MiniGamesRUs: Mini-game mini-game mini-game mini-game mini-game mini-game mini-game

Ahhh Dungeon magazine. How I miss you. In many way, I miss Dungeon more than I do Dragon mag, it’s more well known big brother for reasons I’ll come onto in a mo’. The move to online content for both magazine just doesn’t work for me. Granted, any content is better than no content at all, but the ‘net is no substitute for paper. I can’t read it in the bath, can’t toss it in the back of the car, can’t scribble notes in the margins to discover years down the line. In ten years’ time, maybe. But not right now. Sure, I could print the .pdf but that just gives me a more expensive (thanks to the dearer-than-gold cost of ink), poorer quality copy of the very thing that got cancelled. No thank you. Wizards, you screwed me.

I could understand if Wizards said that Dungeon and Dragon mag weren’t profitable, but they weren’t even the ones producing them, and Paizo seemed to be doing just fine. It feels too much like Wizards cancelled the license to deflect from the even worse bad news that is D&D 4th Edition.

Yes, I’m bitter about the whole thing. Ah well. Move on, Grey.

As a GM, Dungeon mag was a constant source of ideas and inspiration. Not only did I use adventures whole-scale on a regular basis, I also culled plots, characters, monsters, maps and situations when the adventure itself didn’t quite fit. I know other DMs did the same thing; Dungeon was tailor-made for us.

I don’t think there was a single bad period in the whole of Dungeon‘s existence as a print mag, though for me the high point was during it’s team-up with Polyhedron. While that proved unpopular to a lot (a vocal minority?) of readers, I loved it. C’mon! A free entire role-playing game in every issue?! What’s not to love? The mini-games gave us back Spelljammer, Gamma World, Dark Matter and brought mature gaming with d20 Modern into World War II, all primed and ready to go. Even the occasional hookie ride into the world of teen cartoon pop-star detectives was fun, and an enjoyable diversion for a one off gaming session. Pulp Heroes set the tone for an entire d20 Modern campaign setting for us, and the WWII mini-game revitalised our gaming in that era, as well as fire us up for d20 Modern itself. Superb stuff.

In my gamer group we nicknamed d20 Modern as 4th Edition D&D; the rules were a natural evolution of the D&D game we played already with classes, XP, hit dice, turn based combat an more, but with a deeper, more character-driven focus. No two characters are ever the same in d20 Modern, whereas two D&D 10th level Elven Rogues (for example) will be 90& identical, statwise. That’s one of the reason why our D&D game broke down, methinks. D&D characters don’t show sufficient diversity at higher levels.

Moving on to Mutants & Masterminds and we feel like we’re playing 5th edition D&D where characters can be created completely from scratch or tailored from an existing archetype. It’s a game where characters are shaped as the game progresses down a path of your own making; there’s no straight-jacketed classes to follow, no fixed abilities to take at each level (whether they fit your character concept of not), no prerequisites and no constraints set by oh-so-smug games designers a thousand miles away. Just you, your character and a pen and some paper.

So, I’ve had an idea.

Save Or Die is going to feature a mini-game, every alternate issue, starting February. As with Polyhedron there’s going to be a campaign setting, a handful of new rules, a few villains and a set of character archetypes all ready to play straight off the page. While the core rules will be Mutants & Masterminds it shouldn’t be hard to convert to D&D, d20 Modern or whatever happens to be your choice of poison.

And the first mini-game will be……… why, Fantasy, of course :)

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