New Years & New Worlds

Triple threat: a New Year's resolution mechanic, synchronous world-building challenges, and #GoodHuman24

New Years & New Worlds
A spontaneous, accretive outdoor diorama on a walking trail near me

I'm posting a triple feature today, due to extrinsic synchronicities, and a sense that this curtails spamming the two other people out there subscribed to the RSS/Atom feed. My goal with the blog in 2024 is to continue to experiment and find my feet with this new venture, having only started in the last quarter of 2023, but am gratified that my last post Advancement Wars has generated robust further discussion on the NSR Cauldron Discord (which is open to join, and has so far been a very pleasant place to discuss the hobby).

I would like to try and flesh out my ideas more in future posts, as I think some of my initial efforts have been overly terse and difficult to follow, unless your dental receiver was already tuned in to the numbers station broadcast by my running inner monologue.

Davy Jones' Bidding

W. F. Smith's New Year's Resolution Mechanic challenge is too punny to resist, so I submit this simple procedure I have briefly tried in a loosely FKR fantasy pirate game and enjoyed:

When you act daringly in pursuit of a threatened goal, describe your approach, and clarify the intent and stakes if required.

You and Davy Jones (DJ, the GM) each roll a six-sided die, keeping the result hidden. You will bet on the sum of the two dice, with the winner earning final say of the outcome from the daring action, respecting the agreed upon stakes.

DJ shall announce the opening bid, and you then take it in turns to either: raise the bid to any higher sum, or call the bid and reveal both dice. The caller wins if the sum of the dice is less than the last bid, while their opponent (the bidder) wins if the sum is equal or greater.

This is not a novel game mechanism (being precisely how the final round of Liar's Dice is played when only two players remains each with a single die), but I am not aware of any prior art of its application to imagination gaming.

My aims for this mechanic were borne out during the brief play testing it has seen:

  • A drop-in replacement for the usual opposed d6 or 2d6 conflict resolution procedures in FKR games,
  • Foregrounding the theme of romantic fantasy piracy (helpfully trading on the currency created in the public consciousness from the famous scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and analysed in this YouTube video),
  • Engendering the player with a sense of roguish agency, since theoretically any dice roll they make and psyching out the GM could lead to them winning the resolution.
  • Tapping in to the psychology of engagement seen in gambling games, given this appears to have been the original motivator for developing our shiny little math rocks.

During this brief campaign I also experimented with playing a full game of Liar's Dice to establish the Captain for the session, and offering a 'double or nothing' bet on loot returned to port, and each of these elements worked surprisingly well for little effort. And as luck would have it, Skeleton Code Machine just completed their Dice Week, presenting 5 classic d6 dice games that are not only fun in their own right, but could be integrated or extended for roleplaying.

World Building: RPG Blog Carnival, #Lore24 and #Hexplore24

I recently discovered the RPG Blog Carnival organised by Of Dice & Dragons, and have kindly been permitted to host next month, which I shall announce with details come end of January. The theme this month is World Building, but I'll keep my own contribution to the carnival to its own post. I bring the carnival up now, because it elegantly dovetails with two initiatives I have seen to follow up on the success of #Dungeon23.

Firstly, #Lore24 (I believe first proposed by Yora at Spriggan's Den) is a creative writing exercise where each day you write about an element of a new (or existing) imagined world you would like to explore. I interpret this as a solo journaling game that could form the basis for more traditional roleplaying down the track - aces.

Secondly, #Hexplore24 (presented by Monsters & Mazes) is a similar but slightly different daily solo journaling world-creation experience. The purpose is not (as I had naively presumed) to just key one hex on a map each day, but instead the playing out and journaling of adventuring parties that strike out into the unmapped wilds, discovering the world little by little through play.

I might be squinting too hard, but this is reminiscent of the shift from dungeon-crawling in Basic D&D, to overland and wilderness adventures in the Expert set. However you choose to engage (or not) in these efforts, hopefully there will be stimulating discourse on creating imagined worlds throughout the coming year, and lots of creativity being shared online.

The #GoodHuman24 challenge

I am boldly issuing my own 2024 roleplaying gaming hobby challenge: let's all make this year more positive, more kind, and more inclusive than any previously. We should each hold ourselves to a high standard of decorum and model courteous interaction with our friends in the hobby (as that should properly be how we see each other), and when exposed to toxicity directly or indirectly, call it out and work to improve our culture: the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. And when you see hobbyists and creators who are doing and upholding Good? Boost their signal, share and support their work.

For my part, this year I plan to address on this blog some different psychosocial issues that are often considered to be at the fringes of the hobby, yet I am going to raise my shield with Jason Tocci and take the stance that the social layer of rules and play culture (and indeed the hobby of gaming itself) is always the most important. The capacity for formalised make-believe play appears to be a uniquely human endeavour - so let's be Good about it. #GoodHuman24