Friday, July 8, 2011

Cherry-Picking Domain-Level Play

Because the Internet is often tone-deaf, I wanted to be 100 percent clear about how I see the relationship between the Domain Game and Adventurer Conqueror King: f-bomb those guys.

Now that I got the interest of those who have a teaser-line feed, I don't mean that in the slightest. In fact, if it wasn't crystal clear from my last post and from Tavis's comments, I believe something(s) highly interesting and useful to our corner of the hobby is going to arise out of this. I don't know the exact shape of the end result, both parties still have some talking—and I have some writing and editing—to do yet.

There are a couple things that should get addressed in the mean time.

Thread one is the opinion that Austrodavicus (man, what a great handle) voiced here and on his matching post at Dungeons Down Under. Dave's punchline is that “people will pick through both works for their own games.”

My gut says this “yep, this likely is pretty what people in our DIY hobbyist end of things are going to do.” Hell, it's what I would do.

Although it came from a different impetus at the time, I should repeat that acknowledging that fact has been part of the core vision of the Domain Game for sometime. Cherry-picking is hardwired into the project.

I tried to accomplish this in a number of ways:
  1. By making it fully, or at worst mostly, compatible to existing older and neo-classical flavors of D&D. You won't have to switch games or shoehorn what you are already playing overly much to use it.

  2. By dividing certain sections into “basic”,“advanced”, and “narrativist” parts. Want to hand-wave the nitty-gritty details on how a domain gets a monthly income, but want a simple chart-based system? Stick to basic. Want to see how the sausage is made? Go with advanced. Want to take a freeform, off-stage approach to ruling? Go with the narrativist.

  3. By making the granular, “advanced” parts modular. So you want to keep most domain-play basic, but you want to keep some detail on say how the annual grain harvest works or exactly how one attracts colonists to a strange land, you can use this piece or that in with the basic framework--or one of your making.

  4. By having three distinct layers oriented to three different places in the power arcs of D&D characters. The “Pendragon D&D” work for the first layer (roughly levels 3-7). Clearing (or adapting) the wilderness--and scratching out a subsistence--for early name level at the second and larger-scale kingdom level action for even higher-level characters. One also has the flexibility to use any of these layers at any level, if that's where your think your game is going.
The second thread, on the nature of the old school second-wave--and where all this fits in--coming at you later today or tomorrow. 


  1. Now which is more clear. 100% clear or crystal clear? Which is more accurate in its clearness?

  2. Clarity is an illusion maintained by the dogma industry.

  3. I think having a modular aspect to such a product is a vital and winning strategy for achieving the widest possible audience - from those who love a bare-bones game, to those who get a thrill from playing a game of several hundred pages.

  4. Im not sure what you are doing here with Domain Game. Is it a boardgame/wargame/resourcegame type thing for name level D&D characters?

    What does the blurb on the back cover say if I see this book in a store?

  5. I've been following your Domain Game, so I'm more invested -- or as much as I can be in a supplement to a game I don't play -- in it than the other, but as far as I can see, more options can only be a good thing.

  6. I enjoyed playtesting the Domain game, so you know who I am routing for. :)

  7. Actually now, having looked a little closer at ACK, I'm thinking these are really seperate animals. ACK, if I read it right, is a "complete" retro-tribute game. Its rules will no doubt be integrated to its own mechanics. All well and good, but Referees who want to stick with a different ruleset, say Dark Dungeons or Dragons at Dawn (shameless plug) or what have you, are likley to want to turn to a broad based supplement, ala The Domain Game. Two different things really.

  8. I enjoyed playtesting the Domain game also...excuse me if I missed it...been very busy lately. What's the status of the Domain game playtest?

    The Domain Game seems particularly well suited for pbem play and remined me a bit of pbm games from the 70s like Tribes of Crane.

    Looking forward to the book and thinking about a sci-fi domain game.

  9. @Austro
    I think many of us really want our own Frankensteins, why not start designing games to explicitly match that impulse?

    Good question (your check is in the mail).

    It's mostly pretty familiar, about 80 percent good ole paper-and-pen rules. That said there will be a more robust set of my mini rules and a mass combat set of rules tagging along.

    If I am not sick to death of the project after the release, I may follow up with some board and (non-collectible) playing card action.

    The 60-word blurb coming tomorrow if you are still around.

    You and the many others that have stuck around through the last six months all are getting a mention in the credits. I am going to touch on this tomorrow in my post, but the entire project from start to finish has been shaped by community feedback.

    @Samwise aka the great Yak Leader of the Gibilki
    The above statement holds with double emphasis. You 15 guys are the Domain Game, your play gave it real life.

    I think that we started with a similar set of questions and ended with at least some divergent answers. I think the end result will help the broader audience in getting somewhere closer to that promise.

    Shameless plug it may be (no harm in that a lot of meaty stuff in that package), but running Dragons at Dawn alongside the extended domain-level play in BLACKMOOR would hit a serious and complete Arnesonian nerve.

  10. @Drune
    The status is that I owe many of y'all a turn. Seriously been remiss in the last haul.

    I never had a chance to play Tribes of Crane, but I remember reading the articles about it in the Dragon around 1980-1, it always sounded like something I was missing out on. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't something down in my id connected to this project.

    I was looking through the documents connected with the play-test (turn actions from players, report-backs from me and the like) earlier today and the total pages are over 280 at this point. Whew.

    What's really amazing is the depth and quality of the players' imaginations and writing --something I should start reporting on here.

  11. I like this a lot. I have several players in my group for whom hand-waving would be the way to go, but equally I have a couple who would want to create spreadsheets for their domain.

  12. Wishing you, your Domain game, and ACK well.
    --It looks as if the Boxed Set UWoM, ACK, and your unnamed Domain game are all doing things in different ways. This ought to give folks enough to salvage for their home games.