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Author Topic: look for critical feedback of game system  (Read 9959 times)
Joshua A.C. Newman
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Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


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« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2006, 03:05:28 PM »

Joe, that's an interesting way of thinking about it.

Steve, if you want this to be a Gamist design, you might want to think about some things very seriously:

• The GM can not have the responsibility of both providing the challenge and adjudicating results. That's a conflict of interest and an endemic problem in older RPG designs.
• The GM must have resources to spend, probability to weigh, and stuff like that. It should be as explicitly cheating to throw in extra monsters (or take them out) as it is to have a referee grant points to a team in soccer.
• Every choice you give the players must be meaningful. In Gamist terms, that means that they have to be able to trade their resources (or weigh risks, or however you want to do it) in direct proportion to their gain.

Even though it's focused on Narrativist play, Dogs in the Vineyard's "Town Creation" system is something you might want to look at. It's used to generate a Situation in which the players can do their stuff and it works beautifully. If you don't use that system, not only are you breaking the rules, but the game you play really sucks.

Your goal for a Gamist design must be the generation of satisfying challenges for the players (never mind the characters for now). Those challenges will have to be understandable by the players and no dice can be fudged. If you're hosing your players, the rules are broken, and if they're hosing you, the rules are broken.

Now, I haven't played The Window, so I don't know how it works for this, but I don't see rules for the Storyteller anywhere in the rules; everything's up to their judgement, which causes the conflict of interest I mentioned above.

GIven your stated Gamist design goal, I'd like to see you dive into the Gamist aspects of this wholeheartedly. Make it so the challenges are real, objective challenges for the players. Make the setting demand that the characters the players are playing meet those challenges so that it all matches, it all makes sense. Give players hero cults like Achilles had so their society demands that they go out and do heroic things, challenging monsters and demons.
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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 #31 on: January 31, 2006, 05:07:51 PM »

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!


yeah, I think I have to abandon the idea that all magic is perpetrated by some guy that says a few magic words and pooof!  something happens -- like a fireball or something.  At the moment its too much like that -- for each of the three types of magic that I am describing.  I need to give each type of magic its own historical flavour, both in terms of how something is accomplished and the type of thing that can be accomplished.

I am leaning towards shamanic magic being quite personal, with the target being mostly the perpetrator, or a specific inndividual.  sorcery is more western traditional pointy gandalf type of stuff, but dark and dangerous and possibily associated with otherworld entities.  But thats not going to be explicit because one of the angles Im working is that there arent too many hard facts in this setting.  each culture has a different worldview and the setting isnt going to promote one over the other, even though one worldview might be more prevelent in the setting - the victors write the history books as they say.  But anyway, sorcery is more your guy mumbling magic words and causing stuff to happen that is more concrete and less personal.  Divine magic?  its essentially invoking miracles.  Its the hardest one.  probably more reliant on prayer, ceremony, possibly sacrifice. also virtue (as judged by the religion in question).

my game is about the miliue - the setting.  The cultures I am creating should suck people in to want to play the game.  I want people to read the setting and capture their imagination, and say 'yeah, I want to play in this world'.
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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


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« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2006, 05:13:58 PM »

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?

I figure people would want to play my game for the same reason they like playing in glorantha.  Its the setting.  its got some awful legacy crap in it like elves and dwarves and such, but the majority of it is original and very well done - it captures your imagination and you say 'I want to play a broo', or stormbull, or wahtever...

the flavour f that setting is very mythic-based.  the author has gone to a lot of trouble to define a mythic time and base his cultures on the religions that have derived from it.  Pretty much sets the standard for fantasy religion in RPGs.

My setting is going to concentrate more on the culture and society aspect of the setting - of course relgion in the bronze age is a major part of that, but it will be a minor part in relation to the total amount of info presented, unlike glorantha where religion dominates.
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dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #33 on: January 31, 2006, 06:18:54 PM »

Hi!
  If you are thinking of re-doing your magic system, bear in mind that in the Bronze age, there was no distinction beween arcane and divine magic. If you could perform a supernatural feat, you did magic. It didn't matter if the source of the power was a god, a ghost, a devil or some other kooky notion.
  I read this in a book that was devoted to researching this very topic (Magic in the middle ages, Kieckhhefer). Basically, the advent of the Christian church brought about a change to make that distinction. And in fact, he found evidence of talismans and other artifacts that had inscriptions from multiple religions and runes. He had found a metal amulet that had a supplication to Isis, The hebrew god, Jesus and a bunch of "magic words" on it.
  So, since your emphasis is "Bronge age", you might want to consider using a single mechanic and just have the player declare the source of their power. Just an idea.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521785766/qid=1138760139/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-2385904-1060127?s=books&v=glance&n=283155
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2006, 06:53:50 PM »

Joe, that's an interesting way of thinking about it.

Steve, if you want this to be a Gamist design, you might want to think about some things very seriously:

• The GM can not have the responsibility of both providing the challenge and adjudicating results. That's a conflict of interest and an endemic problem in older RPG designs.


Most traditional games, like mine, do not leave much interpretation of results in the GMs hands (at least for combat rules).  Can you give me an example of what youre talking about?

Quote

• The GM must have resources to spend, probability to weigh, and stuff like that. It should be as explicitly cheating to throw in extra monsters (or take them out) as it is to have a referee grant points to a team in soccer.
• Every choice you give the players must be meaningful. In Gamist terms, that means that they have to be able to trade their resources (or weigh risks, or however you want to do it) in direct proportion to their gain.

This is basic GMing skill isnt it?  A good GM challenges the players just enough so that they can use their resources and ingenuity to overcome.  To use the langauge of the forge, why would a narative driven GM present a player with meaningless challenges, or swamp the players with challeneges they have no hope of overcoming?

Quote
Even though it's focused on Narrativist play, Dogs in the Vineyard's "Town Creation" system is something you might want to look at. It's used to generate a Situation in which the players can do their stuff and it works beautifully. If you don't use that system, not only are you breaking the rules, but the game you play really sucks.

Your goal for a Gamist design must be the generation of satisfying challenges for the players (never mind the characters for now). Those challenges will have to be understandable by the players and no dice can be fudged. If you're hosing your players, the rules are broken, and if they're hosing you, the rules are broken.


Now, I haven't played The Window, so I don't know how it works for this, but I don't see rules for the Storyteller anywhere in the rules; everything's up to their judgement, which causes the conflict of interest I mentioned above.

GIven your stated Gamist design goal, I'd like to see you dive into the Gamist aspects of this wholeheartedly. Make it so the challenges are real, objective challenges for the players. Make the setting demand that the characters the players are playing meet those challenges so that it all matches, it all makes sense. Give players hero cults like Achilles had so their society demands that they go out and do heroic things, challenging monsters and demons.

yeah, I not really aiming this game at people who have never gamed before.  Im not trying to push a personal philosophy of roleplaying on anyone.  So there is no guidlines for the GM, other than the best way to use the rules to arbitrate certain situations.  How and when to apply penalties and bonuses.  How to resolve different types of cooperative taks etc...

I definately understand the classification scheme you guys are using, and I think its fine as far as it goes.  What I dont particularly agree with is the need to specialize 100% in one direction or another.  

I think its possible that you guys are maybe trying to cram everything into the one GNS box.  It is one valid model that could be a helpful way to look at things, but there are other models available.  Personally, I dont think it makes sense for me to classify this game as 75% narrative 25% gamist, which is how I would need to classify it using only that model.

Im probably thinking more in terms of the spectrum of how much interpretive power is placed in the hands of the GM.  On one hand you have diceless gaming where the GM holds full interpretive power.  You dont need many mechanics to facilitate that -- merely a set of GM guidelines or whatever.  At the other end of the scale you have a system that tries to have a rule for everything so that the GM merely presents the situation and 'runs' the NPCs while the players use the game mechanics and dice to resolve it their own actions.  Neither model is right or wrong - they just ways of looking at the same thing.

So.  I lean away from the GM having too much interpretive power, for several reasons.  Mostly for the same reason that I like to believe we humans all have free will and not everything is pre-ordained.  I tend to dislike the feeling of helplessness that you can get in the hands of a GM who tries to force the players down a certain narrative path.  What, it doesnt really matter what we the players do, the GM is going to resolve this situation in a way that fits the story regardless?  well why have us players here at all then - just go and write a book!

Having said that, the challenege is to provide a mechanic to resolve situations that is fun for the players to use, rather than an a burden.  With the combat rules for example, the basic rules are quite simple.  During a round of comabt the iwnner and loser of the round is resolved with a single dice roll each.  The loser resists damage caused by the winner with an armour resistance roll (if any) and a body resistance roll.  some penalties for injuries, multiple opponents and carrying equipment may be applied.  relatively simple.  The added complexity kicks in with the 'moves' which allow the players to bend and break the basic rules in almost any way.  Although there is theoretically an infinite number of different moves and associated rules (because the players are encouraged to make up their own to meet their characters style), the complexity is manageble because each player is responsible for thier own moves only.  Each character can play by their own rules, without having to know more than a handful of general rules.  So thats a kind of design philosophy I suppose.  Keep the rules that apply to everyone as simple as possible, while allowing the rules that apply to individuals to be complex.


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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2006, 07:12:20 PM »

Hi!
  If you are thinking of re-doing your magic system, bear in mind that in the Bronze age, there was no distinction beween arcane and divine magic. If you could perform a supernatural feat, you did magic. It didn't matter if the source of the power was a god, a ghost, a devil or some other kooky notion.
  I read this in a book that was devoted to researching this very topic (Magic in the middle ages, Kieckhhefer). Basically, the advent of the Christian church brought about a change to make that distinction. And in fact, he found evidence of talismans and other artifacts that had inscriptions from multiple religions and runes. He had found a metal amulet that had a supplication to Isis, The hebrew god, Jesus and a bunch of "magic words" on it.
  So, since your emphasis is "Bronge age", you might want to consider using a single mechanic and just have the player declare the source of their power. Just an idea.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521785766/qid=1138760139/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-2385904-1060127?s=books&v=glance&n=283155


hi.  yeah, thats how I approached the magic system at the start.  If you look at the rules, its basically the same rules written three times, with different labels applied to each component.  Each type of magic feels the same  and thats what I think I might need to move away from.  I think I want apples and oranges rather than an orange coloured orange and a red coloured orange.   Whether I accomplish that by changeing the mechanic for each type of magic or what... I dont know.

I think my thinking on magic is influenced by our own culture.  magic is something that a dude in a pointy hat just does.  Its a set of 'skills' which you can 'learn' and then 'execute'. 

But I am leaning more towards sorcery being that kind of magic, while shamanism and divine magic being more about relationships than skills, and more about  persuasion than execution.  Quesiton is, do I change the mechanics to reflect that, or do I just add extra emphasis in the useage guidelines and setting? 
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dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


WWW
« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2006, 09:39:47 PM »

Hi!
  Hold on
Quote
Im not trying to push a personal philosophy of roleplaying on anyone.
  There is no dogma on the Forge. No one here is telling you you need to make a game like Capes or whatever. BUT, we are pointing out some of the pitfalls of creating the type of game you propose.
  For instance, if the GM is opposed to the players and also sets the challenge for the players, how do resolve this so that the GM is free to play hard (or encouraged not to). And how do you set it up so a newbie GM has a chance at setting up the right encounter? In D&D, they use CR, what will, your system use? For instance, you have already mentioned play styles you would like to discourage (railroading) in the GM. So, that would be a great discussion. Can you make rules that prevent GM railroading? If so, how?
  Maybe setting the challenge is easy for you, after alll you wrote the game, but what about novice GMs? If your setting is that cool, you can bet that players who haven't played the Window or maybe have never played an RPG outside of WoW might play it, how can we guide them to setting the challenge of a scene correctly? Do they need to take into acount lvls? Magic ability? Armor? Religious ability? Sneaky skills? Diplomacy skills? Money? Social Status? Does every encounter NEED to be solved in more than one way? Does the GM need to anticipate all those solutions and have stats ready, just in case?
  You are absolutely right. You do not need to make a game where the GM is constrained into playing a certain creative Agenda, or in a certain way, or in a certain style or in a certain realm of the genre, but they should be able to put together an encounter quickly and easily and both the players and GM should be satisfied with the results when it's over.
  Please be assured, no one here is going to try and change your game from a combat and magic system into a dramatic teaparty. But they might be able to think of something you haven't  Or they might think of something you have and it is either not communicated well in the rules or is totally covered. but it doesn't hurt to ask, does it?
  Anyways, it seems like you have a good foundation  for a system, keep up the good work man.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2006, 10:27:41 PM »

Hi!
  Hold on
Quote
Im not trying to push a personal philosophy of roleplaying on anyone.
  There is no dogma on the Forge. No one here is telling you you need to make a game like Capes or whatever. BUT, we are pointing out some of the pitfalls of creating the type of game you propose.
  For instance, if the GM is opposed to the players and also sets the challenge for the players, how do resolve this so that the GM is free to play hard (or encouraged not to). And how do you set it up so a newbie GM has a chance at setting up the right encounter? In D&D, they use CR, what will, your system use? For instance, you have already mentioned play styles you would like to discourage (railroading) in the GM. So, that would be a great discussion. Can you make rules that prevent GM railroading? If so, how?
  Maybe setting the challenge is easy for you, after alll you wrote the game, but what about novice GMs? If your setting is that cool, you can bet that players who haven't played the Window or maybe have never played an RPG outside of WoW might play it, how can we guide them to setting the challenge of a scene correctly? Do they need to take into acount lvls? Magic ability? Armor? Religious ability? Sneaky skills? Diplomacy skills? Money? Social Status? Does every encounter NEED to be solved in more than one way? Does the GM need to anticipate all those solutions and have stats ready, just in case?
  You are absolutely right. You do not need to make a game where the GM is constrained into playing a certain creative Agenda, or in a certain way, or in a certain style or in a certain realm of the genre, but they should be able to put together an encounter quickly and easily and both the players and GM should be satisfied with the results when it's over.
  Please be assured, no one here is going to try and change your game from a combat and magic system into a dramatic teaparty. But they might be able to think of something you haven't  Or they might think of something you have and it is either not communicated well in the rules or is totally covered. but it doesn't hurt to ask, does it?
  Anyways, it seems like you have a good foundation  for a system, keep up the good work man.


hmmm, I dont see how the issues you have listed above are specific to 'the kind of game that I propose'. Pretty much generic issues with the RPGs I would have thought.   And as such, would be better served by newbies simply getting more experience and/or reading tutorials on 'how to be a good GM'?

How would you implement a mechanic that forces the GM to be 'fair'?  Thats what you are suggesting?  Got any examples?
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Grover
Member

Posts: 82


« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2006, 10:52:58 PM »

If the main attraction of your game is the world, and not any particular facet of the system, why are you writing a system?  Why not just make a setting book?
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #39 on: January 31, 2006, 10:54:20 PM »

Quote
hmmm, I dont see how the issues you have listed above are specific to 'the kind of game that I propose'. Pretty much generic issues with the RPGs I would have thought.   And as such, would be better served by newbies simply getting more experience and/or reading tutorials on 'how to be a good GM'?

True, that every RPG faces this problem.

However, "the kind of game that you propose" faces a higher degree of these problems, or at least a more volatile degree of them.

By "the kind of game" I think he was referring to a combat-oriented game with a stated Gamist focus. (Note of course that no game is ever solely one of the three creative agendas... It just seems you are putting the focus/weight on that one.)





Anyways, Stefoid. I issued you a little scenario, and I didn't catch an answer.

Quote
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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Selene Tan
Member

Posts: 167


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« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2006, 01:26:43 AM »

hmmm, I dont see how the issues you have listed above are specific to 'the kind of game that I propose'. Pretty much generic issues with the RPGs I would have thought.   And as such, would be better served by newbies simply getting more experience and/or reading tutorials on 'how to be a good GM'?

How would you implement a mechanic that forces the GM to be 'fair'?  Thats what you are suggesting?  Got any examples?

Rune RPG is a very good example of this. Players take turns GMing and craft scenarios based on a set of rules. Difficult enemies and traps cost encounter points; easy enemies and treasure give back encounter points. So in order to have a really nasty dungeon, you'll need to stock it full of treasure. (You start with 0 encounter points, so you need to make things balance.)
Additionally, GMs have a combat flowchart that determines enemy actions in combat, with the idea that you can't unfairly pick on a single player's character.

The last few pages of the Rune Preview contain a checklist for scenario design, including point costs/bonuses for each feature. You can also look at the Combat Flowchart.

The reason a GM might want a nasty dungeon is because it gives the GM more chances to earn Victory Points. Non-GM Players earn VP by killing stuff, gaining treasure, and so on. The VP can be spent on special powers for the player-characters. (Rune is designed for rotating GMs, so everybody has a PC.)
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RPG Theory Wiki
UeberDice - Dice rolls and distribution statistics with pretty graphs
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #41 on: February 01, 2006, 01:48:27 AM »

If the main attraction of your game is the world, and not any particular facet of the system, why are you writing a system?  Why not just make a setting book?

fair question.  vanity?  :)   There are several elements i wanted in the mechanics I suppose.   The rules are such a small proportion of the total work, so why not, since I have the opportunity?
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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #42 on: February 01, 2006, 01:53:51 AM »

hmmm, I dont see how the issues you have listed above are specific to 'the kind of game that I propose'. Pretty much generic issues with the RPGs I would have thought.   And as such, would be better served by newbies simply getting more experience and/or reading tutorials on 'how to be a good GM'?

How would you implement a mechanic that forces the GM to be 'fair'?  Thats what you are suggesting?  Got any examples?

Rune RPG is a very good example of this. Players take turns GMing and craft scenarios based on a set of rules. Difficult enemies and traps cost encounter points; easy enemies and treasure give back encounter points. So in order to have a really nasty dungeon, you'll need to stock it full of treasure. (You start with 0 encounter points, so you need to make things balance.)
Additionally, GMs have a combat flowchart that determines enemy actions in combat, with the idea that you can't unfairly pick on a single player's character.

The last few pages of the Rune Preview contain a checklist for scenario design, including point costs/bonuses for each feature. You can also look at the Combat Flowchart.

The reason a GM might want a nasty dungeon is because it gives the GM more chances to earn Victory Points. Non-GM Players earn VP by killing stuff, gaining treasure, and so on. The VP can be spent on special powers for the player-characters. (Rune is designed for rotating GMs, so everybody has a PC.)

whoah.  seems more like a boardgame than an RPG.  Does it have a big following?
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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #43 on: February 01, 2006, 02:25:50 AM »

Quote
hmmm, I dont see how the issues you have listed above are specific to 'the kind of game that I propose'. Pretty much generic issues with the RPGs I would have thought.   And as such, would be better served by newbies simply getting more experience and/or reading tutorials on 'how to be a good GM'?

True, that every RPG faces this problem.

However, "the kind of game that you propose" faces a higher degree of these problems, or at least a more volatile degree of them.

By "the kind of game" I think he was referring to a combat-oriented game with a stated Gamist focus. (Note of course that no game is ever solely one of the three creative agendas... It just seems you are putting the focus/weight on that one.)





Anyways, Stefoid. I issued you a little scenario, and I didn't catch an answer.

Quote
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?

ok, after a few PMs I think I understand your language.  hows this:

My aim with this game is to capture the imagination of the players by presenting a detailed, living, breathing, rich set of cultures in an interesting world.
The players take on the role of characters who face and resolve various challenges in this violent, chaotic and magical world set in a fantasy bronze age. 

thats it, thats what the game is about.
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Grover
Member

Posts: 82


« Reply #44 on: February 01, 2006, 07:43:48 AM »

What are the cool things about your world which will capture the players imagination?  (This is not a facetious question.  I could take a stab at answering it based on what you've already posted, but I think it would be better for us to work from your list.)
Steve 
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