Friday, June 27, 2014

LARP Design: Event Schedules

This past weekend marked the thirteenth weekend-long event of Dust to Dust, so I want to talk about what goes into filling out an event's schedule. Now, there are a ton of valid ways to approach this; the one that works for you is necessarily correct. I'm just talking about what works for us. Also, Dust to Dust is a fantasy boffer LARP with a heavy emphasis on story and relatively open-world play - if your game isn't one or more of these things, this advice may not apply at all. (That is, I don't pretend that my comments would apply to the Camarilla, which is salon-style; Dagorhir, which as I understand it is not story-focused; or IFGS, which is more about running groups through modules than open-world play.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Product Review: D&D Dice Roller by Hibercon Technologies

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by +Oleg Crew from Hibercon Technologies to review their new D&D Dice Roller app. The hardest part of this process, other than finding some spare time, was figuring out how to use product keys in the iTunes store. Once I got that worked out, I was off to the races.

The core functionality of this app could not be any simpler. It has a one-second loading screen, no options menu... no credits page, for that matter. So right off the bat, it has a ruthless dedication to clarity and simplicity on its side. Given what it's replacing - my time-honored polyhedrals, which it must be admitted have a longer history of ignominy than glory - this is a great decision. Even one screen-tap of delay between startup and "picking up" the dice is getting in the way of its usability and convenience, since an iPhone or iPad is going to go to sleep during other players' turns. (Well, not my iPhone; in something like a fit of pique I set my iPhone to never go to sleep, like some kind of sleep experiment.)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

D&D Next: The Arcane/Divine Split

Like every edition of D&D before it, D&D Next (which will really just be called D&D; it will be up to the fans to call it Fifth Edition for clarity) draws a line between arcane magic and divine magic, a separation that has informed a huge number of settings in gaming and genre fiction. At least for me, a lot of the interest to be found in that split has worn off, and now I'm interested in something different. This can go one of two ways: either reunite them, or differentiate them further, in both mechanics and flavor. In this post, I will explore both concepts.

The initial reasoning behind the split, going back to original D&D, is pure niche protection. The cleric mixes it up in melee, but most clerical magic is healing and protection. I've talked a lot about clerics before, so I won't rehash all of that here. Clerics have gotten a bit better at the damage-dealing side of things over time, whether through inflict wounds spells getting less Eeevil and more "acceptable tool in some situations," or through designers realizing that the playerbase was hungry for a cleric more like World of Warcraft priests, casting spells all of the time and not worrying about hitting things with a mace. As a result, 4e and D&DN clerics have at-will (cantrip) spells that deal damage, much like a wizard and generally competitive with them.