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 I learned in the Mutant Future

In the world of men, there are few things duller than waiting for a maintenance dude. Waiting for the end is probably one of them. Right now, I’m doing the former and thinking a bit about the latter. At White Wolf/CCP, we have an informal tradition I call the six shooter. You’ve played one shots, 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 Elegance of Arduin

As a followup to yesterday’s post on race and class… The Arduin Grimoire is a series of three books functioning primarily as a supplement to 1974 Dungeons & Dragons. Although it makes some noises about being a complete roleplaying game, it’s really not playable unless you at least understand the concepts of D&D. A few Read More …

Akrasia’s Thief

Akrasia posted a variant thief class that I really like. I’m working on a mini-campaign for which I’m looking at implementing a variant thief class, and Akrasia’s is a front-runner. I’m also working on posts regarding the history of the thief in literature and gaming, and seeing multiple mechanical interpretations for multiple systems is very Read More …

Race, Class and type in the evolution of D&D

Today’s familiar model of class in fantasy games works like this: Pick a race, determining base characteristics and/or available classes. Pick a class, determining the majority of your character’s abilities and advancement path. That’s the model Gary Gygax created for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the late 1970s. Although there have been variant models over Read More …

Guards! Guards!

Further thoughts on TSR’s code of ethics. This particular bit strikes me as vastly more important than it first appears: 3: AGENTS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT Agents of law enforcement (constables, policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions) should not be depicted in such a way as to create disrespect for current established authorities/social values. When 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 …

Character Classes

Splats. Clans. Careers. Archetypes. Whatever. Comes down to this: I love character classes. A good class tells you something about a character’s relationship to the world. Where they come from, how they interact. There’s a lot of argument over what the “core” classes for Dungeons & Dragons are. For me, they’re Fighter, Thief and Magic Read More …