Sunday, 24 January 2021

Exploring Space: Procedure in Different RPG Environments (Part 2)

Part 1 of this 2-part post special can be read here:
https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/2021/01/exploring-space-procedure-in-different.html

In a previous post I look at play procedures in different environments, in the hope that this might somehow "unlock" the secret to running a city encounter. For many readers I'm trying to solve a problem that isn't there, and I'm not going to argue with you: I think this is probably about my own obsession with cities and what they mean. Hopefully something good can come out of it.

Lilith, Anselm Kiefer

Before digging into the urban environment I want to examine the final play procedure: delving. In producing this text it occurred to me that my issues with cities in RPGs is that they can offer the same high risk/high reward scenario that dungeons and other discrete locations can offer, but the procedure for exploring such sites is entirely unsuited for the majority of play within a city.

Anyway, here's my breakdown of dungeoneering. Again: this is not didactic, merely how I interpret old-school style play at my table, ymmv:

Friday, 22 January 2021

Reaction Rolls and Reputation

As usual thinking about ability scores was keeping me awake at night, and—after yet again unsuccessfully trying to square the circle OF STUPID ABILITY SCORE MODIFIERS—I started thinking about reaction rolls. One may well assign the notion of ability score modifiers to the status of "only for the combat mini-game", but then you miss out on the UNADULTERATED POWER of having an 18 charisma character getting involved in this murky business:

None but a nincompoop would deny the beauty of the 2d6 table: indeed, many have tried to use it as the basis for whole systems. I am certainly a fan of the above interpretation (taken from the red box), as there's it runs the whole gamut of monster emotions! In all seriousness, I enjoy that it suggests multiple stages of negotiation, with charisma perhaps playing second fiddle to other circumstantial modifiers.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Exploring Space: Procedure in Different RPG Environments (Part 1)


Constant's New Babylon Nord. It is upside down, courtesy the internet.

Work for PARIAH VOLUME 2: CITY OF GHOSTS continues apace. There is no way I am going to be able to have this ready for Zine Quest 3  unfortunately, but I have at least settled on a format. The nature of the space is closer to a dungeon crawl than a city crawl, so there will be a somewhat granular approach to the space... by which I suppose I mean a keyed map with defined locations and routes around.

However, I'm still thinking about a bigger, more urban setting for another project, but feel the need to really define the procedure for exploring an urban environment, as it's the least defined in old school play. To get there I'm first going to have a look at some traditional play procedures with additional commentary regarding how this manifests in PARIAH.

Monday, 18 January 2021

HEARTH SPIRITS: Neolithic House Ghosts

Discussing the etymology of hobgoblin on the discord server was a reminder that the idea of a "kitchen ghost" or "hearth spirit" is common to many cultures across the globe. Hob is used by a lot of British people to describe their stovetop, an evolution of the hot plate that once kept pots simmering on traditional stoves. Goblin, of course, was a type of fey creature rather than a rat-faced runt with green (or orange) skin and a selection of  pointy sticks. The hobgoblin was thus a kitchen-based domestic spirit and not the larger kinds [of orc], as suggested by Gandalf.

They used to be fun, now they're just another "proud warrior race" trope.

In protestant Europe (and in many of the lands the countries of that cultural sphere once occupied) belief in this spirit and the practice of honouring it has largely died out over the last few centuries along with many of that culture's folk traditions. The guilty party in this case being the religiosity of the reformation and the "rationalism" of the later enlightenment period. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

The Knife: the very last skills post (until the next one)

I had the unusual pleasure of playing in a pariah game that someone else (specifically Louis from So Much Game) was running. One of the other players (specifically Nye of the internet and Garblag Games) expressed frustration at the lack of opportunities for his character to be useful: he seemed to have a lot of social, charisma-based abilities that weren't of use in the wilderness scenario Louis was presenting.

I did a pretty terrible job of explaining tactical infinity in old school games, and how this can work alongside a skill system, but I stand by my words: I know a lot of old school RPG enthusiasts would say that this is because character skill always detracts from the application of player skill. I want to address that supposition—it in a non-confrontational way—with the notion of skills as tools.

Neolithic flint knife blade.

First among tools is the adventurer's friend, the knife.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

More Neolithic Settlements—City of Ghosts/PARIAH

 A confluence of currents, including but not limited to...

...has lead me back to this idea that cities and settlements could do more (or at least could feel more interesting) in the implied PARIAH setting.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this 9,000 year old Neolithic dwelling is better than my house.

So: using (and augmenting) the tables in this post:
....I've assembled a generator for four different types of settlement: RURAL (the kind that should number in the dozens-per-agricultural-hex), MAJOR SETTLEMENT (the home of a chieftain or regional leader) SACRED SITE (what it says on the tin) and the CITY.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

PARIAH ETAU CAMPAIGN, SESSION 25: SAVE THE DOLPHIN

These events continue from the TWENTY-FOURTH session. The real world session took place on Saturday 2nd January 2021 on the Atelier Hwei Discord.  

Players:

- Mister Kent https://twitter.com/MrKentKomiks as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín https://twitter.com/OisinoftheHill playing as Over-Hollow-Hills-Flies-the-Cuckoo
- JFur https://jenniferixon.itch.io/ playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind

Mercifully-Wasted-from-the-Tribe and Mortally Garnished-of-the-Fallen were NPCed.

There are 2 things to note ahead of this session report. The first is that these reports take a very long time to write. Secondly, judging by the views and comments, they are the least interesting to site visitors. I've said it before but I'm going to try and take a less narrative approach in an attempt to address these issues. 

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali. Love can do strange things to people.

Monday, 4 January 2021

The Others— Pariah, City of Ghosts

PARIAH, in the early stages of its development was known as City of Ghosts, as it was imagined that the principal focus of play would be around haunted cities in a fertile river valley abandoned by a precursor civilisation known as The Others. Originally beginning as an exaggeration of the our elves are different trope cross-fertilised with the sidhe of The Gardens of Ynn and with a little bit of spire's aelfir thrown in... but they took a turn.

Besides, everyone's redoing elves now:

All images by Kylli Sparre/Sparrek https://sparrek.org/

The Others are young spirits, though they have existed longer than humanity. The possess powers that can only be ascribed to the Dawn or even the Beyond, yet they dwell in the Here and Now. Once they built great cities but, having solved the problem of subsistence and needing nothing, found there was nothing left that they wanted.

All that they have left is the Work.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

PARIAH "ETAU" CAMPAIGN, SESSION 24: Chimpanzee Parade

These events continue from the TWENTY-THIRD session. The real world session took place on Saturday 19th December on the Atelier Hwei Discord. Today is the 2nd January 2021. You can listen to an audio summary of this session here:

https://anchor.fm/alonein-thelabyrinth/episodes/Pariah-Session-24-Round-Up-eo1a9j

(note: this podcast omits some information)

- Mister Kent https://twitter.com/MrKentKomiks as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín https://twitter.com/OisinoftheHill playing as Over-Hollow-Hills-Flies-the-Cuckoo
- JFur https://jenniferixon.itch.io/ playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind

Mercifully-Wasted-from-the-Tribe was NPCed.

Some bonobos.


DAY 25, CROW MOON FINAL QUARTER (still the same day!)

Thursday, 31 December 2020

The GLOG: A Warning from the Future

Everyone has a homebrew ruleset, and everyone wants to show it to other people, or at [least] slap it around until it's presentable. 

But no one is interested in your fantasy heartbreaker.  This is because everyone is up to their ascending colon in retroclones and besides, they're busy writing their own.

It's like trying to tell other people about your dreams.  No one cares.  Give them content, not another retroclone. 

Arnold Kemp, May 2016
http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-glog.html

I come with a warning from the future, but open with words from the past: you may not have read them before, but you will have felt their effects, for it was the preceding passages that introduced the multiverse to the GLOG: The Goblin Laws of Gaming. It was an event which has shaken reality to its very core, prompting my superiors in the World Emancipation from Implementation of Nasty Goblin Laws: Ultimate Heroes (WEINGLUH) to send me back to 2015 to put a stop to the horror.

That's right: I come from a future where EVERYTHING IS GLOG.

GLOG's mascot, the gretchling...

...and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen to you.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Sketches for My Sweetheart, The Beyond

The many realms beyond the Here & Now have begun to be rendered in finer detail, first with There, the place of dead spirits and later with Dusk, the Labyrinth of the Twilight of Civilisations. Material exists for Sun and Dawn (to be featured soon), leaving the more ambiguous realms of Moon and The Beyond up in the air (fittingly). 

Beyond the Aquila Rift, truly cosmic horror episode of Love, Death and Robots

I had a few notes for the Beyond which I wanted to share. 

Monday, 28 December 2020

200 POSTS BEFORE 2021

When Semiurge did it, there was a feeling of victorious hopelessness:

http://archonsmarchon.blogspot.com/2020/11/index-incomplete.html

Now that I've done it too, it's like an anti-climax that no one was anticipating... a nun's fart?

That's right: Alone in the Labyrinth has hit 200 posts. 

Spot the hidden message!

Obligatory milestone idiosyncratic index below:
LAST UPDATE 28TH DECEMBER 2020