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Medieval- The Experts Roleplaying System

Started by castus nigh, April 11, 2008, 01:51:18 AM

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castus nigh

My gaming system, is as named above, has been termed the evolution of D&D by those who have been playtesting this new gaming system.  Medieval has many unique advantages over traditional gaming systems that I do not want to fully disclose here however, I will give you an example of game play that may perk your interest. 

A key not feature of Medieval is that there are no alignments, good or evil, character or otherwise.  Alignments were always just a basis of arguments between DMs/players and players/players.  Alignment, in my opinion, is completely dependent upon your relative point of view.  If you were a knight in the king's army upon the most holy of quests, to bring the heathen barbarians into the light of the lord!  When has there ever been a more noble quest!  Your company comes upon a small village and the order is given to take prisoners, kill those who resist.  In all your glory, decked out in full plate armor,  wielding  finely honed longswords and trained in combat tactics, you descend upon the unholy masses.  Charging from their mud huts come a loosely structure mob of barbarians!  Snarling in some strange language the hurls stones that bounce off your armor.  They charge and slam their wooden clubs against your shields!  Then you run them along the length of your blade.  Step over the corpse and take the women and children into custody. 

Are you good or are you evil?

In the eyes of your fellow knights, you are on  a holy quest and there is no question of your virtue.  However, what are you to the young boy who watches terrified from the mud hut as your sword plunges through his father's back, there is no question.  To him,  you are evil, you are as vile as any demon in all of the Nine Hells! 

Alignments are at best, speculative. Furthermore, how do you award/penalize characters for not playing their alignments correctly, and who is to say that they are not playing them correctly!  Just a mess.   I always hated alignments, especially for clerics.  To make a cleric made, take away his access to spells for failure to play his alignment.  Just nasty!

The solution, Medieval.  In Medieval each character has to select a number of Personality Traits.  A total of five Core Traits, three Peripheral Traits and a Like and a Dislike.  The Core Traits are picked and placed on the character sheet in descending order of importance.  Each Core Trait is further subdivided into three aspects of 'What makes up that trait for your character'. 

For example, in the case of the knight upon the Holy Quest, the most important Core Trait to him may be Loyalty.  Which is further broken down into its aspects 1) loyalty to the king,  2) loyalty to family  and 3) loyalty to trusted allies.  Reasonable enough, brief and too the point.  How to roleplay these traits is simple.  No matter what situation the Knight is faced with, his loyalty to the king is paramount, therefore he will die and kill for his king.  Now, the loyal knight is witness to a hooded child stealing bread.  According to the king's law the boy must be punished.  Theft will result in removal of the appendage used to commit the crime.  Upon apprehending the hooded criminal the knight is shocked to see his uncle's youngest son.  Does he bring the child to the law or sternly warn him, pay for the bread and drag him to his sick father to explain the errors of the boy's actions. 

If you said, bring him to justice, then you correctly roleplayed the knight according to his personality traits.  Hence, you would be awarded one character point and receive 100 experience per Level of Experience (LoE).  Congratulations!  If you took the other course, you have failed to successfully roleplay the knight character according to the traits, hence you would lose a character point and loose 100 experience points per LoE.  Nice, easy, works well.

I cannot overstate this simple premise enough.  I cannot fully describe how you players will seek to play their personality traits.  Roleplaying their character according to their Personality Traits is the most important aspect of the game.  Why?  For each Personality Trait successfully roleplayed the player receives two bonuses.  Firstly, the player will get experience for roleplaying, however more importantly is that the player would receive one Character Point.   Character Points are used to purchase any and all of your character's abilities!  A real incentive to roleplay your traits.

We, my group, were recently using a sewer system to avoid capture in a town overrun by a humanoid army.  Most villagers had been killed or enslaved and the now invading army was waiting for more groups to arrive.  The sewers, were at one time, the upper tunnels of a dwarven mine, long since abandoned.  There are numerous guards and creatures within the sewers, including undead.  The party came to a large common room, at one time used as  a meeting hall for traders, seeking dwarven goods.  The dwarves had placed a large mural upon the wall that illustrated the might of dwarven heritage.  In the dark, the party was worried about crossing this large open area.  The area was strewn with rotten wooden benches, debris and garbage.  A great place for an ambush and for the party to meet their demise.  What happens! 

Sienna, a lowly thief, begins scraping her dagger over the mural leaving deep gouges in the artwork!  The noise echoes down all hallways leading beyond the area.  Everyone, including myself (the narrator or DM), totally bewildered, say, "What are you doing?"

She looks up and stoically replies, " I hate artwork!"  Artwork was her dislike and she was simply roleplaying her character! 

I know it is almost impossible to convey the gaming stress of having your character in that situation.  Stealth was paramount.  The party was seeking to attack a dragon in the army with a rune covered spear in an attempt to help destroy the dragon.  The sewers were crawling with undead and guards.  The party members will all human and could not see beyond the limited reach of the torch.  They were being as quiet as the could, trying not to be discovered and here is Sienna, scraping a metal dagger upon stone tiles!  It truly was awesome.  I can't explain this, you really need to experience it for yourself.  Personality Traits are absolutely, without a doubt, the best means of roleplaying!

Castus Nigh 

Adam Dray

Is there a way for a player to make sure their traits come up in play? I assume it's the GM's responsibility to know the traits of the characters and make sure everyone gets opportunities to bring those traits into play so they can earn experience points and character points. What means do the players have to ensure those opportunities? Will Sienna's player be at a disadvantage because she took a quirky trait ("I hate art!") that doesn't come up much in the holy quest plot everyone else is focusing on? Would the player be better off taking a trait like "I hate evil!" that is more generally useful in that kind of play?

Do you have a draft of the rules we can read? What form is your game in right now? A draft ruleset of your own design, or perhaps a large or small set of modifications / house rules to an existing game (AD&D 1st, 2nd, D&D 3rd, etc.)? What are your plans for publication, if any (share with friends, post the finished thing free on the net, sell it on the net, print it and sell it through indie channels, print it and sell it through distributor channels, etc.)?

Also, have you played games other than Dungeons & Dragons? Which version of D&D are you most familiar with? I ask because knowing will help me understand more where you're coming from. To be frank, you're hardly the first person to come here and announce The Evolution Of D&D (maybe in different words), so I'm a bit jaded. Dozens or even hundreds of us here have had a hand at a "fantasy heartbreaker"-type game design, in which we tackled our own problems with D&D -- which is a common reference point for a lot of us. I ask these things a little tentatively, but only after talking to you a bit and getting the feeling that your enthusiasm for your game will not easily be squashed -- which is a wonderful thing!
Adam Dray /
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at 7777

castus nigh

Adam- you are an inquisitive fellow!

The best way to ensure your traits come up during game play is to take broad aspects (ie. never attack from behind) comes up a lot!  The 'I hate art' example was a Dislike and yes, you can take a broader dislike such as evil or a particular race or class but remember, you have to gain some something or loose something for the trait to apply.  It is actually kind of hard to do that with I hate evil.  It can be done, but 'saying it' is not the same as 'doing it'.   However, when you do 'do it' you will be aptly rewarded! 

Furthermore, the Narrator has a quick reference sheet  that details important parts of the various players in the group (ie. Effective Armor Class, Damage Capacity and Personality Traits).  In  this manner, a good Narrator can use this sheet to both ensure that such roleplaying opportunities come up but to also get the players involved in the game, to force them to come out of their shell and roleplay like they have never played before.

Currently, Medieval, The Expert's Roleplaying System, is a compilation of over 400 pages of combat rules, classes, magic...  Unfortunately/fortunately it is at a publisher and has received great reviews.  Gone from send us a brief sample of your work to we want it all.  However, recently the publisher has kind of disappeared and I don't know if their server is down, if they are too busy with the other departments (just went into video RPG's) to answer my emails... it is frustrating!  However, it is at the publisher (Antediluvian Studios) and at there request I have not released it to anyone else, to date.  However, that said, if I do not get some kind of response soon, I am looking for ways to get it published (possibly through indie channels) and that is why I am here now.  Setting the buzz, getting responses as to what people are looking for and what they want.  I believe, if the publisher falls through, I will publish it to the net and charge a annual membership fee.  With the membership fee you get access to everything at the site- the system, all modules, all accessories, FAQ, post your own adventure, forums... Currently, there are 5 copies made, I have one, the publisher has one and each of may playtesters have their own copy.

Over 20 years I have player basic D&D, AD&D, 2ND ED D&D, 3  and 3.5- the later two were horrible and inspired me to finish the system that I have been writing for 10 years.  I have played some other games Star Frontiers, Star Wars but only a game or two.  I have heard many people make the same claim, however I haven't made the claim- these are quotes from people who have played Medieval, some of whom have been playing longer than I have and many more systems than I have.  I have had players so enthralled that they have written 80 page journals about our epic campaign.  I have literally made a player ' get up and dance' over a  dice roll.  I have had a player, so pissed off that his character died that he smashed his die into bits with a hammer... the list goes on and on.  This system is the real deal and hopefully, it will be accessible very soon!

Castus Nigh

Adam Dray

I just found your other thread in the Publishing forum. Cool. (Listen to those guys: they know what they're doing.)

I strongly recommend that you do outside playtesting before you publish. You obviously have a winning formula for you and the people that play with you. It is possible that the formula relies on a lot of stuff that's in your head and not in the rules text. It's possible that the reason your game is enthralling is you and not your rules. Getting other people to run your game and send you playtest reports is vital to understanding the stuff you've errantly left out of the text. If you want your game to be the smash success that you think it should be, it'll have to produce the same kind of fun for complete strangers that it produces at your game table. Realize that your #1 competitor, Wizards of the Coast, does outside playtesting, too.

I get what you're saying about taking broad aspects. There's a bit of discussion in (I think) Spirit of the Century that talks about how best to write player-authored traits. Essentially, they say that you need to get the GM to use them, so make them interesting and specific, not broad. A GM is more likely to use "I hate the Wizard of Cythiha because she killed my pet imp" than "hates wizards." However, you might also consider giving the GM something when a player uses a trait -- perhaps some kind of action point the GM can use to make the PCs' lives more interesting later.

And, since we're in the Playtesting forum, perhaps I can get you to tell me more about the lead-up to that player smashing his dice with a hammer. Can you talk a little (please not a lot) about the fiction that led to that point, and a lot about the game mechanics and dice that were involved, and a lot about the player (not character) motivations involved?
Adam Dray /
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at 7777