hopefully this will change at some point.

October 2, 2006: 10:25 pm: Miscellaneous, Playing

Since this seems to have now migrated from LJ into the rest of the blogosphere, I guess I’ll give it a shot.

Name 12 characters you have played in RPGs, before looking at the questions that follow. List your characters numbered 1 to 12, with the name of the RPG you played them in. Once you’ve picked your 12 characters, look at the questions and answer accordingly. (No peeking until you’ve picked your characters!) Put your answers behind a cut.

  1. Jerrym (Amber Diceless RPG)
  2. Captain Wesley Hobart (ADRPG variant)
  3. Alishish “The Damned” Rajish (fantasy heartbreaker)
  4. Alexander Kovalev (GURPS Fatherland)
  5. Greunthard (GURPS Discworld)
  6. Marcellus Hamlin (D&D 3.5)
  7. Brother Virgil (Dogs in the Vineyard)
  8. Amir bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Nasir bin Safwan Al-Majid (aka The Mad Arab) (ADRPG variant)
  9. Alvaro Lopez (ADRPG variant)
  10. Tony Chen (aka Fat Chen) (ADRPG variant)
  11. Garrinton (Timemaster/GURPS hybrid)
  12. Benedict Pons (ADRPG variant)

(more…)

: 8:03 pm: Cons

If you’ve attended Ambercon North in Toronto in the past, and would like to have the chance to maybe do so again in the future, go by Tymen’s livejournal and offer your opinion on one possible hotel choice.

I’m sure he’d also appreciate any other help you might be willing to offer.

September 19, 2006: 8:40 pm: Miscellaneous

Last week, Ron had a post over on Story Games where he explained his vision of the Forge:

But the Forge isn’t their vision. It’s ours, just Clinton and me. And not only that, Clinton and I (I keep saying both of us because we talk about this stuff, and I’m representing those talks right now) want to keep the Forge’s function right where it started – finding people in the canebrake, struggling with their designs, or having produced an amazing design but not knowing what to do with it. We like it working best and most for the guys with a crappy Geocities website and a neat game idea, who aren’t quite sure how the internet can help them further.

As long as the Forge lasts, it serves those guys first, and that same spirit/attitude of theirs which both Clinton and I individually try to preserve in ourselves. That’s why it is not, and will never be, an imprint of the kind that would force membership or identity of any sort on someone just considering or along-the-way of developing their own game and perhaps company.

It might be the single most lucid version of his ideas that I’ve seen, and he even manages to get through it without once saying something that makes me think he needs a thwap upside the head.

On a somewhat related note, Ron’s started a thread over on the Forge for what he’s calling the Forge retrospective project. The basic idea is that people choose a limited period from the Forge’s history, summarize it as best they can, and then comment on things that they find especially interesting or surprising. Given that one of the problems I’ve always had with the Forge is the volume of material that goes by, I’m hoping that people end up posting about some interesting things I might have missed.

September 11, 2006: 8:54 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

Catching up on interesting things from around the RPG blogs, Chris “Bankuei” Chinn suggested a one sentence character concept maker:

A (personality trait) (profession) is (personal goal).

For example:

A forlorn air pirate is seeking the City of Gold.
A vengeful princess is engineering the downfall of the Empire.
A nebbish superhero is trying to get a date.
A compassionate necromancer is experimenting to raise the dead, in the good way.
A remorseful god is hoping to undo the tragedy he has wrought.

It’s something that can work across a variety of systems (as Chris points out), it creates characters who are already “in motion,” and it’d be great for NPCs too.

: 8:38 pm: Game systems

Clinton R. Nixon posted about a few interesting new games he found on the 1km1kt free RPGs page, and my favorite of the bunch is Satanic Mills:

An inhuman power hums in the shuttles and valves of a 19th century English factory town. An alien power that lies congealed in the cloth and steel manufactured there. A hostile power that twists bone, robs children of their youth, and turns neighbors against neighbors. It is more terrifying than any unholy spirit, slithering lifeform or doomsday device because this horror is real, grounded in social relations. It is alienation and it is generated anew each shift as men, women, and children toil at the machines.

That’s right, it’s an RPG based on Karl Marx’s Theory of Alienation!

In a nutshell Marx’s Theory of Alienation is the contention that in modern industrial production under capitalist conditions workers will inevitably lose control of their lives by losing control over their work. Workers thus cease to be autonomous beings in any significant sense. Under pre-capitalist conditions a blacksmith, e.g., or a shoemaker would own his own shop, set his own hours, determine his own working conditions, shape his own product, and have some say in how his product is bartered or sold. His relationships with the people with whom he worked and dealt had a more or less personal character.

Under the conditions of modern factory production, by contrast, the average worker is not much more than a replaceable cog in a gigantic and impersonal production apparatus. Where armies of hired operatives perform highly monotonous and closely supervised tasks, workers have essentially lost control over the process of production, over the products which they produce, and over the relationships they have with each other. As a consequence they have become estranged from their very human nature, which Marx understood to be free and productive activity. Human beings cannot be human under these conditions, and for this reason the implication was obvious for Marx: Capitalism has to be abolished as much as any political oppression if a society’s emancipation is to be complete. Capitalism is just as incompatible with self-determination as absolute monarchy or any other autocratic system. But while an absolute monarchy limits people’s autonomy by controlling them in the sphere of politics, Capitalism does so by controlling their workplaces and their economic life. A society of truly free citizens, according to Marx, must therefor not only be a political, but also an economic and social democracy.

The rules for the game fill up only a two page PDF, which is pretty impressive given the complexity of the subject matter, so I might be tempted to actually run it if I get the opportunity. Whether or not that ends up happening, I’m darned impressed that someone even thought to base an RPG on something like this.