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Author Topic: Power 19, not being a pest & how to interact on these forums  (Read 1829 times)
tleeuwenburg@gmail.com
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« on: November 07, 2009, 08:31:50 PM »

Do people still go through the Power 19 on here? I've just answered the first 5 on my blog http://mythology-rpg.blogspot.com/. You don't have to read it, I'm just saying.

I am very impressed by the Forge community. I do *not* want to be like an annoying attention-seeker constantly spamvertising or taking up too much room. On the other hand, I have lots of ideas that I want to discuss with people.

I feel I should start replying to other people's threads more, but I haven't done so yet. I've been reading them though.

Regards,
-Tennessee
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2009, 11:45:41 PM »

Have a look at this post...it's from a blog, by one of the guys responsible for the Power 19.

It's really informative, and gives a great history for the design tool.

Based on this...I think you've made the right decision by answering only a couple of  the questions first.

Still, a lot of people around here don;t go following people's links...so if you want some better feedback, show us your first five responses. It might garner some responses.

Just my 2 cents...

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
tleeuwenburg@gmail.com
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Posts: 26

Software developer, husband, roleplayer and geek


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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2009, 01:37:26 AM »

Hi Vulpinoid,

No worries. I was trying to avoid what seemed to me like crass behaviour: making posts which are nothing but a duplicate of what I've put on my blog. On the other hand, well, maybe people won't mind. So here's the blog posting verbatim...

Mythology isn't finished, not by a long shot. I shouldn't be surprised if it takes a year or more before it's getting close. But Mythology is well and truly started. I'm starting this blog as a part of the process of building it. In my wildest dreams, this might become a very popular system, but I will be completely happy if I just get it done.

I've been struggling to work out how best to start answering questions that readers might have. Who will my readers be? What will they want? I'm not quite sure! So I've decided to duck the issue, and answer a set of questions from the Socratic Design blog, called the "Power 19".

1.) What is your game about?

This is a bit of a troublesome question, because the best answer is always going to depend on what aspect of the game the reader is most interested in! I'll start out at a basic level and more experienced / curious readers can find more information in other posts, or to other more specific questions.

Mythology encourages its players to explore fantastical realities where the things which are only myths in the real world come to life. Players will get to play the role of an exciting hero, doing great things. The world setting is designed to allow the storyteller / games master to set up adventures of virtually any kind within the fantasy genre. These adventures might stretch from ancient myths, such as undead kings in great pyramids, blood-sucking vampires, vengeful and capricious gods and great barbarian warriors, to modern interpretations now a part of popular culture thanks to games like Dungeons and Dragons. It is an opportunity for players to take on the role of someone different and exciting: a hero, a thief in the night, a great wizard or a powerful ruler.

The game isn't rigidly about anything, because no two groups of players are alike. Mythology provides just enough rule and structure that it can be rightly called a game, but hanging from that has to be a rollicking fun storyline that captures the player's imagination.

"Mythology" is about heroic characters, each with a unique ability, doing great deeds. It is about emphasizing the awesome, whatever that means for you. The basic plot I'm currently using to help guide development is centered around four characters who leave their peasant lives to search for adventure, excitement and someplace they can fit in. Indeed, I'll be posting an element of this story now and then, to give a taste of how I see the Mythology world and how the character types might work together.

2.) What do the characters do?

Anyone who has done much roleplaying realises that different players want different things. Every person will play their character differently and get something different from the game. Some care about the characters fictional identites, others love the atmosphere of the game, some want to enjoy the glory of victory. Some don't care much about the fictional creativity, and really want to feel like they're 'winning' by creating tough, strong characters. So, the characters will do whatever the players want. Any intelligent game needs to recognise this and take a back seat.

The basic game books provide what most roleplaying games provide. That is, Mythology provides game rules for competitive and structured play. However, unlike many systems which are available, Mythology seeks to include enough natural differences between the character types that there will be other kinds of interaction which are important. The character group isn't necessarily like a team of top fighters, finely tuned to eachothers abilities. The different character options complement one another, but they all have their own identities also. Characters are not Swiss Army knives.

Kerala, the current 'working name' for the central world of "Mythology", is a fantasy world. It is full of warring tribes, fantastical creatures, dark gods and powerful magic. It has towns, hamlets, cities, oceans and great unexplored lands. What the characters do with this setting has more to do with how you like to play the game.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

The players manage their characters choices and developments, against the backdrop of the Mythology world setting and according to the storyline laid out by the storyteller or the plot book. The storyteller / GM is pivotal to the game of Mythology. This role is variously called the Games Master, Dungeon Master or storyteller. It is their job to be most familiar with the rules and to bring forth developments in the game world. The other players take on the role of a single character instead. This manner of game playing makes a lot of sense one you have tried it a couple of times. The chances are if you're reading this, you already understand this division, and I will concentrate on what the character-players will do.

The players will be given a story, and then given some free choice in their interactions. The outcome is a mixture of the storytellers interpretation and a random element. In order to reflect the characters varying abilities, they have a set of numerical statistics which dictate their capacity for fighting, running, negotiation or casting spells.

The players make some choices, role a few dice, tell some stories and experience the thrills of being able to achieve superhuman feats. A lot of the motivation and flavour of the characters is reflected in the character types which are available, so I expect that people will come to enjoy this aspect of the game.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The setting is dripping with atmosphere, and is totally in keeping with the character archetypes. It would be difficult to separate the two. However, the world setting is still under very active development and it's hard to pre-specify how that's going to eventuate. In order to build this up, I'm going to write a number of short stories set in the world of Kerala, from the point of view of a few groups of people and different character types, and let this guide the world development.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

The character creation strongly re-enforces the emphasis on 'awesome' and the shift away from 'work'. Character creation is basically a matter of picking your archetype, then maybe 5 minutes of work and you're good to go. Most of the effort goes into the early levelling up, so you can start your session with a fairly 'naked' character but still build it into something great. A few key talents, motivations and flaws are all you need to start fleshing out the details and the rest writes itself. Players definitely don't need to spend a lot of time writing themselves into the world or metagaming to get the most out of their statistics. Every option is balanced, every choice is valid, and all the characters will have their time in the spotlight.

Of course players will no doubt eventually want to start with higher-level characters, or bring in a more detailed character background. This is of course totally fine -- just build a starting-level character and level it up the appropriate number of times.

Something I'm considering at the moment is the use of a common 'level zero' where the characters are undergoing a kind of magical awakening, where they can take the abilities of each character class out for a spin in some way, learn about the setting and storyline, then pick their character type after the first session. This is probably going to be a website-only option because I'm worried it will blow out the streamlined approach I would like to take to the basic rules.

That's all folks, until next time...


Okay, well I hope that provides a little bit of information on what the game might be like. My plan is to intersperse generalist posts like this one with more specific posts on aspects of gameplay, analysis of combat and things that might be of more interest to experienced gamers. Please do leave comments and if there are a lot of questions on any one topic, I'll make sure to cover those aspects in more depth in future.

Until next time, may your gaming be excellent!
-Tennessee
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2009, 01:37:52 AM »

Let's address your responses and see if we can dig a bit deeper.

1) Epic heroes. Awesome.

I'd like to particular pull a phrase out of your response...

Quote
"Mythology" is about heroic characters, each with a unique ability, doing great deeds


I read a recent blog (don't ask me where, I read so many of them...it might have even been a forum post somewhere), the post basically put forward a complaint that new editions of D&D didn't make better or more interesting characters as they advanced in experience, instead these new versions of the game simply "added tools to a swiss army knife" (I'm paraphrasing here)...more feats, more powers, but not necessarily better ones.

I like this idea of characters with unique abilities...rather than just having all fighters being vaguely the same (especially if you want to maximise combat effectiveness), instead you have a range of individuals who might all be able to fight, but they use different means to achieve their victories.

That's a nice departure from D&D (and a lot of traditional games) and maybe something you could focus on. Really consider what these "unique powers" are and how they impact on the mechanisms that control gameplay and the narrative structure that informs the story.

2) Reading through number 2 I consider that it might have been your own post that I'm thinking of when it comes to the "swiss army knife" style of character...Damn me and my sieve-like memory....anyway. It's a good point, well raised.

You vaguely say that the characters do what they would do in any other role-playing game. So why would people play your game rather than something already out there? How do character differences make their interactions more interesting? Are you offering a unique twist on the alignment system? Do character's agendas outside the team bring them into conflict within the team? I've seen a few systems play with these notions, some of them rather successfully.

Your general answer that characters explore the world and perform actions like in other games is good, but some might think it's a bit bland. Bland can be a good starting point (...after all, vanilla is the most popular flavour of ice-cream in the world), but what will your game offer those players who'd like to see a good series of motivations for certain play styles. Why are the characters performing their actions? What benefit do players get from seeing their characters pursue these actions?

3) Here's a loaded term...but at this point it's starting to sound like a "Heartbreaker". The game that you always wanted to play, but felt that existing things on the market didn't quite capture exactly what you wanted. I know there are folks around here who'll argue about whether this is a valid description of a heartbreaker...but bear with me.

It sounds like this is the type of game that is very preparation heavy for a GM, since it's the GM who writes the story, plays the NPCs, modulates the difficulties and keeps things in check. Why have you chosen this structure? Is it just because this is the only roleplaying structure you're familiar with? Just asking, you might have a good reason for stickng with the tried and true, but there are some great systems out there which allow a group to share these responsibilities and thus make a more communal storytelling experience.

4) Hmmm....

Quote
The setting is dripping with atmosphere...

...I don't know what other people might think, but this seems to be a bit at odds with some of your earlier statements about the game. You stated in Question 1 that you want a game that can emulate a huge variety of fantasy settings. And you state here that you have a specific setting. Sure it's possible to have both, but do you want to spend the next twenty years writing a range of supplements that rivals the laborious RIFTS behemoth. Or do you want a game where the basics are outlined, the general gist is offered, and groups of players are given the tools to tailor a world of their own within your setting.

Fifteen to Twenty years ago, when I was at high school, I wrote up dozens of notebooks describing an amazing world of sentient dream creatures and mysterious arcana. I thought it was going to be the greatest thing since D&D, rich with detail, NPCs, hidden factions, elaborate backstories...I still reference it every now and then.

But it never got anywhere. What I thought was good at the time, just didn't strike an interest with others. No matter how rich or sumptuous the atmosphere may be, it was just superfluous detail to most players who just wanted to get on with the game or define their own place in the context of the story.

You'll notice a lot of the games around here take to the minimalist aesthetic. I'm not saying that this approach is better, but it does mean that players can get into the action a bit quicker without having to read through pages of detail that they might never use.

As a follow up...your use of the words "character archetypes" in this question start to make me lose my fascination with the "unique powers" that hooked me in the first place. Still intrigued by where you're going though.

5) I like the idea of a minimum prep game. 5 minute characters generations for PCs that develop through play.

For something really like this, take a look at Gregor Hutton's 3:16. You have a basic pool of points, two attributes to split them into and then you fill out some equipment...everything else is expanded through play with an emphasis on gung-ho bravery and flashback scenes.

There are other games that play with this ideas as well, I know that it's been one of my design goals in Quincunx (though I haven't been too successful so far).

I really like the idea of the level 0 character that you're proposing, a low risk step into the world where players can really get an understanding about what they are getting into. That's something that most games don't do.

Conclusion:

You seem to have a few good ideas, but there's a few questions where you've seemed to sidestep the answers, or else you're just taking the safe route. Nothing inherently wrong with following a well worn path, but I'd like to see you take some risks with this design. Find some things that you really haven't seen done well in a game before and explore them through your game. Have a look at some of the great new designs from te past couple of years and see where people have experimented successfully (or catastrophically). Download a bunch of free game designs from 1km1kt, pick them apart for ideas, ask more questions around here.

On the whole we're a friendly bunch, I've even chosen to follow your blog to see where the game might end up heading.

Good luck.

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
tleeuwenburg@gmail.com
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Software developer, husband, roleplayer and geek


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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2009, 04:05:16 AM »

Quote
I like this idea of characters with unique abilities...rather than just having all fighters being vaguely the same (especially if you want to maximise combat effectiveness), instead you have a range of individuals who might all be able to fight, but they use different means to achieve their victories.

Thanks! I think without this, the game is not going to be rewarding for me either. I'm just about to post about one of the character types, so I'll see what comes back from that also. In addition to more unusual character types, I will also have some standard character types because the classics are well-liked for a reason. Here's the very, very short description of each class to date. Some of them are basically out of roleplay canon, some are a bit unusual.

Soldier: No/Low magic-power abilities, but many skills, group tactic skills, super high strength, weapon abilities.
Martial Artist / Duelist / Ranger: Medium magical abilities, some skills, unparalleled in single combat
Magician: Like the physicist of magic. Uses study to learn specific spells, e.g. heat up a weapon, freeze something etc. Spells relate to sensible physical properties and effects.
Sorcerer: A bit like shadowrun: fireballs, great stuff, but limited array of spells.
Psyker: Only class which can affect magic in others. Can boost magical abilities or counter them in others. Contributes to healing of others.
Charismat: Capable of telepathy, mental intimidation and confusion, soul-binding.
Priest: Capable of effective prayer. Low chance of success, massive effects. Some range of magician-like spells also.

In addition each character will have a core motivation (power, glory, order, justice, peace), a core flaw (greed, timidity, recklesness) and access to a talent. Talents will provide game effects which cannot be achieved any other way rather than being boosters to existing skills / stats.

Quote
Reading through number 2 I consider that it might have been your own post that I'm thinking of when it comes to the "swiss army knife" style of character...Damn me and my sieve-like memory....anyway. It's a good point, well raised.

I got it from somewhere else (forget where) but think it's a fantastic description.


Quote
You stated in Question 1 that you want a game that can emulate a huge variety of fantasy settings. And you state here that you have a specific setting. Sure it's possible to have both, but do you want to spend the next twenty years writing a range of supplements that rivals the laborious RIFTS behemoth. Or do you want a game where the basics are outlined, the general gist is offered, and groups of players are given the tools to tailor a world of their own within your setting.

Ah, here you've put your finger on a real problem! Thanks for identifying it for me so clearly! The very first idea I had for the game was one where you could take some real-world information (like the Aztects) then re-create that in the game as though the fantastical elements were real. Then  I thought that wasn't what I wanted after all, but that I would like to create a world setting that fires my imagination instead, but I thought my system could have application outside of that. So I saw it like bundling a system with a setting. I figured I wanted to provide a setting because I want to provide GM's with a game with a great power-to-weight ratio and take the load off them wherever I could.

One idea which I want to stick with is that Magic permeates the universe, but only some characters can control it consciously. For others, their use of magic is subconscious, contributing to the manifestation of gods, supernatural effects, demons and suchlike. In this way, an isolated tribe could 'bring' their god into real existence through shared belief. The belief isn't false (the god does exist). But then that's not going to be the whole story either, and I intend to include magical beings who exist without being dependent on believers.

So I'm really not sure what to do about system + setting bundling. Should I just lock people in to my setting? Or should I separate out the game mechanics? Are the character types part of the system, or part of the setting?

Thanks,
-Tennessee
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Rikiji
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2009, 07:56:44 AM »

Ah, here you've put your finger on a real problem! Thanks for identifying it for me so clearly! The very first idea I had for the game was one where you could take some real-world information (like the Aztects) then re-create that in the game as though the fantastical elements were real. Then  I thought that wasn't what I wanted after all, but that I would like to create a world setting that fires my imagination instead, but I thought my system could have application outside of that. So I saw it like bundling a system with a setting. I figured I wanted to provide a setting because I want to provide GM's with a game with a great power-to-weight ratio and take the load off them wherever I could.

One idea which I want to stick with is that Magic permeates the universe, but only some characters can control it consciously. For others, their use of magic is subconscious, contributing to the manifestation of gods, supernatural effects, demons and suchlike. In this way, an isolated tribe could 'bring' their god into real existence through shared belief. The belief isn't false (the god does exist). But then that's not going to be the whole story either, and I intend to include magical beings who exist without being dependent on believers.

So I'm really not sure what to do about system + setting bundling. Should I just lock people in to my setting? Or should I separate out the game mechanics? Are the character types part of the system, or part of the setting?

Thanks,
-Tennessee


Is the focus of your game the system and storytelling method, or is it the setting?  Bundling a setting is always a good idea, regardless, but if the focus is the system then you shouldn't lock people into it. 

As for character types, they tend to bridge both system and setting (which is why a lot of universal RPGs use a classless system).  They are easier to justify in a specific setting, but if defined broadly enough they can work within a range.
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tleeuwenburg@gmail.com
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2009, 03:27:54 AM »

Thanks for your comments, Rikiji.

I think I'd better bundle up the system, setting and character types after all. I'm not I could just drop my system into an existing setting, such and Forgotten Realms or a Warhammer Fantasy universe without a lot of work. Or Shadowrun, or anything else I'm familiar with. That's telling me that probably the system that I'm planning for the game isn't that portable actually, and that I'd better think of them together. I could imagine a lot of different settings where the system would work, but I think it's not just totally transparent.

Of course, that's going to change some of my previous answers, but that's what this is all about!

Thanks,
-Tennessee
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