Thursday, September 11, 2014

5 years and sorta limping along...

This blog hasn't been going full steam since 2012 or so, but I'm still not planning to call it quits.  Just get me through this Ph.D. program so I can get back to gaming! 

Looking back, I was really at my peak in 2010, when there was a sort of perfect storm of OSR blogging, along with me setting out most of my "big ideas" about role playing and D&D in particular.  2011 continued in that vein, but not quite as energetically.

Then in 2012, I released Flying Swordsmen.  Still very proud of that, and progress continues on its sequel Chanbara (more on that below).  It was also the year I did my "Beast of the Week" feature, releasing a new monster for the game every week. 

The last year and a half, though, have been pretty slow: mostly actual play reports, some general chit-chat about games or other stuff, and the like.  No surprise that that was when I moved from the Masters program to the Doctorate program.  The difficulty level went up a few notches, as did the amounts of required reading.  Anyway, I'm in the final semester of the course work, and am (like every Ph.D. student, I know, I know...) planning to knock the dissertation out ASAP after finishing those classes. 

So, other than hopefully getting Chanbara out sometime next year, expect more of the same from What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse... for the time being.

But don't let that get you down.  We can still celebrate WaHNtHaC's 5th anniversary.  If you're fairly new to the blog, and haven't downloaded my wuxia (fantasy martial arts) retro-clone Flying Swordsmen yet, the link is right over there on the sidebar!  -->  

Now, about Chanbara - I did a bit of work on it today, and had a few new ideas to consider this evening as I was trying to get the baby to go to sleep.  There are two things I need to do, and a couple I'm considering. 

One is to streamline the social status (noble, samurai, farmer, artisan, merchant, outcaste) with the background skills and allegiances.  Yes, I'll end up copying 5E to an extent with this (and d20 Modern before it, which is where I got the idea in the first place).  Allegiances are both a roleplaying hook and an advancement mechanic, as similar to carousing rules, you get XP for gold given to a liege.  At the moment, social status is mostly for RP purposes, but has a small effect on starting money/gear.  Background skills are for things you're good at besides fighting monsters and taking their stuff.  I'm going to try to roll all of these into one if I can.  Or at least connect them, as Background and social standing should have a big effect on Allegiances (your daimyo, sensei, oyabun, family patriarch/matriarch, trade guild, etc.).

Two is to sort out some treasure tables for the monsters.  I have an abstracted system similar to 3E, where it's just by monster hit dice how much treasure they have.  But that's sort of boring, and some monsters of a certain hit die size are more likely to have treasure than others.  Plus, I like the old school tables for individual/incidental treasures along with another set of higher value treasures for lairs.  So I'll be imitating that, but of course I'll have to come up with values myself.  And then I'll need to assign treasure types to all of the monsters.

Now, for things I'm considering: changing the way the Skill Dice work yet again.  Actually, the way they will work in play will not change.  I'm thinking of changing the way they are assigned and improved.  Right now, they depend on your ability scores, so power-gamers will want to have high stats across the board.  High scores net bigger die types for Skills.  I'm thinking of changing it up so that the stats have less of an effect, but leveling up does.  So maybe whatever your Primary ability score is will automatically start at 1d4 regardless of your ability score, while Secondary and Tertiary ability scores will start at lower levels.  And then I can work in standard ability score bonuses a la mainstream D&D in addition to the Skill Dice. 

This would allow for less optimal ability score PCs to still do well in their main area through Skill Die bonuses.  Players can count on a good die type in their area they wish to specialize in, and having a good ability score in one area means they may be less likely to always rely on one die type.  For example, as it is now if you have an 18 Str, you only get a bonus to hit/damage in melee when you use your Str-based Skill Die.  In the new system, that 18 will get you a +2 bonus to hit/damage every round, plus the Skill Die if you use it.  If you decide to roll a different Skill Die for the round, you still get at least that +1 or +2 from a high stat.  Hopefully it will work out better than my current system.  And it may make conversion/FLAILSNAILS games a bit easier.


  1. What's your PhD in? I think 2008-2010 were the peak years for RPG blogging, although I had a mini-renaissance in 2011. Things have died down quite a bit, partly because of over-saturation of blogs, partly because a lot of discussion has moved to G+, and partly because I think most of what needed to be said has been said.

  2. Since I'm at a Korean university, the only English Ph.D. they offer is simply "English Language and Literature" although my focus is on ELT. Hoping to find work in the future training ESL/EFL teachers.

    And I think your analysis of the blog situation is about right. I feel like I said all the important stuff before.

  3. I'd like to offer a slightly different perspective.

    True, things have slowed down a lot, but what we are seeing now is a lot more quality and diversity.

    I was thinking my best stuff was in 2011 when I did my Muppets RPG (wow, that long ago? Geez), but I recently got a mention on EN World. I've been doing this since 2009 and now I get EN World coverage.

    When your interest and drive resurface within you, your blog will resurface as a reflection of that. Your audience will then find you, and discussions and ideas will be traded.

    The second coming of Lord Gwydion is coming. No need to rush it.

  4. I've been following your blog since sometime in 2010 — I was just leaving Korea at the time and was exploring the rich crop of ideas that the OSR presented.

    While I don't read it religiously I've always found it well-written and engaging. Thank you for keeping it up.

  5. I am sure we'll have a second wind of blogging and gaming after we have our degrees in hand. Just keep at it!

    3 months to the big DL here. Lots of posts backed up...