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I made a generator

I recently released a generator for making solar systems in a style I had been using for some Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns content. With such a simple style, I thought I could probably automate the process, and as I'm planning the next leg of my home game using such maps, I thought I'd take a crack at it. Anyway, the tool is now done and released! It's available for free on and runs in the browser. I should also note that any content you make with this generator is public domain, so go nuts and use it however you see fit. Minimalist Solar System Generator by Robotic Topologist And by the way, If you've been keeping up with me on this blog, you should really consider following me on itch. I tend to post project updates as devlogs there. In fact, I already wrote a devlog for this generator as well . Cheers, - Dan

2 Years of Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns

Two years ago today I released the first public version of Drier Deserts, Hotter Suns. Immediately after that, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Vancouver, where I was living at the time. As I had been working on the project on and off for about eight years at that point (making 2022 now year ten!), it was awful timing. It really killed my motivation to work on games. A bit of playtesting has happened, but not nearly as much as I had hoped. You see, I came to learn very early on during those days that I absolutely hated running games online. As a referee, I am very active . I love to stand up, walk around the table, make big gestures etc. That really doesn't work online. It was also hard gauging people's reactions to the new awesome rules I had just written. These might sound like excuses but there's no denying the fact that I was having a whole lot less fun playing RPGs and making them. It really hurt the project and my playtesting efforts. It's not all bad though! The playtes

Starship in a bottle episode

In sci-fi games, it's pretty easy to forget that the player's ship is their literal home. I'm always a fan of it being their "home base", but that can often be overshadowed by it's utility as a people mover. To make it feel more lived in and homely, I'm experimenting with the bottle episode . Essentially, trying to set an entire session aboard the ship.   The easiest way to accomplish this to set the session during the time it takes to travel between two locations. This works great for a lot of reasons. You can easily lead into it from the session before (ending that session just as you are departing), and it can lead into the next session easily (the session ends when you arrive at your destination). Like a filler episode, it nicely slows down the pace of the game and gives a sense of scale on a temporal level. The other benefit is that if the session doesn't go well, you can fast forward to the destination. Alternatively, they can be set onboard the

Enter the Robotic Topologist

Announcement time! I'm rebranding. Shocking, I know. I had originally wanted to just release everything I made under my own name, but I've realized that that's not the best idea. For starters, I have a pretty generic name. More relevant is the fact that any collaboration just shouldn't be released under my name. I want to share things I think are cool, and don't want to imply that someone else's creative work is totally mine, especially as I reach out to artists and get help on things like layout and promotion. With that said, welcome to Surface Level , the Robotic Topologist Blog. Previously Wodan Gaming by Daniel Harris. Robotic Topologist is my new name to put on any and all gaming content I'm going to release. I think it's a pretty good name, especially the topologist part. I'm fascinated by the study of topology and like the implication of table-top-ology. The robot part is there since I'll mostly be focusing on sci-fi stuff, but robots

New Release: WASTExWORLD

  I made something new! It's called "WASTExWORLD". It's a sci-fi micro setting for running games on a trash planet. It's system agnostic and pretty straightforward. I'm really happy with how it turned out. Go get it right away from . WASTExWORLD by Daniel Harris

An Argument Against Spell Lists

On the shelf beside me sits a variety of books detailing wizard spells. From my humble 1984 copy of "The Complete Wizard's Handbook" to my special edition "Dungeon Crawl Classics", they are all packed full of spell lists and detailed descriptions of the magical effects. They are absolutely wonderful. I think it's time to do away with them. Modern D&D has, over the years, tried to undo the power curve of wizard. There is no quadratic wizard in 5e (in part because they are less powerful and fighters are more powerful). Now wizards get cantrips and their most powerful spell (wish) comes with a host of restrictions. Wish being restricted so much is pretty egregious, but I digress; wizards are now "balanced". Zzarchov Kowolski does a great job of summarizing the origin of this imbalance, in his blog post Everything you think about Game Mastering is probably wrong: Part VI Assumptions about game play , Kowolski points out that we've only assumed

A Quick Method of Character Linking

I do not like cold starts. Opening in a tavern or what else kills the believability for me. It also lacks any hook for why the party should be working together instead of apart. To alleviate this I exclusively have some sort of starting condition. Most recently a caravan of refugees traveling across expansive, empty steppes. This is better than starting out nowhere but I still think there should be some glue to bind the party before they set out on adventure. To accomplish this, I've devised a method of quickly "linking" characters together, and then actually putting that to good use by making the players actually think. So here is my session zero character linking rules: Every character will roll a die. Which die is dependent on how many players you have and what the starting conditions are. A a larger die (such as a d10) will result in less relationships, while a smaller die (such as a d4) will result in many more relationships. A d8 tends to work well. In small groups,