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Author Topic: The Shadow of Yesterday (immense)  (Read 4154 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« on: February 19, 2003, 03:16:46 PM »

I've been working on and off for the last few weeks on my newest game, The Shadow of Yesterday. It's a post-apocalyptic fantasy game that sprung from my head like a dice-wielding homonuclous after reading "More Fantasy Heartbreakers" (see the Article section.)

I'm going to split this post into a few sections.

Setting

Paul Czege has often talked about Type 2 Narrativism - a type of narrativism in which the GM basically says "player, please apprehend this setting and conflict/situation and use it as the substrate for your architecting of character and work demonstrating character protagonism." (Quoted from Paul's original thread.) In other words, it's Narrativism with Exploration of the Setting first and foremost.

The Shadow of Yesterday is my answer to this. I think it's an engaging setting that will grab players by the ears and go "Explore me! Make up mythic stories in my loins!" Now, this is the setting section of my post, but here's a bit of mechanics that really push this to the fore-front:

All stories should start with characters at their weakest power level and end with them at their highest power level. The experience mechanic has a sliding scale, set by the GM before play begins, that will basically let the GM set how many adventures it will take for characters to get to their highest power level. Skills are rated from 1 to 10, and when a character has a 10, every time he uses that skill, there's a chance the game will end that session. This is meant to enforce mythic stories that have a definite start and finish.

Anyway, here's the world history, and a bit of setting:


History

Three centuries ago, the civilizations of man covered the world. The Maldor Empire stretched from ocean to mountain, gleaming cities sprouting like flowers in its wake. Smaller cultures were absorbed as they spread, integrating into the cornucopia that became Maldor, the most powerful and diverse culture in the world. Their most powerful and successful emperor-general, Absolon, called all of his advisors and most powerful of magicians to him for one singular task to cement his empire as the greatest the world had ever known: the construction of a language for his varied subjects. He wanted a language to be crafted that was easy for anyone to learn that incorporated all the concepts of every cultural influence under his rule.

The advisors and magicians spent months in research, using their arcane crafts to map the mind of man, researching in their tomes of history, and examining the nuances of every language spoke within the Empire. They finally discovered their key in the language of the Zaru, the native people of a once tiny but prosperous delta kingdom. Their native tongue, which they kept highly secretive, was different than any other known language. It was built not of words, but of things called zu, tiny discrete bits of ideas, each pronounced as one syllable, which were combined in a complex method that could convey any idea depending on the zu used and in what order. Best of all, this language had a unique power: anyone who heard it understood the zu and in prolonged exposure gained knowledge of how to speak the language.

Emperor Absolon commanded his advisors to spread the language of zu throughout his Empire. As soon as the breath that made this command left his mouth, one of the Zaru, a rice-farmer and philosopher named Hanish, burst into Absolon's throne room, the dirt of hundreds of miles of running covering his body. He fell to his knees and begged the Emperor to not unleash zu on the world. He had seen a fiery dot in the sky, bright enough to be seen in mid-day, and swore it was an omen that the language of zu would bring destruction to the world.

Absolon, hungry for the unification that zu would bring, ignored Hanish and the omen, and the advisors left with the cryptic syllables of zu on their tongues and Hanish left in chains, thrown into Absolon's dungeons.
The language of zu spread like wildfire throughout the Empire. With it, the Empire blossomed even more with new art blending the ideas of all of man shared among all peoples. The Empire's magicians grew in power, the language of zu being an optimal way to call on the primal forces they commanded.

In his private quarters, though, Absolon worried. He had his wizard-astronomers scan the sky and they too saw the fiery dot on the edge of existence. Even worse, this dot seemed to grow larger by day, as if the sky itself was beginning to burn away. Within six months, this dot grew as large as the sun itself, and burned bright by night, causing fear and unrest in Absolon's newly-solidified kingdom. Mothers held their crying children to their breast, trying to block the fell rays of this celestial fire from their babies' eyes; peasants grew fearful as their beasts moaned in confusion at night; priests proclaimed the end of the world was coming.

And all looked to their Emperor, Absolon, for guidance, but Absolon had none. Zu could not be revoked.

Absolon called on Hanish, threatening him with death if this curse was not removed from the world. Hanish lay himself before Absolon's executioners, proclaiming, "Kill me now, or I die in six months' time. The sky's fire cannot be stopped, and my death comes now or then." Moved by Hanish's bravery and defiance, Absolon took him to his side as his highest advisor and they spent many hours talking alone. The people of the Empire grew more and more worried: their Emperor spent all his days privately conversing with the man who would destroy the world and the fire in the sky grew bigger. Within another three months, this Sky Fire filled half the sky, illuminating everything in the burnt red of flame both day and night. The sun could not even be seen.

And three months later, in the midst of open revolt, chaos, madness, prophets proclaiming the death of all life, assassinations, and depravity, Absolon and Hanish emerged from the Emperor's quarters. The Sky Fire  had grown no bigger than half the sky, but its heat was now palpable as temperatures soared to intolerable levels, and the entire sky was painted red and purple with no distinction between day and night as the globe burned away the air.

Absolon and Hanish stood on the steps of the Emperor's Palace, hand in hand, and began a chant in zu to the sky, intoning ancient syllables which spread throughout the angry crowds outside, calming them as they joined the chant. This chant lasted for three days, and it is said that by the end of those three days, the entire Empire had taken up the chant. The Fire moved slowly across the sky, though, and at the end of the three days, crossed the western horizon and night fell again. Absolon and Hanish collapsed on the stairs where they chanted, their spirits gone and bodies broken.

Then, the world halted.

In the midst of night, the world shook with such a rumble that buildings fell, cracks opened spewing lava, and mountains formed out of plainsland. Men wept and tore their clothes, animals stampeded, elves suddenly disappeared from the earth, and the elderly died of shock. A red glow came from every horizon, with black clouds like smoke billowing. The clouds grew and grew as the earth continued to shake for days on end, the sun barely visible, and finally even blotted out that orb of life-giving light.

For a year, the earth quivered and the sun rose no more, with only black clouds looking down on humanity. The earth froze. For one year, through the harshest of winters, people died of plague, starvation, and madness. By the end of that year, the population of the known world was a tenth of what it had been, and the ones that were left found they no longer spoke the language of zu, but instead spoke in tongues that were forgotten to them, eradicated by the brain-shaping power of zu. Their knowledge, craft, and art were lost to them, destroyed as surely as the sun.
One year after its disappearance, the sun rose weakly in the sky, barely shining through the breaking clouds. People driven to primitivism stuck their heads out of their caves, hovels, and homes to see the beloved sun as it rose to the middle of the sky and the foul darkness broke around it. When it set, though, living persons everywhere shook with horror.

A moon rose in the sky. Never had a moon been seen in the world. The only object ever seen in the night sky was the dread Sky Fire, which this bore too much a resemblance to. Its pale light threw dark shadows onto the land. Worse, when the sun rose the next day, this moon - three times as large as the sun - eclipsed the sun, a black Shadow Moon rimmed in fire.

Three hundred years have passed. The old civilizations have begun to grow again. Even in the shattered realm of Maldor, people inhabit some of the old cities. Elves, dwarves, and goblins wander the world again, and new strange species have developed. Magicians have regained some of their power, as their ancient tongues are recalled, and priests comfort the survivors of an apocalypse.

And once a month, the sun is eclipsed for one entire week by the Shadow Moon.

Some people quiver in abject fear.

And some heroes fight the Shadow, in the darkest caves, the most decayed of civilizations, and the blackest hearts.

Geography

The world of Near is large - much larger than the characters will probably ever cover. (Near is a Zaru word made up of two zu: "ne" and "ar" and is pronounced like the two English words "knee" and "are" crammed together. It literally means "not far away," and the only term for the world. Most people are not aware of any world outside their own, or even most lands outside their own for that matter, and are unaware of any term outside "the world.")

Only a certain portion of this world, also called Near, is detailed in The Shadow of Yesterday. Near is a large subcontinent, separated from the world by ocean to the east, burning deserts to the north, an enormous mountain range to the west, and the frozen end of the world to the south.

In the north lies Qek, a steaming jungle full of strange natives; Khale, a Celtic-like country fighting for its heritage and independence; and Ammeni, a fertile delta country which enslaves the Zaru, vaguely based off French Vietnam. To the west lies the huge expanse of Oran, a wild country with no government and a plethora of warlords that roam on horses along the Wall, a huge mountain range that sprang up in the Time of Shadow. To the mid-east lies the shattered remains of Maldor, with local lords scrambling to claim the throne; and further east, across the ocean, lies Perdify, a tiny atoll surrounded by hundreds of ships all lashed together to make a floating island. To the south lies Goren, an arctic place full of wild Vikings; Jalna, a peaceful little peninsula with amazing flowers, art, and trade; and Vulfland, a polar ice cap where only the Vulfen live.

Species and such

I went with the array of species, as in many fantasy games.

Here's short descriptions of each of them:

Humans are the most populous species of sentient people on Near, and are found anywhere in the world one might look. Their power has waned significantly, though, since the time of Shadow. They are infinitely adaptable, and pick up new things easier than any other species.

Ratkin resemble nutria, the largest of the rodents, standing on their hind legs with prehensile thumbs. About three to four feet tall, they have pointed button noses, whiskers, and are covered in either grey, brown, or black fur, with the occasional albino all-white ratkin. They are generally untrusted by all other species except goblins, and known as dirty thieves. They live primarily in cities. They did not exist before the Time of Shadow, which makes them highly suspect to most people.

The Vulfen are a southern species, used to thick forests, deep snow, bitter cold, and wild beasts. They resemble half-men, half-wolves, with thick brown and grey body hair, long snouts, sharp teeth and claws, and sharp ears on top of their head. They are known for their prowess in the wilderness and in battle, and have a reputation of being fiery, vigorous lovers. They do, however, have some problems getting along with other species, as they view others as weak and destructive.

No one except elves really understand what they are, or where they're from. To hear them explain it, they are native to another world on another "plane" but travel from world to world. They exist solely as magical beings that create their own bodies on each plane they travel, with an immortal spirit that returns to their home upon their death.

Dwarves are children of the world. Without fathers, they are a species of all men. They claim to be born from the love of two elementals, all of which are female. (The lesbianism isn't really implicit here, but explicit.) They come in many varieties, although the most common are the basic elements: wind, water, fire, and earth.

Goblins live wherever others have deemed too hot, too cold, or too foul. Infinitely adaptable beings, the small wiry things manage to resemble demons, dogs, and men at the same time. Their curiosity drives them into all the forgotten places of the earth, and makes them decent apprentices for just about any job: they catch on quickly, but tend to cause as many accidents as they do help. Their bodies have an ability that cannot be explained by many: they evolve to match their environment even as they continue to age, and their offspring carry these same characteristic. Even strong magic can warp their bodies, as many evil wizards have found, creating the dread ur-goblins, bugbears, and Violators from goblin stock.

Left alone, their societies resemble anarchy to any outsider, although they tend to grow an alpha goblin among any tribe. Strangely, most of them do not seem to understand the concept of love at all. They are poly-sexual, and any mating between them, whether male-male, male-female, or female-female, can generate offspring. With a month-long gestation period, this doesn't really get in the way of their curious relations.  A few goblins have been observed in a bizarre state that resembles love, however. When a goblin is struck with this, known only as "the Affliction" in their rough language, they leave their tribe and travel, their only goals to prove their love or die. (They seem confused by their own emotions, and usually cannot express clearly what they are doing.) A goblin has never been observed in love with another goblin, however; they always choose a member of another species as their object of affection.


So that's the setting in a nutshell - and incredibly condensed from my notes. I begin playtesting tomorrow night.

Rules

So far, the rules are working well. I'm going for few innovative rules in this setting - the main innovation is the idea that the players choose how they get experience. Each character can take a number of Secrets, all of which change the rules for them. Experience Secrets let them gain more experience by taking story responsibilities, although a few are purposefully gamist in nature. The narrativist ones resemble Riddle of Steel Spiritual Attributes. Here's a few examples:


Secret of Bloodlust: Your character enjoys overpowering others in combat. Gain 1 XP every time your character defeats someone in battle. Gain 3 XP for defeating someone equal to or more powerful than your character (equal or more advances + equal or higher combat skill.) Buyoff: Be defeated in battle and gain 10 XP.

Secret of Faith: Your character has a strong religious belief that guides him. Gain 1 XP every time he defends his faith to others. Gain 2 XP whenever this character converts someone to his faith. Gain 5 XP whenever this character defends his faith even though it brings him great harm. Buyoff: Your character renounces his beliefs and gains 10 XP.

Secret of Vengeance: Your character has a hatred for a particular organization, person, or even species or culture. Gain 1 XP every time your character hurts a member of that group or a lackey of that person. Gain 2 XP every time your character strikes a minor blow at that group or person (killing a member of the organization or one of the person's lackeys, disrupting their life, destroying their property). Gain 5 XP every time your character strikes a major blow at that group or person. Buyoff: Let your enemy go and gain 10 XP.


The buyoffs are a special rule - you can gain a great deal of XP for fulfilling the buyoff conditions and then erasing the Secret.

My major rules problem so far has to do with Secrets and Skills. I'm having a hard time making enough Secrets that aren't combat-related, which is compounded by the fact that the Skill Check system is multiple-success based. In other words, you can get anywhere from 1-6 Success Levels on a successful Skill Check. A Secret that lets you use your Riding skill to ride any animal, even if not domesticated, isn't very useful because of this - that would just require 3 or 4 Success Levels, most likely. Removing the Success Levels doesn't work as well, either, because of the mechanics listed above - the part about a character at his highest power level ending the adventure on a certain roll. If a character ever gets 7 Success Levels - which he can only do with a skill of 10 - this is considered Transcendent, and the moon immediately rises to eclipse the sun and the story is over at the end of that week - usually one session.

Anyway, I've promised several people I'd start to document this work online. I don't have a lot of questions yet, and will have more insight after a playtest, but I hope you enjoyed this, and any questions for me will certainly be answered.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
szilard
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2003, 03:27:57 PM »

I'm a little confused. Are all Secrets related to how experience is gained (the ones you listed are) - or are some of them special abilities?

Stuart
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2003, 03:31:14 PM »

Come up with as many secrets as you care to, but then make a few templates.

For instance for the examples you gave you start with a concept or personality focus.  Each time you do something related to that focus you gain 1XP.  Each time to you something particularly challenging to that focus you gain 5XP.  If you undergo a major character shift and redefining moment, renouncing the focus you gain 10XP.  

That's a pretty easy model to follow and alot of things could come from it.  You could have a skill template from which there could be a seperate secret for each skill.  The character could be a Riddle of Steel Riddle Seeker but instead of steel he seeks the Riddle of the Harvest, or the Riddle of Walking in Dark Places or the like.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2003, 03:36:33 PM »

Quote from: szilard
I'm a little confused. Are all Secrets related to how experience is gained (the ones you listed are) - or are some of them special abilities?


Stuart,

Some of them are special abilities.

Examples:

Secret of Mighty Blow: Your character can strike with extreme might. Increase the Success Level of a successful hit by one. Cost: 1 Vigor.

Secret of Lightning Strike: Your character is lightning fast. Attack anyone attacking you in combat - as long as you're not surprised - before they can hit. Cost: 2 Grace.

Secret of Inner Meaning: Your character's art carries a meaning beyond the surface. Use any Charm-based skill at a distance via a piece of your character's art. Cost: 1 Force.

Secret of Quality Construction: Your character can craft items of excellent quality. Any item you create using this Secret gives one bonus die to a particular skill when using the item. Cost: 3 Wits.

Secret of Magical Contagion: Normally, a spell affects one person. You can spread your spells over a group of people by spending points from the relevant attribute. The number of people affected is equal to the points spent squared. (2 points for 4 people, 3 points for 9, 4 for 16, etc.)


Ralph - Good idea. I've done that with the experience Secrets. (Most go 1, 2, 5, 10, although a few that will happen more frequently, like the Secret of Bloodlust, go 1, 3, 10.

With the game Secrets, I've done some templating, but it's a bit harder. (Plus, I've got about 60 skills.)
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
James V. West
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2003, 05:08:56 PM »

This sounds awesome, Clinton. Definitely a game I'd pick up.

I'm intrigued with the notion of using "secrets" in an rpg. I have some ideas of my own about them, but your take is killer. Nice.
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szilard
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2003, 10:27:40 PM »

Clinton,

Is it a problem for secrets (like the Secret of Mighty blow) to add successes? Would this count toward the 7 that could end the adventure? What about bonus dice to skills? I don't know how the system works, so I don't know if this is a problem...

If this is a concern, one easy - if somewhat inelegant - solution might be to say that the adventure-ending roll must be a 7 before modification by a Secret.

I'm not really sure what the concern is about non-combat Secrets. Why not allow them to do things that are in the possible-but-uncanny category... for your Riding example, what about the Secret of the Wild Steed, that allows you to effectively tame any steed with a touch, for your own use? Alternately, what about the Secret of the Loyal Steed, which will bind your steed to you such that it will follow simple verbal commands and not let anyone else ride it without your permission? There seem to be a lot of options that aren't effectively just autosuccesses... unless you want the secrets to be more mundane than that.

Stuart
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Alan
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2003, 07:12:23 AM »

Hi Clinton,

I like the secrets idea.  What if they provided a reroll mechanic, as in Paladin, rather than bonus dice or successes?
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- Alan

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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2003, 07:41:32 AM »

While others seem to be focussing on the potential of "secrets" as implementations of abilities and powers, I'm more interested in the other side of the "secrets" coin: secrets as offered contracts for significant or even climactic turns of events in a character's story-outcome.

Secret of Love: Your character has a deep and mutual love relationship with another person. Gain 1 XP every time your character expresses or defends this love through action. Gain 2 XP whenever this character successfully maintains this love (or the well-being of the loved one) against serious adversity or at personal cost. Gain 5 XP whenever this character experiences a significant new dimension to the relationship. Buyoff: the character's love or the loved one are permanently destroyed or lost; your character gains 10 XP.

... Probably a poorly-executed example because it tries to grasp too general a case; I could easily see a dozen different love-related "secrets" -- devoted, unrequited, young, forbidden, parental, passionate, etc.

Secret of Ambition: Your character has a burning desire to achieve some particular prestigious status, position, office, title, rank, or award. Gain 1 XP every time the character makes progress toward the goal. Gain 2 XP whenever your character overcomes an obstacle or hurts someone in order to make progress. Gain 5 XP whenever your character makes a major personal sacrifice to take a significant step toward the goal. Buyoff: your character gives up the ambition and gains 10 XP.

Again, a very general example, but this is my point. This type of Secret is really an encapsulation of a conflict, complete with a built-in mechanisms for resolution of the conflict and for spawning and resolving sub-conflicts that the conflict may give rise to. This is potentially very powerful. I've been wondering why there aren't more role playing systems that handle conflicts as discrete entities with their own rules. Many character disadvantages in many systems are actually rudimentary conflict entities, but they're muddled together with other disadvantages and other system elements that aren't, which prevents the systems from taking full advantage of them. As might be happening here, with the admixture of the ability-related Secrets.

Keep in mind that my definition of "conflict," which emerged out of conversations with the digital interactive storytelling crowd, is far more broad than the lit-101 textbook definiitons. To me, a conflict is a condition that the storyteller (not necessarily the character) desires to change over the future course of the story. In an interactive system, that generalizes even further to what may loosely be described as the potential to change for the aesthetic benefit of the story-outcome. In other words, the existence of a plausible buyoff scenario makes any Secret a potential conflict.

For instance, it's no surprise that being impoverished would generally be considered a conflict for a character. "Secret of Poverty" could represent this quite well. Gain XPs when you weather the adversity poverty causes; the buyoff occurs when the character gains comfortable secure resources and thereby "gives up" poverty. But "Secret of Wealth" works too. Gain XPs by preserving against threats, or expanding, the character's wealth; give up the wealth for a 10 XP buyoff. The existence of the buyoff allows the wealth to at least potentially be seen and treated as a conflict. Your Bloodlust and Faith examples show this too, I believe.

Um, I guess I don't really have a question to ask here, other than does this interpretation of Secrets make any sense to you at all? Might it help with the problem of inventing enough non-combat-related Secrets?

- Walt
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2003, 08:39:16 AM »

The fact that the term "Secrets" is being used for both experience-based bonuses and game-based bonuses is causing confusion, as Walt pointed out. I may well change the name of the experience-based Secrets to Conflicts or something.

Anyway, Walt, your post is right on. I'm using a template system much like the two general Secrets you showed, and giving a few examples. (I have a Secret of Love, and then a Secret of Unrequited Love to show how you might change it.) Even with the most "game-y" Secrets, like Bloodlust, I give a possible story conflict in it with the Buyoff.

Alan - not necessary to re-roll or anything. Mechanics wise, I'm happy with the game. (Also, bonus dice are like bonus dice from Over the Edge, so re-rolls are encapsulated into that.) My problem before could be better articulated as "I have a system that lets characters do extraordinary things with their skills, and a system that gives them special abilities, and well, that seems a little like overkill." Stuart gave me a few good ideas below that I can use, though.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2003, 12:29:08 PM »

I don't have much to add other than

"cool"

and

"count me in."

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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quozl
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2003, 06:18:27 AM »

The experience gain based on what the character selects sounds so amazingly cool and simple.  Has any game done this sort of thing before?
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--- Jonathan N.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2003, 08:25:37 AM »

The Riddle of Steel did it, for certain. I don't know of any other games that work this way, though.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2003, 08:38:13 AM »

Modestly ...

The only way for scores to increase in Sorcerer is for a character to resolve his or her Kicker. Furthermore, any and all descriptors may be re-written at this point.

I may be succumbing to personal hubris, but I think that the Buy-offs in this game design represent Kicker resolution, which is something that is only a possibility, rather than an explicit game demand, in The Riddle of Steel, and that the development/improvement parallels to Sorcerer in The Shadow of Yesterday are very strong. The TROS connection seems attached more to the bonus/abilities issue.

Best,
Ron
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2003, 08:53:13 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

The only way for scores to increase in Sorcerer is for a character to resolve his or her Kicker. Furthermore, any and all descriptors may be re-written at this point.

I may be succumbing to personal hubris, but I think that the Buy-offs in this game design represent Kicker resolution, which is something that is only a possibility, rather than an explicit game demand, in The Riddle of Steel, and that the development/improvement parallels to Sorcerer in The Shadow of Yesterday are very strong. The TROS connection seems attached more to the bonus/abilities issue.


Damn, Ron - I can't believe I didn't think of that. I play too much Sorcerer to not think of that.

Anyway, in other news, I ran my first playtest last night. We found that it works well, although the system needed a lot of tightening, much of which we were able to do in-game. The experience-based Secrets rocked, although Dan and John, my playtesters, abused the system. (There's a Secret of the Mission. I was thinking huge, epic missions like "Save the falling rule of King Akhar." The adventure was recovering a magical artifact for their clan in Khale and they took "Recover this artifact" as their mission. Of course, that's the sort of thing playtesters do.)

It was an odd experience playtesting this game because it's intended to be a highly narrativist game that looks and feels like D&D. (I've played a whole hell of a lot of narrativist-drifted D&D, and it's fun, but it's been a while.) Combat certainly looked like D&D, although we managed to tighten the system enough that it didn't take hours to complete. The system itself was very responsive, though, and allowed for sudden manuevers like garotting an Ammeni officer, trying to flip and break a crocodile's neck, and then slapping a soldier with the crocodile's body. (I know - crazy. It's meant to be heroic, though.)
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2003, 09:46:16 AM »

Hey Clinton,

It's cool. I like the Secrets a lot. Though I've been considering it for the past couple of days, and I'm thinking it isn't type2.

I don't see the Secrets as a mechanic of player apprehension of GM-owned conflict. Say as a player I take Secret of the Mission, and define it as being motivated to find who killed my sister. That's me defining the conflict, and the GM responding. What type2 is looking for is mechanics that faciliate the GM saying something like, "this game is about a group of alien peacekeepers, some of whom have 'gone native' among the population they're sworn to protect," and the players apprehending and contributing to the resolution of that conflict.

Convince me otherwise?

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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