Using My Draft Piles for Something, pt. 2

Last year I wrote about creating characters by using the otherwise worthless cards I’m left with because of active drafting. This is a continuation of that, somewhat based on Tommi Brander’s comment on the earlier article and somewhat based on something Ville said on our forums.

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The difference between CoCian and BWian philosophies of skills

Roleplaying games can represent stuff about real life that you don’t necessarily stop to think about. I’ll write about one here, the difference between how Call of Cthulhu and Burning Wheel handle skills, and what those differences say about human capabilities. And why it matters quite a lot to me, personally. Continue reading

Creating an Archipelago Game

About a month ago I managed to get into Jason Morningstar‘s Archipelago game “Love in the Time of Khavarner“. I really liked the setting and the style the game worked and began immediately to think how I could hack it. Jason himself said that it is not as simple as it seems. And after working on a game I have to admit he was right.

Without going into details about what is needed for an Archipelago game I must admit that I used the two existing games Love in the Time of Seið and Love in the Time of Khavarner as the starting point. I did not have high ambitions about a truly original masterpiece but an idea about a game I really wanted to take part in. Continue reading

Want to Be a Game Designer? Play Magic

Not only that, you should be playing many games. Playing one game or a limited set of games will not enable anyone to come up with something truly great. Sure, you can make clones of the games you are playing, but creativity isn’t magical. It requires something to build on. Creativity is about finding new ways to combine things you already know. Therefore, the more you know, the better. To acquire this knowledge, play games.

On the other hand, if for some inexplicable reason you had to choose one, choose Magic: the Gathering.

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fata_capuam_500pxAfter a computer failure and six months when I just didn’t remember it Redemund’s Guild’s (first) Fiasco playset is ready to be released. This playset was written to capture the feeling of lecherous parties of ancient Rome as depicted in tv-series such as Rome and Spartacus.

We were lucky enough to get a great feedback on this and as it happens the group actually wrote about their gaming session. You can check it HERE.

So here you go. Fata Capuam: DOWNLOAD (pdf)

Permission to Change the World

One of the favorite things my gaming group brings up are the “Legacy Tokens” that allow the players to take part in the narrative “legacies” of the gaming world. I stole this idea from a (fan-made?) addition to old Deadlands but it still has evolved from those beginnings. In the following I will high-light how we have used those chips to give the players major power to reshape the narrative.

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My not-so-favorable view on Hollow Earth Expedition character creation

I stumbled on an internet forum to a thread about Indiana Jones type roleplaying, and noticed that Hollow Earth Expedition is a very popular choice. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. OK, there are good things in it, but more on those later. The first thing I always do when I try to decide if a new RPG system is worth my while, is to begin reading on character creation. After about five minutes of reading it I notice the first warning sign. Attributes and Skills are first bought on one-to-one basis, but later they get a scaling cost. This is a classic White Wolf mistake. Perhaps it has been around before WW, but if it is, I have no idea where that idiocy sprang from.

I steel myself and venture further into the mechanics. Then I notice: six attributes that start from zero, and you add 15 points to them, but there must be at least 1 in all of them. Why not say: “every attribute starts at 1 and you add 9 points into them”, because that’s what it really means!? OK, a rookie design mistake (again)… Let’s see what it looks like when the system is played with optimization in mind.

Derived attributes have way more mentions on Dexterity, Body and Intelligence than on any other attributes. Strength and Willpower get mentioned once each. It is obvious that low character intelligence almost never gets any real hindrance in games, it is “just” roleplaying stuff, so I decide to “dump” it. I toyed with the system for a while, and the “ideal” character is: Body 5, Dexterity 5, Strength 1, Charisma 1, Intelligence 2 and Willpower 1. Of course Dexterity is related to shooting at things, like in almost every game. So now my guy has the maximum “hit points”, maximum shootyness, maximum defense, good initiative score and sometimes even notices stuff happening. Otherwise it is very lackluster, but who cares about those other types of thingies anyway?!

Obviously that is not the most ideal character, there never is, and definitely not very enjoyable to play. It is just so easily maximized to most of the things that happen in RPGs, outside of player-GM narrative (i.e. within the mechanics of the game). Note that I could, if I wanted to, start this guy with 5 points in Diplomacy and Investigation each, for example, and rock pretty well in those departments too.

To clarify, I am most definitely a role-player, not roll-player, but this kind of thoughtlessness in character creation mechanics just makes me mad, and makes me not want to play your game. At least not under your rules, that is.

I promised to write something positive about this so here goes. Setting is innovative and exciting, as is the dice-mechanic. This setting would be great with some other RPG system, and if polished, or rather reconstructed from basics up, the dice mechanic could be really cool.