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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 57 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: System on a Character Sheet  (Read 14719 times)
Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2007, 01:26:23 PM »

Hmm, the "like a real sheet meant to go together with an outside system" as opposed to "complete system contained within the sheet" is a tough part Smiley

E.g. looking at the example sheet, I wouldn't be able to run or play the system on the basis of it alone. Too much crucial information is left out. I wouldn't know how the scenes are framed, who gets to say and decide what, whether there's a central GM, whether there should be a pre-written scenario involved, or even how to determine initiative in combat. I can guess that the game involves combat, and I could try deciphering how it works, relating it to other games I played but it would basically boil down to creating one's own game by filling in the blanks. Furthermore, I could easily make wrong assumptions about the inspirations and intended approach, and wind up trying to play, say, Vampire instead of D&D, or DitV instead of GURPS.

I believe creating a complete working system contained within the sheet is possible, along with strongly implied setting and all the tools needed for session prep. It wouldn't even require large blocks of text, a lot could be done with brief outlines and diagrams. But I can't really imagine doing it while maintaining the appearance of a sheet attatched to some outside set of rules.

So, I think I'll pass on this challenge Smiley
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migo
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« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2007, 02:06:53 PM »

I can't see why the default assumption wouldn't be a traditional GM-player set up.

My sheet was obviously Doom. Doom is a dungeon crawl. Any experienced group knows how to do a dungeon crawl, since it's D&D. Don't see why anyone would try to do DitV with it instead of D&D. Obviously people can go through the effort to misinterpret the sheet, but we're going to assume they won't.
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migo
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« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2007, 02:18:43 PM »

Sadly, there's no edit feature.

Basically, I got this idea partially from reading through systems that didn't make sense, and then when I looked at the character sheet I was able to figure it out. It's been done before, so it can certainly be done again.

The two points with this challenge are, I guess: 1) create a system that's straight forward 2) create a character sheet that's well designed and hal all the information you need for play at your fingertips

Some AD&D character sheets come with detailed stat blocks to fill in for weapons. That immediately makes it pretty obvious what features are being worked with. You don't need any rules to explain what Short, Medium and Long range do when they have the modifiers factored in.

Just like you don't really need the rules to explain when AC applies and when not if you have a spot for AC ratings if you're blind, surprised, attacked from behind, etc. Every system's character sheet allows you to glean varying degrees of information from it. Here the point is to do that, except have the whole system be evident.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2007, 03:25:55 PM »

We could argue about these specific "default assumptions" being justified and whether they tie to the group being experienced or not, but that's probably pointless. There's a large variance in "traditional GM-player set up" across different traditional games to make the thing tricky, I think.

As for the example, I missed the Doom part, and it wasn't at all apparent to me that the game is intended for a dungeon crawl specifically. My initial impression was that it's a combat heavy supernatural monster hunters game, but neither Doom nor dungeon crawl were evident. Sorry, but it was simply not obvious to me, and neither my experience with Doom nor with various editions of D&D made noticing it easier.

But as you can see, such things are not necessarily evident, and even one additional sentence can completely change the way the game will be understood by someone. It basically makes for a Rorschach test rather than a reliable gaming system.

Sorry, but it seems it's simply not for me Smiley
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migo
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« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2007, 10:01:11 PM »

Knee Deep in the Dead is what the first Episode of Doom is called.

Even if you interpret it as a supernatural monster hunting game, you still have GM controling the monsters and players controling the characters.

You can make the same arguments about things not being clear with stuff like "X in a nutshell".
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2007, 02:20:00 AM »

Well, I can make the same arguments about some 300 pages long rulebooks. Still, I'm writing about this particular sheet at the moment.

I wouldn't bet that a whole lot of people picks up the Doom reference. Episode names where the last thing I kept attention to while playing the game, and it was years ago. What would certainly scream "Doom!" to me would probably be the tomato monster and BFG on the sheet, but such things could just as well tell nothing to someone else.

That there is a GM controling the monsters I can guess, but only after making assumptions based on your posts, which give me some vague hints about the gaming background you're coming from. Otherwise, being given the sheet and asked to reverse engineer a system out of it, I could just as well have players controling the monsters against each other, or even no need for anyone to control the monsters at all.

Calling it explicitly "GM's Monsters Sheet" would probably make it much more clear - although I'd still have to make some guesses about the way I'm supposed to use the monsters in play. One at a time? In groups chosen by fiat? Should I push the players with constant adversity? Maybe rather than the characters themselves I should endanger things important to them, based on the "personality/history" entries on their sheets? Or maybe I shouldn't really play them against the players as much as use them to carefully craft the atmosphere of danger and pace the encounters accordingly?

Other things that don't seem to be evident:

Character sheet doesn't say what equipment the characters start with. All the weapons and first aid kit with their maximum number of uses and full amo track? Less than that? If it's not set in stone, should the player himself or the GM decide the starting setup? Is it possible to replenish these resources in some way?

Also, it's not clear what happens when the character or monster loses all the wound points. Is the character dead, or merely uncoscious until first aid is given? If dead, does the player get to play another character, or maybe a monster? Maybe there are respawns?

Basically, I can see how many potential issues could be handled by adding a few more short clarifications and maybe outlining the overall structure of play. There's no chance to make every single thing about the system perfectly clear for every single person out there, of course. However, what I see now is deliberate sacrificing of communicativeness just for the sake of appearance.

In the opening post you've stated that if someone doesn't have a clue, it didn't work. Well, I didn't have a clue before your outside clarifications, and I'm still making wild guesses about some stuff. So, it doesn't work yet. It could certainly be improved, only the appearance restriction makes it very tricky.

Anyway, you can approach my critique of the example sheet however you want, even dismissing it entirely - it's yours after all. But since I get the impression you're rather defensive about it, I think I'll leave it at that.

Either way I'm not "in" despite my initial enthusiasm, and I'm just giving you my reasons. As the rules stand, it might be a good exercise in creating character sheets, but not in actual system design.
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migo
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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2007, 12:13:32 PM »

Ummm..... it's an RPG. You can do whatever you want. The rules are just guidelines. The sheet is there to keep track of things. You can replenish things if the GM says you can. Otherwise you can't. Just like any RPG with a GM. You start out with whatever equipment the GM approves. Just like any RPG. If the wound points go down, you die if that's how you want it. If you decide you want to respawn that's fine. If you make another character that's also fine. People take a game and break the rules all the time. You can respawn in D&D if you want to. Just because the rules don't say you can, doesn't mean you can't. Whether a character dies or is unconscious depends on the play style. Some people don't like character death. Some people hate not having it.

The point isn't to design a niche system like Beast Hunters or Universalis. It's to design a traditional RPG system. That's D&D, B&B, T&T, RuneQuest, WEG Star Wars, Shadowrun... GM fiat and player agreement is pretty standard in all those systems.

When reading it assume that you're going to try to figure out what it is, not think of every possible exception. It doesn't matter if there's officially character death at no wound points or if it's just unconsciousness. If it's the former people always houserule healing after dying in D&D if they don't like it. You're going out of your way to not understand the sheet instead of trying to figure it out. I realize things would look more obvious to me making it, but if I was looking at someone else's character sheet I wouldn't be fussing over details of how much gear you're supposed to start with.

I know you can say you can just freeform it, but the point of an RPG is to have a point of common agreement.

I don't have a problem with you not participating, but I just get the strong impression that you're trying to not understand the character sheet, which is going strongly against the spirit of the thread. The fact that you came up with a couple options tells me you could understand what I was getting at. A real lack of understanding would be asking what a certain part of the sheet was supposed to be and not being able to come up with anything at all.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2007, 12:44:05 AM »

I've tried to keep oyut of this discussion, because I can see validly both sides of the argument. Even if it looks like some of the comments are just being overly antagonistic.

I think the challenge is a valid one. I also think that the comment...

Well, I can make the same arguments about some 300 pages long rulebooks. Still, I'm writing about this particular sheet at the moment.

...is exceptionally valid.

I considered the spirit of the challenge as an attempt to create a character sheet that alludes to a balance of atmosphere and mechanics. Not just a one page game where half of the sheet is filled with miniscule fonts describing an elaborate system, nor an open sheet with a few numbers that don't seem to relate to anything.

I thought the aim of the contest was to create a balance between the two. A sheet that gives the impetus for a game, where a group of players can negotiate the finer details when and if they arise.

If the game sheets don't have a "fear" mechanic on them, but the GM wants to use scary elements in his game, then the group can vote on an appropriate mechanic based on the figures that are available to them. One player may nominate the rule "The lower the intelligence, the higher the fear resistance because the character just doesn't know what's going on". While another player nominates the rule "The higher the wisdom, the higher the fear resistance because the character has some instinctive understanding of what causes the fear and how to overcome it". The players vote on this mechanic because it isn't specifically alluded to in the presented rule sheet.

I'd make sure the basics are covered in the game sheet, references to combat numbers and a randomising mechanic (or at least references to an event resolution system).

My submission for the challenge was actually going to consist of five character sheets each split down the middle, the left side of the sheet would describe five generic fantasy-ish races (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Etc.) while the right half would describe five occupations. Take a half of each, combine them to give the resulting character. Write down a couple of special traits or work out some other numbers and everything would be ready to play.     

Genetic benefits and special talents specific to each race would be written on their respective halves, while other skill bonuses and possibly spell notes would appear on the occupation halves.

There would be a range of traits to choose from that would be circled by the player to give them a more customised character generation experience, but pretty much everything you'd need for play would be easily accessible and right there in front of you.

The GM might even have a sixth sheet to cover some particular menace race/occupation.

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
migo
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Posts: 54


« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2007, 12:11:22 AM »

Yeah. I can understand the points he was making. Obviously with this challenge, you have to meet half way. If you're reading the character sheet you need to put some effort into figuring it out, and the person making it has to put the effort into making it as transparent as possible.

I like the idea of having the sheets split down the middle and you mix and match as you like. 25 possible combinations on 5 sheets of paper. I look forward to seeing it.
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Seth M. Drebitko
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« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2007, 07:07:03 PM »

Ok so here is my problem I only have one computer with photo shop which is what I am using to formulate meh character sheet game for the contest. Much to my dismay this computer is also the only one we own that has the programs for my girlfriends database project for work (a tad more important) and so I will most likley not hit your set deadline for the entries but will surely as soon as I can wrestle the computer back get my finished work up for Petals in the Wind. I hope to read through other peoples entries in the mean time.
Regards, Seth
 
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MicroLite20 at www.KoboldEnterprise.com
The adventure's just begun!
migo
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« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2007, 08:07:49 PM »

The deadline's really only there for people who work better with them. Any time is fine.
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John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2007, 08:45:05 PM »

I saw this competition a couple of days ago and it really intrigued me.  Ideas have been bouncing around in my head ever since.

If it's not too late, I'm in.  My contribution is Skimpy RPG.

I'm not sure that's final, since I slammed it out pretty fast.  But, I thought I'd better put in something quickly.  Comments would be welcome either via PM or e-mail by using the "Contact Us" link at http://legendaryquest.com.
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John Kirk

Check out Legendary Quest.  It's free!
Vulpinoid
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« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2007, 02:23:07 AM »

Sorry about the delay of a few days, work has hit hard. The player sheets for my system are pretty much ready to post.

A GM sheet for the system should be ready in a day or two. I've got friends over and a concert to head to. Come back this time tomorrow for updates...

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Vulpinoid
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« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2007, 09:21:18 AM »

Here's my basic entry.

http://www.angelfire.com/psy/vulpinoid/Split.pdf

Single GM sheet to come soon...

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
migo
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Posts: 54


« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2007, 03:34:33 PM »

The angelfire link is making my browser hang. Dunno why that's happening.
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