i’m thinking about writing a book about playing rpgs

So I do this ask me thing on the tumblr thing, and this came up yesterday:

methodoflogicalmadness asked:

Which format of D&D would you recommend for a new playgroup? I have previous experience with Pathfinder, but we are considering jumping into 5th ed. From what I’ve gathered, 5th ed. streamlines many features with its advantage/disadvantage system, but I was wondering if there are many flaws in the mechanics. I would hate to learn 5.0 only to learn that the game is dysfunctional or beyond repair. Do you have any advice toward which version is better?

I answered:

I love 5e, and I think it’s a great place to start the hobby. At the moment, there are two main forks of the RPG experience (someone who works in the industry may disagree, or may be able to expound on this): the minis-on-the-map game, and the storytelling game. D&D 3.5, 4E, True 20, and Pathfinder are heavily into the minis-on-the-map thing. That’s fine, if that’s what you want to do, but if I’m going to do minis-on-the-map, I’ll just play Warhammer. The storytelling games are the focus in Savage Worlds (though it also supports minis-on-the-map), FATE Core, Fiasco, Primetime Adventures, the AGE system, and D&D 5E (at the moment. I’m sure it’ll go minis sooner than later).

But, look, the important thing is that you play, not what you play. Don’t be afraid to try out some different systems (they all have free quickstart rules online) and discard the ones you don’t like. And, once you have some experience in the hobby, don’t be afraid to take something from one system and drag it into another system. Don’t be afraid to modify stuff from one setting so that it will work in a different one, because the whole point of playing is to explore worlds that exist because the DM/GM and players all agree to make them.

I hope this helps. Have fun!

I remember how intimidated I was when I was learning how to play RPGs, and that was way back in the 80s when there were only a few to pick from. Now, there are hundreds. I’m sort of making it part of my mission in life to help get more people playing more games, and part of that is taking the fear and intimidation out of the hobby as much as I can.

I want to write a thing

But I don’t have the motivation to write a thing. So here’s a screencap of a thing that got past my spam filter:

scam emailYou gotta embiggen this one to see the text, because it’s pretty amazing.

And then, when you’re done giggling, consider: at least one person, somewhere in the world, got this e-mail and thought, “JACKPOT!”

I’ve been answering a lot of things in my Tumblr ask thingy. Is it worth the effort to figure out how I could get those responses to post over here, like in a digest or something once a day?

far away from my wasteland

i’m okay

After a tremendously stressful week — which is strange to say, because I really was having a fantastic time doing the work I was doing — I had a couple of days completely away from everything, with just my wife and our friends, who we don’t see nearly enough.


It totally did not suck, and it’s a reminder that I need to take the occasional Mental Health Days For Wil, slow down a little bit, and actually enjoy the things I get to do because of the work that I get to do. I should remember that, because I tend to forget it, like, all the time.

silently and back to me

Patrick Stewart and I were participating in a charity auction. We both had our TNG uniforms to put on the block, and a room filled with over a thousand people was waiting for us to bring them onto the stage … but I couldn’t find mine. I searched a seemingly infinite number of closets in a hotel room that seemed to change size and configuration, thwarting my increasingly harried efforts to find it.

Then I was on the street in front of a different hotel. I needed to check out, but my suitcase was locked inside my room, and I didn’t have a key. I climbed a precarious fire escape and made my way across a cavernous lobby atrium — looking and feeling like something out of Angel Heart — to finally get inside the room.

When I got into the hotel room, I realized that I had to change out of my clothes. I didn’t know why, but I knew that it was incredibly important that I do it. I began to change my clothes, but when I took off my shirt, it revealed another shirt beneath it. When I took off that shirt, it happened again.

I had to check out of this hotel room, or I was going to miss my flight to Australia, but before I could leave, I had to take a shower. But I couldn’t take a shower until I changed out of my clothes, and the clock was ticking down. I began to panic.

I opened my eyes and saw my bedroom dimly lit by the faintest grey light of dawn through my blinds. My heart was pounding, my body was covered in sweat. Cold terror washed over me as I woke up, and I realized that I was in the middle of a panic attack.

This used to happen to me on an almost nightly basis, but it hasn’t happened for years, until this week. This week, it’s happened every night. I’m starting to dread going to sleep, creating what I think is a self-fulfilling prophecy, an orobouros of anticipation and terror.

I breathed as deeply and calmly as I could, willing my heart to calm down. It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real. I repeated, in my head. Just stress dreams. You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay.

I’m not okay.

By any objective measure, I don’t have a good reason to feel stressed or worried or even mildly upset about anything, but my brain is broken and it does this to me when I least expect it. Like it’s waiting for to me work long and intense days, so I’m tired and weak when I climb into bed, so it can launch a sneak attack when I’m least able to defend against it.

My heart settled down. I realized that I hadn’t had any feeling in my hands, when feeling began to return to them. I sighed heavily, and frowned. This isn’t fair. I should be able to go to sleep without fearing what is waiting for me when I get there. I was frustrated. I was a little angry. I was really, really exhausted, even though I’d been in bed and sleeping for close to eight hours.

I was filled with a mixture of adrenaline and dread, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep. Though I didn’t technically need to be up and out of bed for another hour, I angrily kicked off the covers, and got out of bed.

This isn’t fair, I thought. This isn’t fair.

A bunch of stuff about Dread, Titansgrave, Armada, Brewing TV, and TNG

There’s a lot of stuff to share, which all happened in the last 24ish hours for some reason, so I’m just going to put all that stuff here in one post, instead of spreading it out.

Huh. When I put it in a list like that, it doesn’t seem like that much stuff. In fact, it’s not as impressive as it felt when it all came into my inbox or whatever one at a time over the last couple of days.  Maybe I should have split it up.

Anyway, I’m still working on the audiobook for Armada, and I’m about halfway through. It’s a really fun story, and I’m having a great time performing it.  In the last two days, though, I’ve learned to have tremendous empathy for people who have a daily commute, and boy am I grateful that I don’t have a daily commute.


Titansgrave: complete concept art image

Here’s the entire image I’ve been sharing bits of for the last week:


You can click to embiggen, and it’s huge. In fact, this image is so large, you could probably use it for your desktop if you were so inclined.

So this brings together everything that we wanted our artists (we have a team of artists from around the world working with us) to know, going into the show. You can see the elements of science fiction and fantasy, all living together. You can see the gleaming towers of a futuristic city in the back, looming over the more modest buildings in the foreground. You can see a few different races, including the Saurian walking with that robot, which I freaking love.

Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana premieres on Geek & Sundry this June.


The conclusion of DREAD

Yesterday, part two of DREAD on Tabletop was released.

I’m so happy with the way this whole thing came together, and it was fantastic practice for me when it was time to start running Titansgrave. I thought the players did a wonderful job exploring their characters — Ivan has a surprising and powerful moment in this episode — and I hope that their commitment to storytelling inspires players everywhere to keep the ROLE in Roleplaying.

A lot of you have asked to see the player questionnaires, and I’m working on that. I know that we have them somewhere at the office, but I don’t know precisely where they are. As soon as we find and scan them, I’ll share them.

Titansgrave: Unpacking some of the technology.

There’s a lot of stuff going on in this piece of our concept art. I’ll unpack some of it for you, and let your imagination do the rest. This section focuses pretty heavily on the science and technology aspect of the world, but you may notice those little dragon-like creatures perched up on the wires … I really love those things, and have this idea that they are maybe like pigeons or something in Valkana.


This is off to the right side of the full image, looking toward an alley that you probably don’t want to walk down if you’re not looking for some kind of trouble. In fact, maybe that’s Grell’s Alley, back there behind them.

I originally wanted those weird little quadrupedal, canine creatures to be tearing through a corpse or something, and I can’t remember why we ended up not doing that in this image. The idea was to convey that not all of Valkana is shiny and safe, or even clean. Some creatures that are similar to those things end up making an appearance in the show, and they’re pretty nasty.

Because this image predates the existence of cities like Nestora (where our PCs spend a fair amount of time), it ended up shaping a little bit of what that city looks and feels like in some districts. Parts of Nestora are as futuristic as they can be in a post-apocalyptic word, but there are other parts, like we see in this image. Guess where most of the masses live? I think it gives a clear sense of the divide between rich and poor in Nestora, and it helps explain why that city is in such turmoil when we first get there.

Other things in this image that I really like are that assassin dude in the doorway, the security camera/turret above him, and the armor that female warrior is wearing. Those glowing things on her leg are batteries, which power her weapon. We decided that there aren’t fossil fuels in Valkana, and batteries power just about everything from vehicles to shields to blasters. There are three different kinds of batteries, representing small, medium and heavy. We’re calling them Fulgin M, Fulgent, and Carsilorate. I really love how they all work, and I really want to just paste it all right here, but I can’t. Eventually, though, you’ll get to see that, and so much more, and now I’m going to hit publish and get back to work on some of that stuff.

Some more Titansgrave art is revealed…

We needed to convey to our artists and other creative partners that Valkana is a world where science and magic co-exist, feeding and supporting one another. Part of getting that across was showing this spaceship in the background of our first conceptual art image:


You can also see some skyscrapers in the deep background, as well as some smaller, fantasy-style structures closer to our Desmage in the foreground. We ended up going with a slightly less British countryside look for most of our buildings, just because I felt like a Tudor look was a little too on-the-nose and too much of a common fantasy trope.

Those wires have something really neat associated with them, and we’ll show you that when the whole image is revealed.

50,000 Monkeys at 50,000 Typewriters Can't Be Wrong

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