What does a wizard look like?

When Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition came out, there was a great deal of argument over its “dungeonpunk” aesthetic and, particularly, the way wizards didn’t look like they were “supposed” to. The pointy-hatted old men familiar from Dragon magazine covers or Will McLean cartoons had been replaced by a confusingly-dressed elf lady and a bare-chested Read More …

Conviction

So, my housemate, Orrin, played through the demo of Rich Dansky‘s Tom Clancy‘s Splinter Cell: Conviction. For the moment, her observations hold more water than mine, but just watching her, I could see the writing on the wall. For her, it was all stuff like “INFILTRATE THE MANSION,” but for me, it was “POST MORE Read More …

Class Construction in early Tunnels & Trolls

The early editions of Tunnels & Trolls are a good example of two¬†class design¬†schema: Classes to fill holes Classes on a spectrum The two base classes are warrior and wizard. The warrior is a straightforward arms and armor type, noted in the game’s fifth-and-a-half edition as being based on Conan. Wizards have a mix of Read More …

The First Estate

“Vatican II led to many changes in the Catholic Church, notable ones being the use of mother-tongues – instead of Latin – for parts of the mass, the empowerment of the laity, and allowing priests to use bladed weapons in combat.” — Critical Miss #8 I suppose I’d know who the cleric was, if I’d Read More …

Little Hearts Like the One in Me

“Hello, my name is Jimmy Pop and I’m a dumb white guy, I’m not old or new but middle school, fifth grade like junior high.” — The Bloodhound Gang, “Fire Water Burn” 1984. My uncle leaves a party. I ask my Mom where he went. “To play Dungeons & Dragons,” she says. I ask her Read More …

Dangerous Archaeology

I often refer to Dungeons & Dragons as a game of dangerous archaeology. In their classic tomb-robbing mode, the party enters an underworld with its own history, meaning, and ecology.* The process of exploring a dungeon is much like the process of excavating a tomb… except eighty times faster and with more blood and looting. Read More …

What makes a thief?

(In which, as a remedy for an unquiet mind, I begin designing a thief class for my Swords & Wizardry/Labyrinth Lord/Rules Cyclopedia game.) The thief is my favorite fantasy character class. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are my favorite fantasy heroes. My definitive edition of Dungeons & Dragons is the Rules Cyclopedia, which prominently features Read More …

The Construction of Character Classes

Premise: a character class provides players with an interface to the game world and a place for their characters within it. (See yesterday’s post on classes.) There are a couple of major schema for constructing character classes. Most games use more than one. Class by Combat Role You separate characters by how they fight. This Read More …