I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

2020 is here, what do YOU need?

Happy new years folks!

Welcome to the year of the double-crit!

If you've been reading this blog, you might have seem my last post, with my plans and ideas for 2020.

In this post, I'm looking for suggestions.

(And if you already commented on that post, thank you! I am writing this down!)

Why, do you ask? Well, I enjoy writing, but I also enjoy being read. It's way better than writing for myself. I enjoy the feedback, the exchange of ideas, etc.

There are some things that I have to write, and I'll write them regardless of readers. Others are stuff I'm interested in, but there are so many possibilities heard that I'd rather focus on whatever people want to read about.

Of course, there is also lots of stuff that I am just not interested in. I am probably not the guy to create new spells for 5e, for example. Now, if you want a new spell system...

Anyways, here are the questions I wanted to ask you. What do YOU prefer? What do YOU want to read about? I'll keep my eye on this post for the entire year of 2020, so drop by in any moment to leave a comment.

Here are some dichotomies to think about... and choose from, if you will.

Blogging x Publishing

I'll do both, but I'm curious: are the readers of this blog interested in the stuff I publish? Do you like to see some of the ideas discussed here in an organized, finished manner? Or do you prefer the back and forth of brainstorming, discussing ideas, etc.? Maybe both?

Blogging is a lot easier than publishing. The advantage of publishing is that I can finally finish stuff... make choices an compromises instead of just coming up with ideas. And present my ideas in a condensed and polished manner for me and others to use. Harder than blogging, yes - but, I think, more useful in many ways.

There is another issue... Since we lost G+, I don't entirely thrust this anymore. Blogger could be gone tomorrow, and backing everything pu is a hassle. Now, about my books, I have backups up in multiple places... they aren't going anywhere.

OSR x 5e

Nowadays, I play only D&D and derivatives. My favorite editions are Basic (B/X, RC) and 5e. There are some similarities, but not always. Like many, I want a version of 5e that is closer to Basic. Something simpler, less convoluted. 

Dark Fantasy Basic does something like that, but it is more OSR than 5e, and has some 3.5x thrown in.

Are you interested in OSR stuff? 5e stuff? Or a mix of both?

Print x PDF

I have never published anything in print, and I have no experience with that. Some people have been asking me for print versions.

Even if you are not interested in my stuff, I'd like to know if you prefer print books or PDFs.

Art x Writing

Most of my small PDFs are pretty plain: a good cover and no interior art. Easy to print and to use, which suits me. 

Now, "big" books are a different matter. Without art, they become big wall of texts, and this is tiresome to the eyes. DFB has lots of (public domain) art because I wanted it to look a certain way. I'm sure I could do something similar with layout, etc., but again, I'm not an artist.

Manual of Arms has SOME art, providing illustration for new weapons (saber, falchion, etc.).

I could introduce more art to my small books, but I'm not sure how useful this is (and this means extra work, of course). What do you think?

Crunch x Fluff

I discuss mechanics quite a lot in this blog. Analyzing existing systems, creating house rules, etc. Its been quite a while since I gave you monsters, settings, etc. Here are a few examples: 1, 2, 3, 4. Would you like to see more of that? Or an adventure (based on this)?

In any case, I'll keep publishing random tables to generate monsters, settings, adventures, etc.

There are other types of content that I do not usually post... Do you like reviews? Posts about actual games I've run, like these two? Non-RPG book reviews like these three posts? Let me know!

One last thing: Curse of Strahd

I am in the final stages of running Curse of Strahd. I have a LOT to say about this module. However, this would only interest people that also want to run it - I assume the number is small. If you're interested in this, let me know!


This is what I've got for now. One of the most difficult things about writing is getting feedback - so I'll appreciate any feedback you can throw my way. Of course, if you enjoy reading my stuff, here is a good chance of tilting me towards stuff you're interested in. Thank you! 

I hope you have an awesome 2020! 


  1. What do you need? Reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode. Haha.

    Selfishly, I need gamers who can help me build an empire... an eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic O5R empire!

    1. Hahaha, well, I doubt I can help you build an empire, but I do like "science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic O5R"!

    2. Would you be interested in reviewing Cha'alt?

    3. Cha'alt looks cool! Let me get back to you on that.

  2. "I want a version of 5e that is closer to Basic. Something simpler, less convoluted." This is exactly what I'm working on now. 5E mostly solved the scalability problem of earlier editions where players would out-level content, so it feels like the best starting point for that reason alone, in addition to being the current edition, which is always easiest to find players for. You have a lot of great 5E notes all over the blog, but they need to be gathered and put into service. I'm working on my own design document, and if you're interested, I'll include your notes as well and post a link sometime in the near future.

    1. Sure, I'd love to see your document, leave a link here if you want to!

    2. Here it is: https://tinyurl.com/uf9uz44. Earlier last year, I worked up a PC progression that maxed at 6th level (a E6 for 5E, as it were) but 5TD came up with something quite similar, and I ended up liking it better, so a lot of that ended up in this. It feels like 80% to the point of being able to be written up. It is basic -- there aren't even feats, and there may not be, haven't decided either way. I think it could accept B/X and 5E foes as-is.

    3. Interesting stuff. I'm not 100% sure if you could use B/X and 5E foes in the same game. The HP is too different, for example. But the conversion is simple. Anyway, I have to consider how much new stuff my version would bring to the table.

  3. Before I forget: I would love a review of Strahd. My personal experience is the Basic module (just the castle), and then a few attempts at the 5e module. Personal opinion is that just the castle is plenty and a protracted campaign with Ravenloft is a bit much. Would welcome other reviews though.

    1. Will do Sean! It is a good module, but confusing as hell. Very disorganized.

  4. Well, (1) this was a good start: http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2019/10/considering-fifth-edition-hack.html
    & (2) the attribute-or-feat progression of DFB, & (3) ability flower instead of skills (http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-ability-flower-of-d.html) seem like great elements for "basic" player-facing mechanics. The "gameplay" elements of resource management, time, travel, campaign pacing, etc. are harder to craft without a lot of playtesting. (5E is terrible at this with everything from hand-waving to crunch without meaningful choices.) I came up with a good system for overland travel in my last 5E game, but I find myself being pulled in the direction of "Forbidden Lands" after playing a mini-campaign of that because it does it very, very well and integrates it with the character mechanic. Maybe d20 version of FR?

    1. Thanks! Yeah, 1 and 2 would certainly be used, but the ability flower would add some complexity, I think (although using STR and CON for AC seems obvious to me...). I think I got a decent handle on resource management too. I got FL but haven't read it... will take a look before starting this.

    2. Forbidden Lands is great, except for the dice mechanic (too slow with attack & defense rolls, also doesn't scale well). I like the attributes & skills better than 5E, and the hexcrawling mechanic is fast and easy. Their resource dice mechanic is too fiddly -- 5TD does it better.

    3. There is also now this which is completely awesome work: http://bloodofprokopius.blogspot.com/2019/10/ba5ic-is-now-live.html

  5. Blogging over publishing --- This would be preferred; however, this is not a choice that would be 100% necessary to make. In particular, I think that the quality of both could be served by using your time blogging constructively in order to build upon ideas over time and refine them with the discussion and critique of your readership in addition to the new ideas that you come up with, and then thereafter to more easily have something which is fit for publishing.

    OSR x 5e: as someone that actively /runs/ 5e, and enjoys developing ideas and tinkering with the nature of the game as it was originally written (for the sake of improving what is already there), I obviously prefer a focus on 5e, though I know I am likely not completely representative of your audience; however, I believe that your tendencies to compare 5e with previous editions and to bring other TRPG concepts to the table when examining and working with 5e is one of the greatest strengths of your work, and that a healthy balance of the 5e focus with what lies outside it will likely serve to keep your work on 5th Edition /sharp/. Maybe a 60/40 split? 65/35?

    I, personally, much prefer PDFs, and think that from a business standpoint it is likely better financially to remain on such a model, given the fact that printing would seem more expensive on limited or individual bases than if you were able to mass-produce them (which you have not as of yet a wide enough audience/market for).

    I think that the level of art in Manual of Arms was fine. It perfectly served the purpose of breaking things up without bogging things down, and too much more would have detracted/distracted from the main body of the work: the written material, easy to access, check, and peruse.


    I, personally, most like your system analysis. It's the primary reason I come here. As for other matters in this topic: what I would most like to see from among these would be example monsters to go along with your monster design/production work. This is mostly due to a lack of it so far, however, and it should be said that I have *very* much enjoyed your reviews of other systems, and think that that greatly contributes to not only the quality of the overall body of your work, but also your personal capacity to look at D&D with eyes constantly renewed and bursting with ideas. To slow down too much on that would be detrimental, despite the fact that seeing more of your completed, concrete products (such as the magic weapons listed a few posts back, or the monster descriptions you're suggesting you could make, here) would be very much desirable.

    I would /very/ much like to hear your thoughts on Curse of Strahd. Despite the fact that I own it, I am not one to actually *play* modules so much as use them for inspiration and/or steal the monsters and items from them in order to sprinkle them into my personally-constructed campaigns/settings.

    As such, having insight from someone who has actually experienced it to completion would be very helpful: I'd like to see what you think works and what doesn't, especially since you've previously pointed out your appreciation for the some of the design choices within said content, but haven't elaborated too much on the subject.

    Lastly: I hope you have a very wonderful and very productive 2020, too! It would seem you already have to some extent, but even so, I do hope that it continues and you continue to see success in the future.

    1. Thanks for the kind words and throughout response; I might have forgotten to answer, but I hope the blog lived up to your expectations in 2020!

      Have a great 2021!