Monday, April 2, 2018

Around and Around

There was a lot of traffic regarding my last post about incorporating playing cards as a game mechanic.  I didn't think it would have generated that much interest, so I was a bit surprised when I saw this.  It's definitely a mechanic I'll continue to dabble with here and there when I have time, and there's even a setting that would fit in very nicely to accommodate the unique system.

Other than that, I've been doing more system work and writing for the setting.  The setting is post-apocalypse science fantasy, set roughly 100 years after a planetary disaster.  Magic has been wiped out, but traces of it can be found here and there.  Survivors have started rebuilding, and search for forgotten technology.  Humans, robots, and a couple of new species are the norm for the game, along with swords and the occasional sidearm.  I plan on giving some more details about the setting in upcoming posts, so be on the lookout!

Regarding mechanics, I've been toying around with the idea of further simplifying the dice pool.  Here's the proposal:
Pools of d6, where the numbers have the following values -
1-3 Hit
4 Null
5-6 Block

When attacking, your objective is to score Hits, and when defending, you want Blocks.  Blocks remove Hits in opposed rolls, and leftover Hits are added to a weapon's damage rating to determine any damage.  As of right now, I included more Hits than Blocks to speed up combat; less chance of stalemates and/or no damage.  Damage can be reduced by wearing armor, so it won't necessarily be "deadly".  I figured that I would simplify the rolls for success, while allowing more creative range with weapons and armor.

I'm looking to play test this new mechanic with my group soon, but as always, finding the time is key.  Once I've seen how it works in play, I can determine if it's worth making it a permanent change, or to remove it altogether.  As usual, sound off and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Midnight Rambler

I'm always open to new systems, and what they bring to the table (pun intended).  New mechanics are very interesting to me, whether they are heavy crunch, or narrative focused.  I do admit that I'm partial to "old school" when it comes to mechanics; I'm very much a product of early TSR, so sometimes the newer narrative-based systems feel "off" to me.  Still, I endeavor to learn as much as I can, and see what's out there.

One particular mechanic that I've been interested in is playing cards.  There's a whole list of games that utilize playing cards in some fashion or another, so I won't bore you with the details.  The thing that draws me to cards as a mechanic is the potential depth.  Suits, color, face cards, jokers, discard pile, draw, hands, and number value can all be used in a game (or not).  It's possible to use just the numerical value of the cards, but that would be such a waste.

I've dabbled with using a playing card system in the past, but never committed to it.  It just didn't seem like the right path at the time, although I can't tell you why nowadays.  Maybe because it was different, or not the comfortable route.  Say what you want, but familiarity is a selling point, and a big one at that.

Now I'm starting to come back around to cards.  I have some basic ideas so far, nothing too mind blowing.  Ace(1) through 10, face cards count as special abilities, Jokers are GM devices, that sort of thing.  I was considering using a player's Hand Size as their stamina/health, which can be increased through experience.  A character takes damage, and their hand size is temporarily reduced. 

Players would play a card from their hand to beat a TN set by the GM.  If the Suit matches the skill being played, they get to play another card from their hand.  Players also have the option to play from the top of the deck, but that can hold some potential consequence.  Not sure about the discard pile, and how that would come into play.

Another idea is that a player starts off with a set number of cards in their deck, and they can buy cards with experience.  You would only be able to buy a rank higher than your current rank in a suit, so no skipping  over to the higher number cards.  Face cards would activate some kind of special ability that was purchased, such as a second attack, or a distraction that gives an enemy a negative modifier.

One thing I'm struggling with is target numbers (TN).  I'm either going with an approximation of a d10, or a d13; face cards either cap out at 10, or increase in value up to 13.  Since I haven't made up my mind, I'm not sure what a good range for easy, average, and hard difficulties would be for players.

So, whatcha think?  Good idea, bad idea, or indifferent to the whole thing?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moon Is Up

I figured that if there's a Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse, then there's no reason I can't post a short entry. ;)

This is more of a, "get in the habit of posting" post than anything.  As you can tell from my anemic post count, I'm not used to posting a lot on social media.  I don't have a Facebook account, or Twitter, and I read more than post on G+.  I've only recently discovered Reddit, which is sad, but true.  I could go on, but I think you get the point.

So no real RPG update at this time, just me trying to be more consistent.  Hi!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dancing with Mr. D (Part II)

I've received some feedback from a few of you, requesting more information about the core system I've been working on.  I appreciate the feedback, and am more than happy to oblige!  I've separated this into two parts; the original core mechanic, and the revised core mechanic.  Please read on for more detail, and ask questions.

Original Core Mechanic
System uses pools of six-sided dice.  The numeric value of a d6 holds a different value, listed below:
1 - Miss
2 - 2 Misses
3 & 4 - Null
5 - Hit
6 - 2 Hits

Hits determine success in a die roll.  The greater number of Hits, the greater the success.  A player must roll a minimum of one Hit to succeed in a task.
Misses remove dice in an opposing pool, increasing the chance for success.  Dice are removed on a die-for-die basis, so a 2 (2 Misses) cannot remove two single Hits (5, 5).  A single Miss (1) can reduce a 2 Hit (6) to a single Hit (5).
Nulls do not contribute directly to a player's dice roll, but may activate a special ability.

Dice pools cannot exceed a total of 10.

The player is Active when acting on their initiative turn, while all other players are considered Reactive.  The Active player can take an action on their turn, such as using a Skill, move, and so on.  When engaging in combat, the Active player acts first against their designated opponent.  As a result they remove dice first.
The Active player must score at least one Hit to succeed in their action.  A result of Nulls or Misses does not constitute success.

The Active and Reactive players determine their actions and roll the appropriate number of dice.  The Active player may then use a Miss die to remove a die from the Reactive player’s pool.  Only one die may be removed at a time.  Once the Active player has removed dice or passed, play passes to the Reactive player, and they may then use a Miss die to remove a die from the Active player’s pool. 

Dice removal continues until either players pass, or no more dice are left to remove.

Revised Core Mechanic
System uses pools of six-sided dice.  The numeric value of a d6 holds a different value, listed below:
1 - Hit
2 - 2 Hits
3 - 3 Hits
4 - Null
5 - Miss
6 - 2 Misses

Hits are utilized the same way.
Misses remove ONLY Hits in an opposing pool.
Nulls are the same.

Dice removal is handled a bit differently.  Instead of the back-and-forth style gameplay, the Active player removes all dice at once.  Play then goes to the Reactive player, who then uses their Misses to remove all dice at once from their opponent.

This is a VERY basic outline of the mechanic.  I haven't included special abilities, skill use, powers, and so on.  Why?  Well, because that would be exhaustive.  I don't think a blog post could hold a book.
This is also a work in progress.  Rules are subject to change (and already have!)

Why uses Misses?  Misses are just like Hits, and the numbers come out to be the same.
I've heard this a good number of times.  Misses are important because of the potential of Critical Success.  Normally a player must score at least 1 Hit to succeed in a task.  If the opposing pool is reduced to zero dice, then the player succeeds in their task, no matter the die type left.
There's also the potential for re-rolls for skills, but that's for another post.

What are you trying to accomplish with this mechanic?
I had this idea of combining the "To Hit" process with damage, so everything is done at once.  There are plenty of games out there like that, but I wanted to make the dice actually mean something in the game.  The number of dice in a pool expresses how skilled you are, how difficult a task is, how strong you are, and so on.  Plain numbers do the same in other systems, but I wanted to express everything with dice.

How did it play test?
Playtesting went fairly well, with players picking up on the mechanic easily.  Players did mention that combat could be slow, with the dice removal taking up the most time.  I realized that I needed to speed things up, so I made the revision.  I've tested it a couple of times, and it's made a big difference.

What type of setting will you be using?
I have a few settings in mind, which I plan on releasing (eventually!).  Right now I'm focusing on a Post-post-apocalyptic science-fantasy western.  Say that five times fast!

Hopefully this sheds a little more light on things, and I plan on discussing more of the system as time goes on.  Feel free to fire back in the comments.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sittin' On A Fence

The past few months has brought some changes to my core mechanic.  This has forced me to take a hard look at the system as a whole, and re-evaluate my work thus far.  In effect, it was time to, "Kill my darlings."  This is never an easy task, especially if you've hitched your wagon to a particularly sweet mechanic, which you're convinced is The Greatest Thing Ever (Monte Cook be damned!).

So what brought about this change?  Basically, speed.  There's a bit of back-and-forth for resolution, which slows the game down quite a bit.  It's a neat concept, but doesn't belong in a game where people roll dice often.  As badly as I wanted to keep this mechanic, I couldn't fool myself any longer; it was time to do some slashing, and speed things up.

Instead of back-and-forth die removal, I decided to go with a sweeping resolution.  The player removes an opponent's dice, then the opponent gets to remove their dice.  A simple enough solution that nets results in a fairly quick manner.  Although this mechanic did improve speed, it added new wrinkles to the core mechanic as well.

I had to re-calculate the value of the dice, and how often successes should occur.  Before any changes were made, the amount of Hits equaled the amount of Misses that could be rolled on a die.  I increased this number slightly, but I had to make yet another change to do so.  Once again, I had to cut a favorite of mine, or at least, trim it down.

Strengths and Weaknesses had to be tweaked into something a bit different.  I had to separate them into distinct categories, and redefine their meanings.  They would no longer be two sides of a coin, but separate abilities that can be purchased.  I'm still playing around with them, so it's not completely written in stone.

As you can see, one change can make sweeping revisions in a core mechanic.  I found it necessary to make the game move faster, and ultimately, more enjoyable.  Next up is play testing the new revision, to determine how deeply it effects the system.  I have a feeling that it may have inadvertently made the game more deadly, so I'm interested in seeing the results.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Time Waits for No One

I love Autumn.  There's a crispness in the air that feels energetic to me.  I can't really comment on the change of colors, because where I live, it's not as glorious.  Everything turns brown, and that's about it.  Still, something about Autumn invigorates me.

Now that we have that brief interlude out of the way, what else have I been up to?

I've been reviewing my rules for Vehicles, and how they are incorporated into the rules.  I wanted to avoid too much complexity, so I decided to treat vehicles like characters; same abilities, similar skills, and same dice pools.  The same amount of build points can be used to build a vehicle, but the scale would be different.
Speaking of scale, I came up with a simple mechanic to differentiate between vehicle scale and damage/armor.  Vehicles range is size from Small, Medium, Large, and Gigantic.  As an example, a Small Vehicle would be a motorcycle, or a car; a Large Vehicle would be a space cruiser, or a battleship.  A Vehicle that is a size larger than an opposing Vehicle will double the amount of damage and armor; this doubling occurs with each size category.
As an example, a single manned fighter(Small) faces off against a space cruiser (Large).  The space cruiser's damage and armor are x4 against the smaller craft.
Although this may seem like a nearly impossible task to damage a larger vessel (it should!), a pilot's skill and weapon loadout can make a difference.  There are also some game mechanics that can swing in a character's favor, but more on that at a later time.  ;)

Another consideration was Vehicle Movement.  How fast does a motorcycle go?  What's the move difference between an F-14 and the Space Shuttle?  How does movement of a Vehicle translate to Character Movement?

I took a page out of FATE, and decided not to go into finite detail.  Movement and Range is broken down in increments; Close, Short, Medium, and Long.  Instead of wracking my brain trying to come up with an algorithm that best divides range into different scales, I deferred to a less time-consuming alternative.  Movement occurs at the speed of plot.  A character shouldn't move as fast as a Corvette, unless the setting allows for such incredible feats.  Chases can be resolved with a skill roll and appropriate modifiers.  I'm a big fan of keeping it simple, with the option for more depth.

That's it for now.  Please comment below, and let me know what you think!  I'm also open to any questions you may have, so feel free to ask away.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hang Fire

It's been one year since I've started this blog.

Boy, that went by quick.  :(

Companies usually give an annual update on their progress.  It usually includes what was accomplished, what goals were and were not met, and plans for the future.  I'd like to celebrate this occasion with the same kind of update, and give it a spiffy name, too.  In honor of the title of this auspicious Blog, I welcome you to the first ever Dumpster Fire!

The mechanic I envisioned grew from a very basic concept, to something a little more concrete.  It was going to be a D6 system, but utilized in a different way.  The basic mechanic was developed, tested, updated, and tested again.  All of this was done before I even had any type of stats, or character development.  It was just the mechanic, and nothing else.

Once that was fine-tuned, I quickly moved to stats.  I wanted to keep it as simple and clean as possible, so I decided upon a three stat system.  I also wanted to keep the skills light, so I took my time and came up with 10 skills.  Of course, this led to an issue of "sameness" when it came to character creation.  A simple solution was the creation of specialized skills, called Focused skills.  The skill would play off of the parent, or Broad skill.

Another step was to create stats that would be derived from a combination of the main three abilities.  These derived stats would focus on health, speed, and willpower.  There would be no "dump stats", as each one would have value in determining the derived stat.

As I continued developing the system, I soon realized that it was growing to be a little more complex than originally intended.  I knew that this was a possibility and rolled with it; I didn't want to set hard limits while creating, and determined that I would save that for later on.  Still, the system I had in mind began to change with each pass.

Once I had a skeleton of a system down, I began play testing with my local group.  I received a lot of good feedback, and they weren't afraid to tell me straight what worked, and what didn't.  I looked for trends, and cast a critical eye upon the mechanics.  There were some additions here and there, and I created a new mechanic that incorporated more options with dice pools.  This was a key element, since I really liked the idea of dice actually meaning something.  It wasn't about target numbers, or the number of dice you get to roll; it was about how the dice rolled, and the values having a deeper meaning than just a one or a six.

I increased the play testing to a second group, and fine tuned the system.  I added options for spells, called Powers, and included vehicles as well.  The easiest way to handle vehicles was to stat them much like characters.  They would have the same stats, but their meaning would be different; hull size, automated systems, AI, etc.  The main difference would be size, which would increase the armor and damage of a vehicle.  It was simple, but effective.

The system was coming along great, and I was very pleased with what I had so far.  I even had an idea for a setting that was bumping around my head.  I had a very clear picture in my head what the cover would look like, down to the facial expressions of the three characters and their stances.  All in all, I was pretty happy with the progress.

Of course, all of that came to a grinding halt.

I hit a brick wall.  It was a combination of a lot of different things; lack of motivation, confidence, and just Life in general.  It was a mish-mash of crap that's pretty stupid in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough to keep me from working on my little project.  I wasn't going to give up, but I really wasn't doing anything, either.  So time passed, and I felt guilty each day.

It took a friend of mine to snap me out of my haze, and it was a simple thing, at that.  He asked how my game was coming along.  Just a simple question, and I kind of snapped out of my funk.  It was most likely because I didn't have an answer for him.  I went back to my notes, looked over what I had, and the gears started turning again.

So here are the Cliffs Notes:

  • I'm a little behind on development, but still have a decent sized completed
  • Play testing continues, and the system has been streamlined
  • Setting is being developed, with lots more to do
  • Don't have a release date in mind, because I'm not a project manager, and can't really work with Gantt charts or Project
  • Lots of stuff compiled on Google Drive, need to start moving it to a different format for eventual layout
  • Started taking down artist names for eventual contact, even though I have zero dollars
  • Started researching layout programs, and realized quickly that I either have to spend time learning a new skill, or hire someone
  • Kickstarter is number 567 on my list, and I'm only on 6
Hope you enjoyed the wall of text.  Come back again, and I promise to be more succinct.