Draw Your Character

I’m not a pro at drawing and can live with the multiple flaws that appear in my creations. Other members of my group seem to resent drawing their characters, not because they can’t draw, but because they feel inferior when producing something imperfect. So they’d rather google up some character sketch off the Internet, and use that. Which is a lot better than no character portrait, but I still belive that creating it yourself makes it a lot more personal and “yours”.

Dyson's Dodecahedron

People often ask how I got to the point I’m at with my maps and drawings. The answer is almost always “practice”. But I often forget to mention what got me started.

Well, really, who got me started.

While I initially blame my first D&D crew and thus Gygax and Arneson, the reality is that one particular game author changed how I looked at drawing and made me start doing it even though I was horribly uncomfortable with the unskilled quality of my work.

Jonathan Tweet is the man to blame / credit. In 1992 Atlas Games published Over the Edge which was EXACTLY the game I wanted to play at that point in my life. And there was a rule in the game that you HAD TO DRAW YOUR CHARACTER.

It made a HUGE difference.

That connection, even to a crappy illustration, was big. It did engage different parts…

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RPG news roundup

Just a couple of cool things from the radar the past few weeks:

Pathfinder Unchained

Paizo has released Pathfinder Unchained. I don’t own the book, but from what I gather it contains a lot of house-rule-ish options for the game. Looking very much forward to see if there is stuff here which might speed up fights and reduce the time spent on rules and book-keeping!

Esteemed game designer Monte Cook is creating a new RPG for kids, called No thank you, Evil. A Kickstarter is launching May 13th. I’ve had success running RPG Kids, and I’m very curious about how to improve on this.

The Cypher system (the rules engine behind both Numenera and The Strange RPGs) is about to be released in its own book. This sounds like an excellent idea, because for some reason neither the Numenera nor The Strange settings really fired me up. The Cypher system itself, on the other hand, seems to me like a neat and clean set of core rules suited for most any RPG setting. So, cutting the system loose from campaign fluff will definitely make it easier to stir up your own campaign based on Cypher!

Yeah, and then there’s this :)

RPGs vs Board games

How much damage does this cup do?

How much damage does this cup do?

John Wick, the author of Play Dirty, just wrote up an interesting blog post where he attempts to draw the line between board games and RPGs.

I’ll try to sum up what he’s saying: If a game can be successfully played without roleplaying, it is not an RPG (e.g. Chess), if it can’t it is an RPG (e.g. Call of Cthulhu). Thus D&D editions 1 through 4 (5e does have a tiny mechanic to promote roleplaying) are not RPGs.

Moreover, rules are only in the way unless they facilitate one of two things:

  1. Reward choices which are consistent with the characters motivations.
  2. Further the story.

In conclusion: In a true RPG, game balance does not matter, only spotlight.

It’s certainly possible to quibble with Johns line of reasoning, but that doesn’t make it less insightful. I, for one, have endured endless hours of discussion trying to iron out the perceived imbalances introduced by a single spell, say Lead Blades. Imagine spending that time in the spotlight instead, advancing an intriguing plot? Regrettably, I can’t reclaim that time, but I can definitely try to avoid making these mistakes in the future. Avoiding half of them would be awesome, too!

[map] Kallmark



Kallmark, a harsh land with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Mostly stubborn humans and easygoing dwarves inhabit the settlements, with the occasional tiefling and stray hobbit. Kallmark is not the place to live if your hobbies are heraldry and celebrity spotting. On the other hand, if you don’t mind subsisting on taiga onions, lichen and those tiny, rock-hard ‘taters. And you know your way around in a blizzard, then Kallmark will probably suffice.

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