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Howling Tower: Gangsters Have Much to Teach Us

The best roleplaying sessions I ever played were a GangBusters campaign run by the game’s designer, Mark Acres. This campaign was legendary around TSR. Everyone wanted in, so Mark routinely wound up handling twelve or more players at a time. Understand that GangBusters is a tabletop version of simple, straightforward cops and robbers set in […]

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Howling Tower: Lucern Hammer Beats Banded Mail

Science fiction and science fantasy RPGs tend to focus a lot of energy on defining societies by the level of technology that they’ve achieved. They have the word “science” in the name of their genre, and science = technology, right? We don’t see much similar discussion of technology in fantasy games. Leaving aside the question

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Howling Tower: Dragons—A Soar Spot

Dragons are the most iconic creatures in fantasy RPGs, for obvious reasons. They ought to be among the most impressive and frightening, too, but that isn’t always the case. It’s not because dragons don’t have the chops; on a stat-by-stat basis, your average dragon is terrifying. Yet player characters bring them down with shocking regularity.

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Howling Tower: The Case for Random Encounters

Once upon a time, random encounters were standard fare in roleplaying games. Somewhere along the way, they fell out of fashion. Players, DMs, and game designers decided that random encounters embodied the worst of lazy DMing. They were indiscriminate party killers. Most of all, they were dumped because they were irrelevant to the ongoing story.

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Howling Tower: The Road from Dullsville to Thrilltown

Journeys are part of the myths we try to capture in RPGs. From the Odyssey and Anabasis of the Greeks, to Huck and Jim’s trip down the Mississippi, to films such as The Hidden Fortress and Saving Private Ryan, journeys serve as both vehicles for adventure and as metaphors for the heroes’ movement toward self-discovery.

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