Foundational / Greatest Internet RPG writing

Saw this tweet today and one of the first answers that sprung to mind was Ben Robbins’s West Marches post. While obviously not germane to that conversation, Ben’s post (and his follow-ups), to my mind, sent a shockwave through the ttrpg world. Not only did it launch a thousand West Marches knockoffs, you can see its influence in the OSR and the reemergence of sandbox play.

I’m curious: What are the other foundational works of internet writing about ttrpgs, in your eyes? Blog posts, forum posts, etc. but specific pieces, not people, games, or full blogs.

EDITED TO ADD: Please include a link if possible! Hopefully this can be useful as library of important online RPG writing.

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Bankuei’s same page tool is great.

edit : https://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/

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Do you have a link?

(I’m gonna edit the original post to suggest that we include links!)

Well, there’s a bunch of original Forge threads that might be considered foundational RPG writing, but I am going to break a lance in favour of Ron Edward’s essay “System does Matter”.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/system_does_matter.html

It’s a bit old and uses some outdated language, and the old GNS distinctions make less sense as time goes on, but it still stands as a strong affirmation that yes, you can change the procedures of play and get a different game experience, and that idea, at that time, where a lot of people were saying that System didn’t matter, was revolutionary, and affected the RPG landscape in so many ways.

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This is a pretty classic one:

As is this:

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Here are three that have been pretty instructional to me!

https://blog.kylekukshtel.com/burden_of_worldbuilding (doesn’t get the flashy box preview for some reason)

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I’m a big fan of OSR as an Aesthetic of Ruin by Joseph Manola - http://udan-adan.blogspot.com/2016/09/osr-aesthetics-of-ruin.html?m=1

All of the writings about hex and point crawls on the Alexandrian are something I come back to again and again too, but they’ve already been mentioned here.

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JeepForm - for structured freeform. Sparked things like Play With Intent (pdf).

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These are more generic GMing techniques, but they’ve both been super-helpful to me in actually running games, and I’ve imported them into basically everything I do now:

Painting the Scene: https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/blog/paint-the-scene

The 7-3-1 technique: https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/blog/the-7-3-1-technique

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Aww, yay! I was really hoping someone would mention these.

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Heh, you’ve got some home-field advantage here, @jasoncordova

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Before I post this, I want to make sure readers understand that there are many, equally valid and equally enjoyable, ways to play games, as well as a plethora of games. (And there is a comment at the bottom which opines about this, as well.)

However, this is a blog I found quite on the money about a particular approach to roleplaying games. It’s powerful, it’s visceral, it’s human, and it’s engaging. The blog is called Play Passionately, and it’s worth reading in its entirety, but the highlight is this summarizing post, which talks about the core of the experience in this style of play, and how to engage with it:

Hearing that I’m not the only who likes to feel this kind of thing when playing went pretty directly to some deep desires and interests I have and really love getting at in this hobby. I think it’s a wonderful little essay, and talks about something powerful which is rarely presented so honestly in this hobby. It affected me quite deeply.

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Philotomy’s Musings are probably one of the most important series of posts when it comes to understanding the OSR. The website doesn’t exist anymore, but I republished them all (with the permission of the author).

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I would second some things posted here, like West Marches, Alexandrian, and Jason Cordova’s GM posts. A few others that I like and/or see mentioned often

Vincent Baker’s Advice on Hacking AW
https://lumpley.games/2019/12/30/powered-by-the-apocalypse-part-1/

Sage LaTorra: The 16 HP Dragon
https://www.latorra.org/2012/05/15/a-16-hp-dragon/

Magpie Games: Picking the Right Move

These are all mostly relevant to PbtA games, but I think they’re important works in that space.

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Ah the 16 HP Dragon is a true classic!