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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Seeking Feedback on (Kind of) New Game: MULRAH  (Read 2391 times)
Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« on: September 23, 2009, 09:58:42 PM »

In selecting and tweaking a number of very interesting role-playing game systems (Savage Worlds, the Pool, FATE), I realized that I was basically creating my own system, and I'd love to get some feedback on it. In the end it's mostly just PDQ, but with different dice, weaknesses merged with Qualities, Wild Cards instead of Style Dice, no modifiers or target numbers--Well, you can see why I just started from "scratch." The basic rules fit on just one page.

MULRAH (My Universal Lite Role-playing Adventure Heuristic)

Story Power Chart
LevelDieSkill LevelTask Difficulty
Phenomenald12A genius, a leader in her fieldExtremely difficult
Remarkabled10Noted professional, talent backed by skillDifficult
Notabled8Experienced professional or exceptional talentComplicated
Interestingd6General professional or a talented noviceSomewhat involved
Ordinaryd4Unremarkable skill or latent possession of unusual abilitySimple

To play MULRAH, you will need at least one set of standard role-playing dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12), a deck of playing cards, and at least a couple dozen counters (poker chips, coins, checkers, etc.).

Characters in MULRAH include any entity that can influence the direction of the story. Villains, monsters, thugs, allies, and so on are Characters, but so are castles, horses, starships, traps, and anything else that can challenge the players.

Tags<Action Rolls<Damage<Wild Cards<Calling Out Tags occurs whenever a Tag limits the actions of a Character and usually leads to the granting of at least Wild Cards equal to the number of Levels invested in the Tag. When the GM Calls Out a Tag, the player may refuse the Call Out by using as many Wild Cards as Levels she has invested in that Tag, or she may accept the Call Out and earn that same number of Wild Cards. Alternatively, a player can Call Out a Tag herself and likely earn Wild Cards. Because they produce Wild Cards when role-played, Tags like Coward or Intolerant can be just as valuable as Strong or Attractive. Each Level of Damage to a Called Out Tag reduces the award given for role-playing it by one Wild Card and similarly increases the Wild Cards given up to refuse the Call Out.

Example:
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2009, 01:57:00 PM »

I like to say the name of your game.  MULRAH! MUUUUUULRAHHHHHHH!

What does this game do that the other games you mention (Savage Worlds, Fate, PDQ, etc) don't do?
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2009, 05:42:44 PM »

What does this game do that the other games you mention (Savage Worlds, Fate, PDQ, etc) don't do?

You mean other than sound awesome to say?

Rather than innovate, MULRAH seeks mostly to integrate and streamline my favorite elements of these games. The core concepts I wanted to work in were:

  • I really like FATE 3's idea that everything is a character and therefore can be tagged with Aspects. However, the simplicity of that core concept is undermined by FATE's Skill system, which creates a whole separate mechanic for "real" characters (PCs, NPCs). PDQ does not have this approach at all.
  • I also like PDQ's idea that Qualities measure "story effectiveness" rather than anything necessarily positive or negative, but I feel like this is slightly contradicted by PDQ's failure to merge Foibles with Fortes (PDQ#). FATE does a better job at this with Aspects, but they are no longer quantifiable in FATE 3 and diminished when invoked in FATE 2.
  • I prefer PDQ's damage system to FATE's, as it actually enables story-telling from the get-go, whereas FATE's system feels a little more like hit points with Aspects (Consequences) appended. However, I wanted damage recovery to be incorporated into the base mechanic rather than something additional to track (Failure vs. Damage Ranks in PDQ). By using Wild Cards, PCs can easily avoid damage, or, like Consequences, they can deal with lesser Story Power for the remainder of the session.
  • Finally, unlike both PDQ and FATE, I feel like using the variety of standard rpg dice makes for a simpler modifier-free mechanic. In addition, making every roll opposed eliminates target numbers and keeps a bit of a curve to conflict outcomes. I feel like this is more elegant than rolling many d6 with multiple shifts/modifiers, but this could just be a personal preference.

Thus, my goal with MULRAH is to get the "everything is a character," "story effectiveness," and "story-telling damage" dynamics into one game in a clear, strong way, using a simplified dice mechanic. Turn-based combat, Techniques/Skills, and other copycat efforts could be grafted on, but I see them as unnecessary for now.

(I think MULRAH is as different from Savage Worlds as PDQ and FATE are; the only thing I'm borrowing from them and not the others is the dice.)
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2009, 07:45:09 PM »

Cool.

What kind of stories do you think this game is good for, and why?

Also, maybe it's time for you to playtest this thing.
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2009, 08:55:50 PM »

What kind of stories do you think this game is good for, and why?

Thanks for the thought-provoking question. So far, I've been focused on finding a system that would run my stock fantasy campaign with more story-building and player control elements than Savage Worlds. PDQ and FATE seemed to fit the bill, but, as explained in my previous post, seemed like they could more fully embrace their best concepts.

I presume that MULRAH, given its heritage, would be a good fit for cinematic adventures in a variety of settings. In the end, it's probably still more simulationist than narrativist, so the more appropriate question might be what kind of setting is best, rather than what kind of story. For now, my primary hope is simply to bring some narrativist elements to a basic fantasy campaign in a simple, straightforward manner without also inheriting unnecessary layers from other rules systems.

Having said that, two questions arise:

  • Does MULRAH, as written, address the stated goals in the previous post, or are there internal inconsistencies? I'd rather not foist a new, untested system on my players when I could just go with another play-tested game, even if it seems to have a few wrinkles.
  • Will MULRAH et al.'s clinging to some simulationist mechanics ultimately be frustrating? Obviously, that's a question base on personal preferences that only I can answer.

Thanks so much for the feedback so far.
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2009, 08:58:19 PM »

For now, my primary hope is simply to bring some narrativist elements to a basic fantasy campaign in a simple, straightforward manner without also inheriting unnecessary layers from other rules systems.

...while also losing the unnecessary layers from the current rule system (Savage Worlds).
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2009, 10:22:48 PM »


I presume that MULRAH, given its heritage, would be a good fit for cinematic adventures in a variety of settings. In the end, it's probably still more simulationist than narrativist, so the more appropriate question might be what kind of setting is best, rather than what kind of story. For now, my primary hope is simply to bring some narrativist elements to a basic fantasy campaign in a simple, straightforward manner without also inheriting unnecessary layers from other rules systems.


Using GNS terms isn't helpful here, because you're not talking about Creative Agenda.  I literally don't know what you mean when you say "simulationist mechanics".

Maybe if you could explain your goals for what you want play to look like a little better, I'd be more able to tell you whether I think the game is likely to give you that.
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2009, 11:00:12 PM »

Using GNS terms isn't helpful here, because you're not talking about Creative Agenda.  I literally don't know what you mean when you say "simulationist mechanics".

Maybe if you could explain your goals for what you want play to look like a little better, I'd be more able to tell you whether I think the game is likely to give you that.

Fair enough, as I barely know what I'm talking about there either.

First and foremost, I want play to be fun, which obviously means different things for the various players.

  • I personally have some notions about my setting and a few mysteries about it that I would like the players to gradually unlock, and so these mysteries (How does magic work? Who are my people?) are at the core of their characters' development. I want to be able to develop the setting without "statting up" characters or worrying a whole lot about "balance." I would love for them to feel like they are able explore the setting as openly as possible, without being narrowly shepherded down one path, but I also want to establish a "plot" that is compelling.
  • One player seems to want to fulfill a role and comes up with broad ideas about how that role will manifest itself in a scene. She gets frustrated when asked to repeatedly roll dice or when she realizes her grand scheme will take 15 turns to complete. I kind of agree with her and am inclined to have scenes take shape with only a few dice rolls. However, I do think a well-considered climactic scene could become more granular, and even she would appreciate it.
  • The other main player has more patience for the traditional modes of roleplaying and even gets mildly perturbed when I consider permitting the other player's wild ideas. He accepts the common notion that you can't "win" at a RPG, but he wants to "game" the system, looking for ways during character creation to max out the potential of the characters. He's played dozens of other non-RPG games, and I think he'd be open to and good at any style of play, as long as the rules are clear up front.

Though a rather indirect way of answering your question (if at all), that's what I'm dealing with. FATE and PDQ intuitively seemed like they had the right elements to please all parties, and I've tried to merge/simplify with MULRAH. Above all this, I do have an interest in game design itself, regardless of the players or the campaign's intent, so I'm interested in knowing if MULRAH might provide any kind of value-add over FATE/PDQ for anyone else.

By the way, I looked at some of the other threads you've contributed to, and I respect your perspective and experience. Thanks for taking the time to help me out.
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chronoplasm
Member

Posts: 286

Kevin Vito


« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2009, 11:41:06 AM »

Heh, I love the name.

Personally, I kinda have this thing though where I like games to be fairly minimal as far as required peripherals at the table are concerned. This is a problem I have with 4E D&D; It's not enough that you need dice, books, paper, and pencils, but you also have to have a battle-mat, miniatures (or things to use in their place), cards to help keep track of your 'powers', etc. I feel that it makes PBP games online a bit difficult, and I think that's kind of a big part of the rpg market right now. It's something you may want to keep under consideration.
I wonder if there is anyway you could do without the playing cards and the poker chips and work only with dice?

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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2009, 01:33:25 PM »

I wonder if there is anyway you could do without the playing cards and the poker chips and work only with dice?

Sure:
  • The poker chips are just to keep track of damage, and I do not even explain that in the rules, so I might as well remove them and let users figure it out on their own.
  • Instead of playing cards, you could just have players roll 3d12 at the beginning of the game and write down the results. If they earn a "Wild Die," they roll immediately and write down the result to be used later.

This actually brings up a couple interesting variations that are worth considering. First, maybe it would be more exciting to roll/draw at the moment of using your Wild Card/Die, basically like a benny reroll in Savage Worlds or adding a Style Die to a roll in PDQ#. Alternatively, you could remove luck completely by giving players 15 to 18 "luck points" at the beginning of the session that they can use to replace roll results. The current approach is right down the middle.
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2009, 01:38:00 PM »

One thing that appeals to me about the playing cards is that I could optionally add on options other than replacing rolls. Maybe Clubs are used for rerolls, but the other suits do something different. Maybe face cards do something different.
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chronoplasm
Member

Posts: 286

Kevin Vito


« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2009, 01:43:10 PM »

Cards are cool. You can do things like lay them face down and turn them up for things like 'simultaneous action'. You can put them in piles. You can do all sorts of stuff with cards.
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2009, 11:46:14 PM »

PDQ, FATE, and my own game MULRAH seem to lack mechanics like Humanity in Sorcerer, Sanity in Cthulhu, Exhaustion in Don't Rest Your Head, etc., so I figured I'd alter MULRAH's rules a bit to include space for rules like these.

First, I replaced the paragraph on Wild Cards with:

  • A Meta Force is an abstract power defined by the GM to capture the atmosphere of the campaign setting. By default, it is simply Luck, but there could also be Magic, Sanity, Soul, Grit. PCs can call upon Meta Forces through the use of [Luck, Magic, etc.] Cards, of which they receive 3 at the beginning of each session. Each card can replace any roll with the value of that card (Aces low, Jacks = 11,  Kings = 12). The Queen allows for describing a Tag-related plot twist at any point in the game. Unused cards disappear at the end of each session.

Second, I added another paragraph at the end:

  • Additional Setting Rules<
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Chris Flood
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2009, 11:57:45 PM »

I also changed the Damage rules as follows: "Once all Levels from all a Character's Tags have been lost, he becomes Totally Boring and is taken over by the GM as an NPC."
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2009, 02:28:05 PM »

Do you have a real name we can use?  It's a bit awkward referring to you by the name of your game.

I think that you have a bit of a blindness to what kind of play you're really looking to promote with this game.  Possibly this is because you've not experienced a wide variety of play styles.  I'm worried that your game will become a "kitchen sink" of various parts, none of them working towards the whole.  Your addition of "Meta Force" strikes me as one symptom of this.  Humanity, Exhaustion, and Sanity are all very different mechanics that have wildly different effects on play, that aren't appropriate to the game you're making.

I suggest you do one of two things:

Either

a) playtest your game now, and post in the playtesting forum, describing which bits were fun, which were frustrating, and talking about the interactions of the players with the rules.

or

b) post in Actual Play with a real-life example of a game that you really enjoyed, that captured some of what you want to achieve with your game.  Again, describe the interactions of the players with the rules, which parts were fun, and which parts were frustrating. 

By doing this, I think we'll be able to discover what it is you're really trying to get at with this game.  Once we know that, I think you'll find it much easier to write the game, and I also think I'll find it easier to assess whether your rules are going to work for your purposes.
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