Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Linnaeus’s Four Principles of Dice Game Design

In boardgames, game design, mechanics on October 18th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Like most people in my generation of gamers, I love rolling dice; big handfuls of them when possible. Unfortunately, this clashes with a lot of other elements of my taste in games, and there are very few dice games that I love as much as I love rolling dice. While I don’t think I have all the answers for what makes a brilliant dice game, I do have some thoughts; principles, if you will.

I choose the word principles advisedly. Principles should be followed but, unlike laws or rules, they are provided with the expectation that they will be broken *when there is sufficient justification*. I’m not sure how much the designers of the recent spate of dice games (To Court the King, Kingsburg, Pickomino, Roll Through the Ages, &c.) considered these problems, but all of them, as far as I know, break one or more of these principles, and I don’t think they have sufficient compensation for it. Read the rest of this entry »

Supers RPGs and Comic Book RPGs

In game design, gaming society, mechanics, role-playing games on October 14th, 2010 at 11:09 am

WARNING: An uncharacteristic amount of namedropping occurs in the following anecdote. I’ve done my best to keep it to a minimum, but some is necessary for context.

I was fortunate enough to attend DexCon 13 in July, partially as a birthday present to myself. My first session was an experimental session of Marvel Superheroes run by With Great Power… designer Michael Miller. Darren Watts, president of Hero Games (publisher of the Champions RPG) and Indie Press Revolution (the latter newly minted at the time) was just closing up the IPR booth as we started up, and when someone mentioned we were playing MSH, Darren expressed nostalgia for the game. That inevitably led to us wheedling him into taking the last available seat for the game. Seriously, supers gaming with Michael and Darren was too good an opportunity to pass up. Read the rest of this entry »

Kickstarting Worldbreakers

In gaming society, role-playing games on October 12th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I want to let my readers know about a new project that’s just come up on Kickstarter. Quinn “Gamefiend” Murphy is starting a new line of Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition PDF products, and he is Kickstarting his first product, Worldbreakers: Legendary Villains.

If you know Quinn’s D&D blog At-Will (and his game design blog The Black Pond) you’ll know that he is on the cutting edge of 4e thinking and design. That alone is reason enough to support this project, since it will help Quinn get the wider audience he deserves. He’s using Kickstarter to fund this project, though, because he doesn’t want to make another slapdash third-party D&D product created on a shoestring budget. The Kickstarter funds will go to pay such talents as print designer Daniel “Happy Birthday, Robot!” Solis and freelance illustrator Jared von Hindman (who WotC has used on some projects). Oh, and he has hired your humble authour to serve as his editor, too 🙂

In Worldbreakers, Quinn explains a new type of monster, the Worldbreaker, which is a solo with the ability to warp reality or change the environment around him part way through a fight. This tool helps DMs design epic solo villains that do not devolve into a grindfest. Worldbreakers have been in development for more than six months, and are being honed to a high polish in public discussions on At-Will and in hardcore playtesting. When complete, this 32-page PDF will include complete rules for creating and playing your own Worldbreaker solos, plus a catalogue of nine worldbreakers designed by Quinn to serve as examples and to inject into your own games. Each of them comes with a useful backstory complete with plot hooks.

Check out the Kickstarter page, and if Worldbreakers are something you want to see the light of day, kick in a few bucks. Support quality third-party D&D products so people want to make more of them.

UPDATE: Worldbreakers has met its funding goal! Don’t let that stop you from providing Kickstarter funding while you can, though. You can still qualify for the Kickstarter-only packages, like custom-made worldbreakers and illustrations, and Quinn can use the extra funds to improve the final product in numerous ways, as well as letting him know now that there is a market for his work.

Strategic Bricolage

In boardgames, game design, mechanics, race for the galaxy, techniques on October 5th, 2010 at 10:32 am

One reason why I love Race for the Galaxy so much is the strong exploration element. You find new combinations of cards and powers regularly – even after hundreds of plays – which keeps it a fresh, fun experience. The reason Race for the Galaxy maintains this for so many plays when other games are exhausted after a handful of times is that it demands strategic bricolage. Read the rest of this entry »