RPGnet & Push 2

October 1, 2007

So, after futzing around a bit after GenCon, it’s time for me to really hit Push 2 hard and get it ready for commentary. I have all of the current drafts printed out and redlined (and have for a while), but I need to get those comments back to the original authors so they can make edits before I do the final pass. Then it’s off to the commentators and we’re closer to gametime.

In preparation for focusing my attention back on Push and away from my personal design projects, I also contacted Shannon Appelcline about writing a column for RPGnet, following on the Fine Art of Roleplaying column I wrote in early 2004. He seemed to think it could be a possibility, so I’m beginning to outline the first few installments.

Here was my proposal:

    During the first half of 2004, I wrote a column for RPGnet, “The Fine Art of Roleplaying.”

    Many things have changed since then. I finished college and a Fulbright Fellowship in China. Now I work for an independent foreign policy think-tank in Boston, writing papers for the government on various international issues.

    I also edit and publish Push, a journal on new developments in roleplaying, which is in the process of putting together its second issue, which will hopefully be out by December.

    For the past several years, after leaving The Forge and striking out in a different direction, I’ve been basically doing my own game design and thinking off by myself, mostly on my personal blog.

    Lately, though, I feel more attracted to the idea of interacting more with the public, online face of roleplaying, which RPGnet represents a fair portion of. I guess I feel like there are many interesting developments happening on the fringes of roleplaying that many people never get to see because of all the cliquishness, internet posturing, and so on. The Forge, even back when I was reading it regularly, is not the most accessible place for newcomers and can tend to have a limited perspective on the hobby as a whole. And many roleplayers are mostly concerned about what’s happening within their favorite game lines and may not be aware of general trends in the hobby as a whole.

    So my proposal for a new column is inspired by a common topic in foreign policy study: I want to look at the contemporary “Issues and Trends” in roleplaying design and play, picking one to talk about every month and discussing it in detail by talking about how recent games or companies have chosen handle a given subject and where things may be headed in the future. Topics could include things like GM-less play, the evolution of alignment systems, trust mechanics, open game systems, diceless play, publication formats, print-on-demand, combat systems, the planning of supplements for a core game line, resolution systems, and other issues and trends that seem to be going on in roleplaying.

    I want to take a big picture look at the industry without focusing too much on sales numbers and distrubution, focusing instead on what the products are actually like and comparing developments in tabletop scenes as diverse as Exalted, d20, and the newest indie games, which I don’t think happens often enough. Despite the barriers that separate various roleplaying sub-communities, there are interesting synergies and shared themes that enable us to learn from what other people are doing in their games.

Right now, I’m thinking that the first column may be about the tradition of having “things your character cares about” give you advantages in conflicts, but I’m not sure I really know where that begins, not having played a lot of old school RPGs like Cyberpunk and AD&D. I know a bunch of people point to things like The Riddle of Steel‘s “Spiritual Attributes,” but I guess I doubt that TROS was the first game to fiddle with stuff like that. Suggestions?

2 Responses to “RPGnet & Push 2”


  1. You might do yourself the pleasure of trying some old-school first edition Champions. With the introduction of the Dependant Non-Player Character (DNPC) they pretty much invented what you’re talking about. Many of their other ‘disadvantages’ did likewise to varying degree. However, the advantages in combat were mostly of a ‘global scale’; having a DNPC made you more powerful. Hidden in the rules though, were some psych bonuses for DNPC endangerment; the villain threatens your ward and you power up!

    Fang Langford

  2. False Name Says:

    are you sure racial enemies in D&D don’t predate any of this? I haven’t played much D&D, so I’m not sure either. But I would say that racial enemies count.


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