Our Second Test of a Low-Cost, Home-Built Projected Table-Top

For those paying attention, we’ve been working on physical resources–not just digital ones–this month.  If you haven’t looked at our first projector build you can click here.  Since then, we decided to take the basic concept and put a little more engineering into it.

But, first principles… we still wanted to keep the build itself in line with our overarching philosophy:

  1. It has to be economical.  Nothing too expensive.  Like, of course a real “projector mount” would be great, but the cost is a little outside where we wanted to be.  A good ceiling mount would be a hundred bucks, and that doesn’t take into account other things like still needing to mount the mirror.
  2. It has to be very configurable.  We wanted to approach this from the standpoint of a normal gaming group.  What if the ceiling is 9 feet instead of 8?  What if the table is an inch or two taller or shorter?  What if I need to be able to put it up and take it down with ease?  Our builds are trying to stay within the bounds of “adjustable and removable”.
  3. It has to work now and in the future.  In the end, it has to meet the needs of my current projector and (ideally) a new one if I get a new one.  It has to put the image down edge to edge.  It has to freaking work.

So, our second build here–what we did differently:

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On Fighters & Fighting: Addendum

Another one? ABSOLUTELY!

…though a short one. My previous post in the On Fighters & Fighting series grew a bit too large to accommodate some of the ideas I had, and a number of people requested an Unarmed Fighting Style Generator as a companion to the one focused on fighters.

Here, then, are my final thoughts… for the moment.

Abstracting Hit Points In Melee Combat

Everyone understands, on some level, that Hit Points are meant to be an abstraction. Why? Because going up in levels does not give a character gallons more blood, extra internal organs, or bullet-proof eyes. While it is surely in-genre for many games to treat warriors who have reached a heroic status to actually be unrealistically tough in the fibre and recover from wounds that would maim others for life, that can only carry the idea of HP so far.

So what if we took a page from real life combat for some inspiration?

Here are some brief suggestions:

  • Winded – When two people are facing off in combat, one of the things on everyone’s mind is how long they can last in the fight before their performance starts to wane due to fatigue. The stronger and more enduring opponent certainly has an advantage, but the master of a fighting style can often wear down even a more powerful if inexperienced foe through the use of proper breathing techniques and far more efficient use of their energy.
    This can be reflected by describing someone who is steadily losing HP as wavering, looking desperate, and otherwise showing signs that they will not be able to stay in the fight if this goes on.
  • Collateral Damage – An exchange of blows or clash of swords is not usually a one-touch situation, where the injured side walks away with a single new wound that adds to the pile but doesn’t otherwise impact their ability to fight. Attempting to block a powerful punch might wrench a shoulder, and a battle of strength as two hardened warriors lock their blades together can lead to sliced or broken fingers, which adds up in ways that even adrenaline can’t cover.
    Reflecting this sort of HP loss is as simple as describing minor but important damage that someone can only attempt to ignore for so long before it will catch up to them.
  • Head Games – Intimidation and smack-talk has its place, but finding yourself on the wrong side of an axe and bleeding has a tendency to leave a much deeper impression. Part of fighting is having the will to press on and the confidence to seize advantages as they arise, and even if someone is very much still a threat to their opponent they might become less of one if they’re distracted by their own mortality or pride. Relating the loss of Hit Points to mental state is not common, but if HP represents the ability to stay in the fight and not get down to that last deadly wound, then increasingly leaving themselves open for such an attack – only to recover at the last moment to take a less serious wound – is entirely appropriate.
    This can be reflected by describing a character’s behavior when they lose HP as increasingly wild-eyed, uncertain, or desperate.

Random Unarmed Fighting Style Generator

Unlike the previous post I will not attempt to recreate the tables involved here on the blog, but instead will link to the random generator itself, along with the Google Document that holds the tables I used to make the generator work.

I found myself making some interesting, or odd, choices in trying to put this together and I hope you enjoy them. If not, or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Unarmed Fighting Style Generator

UFS Random Generator Tables

Our First Test of a Low-Cost, Home-Built Projected Table-Top

It’s all the rage and just started up as a fad… using projectors to cast an image onto a table top for the running of games like D&D (honestly, I’ve not heard of it used anywhere else, but it would be hugely useful for complex combat-oriented games like Dark Heresy as well).  I first saw this a few months ago and my first impression from the most common Google Search and links was “I bet we can do that”.

I felt comfortable putting in the effort to put together the well documented and talked about Projector Table-Top given how agreeable my group is to The Game being more important than any individual story in it.  I wouldn’t waste the effort or expense on a group that is going to fight change.  So if your group embraces change?  I recommend this for you.

Check it out…

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On Fighters & Fighting: Part Two

Expanding On Style

The previous post on Fighters talked about the perception of the class as boring, or bland, and attempted to provide a context that shows off how interesting should probably be. This post is going to take that a step further, and look at making sure that Fighters are as engaging when throwing down as they deserve to be.

We all want combat to be something other than a drag, and for the people who play Fighters to feel like they’re doing more than hitting the “do damage” button, but there’s no universal fix or simple solution that will work for all – or even most – of the groups out there.

There are as many different ways to give added style and flavor to combat as there are people running games, and it would be a fruitless effort to try and condense all the best advice into one small blog post. Another author on this site even gave some very good advice on how to introduce memorable elements to otherwise mundane combat.

It’s for that reason that I’m going to pick one small battle and give you some – hopefully – fun tools that are flexible enough to assist anyone looking for a little help on this front.

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On Itemry and Trappery – Part 1

As my own 5e Eberron game returns to my table this week after a month on hiatus (players on travel and vacation), we’ll be getting into the dangerous world of life as the secret spies and adventurers for a growing city-state surrounded on all sides by enemy nations and vile conspiracies…

Normally, in a given week, I’d be adding to my Worrisome Trap or Better Than Nothing Item collections, but as I’ve made a whole bunch in running up to my game returning (and my players read my content all the time), I want to hold back a week before posting them up.  The sad part is you’ll have to wait a bit for a half dozen new traps (well themed for an Eberron game) and a few more flavorful magic items; the good part is they’ll be slightly more playtested and balanced than usual by the time they do post up here.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to share the first, high-level overview of how I approach the making of magic items and traps.  The first stages are the same for either, but I’ll emphasize items in this post and come around to traps later on. Now, I want to emphasize, this is just my own process for creating things.  Everyone has their own, of course, and the DMG has a few on top of that… take what you like, leave what doesn’t jive for you.

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On Fighters & Fighting: Part One

Fixing The Problem With Fighters

Let us begin by speaking hard truths: There is a problem with Fighters, and it’s not just the perennial concerns over how they balance against spell-casters in the long term.

It’s in the very way people think about them. If someone says that they are thinking of playing a Wizard or a Cleric or a Paladin? There are immediate implications about what type of person those characters might be and where they might come from, because even if a particular character has a non-standard origin we tend to imagine that it takes some particular training or mind-set to join those classes.

But to most people it seems that Fighter is at best just an unflavored description for a character who will be able to hit things, bring your own spice (“former soldier” “Samurai” “duelist”), and at worst describing someone who was too stupid to pursue a more demanding career.

Why? Many reasons, some of them having to do with the fact that Dungeons & Dragons has become something of its own fantasy subgenre, but the most obvious is that unless calling on a specific well-known tradition (like samurai) we don’t tend to understand or appreciate that the warriors & soldiers who inspired the class were as much dedicated experts in their craft as any scholar.

Which is not only unfair, but pretty boring.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Building a Campaign From the Ground Up

So you want to be a DM. You want to craft the ultimate adventure. There’s a craving deep inside of you that wants to develop nightmare inducing monsters and memorable NPCs in a campaign that keeps players playing until 4 AM and obsessively plotting for their next encounter. Well, I have the same desire.

So what do you say we team up? Sound good? Great.

Over the next few months, we will build a campaign of epic proportions. Not just the story, or the world, or the NPCs, or a few encounters; but the entire campaign from the ground up. We’ll rely heavily on the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual, and Player’s Handbook of course; but we’ll also pull ideas and whatever else we can get our hands on from the super helpful internet. If there’s anything I’ve learned as a writer, it’s to utilize the world around you, and luckily there’s a very healthy and helpful DnD community out there.

The goal of this series is to create a great playable campaign for the DnD community. Along the way we will stumble. We’ll run full speed into the mouth of a red dragon and find ourselves in terrible developing predicaments. At times, we’ll even think the entire thing is ogre poo. But we will prevail. It’ll take time and dedication, but by the time we’re done we’ll have a campaign that’ll rock this world and the Sword Coast!

Now, I could ramble on and pump you up about what we’re going to do for thousands and thousands of words and that’s all good and could be a grand ol’ time, but the fact of the matter is nothing gets done that way. So instead of wasting any more of our precious minutes on this earth babbling about it, let’s just hit the books.

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