Two Specific Options for Data Flow in Tabletop RPGs

In a tabletop RPG, it can be important to find good ways to keep information flowing between GM and players. No one set of best practices is going to work for every game and every group, but there are two data management ideas that have worked well in ttRPGs I play, in numerous different game systems and with lots of different groups.

“On Deck”
For games with an initiative system that puts character and NPC actions in an order, in addition to telling players it is their turn, it can be useful to tell them that their turn is the next one AFTER the current turn. My friend Carl began telling people they were “On Deck,” meaning next-to-launch, after saying who goes right now. That means when he says “John it’s your turn; Owen, you’re on deck” I know my turn is coming up, and I should be ready to take it. It also tells me that the situation is only going to change by one player’s actions, so I can make some educated guesses about what it’ll be like when my turn comes.

Borrowing a concept from a game I’m not playing anymore, Bloodied is a condition where a character is halfway to dead or unconscious (depending on the game system we apply it to). Especially in games where tactical play can be crucial and healing during a fight is an option, players often want to know who is injured, and who isn’t. For nearly all the games I currently play, a simple system has been established where you can tell if a given character is uninjured (no damage on them), injured (some damage, but not bloodied), or bloodied (halfway to defeated). Generally players can learn which of those states a target is in without needing to make a skill check of some kind, and when using miniatures we can mark creatures that are bloodied with a magnet or plastic ring. This prevents the game from bogging down as players ask about everyone in an encounter, and allows for quick estimations of who is in one condition.

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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on March 17, 2021, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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