Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Avatars & Annihilation Playtest: Chasing the Comet Introduction

Cancun, August 13, 2010
Sunday was the first exceptionally large (7 of 9 players showed) playtest.  As you can imagine we had a blast.  As you can imagine, herding seven cats left me particularly drained.  Teaching a new system and being a rulebook, monster manual, arbiter and referee certainly compounded that.  At the end of the day I've decided to split the party into groups with two distinct playstyles: Murder Hobos and Good Samaritans.  They will operate in the same world but with diverging timelines after encountering Eien, the great grey cat unstuck from time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A&A: Elemental Origin

Choose an Origin

NausicaƤ and the Valley of the Wind
Now that you have a concept in mind and an idea of what your character is capable of, it’s time to choose their Origin. Your Origin is a bit more than just where you were born and raised, as it also entails the element with which you have forged the strongest bond. In this world, elemental forces are the lifeblood of the planet, ingrained into the very landscape and in some locales dominating the scenery. From the poshest of princes to the dingiest of street urchins, everyone on this far-flung earth has a deep connection with an elemental force.

The early settlers who took up residence near these places of elemental grandeur thrived and began to share an affinity with their patron element.  Over many generations they formed a bond so strong that the element runs through their very veins altering their physiology, their temperament, and their spirits. Taking an Origin of Fire is more than simply declaring your affinity
.  You are saying that you grew up in the land of fire where smoke fills the sky, brimstone assails the nose, volcano's rage as new islands form, geysers spew forth magma in the distance and the land underneath is smooth and holed with layers of pumice and ash broken up by streams of obsidian.  You may be a blacksmith who plies his craft beneath the shadow of the molten mountain or perhaps a machinist from the land of cracked plains and smoke-top mountains.  Regardless of where you are from, you and anyone with an Origin of Fire has come from the same geographic location and share much of the same culture, language, traditions, fashion and appearance. This shared heritage is useful, for you are a stranger in a strange land; familiar faces, sights and sounds are always welcome.

Your home is more than just a place. It is also the coupling for your patron and favored element, the fire that burns in your chest, the wind that rustles your hair, your eyes as blue as the ocean and your body as solid as oak. Most are gifted with a quirk related to their patron element, some rarer than others. Someone with an Origin of Fire is always insulated and comfortable in the desert heat and the winter chill and some can start fires with neither flint nor tinder. Those with an Origin of Water can hold their breath underwater for vastly extended periods of time and can always tell if water is pure. Those who lived near windswept peaks are able to fall great distances without injury and those in the lost canyons can have their whispers travel great distances; it is said a network of those gifted with this talent may exist for those with the right connections. Lastly, those with a close bond to the Earth can always tell Magnetic North and are rarely lost. Some can coax vines down from trees while others can absorb nutrients through their feet, much to the chagrin of their foreign companions.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A&A Origin: Home Turf

Origin: Home Turf

The world would be a simple and easily navigable place if each element occupied its own continent. Alas, you are adrift in a sea of islands, some containing a sole elemental force while others have many vying for dominance. Each of the towns, cities and villages that occupy this archipelago are shaped uniquely by their surroundings and their patron element. Below is a list of example areas one could select as a place they were born or grew up in. Most Game Maestros will have populated their world with a bounty of wondrous locations that you can choose from in place of or in addition to the ones presented below.

A&A: Gear & Relics

Gear & Relics

As a final step of outfitting yourself you’ll want to select some gear useful to you in your travels. At Character Creation you may select three of the items presented to you below and you may select the same items more than once. [Adventurers] may choose twice the amount of gear while [Seekers] may choose from the [Relics] below. Regardless of your choices all heroes are adept at creating torches and campsites.

<Designer Notes>
Making character creation a snap has always been an overriding goal of mine.  Numerous misc. items with firm fixed price tags, often inconsequential given one starting allowance of money, bogged down a lot of character creation.  Much akin to choice paralysis in point based character creation systems I wanted to move away from that and towards something that can be selected quickly and without remorse.  With that in mind I present a number of items to be chosen at character creation, organized by their purpose and intended users.  Being unique or offering utility allowed playtesters to grab a few fun or quirky items to complement their characters.  It also gives me a wider array of treasure to be found without magick'ing up the place.
<Designer Notes>

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Skinny on Spell Casting

The Skinny on Spellcasting

Introduction by Dean Wellbrook Accomplished Spelunker, Exorcist and Member of the Local Wizard Watch

Wizards, Sorcerors, Warlocks and Mages all present a clear and present danger to the sensibilities and vitality of the common man. Whether it’s warping reality or summoning terrifying beasts from the nth dimension, there is nothing these slippery spellcasters won’t do to get their fix. Fortunately for us mind-our-own-business common folk, most of these bathrobe luddites manage to expire all by their lonesome. Whether it be a jaunty spell gone mad, a creature they cannot contain, spontaneous implosion or collapsing beneath the weight of their own hubris we can count on their population remaining a stagnant few. You may be thinking, “If they’re just going to take care of themselves then why pay attention?” Excellent inquisition! First off, never pay attention to them or you may be driven mad, and not just by their long-winded erudite diatribes. These Mages are, however, capable of unleashing great and powerful energies with but a few gobbled words provided they have memorized them ahead of time. These Magi recite the spell in the morning and withhold the final incantation until they need it, at which point all hell breaks loose—sometimes literally!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Avatars & Annihilation R&D Update Feburary 2014

February has gone by in a flash.  While social commitments and heart shaped holidays occupied most my time I managed to get quite a bit done.  In fact the core of the rules set is finished outside of some sections on Running Adventures, Non-Treasure Rewards and various odds and ends.  The problem is we're currently sitting at 178 pages, almost double of my initial goal of keeping it under a hundred.  That's a whole lot to prune.

The goal now is to go over major relevant subsystems, reevaluate them and see about a way to cut them down.  Not just to reduce my usual verbose ways but any avenue to streamline something, get rid of fiddly bits (regardless of how fun it is force the caster to save vs brain goo whenever they memorize their most formidable spell) and make for a smoother experience overall.  Movement currently clocks in at 7 pages, highly readable and well paced but a bit excessive and a recent epiphany may have a way to shorten that to two paragraphs.  The spell casting section for instance, after taking a quick poll after a recent playtest there were a number of things that while enjoyable and thematic have been pushed over to the chopping.  When I post the spell casting section to complete the A&A Spell series I'll make a note at the bottom for what was cut.  In the meantime, this behemoth won't edit itself.