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Author Topic: [LoRD] More organized, but still a work in progress  (Read 1051 times)
Michael
Member

Posts: 55


« on: January 23, 2006, 09:49:47 AM »

So, like I said in another post, I like some of the concepts of FUDGE (specifically how ability/attribute is the median for any check, among other features). Obviously, the only simple way to create a curve where the ability is at the median, one either needs to use FUDGE dice (which creates too steep of a curve for what I want), or a dX-dX mechanic. So...

Originally, I started a post focusing on the highlights of the setting and the "reality" presented, as well as how the system reflects this. However, it was turning into a really long post so I just snipped it. Any tips on how someone can present their setting/system in a condensed manner without coming off as too "generic"? I'm more concerned with setting presentation as there is much more to it than "skill checks are made by blah blah blah".

But as for system, I think I have stumbled upon something that actually does a great job of expressing the "laws of the universe".

Nature
(ranged 1-7)

Body: An overall assessment of a character's physical capacity
Mind: An overall assessment of a character's mental capacity
Spirit: An overall assessment of a character's life force

Body and Mind are used to determine a character's aptitude for various abilities. They also help determine various derived statistics like damage threshold, carry weight, action points, etc. Spirit is used a bit differently. While it generally doesn't affect abilities, it is used extensively with the setting's supernatural element (both for magic users, and for those upon which magic is used). It's also used to determine a character's morale level, which can be affected by combat, social interaction, or almost any challenging experience. Furthermore, it determines a character's Willpower, an element similar to a Nature, but much more dynamic, as it can be used to help a character accomplish a variety of tasks.

Abilities
(ranged 1-10)

Abilities are used to perform the variety of tasks that the characters face. It could be picking pockets, fighting with a sword, engaging in a debate, etc. Many abilities are part of a "group", where if a character has a certain number of ranks in an ability, s/he gets a bonus when using other abilities in a group. For example, a character who is practiced at swords, can probably use an axe better than someone with no sword training at all. A character with 4 ranks in a skill gains a +1 bonus when using other skills in that group, this bonus increases by +1 for every three ranks after. However, there are limits to these bonuses. The maximum bonus that can be provided by a synergy is +3. Furthermore, synergy bonuses at equal ranks do not stack with each other. So a character with 4 ranks in Swords, Axes, and Light Blades only gets a +1 bonus for Staff weapons. However, if a character has 10 ranks in swords, 6 in axes, and 4 in light blades, s/he gets a +3 bonus for all other melee weapons and a +2 bonus with swords, axes, and light blades (only +2 because an ability cannot "synergize" with itself).

An added benefit to synergies might be to remove the penalties for using an ability untrained if the character has a synergy bonus. There is no actual numerical penalties to using a skill untrained. The way I'm leaning towards handling this is to now allow an untrained check to critically succeed, as well as adding a disadvantage die to the check (explained later).

There may be other synergies when it comes to skills of different groups. For example, a character with ranks in Craft (Weaponsmithing) may get a bonus for a Merchant (Appraise) check if examining a sword.

Slight Problem

In order to keep things "balanced" it's probably good to keep ability groups to approximately the same size. For most abilities, this isn't a problem. I've been able to come up with 4 or 5 abilities for each group that are specific enough to be its own category, while general enough to actually be useful. A couple of abilities are giving me a problem.

1) The Merchant ability doesn't have too many subgroups. All I have is Barter and Appraise. The only solution that comes to mind would be to turn Craft into Profession and lump Barter and Appraise together as a Merchant profession, though I'd like to hear other ideas.

2) Some abilities have no group. Ride, Sail, and Evasion are a few that come to mind. I could do different animal types for Ride, but for this setting, anything other than horses would rarely, if ever, come into play. For Sail, I figure I could go with different boat types, navigation, and possibly also rope use, so I guess that's not too much of a problem. Evasion is probably better off on its own. I'm looking ahead to combat, and I'm already seeing the potential for it to become a little powerful. I'm not entirely sure if or how singular abilities are unbalanced. I would think that single abilities would equate to being more "difficult" for the characters, as they generally cannot "synergize" around an untrained check. Anyways, I'd like to hear ideas on this.

Techniques

These are various feats/traits/perks/etc. that a character can develop to give more definition to a character. Some may let a character use a weapon skill to disarm an opponent. Some may give a character a bonus when freelancing with a profession skill. Others may make it easier for a character to regain Willpower. There are plenty of possibilites with Techniques, as each provide a little tweak in the system.

The Check

Using abilities will require a check using 3d6, though each die has its own meaning (and therefore needs to be visibly different). One die represents the forces working in favor of the character (d6), while another represents the forces working against the character (-d6). This is the concept behind the d6-d6 mechanic. The last die is a wild die (or Fate die), which has its own effect. The player rolls the dice, and barring any interference from Fate, the player applies the d6-d6 result (+5 to -5) to his/her ability and that is the result of the check.

Playing with Fate

Now, I could just use a -5 result as a critical failure and a +5 result as a critical success, but I wanted such elements to be the responsibility of a Fate die for a couple reasons. First, I like the idea of it, which is a terrible, terrible reason to be attached to a mechanic, but as it is able to work out the same statistically, I shouldn't burn in hell. Second, the fate die gives me many more options for task resolution.

If I wanted to mimic the critical success/failure mechanic, I can just say that if the Fate die and the (+) die is a 6 then it's a critical success, and if both the Fate and (-) die are 6, then it's a critical failure. Of course, if they all match (6,6,6), then I probably will burn in hell. :)

So now I'm looking for ideas that can take advantage of this mechanic. Here are the odds of special events occuring. There is a possibility that the math is a little off as I'm pretty much doing it all in my head. I also don't have a chance to double check or edit this post as I'm in a bit of a rush.

(p) r

(.004) 1:216 The odds of getting 6,6,6
(.028) 1:36 The odds of all dice matching (getting trips)
(.056) 1:18 The odds of getting a 6,6 on the Fate die and (+) die or Fate die and (-) die
(.333) 1:3 The odds of the Fate die matching either the (+) die or (-) die
(.306) 33:108 The odds of the Fate die matching either the (+) die or (-) die but not getting trips

One idea I've come up with so far would be a pair grants a +1 to whatever die that Fate is paired with. Obviously this would spread out the curve slightly, but otherwise would not have a very significant effect. Considering that there's a 1:3 chance at a pair, such a minor effect (if any) would be preferable. Also, a pair of 6s can still be a crit.

As for trips, I'm not sure at all. Having everything "aligned" (I'm thinking in terms of concept here) should mean something. Maybe it can let a character recover a willpower point? Maybe another effect?

In any case, I'm open to ideas. Fire away.
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"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." -- Mark Twain
Michael
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2006, 04:49:54 PM »

I have a couple of corrections now that I have had time to look over the post.

1) Ignore the x:y notations in the "Playing with Fate" section. I'm pretty sure I screwed those up. I never really use that notation myself (I work solely with p values), but I heard that many other people use them so I was trying to be accomodating.

2) One important rule about Techniques is that they don't mimic any other element in the game. Techniques that give bonuses to abilities only do so situationaly (bonus when on higher ground, for example). Also Techniques will likely have Ability or Nature prerequisites.

The Power 19

In an attempt to describe the system/setting in a condensed manner, I'm taking a whack at the Power 19 (thx to Darren for bringing it up).

1) What is your game about?
The game is about knowledge, truth, and understanding. In a world that is constantly changing, very little is truly known when it comes to life's greatest questions. Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our purpose? Why? The only answers that exist are conjecture at best. These questions may seem trivial considering all the problems in the world (unnatural creatures engaging in hostilities with the civilized people, the threat of civil war, a supernatural power shrouded in mystery), but the answers are more important than most people think.

2) What do characters do?
Characters are simply trying to make a place for themselves in the world. Their main priority is simply getting by, and maybe getting a little better off over time. Of course, this is more of a lofty dream for most, as plans are frequently altered by the agendas of various groups and organizations. While a nice, quiet, idyllic life is possible, it is quite improbable. This is especially true for the PCs, who will find themselves caught in more turbulent circumstances than most characters.

3) What do the players (and GM) do?
It's the GMs responsibility to narrate the adventures, providing the players plenty of varied opportunities to challenge their characters and/or make a contribution. One story branch may have the characters acting as emissaries for a group (organization, nation, etc.) conflicting with another group. Another story branch might have the characters helping a village fend off these unnatural creatures. There is even the possibility that the characters can find themselves in charge of a military force, defending a territory (via unit combat). The players do not have any direct effect on their environment. The only way they can interact with the setting is through their characters. Therefore, there are no elements that specifically allow "metagaming".

4) How do the various parts of your system reinforce what your game is about?
My recent studies of FUDGE have helped me develop the knowledge to answer the question. The idea behind the system is that numbers and character elements are not entirely abstract, but translate to a "real world" effect. The die mechanic for conflict resolution is a good example. One die represents the metaphysical forces in favor of the character, the other represents forces against the character, while the last represents an element of chaos, or chance. All of these elements are metaphysical/supernatural realities in this setting. This is the philosophy behind the d6-d6 w/ wild die mechanic.

5) How does your setting reinforce what your game is about?
In this game, even the truth is subject to perspective. What is good to some, is evil to others. Magic is a good example of this. Because of a cataclysmic event that happened in one empire, there are some regions that are suspicious of magic, and others that have even outright banned its use. The region in which the PCs reside is a little more open-minded, though their travels may take them to some of these less accepting places. Getting back to the truth, the setting is designed so that characters can ally themselves with a variety of organizations and causes, almost none of which are inherently "good" or "evil", just different. Of course, different organizations have different means to achieve their goals (combat, diplomacy, cloak-and-dagger, etc.) so PCs are more likely to ally themselves with groups or causes that are compatible with their principles and abilities. There are also many "rocks" still unturned and the PCs will have the opportunity to make their own unique discoveries.

6) How does the Chargen of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Does that mean character generation? I'm assuming that it does. Character generation is pretty straight forward. A player can use a certain number of character points to build a character by defining his/her Natures and Abilities (described in my previous post). Characters can also be created with flaws (which result in a large pool of character points). A backstory is rather important as characters are a part of their homeland, and (usually) not just free-roaming adventurers. Some character points may be used to purchase Techniques, though at the low power level starting characters will be, not much will be available. Most derived stats (carry weight, action points, etc.) are based on a character's Natures.

7) What types of behaviors or styles of play does your game reward (or punish) if necessary?
The system greatly discourages metagaming, and encourages players to challenge their characters. At the same time, the players are not the cornerstone of the setting, so socially unacceptable behaviors will have in-game consequences. For example, if a character ticks off a noble/prefect/whatever, this can result in an increased difficulty in social tests. Criminal behavior can be punished through a region's judicial system. As for metagaming, rewards are around 2/3 objective based and 1/3 roleplay based. The roleplay reward is to prevent various metagaming tactics. For example, the dumb, strong, tank who is spouting off puzzle solutions in a labyrinth (because the player knows the answer) would lose out on roleplay rewards. Likewise a player running a super-genius character might be able to roll a check to get a hint, or even an answer to a very difficult intellectual puzzle. Characters are also allowed to have personal agendas (though this can result in conflict from other characters or groups), and the persuit of such agendas can become their own objectives, garnering rewards. However, if a character/player is attempting to "take over" the game from the other players, the rest of the group may consider the character to be too overbearing and the offending character can be phased out and turned into an NPC (though this is an extreme solution).

8) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
I think I took care of that in number 7. Basically, players are shooting themselves in the foot if they utilize hostile, overbearing, or metagaming play styles. They'll lose out on rewards, making play obviously less rewarding.

9) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Well, credibility is my responsibility. With a proper layout of setting, players and GMs should have an idea of what is and is not credible in this setting. Narration is subject to the play styles of the group. Certainly the system allows for a more dramatic narration of actions (though the results of these actions are determined by the system), and the game is still playable with the barest of narration. An "I deftly swing my sword for a slashing strike at the goblin" and an "I attack the goblin with a slashing attack" will have the same effect. The player will roll an ability check, etc.

10) What does the game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?
The game generally assumes that the players care about their characters, and situations/challenges provided by the GM targets issues that are of importance to the character. This is another reason why character backstory is important. It is unlikely the PCs would ever be asked to help defend some distant village against werewolves. More likely, the PCs village would be the one being attacked. The more involved the PCs get into the game (i.e. the more experiences and adventures that they have), the more they are going to find that they care about.

11) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
12) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?


Both are answered in my initial post.

13) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Characters advance by gaining (and spending) ability points (AP). Characters gain AP by completing adventure objectives. Rewards are objective base as to not specifically encourage any particular play tactic. Characters also gain AP if their players direct them in a manner appropriate to the character (like a dumb tank who actually acts like one). Characters can spend AP to improve their Natures, Abilities, and learn new Techniques. AP is also used for spellcasters to learn new spells.

14) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Players are certainly allowed to have their characters stay at home and become ordinary tradesmen, never taking chances or facing new challenges. However, this is not a rewarding path (and extremely boring to play). On the other hand, the characters who take an active part in the world around them tend to develop into great people. People who do great things become great people.

15) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
All in all, it is just a game, but I hope that it is entertaining for players who like intellectual challenges more than just playing a bad-ass character in an RPG. There is also a strong element of mystery in the game, particularly for players who attempt to learn more about the setting's supernatural element.

16) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
I'm tackling this one step at a time. Once I have the core mechanic down, I'll flush out the Ability and Technique list, as well as the rules of combat. In terms of ability checks, combat is definitely going to be more "crunchy". Combat is meant to be more Sim (grid, miniatures, etc.), while other avenues are meant to be more dramatic. Because Sim requires more detail, obviously combat will get a bit more attention. There will also be unit combat, in the event that characters come into control of any kind of military force. The setting itself is going to get a lot of attention as well. It's important that the environment and the "way of the world" is well defined. With all the other mystery in the game, I wouldn't want players to be thrusted into a game with an ambigious (social/political/cultural/physical) environment.

17) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
Probably flushing out the combat system, particularly unit combat. I've never worked with unit combat so I'm interested to see how that develops. I would be excited with flushing out the setting, though there are two aspects of it that I dread, geography and naming things. I want to create a world with a physical environment that comparable to our own reality, and there's a lot of rules as to what can and cannot happen to a planet over a couple hundred million years. Also, I'm pretty bad at naming things or developing a linguistic base for a culture. At one point, I was almost tempted to make the setting an alternate Earth. Then I could just use old maps and the names of that which exists. But in the end, I thought it would be a little odd to have gnomes running around France and so forth. Besides, the "split" that occurs between the setting and our reality would have happened a couple million years before France even existed, and likely would have an effect as to whether or not it would ever have been brought into existence (or something like that).

18) Where does your game take the players that other games canít, donít, or wonít?
It takes them to a world where achieving greatness is not a given, but a product of intelligent choices and hard work. Furthermore, this game will take characters across many eras (low fantasy medieval, renaissance steampunk, contemporary gothic, post-modern post-apoc, and distant future mech) where they can see how a world and its people evolve over time, and how the actions of great people and organizations affect this evolution.

19) What are your publishing goals for your game? Who is your target audience?
I have absolutely no publishing goals for the game. I mean, if it happens, it happens, but that's not my concern now. I plan to finish the game, test it, and run an extensive campaign series (through the eras mentioned above) with any group I can find that is interested (aka, my target audience). If it all works out, once everything is said and done, maybe I'll try to get it published. However, I'm very much aware at how the business end of the entertainment industry completely abuses the creative talent, so I'm not exactly biting at the bit to deal with that.
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"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." -- Mark Twain
dindenver
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Posts: 928

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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2006, 08:07:41 AM »

Hi!
  I think the Fate die could do some really cool stuff. Like reverse the polarity of the other two dice.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Michael
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2006, 09:36:24 AM »

That's what I'm thinking. I'd really like to hear some ideas on what I could do with it.

As for reversing the polarity, what kind of mechanic did you have in mind?
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"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." -- Mark Twain
dindenver
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Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 10:40:39 AM »

Hi!
  Well, I guess it depends on how whacky you want to get. You could make it a total luck thing and add one to any die it matches, or you could customize it to make truly wild changes to the roll:
6 - Add one to effort die
5 - Subtract one from effort die
4 - Have challenge die add to effort die instead of subtract
3 - Have effort die subtract from chelleng die instead of add
2 - Subtract one from challenge die
1 - Add one to challenge die
  With this table it is sort of intuitive, odd numbers are bad, even good. Pleayers would get used to it fairly quickly I would guess.
  Also, have you checked out FATE, it is a modified version of FUDGE that might use the Fudge dice more effectively for what you want. I kind of dug it (haven't played it yet though) and other designers I know REALLY love it.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Michael
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2006, 11:10:09 AM »

I'm skimming FATE now (boring day at the office)...

I really like what I'm reading. The pyramid system for skills is pretty interesting. I also like the phases and aspects and what can be done with them. In a way, one can create a classless class system.

It still uses the FUDGE system though, which doesn't work for me, but there's a lot of good information in FATE that I can use.

Quote
Well, I guess it depends on how whacky you want to get. You could make it a total luck thing and add one to any die it matches, or you could customize it to make truly wild changes to the roll

Well, I definitely don't want the Fate die to always change to roll. Basically, the more common the effect, the less significant I would like it to be. And a rare event (like the 1:216 of a trip 6s) should be something pretty cool, but not overwhelming to the system.
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"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." -- Mark Twain
dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2006, 02:15:59 PM »

Hi!
  Well, I think the fate die is superfluous if it doesn't effect every roll. If you only want a rare effect,  use the two dice and have a twist happen on doubles or boxcars or hard 8 or whatever. No sense using the 3rd die if it only effects things one in 3 or 36 rolls.
  Also, I am not sure about Fudge, but I know that FATE is more than just d3, because some dice are discarded. I think that potential adds alot of potential to the system. I seems to recall an example of tossing six dice, but discard the bottom two depending on skill level or ability. Just a thought, but it seems like a resonable way to provide different odds without it being too linear.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Michael
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2006, 02:55:37 PM »

Quote
Well, I think the fate die is superfluous if it doesn't effect every roll.

Good point.

Quote
Also, I am not sure about Fudge, but I know that FATE is more than just d3...

Essentially, it's the same mechanic, roll X Fudge dice (d3). FATE has expanded the ladder somewhat, but that just makes rolls that much more predictable (particularly with contested checks). Other than that, it's pretty much a completely different system, and I'm pretty sure I like FATE better.
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"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." -- Mark Twain
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