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Orcs, Evil, etc. (Part 2)

(continued from Part 1)

. . . but that was Tolkien's world.

There does seem a strong trend in the current era of trying to humanize the Other. In a lot of senses I think this is a good impulse. I suspect that viewing other living creatures (and people in particular) as having more than just a material value, makes one take a greater interest in creating and maintaining beneficial institutions. Empathizing with those not like oneself and feeling some bond of fellowship is both important in society and provides interesting narrative opportunities.

In the real world I feel we need to love and respect other humans, even treat animals well. But I always feel a little cautious about ascribing such human traits to non-humans.  In the real world I think many folks make a distinction:
Human: Intelligent. Capable of culture, self-reflection, empathy and caring. Is inherently worthy of some measure of respect.Animal: Less intelligent. Culture? Self-reflection? Empathy? Maybe worthy of affecti…

Orcs, Evil, etc. (Part 1)

Emmy Allen's posting about Orcs, Violence and Evil, got me thinking about this issue again.
So the following is probably less a response, and more a bunch of rambling thoughts inspired by it. Also, though I've read Lord of the Rings again recently, her Tolkien lore rating (and your own, dear reader) may be higher than mine, so with a grain of salt:

Big "E" Evil as Emmy's post characterizes it is a rare thing innate to certain alien non-person entities: a monomania or existential necessity for specific innately destructive or corrupting concepts, similar to other beings of alien mindset or more akin to elemental forces. I find this idea interesting, and have enjoyed stories where this was the case in the past. But reading the post gave me an urge to do a more in-depth compare and contrast of the idea against how evil and personhood appear in the Lord of the Rings trilogy itself.

Few of the powerful supernatural beings in LotR quite start out as monomaniacal alien/d…

Fiat Diceless Roleplaying

Back in 2008 and 2012 I made a couple attempts to write an RPG system that was diceless, using a system of common sense gamemaster rulings which could be influenced by the expending tokens or accepting consequences.

The system is a bit more storygame-ish than I've come to prefer over the years, and it's never been playtested. But on the offhand chance that some of the ideas might be useful to anyone out there, what exists of it is presented below:

Fiat Roleplaying Compact (v1.8) - PDF - DOC
Fiat Lux (v1) - PDF - DOC

Miso-Six System

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Folks've recently been putting out a bunch of games based on Norbert G. Matausch's Minimal d6 system. Systems this cool and minimal are essentially an addiction for me. But of course I couldn't leave well enough alone, and had to take a shot at my own hack of the thing:

Miso-Six - Template (docx) Miso-Six - PocketMod Booklet (pdf)
Miso-Six is based as much on Sophia Brandt's Miniso1d6 as on Minimal d6 itself. But should retain rough compatibility with all similar systems.

Thanks also should go out to the creators of the PocketMod creation tool for their handy little application.


Coming soon: Setting booklets for the same.

Starlight: Iron Age OSR - Humors & Bloodletting

After playtesting and tweaking Infravision a few months back, the game finally seemed to be working as quickly and smoothly as I'd hoped. So of course gamer ADD kicked in and I had to do something else.  And over the holidays I got the urge to run a mildly less kitchen-sink game set in the historical Iron Age: Romans adventurers, Mesopotamian artifacts, that sort of thing.
Well, the bones of Infravision seemed a satisfying place to start for another OSR type game, even if a lot of the implied setting details didn't make sense.
The result has been Starlight. Still a work in progress, under periodic revision, but satisfying to my heart as a marginally less gonzo way to throw together a quick, ancient historic game.
Tonight's addition, a couple new skills to replace or supplement magical healing: Humoric Medicine – Balance the body’s vital fluids. One attempt may be made per combat or other instance of injury. On a success the subject gains hp. Failure loses an equal amount:Fr…

Galactic Hinterlands

Watching a bunch of the remastered Star Trek original series episodes and a couple of the movies really got me missing the early days of the franchise, with it's earnest optimism for humans and our institutions, and strong sense of curiosity and wonder in the face of the unknown.  Which, of course, made me long to capture the experience somehow in RPG form.

Far Trek and Where No Man Has Gone Before would seem to be good starting points for someone with avowedly "old school" role-playing inclinations such as myself. But for some reason I found myself gravitating to John Harper's Lasers & Feelings, maybe because I thought something simpler might be easier to rope my kids into playing.

But Lasers & Feelings has a bit of a tongue-in-cheek feel to me, and leans slightly more story-game than I would hope. Also it lacks a certain amount of focus on the flavor-details I love from the old shows. Fortunately though Harper released Lasers & Feelings through a Creativ…

First Session with Katherine GMing

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Over the past years, I've run a few sessions of the Hero Kids RPG for my daughter Katherine (9), her brother Charles (7) and a friend of theirs (8). Hero Kids is kind of a light-weight tactical game with figurines (or cardboard cutouts) moving around a 1-inch dungeon grid.  It is a bit less "theater of the mind" than I usually enjoy, but my daughter in particular has seemed to like it. And suggestions that we might try something without the figures and dungeon tiles had her skeptical that you could get a good idea of where everyone was without them.

Sessions in the past have either used pre-published scenarios or, more often, just me laying out dungeon tiles and plonking down figures at random for her to fight.  Which is fine with her, but I find not very mentally engaging.
So today I suggested that she run a game instead and come up with the adventure herself. She's pretty in to creative projects of any sort, and took to the challenge with gusto. I almost think a pa…