Tag Archives: D&D

Zine Month Round Up #3

Sending messages to someone you’ll never see again across growing interstellar distances. A giant whirlpool crawling with pirates. A bar crawl on the borderlands. Trying to make sure your people don’t fall off the map. A rescue mission into an environmentally hostile forest chock full of horrible mutants and dragon cultists. A veritable library of zines. Zine Month ’22 continues onward at a typically breakneck pace, although maybe that’s just the time dilation we’re all going through… nevermind! You’ve had two rounds of ZiMo content already, so how about a third?

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Who Is Your Game Designed For?

Role-playing games are a complicated medium. The act of reading a game is not the same as the act of playing it, which is not the same as the act of running it. This was not in fact acknowledged in the first role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons; almost nobody understood how to play after reading, and the designers were pretty much just hoping that wargamers would buy their standalone rules rather than doing anything in particular to make it so. As such, for decades, enthusiastic role-players have grabbed their books, put their heads together, and puzzled it out.

The market of enthusiastic role-players is saturated. More and more games are coming out and fewer and fewer of them are gaining the sort of traction which actually pays their designers. The centerpiece to this is the explosion of Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, which grew significantly faster and larger than any previous edition despite not being designed any better than any of them. So why is that? And how do other games do better?

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Meet the Campaign: Intro to West Marches

Seamus and I both came of age at a time where the long-running campaign was considered the platonic ideal of the role-playing game. There’s a lot of historical justification for this; the ‘campaign’ as an innovation in the wargaming space was one of the things that led to interest in the character-driven gaming that eventually became Dungeons and Dragons. The campaign as a procedure within a game, though, has been somewhat of a stagnant thing. Even as games continue to push on notions of advancement and other structures which define how events progress across multiple gaming sessions, it’s still assumed that a long-running game would be played in a series of continuous sessions by a consistent group of players. 15 years ago, a known luminary in the RPG design space ran a campaign that worked quite differently, creating ripples across the hobby. I’m of course talking about Ben Robbins’ West Marches.

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The Trouble With Ecosystems

How many RPGs do you know which consist of a single book? There are definitely some, plenty of indie games especially are singular works. When it comes to the games most people play, though, you can expect that the core rules are joined by supplements, additional books which expand the game through either deepening existing elements or adding new ones. Beyond that, you may have secondary accessories, things like dice, card decks, and maps which add to the physical experience of the game. Taken together these elements create a product line. When you add additional material made by players and designers other than the original authors, then now you have an ecosystem.

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The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters Review

There are only so many ways you can spell – or pronounce – the name Bob before your players are going to realize that you’re just making up Dungeons and Dragons characters on the fly. There’s nothing wrong with making up NPCs as you go, of course, but it’s a lot of work! You have to name them, make them interesting, and then you actually have to remember to write down what you made up or next session you’ll have players asking why Ba’ab is named Dave now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that work done for you, in such quantity that you don’t have to make anything from scratch for a good while? How about, say, 500 characters? Think that’ll be enough? That’s what you’ll find in the The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters from Topix Media Lab!

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Weekend Update: 10/2/2021

Welcome to the Cannibal Halfling Weekend Update! Start your weekend with a chunk of RPG news from the past week. We have the week’s top sellers, industry news stories, and discussions from elsewhere online.

DriveThruRPG Top Sellers for 10/2/2021

  1. WFRP: Empire in Ruins
  2. Deviant: the Renegades
  3. Heirs to the Shogunate
  4. Achtung: Cthulhu 2d20 Player’s Guide
  5. Soulbound: Champions of Death

Top News Stories

Next revision of D&D expected in 2024: The next ‘expansion’ of Dungeons and Dragons was announced by executive producer Ray Winninger during a livestream event, and predictably it set TTRPG discussion spaces afire. While there isn’t much detail with any official confirmation, guesses about what this will look like center around two pieces of information. First, the new rulebooks have been said to be backwards-compatible with existing Fifth Edition material. This would imply the sort of collation and expansion of mechanics last seen in the ‘Essentials’ revision of Fourth Edition, the lightest touch of the mid-cycle rules revisions seen in modern D&D and the one most easily argued to be backward-compatible. Also building evidence for the ‘5e Essentials’ theory is the paired announcement in the linked article, the ‘Expansions Gift Set’, which seems to do the same sort of collation, albeit with a lighter touch. The second major piece of information has to do with Fifth Edition’s digital ecosystem. Here it would make sense to look to the VTT ecosystem; the VTT value chain is dominated by third parties like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, and digital infrastructure is one place in the TTRPG hobby where a massive corporation should have a distinct advantage.

In summary: As the edition of D&D which has gone longest without any edition-wide revision (Third Edition only lasted eight years), Fifth Edition is unlikely to be changed much by whatever new material is released in time for D&D’s 50th birthday. Fans, players, and DMs likely have little to worry about (though I’m sure many of you will buy the new rulebooks anyway). On the other hand, if you are employed by or invested in Fantasy Grounds or Roll20…you probably have about three years to plan an exit strategy.

Have any RPG news leads or scoops? Get in touch! You can reach us at cannibalhalflinggaming@gmail.com, or through Twitter via @HungryHalfling.

Lands of Legends Review – A Thousand Options For Your Game

Adventuring through an old-school-style sandbox setting, or mapping your way through a sprawling hexcrawl? The biggest challenge of playing a game where the characters can go any direction they want is making sure there’s something worth finding in every direction they can possibly go – even more so if the world is functionally boundless. From vast ancient cities consumed by the forest to a monastery of living mummies, from a desert falling into a black hole serving as the hourglass for the world’s life to a barge-bound casino-temple to the god of luck and gambling, there are plenty of options to be found in the Lands of Legends from Axian Spice!

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