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Author Topic: look for critical feedback of game system  (Read 9976 times)
stefoid
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« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2006, 05:23:52 PM »

(Oops, I never posted these questions.)

OK, I've pretty much read your system. It's about 1/3 combat rules, 1/3 Magic specializations, which implies that it's a game about combat and magic uses therin.

What's interesting to me here is actually your personality mechanics and the way character power is determined by a reduction of randomness. I think those are both pretty neat.

the window basic mechanic is quite elegant. I like and adhere to the 'no modifications after the roll' thing.  that way it is immediately obvious to everyone the outcome of a roll.  its elegance means there is not much need to spell out how to go about every skil, although I wanted to flesh out comabt and magic specifically, because I have definate ideas about both.  Particularly providing a framework whereby characters could stamp their own characters personality on the combat rules.  yeah, you dont theoretically need a framework for that - players can be as descriptive as they like and the GM can take that on board.  But, it often doesnt work that way in practice.  formalizing that aspect of combat so it isnt just 'roll to hit' all the time - thats what I wanted ot do there. 

personality mechanics:  I was fairly pleased with this, thanks.  the other you can thank 'the window' designers.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2006, 05:38:46 PM »

Steve, I've read some of your game, and I'm struck some questions: what is your intent with this system? What kind of story do you want to be able to tell? Or if you don't want to use it to tell stories, what is its purpose?

Well, like most of us, this is my 437th rpg system that Ive designed (but not yet thrown away this one).  Its a rough draft of the system I want to use for a gritty fantasy bronze-age setting that im sloooowly putting together.  No player races except humans, although there are 'monsters'  and 'demons'

Well, but that doesn't really answer my questions, but I think I was asking unclearly.

When using this system, are you trying to tell stories? Provide tactical thrill? recreate Greek myths? Devise a system that's fun to use to optimize a guy for combat and magic?

What are the characters going to do?

What are the players going to do?

I'm asking specific questions and I need specific answers to help. "Anything" is not an answer I can use to help you or give constructive criticism.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2006, 06:32:30 PM »

Hi!
  If players don't have a d30 (they've been around for years, I think I bought my first one in 88 or 89 and they weren;t even new then), I think a d6 and a d10 would be better used to simulate. On the d6: 1-2 add nothing to d10, 3-4, add 10, 5-6 add 20.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
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stefoid
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« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2006, 07:41:26 PM »

Steve, I've read some of your game, and I'm struck some questions: what is your intent with this system? What kind of story do you want to be able to tell? Or if you don't want to use it to tell stories, what is its purpose?

Well, like most of us, this is my 437th rpg system that Ive designed (but not yet thrown away this one).  Its a rough draft of the system I want to use for a gritty fantasy bronze-age setting that im sloooowly putting together.  No player races except humans, although there are 'monsters'  and 'demons'

Well, but that doesn't really answer my questions, but I think I was asking unclearly.

When using this system, are you trying to tell stories? Provide tactical thrill? recreate Greek myths? Devise a system that's fun to use to optimize a guy for combat and magic?

What are the characters going to do?

What are the players going to do?

I'm asking specific questions and I need specific answers to help. "Anything" is not an answer I can use to help you or give constructive criticism.

tell stories?  not sure what you mean.  Im designing a roleplaying game where the aim is to provide a fairly generic roleplaying experience within the bounds of the fantasy bronze-age setting i.e.  various types of characters, not a specialized class of characters along the lines of Ars Magica, Paranoia,  etc...  No left-field takes on the RP experience or niche markets.  The real uniqueness I hope is in the setting.

 um, personally I like 'designing' characters.  I can and will spend hours on it - min-maxing, giving my characters some sort of edge by using an arcane skill or talent etc...  and I also wanted to provide tactical thrill as you say.  so from that point of view, this system caters to our 'inner munchkins' and thats OK.  Powerful magic in this setting is a lot less prevelant than perhaps the system implies.  sorcery is almost entirely in the hands of NPCs and is very rare and secretive.  normal characters use prayer and charms, although common magic use is prevelent in a few peripheral shamanic cultures.  powerful divine magic is in the hands of preists, although there would have to be a good reason for a PC to be a preist.  political intrigue in an urban setting perhaps...

what are the characters and players going to do?  again, no specialist agendas here. 
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timopod
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Posts: 29

I'm an art major for some reason


« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2006, 07:56:36 PM »

saidi saw some d30 on a web page, over sized d20's. Anyway, as for your setting, bronze age covers a rather larger span of time, maybe you could tell us what cultural/historical setting you had in mind? You siad there were only humans as playing characters, so I guess it's a historical setting?

As for the system. It looks fine, but for my taste it's a bit rule heavy. You don't want the rules getting in way of playing do you? Maybe windows is rules heavy, I didn't take make a complete study of  it, but I can say from looking over you .doc file, that things are pretty much tied down and set in stone as far as the rules and how it applies to your character. I don't know if this fits with fantasy setting. I've only played ad&d (that's right, first edition) as far as fantasy goes and the D.M wasn't rule heavy, so we had more fun then we did rules layering. Have you consider cutting some stuff out and leaving it opened ended to work out during play?
I dunno, maybe you like a bit more rules then I do, it's all personal taste.

One thing I will say is that having a single dice as your stat or skill is not a good thing as I see it. A random number between Y and Z is not a very reassuring system. I prefer the idea of having a base value to start with. That way you know your at least that good. Just a thought.
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Tim Goldman
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stefoid
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« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2006, 08:29:23 PM »

saidi saw some d30 on a web page, over sized d20's. Anyway, as for your setting, bronze age covers a rather larger span of time, maybe you could tell us what cultural/historical setting you had in mind? You siad there were only humans as playing characters, so I guess it's a historical setting?

As for the system. It looks fine, but for my taste it's a bit rule heavy. You don't want the rules getting in way of playing do you? Maybe windows is rules heavy, I didn't take make a complete study of  it, but I can say from looking over you .doc file, that things are pretty much tied down and set in stone as far as the rules and how it applies to your character. I don't know if this fits with fantasy setting. I've only played ad&d (that's right, first edition) as far as fantasy goes and the D.M wasn't rule heavy, so we had more fun then we did rules layering. Have you consider cutting some stuff out and leaving it opened ended to work out during play?
I dunno, maybe you like a bit more rules then I do, it's all personal taste.

One thing I will say is that having a single dice as your stat or skill is not a good thing as I see it. A random number between Y and Z is not a very reassuring system. I prefer the idea of having a base value to start with. That way you know your at least that good. Just a thought.

Hi.  Im interested in getting more details about your 'rules heavy' comment.  'The window' is definately rules light.  I guess by the catorgories used here, The Window is firmly narrative, whereas my game will be narrative in most aspects, but with an attempt to formalize a descriptive approach to combat.  Does that make it gameist?  I dont suppose it matters.  All Ive done is take the windows rules, which can pretty much be written on one page, and attached a whole mess of rules for combat and magic.

What I mean by a descriptive approach to combat is that is the system is designed to encourage the players to approach combat more as a series of manouevres - make it more colourful and vivd.  i.e.  instead of 'I hit the bad dude', its more 'I lunge quickly at the bad dude before he has a chance to react, in the hope of catching him off guard'.  Technically you dont need to formalize this.  Plenty of games encourage players to use a descriptive apporach to combat, and in theory thats great, but in practice it can fall down - either from the players end or the GMs end. 

As for magic, Im almost inclined to chuck out what Ive done so far and start again.  Im really not sure about magic.  I think the problem is that apart from shamanism, I dont have any firm ideas about how magic should be worked by the characters.  Divine magic is the most problematic.  It should definately exist in my setting, but should PCs have access to it?  theoretically, divine magic could be ultra-powerful, after all it is a god or demi-god that is the source.   real can of worms.

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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2006, 09:15:47 PM »

Quote
What I mean by a descriptive approach to combat is that is the system is designed to encourage the players to approach combat more as a series of manouevres - make it more colourful and vivd.  i.e.  instead of 'I hit the bad dude', its more 'I lunge quickly at the bad dude before he has a chance to react, in the hope of catching him off guard'.  Technically you dont need to formalize this.  Plenty of games encourage players to use a descriptive apporach to combat, and in theory thats great, but in practice it can fall down - either from the players end or the GMs end. 

I love where you are intending to go with this... but I'm a little unsure about your direction.

I feel like - and this is just myself personally.... Heavy rules detract from roleplaying in combat. Even though they are forced to make more detailed explanations...

I've seen many players play like this: "I hit with Option A, using Manoeuver A, then set up Counter C, and spend X points on Preparation B".... when its rules heavy.
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2006, 09:48:43 PM »

What I mean by a descriptive approach to combat is that is the system is designed to encourage the players to approach combat more as a series of manouevres - make it more colourful and vivd. i.e. instead of 'I hit the bad dude', its more 'I lunge quickly at the bad dude before he has a chance to react, in the hope of catching him off guard'. Technically you dont need to formalize this. Plenty of games encourage players to use a descriptive apporach to combat, and in theory thats great, but in practice it can fall down - either from the players end or the GMs end.

Steve, have you checked out Ron Edward's Sorcerer? Instead of adding in a bunch of rules for combat, you get bonuses for being creative, and penalties for being boring. Do you think something along those lines would accomplish your goal of making combat more colorful?
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2006, 10:59:55 PM »

I dispair at the use of the terms "rules heavy" and "rules light" here. They're wildly imprecise terms that mean different things to different people, and the things they mean are of such dubious value.

Steve, you haven't answered my questions. What do the players do in this game? What do the characters do?

You say that the game is to be used to tell stories, but the rules are about combat, magic, and personality. As it stands, the only stories you can tell using this system are about personalities and the combat they engage in. There's nothing here about the Bronze Age, there's nothing here about telling stories.

Quote from: stefoid
No left-field takes on the RP experience or niche markets.

What does this mean?

Quote from: stefoid
Powerful magic in this setting is a lot less prevelant than perhaps the system implies.  sorcery is almost entirely in the hands of NPCs and is very rare and secretive.

Why is this? Is it because it's too powerful for the players to use, or because it's not where you want the action to take place? It sounds like it's your deus ex machina. Is that what you want?

Quote from: stefoid
normal characters use prayer and charms, although common magic use is prevelent in a few peripheral shamanic cultures.  powerful divine magic is in the hands of preists, although there would have to be a good reason for a PC to be a preist.

Why is this?

Quote from: stefoid
political intrigue in an urban setting perhaps...

I don't see any facility in this game for political intrigue. Is that what you really want?

Quote
what are the characters and players going to do?  again, no specialist agendas here.

I think you have a specialist agenda: warriors and magicians. You want the game to be about those things. Focus on that, and you'll figure out what your game is about. Because it's about something. You can't make it about nothing; trying to do so will just make it be about something badly.

I'm most interested in the personality mechanics, myself. I'd base the whole game on those.

Andrew's advice about Sorcerer is right on. The Shadow of Yesterday has a lot of neat character stuff in addition to great combat stuff, as does Burning Wheel.

What those games all share is a diamond-sharp focus on aspects of story, and it makes them excellent games. They all have mechanics based on the players, not just the characters, that allow and demand player participation in the story, which yields a tremendous wealth of fiction.

I'm not addressing your setting material because I don't see anything in the game about it. I'm chewing on a game that takes place in the Mediterranean in the era you discuss, myself, so I'm interested, but there's a big disconnect between the setting and the mechanics so far. What interests you about the Bronze Age? I suspect there's thematic material there that you will want to integrate. I also suspect, though less strongly, that the thematic material that interests you in your setting is what you really want your game to be about. Is it the struggle between duty and honor that Homer shows us in Paris? or the struggle to build a powerful family into a clan like Abraham? Choose something like this and focus on it, and you'll be able to make a powerful game.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2006, 01:44:17 AM »

Quote
What I mean by a descriptive approach to combat is that is the system is designed to encourage the players to approach combat more as a series of manouevres - make it more colourful and vivd.  i.e.  instead of 'I hit the bad dude', its more 'I lunge quickly at the bad dude before he has a chance to react, in the hope of catching him off guard'.  Technically you dont need to formalize this.  Plenty of games encourage players to use a descriptive apporach to combat, and in theory thats great, but in practice it can fall down - either from the players end or the GMs end. 

I love where you are intending to go with this... but I'm a little unsure about your direction.

I feel like - and this is just myself personally.... Heavy rules detract from roleplaying in combat. Even though they are forced to make more detailed explanations...

I've seen many players play like this: "I hit with Option A, using Manoeuver A, then set up Counter C, and spend X points on Preparation B".... when its rules heavy.

yep.  I see this as a kind of compromise between no descriptive rules whatsoever, and freeform descriptive encouragements.  see the next message....
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stefoid
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« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2006, 02:18:38 AM »

What I mean by a descriptive approach to combat is that is the system is designed to encourage the players to approach combat more as a series of manouevres - make it more colourful and vivd. i.e. instead of 'I hit the bad dude', its more 'I lunge quickly at the bad dude before he has a chance to react, in the hope of catching him off guard'. Technically you dont need to formalize this. Plenty of games encourage players to use a descriptive apporach to combat, and in theory thats great, but in practice it can fall down - either from the players end or the GMs end.

Steve, have you checked out Ron Edward's Sorcerer? Instead of adding in a bunch of rules for combat, you get bonuses for being creative, and penalties for being boring. Do you think something along those lines would accomplish your goal of making combat more colorful?

It does place a premium on player and GM skill though, doesnt it?  If either party is not up to it, it falls over.  People have differing levels of skill in roleplaying, just like any other endevour. 
But I guess my major problem is I think it places too much emphasis on the GMs interpretation of the situation.  Kind of like my problem with a diceless system.
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stefoid
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« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2006, 03:20:59 AM »

I dispair at the use of the terms "rules heavy" and "rules light" here. They're wildly imprecise terms that mean different things to different people, and the things they mean are of such dubious value.

Steve, you haven't answered my questions. What do the players do in this game? What do the characters do?

You say that the game is to be used to tell stories, but the rules are about combat, magic, and personality. As it stands, the only stories you can tell using this system are about personalities and the combat they engage in. There's nothing here about the Bronze Age, there's nothing here about telling stories.

Quote from: stefoid
No left-field takes on the RP experience or niche markets.

What does this mean?

Quote from: stefoid
Powerful magic in this setting is a lot less prevelant than perhaps the system implies.  sorcery is almost entirely in the hands of NPCs and is very rare and secretive.

Why is this? Is it because it's too powerful for the players to use, or because it's not where you want the action to take place? It sounds like it's your deus ex machina. Is that what you want?

Quote from: stefoid
normal characters use prayer and charms, although common magic use is prevelent in a few peripheral shamanic cultures.  powerful divine magic is in the hands of preists, although there would have to be a good reason for a PC to be a preist.

Why is this?

Quote from: stefoid
political intrigue in an urban setting perhaps...

I don't see any facility in this game for political intrigue. Is that what you really want?

Quote
what are the characters and players going to do?  again, no specialist agendas here.

I think you have a specialist agenda: warriors and magicians. You want the game to be about those things. Focus on that, and you'll figure out what your game is about. Because it's about something. You can't make it about nothing; trying to do so will just make it be about something badly.

I'm most interested in the personality mechanics, myself. I'd base the whole game on those.

Andrew's advice about Sorcerer is right on. The Shadow of Yesterday has a lot of neat character stuff in addition to great combat stuff, as does Burning Wheel.

What those games all share is a diamond-sharp focus on aspects of story, and it makes them excellent games. They all have mechanics based on the players, not just the characters, that allow and demand player participation in the story, which yields a tremendous wealth of fiction.

I'm not addressing your setting material because I don't see anything in the game about it. I'm chewing on a game that takes place in the Mediterranean in the era you discuss, myself, so I'm interested, but there's a big disconnect between the setting and the mechanics so far. What interests you about the Bronze Age? I suspect there's thematic material there that you will want to integrate. I also suspect, though less strongly, that the thematic material that interests you in your setting is what you really want your game to be about. Is it the struggle between duty and honor that Homer shows us in Paris? or the struggle to build a powerful family into a clan like Abraham? Choose something like this and focus on it, and you'll be able to make a powerful game.

No those examples are what Id call a niche market game -- or if thats the wrong term, maybe focussed themed game.  Thats not my aim.  My aim with this game is the presentation of the fantasy bronze age setting and the cultures that inhabit it.  The players arent required to go along with a specific theme by creating certain types of characters, or characters with pre-proscribed aims.  The GM can manufacture any scenario that makes sense within this world, and thats why I called it a generic game in that sense.  A writer might call it a 'miliue' game.  Politcal intrigue with civilized characters?  no problem.  Pirates on the high seas?   Merchants forging a trading link with the mountain tribes?  Barbarian characters raiding settled lands?  thats all OK too.  The setting will hopefully contain many hooks that GMs can base stuff on.

so in other words, there is no requirement of the rules to support a particular theme.  With the emphasis on setting, the rules must merely support the various activities which could go on within that setting.  So:  Combat is likely to feature in a lot of scenarios - the fantasy bronze age setting is violent and somewhat chaotic.  Any bronze-age setting is going to be heavy on religion and since this is a fantasy setting, also the supernatural. 

Lastly, I do have agendas of my own in that I am trying to create a combat system that is fun in itself.  What you would call a gamist combat system.  In many scenarios in this setting, I can see combat featuring heavilly.  In this type of setting, the combat system could make or break the game. 
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dindenver
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Don't Panic!


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« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2006, 09:09:40 AM »

Hi!
  Regarding divine magic, if you want to keep it and nerf it, you might consider having a requirement of so many faithful people being present for the more powerful prayers to work. Just a thought.
  As to niche vs. generic. I know what you are saying, but maybe you need to open your ears and hear what we are saying. Making your game "about" something will not force you into a niche. Every game that people want to play is about something. You could say D&D is not a iniche game, but it is about gaining power. You could say GURPS (which has generic right in the title) is not a niche game, but it is about realism. Think about it and you will see that you want to guide your players and GM towards having the "perfect" session with your rules. That doesn't mean that detailed combat rules are bad or that being rules heavy is bad. But it does mean you want to think about what the rules say about your game and what the rules are forcing the players and GM to do in order to enjoy your game. If the answers are acceptable to you, then your on the right track!
  I think this genre has a lot of peotential, stick to it man!
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2006, 09:10:04 AM »

Stefoid, I'm not familiar with The Window...

I'm not familiar with that game, myself, so I did a bit of searching, and found this very positive review, by Ron Edwards, right here on the Forge. The Window can be found free online here.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2006, 10:09:45 AM »

Quote
The GM can manufacture any scenario that makes sense within this world, and thats why I called it a generic game in that sense.  A writer might call it a 'miliue' game.  Politcal intrigue with civilized characters?  no problem.  Pirates on the high seas?   Merchants forging a trading link with the mountain tribes?  Barbarian characters raiding settled lands?  thats all OK too.  The setting will hopefully contain many hooks that GMs can base stuff on.

so in other words, there is no requirement of the rules to support a particular theme.  With the emphasis on setting, the rules must merely support the various activities which could go on within that setting.


Notice Dindenver's reply to this, Stefoid.
A cool combat system isn't enough to make me buy a game.
There needs to be the "This is what my game is about, and this is why you'd want to play it".

I've got a different way of thinking about it - a little hypothetical situation:
Imagine you've finished this game, and you are turning it into a PDF/book/whatever.
Now you are adding artwork to the book, adding flavour text, providing some useful examples.

What does the artwork depict? What kind of protagonist is the flavour text referring to?
What are people doing in these "ideal" examples?
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