Posts Tagged ‘start’

The Purpose Of This Blog

Posted: 24 July 2012 in Administrivia

So it’s been a couple of months now, and I wanted to reiterate the purpose of this blog; partly because I have lots of new readers (I assume, since my daily pageviews are about double what they used to be), but mostly to remind myself what I’m trying to do.

So first, a little bit about what this blog is not.  Contrary to a number of my posts, it is not a blog for apologizing for Dungeons and Dragons. I find myself doing that a lot because (1) to address the topics this blog is about I need to set down what my assumptions are, and (2) there seem to be a lot of people who want to knock D&D over because of it’s flaws.  It is a flawed system (that’s a big part of the motivation of this blog), but I like it and feel that there are a lot of things it does very well.  I also know that I was anti-3.X for years because of misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the system, and I’m hoping to help others who may be in a similar spot.  If you don’t like D&D that’s fine, I don’t think you’re a flawed human being and I’m sure we can both find games we like and talk about general RPG elements we hold in common.  D&D isn’t even the only system I’ll talk about here, though it is one that I’m most familiar with and my go-to system (especially if you consider Pathfinder to be “D&D”).

Also, contrary to how some future posts may sound, this blog isn’t really about reviewing RPG products, particularly setting material or adventures.  There may be bits in both that I pull out and look at, and some products address the same things I’m interested in and might get something closer to a full review.

What this blog is about is the various gaming systems and structures, and the fact that many of the RPGs on the shelves are missing large pieces of what I feel should be included in an RPG system.  Specifically, I’m looking to make this a kind of “toolbox” for DMs to come and find the right tool for their campaign needs.  I’ve been DMing for years, and often felt like I was fighting with my players, my setting, and my system to make interesting things happen.  Reading through The Alexandrian, it struck me that missing game structures was at the heart of almost all my problems (with the tension of player agency being a close second).  I’m interested in talking about the hobby, discussing differing preferences and play-styles, and in general geeking-out about Role-Playing Games (fantasy and otherwise).

But in the end this should be a place I can go to find a system for falling damage, or a system for overland travel, or a system for diplomatic negotiations — and preferable a nice variety of each so that I can season my games to taste. And if others benefit from it too, so much the better.

The genesis of this blog can be traced pretty neatly to a recent series of posts on game structures at The Alexandrian.  I’d been reading the blog for about a year or so and liked a lot of the ideas that Justin had, but this series was something of an epiphany for me.

The series was about Game Structures, the systems of mechanics inside RPGs that allow us to actually do things.  They’re what inform us on what to do next and how to determine success.  I came relatively late to the hobby, and if you’d asked me a month ago to answer those questions I would have said something like, “whatever makes a good story” and “roll a d20 against a DC,” respectively.  It had never occurred to me to think about game structures, and I had never examined the game structures I had available nor considered that there were other structures out there.  I read the Player’s Guide and DMG cover-to-cover and that’s all I needed to know, right?

In fact, no, that’s not all I need to run a good game, and now that I’m thinking in terms of game structures I can put context to a lot of the difficulties I’ve had with running games.  Why haven’t I been able to make exploration or travel compelling? Why does everything boil down to a Dungeon Crawl or Combat Encounter?  Because those are the only tools I have, and when all you have is a hammer you approach every problem as a nail.  So I’m starting this blog as a way to build up my DM’s Toolbox, to talk about game structures, collect the neat things I find on the web, and hopefully build a useful resource for others who come after me.