I hit 500 posts last week—not published posts mind you, those only stand at half that number—but 500 hundred drafts that have not seen the light of day because I gave up on them before I hit that shiny, red post button. Some are outright rants brimming with whatever flavor of the month passion, some flit from thought to thought, some are painfully long with slow expositions, and some are just painful.
Every once in a while I resurrect one—the Dad and Vietnam story from last week for example—polish it up and put it out there. Those posts are invariably missing one key element to make them work: a good hook into something larger or broader of interest to readers; a solid lede to give it punch; an observation to push it out of being trite or overdone; and so on.
To date I haven't run out of something to say—just ways sometimes to express it in a way that my worst critic—myself--can stand.
Want a window into my jumble? Here we go. Here are the headers and ledes from four cutting floor posts (all over three months old).
Character-Based Sandbox Campaigns
On the face of it, Top Secret is an odd place to keep digging for experimental bits. Back in the day it was—as most of the historically-themed second-generation games—an awkward cousin of the TSR family. Nowadays with little to no current following, we can safely and sadly say it's in the dustbin of gaming history. Still Top Secret, in it's pre-TSR publication days as Spy World, had it's roots in the mid-70s creative explosion of experimentation with rpgs and as such you can still mine curious bits from it that may either shine a light on alternative paths not taken or be of use for classical play campaigns here and now...
House Rules: Learning As You Go
One learns many things experientially while in the GM hot seat. In the heat of (simulated) battle, you quickly learn that many of your best-laid plans work in ways you never intended positively or negatively—or just plain don't work. In fact, it's often the oh-so clever ideas that you so proudly clap yourself on the back on that often are the biggest offenders...
The Fantasy Game, D&D Variant Game
[No pithy lede, mostly a long outline]
Alternative character generation system (slightly more detailed version of website system)
- Quasi-Traveller, background and event-oriented though, not adult career. Childhood and young adulthood events determine dice pool for attributes.
- Players have choice of background (urban, rural, barbarian, demi-human, exotic)
- Random equipment table option (modified from my LotFP one)
- All characters with INT 15 or over start with one cantrip (0 level MU spell)
- All characters with WIS 15 or over start with one orison (0 level Cleric spell)...
How many spellcasters live in yon town? It's something we don't often think about on a deep level--or at least admittedly its something I rarely think about--but it is a demographic yardstick with profound implications. Campaign thinking in D&D seems to hang on the magical consumer economy for player characters. The distinction between low and high fantasy settings thus revolving around the frequency of magic items, the relative likelihood of a magic “store”, the availability of magical services from NPCs, etc...
Why post them, you conveniently ask?
Simple, all four of these are candidates for Lazarus treatment. Which ones deserve it? (If any, after all a good friend is one who tells you have a big dollop of toothpaste dangling on your chin.)