Dec 11, 2011
Repetition, Variation, Progression, Mastery
Games use mechanics to enable player actions. Players progress through the repetition (and mastery) of enabled actions. Mechanical variation introduces complexity of actions and mitigates the ennui of mastery.


May 26, 2011
Star Wars CCG Combat
What if “winning” a game like D&D were a matter of “draining” the villain of important resources like minions and henchman, taking control of his locations, and so forth? That might make for a fascinating game — also totally winnable.

May 25, 2011
Most Game Mechanics
Winning the game should be built into the system. Winning should not rely upon emergent gameplay, however alternate victory conditions may exist.

May 24, 2011
Winning the Game
It’s been said that you don’t win a roleplaying game, but here are examples games that are superficially similar to D&D, that have a much smaller scope.

May 23, 2011
The Survival Skill
Survival isn’t the same as forestry, but it is comparable.

May 17, 2011
Creature Types and Classification
What exactly is a “creature type” in Magic the Gathering? Is it a race? A biological classification? A character class? Some combination of the above?

May 11, 2011
Attack Types, Continued
Readied actions tend to suck. What if they were combined with Total Defense?

May 10, 2011
4e and Attack Types
Fourth Edition classifies attacks as essentially — Melee, Ranged, Close (burst and blast), Area (burst). What if it were expanded to include Charge, Flank, Readied, Press, Close (aura), Ongoing, Stance, Wall, Zone?

May 5, 2011
Elementary Puzzle Design
Look at game design like a block puzzle. Square hole, square block. Round hole, round block. Challenges are holes, mechanics are blocks.

Apr 18, 2011
Resource Management
Looking at time management in Arkham Horror.

Mar 25, 2011
Skirmishes in Ogre Battle
Basic tactics like “highest HP” versus “lowest HP,” “target leader,” or “highest attack.” Might these make effective monster tactics?

Mar 11, 2011
Elements of Simplicity
Use a rope to cross a pit. Thieves can bypass locked doors “at-will.” Acrobats can effectively move “through” walls. Making D&D more arcade-like.

Mar 2, 2011
Making Monsters Introspective
Making monsters smarter, not harder. By making them simpler.

Feb 17, 2011
Designing Encounters for Solo Play
Consider awarding XP for completing stuff rather than “finishing” it.

Feb 9, 2011
The “Five Guys” Adventure
Imagine a game where every player had the same character. Well, not really. It’s more that they’re all playing the same class, having made different choices in the race, feature, and power department.

Feb 8, 2011
What’s in an Adventure?
“What are the elementary particles of an encounter?” Is an encounter an idea? An experience? What defines the beginning and end of an encounter? What is an encounter worth? Is it a person? A place? A thing? A question? An action?
Encounters that Inspire
Set piece encounters. Design an adventure like you would an art book.

Jan 28, 2011
Everything’s Hybrid These Days
Characters should be simple, and builds should be plausible and playable from level one. First iteration of: “Character is who you are at level one.”

Jan 26, 2011
Treasure Will Roll
Assigning treasure in 4e sucks. First look at treasure parcels.

Jan 25, 2011
Challenges as Creatures
A stab at building a non-combat challenge the same way a monster would be built — for simplicity in running, describing, and resolving.

Jan 19, 2011
Minions are the Most Important
A minion has to make a strong first impression — because that’s usually the one and only impression it will get to make. I mean it.

Jan 18, 2011
Making Monstrous Characters
Another call to make monsters like PCs. And make PCs simpler.
Anti-Grind Monster Powers
Make your combat faster AND scarier! (And still winnable.)
Stalker0′s Guide to Anti-Grind
Part of playing 4e is about being a good magician — while combat forms the basis of the play experience, you want to do what you can to mask it.
The Five-By-Five Method
Found on another site. Design adventures in chains of five steps.

Jan 10, 2011
Curses and Diseases
Simple five-step system for curses and diseases.

Jan 7, 2011
The Check Concept
“No contest, no dice roll.”

Jan 6, 2011
4E Class Design Hypothesis
Every class should begin life as a striker and develop from that point. When you brainstorm class concepts, ask yourself “how does this class deal damage?”
Emotion Control and Willpower
Emotion. Intellect. Control. Willpower.
The Drift Concept (Mechanic)
Beyond zones, terrain, and triggered actions — movement itself may have “ripples” that affect the state of combat and the game. Highly abstract. Highly experimental. Reminiscent of the “escalation die” from The 13th Age.
Ranged Combat
Proficiency with slings shouldn’t grant proficiency with bows.

Jan 5, 2011
The Confessor Class
A character who empowers the party when a creature dies.

Dec 23, 2010
Making Monsters
Design non-combat challenges. Then add monsters to them!

Dec 21, 2010
Zen and the Art of Encounter Balance
Encounters are abstract. Challenges may be geared toward the individual or the group. There is no “appropriate,” there are only degrees of difficulty.

Dec 9, 2010
What Things May Come
Twenty-five encounters per month over twelve months is one campaign.

Nov 22, 2010
Thinking Things Through
Monsters should handle like PCs. PCs should be easier.

Nov 15, 2010
Determining Objectives
Create a trail of coins to reward players for taking risks.
Preventing Escape
Site-based adventures need to effectively enclose the party.

Nov 9, 2010
Terrain, Hazards, Features, and Obstacles
Everything in a room can be categorized as one of these.

Nov 7, 2010
Full Disclosure Game-Mastering
Transparency. The open “table of contents” view.

Oct 30, 2010
Abilities and Attributes
Play “derived attributes” closer to the chest. And by “chest,” I mean ability scores. That creates a stronger, more intimate connection between the two, blurring the supposed line between “gameplay” and “story.”
Offensive and Defensive Attributes
Never roll abilities against each other directly if you’re going to create derived attributes. Ability scores are a system of “incomparable attributes.”

Oct 13, 2010
Pentagon Method of Encounter Design
Found on another site. Design encounters in groups of five.