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Color Blind Gamers

And now, a Public Service Announcement: About 8% of males in the US are color blind, the most common type being red-green color blind, followed by the rarer blue-yellow color blind. If you are color blind, it literally means that the colors look the same to you — you see one color instead of two. […]

Ben Robbins | March 18th, 2007 | game design | 6 comments

Dungeons & Doomsday Devices: Superhero Base Raids

A dungeon crawl does not fit the superhero genre. Superheroes zip though villain bases, smashing walls or wafting through them with arcane powers. They do not decide on a marching order and do a room-by-room search (or if they do a search, it is glossed over off-screen). Dr Null's base is a complex maze of […]

Ben Robbins | August 29th, 2006 | game design

Four Types of Supervillains

Forget the ice claws, the glowing brains, and the hooks-for-feet for a minute. Despite their surface differences, all your supervillains fall into four categories: soldiers, menaces, masterminds and thieves. The distinction is not about powers or how much of a threat they pose, it's about how the supervillain behaves. As a GM if you know […]

Ben Robbins | August 24th, 2006 | game design | 2 comments

What is an Action Shtick? (part 2)

Leaping from rooftop to rooftop on a racing train. Streaking to catch a falling civilian before he goes splat. Racing past the sign that says the bridge ahead is out. These are Action Shticks, classic challenges that go with a particular situation or environment. By definition they are not original. They are the things you […]

Ben Robbins | August 2nd, 2006 | game design | 3 comments

Naming Games (part 2), Episode Titles

In my superhero campaign I name each episode. I tell the players the name at the start of the game session, sometimes even days in advance. I write it on the white board in big letters so everyone can see it throughout the game. There are pros and cons to doing this. The primary advantage […]

Ben Robbins | April 26th, 2006 | game design | 3 comments

Naming Games

I always name games I run. Whether it's going to be a campaign or only one or two sessions, a distinct name gives the players a point of reference, both immediately and long after the game is over. What's more memorable, saying you played in West Marches or “that low level game, the one with […]

Ben Robbins | April 20th, 2006 | game design | 2 comments

Writing Game Material: The Audience of My Audience

A published adventure scenario (or “module” as we used to call it in the old days) is not a game. It's a Do-It-Yourself kit the GM will use to run a game. The players will never read the text of the adventure. At most they might listen to canned sections read out loud by the […]

Ben Robbins | January 26th, 2006 | publishing | 4 comments

What is an Action Shtick?

Zodiac Ring includes Action Shticks in each scene. Much like the hero strapped beneath the death ray by his evil nemesis, you ask me: what the hell are Action Shticks, exactly, in detail? We're primarily talking about gaming in the superhero genre, but the concepts can be applied much more broadly. Without the death ray, […]

Ben Robbins | December 17th, 2005 | game design | 1 comment