Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

Uncle Sam gave me some pretty important news the day before Christmas.  It seems my schedule has been accelerated and I'll be leaving before February is over.  With that in mind I've had to change a number of plans, one of them being the Rules I've been developing for far too long.  With all the feature creep and redesigns it's been looking like the project will sit in development in perpetuity.  I had something I could've released in 2008, another I could've released in 2011 each one bearing little resemblance to its past incarnation and here we are on the cusp of the 2014.  As much as I love tinkering it's time to release something.

I started pushing myself towards this point by posting Excerpts, hardcoding mechanics that way I couldn't drastically change them later.  At this point I need to get everything set in stone, a difficultly since the core mechanic hit two major overhauls in the last two months and is no longer as smooth as it once was.  The game is starting to be buried under feature creep so I'm going to need to adjust formatting for modularity and some things simply don't have enough time for playtesting which means I'm going to have to leave a lot on the chopping block.  A finished and fine looking product doesn't seem reasonable in a two month time frame, and a kickstarter would be unfair since I will be unavailable for many months and I'll be damned before I turn into an M. Nystul.

So here's where we stand. Come January I'll start an open Beta.  If I can get my shit together before then I'll get a nice PDF release before February is over.  This is a labor of love so there won't be a price tag.  Pay what you want will be offered but all funds will be donated to Charity, either the EFF or Child's Play.  Licensing will likely be Creative Commons.  Well I've got my work cut out for me.  The two pronged attack of crunch time at my day job won't be helping either.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 27, 2013

Playtest Report: Desert of Desolation Prelude Finale

Thundarr the Barbarian
With the departure of the Great Thunder Lizard most of the Croc tribe begins worshipping those that rose from the Sand
Great Croc leader is not amused.
Kills High Priest who knelt before Thundarr PC's.  I
nstructs remaining priest to carry on with Ceremony.
Bronan: "Over my well oiled dead body"
Great Croc Leader and Bronan have a Showdown
Great Croc Leader's Morningstar proves too painful and Bronan's badly bleeding hide must retreat while Jacque steps in.
One Critical hit later Jacques Flamberge has carved out the Great Croc leaders heart
Croc Tribe swears fealty to new Croc Leader
Monsieur Frog is clad in Croc Chief regalia

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Playtest Report: Desert of Desolation Prelude

Fencer by Beaver-Skin
Bronan the Barbarian and Jean-Claude the French Canadian Fencer have blown into town in search of adventure and coin.
Town is an oasis in the middle of the shifting sands.
Plenty of Caravans and Merchants
Plenty of crazy tribes too.
Party witnesses tribal dance followed by selection of beautiful girl who is led off crying
Party demands answers from local street vendor
Local street vendor proves surprisingly knowledgeable
Tribals are superstitious and think that Great Thunder Lizard will emerge from deep beneath the sands to wreak havoc and consume the oasis.
Tribals placate Great Thunder Lizard with human sacrifices.
The last sacrifice was an out-of-towner they snatched.
She proved resourceful and escaped (or was eaten, hasn't been seen since)
Tribals have selected a new sacrifice.
Bronan on a quest to save Damsels in Distress
Jean-Claude will not suffer this Lizard Worshipping.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twilight Imperium: A Great Way to Spend 7 Hours

I enjoy the occasional board game but I don't normally seek them out so when a friend asked me to commit to an 8 hour board game I had my doubts.  This is the second time we've played, both times it has been a blast.  Fairly easy to get into, it's easier to watch than have it explained to you but once you do the game moves pretty fast and is continuously engaging.  Plenty of treachery, wheeling and dealing, politics and of course space battles. 

In fact, the space battles are quick and easy with a decent amount of options to keep it fresh.  If I ever revisit my Mecha Mashup rules I would definitely like to go for a simple space army battle presented in Twilight Imperium.  One of the problems my players always had in character creation was choosing the genre (Zoids, Gundam, Robotech/Macross, Evangelion, etc.) and type of Mecha to build as a character.  Giving them the option to build armies rather than units could be quite a bit of fun.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Etrian Odyssey

EO Golem by Jehudy

I've been on an Etrian Odyssey Binge so I've decided to finish up an old draft from a ways back.

All this talk of Combat as Sport (CaS) or Combat as War (CaW) has got me thinking of one of my favorite games, an old school dungeon crawler with modern day influences, a cult favorite and continuously improving game series.  I speak of course of the hand-held joy Etrian Odyssey

Etrian Odyssey is a first person dungeon crawler similar in vein to Eye of the Beholder or Wizardry that many greybeards may be more familiar with.  You create a guild, recruit people from various classes and stunning hand-drawn portraits then you assemble a party of up to five adventurers and journey into the labyrinth.  Each game in the series has one main goal at its core, to explore the world-spanning labyrinth Yggdrasil, going deep beneath its depths or high amongst its branches to seek mystery, fame, fortune, and answers.  There is a new Yggdrasil or equivalent in each game, it is at the end of the first game you learn the true purpose of this tree in what is often a very bright and cheerful post-apocalyptic world.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Excerpt: Initiative

Doug Anderson proposed an idea for Initiative a while back that I'm rather keen on.  At the time my slow as molasses Dwarf player wanted to have some way to not go last in Initiative and this worked perfectly.  After plenty of playtesting I'm rather satisfied with the end result in the context of my HP system.  Read more about it here

Doug proposes that when the party encounters another group you allow them to Spend HP to improve their initiative.  When they run head first into a party of goblins they have to decide whether to conserve their resources and let the goblins act first or to spend some of their Luck (HP in his system) and strike first.  It's a quick but important decision that adds a good deal of oomph to combat without over complicating things.  Simple and Clean, my kind of thing.

Monday, December 2, 2013

R&D Update: November

A month has slipped by past my original deadline and I'm glad it did.  Being overdue has put me in crunchtime but the lack of a firm deadline keeps me from burning out.  Although I've got a major career and life change no more than three months in the future which is driving me forward.

I've been doing serious playtesting 3-5 times weekly and I've gotten a lot more revisions in and more recently a focus on readability.  I am currently trying to pass a fundamental design test as follows:
Set the player down with your game.
Give them only the character creation rules.
Can they make a character without any guidance?
Step 2, give them the combat rules and have them run combat.
Is it intuitive?  Are there any hiccups?  What areas do people frequently forget or misinterpret?

It has certainly been eye opening and gives me a finer lens with which to tweak things and to instill some clarity.

I was fortunate enough to have a good friend of mine who is equal parts board-game fanatic and statistician take a look over the MK I rule set.  After nearly two years of playtesting he's the first to bring up a fundamental flaw in the die rolling and the we have appropriated 3d6 in place of the d20.  As a result I've had to do some major math-wizardry by taking an existing option for Titanic PCs and and applying it unilaterally and seeing the consequences.  This entails rewriting a lot of formulas, retooling a number of basic combat mechanics and a grand sweeping change to Saving Throws.  That is why the post on Initiative has been delayed, but fortunately Armor has been spared and will remain the same.  The downside is that PC's are now universally a cut above the common man, on the brightside the PC's are now rockstars.

As a result I've also become a secret member of the d12 cult.