Sometimes, it’s ok to have monsters simply be monsters that need to be fought. Not everything the PCs go up against needs to be fraught with moral dilemmas. There are times when we treat monsters as monsters.


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Random Encounter

Blake Ryan leaves us a vmail on Building Your Own RPG

Jim comments

I haven’t listened to the episode yet (or watched the stream, I guess), but the topic reminds me of a conversation on MeWe a while back. Someone was complaining about people making new systems (it was about OSR-flavored 5e hacks, IIRC) instead of just using one of the systems that already exist, and how all those attempts weren’t “worthwhile”.

I said, “If I make a game, it’ll be because I wanted to do it, and because I enjoy creating things, even if they’re not very original, or someone else has done it better. Sometimes creating things is a selfish act, and whether anyone else has use for it is at best a secondary consideration.” And a bit later: “It’d have been a shame if everyone who thinks about making a game decided not to, because someone else might decide it’s not worthwhile.”

So I’m glad you’re making your own game, and I hope it’s creatively satisfying work for you. If you decide to share it outside of your gaming group, so much the better.

Edit: I should mention, sometimes it’s not the external critics that end up discouraging one from creating something new. I think most if not all of the people in this particular community of gamers will be pretty encouraging of such efforts. It’s the internal critic that starts thinking “Why am I bothering with this? Doesn’t system X already do this better than what I’m trying? Does anyone actually need another dungeon crawl / investigation / story game?” The response to that internal critic can also be “Who cares? I’m having fun!”


Gabe follows up

This is such a good comment. And there is so much to say in response.

I think that a lot of what has been called the OSR has shifted into DIY. Why Do It Yourself?

Chances are one does so anyway. Whenever one makes a Ruling, one Does It Yourself.

Get enough of those Rulings together, and one has a new game.

If one “writes” one’s own game, it’s super familiar. Time taken looking up rules decreases. Play is more efficient.

As you say, it’s irrelevant if the resulting game is shared with the wider community or not. Doing it at all was the point.


Warden, aka Todd Crapper, aka Broken Ruler Games comments on building your own system

As someone whose entire creative career has centred around designing original games and systems, kudos to you for wanting to give this a shot @Fafhrd.

For me, it’s been a masterclass in puzzles as you try to find a way to have either the physics of your world or the story prompts follow game mechanics to create a cohesive and coherent experience across the board. Even when I start using an existing system (like we’re using the Pip System for our Wiccan/Pagan RPG, Ironbound: Guardians of Novala), it quickly becomes a hack of the original.


…when the next stage is playtesting, it becomes a true test of personal character and endurance. It’s one thing to make sure the adventure you wrote works for your group, it’s another to ensure your game can hold mustard at EVERY TABLE THAT WILL EVER TRY IT.

Luckily, you have a horde of ravenous fans eager to put whatever you make to the test and swarm you with other systems that might solve the 27 problems pointed out in session 1. And there hasn’t been a game designer who’s been abducted and forced to re-hash their work a la Misery so it’s safer than writing a novel.

This one from Tom on designing a campaign

Has this been done? It sounds familiar, but I listen to a lot of gaming podcasts, and I know you’ve touched on the general topic of campaigns, so I’m not sure.

You want to run a campaign. You get together with your group, everyone creates a character, and then you run a few introductory sessions/scenarios so that everyone has a feel for their character and the setting and mechanics.

Then you realize that you didn’t really set up anything long-term. In the past, I always got ideas from the character backgrounds or things that happened in those first few sessions, and then I built off of those. Inevitably I seemed to end up with several ongoing, interweaving storylines that went until I felt it was time to wrap them up. Those were often replaced with others. When I was down to one big, dramatic storyline (usually the one that sparked the idea for the campaign in the first place) I would work to wrap that up and ta!da!..we came to the end of a long, enjoyable game.

A few things are working against me this time. I had a rapid, unexpected turnover of players right at the beginning of this game. This is an SF game instead of a fantasy game. My current players aren’t nearly as into providing a lot of backstory for their characters as past players have been.

So, I’ve got a good size group with characters everyone is happy with. They’re interested in the setting and the game. I’ve run a few scenarios. But nothing has really developed. I have a few ideas, but they’re going to take more laying out than usual (I don’t do railroads…I let the players decide what they want to pursue and try to stay ahead of them. I know what various groups will do if not interfered with. I adjust that as the players interfere.)

Hm. I may have talked my way to my own answer. I’m still curious as to how you would set up a campaign. How much depends on the players? How much do you plan in advance as opposed to responding to your players? Do you outline general elements and fill it in as the game progresses?

Anyway, if this has been discussed, please point me to the specific episodes…thanks!

Phil comments on episode 300

Great episode, guys! Congrats on reaching 300, that’s an impressive milestone!

Your talk on NPCs got me thing about my recent D&D campaign using Out of the Abyss. It was a pain in the ass having to think about, and run, all the NPCs the module sets up in the first chapter. I think there were 12 of them, and that’s not even considering the number of drow in the outpost. DM overload!

When the party escaped into the Underdark and we were in combat I’d forget to narrate the NPC actions all the time and it became almost a running joke when one of them died during the encounters. By the end the party wasn’t putting in too much effort to save them.

In fact, that campaign fizzled out. One of the members had to drop out for personal reasons. The other three in the group said they were enjoying the game but they felt it lacked direction. I can see their point. I dropped lots of clues on the demonic threat using stuff I homebrewed, in particular an encounter with a Green Hag. Hell, they even had to sneak past a major Orcus temple surrounded by undead, but to the group it just felt like they were running through the Underdark to avoid the drow instead of this major demonic threat. I’m not too upset about it, I’m blaming the module! Hah!

And those same three players are in my Mothership game so when we dropped Out of the Abyss, we upped the number of Mothership games we play every week! WIN!

Looking forward to all the future episodes and all the wisdom bombs you, and the BSer’s community, continues to drop.

All the best!

Die Roll

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About the Author
The 'S' of Gaming and BS podcast. Besides producing and hosting the show, Sean enjoys long walks on the beach, running rpg's, and killing player...characters.