Roleplaying

Why D&D-Style Hitpoints Aren’t An Abstraction

A classical painting with a man who's been stabbed and hacked with a sword.

It should be obvious by now that hitpoints like those found in D&D, Pathfinder, and similar games don’t make any sense. Characters can take a dozen hits or fall from a great height and walk away unscathed. Normally, there’s no reason to harp on how … read more »

How Can I Make a Recurring RPG Villain Work?

questions and answer talk bubbles

I’ve been thinking of running a TTRPG campaign where the PCs are being accidentally dragged through many alternate worlds by the Big Bad. This allows for an episodic structure where they can foil a different plan in a different world each adventure, but also means … read more »

Seven House Rules for Torchbearer Campaigns

A painting of a boy holding a torch and a girl in a blue cloak.

Torchbearer is a great game. It makes the environment feel dangerous and ensures every stash of copper pieces feels like a wondrous treasure.  Torchbearer has even revitalized my interest in dungeons, something I thought was dead forever. But like any game I play a lot, I … read more »

Ten Lessons From Playtesting Our Torchbearer Expansion

A scientist helping an inventor by making their invention transparent.

Arr, me hearties, after a mere four years of development, Rising Tide is finally released for sailors and officers alike to enjoy. The time we spent on this Torchbearer expansion involved a lot of writing, rewriting, and of course, playtesting. So much playtesting. Looking at … read more »

Rising Tide: Our Dark Seas Expansion for Torchbearer

Steampunk sailors battle a sea monster

After the Island Empire fell, the seas were lost. Sailors whisper that the ocean air glows and tears open, releasing titanic leviathans that slither out into the sea. They say the very fabric of reality shifts with the wind, sending the crew falling into the … read more »

Learning From Successful Combat Systems

Three figures fighting a duel in Victorian London.

In this series’ first entry, I looked at how RPG combat can serve the story. Next, I talked about why the vast majority of RPG combat doesn’t. In this final entry, we’ll consider how RPG combat can do better. For our purposes, “combat” refers to any … read more »

Why RPG Combat Is Broken

A painting of Viking Age warriors engaged in battle.

Gather round, all ye game masters, designers, and RPG enthusiasts: it is time for part two of this series on extended conflict-resolution rules in roleplaying games. We refer to these rules as “combat” for brevity’s sake, even though they often include rules for car chases, … read more »

How RPG Combat Can Help the Story

A classical painting of two women fighting a duel.

If your RPG upbringing was anything like mine, you were taught from a young age that combat and story are eternally opposed to each other. You were raised to believe that players are either obsessed with combat to the point of ignoring the narrative or … read more »

How Should I Handle Players With Jerk Characters?

questions and answer talk bubbles

Over the last few years, I’ve been making a gradual transition from hack-and-slash based campaigns to more story focused play, and one problem I’ve encountered is that many players don’t seem to get that their characters are allowed to grow. I’ve now had 2 specific … read more »

Follow Us

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrsstumblr

Get Our Email Newsletter

We'll send our best work every month.