Thursday Self Promotion

Because of a friend who comes all-caps screaming into my Twitter DMs when they don’t feel I am promoting myself enough, what follows is a post of things I have recently released, am currently working on, and how you can help me do the things I do if you like what you see around here. I may make this a regular mid-month post, if for no other reason than to save my friend the trouble of messaging me.

So let’s start on this page and work our way outward, shall we? First up, I am a skilled editor of TTRPGs and speculative fiction. My rates and other information can be found on the Need an Editor? page on this site. My rates are reasonable and negotiable, so if you are looking for an editor for your next project please contact me with the handy contact form at the bottom of that page. I would love to discuss your next project with you. The page also has links to a selection of previous projects that are worth checking out.

I have recently been taking part in game jams over on Itch under my publishing imprint, Prairie Dragon Press. I have two projects available now: Game Master’s Quick Reference for the Bookmark Jam, and Editing for TTRPGs: A Primer for the Non-Editor for the TTRPG Resource Jam. Both are PWYW, with proceeds going to a fund which allows me to do free editing work for marginalized creators.  A third project, Toys Against Terror (working title) is coming at the end of the month for the Fluffy Horror Jam.

I write articles, editorials and reviews mostly, over at The Rat Hole. Articles go up on Mondays, with reviews popping up whenever my editor schedules them. There are plenty of other folx over there doing excellent stuff so the site is worth your attention. You can give them a follow on Twitter to get notified about new posts.

I am privileged to be one of the members of the Creator’s Catalyst Project, which exists to provide new and marginalized creators with access to editing, layout, and art for their projects. The link goes to our website and you can find all the information about applying there. If you don’t have a project but like the sound of what we do, you can support our efforts with a donation to our Ko-Fi. Funds raised there help us put additional resources into each project we take on, and possibly allow us to work on more than one project.

I also raise funds for Extra Life every year, and we are currently closing in on this year’s game day. I am currently at about 55% of my fundraising goal for this year, and I have a number of incentives available if you donate as an individual, or get your gaming group together to make a donation. You can donate safely and easily through my Extra Life Donation Page, and everything you give goes to support sick kids.

I think that’s it for now. There are a few things I have coming up that I can’t discuss yet and I reserve the right to come back and update as my faulty memory supplies new information. If you want to talk to me about anything here, shoot me a message using the contact form on the site, or message me on Twitter

Interview and Updates

I will add my voice to the throngs lamenting the arrival of March already. It’s been a busy first quarter of the year, which has sadly kept me from posting here as often as I would like.

But I haven’t been idle! You can find a plethora of 2020 posts from me over at The Rat Hole. And Ben over at the Bone Box Chant posted an interview he did with me as part of his Editors series. If you’d like a peek behind the curtain of my editing process it’s a good read.

And things push ahead with Salt Bay Pirate Radio! I recorded an Episode Zero and am editing that now, and plan to record Episode One this Sunday. Plus the logo I commissioned is almost done, so I should have that in place when the first episode goes live, which will be keen.

I do miss posting here, however, so do expect me to get back to that. As I mentioned this past Monday I am revisiting my thirty year old AD&D Spelljammer setting house rules. My plan is to post a bunch of my process of updating it to 5e on here, so you can get an idea of what I love about that setting. And it will be a taste of the resource I will eventually publish.

The Rat Hole for December 10

Heya, folks! Every Monday (almost) I post over at The Rat Hole, and so I thought I would link to those posts here so you don’t have bookmark two sites if you want to stay on top of my bullshit.

This week over at The Rat Hole I talk a little bit more about Everything is Dolphins, an indie game from the Eighties, and the scenario I worked up for our local TTRPG convention, IntrigueCon. I hope you like it! We’ll see you Wednesday for regular Renaissance Gamer shenanigans.

Summertime, and the Gaming is Easy

Another hot day on the Canadian Prairies, so it seemed the perfect time to sit inside with the AC and give a quick update on goings on in my life, gaming, and the site.

Big news right off the top: I put my name in the running to become an ENnies judge! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but because I was repping one TTRPG company or another over the last several years I wasn’t eligible. This was actually the first year in a decade I could sign up, so I made the plunge. I’ll make a longer post on the day voting opens (Wednesday, July 11, so limber up your clicking fingers) to talk about why I’m invested in becoming a judge and how you can help (the hint was “voting”), but if I succeed in getting a spot you can expect to see a metric tonne of product reviews and discussions here. Plus you should just go vote in the ENnies because there is a lot of really great stuff nominated this year, and these awards are one way (besides buying the product) we can show some love to the designers.

Whether I become a judge or not, though, you can expect to see some changes around the site leading up to the fall. I took a step forward and upgraded to a paid site here on Worpress, complete with the shiny new domain renaissancegamer.ca. You can update your links as you please, but I am assured both the new and old URLs will get you here so it isn’t a panic. A paid site gives me some more options for layout and design, as well as e-commerce options which may become handy in the future. Plus it allows me to lock in the Renaissance Gamer domain name. I could have gone for .com, but I’m Canadian so .ca seemed appropriate. Plus it allows that person focusing on Renaissance era dice and card games to have their shot at a site.

I’m still posting once a week over at The Rat Hole, every Monday. Ish. Okay, sometimes Tuesday because both Dave and I are busy dudes and it may take a little while to post the articles I submit totally on time and never late ever. Between The Rat Hole and here, my goal is to post three times a week minimum, with more content if I have more to say.

Work on the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games proceeds apace. I’m exploring database options while the collection is relatively small, so I don’t find myself 10,000 books deep in a database I realize doesn’t do what I want. I’m also building out a website so I can move the Library’s main presence off Facebook, as I’m in the process of minimizing my connection with that site. And of course I’m expanding the collection, hitting book sales when I can and following up on leads from friends who know what I’m up to. I’m also developing contacts with as many small publishers I can so I can pick up and add their work to the library. As much as I enjoy collecting the old gaming material I also want to be proactive and add new material to the collection so I stay on top of new games.

Somewhere in all that I’m also finding time to play and run games. Never as much as I like, but that is the bane of anyone who’s interests in the hobby also extend outside just the playing. I’m happy with the games I’m in and my players seem to be happy with the games I’m running, so I’m content.

That’s it for now. You’ll see a post on Monday over at The Rat Hole, and I’ll have a post here on Wednesday, with another one on the Friday/the weekend. Until then stay cool or hot, as your local weather dictates.

RG House Rules: Dump Everything but Stats!

Today’s post is actually a supplement to my weekly post over at The Rat Hole. If you check out over there, I talked about a possible house rule to deal with what I consider useless Ability Scores in D&D 5e. Here I’m going to talk about a second way of making ability scores useful again.

As I noted in my other article, I love rolling up ability scores for D&D characters. Those scores are the foundation upon which I build the rest of my character. But in 5e, once you’ve generated those scores they don’t do anything. The bonuses that derive from them do a lot of work, bumping up skill checks and saving throws. But the ability scores themselves are static, with no purpose. That’s why, when I saw them sitting lifeless on the page I knew I needed to restore them to usefulness.

My plan to put ability scores back to work is actually pretty simple, just three steps. First, get rid of saving throws and skills. Second, in their place, switch to a “roll under” method of determining success, using the character’s ability scores. If the character has proficiency in that ability, they add the proficiency bonus to the ability score before rolling, and must roll under that number. Sounds a little crazy? Let me explain.

Let’s look at Grognard the Barbarian, who has to make a Constitution saving throw of DC 13. Grognard has a 16 Constitution score, because barbarian.  He’s only first level so he has a proficiency bonus of +2 and an ability bonus of +3, for a +5 to his Constitution saves. That’s pretty good, especially at first level, but there is still a decent chance that Grognard will get knocked flat on his butt; frankly annoying when playing a big, tough character. Using roll under, however, Grognard would need to roll under 18 (Constitution score of 16, plus his proficiency bonus of +2) on a d20. So most of the time, Grognard is going to shrug off any Constitution-based attacks, which for a barbarian is as it should be.

This extends to skill checks as well. You would retain any Skill proficiencies from character creation or other sources, and add that as a bonus to the relevant ability score when making a Skill check that relates to that proficiency. As in the example above, this will allow a character proficient in a particular skill to succeed more often than not. Which, as the hero of your particular story, they should be doing anyway. But it also allows some flexibility in what ability scores to use when making a skill check. Yes, most of the time you’ll use the score commonly associated with that skill, but sometimes your player might make a good case for another ability score to be used. Or you as the DM might switch things up and decide that another ability score better fits the challenge the character is facing.

As a balancing factor, we come to the third step in my “cunning” plan: subtract 10 from the DCs of any skill checks or saving throws, and apply the result as a negative modifier on the character’s ability score for the roll. So in our example above, Grognard may have an effective 18 Constitution because he is a big, tough barbarian. But the poison gas (let’s say) he is trying to resist is a particularly noxious kobold blend, so he takes a -3 penalty (DC 13 – 10 = 3), making his effective Con score a 15. Still a decent chance of success, but enough harder that it will make Grognard think twice about rushing into the cloud if he doesn’t have to.

While the house rule I’m suggesting is for skill checks and saving throws, it could be extended to combat. Simply subtract 10 from the opponent’s AC and apply the result as a negative modifier to the relevant ability check. So an AC of 14 is a -4 modifier, AC 21 is -11, and so on. Positive modifiers would be proficiency bonuses, plus any magical or situational modifiers. So if Grognard is attacking with his mighty 18 Strength, using his new +1 greataxe Helmcleaver, against an opponent with an AC of 15, he’ll roll under 16 in order to hit (18 + 2 + 1 = 21 – 5 = 16). Grognard has a pretty good shot at turning his opponent to mush, but it isn’t guaranteed.

So that’s my suggested house rule in a nutshell. Obviously I would want to play test this before implementing it on a regular basis, because I’m sure there are situations and corner cases where it might need some tweaking. But altogether I think it’s an effective way of making ability scores useful again, and also serves to make the characters a bit more heroic in stature.

But what do you think? Am I crazy? Is it a workable solution, or am I tampering with things nerdkind was not meant to explore? Let me know what you think below. And check out my article over at The Rat Hole for a house rule idea pretty much the opposite of this one.