Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dark Souls: Sin and Punishment

To cap off this series I want to examine something that has been cropping up in the electronic medium for many years but has been a core aspect of tabletop RPG's since their inception.  Player agency as determined by choices and consequences, or in Dark Souls' case: Sin and Punishment.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points Part 3

After we had converted to 3d6 D&D completely I had an idea in my head that I wanted to tinker with.  Using the previous system of rolling Hit Dice at every encounter instead of adding HP together each Hit Die would be recorded separately in your HP.  This means that with your 3 HD as a third level character if you were to roll 3, 5 and 2 you would record 3, 5 and 2 as your HP.  Seem strange or have you already figured it out?  You see by recording them separately when dealing damage you can treat each individual HD as a buffer protecting your life.  This means that if your opponent roll a 4 for damage, you the defender then assign that damage to one of your Hit Dice; should it be lower than that Hit Dice it bounces off ineffectually as you duck out of the way, if instead it is greater then the Hit Die is defeated and removed.  When you run out of Hit Dice you'll land yourself on Death's Doormat shortly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points Part 2

"He who values his life dies a dog's death"

One of the driving reasons behind altering HP is the attitude I often see in players who have achieved a certain level.  Were I to tell them for their heinous crimes that the guard has been dispatched to arrest them the response I would ordinarily get is "So what?"  Rightfully so, a 5th level fighter is rather adept at dispatching some common guards who on all accounts should be no more than 2nd level.  Throwing more guards at him won't exactly solve the problem if his AC is sufficiently good.  I'm a big proponent against level inflation so I have zero desire to start ratcheting up the levels of guardsman.  While I'm not a big fan of the Eberron setting I did highly appreciate the idea that the only high level characters left, besides a few monarchs were the PC's.  With no one else around it falls on the PC's the shake up the kingdom, dispatch some monsters and save the world.  For that reason I cannot in good conscious merely amp up the level of the town guard to be on par with the PC, it would be unfair to the heroic genre and the goals of fantasy gaming.  Incendiary opinions aside rather than hand-wave it away by saying the guards superior numbers take this vagrant down I would like for there to options in the mechanics to accomplish this.  Either by combat tactics (flanking/surrounded) or a change in the foundation of Hit Points.  Why not both?

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points

Boromir's Last Stand by Deligaris

A while back in my Dark Souls series I promised a post on how I handled Hit Points nowadays.  The system is pretty revolutionary {ugh buzzwords are flowing into my vocabulary too often nowadays} compared to what we're used to and the idea just kind of hit me one day.  Before I get into that though I want to discuss conceptually how one would get to this system, odd as it may be, and the influences that lead me to this system.  As you can surmise Dark Souls certainly influenced a lot of my later redesign goals and it's approach to difficulty and lethality has granted a new perspective both to how I run games and now how I design them.  I've come to appreciate death as the ultimate teacher and while "It Gets Worse" is a staple of mine there are times where I've let the dice lie and dealt out uncaring justice towards poorly thought out actions.  Although most of the time though I prefer the gentler approach.  Still when it comes to willful ignorance and devil-may-care recklessness I prefer the give-and-take lethality present in the Witcher games which values preparedness and research above all.  A Witcher without his potions or his knowledge aberration anatomy makes for a poor monster slayer indeed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

R&D Update: Elementalism Part 2

This playtest was particularly useful because it allowed a chance to try out a key battlefield provision that would keep yonder geomancers from planting roots.  In this system they were encouraged to move to the last place they made use of an elemental effect to allow them access to more powerful arts.  This playtest is hot on the heels of a proof test tiered requirements which supersedes communal mana which in turn displaced personal pools a long long time ago.  The problems with communal mana came into effect where geomancers of the same element tried to use an ability which would steal mana out of the communal pool, thus screwing over whoever went second.  Not to mention high level arts wouldn't get used which runs counter to the idea that two elementalists surging forth with mana would cause a destabilization rather than a neutralized zone; think hurricane vs eye of the storm.  Unintentional hurricanes add mental limits to players who are not keen on destroying the surrounding countryside (or themselves.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Temple of Elemental Evil: Recap 2.5 TPK Vengeance

Brace yourself this will be the longest recap yet for quite an exciting session.  The PC's tested their luck one time too many and death was in hot pursuit.
Large Fire Elemental by Julie Guthrie

We resumed our elemental gallivanting with all players in tow.  We picked up after the eerie green wind ghost was put to rest but before the player's could catch their breath another green glow lit the room. Fortunately this time it was their longtime companion Drake Phoenixbreath back from the dead.  His flames had become corrupted through his cycling demise at the hands of his former partner Nigel in the Fire Temples Alter.  His self-sacrifice on the Salamander altar pushed him over the edge and now his phoenix flames burned an eerie green (the player opted for a Low Essence of Hi/Lo fame which alters his personal element and Origin of Fire.).  Reunited once more the players decided what to do, princess Tilahi after hearing of her beloved Prince last seen on level 3 of this elemental hell-hole was dedicated to pressing onward rather than escaping.  With poem in hand the players thought it best they start rounding up elemental gems (in the original module the gems are all stored in nodes but throughout this campaign they have already been reclaimed or found).  They headed towards the fire temple who they knew were in possession of the fire gem and as an added bonus Nigel would be there and in possession of the Water gem which he had used to devastating effect on the party earlier.  In addition, Romaag High Priest of the Earth Temple sent them on a mission to kill two high ranking fire cultists who were stealing his followers; after he found out about the Salamander incident he instructed them to kill the High Priest of Fire Alvarnon as well.

R&D Update: Elementalism

Well things have finally settled down to manageable near-crazy levels so I should be able to keep a regular posting schedule.  Plus this weeks upcoming dog sitting will keep me chained to the keyboard.  With that said I can't help but notice it's already October 21st.  My original plan was to have a prototype rule set ready by the end of October.  Of course this isn't the first time I've made such claims but I'm feeling pretty fruitful and since I have a major life/career change on the horizon I'd like to at least publish before I'm potentially overseas for a few years.  So, two weeks left; I could strip a lot and put out something bare bones and serviceable; but like a typical engineer I'd rather just let this one run over budget and sink more time into it.  More time, of course means more playtesting.  Speaking of which:

This playtest gave me a chance to try out two competing resolution system for Channeling the Elements and Unleashing their Fury.  This scenario and it's repetitions took a party of three geomancers, Terra the Teraformer, Frosty the Snowmage and Dr. Witcher M.D.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem is a series I've held near and dear to my heart ever since it's North American debut with Fire Emblem (Rekka no Ken / Blazing Sword).  My interest in the series was piqued with the character cameos in Smash Bros and the corresponding trophies that hinted at what the game was about.  I had completely missed out on the Shining Force series back on the Sega Genesis so this was entirely new territory for me; a strategy game that was turn based and didn't involve space marines, how exciting!  The games highlights are challenging fights, permanent death for allies, a small band of rebels skirting around overwhelming forces until they can eventually muster victory, a human-only setting (with the occasional undead mixed in), character hair colored with shades of the rainbow, accursed random number generator and random level-ups for one's stats, usually a horrible evil dragon waiting at the end, and the eponymous Fire Emblem.  It's a fun series and definitely worth a look.  A good place to start would be the aforementioned Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance or Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on the Nintendo DS as your first forays.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I've had some medical issues crop up with a family member so I'm going to have to take a break from blogging for a while.  Rest assured I will return as I always have plenty to say.