This is RPG-ology #26: Monster Design, for January 2020.
Not long ago a member of the Christian Gamers Guild asked for advice in designing monsters. This article has been republished from Gaming Outpost’s Game Ideas Unlimited series from August, 2001, only slightly edited for republication here, originally entitled “Game Ideas Unlimited: Monster Design.”
Sometime a couple decades ago, someone I had known over the Internet and met at a convention asked me to be a judge in a contest he was running. Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition was slated to be released in perhaps a couple of months, and there was already a lot of pre-release information about it floating around. He wanted to have people submit new monsters for use in future D&D games. Knowing of my somewhat intimate familiarity with the old Original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons™ rules set and acquaintance with at least three of the other versions of the game, he thought I would be able to contribute something to the judging. He also asked two other people to judge, whose skills and perspectives were very different from mine.
I took the notion very seriously. Before I looked at the first of the entries, I gave a lot of thought to what made a good monster. Some of the things I valued were contradictory—that is, it would be very difficult for a creature to score high on every quality I sought. But I reduced my consideration to eight qualities, eight aspects of creatures which I thought made them, in a general sense, well-designed monsters.
And if you’re designing monsters for your own campaign, or for some Internet contest, or for publication somewhere, you might like to give some thought to these qualities. You won’t always try to make every creature score high in every category. But if you’ve thought about the categories, you’ll be making tradeoffs that reach your goals at a reasonable “cost” in terms of what you sacrifice. Read more
First, let me address the matter of the question. When talking about a designing a role-playing game and the role that magic in the role-playing game will take, we must first decide on what questions we are asking ourselves. Several questions come to my mind. First, what is magic? What is it, not only in fantasy and reality, but also in the role-playing sub-culture? What will it be in my game world or system? The second question is “Why do I want it in the game system?” Why do I need or want magic in the game I’m designing? Third, how does it work in my game system? How do I want it to work in my game? Read more
The following article was originally published in July 2001 on the Christian Gamers Guild’s website. The entire series remains available at its original URL.
I’m going to challenge you today with a question that maybe you have never asked yourself, and yet you have probably answered—and further, that you have probably answered both yes and no in different situations.
Is it wrong for us as Christians to imagine a world that is different from the one God created for us?
I suspect that you have probably just now reacted with, “No, of course not,” maybe even so strong as “That’s ridiculous.” Yet I also wonder if that’s what you really think. But perhaps you don’t see the problem Read more
The following article was originally published in June 2001 on the Christian Gamers Guild’s website. The entire series remains available at its original URL.
When I was working my way back toward the fundamentals of our game experience last month, just before I reached the point of discussing social interaction I mentioned mechanics. Mechanics are the stuff that makes games work, that makes games games. In a sense, it is game mechanics that separate games from all other forms of social interaction. That is, a game has rules. It has objectives which are to be sought, methods which are legitimate approaches, and penalties for breach. Like a story, it has conflict and resolution; unlike a story, the conflict is defined and resolved by specific limited tools, the rules of the game, the mechanics.
And if our faith is to infiltrate our lives completely, we may need to ask ourselves how it affects our regard for the mechanics within games.
In discussing the mechanics specifically of role playing games, three broad concepts of resolution systems have been identified. These have been labeled drama, fortune, and karma. And if we understand these concepts aright, we realize that they are present in all games in one form or another. We also begin to see that each of these concepts has aspects which fit our faith well, but each has aspects which are problematic for our faith. We’ll look at them individually. Read more