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Author Topic: Paladin  (Read 3853 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« on: May 31, 2002, 02:23:49 PM »

Man, it's just new game day at The Forge, ain't it? Anyway, I wrote this over the last couple of days and really like it, but that's little indicator of its worth.

All the talk in Actual Play and RPG Theory lately about characters being corrupted (and especially in Star Wars, with the light and dark Jedi and whatnot) inspired me to write a game just about holy warriors - whether George Lucas' or Gary Gygax's, those guys who fight evil, and are on the edge of corruption with their every move.

Check it out: Paladin. It's not in its final, finished state, but it's damn near playable, and everything's laid out. Comments would be loverly. (Edit: the playtest version's been taken down. The link above takes you to a promo page. E-mail me if you want to playtest the game.)
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2002, 02:54:27 PM »

Clinton,

Is something in the water around here? This is great.

I'd definitely have less than 10 Crimes. Just use 3 -- a Minor Crime, a Major Crime, and a Mortal Crime (or whatever).

Also, you should mention the "Gunslinger" as another kind of paladin (the Light/Dark would be something like Justice/Thuggishness).
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2002, 02:57:40 PM »

Jared,

Good point about the crimes - my only problem is the Dark Animus gain mechanic. With only three crimes, you'll run out of Dark Animus real quick. I could probably tweak it to work with less, though.

As soon as I get this completely finished - it's Star Wars time at my house. Or the Boxer Rebellion. Probably both.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2002, 04:12:48 PM »

You could assign the Minor/Major/Really Nasty labels and say "Minor are 1 point, Major are 3 points, Really Nasty are 5 points) or something...

I dunno. But man, cool stuff.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2002, 07:23:10 PM »

Dude, this freakin rocks.  I was contemplating running a Star Wars game using The Pool, but am feeling tempted with this new game...  I think it will depend on how they take to Narrativism (I am running Inspectres first).  If they go like a fish to water, I might go with Pool, otherwise yours is looking mighty tasty...

-Shane
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Paganini
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2002, 11:26:35 AM »

Well, I saw Attack of the Clones last night, and being me I'm in Jedi mode now. I remembered Paladin, and thought I'd take a closer look.

I have a suggestion... instead of giving an Order 10 laws, each order should have a Code. Violating the Code is equivalent to violating a law in the existing version. This has an interesting facet in that you can end up with decisions that are in a grey area... am I violating the Code or not? This gives an opportunity for inserting a nice directoral mechanic to allow players to decide at the moment of play. Also, having a Code sounds a lot cooler than having a specific number of laws. Frex, the Jedi Code is:

There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no death; there is the Force.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2002, 12:11:43 PM »

I appreciate all the good advice. There's not going to be any Director Stance sort of mechanic, though - I'm really aiming at making a very vanilla Narrativist game, with very standard mechanics that happen to represent the lure of corruption well.

The Code idea is interesting, and I may use the term, but I find that you really need very black and white rules about what you can and can't do. I'm already playing in a hard area here by having rules about PC's emotions and intent: PC's emotions and intent are very hard things to measure in a game. I think that leaving any grey area will result in more trouble than it's possibly worth. Also, if you actually read the mechanics, a number of rules are needed in order to fit with the system for getting Dark Animus. A non-quantified code wouldn't work with the rules, and the rules are finished and complete, not up for major changes, only small tweaks.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2002, 12:23:37 PM »

Hey Clinton,

Congratulations on the concept.  This game rocks, and really lends a nice weight to the oft-cliched trope of the Paladin.

My nickel:  I like the idea of variable Codes, but Jared's works better for me.  Having fewer rules lets me focus more on the particular setting's premise.  Frex, I'd probably use five Rules weighted in a non-sequential manner, or I'd group the Rules under different "Books," again with the effect of narrowing the focus and making it easier for players to keep the main prohibitions and taboos clear in their minds.

Best,

Blake
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2002, 03:29:05 PM »

Okay, I finally got around to looking at this.

- I think a variable Crime list without order (or just an Unthinkable/Major/Minor rank) would work best.

- Arms: Awesome! Lightsaber is a good example, what with all the colors and hilts. Classic D&D Cleric could be any mace/hammer/flail.

- Attributes: Why are Combat and Defense separate? You have Social but no Mental.

- 6 = success. How are the probabilities with this? There should be some scale for "realism." If I want to play a game where jumping 100 feet is normal, it should be a 0 or 1 success task.

- Supernatural Acts - The effects can't be permanent, but you should note that the _results_ of an act can be. You can scar someone for life, dig a river, etc. etc.

In any case, let me know when you play this. I'll make the drive down to Seattle!!
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2002, 04:22:20 PM »

The minor/major/unthinkable idea's going in - it's much better than my original one. (Jared and Zak make this look so simple.)

Zak - as far as attributes go, I expect the game to be combat-heavy because of its source material. The attack and defense attributes apply to spiritual attack and defense as well, and I personally am a sucker for splitting these up - you can make some interesting characters that are harder to mechanically create with only one combat statistic. The mental attribute is pretty much quantified by your attack attribute and the words you choose.

I should write a quick script to check probablities. The chance of someone with a 2 in an attribute to get one success is: hell, I dunno. 1 out of 3, I think. With all the funky stuff Paladins can do, though, your chances shoot through the roof.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Zak Arntson
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2002, 07:41:29 AM »

If you're a sucker for Combat, why only two? I'm working on a Roguelike (type of archaic video game) and I'm using the following split: Power, Resist, Manipulate, Flow.

Power = Brute strength
Resist = Toughness
Manipulate = Skill
Flow = Avoid

So you have four ways about things. But then, with only two + some descriptor, you've got tons of variation with a simpler mechanic.

And, to be honest, I enjoy and applaud a game without the "mental/physical/social" split. I'm recently toyed with writing a system where all "rolling" actions are stated (as in, Strength, Toughness, Intelligence, etc.) and all "roleplayed actions" are rolled (as in, Being convinced to do something, deciding on a course of action). Oops ... I'm digressing.

In short: I like it. Stick with One Social Score + Combat Scores.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2002, 04:48:07 PM »

I've finished the entire system for Paladin and made a playtest document. If anyone's interested in playtesting the game or reading the document, please e-mail me at crnixon@anvilwerks.com, and I'll send one right over to you. Thanks!
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2002, 11:00:01 AM »

Hello mister Clinton.

I have mailed you about the game you call paladin cause i am curious about it's mechanics but i am not sure that you have received my mail as it's been some days now.

I would apreciate it if you could send it to me so i can check it out.

Thanks for your patience.

Luis R. Rojas
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2002, 01:58:54 PM »

Hi Clinton,

I've been lookin' through Paladin, and I like lots of it. I already have an idea for my setting and holy order.

My only big notion is that I think you'd do well to provide a setting, with at least one specific order. In other words - even though I know you wrote it from the perspective of getting at any "holy mystic warrior" context - I'm suggesting going more traditional and sticking with one setting "for the game." I am beginning to realize that people do better with customizing their own settings from an existing [Setting + Premise] than they do with customizing settings from an existing [Premise + build-your-own + examples].

Here are some of my thoughts on the details. Warning: much of what follows is Nit-Picky in the extreme. I offer it only in hopes that you will find it useful; if you don't, ignore it.

In no particular order ...

1) "I make no apologies for that" in the Star Wars inspiration section on p. 2 reads over-defensive to me. You've done nothing wrong in being inspired by Star Wars, so don't defend not apologizing for it, if you see what I mean.

2) In your question on p. 2, "Am I strong enough to ..." might do better as "Can I ..." only because the solution to the question might involve what some call weakness, not strength. (IE, knowing when to bend, when humility is the key, etc)

3) On p. 3, I was thinkin' about the orders in all the examples I could think of, and one thing seems to be clear: they are all associated with a given governmental and social institution. In other words, no "Chaos Orders," or "Anarchy R Us" orders seem to exist, in the relevant literature or history. In D&D terms, orders (of this sort) are Lawful, period. Maybe some text to specify that?

4) In your discussion of the laws on p. 4, your point about the overlap makes a lot of sense. You could strengthen it by calling attention to the overlap at all three levels:
Minor = base decisions on wisdom, not feelings [about decisions of any kind]
Major = never act out of love, fear, or hate [about actions, which is more specific than decisions, and also more specific about emotions]
Unbreakable = never strike down another fueled by emotion [about "striking down," which is more specific than actions (as you say)]

I like the idea that Unbreakable strictures can be subsets of Major ones, and that Major ones can be subsets of Minor ones. I think that stating this principle outright would help people construct their Stricture list much more easily.

5) With #3 in mind, it seemed to make more sense to me that your Shaolin example on p. 5 would have respect elders be the Minor Stricture, and obey Elders be the Unbreakable one. Thus you respect them whether they're ordering you around or not, and you obey them when they do order you (ie, sub-set).

6) Stickin' with the Shaolin stuff on p. 7, the skill Courtly Diplomacy seems kind of off to me. The characters I'm thinking of in this setting tend to be peasant-class types or tough martial-arts school types. But who knows. Very minor quibble.

7) In the Resolution section as a whole, I'm a bit hazy on the Spending concept. You use the term "spend" a lot (and I understand its mechanical difference from "activating") - am I to understand that spent Animus is "used up," or unavailable for future spending, in some way? That makes sense to me, but I don't see any text about it, or maybe I'm missing an important paragraph of some kind.

8) At the bottom of p. 10, in a group action, only one person at a time can do this, but any one of them can? Does that mean that more than one can activate Animus, just not simultaneously? Or that only one Animus will be activated for the group effort, no matter what? That phrase "at a time" is really throwing me.

9) I thought up a matrix that might clarify p. 11 and the whole offense-defense thing.
                                   
Damn. I tried to do a little table-thingie and failed. What I had in mind was a 4x4 matrix, with Loser/Offense and Loser/Defense across the top, with the two rows being Winner/Offense and Winner/Defense. Then each of the four cells would be occupied by the relevant "interpret" explanation.

That ought to keep things clearer - the main reason was that I found it very likely that both individuals would be using Offense against one another. I added the Defense vs. Defense just in case the stated actions work out that way for some unforeseeable reason.

Let me know if I've totally misunderstood the system from the git-go, though.

10) On p. 12, I assume that non-Paladins can spend Animus points too? Given that one must spend at least one in order to activate an Animus attribute, I figured that made sense ...

11) P. 13: I've never really liked the "gain a point when you roll a 6" or whatever form of character improvement. It tends to distract from whatever's going on in the game - either you're thinking about what's happening, or you're thinking about whether you rolled a 6 or not. Also, I can't tell without having played, but I think (based on Orkworld) that people are gonna hit sixes really, really often.

12) Staying on p. 13, the phrase "standing still" stops me in my tracks. Standing still? None of your examples include standing still, they all include motion. Do you mean "not giving up?" "Not fleeing?" I'm confused, the more so because after the examples, you say, "Faced with." Being faced with something is not itself an action; I can be faced with a Dreadknaught Robot and do anything from fleeing to throwing my empty blaster at it to feeding the princess to it ... More confusion.

I get the examples. What I don't get are the phrases that are supposed to be summarizing or generalizing about them, both before and after.

Best,
Ron
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2002, 02:16:21 PM »

Ron,

Thanks for your input. Editing is obviously necessary. Let me explain what I can.

#1-3: I'm in full agreement. More text on that will be written.

Quote

#4: In your discussion of the laws on p. 4, your point about the overlap makes a lot of sense. You could strengthen it by calling attention to the overlap at all three levels:
Minor = base decisions on wisdom, not feelings [about decisions of any kind]
Major = never act out of love, fear, or hate [about actions, which is more specific than decisions, and also more specific about emotions]
Unbreakable = never strike down another fueled by emotion [about "striking down," which is more specific than actions (as you say)]

I like the idea that Unbreakable strictures can be subsets of Major ones, and that Major ones can be subsets of Minor ones. I think that stating this principle outright would help people construct their Stricture list much more easily.

#5: With #3 in mind, it seemed to make more sense to me that your Shaolin example on p. 5 would have respect elders be the Minor Stricture, and obey Elders be the Unbreakable one. Thus you respect them whether they're ordering you around or not, and you obey them when they do order you (ie, sub-set).


I'll definitely strengthen this text to note the overlap more. On the "obey vs. respect" thing - you're probably right. I was looking at it more like: It's not so bad to disobey your elders as long as you respect them. That is, if you know you need to do something, and you've been told not to, you can do it without too much harm as long as you don't wave it in their face. It's a lot worse to spit in your elder's face and tell him he's an old fool than to nod, be polite, and then go do what you need to/want to.

Of course, that's my western thought thinking that my elders might be wrong.

Quote

7) In the Resolution section as a whole, I'm a bit hazy on the Spending concept. You use the term "spend" a lot (and I understand its mechanical difference from "activating") - am I to understand that spent Animus is "used up," or unavailable for future spending, in some way? That makes sense to me, but I don't see any text about it, or maybe I'm missing an important paragraph of some kind.


You are correct - Animus is a pool (two pools, actually) that will go up and down constantly. When you use a point of Animus, it is gone forever.

Quote

8) At the bottom of p. 10, in a group action, only one person at a time can do this, but any one of them can? Does that mean that more than one can activate Animus, just not simultaneously? Or that only one Animus will be activated for the group effort, no matter what? That phrase "at a time" is really throwing me.


#8: This is my bad explanation - I'm planning on writing an enormous amount of examples in the final version. Let me see if I can make this clearer.

Bob, Joe, and Tom are fighting Billy and Sam. Bob has Balance 3, Joe has Kindness 2, and Tom has Wisdom 3. Billy has Spite 4 and Sam has Deceitfulness 1.

Any of them can activate an Animus attribute during the fight if it's applicable. However, as the resolution rules state, when two sides are competing, the aggressor gets to activate an Animus attribute, and then the defender gets a chance to. This can go back and forth over and over.

What that paragraph meant was that Bob, Joe, or Tom can activate an Animus attribute - but only one of them can do it per chance. If Bob activates his Balance, Billy and Sam get a chance to activate. If Sam then activates his Deceitfulness, the chance goes back to Bob, Joe, and Tom. Any of them can activate an Animus attribute, but only one of them per chance to.

#9: I like the idea of the matrix. I'll use that.

#10: Non-Paladins can spend Animus points, too. However, they can't attempt to do anything higher than Hard difficulty, and they can only activate an Animus attribute once - no re-activation.

#11: Let me think about that. You're probably right, and taking away any "free" chances to gain Animus will focus the game even more.

#12: I meant not giving up - and most importantly, not turning to easy (Dark) methods for dealing with problems. I'll clarify - I was trying to be too Zen with all my "standing still", action-through-inaction BS.

Your comments were awesome, by the way - this game is going to be much better for them.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
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