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.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Oh No, Not You Again

Ok, boys and girls, it's Poll Time!

For those of you not in the know, my game system began as a generic RPG; no setting, just the mechanics.  This was a departure from the norm for me, as I'm usually the one pushing story and fluff over the crunchy bits.  The more I developed, the more I realized that I had unconsciously pushed setting to the side.  I started taking notes on potential settings that I would like to develop, and continued on.

Fast-forward to today, and after several play tests and tweaking, the system looks pretty solid.  Not every aspect has been polished, but that will come with more play tests.  The Powers section needs a lot of work, and Vehicles needs to be put through the grinder, but I'm pretty happy with the results so far.

Now I come to you, dear readers.

I have several settings that are in the works, but it's time for me to make a decision.  I would like to package a setting with the release of the system, but I can't pick which one.  I'm on the carousel of non-development, trying to choose which one to focus on.  I do plan on releasing each one (eventually), but I need to pick one to focus my efforts on.  It's not a matter of which has more material, or which one I like better; how does one pick their favorite child, after all?

This is your chance to actually make a difference in the development of this game.  You get the chance to vote on what tickles your fancy.  Below are the choices, so make your voice heard in the comments!  The more eyes on this, the better, so spread the word as much as you can.  I'll leave this up for the remainder of the month, and then tally up the results.

I eagerly await your responses.  :)

Grey - Hard-boiled crime, neo-noire. Gangs, crime syndicates, dirty cops, and crooked politicians run this town, but there are some decent folks, too. Street knights, downtrodden P.I.'s, and hell, even the occasional street thug try to do the right thing. In this town, nothing is black and white.
Nomad Star - Post-solar system catastrophe, science fantasy. The rogue planet Tiamat collided with the second planet of the Nomad system, shifting the orbits of the remaining two. 1,000 years later, Tiamat has begun to reform, sending an invading force of monsters to both worlds. Both worlds must be saved, not only from the impending environmental change, but the invading force of terrifying creatures. Swords, sorcery, and technology are your weapons.
Purgatory - Judgement Day came and went, and no one cares. The Heavenly Host and the Infernal Horde used the earth as their battlefield, leaving ruin in their wake. In the wake of the Apocalypse, humanity struggles on. The population has been drastically reduced to almost nothing, and the survivors have renamed the planet to Purgatory. The living (and un-living) find shelter in massive cities, with towering walls to prevent gibbering horrors from overrunning the citizens. These people have a Karmic debt to pay off, if they wish to travel beyond this wasted realm of pain and anguish. Death isn’t always a guarantee, and sometimes, not even undeath.
JadeLamp - Victorian Age of Gothic horror, set in China. New technology is slowly being introduced, but there are still things that go bump in the night. Sometimes, the old ways of dealing with such threats are best. Wuxia, ancient magic, and a little technological ingenuity can push back the darkness.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dancing with Mr. D (Part 1)

Several months ago, I had an idea.  Actually, it was more of a question that I posed to myself.
I had just wrapped up another game session, and was going over some points in my mind.  I was half asleep in my warm bed, passing through ideas in the ether of pre-unconsciousness.  
I remembered another game that I had played a long time ago, where success and damage were determined in one roll.  "I wish the game could do that," I thought to myself.

And then a little voice in my head said, "Why not?"

My eyes snapped open, and I was wide awake.  It was a very weird feeling, something I hadn't experienced before; a kind of buzz, but not brought on by any kind of medicine or drug.  It felt like I had to write something down RIGHT NOW.  If I didn't, it would be gone forever.  I shuffled into the living room, sat down in my chair, and opened up my laptop.  

Success and Damage in one roll.  Lots of different systems handle this, and do it well.  Why would this be any different?  I thought about dice pools, and thought of d6; it's a tried and true dice pool, even set of values, and easy to get.  It can also be broken down to different variables, depending on what you want to represent.

Dice pools can be cumbersome, especially if you're rolling a fistful of dice.  Some kind of limiter would need to be in place.  I started thinking about how to accomplish this, and thought about how it could effect other aspects of the system.  Character creation, advancement, averages, just about everything.  That's how I came up with the Rule of 10 - a dice pool cannot exceed 10 in total.  It seemed like a simple and effective way to limit massive dice pools, and I was pretty pleased with the concept.  Little did I know how deep this simple rule would shape the system.

Target numbers were no good to me, and didn't seem to fit the flow of the system.  I wanted it to be more about the dice, rather than their face value.  Skills and Attributes would be measured in the amount of dice you allocated to them.  How many Attributes, though?  I wanted to remain as simple as possible, so I decided on three; Body, Mind, and Spirit.  These Attributes would also form the basis of derived stat pools; Health, Speed, and Grit.  

Skills were tricky, mainly because I wanted to stay away from a long exhaustive list.  I wanted a simple list, but have the option for complexity and specialization.  I came up with a two tier system of Broad and Focused Skills, with each group granting a benefit to the character.  Broad skills represent general knowledge and aptitude in a field, and Focused skills represent specialization and expertise.

There's a lot more to talk about, and it's still evolving.  Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Memory Motel

Another update?!?  

*Insert Princess Bride Inconceivable gif here*

I don't want to jinx anything, so I'll leave it at that. ;)

I've come across a bit of a block recently, concerning time management.  It wasn't an issue in the past, because I was able to access my working documents on Google Drive.  Unfortunately, that avenue has been closed, and my access has been restricted.  As a result, I have a small window of time that I can work during weekdays, and thus, productivity has suffered.

Although this is a hindrance, I haven't let it trip me up completely.  I've been taking notes and writing up what I can on a few notepads, and then transferring those notes into my docs on Google Drive.  It's a little more work, but I'm kind of enjoying it; call me Old School, but I like writing stuff out with pen and paper.  It gives me the opportunity to really think about what I want to put down, and flipping through pages of notes is cathartic (at least to me).

So what have I been coming up with?  

Setting specific mechanics is one thing.  This includes Races of a sort, but it's based more on location.  There are four species total, which includes human; the others will be revealed here as teasers.

Another item I wanted to focus on was more dice mechanics, and I think I've come up with a neat little addition.  I'm calling it Elements, and they enhance your roll in very specific ways.  Each Element has a positive and negative quality, which is activated by the type of roll you make.  Players have the option to purchase an Element at character creation, or ignore them completely.

Finally, I wrote up some more planetary history, and a few culture specific details.  The world(s) are really starting to take shape, like they have a life of their own.  It's pretty exciting!  Ya, I'm kind of geeking out on this, but it's cool watching something take a life of its own.

One last thing I need to address is the actual game mechanics.  Would you like me to talk about the core mechanic, and give more details?  If there's enough interest, I'll go into more detail for the next post.  Let me know!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

High and Dry

Hi there.

It's been a while since I've posted; sorry about that.  I could go on a long tear about work, life, and whatnot, but I'm sure you'd be bored to tears.  The short of it is, I've been busy and totally neglected this poor little blog.  I'm hoping to rectify that over the next few weeks, with more updates and activity.

Even though I haven't been active here, I have been doing a lot of developing and playtesting.  After receiving some feedback, I've made some changes to the mechanic in an effort to streamline gameplay.  It's yielded positive results thus far, and players seem pretty happy with the change.
Another theme I've been revisiting is the emphasis on dice.  The mechanic uses six-sided dice, but not target numbers, per se.  Numeric value of each side has a different meaning, and each die has a purpose.  You're always doing something, even if you fail at a task.

While we're on this subject, let's talk about the core mechanic.  First and foremost, everything is represented as dice (or more accurately, d6).  Whatever number you have in an Ability, Skill, or Health is the number of d6 you have in said trait.  The same goes for task difficulty; picking a lock would be represented as a 5 die difficulty.  While this may seem similar to a target number, the action and resolution is very different.  The player's dice roll not only determines success, but how the dice effect the target difficulty as well.

Confused yet?  Don't worry, more on the core mechanic later on.  Hopefully this piques your interest, even if just a little.  I'll post some more details next week, maybe even a sample encounter.  Until then, thanks for checking in, and I'll be more diligent with staying up to date.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Who's Driving Your Plane?

It can be a tricky mechanic to tackle, no matter the game system.  I've brainstormed, come up with some potential rules, and even run through a few test scenarios.  All of this led me to scrap it and start over again.  The main issue I kept running into, was that the mechanics became overly cumbersome and complicated.  It's hard to pitch a simple game system when one of the mechanics isn't.

As a result, I've kind of avoided the vehicles section for a while now, focusing on other parts of the game.  I ran another playtest, gathered some feedback, implemented some rules, and moved on.  The problem wasn't going to go away, but I had no real answer.  In the meantime, I watched a few of my favorite movies/TV shows for inspiration, and wouldn't you know it...I got inspired.

In many movies and shows, the ship itself IS a character.  It has personality, charm, and a soul (sometimes literally).  Why not stat out a vehicle the same way a character is built?  Use the same attributes, skills, and so on, but on a different scale.  It seemed a little too simplistic, but I tried it out.  The results thus far are very encouraging.  I'm really looking forward to test driving (ha ha) these rules in the next playtest, and getting some feedback.

I hope you've been enjoying my ramblings so far, and would like to hear back from you.  What would you like to see in the future?  Sound off below, and let me know what you think!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't Be A Stranger

Hey folks, sorry for taking so long to post.  Time just warped by at light speed, and now we're in February.  I had a bout of flu and strep last month, so that knocked me out for a while, and work has really picked up.  I'd like to get in a post at least every other week, but it all depends on what's going on.

I managed another playtest this past weekend, and was able to incorporate elements of the setting I've been working on.  There was some pretty good feedback on both the system and the setting, and I made a few discoveries along the way:

  • The average target number for non-opposed test is way low.  Players were able to easily overcome these tests, and I had to adjust on the fly.
    • Good news is that the system was able to compensate quite easily, and I was able to input the new adjusted target numbers with ease.
  • Huge difference between having a skill, and not having a skill.  Seems like a no-brainer, but it really showed in the rolls.  Even a single rank was enough to really differentiate between the haves and have nots.
  • Not having a skill for an opposed roll was killer.  The system incurs a -2D penalty when attempting an unskilled roll.  Really punished the players for not having a skill.
  • The system can be pretty gritty, in its current incarnation.  Getting shot or stabbed really hurts a character.  Go figure. :P
  • Emphasis on specialized skills is a benefit, and possible hindrance.
Overall, I believe that the potential remains for the system to be utilized as a universal game system, with options to adjust for any setting the GM wishes to use.  I intend to test this out with another playtest, using a completely different genre and theme.  There are mechanics that allow for more pulp, over the top game play, but I'm undecided if I want to include it as the default, or not.  

Another thought I had was what setting would be the initial "Selling Point".  I have a few that I'm working on, and there's one that I had a hand in creating that could be easily converted.  I know it's a long way off, but it's something that may influence how the system develops.  Right now everything is vanilla; there are no setting specific rules, equipment, races, etc.  I'd like to go the route of including setting specific rules in each new setting book, but I'd also like to have a free setting when you purchase the core rules.  

I'm slowly inching towards a full blown playtest document, so stay tuned if you're interested in participating.  I can't say if it will be sooner rather than later, but it is on the way!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brand New Car

I have a couple of ideas, and would like your input.

I'm considering implementing a Career mechanic into the system, which would give certain benefits to the character.  It wouldn't be mandatory; the system isn't level-based, and you can build your character as you see fit.  The chosen Career would be a template to build upon, at the cost of build points at character creation.

I've also been developing a setting that is a mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  Right now, it's pretty localized; 2-3 planets, maybe a moon or two.  Space travel is fairly new and expensive, so you won't see a lot of tramp freighters blasting across the sky.  The other option would be a full blown Space Opera, with all of the trimmings; multiple planets, lots of different races, and space transports galore.

So what would you like to see out of these options, and why?  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ride On, Baby

Hope everyone had a great time celebrating the New Year!  I'm really looking forward to this year, and seeing how things develop and progress.  It's easy to get caught up in the excitement during this time of year; New Year, New Me philosophy and all of that.  I can tell you that my local gym is beyond packed right now, which is fairly routine for January.

The downside is that the luster soon wears off, and instead of a positive outlook, it becomes more of a chore.  Things aren't going as fast or as smooth as you anticipated, other commitments take priority, or Life just gets in the way.  This isn't meant to be pessimistic, but rather a lesson in expectations.  Don't go nuclear, just burn bright and steady.

In short, my development philosophy is approach it like a marathon, not a sprint.

With that said, where am I currently in development?  Let's take a look.

Update #6

  • Mechanic update - The Story Dice I mentioned in the last update really seem to mesh nicely with the core mechanic.  This separates the dice into quantity and quality, as well as open up avenues for interpreting the dice in a dramatic fashion.  
    • Although I've mentioned it elsewhere, the system utilizes a D6 pool.  The core rule is the Rule of Ten - no dice pool can exceed 10D.  This comes into play when creating your character, as well as advancement.
    • Characters are further defined by Strengths and Weaknesses.  These are qualities that either give your character a mechanical, or roleplay advantage or limitation.
  • I will be conducing longer playtests with a local group in the next few weeks, which may lead to a campaign.  
    • Not enough setting has been developed to really jump into anything long-term (yet), but will continue to be fleshed out.
    • The longer playtests will determine how close I am to creating a full-fledged playtest document for others to test drive.
  • Setting development has been a bit slow.  Lots of ideas, but not all are conducive to the setting I'm creating.  These are jotted down for later, maybe for another setting book if this proves to be a successful endeavor.
    • I'm sticking with the science-fantasy route, as it really appeals to me.  It will lean more towards fantasy, with hints of tech (plasma pistols and minotaurs?).
  • Transferred all of my docs to Google Drive, as well as Google Docs.  Even though I was backed up, I don't want to take any chances.

I look forward to posting more updates throughout 2017, and look forward to hearing from you!