Tag Archives: dnd
Leaving Assumptions at the Door
I’ll admit right off the bat, I was never one much for tabletop gaming magazines. Not really sure why, maybe it was my assumption that they were all horridly laid out or that a mixed bag of systems/games I’ve never played in wouldn’t appeal to me. I also kind of thought of the content to be amateur-ish and always convinced myself I’d much rather have something straight from a game publisher – official books, modules and supplements rather than something ‘joe schmoe’ came up with.
Boy was I wrong about all of those things.
When I first started, I knew there would have to be sacrifices made. Either it would be completely neutral, and therefore useless to everyone, or it would be biased toward one system or another. There’s a wide spectrum in there, and I decided that whenever a question came up, I would bias the system toward D&D, which I was playing at the time.
The best example I can think of is that we added race and level to the character sheets. They were freeform fields, so you could type “Elf” or “Dwarf” if you wanted. Or, if you were in a totally different system you could type “Eldar” or “Metahuman” or just leave it blank. It was up to you. Still, the concept of race and level is admittedly a D&D centric concept.
The shift to neutrality
As I migrated away from D&D to other systems, so too did my views on how Obsidian Portal should work. I realized that the central elements to all RPGs were the characters, adventures, and campaign world. As such, I focused on making those entities the core of the site. We politely declined requests to add more detail and fields to the character sheets and instead added things like the quick select popup to help you more easily interweave your story and characters. When the time was right, we released the Dynamic Character Sheets, thereby saying “Make the characters what you want!” Subsequently, we removed race and level from the character sheets, instead deferring that to the DSTs where it belonged. We want characters to embody the story, not the stats.
The commitment to neutrality
I started out thinking we would bias ourselves toward D&D, but I’ve become much more committed to overall neutrality. I’m convinced that the future of RPGs does not belong to any one company, brand, or game. Likewise, the future of Obsidian Portal, in supporting the RPG community, does not belong with any one game. So, when I’m told that we’re being too D&D specific, this is a cause for concern. What do you think? Are we too biased toward one game or another? Or, on the opposite end, are we trying too hard to please everyone all the time, and therefore offering a mediocre experience? We feel like we’ve charted the correct course so far, but I’m curious to hear what others think.
The Dungeons and Dragons Experience is right around the corner, and although I’ll be there to get in on all the exciting new announcements, products and seminars to provide you all with a post show wrap up, I’d like to do something a little more than that. If there is interest enough, I’d like to take it a step further and add some moment-by-moment excitement for those of you unable to attend, by live blogging one of the panels.
With the advent of the new Dynamic Sheet Template (DST) system coming very soon (probably this Sunday), we obviously need some people to step up and make DSTs for our myriad of systems. The outcome I’m expecting is that we will have a lot of people clamoring for the more popular systems, and less so for the less popular systems. What I’d like to avoid is having several similar submissions for the same system. Instead, it would be preferable to have one or two really great DSTs for a system, rather than 10 mediocre ones.
To prevent a lot of duplicate work on your part and headache on my part, I’m going to pull D&D 4E, D&D 3.5, and Pathfinder out of the mix. In other words, don’t just go out and make a sheet for any of these systems. Instead, you’ll need to apply. I will select the most promising one or two candidates and give them free reign for a week or so. Once we have a couple in the system, I’ll open it up for anyone to make one. The hope is that the first ones will be so awesome that everyone is happy and there’s no need for anyone else to try.
Even if you want to make a DST for a smaller system, I’d recommend posting your thoughts in the forum thread. There are surely going to be a lot of ideas bouncing around.
It’s an exciting time. My gut tells me the site is about to get much cooler with the addition of these dynamic sheets. Help me make that a reality!
Update: ChainsawXIV, who made the awesome Exalted DST, is going to take the first stab at 4E. So, I’m going to pull 4E off the table until he’s finished.
Dan and I got interviewed by The Core Mechanic. If you’re curious about how Obsidian Portal got started or who runs it behind the scenes, it’s definitely a good read. We’ll try to monitor the comments, but if you have followup questions the best way to reach us is via Twitter or Facebook.