Monday, 21 May 2012

More ideas clamouring for attention

So here's a little overview of what's currently bubbling in my head:

A game set in a world where the Roswell Incident was the site of Earth's first extraterrestrial encounter, not a crash. Ship landed, aliens surveyed and encountered locals, contacted mothership and decided to stay. It is now the 70s or 80s (or now, not really decided). Something like District 13 meets Blaxploitation meets Alien Nation (with some Space Precinct thrown in for fun).

Roman Pathfinder, as mentioned in my last post, nominally called Republic. Still working out the kinks with different races and stuff.

A hard sci-fi game has popped up and is bubbling away, though I don't know if anything worth talking about will come of it. It's nothing special, just something I think would be fun.

A game centred around a Barony, or group of Baronies. Something like Game of Thrones, so I may just look at Song of Ice and Fire and hope. It's mostly just a warcry of 'For the Baronies!' at present.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the old Cyberpunk game I played a lot of (but haven't for about a year now). It was a hack together by a friend of the old World of Darkness system, as well as the Cyberpunk 2020 rules. He was calling it everything from Farpunk to just Punk, given his other groups had managed to get lost in space. I think really I want to resolve what was happening when we finished the session: I had been given a secret task, and then during play it became apparent I had to issue a 'GO!' order in front of other players. My mission: full-scale attack on a school for potentially psionic children. One of the group's characters was also on the grounds at the time, and it became a race for the other players to stop the attack, whilst I tried to make sure they never made it.
Did I mention I was a crimelord and everyone else was a cop? Fun times.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Roman D&D - Republic

The default setting for D&D (and Pathfinder) is medieval, and it's a fantasy world we all know pretty well, and understand.
A few years ago, I got to play in a Roman-influenced game, and it was a lot of fun. We fought undead in the north, surrounded by Gaul-like people, then headed back south to the capital, then crossed an ocean towards the Persian-style place. I'm told there was even room for some Greek island hopping, which we never got around to.

I've been daydreaming for about a year about my own Roman setting, and how I would do it. Let's call it Republic for now. It would be my first foray in Pathfinder if I ran it, because I'd like to see how the play is different to D&D 3/3.5, and I've never actually sat down to it before.

Since Republic isn't Rome, but Rome-influenced fantasy, we still need to cover the bases. Let's start with classes. The four base classes are pretty easy to cover.
Fighters could be former Legionaries, or some form of auxiliary, or what have you.
Clerics might need to be renamed as 'Priests'. We'll argue later over whether we run with Christian Rome as the influence or not later.
Rogues would work, but would likely be made up of a lot of commoners, maybe indentured slaves (escaped or otherwise).
Wizard is where it gets tricky. I like the idea of scholars, but I don't know how well Wizard fits. A scholarly Sorcerer would work just as well (though maybe the influence of that old game is at work here, since that's how the setting worked).

Of the other classes, Druids and Barbarians fit, filling the roles of Fighter and Cleric. Monk and Paladin have less of a fit, Bard and Sorcerer are more of a variant of how the Rogue and Wizard might play. I'm still fiddling details in my head. Ranger would be the equivalent of scouts in the Legions, or might be woodsmen and hunters, and certainly fit well with the Druid and Barbarian mentioned above too.

The only other things that might fit are Pathfinder's Oracle (inspired by Rome after all), possibly the Alchemist, Magus and Witch. I'm still not sure if they're really needed.

Ok, now for some trickier parts - PC Races.
I'm pretty sure that the Dwarfs as trade partners to the north would fit pretty well, and something about Elves being some kind of Sylph would be interesting (it's what I'm already doing with my Kingsmead setting after all). Gnomes and Halflings seem like they'd be an easy fit too, though might be best expressed as more urban/less rural cousinds of the Dwarves and Elves.
Do the Half Orc and Half Elf races fit? At a push. Again, more to twiddle there.

After that, limiting equipment is all that really takes precedence. I've got some ideas for where and why the PCs would adventure, and who doesn't prefer the idea of the PCs meeting in a taverna, rather than a pub? Right?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spex and Google Glass

If you've not seen Google Glass yet (seriously, where have you been hiding), it's basically a wearable computer that uses an augmented reality (AR) overlay to show various tasks and options and things.

Why is this exciting? You may recall a while ago I wrote a couple of posts about future software, designed to flow into the setting I was then playing around with in Greg Christopher's Synapse rules. Why was this exciting? Spex.

Spex were the worn computers, offering the same overlay. Instead of the tiny screen just above an eye though, they had a flicker filter so that they'd opaque when on, or repeatedly (similar to how some 3D glasses work these days). They'd work with voice controls, eye gestures, could be hooked up to old-school systems with real keyboards and extra screens, could be used to immerse in virtual environments, and as I understood them also used an AR keyboard system (remember Johnny Mnemonic?), similar to the gesture controls.
But perhaps most importantly, the programs were less like Microsoft Word and Excel and more like Siri - a user was a manager of their bunch of programs, and the programs do all the heavy lifting and working.

I've still not covered the setting in more detail (expect that later in the week, I no longer really mind if players skip ahead), but it was basically the near future of Earth, with some fun tools that made it slightly different. Biodegradable 'wet-tech' - phones with throat mikes that slapped on like plasters on the neck, e-ink newspapers that would be used up and recyclable after a week of streaming updates.

I'll tease that it's the sort of stuff you'd expect from Ken Macleod's writing...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A quick design breakdown

I thought today, since I've been thinking about it for a while, I'd do a quick design breakdown of the DiceBenedict system that I've been toying with. Specifically, where I stole a bunch of ideas from.

So originally it spawned from the idea of a system built using only d12s, but after looking at how the probability curve behaved, I wanted to try it with some other die types. And yeah, it worked OK for most of them (I'm still not sure how well d4s work, but I don't know if I need to worry overly much about them at this stage).

I've dropped the term 'Aspects' to describe part of a character, given that the character dice modifiers are all derived from the Aspects part of the FATE system. The idea of using various different facets for character modifiers comes from a bunch of gaming, but I think FATE had a lot to do with it. For a while, I contemplated them as adding additional dice, but I didn't like that mechanic. Safer to stick with just the pair of dice, makes things a lot easier!

So we have the character modifiers and scene modifiers. That's also another little nod to FATE, which had location Aspects that could be tagged for bonuses to dice rolls.
Limiting how many character modifiers could be tagged came around early, realising that a character would have a whole hoard of stuff they could use (and therefore skew the probability way off). The limit being specific to the dice used is new. It seems to have worked in play tests so far.

Spin points come from a variety of sources: FATE points, the honour pool in John Wick's 'Blood and Honor', but also from Action Points in Dungeons and Dragons (and actually from d20 Modern, which I enjoyed playing the crap out of about 6-7 years ago). I liked the idea of the group as a whole having to manage the resource.

SFX/manoeuvres come around from FATE too (I owe them a bunch really, it seems). But they're also I think tied to the magic system in D&D (specifically the old multi-round casting times), and the similar system in Legend of the 5 Rings.

How combat handles has yet to really come across (playtesting it a bunch tomorrow afternoon), but I think it owes at least a nod to Feng Shui, or it will do once my first player breaks the system - he has told me his first character advancement will involve making his spells quicker, so he can cast every turn including the first, if he so wishes, and can boost effects quicker.
The loss of parts of the character came from a one-on-one playtest of the 6d6 system last year. Characters being hindered by their pain made sense to me, and certainly struck a chord with other games I'd seen with permanent damage hindering the character in the future (Legend of the 5 Rings, Vampire: the Masquerade and Blood and Honor all jump into my mind thinking about it, and the Dresden Files RPG - FATE again - has a nasty trade-off with a permanent character aspect change in some circumstances).

Overall, I think the focus is on a more story-driven game, which is what I play these days, and even how the D&D and Cyberpunk sessions I've played in recent years have gone. I don't know whether this is because I've had more exposure to that kind of game, but I know I've tried to have a decent narrative background going back as far as I remember. Whether the rest of the group was playing that way or not. I think I've started playing with groups who follow that idea more.

Maybe I'll play something quick and nasty soon and the rules will take a swing in that direction. We'll see. I've yet to work out the best way to resolve combat damage, so maybe it will get brutal and deadly.
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