Monday, February 23, 2015

Improvisation Campaign Design for The Strange -- based on The Armitage Files

Some ideas make me angry -- not because they are bad, but because they are so elegant and so strong that I am angry I never thought of them myself.  The design of Robin Laws' The Armitage Files for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG is one of those examples.  Robin Laws provides a novel method for designing a campaign in a more improvisational way.  In this, he provides an easily portable structure to facilitate a more open, player-directed style of RPG.  It is the basis for the forthcoming Dracula Dossier and can be adapted to The Strange campaign design with little difficulty because it is essentially system agnostic.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Strange Inspiration: Atrocity Archives

The Strange core rulebook includes a set of readings that can serve as inspiration for games.  Some of the readings are inspirational for specific recursions.  A rare set are inspirational for the nature of the recursions and the game as a whole.  I ran across a book that serves just that role.

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross tells a story mixing elements of office politics and Lovecraftian horror.  Most surprisingly, the emphasis is squarely on the former.  You can think of it as Office Space (in a government setting) meets Hellboy.

I won't provide serious spoilers -- but it is hard to provide a compelling review (even one, like this, intended solely to connect the book to a game setting) without out revealing a little about the setting and plot.  Consider this a soft spoiler warning.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Yay! 2000 views.

I just wanted to post to celebrate crossing over 2000 page views.  Thank you for all of your support.  I will keep using this outlet to talk about various game mechanics, material for The Strange, and general reactions to current topics in RPGs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Upcoming Changes for Strange Encounters

With the change in format for GM Intrusions (into GM's Journey), there will be some minor changes to Strange Encounters.  For the near future, the focus will move to this blog rather than audio segments.  The topical coverage here will likely stay the same but may increase in frequency.  I may also use this as an excuse to broaden the discussion of RPG mechanics -- rather than solely looking at mechanics in relation to The Strange and the Cypher System.

All of this is to say that despite what is the end of the audio segments (for the near future, at least), the blog will continue and may accelerate.

Aspects as a (near) Universal Design Approach for RPGs

We have a new prompt for the  GM (blog) Roundtable.

What is a favorite mechanic or idea you've encountered in an RPG that you think would work well in other games? Please explain the mechanic/idea, tell us a bit about the game it comes from, and give some ideas of how it could be used in other games. You can discuss more than one mechanic or idea if you like.

This challenge is one that is close to my heart.  As you can tell, given the focus of my blog and audio segments on the podcast formerly known as GM Intrusions,  I have a passion for reading various RPGs and adapting their mechanics to improve my games.  In the recent past, I have focused on the Cypher System.  It has proven to be a readily adaptable system that lets me combine the strengths of several systems -- as well as being quite strong to begin with.

Much of what I write about is applicable beyond the Cypher System, though.  I like to think that some of the systems I talk about could also be adapted into other systems.  For example, the discussion of fronts is something that can help in preparing a 5E DnD game.  In taking up the topic for this month's GM Roundtable, I wanted to discuss a mechanic that I think is useful in just about any system -- including the Cypher System.  I have chosen to discuss how the notion of scene or location aspects  from the FATE system will change the way I will design encounters in just about all of my games, in all gaming systems, moving forward.