Rob Donoghue

The Princess Is In Another Castle

A couple of people asked in comments yesterday what I mean by unfairness. I started to reply, but it ran long enough to turn into today’s post. Now, while it would be easy to turn to fiction for examples, the simple truth is that most any good example of unfair from fiction would be a […]

The Fiction of 4e

An interesting discussion the other day got me thinking about the fiction of 4e. Not in terms of novels and the like (though I’m sure those would be an interesting subject) but rather in the fiction implicit in the game. This is not, to my mind, about the little map in the back of the […]

Building a Challenge

Ok, let’s do this thing: Climbing the MountainOk, the mountain. It’s big, it’s windy, it’s snowy, there are bad things living there that want to eat your face. You guys need to get to the top, probably because there’s some ancient city or something up there. I dunno. Make something up. For reference, let’s say […]

What Doesn’t Work

I put out a call for challenge requests and got some interesting ones, but what struck me that that many of them were most interesting for why they don’t work, so I’m going to be doing counter-examples today. These are all things you might want to do in a game, but they’re not necessarily good […]

Mapping the Challenge

Not every challenge needs a map (or equivalent) to work well. Often the challenge revolves around something large and amorphous which can be engaged by any character at any time. However, maps make challenges more interesting. It’s possible that’s backwards. It may be more accurate to say that challenges with different fronts, which allow different […]

How Challenges Hurt

It’s pretty easy to model a damage-dealing challenge. On some level, that’s what almost any trap is. Consider the classic “Hallway full of darts” – it makes an attack against each player after they act for some amount of damage and players try to dodge through, spot pressure plates or disarm the mechanism. Right off […]

The Challenge Strikes Back

If you spend time designing monster for 4e you will quickly discover that while some parts of the design are pretty standardized, like hit points and defenses, others are much more art than science. Specifically, monster abilities follow few hard and fast guidelines, and are instead something you come up with by mixing your ideas […]

This Is Not A Science

First, 2 Realizations:1) SP is also used for currency, but to heck with it, I’ll keep using it for the time being. This whole thing is going to need a big language cleanup by the time it’s done.2) Rather than 1d6/1d8/1d0 damage progression, it probably makes more sense to use the light, medium and heavy […]

Fighting the Situation

What are hit points? Historically, they were a measure of health and toughness, but over time (much like armor class) that got more and more abstracted until you’re left with some incongruous trappings (like tying them to constitution) and a simple reality: They’re a pacing mechanism. They measure how long something stays fighting, which in […]

Situation – The Problem

This all began with @sarahdarkmagic raising an innocuous question on twitter: how to run breaking into a castle in 4e. Specifically, the issue was that doing it as a skill challenge did not provide the right feel, which was more fast and skirmishy, taking out guards and such. Now, I could argue that a skill […]