Blogworthy: Pathfinder Playtest, Bracketology, The Fantasy Trip, Black Box Manifesto

Blogworthy is a regular column dedicated to blog posts that I’ve read and enjoyed. It’s a direct outcome of my RPG Blogs Reading List on Feedly.

Pathfinder Playtest Review: Roll for Combat looks at the new Pathfinder 2 rules and how well it does in achieving its “different, yet familiar” goal. It’s a lengthy read so you’ll want to settle into a comfortable chair when you start it, but here’s the money quote:

“At some level, what’s most exciting about PF2 is that it’s starting over with a real framework that can be expanded in a modular fashion, and not just a series of incremental additions attached with duct tape.”

I doubt my group would jump ship from D&D 5th Edition to Pathfinder 2, but the write-up does have me curious about the new game.

The Fantasy Trip Old School Roleplaying Kickstarter: If you’d rather go backward than forwards, check out The Fantasy Trip Kickstarter from Steve Jackson Games. The Fantasy Trip was Jackson’s first RPG and was published by Metagaming back in 1977. He recently reacquired the rights to the game and is republishing it in a “legacy” edition. The Kickstarter is blowing up nicely with 2,498 backers pledging $221,879 (the goal was $20,000). Worth checking out if you’re an Old School fantasy fan.

Bracketology for Story Plotting? Mythic Scribes speculates on using brackets — yes, those collapsing ladder things that everyone gets so excited about during the March basketball playoff season — to plot your story. From the post:

A plot depends on conflict and contrast between its characters, and on building interest in them over time.

A tournament’s system is about matching opponents together and tracking how that changes. It’s one of the simplest, purest methods there is for managing the intricacies of a plot, while staying focused on what makes it powerful.

It’s an interesting concept — sort of like mind mapping, but with the force of narrative and plot behind it.

The Black Box Manifesto: Daniel Perez and Berin Kinsman’s manifesto on minimalist role-playing game design is up at Dancing Light Press. They propose a movement back to the minimalist origins of the hobby, where a pamphlet and an idea were enough to inspire a game. Its rules embrace self-contained RPG books including a unified conflict resolution system, a pamphlet format (either half-fold (8.5 x 5.5) or 6 x 9) , no interior artwork, a limit of 96 pages, and a $10 sticker price. There’s more, but that gives you an idea of the basics.

I appreciate the aesthetic they’re going for and the philosophy behind it, though I don’t know if I agree with the Spartan approach to graphic design. Risus: The Anything RPG is an awesome little game that I think gets at the intent of the Black Box Manifesto — it’s lightweight, self-contained, features a simple game mechanic, fits in 4 pages, and is free … but it also has an attractive layout with good use of fonts and stick-figure simple illustrations. It doesn’t detract from the purity of the game; in fact I think it helps reinforce its nature. I understand not wanting to create an overloaded, overpriced rulebook filled with gorgeous artwork that exists only to be gorgeous, but I think good graphic design helps reinforce the tone and intent of the game.

All that said, I’m curious to see what spins out of the manifesto.

Featured Image Meta

Cover art for the Pathfinder Playtest rulebook. Credit: Paizo.

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