Introducing a new PC to a party that lost a member whilst dungeoneering! Quickly!

If a PC dies, how to get their new PC into the game as soon as possible? This question came up on Reddit rpg recently. I think it’s a fun opportunity to imagine all sorts of possibilities – and to make a table to roll on! Try rolling 1d20 twice and letting the player choose between the two options as to how his PC shows up! That new PC can be right in the next room or even just around the corner in the very next hallway!

  1. Strange statue – this statue might have been moved several times or the creature that caused it may have left. But this statue is a terrible pose is actually a petrified adventurer – one who was lucky enough to suffer a fading curse of petrification (maybe they had one eye closed?)! Something about the adventurers – perhaps arcane or divine magic on them (magic used or magic items) triggers the curse to finally break and the adventurer breaks free of a crust of stone, right in front of the group!
  2. Chute! Some of those pit traps go a long way, even right to the surface. Some of them bring their prey down alive, sometimes their prey finds a way to survive the many falls involved in coming down the chute. But one thing is for sure, they were where they were meant to be one minute, the next they are tumbling across the ground in front of the party, the crumbling tunnel behind them probably collapsed with the force of their arrival. Perhaps this area was a slavers pen once, or an arena or even a abattoir! But now this adventurer finds themselves stuck with the party!
  3. Meat safe – The chest looked weird, but what are you going to do, not open it? No traps and not locked – but very suspicious. You opened it and…that’s creepy! There’s a humanoid inside. Eww, close the lid! Wait, you’ve just disturbed the spell that kept the meat nice and fresh…and alive. Even if you closed the lid, an adventurer stands up, with the worst neck cramp from being stuck in that meat locker! Or maybe you didn’t open it out of suspicion, but disturbed the spell in some other way and pop, out comes an adventurersicle!
  4. Now you see him – when the magician calls for a volunteer from the crowd, you knew you shouldn’t have accepted it! Meanwhile some adventurers ran into a large oblong box leaning against a wall, thick dust across its top and some painted stars along the side. At a tavern or a party, you stepped into the box, the magician said ‘Now you see him!’ closed the box, tapped it on its side and…instead of a secret door opening at the back and you being ushered away, you find yourself staggering backward into some dank, musty room. And when you turn around there’s an armed party of adventurers staring at you, gob smacked! Something about trying to do magic meant it actually happened! Just at the wrong time for you!!
  5. Giants can be a little forgetful – They managed to scoop up an adventurer at some distant location and were too lazy in their swinging it against a wall, they merely knocked out the adventurer rather than killed them. After travelling many a mile they put down the bag for a moment, then got distracted and left it behind. Perhaps they left the bag here or some goblins made off with the bag before the giant could remember, but then the gobos were frightened off by the arriving adventuring party. Now the bag wriggles and a fellow adventurer, cradling the bruise on his head, climbs out!
  6. It’s an adventurer! Your party member probably shouldn’t have tampered with that strange looking equipment or sipped that weird potion, even if it healed them (who knows what’s in potions these days?). Because now they have a strange lump growing on their side (perhaps the side of their arm or torso). It grows quickly and eventually it gets big enough that the surface gets taught – and you can see a tiny figure underneath! Ewww, gross! Quick, kill it with fire – wait, the adventurer its growing on doesn’t like that idea. But bickering just gives the pustule time to grow and burst in a shower of ichor and yuck! And it’s an adventurer! Quickly growing in size until they reach their proper size, while the adventurer they popped out of feels very tender skin where the boil burst. So, you’re a parent now! Well, actually as part of an experiment gone awry (or gone just right), the adventurer was miniaturised and put into stasis some time ago, just waiting for an incubator so the magic could regrow them. But then again if the adventurer has a bit of amnesia, they might think the other adventurer is their parent! “Momma, just birthed a man! Got a boil on the side of my head, grew till it burst and he introduced himself as Fred…”
  7. Kiss the frog! Who did they cross? Well, this adventurer ended up cursed as a wee creature, probably a frog. Maybe the one who cursed them couldn’t slay them outright and planned to kill them after they were polymorphed, perhaps keeping them as a pet for awhile first. But somehow creature adventurer got out – but with the mind of a tiny creature, they can’t remember much except foraging for themselves. And then the curse slowly broke – the adventurer found himself cramped in the little alcove he always slept in, but hears the boots of an adventuring party and thinks, wait, boots? He hadn’t thought about boots in so long! And wait, I’m not a frog!’. He stands, to meet a bunch of adventurers – though the flies buzzing around the group are particularly interesting…
  8. Basket case – Well, you got surrounded by raiders and it seemed a good idea to hide in a basket on one of their carts, to be carried far away from the raiding horde. Except they just brought you into a dungeon, lifting your basket and carrying it far beneath the earth. And now just as you’re getting out, a group of raiders walks in – you’re doomed! Wait, they are armed and dangerous, but they don’t seem to be part of the raiders. Maybe you could join them?
  9. Click! Your cunning plan to obtain a piece of wire by tricking the guards into walking over a piece that you knocked off a passing workers basket with a well aimed stone had all gone off smoothly. And it’d taken you some time, while the guards were gone, to figure out the lock, but you did it. Then a group of adventurers walk in, casually scooping the keys off the wall and offering them to you like they did you a big favour, just seconds after you picked the lock and started to open the cage door!
  10. What ales you – The party comes across another displacer ale victim! They might wake up in funny places after a night out on regular ale, but this time they are waking up really far from home!
  11. Pit! An adventurer is just managing to climb out after having fallen in and been left behind by another group! Perhaps the other group was fleeing a superior force?
  12. Magical tea party – The party turns a corner to see an adventurer with a blissful smile on his face, holding a small tea cup, sitting at a tiny table. Slowly the expression starts to fade – whatever creature that charmed him is not present, they said they would be away for a moment (that may have been hours ago, given the charm). Some magical creatures want to twist and make strange the life of mortals, rather than attack and kill. And now the adventurer is snapping out of it and beginning to realise he doesn’t like tea!
  13. Framed – Did something move in that painting on the wall? It did, it did! And from the frame steps an adventurer! He’s not sure if he was trapped in a painting or that was his homeland and he stepped through a portal – he feels rather groggy. And regardless, it’s a one way thing, as it’s just a regular painting now!
  14. Boned! A skeleton approaches! No doubt the party readies itself or perhaps launches attacks as soon as possible. But then chunks of meat fly across the room, slapping against the skeleton to the sound of wet splats. More and more and the skin knits and even bits of armour and gear fly together. It’s an adventurer! Who was killed here, apparently – and yet as much as some spell tore him apart, it kept his pieces in a kind of order – enough to assemble them to flesh then cast the flesh back onto bone! How long ago did he die? Who knows, but now…well, he’s a kind of alive?
  15. Bulette train – Whether they meant to fight the Bulette or were just trying to get out the way, their armour or robe got caught on the creatures armoured carapace and when it burrowed down through the ground, it took them with it! The thing burst into view of the party, shoot dirt from its hide and an adventurer as well! And now its burrowed away (or perhaps not?), the tunnel it came in by and the one its leaving by both collapsing as it goes. Leaving a very dirty and disoriented adventurer behind in its wake!
  16. Gibbet – Everyone knows to release a victim from a gibbet is just a mad thing to do! And the one in this hanging cage looks especially mad! But suddenly the bottom opens and the figure drops to the ground in a crouch! It must be a trap that has been sprung! The being rises, its eyes wide and wild! Wait, he just has some mirror spell cast on him – that’s how your party looks to him, it’s your eyes being reflected in the mirror. Some evil being set you up to attack each other! That or the madness spell had not fully taken hold of the adventurer. Or at least that’s what he tells you!
  17. Guys? The party encounter an adventurer, who seems to be trying to work out what the time is. He was supposed to meet his party here (how he got here might have been by walking or one way teleport or by an already used up gaseous form potion). But its been hours now and he doesn’t have a lift home?
  18. Dragon stocks dungeon – Plucked by a dragon from the earth, the great beast decided to add the adventurer to a dungeon as a form of amusement, for dragons don’t take with make believe plays. They like real drama! And it’s probably watching through a scrying device or listening right now, after having dropped the adventurer in through a chute or had some underlings drop him and leaving him in a special part of the dungeon.
  19. Lost soldier – charging in to the labyrinthine passages of the dungeon with many fellow troops to chase down an enemy, somehow this soldier got lost in the many twisting tunnels. Now they are an adventurer – and possibly treated as a deserter. Though perhaps theirs was a loose mercenary affiliation, so they merely forfeit their pay and future employ. Given those prospects, they run into the party who could do with another fellow!
  20. He told me you’d be here – this is what the adventurer says when the party encounters him. Why did he follow the instructions of this knowing person? Who can say? If he were an enemy agent, he could have attacked by now and he has told you he was sent to meet you. But who is the mysterious benefactor who sent him? What do either of them get out of the deal?

Wow, four years – now that’s a montage!

I have a piece over on my blogger blog of blogdom on ‘Being a DM/GM in roleplaying – it doesn’t work like a book or movie

It continues my tradition of writing a reply to someone else other than my blog, then thinking ‘that’d make a good blog post – but now google will hate me when I cut and paste my own words to my own blog, ‘thinking’ I totes stolezorz it – hopefully putting in a link to it makes great god google less angry with this mortal’

But seriously, how often have new gamers used movies or books as their model for play – when those things involve just one author. And roleplaying is a co-author thing (you let someone play a character, they are a co-author. That or they are just an audience and are pretending to play a character (I’m not even going to go into ‘improvises what they say, so totally playing a character…but only improvises permutations on the scripted lines and ultimately goes where the script says to’ stuff. It’s no different from being an audience member)

Also my modest kickstarter attempt is coming to a close – $5 short of it’s massive 5000 goal…5000 cents, that is. So $50 dollar goal.

On the other hand, though having put genuine hours of labour into writing the project pitch, if I don’t make the goal I don’t have to write anything! Such liberty!

Glove puppet game systems

It struck me how to phrase it.


I think a game system, if it’s going to have a group play any different than they do normally/be worth playing, needs to be like another player at the table. In fact the game system need to be like another GM at the table. A GM who comes ahead of the human GM.

In traditional designs, the system is like a glove puppet.

Like someone, typically the GM, holding a little glove puppet at the table and talking out of the side of their mouth “Okay, I’m the system, and I say…s’alright, s’alright!”

What you get with gamers is early in their careers, they buy this. Even the GM buys it!

Latter they say “Hey, we don’t need to listen to the glove puppet! Were REAL roleplayers if we just do what we want!”

At which point everyone puts on a glove puppet.

I mean, if your just doing whatever the hell you want, why are you rolling? Why? Because it’s a glove puppet – it’s a make believe the roll somehow controls something, when it’s your hand inside.

A game with a complete procedure isn’t a glove puppet. Actually a few indie RPG’s with complete procedures have come out. Capes (or atleast the quick start, as far as I know). I think 3:16. Spione (assuming I’ve read accurately). Oh, and except for a tiny bit, escape from tentacle city.

Are you trying to tie real world morality to in game actions?

Here’s an idea – gamers have real trouble seperating their sense of morality from a games fiction. One example was in a browser game I had played, where the text itself described an option to loot other players as ‘not being very fair’.

Even the designer himself couldn’t really seperate his moral notions from the fiction he had overlayed onto the game.

No,  it’d be about as unfair as checking someones king in chess.

If in a roleplay game you have some ‘rape a person automatically’ power, then it isn’t nasty or unfair or wrong of you to use it. It’s just part of the game. YES, fictionally it’s rather strong, perhaps over powering. This is exactly why as a designer you have to take responsiblity for this yourself – do you want a game with this? It’s no good putting it in with some sort of stupid idea that the players morality aught to keep it’s use in check. Real world morality doesn’t apply to gameplay itself – it’s stupid to think that. Otherwise taking someones rook is like mini murder or something stupid.

Don’t try and apply real world morality to in game actions. It’s entirely missplaced.

On a side note: I thought I’d give a link to a browser game I’m slowly building up :

Roll when you want to is not the bees knees

Okay, looking at a forge post on ‘the pool’.

I think Ron admired it as having more structure than traditional RPG’s. In a way it does – it’s kind of like it has had all it’s limbs dislocated, while other RPG’s have had all their limbs dislocated and drawn and quarted the body.

It all hinges on : You have a capacity to roll. BUT you don’t have to.

So why do it? Because it’s fun? You don’t know it’s fun before you roll, and when you roll, what you say your rolling for and how you or someone else describe the outcome are the significant parts of whether it’s fun. It’s like if I say you roll and if you fail, you get a beef burger, and if you win, you get a chicken burger. Know why the rolls tasty? Because I didn’t say on a fail you get a turd burger and on a win you get a flem burger.

The roll is hardly significant as how it’s set up. So if anythings good, it’s how good GM Herbie is at doing this.

“But the outcome can change many things in the future, and that stuff latter on might be fun!”

And that’s getting into fun latter territory.

I usually refer to stone soup design around about now. Where people put in a ton of effort into the soup, then claim the soup was already delicious and just a great soup!

Pratically all RPG’s hinge on alot of “uh, roll whenever. Or don’t”. It’s crap. If this really is the way into a nuanced, affecting system, why the f’k is it optional then? Why leave it to chance whether your written system matters at all? This whole ‘roll when you wanna’ is hopefully, and at best, simply a stage where we figure out actual rules for triggering rolls. Instead of making it up every bloody time.

Okay, I’ll water that down. Having some rolls where you decide if you want to or not, just some of them, and the others have rules that tell you roll, that’s cool. A mix! I’m sure the forced rolls will influence the optional ones. But only having optional rolls?

I mean if I said here’s a ball game, but you don’t have to touch any of the balls. Even if you touch none of them, your totally playing the game! Would that make sense!

“But we would roll at some point”

Again it goes back to you deciding when, about what, and what happens. This is you providing the vast bulk of content! What are the rules actually providing? At best they are making you think of two different paths (win and lose) rather than just one. That’s it. Your the one making up the path though!

And in terms of two different paths – it’s only going to happen when you basically decide there should be a split point. What, your going to forget what the mechanic does? So this isn’t a big surprise moment – your deciding when the split happens. So you are, by default, only going to have a split happen where you want a split to happen. Your play isn’t going to be really jerked in a new direction – your only introducing a split when your happy to do so. Whatever direction you go in – you decided on it anyway and the dice are just a faux ‘oh it’s totally wild’ illusion to perpetrate on yourself. Again it’s like fail=beef burger, pass=chicken burger – it’s not wild. You like beef burgers. You like chicken burgers. Your not going anywhere different than you want to, but now you’ve got a die roll to pretend you are. You are not going to choose anything you don’t like – whatever you choose, you chose it cause you like it. The story is ending how you want it to end, just you have two ways you want it to end and your prepared for it to be random which? This is as stale as just deciding the ending.

“We all just decide”. If we wanted that, we’d just do that. What have we got here – we all just decide twice. Then we flip a coin.

“Oh, but if we roll enough we wont be able to predict the ending”

Okay, cool, how many times is that? We’ll write it down as a rule that you have to roll that many times a session, before the session is done.

“Umm, errr, I don’t want to be fixed in this or forced…”

Yeah, I know. That’s my point. A truely unpredictable ending would be fixed upon you and forced upon you. It’s supposed to be unpleasant in that ‘I have no control’ way. That’s how surprises are. Real surprises.

You’ve got too much control to genuinely have an upredictable ending. And I’m obviously not just a negative nelly – tell me how many rolls it takes for a genuinely unpredictable ending. We’ll make it a hard and enforced rule. I’m up for a constructive way out of this. Perhaps roleplay design could move on from this.

I just don’t think this sort of mechanic really contributes, even if it feels really different for a antagonist to die a bit latter. I’ll grant that is different from just deciding it yourself. I just don’t think it’s that different or different enough to be considered a contribution by the ruleset. Or to put it in a possitive frame, if that feels really different, imagine what it’d be like if you had rules you just had to use?

Yah, maybe I should have framed this from the ‘hey, if you like this, perhaps…’ possitive angle…ah well.

Simulationism – gaming with the front of the brain turned off?

I was watching something on the brain by Susan Greenfield (she’s a baroness, lol!).

It was on a different subject, but she was describing how a three year old child, if asked what ‘Out, out, brief candle’ means, they’d say it means if you blow on a candle hard enough, it goes out.

There is no dimension of symbology and metaphor for them.

And then I happened to be thinking about simulationism and how people get uptight about ‘it’s not realistic!’ or such. I happened to be thinking that, because I had a dream where the landlord had put our house up for rent. Except the house in my dream wasn’t quite the same as the house I’m actually in. Yet that wasn’t the point, was it?

Except perhaps for gamers heavily inclined towards sim, as much as the three year old has no further dimension to the saying, a simulationist just imagines without any further dimension. Just literalist imagining. No metaphor, no symbology. Indeed Susan Greenfield says the frontal cortex is to do with metaphor and such – so simulationism? Gaming with the front part of your brain turned off?

Interestingly she also says the frontal cortex only starts to really switch on and light up at around age twenty.

Out, out, brief candle!

Game Blame

Regarding here.

And here

Messed up: The GM making the player roll and then making up whatever result suits him.
Messed up: Rolling constantly for stuff that doesn’t matter.
Messed up: The GM feeding you information a bit at a time, on his own schedule, to control “the story.”

Now, what else does someone need to say, to indicate they are blaming the GM for the choices he made?

What’s an example of someone actually blaming him? Perhaps “What he chose to do is messed up!”. Surely it could be sympathised that the above reads as blame to someone?

And in the end it bugs me – someone can always say ‘Oh, you read my intent totally wrong’ and how can you prove them wrong on their own intent? But by the same token how could you absolutely know? There’s some level of assumption that aught to get a bit of forgiveness, otherwise the conversation crawls to a snails pace “So when you say you roleplayed, do you mean you played chess…I just can’t assume anything…”

Not to mention the real issue I was trying to raise is that all of this focuses attention on the GM, rather than on the rule system he was working under. Blame, if any, isn’t the issue. The issue is the real problem isn’t being addressed, and that’s true regardless of whether there was blame or not. All of the post is focused on introducing ideas like ‘Say yes or roll’ to the GM or defining stakes really clearly with the GM.

In the end, what does someone have to say before you can safely consider them to be blaming someone?

I dunno, I guess there was some sublime work around for this that I could have instead used, but I think there just doesn’t seem to be an end to learning these work arounds. Keep learning enough of them and you go insane, don’t keep learning them and your a bad apple.

The forge – probably a sign of it’s wrapping up

You know, if I wanted to say that at a gaming session someone rolled percentile and checked whether it got under the weapon skill to hit or not (and if it did, they go to damage), would I then have to go and describe a gaming session in particular detail where that happened or you just don’t get it?

I’d think not.

But I try and say ‘Hey, I hypothesize some people use a process where they only allow rules to be used if it makes sense for them to be used. Any rule is moot if it does not ‘make sense’, do I need to detail utterly an actual play account? Can I even, more than I already have?

That’s where I got up to in the latest forge thread. And I got a line delivered to me I thought I’d only hear in two and a half men (if I watched it) “Quit whining, we respect you!”. Goes along with such, hopefully only comedy classics as “Of course your smart, you dumbass”.

I haven’t been back to the thread for days. I was already moving on in spite of the rudeness and really now – well, they seem to think they deserve a responce even with how they act. Rather than appreciating the work put in it’s just their due.

Worst thing is quite a few people actually seemed to get the general direction I was shooting for, giving examples or saying they were a practioner themselves. So I only had a couple of bad eggs. Of course when one is a moderator that’s a problem.

The requirement is to discuss AP. The sticky post says this can be done vaguely (as I last read it). As much as the percentile roll above basically is actual play and you can’t describe it much more, in terms of the mechanism I’m focusing on that’s about it. It’s just a simple process – it doesn’t require more complex AP account and really, can’t in a way without starting to talk about things that just aren’t related to it. Ie, I don’t want to focus on interplayer relationships and some bigger shebang – I’d do a post on it if I wanted to.

I said in the post you don’t know what someones motive is – but I’d suspect here that this level of ‘moderation’ – I think I kicked a sacred cow. I did with one other poster who just wanted to declare its how all roleplay is done and thus there’s nothing to be talked about, no examination to be made.

One time someone added a bonus to hit to a d20 roll. One time someone used a process where the decided they wouldn’t use a rule, because it doesn’t make sense.

“Holy crap, freaking do the respect of describing actual play!”

I have no clue what triggers this or how it makes sense to be saying/writing it. I’ve met the loose conditions set out in the sticky post. That or the sticky post is shit at describing the conditions. OR you can just decide the sticky is great and fine and I’m deliberately being a bad person.


Media formats presented as ‘unleashed’

Bit off the blogs usual topic, but there was a TV show here in Australia called collectors on ABC TV, and it suddenly went off air, it’s presenter on certain charges.

Basically commenting on the lack of ‘presumption of innocence’ and how the article on the ‘unleashed’ ABC site has had it’s comments disabled for ‘legal reasons’.

It’s funny what ‘unleashed’ really means in the end. It means leashed. Well, actually that’s not funny…I don’t know how else to put it.

Atleast the article itself is still there, and I couldn’t find anything I’d argue with it – it really is a lack of presumption of innocence.

Confusing rule options and house ruling, part B

Further on this

I think if someone can’t identify a difference between them choosing an option a rule presents them a rule and them making new house rules, they are essentially going to be doing things to you at the gaming table that you haven’t said they can do.

Though I can think of gamers who don’t care – they don’t do much in terms of the game and are there for the scene, so they don’t care what the GM does even if they didn’t say he could do whatever he’s doing to them.

Ah, I dunno, I think I have a point then the apathy of gamers defeats my point…

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