Sunday, 4 August 2019

Karma and you in DD12/Dungeonworld

I've seen this question thrown around in forums & social media:
Is a DM who bans a playable race because they do not exist in their home brew world in the wrong?
The general answer is No, of course not, yet goes against the whole movement that the GM should always say Yes. Yet that in turn breaks half of the point of role-playing, trying out a new role.

The Issue:

In general we're all there to have fun, and role-play is very open to a variety of fun, so when anything seems to shut down that fun, there is a push-back.

If we played a board game about vikings, lets say blood rage, and someone wanted to use space marines on the board, the rest of the table might allow the miniatures to be replaced, but they're not going to agree to any rule changes. Board games have rules to establish a fair even start. 

If we played a role-play game about vikings, and someone wanted to bring in a space marine, the rest of the table is going to shut that down straight away, its established that the game is about vikings, medieval historical vikings, because the rule changes to include a space marine would break the game for everyone.

Yet, If we role-played a game about vikings, medieval, historical, vikings and someone wanted to play a dark elf (the viking equivalent), now we're in a grey zone, If the GM wants to introduce any possible fantastical elements later, then world-build wise, there must be an opportunity to allow dark elves. So the GM is stuck, allow something possible, and ruin the surprise later that fantastical elements do exist, or disallow it, and have a belligerent player later.

My Answer: A Rule System

Players can complain that the GM is making life hard, but they general don't complain that the rules are hard on them, and the GM can ease back on a rule to be the good guy. So I created a Karma system to help GMs in character creation.

The Idea is that all things are equal, so players have a common starting point. Players who drop a character, so they can play something else, are not upsetting the campaign and group by doing so, GMs who need to restrict the races or classes can allow players to still choose outside the set standards, but for balance issues, they'll cost some karma.

Also, GMs can start players at higher levels, without just giving them a set level, which is also a whole set of unrealism.

The Karma System

So, Firstly, a GM who has new players can set Karma at 0, all players make up raw, plain, heroic average characters, so they get the feel for the game. Once they finish the first storyline and retire their characters, they earn karma based on the rank they achieved and the number of sessions they took to get there.

The next campaign they play, they have Karma to use for character creation, This will typically give them either a higher leveled character of raw plain, heroic average stats, or they can forgo the starting levels, so they can choose something from the lists that GMs provide.

The GM decides before hand, (or uses some of the pre-made lists) that certain races are rarer to play. Elves are rare as are sprites and fairies, and while you can play as a goblin, you'd need to be accepted in your community, else you'll be run out of town. Players can look over the world-build lists and choose, Do I want to give up 10 karma to play an elf, or 5 karma to gain 'acceptance of race' in the local town.

The Traits and Flaws list, are built with Karma, typically players can only 'buy' 2 traits and or flaws per 5 ranks, or even with extra karma, can buy more traits and flaws and break these rules too.

The idea is to say "Yes, but at a price"

Now, The GM running a historical medieval viking setting can begrudgingly allow the player their dark elf, and "write them into the plot", but the group might all start at level 8, while the dark elf, starts at level 2, to allow for balance in the world.

More unbalanced balance

Its unlikely that any given group of people are all equally experienced, Even people of the same age, and interests, have differing levels of knowledge, usage of skills and talents. Yet In role-play games, there is this strange need for everyone to be the same level.

But, if you give your group differing levels, people will be unhappy that they are 'disadvantaged'

Karma allows a balance, where the group may have different levels, but they have other traits and flaws that balance out those differences. Players are more aware that they are similar, yet different than just a block of stats of equal value.

Then when one player gains a tad more XP than you, because they played the more pivotal role in the adventure last week, your character isn't worse off, you know you have some traits that work well for your character giving you the edge.    

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The d12 and the Zodiac

I've not made this public, mostly so that I can 'surprise' the community with it when I release, but then I noticed that others had already picked up on it, and some blogs about it came out, so I probably should have posted this earlier.. oh well..

image 4

The Earth Zodiac and the Twelve Sided Dice


There Are Twelve Archtypes in DD12, Based on Yung Philosophy, and the Zodiac. So its no surprise that you can create your character using the zodiac, at least the Earth Zodiac.

In The Coyn World, there are 'other' constellations, most of which I have yet to bother to create the dots with, but Since humans, in the 6th century (mostly) came to the Coyn, they brought all their concepts, including the Zodiac.

So, Player can, if they like, create a Character using the traditional Zodiac, as I'll explain:

You could get a Zodiac dice and roll it, as suggested by Dice Monkey, And there is a game mechanic to allow a character to play where they worship the Zodiac, and gain powers akin to worship of a god.

But in Character Creation, Players could choose the Zodiac Symbol they associate with, and play a character based on a set of structures to create their character.

As an Example: Lets Say you are a Capricorn, An Earth Symbol, Lawful, Practicality, Caution, material world, Action; dynamic; initiative; great force, Navigation of the material realms. Your character Archtype would be Warrior. But say your on the cusp of Aquarius, The Life Bringer, or Healer(Doctor Archtype).. well you could play a Warrior/Doctor.

You can also reverse Engineer this, You might want to play as a Mage, So you look up the Zodiac set and see it aligned to Gemini, so you research Gemini and figure out playing a mage is about Adaptability; flexible; resourceful, Communication; socialization; conceptualization, Highly Motivated. Gives you some building blocks for your characters 'look and feel'

While its not set in stone, Its merely a tool by which to make play of the game easier and yet nuanced enough to be more interesting. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

DnD Hit Points vs Lightning Bolt

This was asked on facebook the other day:

How much damage should a lightning bolt (one from the sky, not magic) do?

Resulting in a BUNCH of answers, Most of them answering with the premise that the question uses the world "Should" and suggests the DMG is wrong and the OP wants a more realistic answer.



The underlying problem is, DnDs HP system doesn't easily allow for 'pure' damage, its 'related' damage.

When a character takes a blow from an opponent, its suggested that the HP loss is a total combined amount from sweat, exhaustion, pain, bruising as much as broken skin, bleeding, internal damage and destruction of vital organs.

It also suggests that higher level characters can take more sweat, exhaustion, pain and bruising, before getting severly tired, and actual damage is mitigated by the character dodging enough to reduce any real damage, relaxing the body enough at the time of impact to reduce muscular damage, AND the idea that a higher level character likely has taken a few blows and their skin is a tad tougher.

So a 1st level character with 8hp, taking 8hp wound is going to be in so much pain and shock, they are reduced to a blubbering mess, and possibly will die just from the shock of the blow.
ok, so you take
3d4, 7d6, 7d8, 9d10 and 3d12 damage,
Still alive? 

While a 10th level character with 80hp, is going to feel a pang of pain, but will have 'mitigated' the blow as though it was only actually 1hp of damage if he were a 1st level.

This of course is often forgotten, players get the wrong impression that their character can take several hits from several weapons, and just keep going.

But when you get involved with actual damage, it goes awry.

Spell lightning involved factors such as dodge, target missing, arcing off nearby metals, seeing the spell coming and getting partially or mostly out of the way, even when hit, where a higher level character can 'notice' these things and mitigate the damage taken, a low level character takes the full brunt of it.
But pure damage should ignore level, and be as equal in killing a high level as it does a 0th peasant.

I think DnD 2nd edition used to have damage dice as a value, and pure damage was multiplied by damage dice. Creatures had damage dice, so certain spells or effects would do d10 x damagedice. But some creatures had d4 damage dice, so a d10dd effect would likely kill them, but other d12 or d20 dd creatures, could likely survive.

<rant>Of course, the modern gamer can't even add up basic numbers to do their own experience, so trying to calculate damage dice would ruin the experience and destroy their immersion</rant>

This is one of the main reasons I liked Dragon Warriors. your health was just that, Health. Checking if the attack was better than your opponents defence, if their armour was thick enough to absorb the blow all came way before health. and health represented the wounds that would bring you closer to death. You were lucky if you got 1 per rank, so while a 10th ranked barbarian with 16 HP fared better against a 10th ranked sorcerer with 9 HP, it was not in such a magnitude of difference than a d20 fireball couldn't kill them both, and all the 6HP peasants standing around.

I took it a few steps further for DungeonWorld v1->3 but HP was a staple for roleplaying games, so I stuck with what players expected..

Version 4, was a time of stripping back to basics and redoing the engine from the ground up with what worked, and trashing the flawed, old-school, chunky rules and looking at what really mattered.

Game Speed, Player Understanding, Luck and Realism.

Players, looking at a situation, see 100HP, see 2d10 damage from opponent, see average 10damage, see 8 rounds of safe combat. Wade in, taking blow after blow, not caring, just need to burn down the opponents HP.
Some DMs will tell them the HP of the monster, and the players will cross reference their damage and say "oh no, we need X more rounds, then include a few heal spells, and viola", why bother rolling the dice.

Sometimes players will slow down their game, to figure this kind of thing out..

So for games speed, My research suggested that players should just 'take damage' as the GM tells them, and if its excessive, make a check. The check should slow them down a few seconds.. because like their character, they are grasping at their chest/wound, life and death on the line.. ANY time a check is being made vs damage, the player can die right there, the tension is real, players are far more engaged and understand the threat.


This could be a lucky 1st level
or an unlucky 20th level

Artist:Gui Guimaraes

Whats more interesting is that a character can, and should, be able to be taken down in any given hit. Not being hit at all should be priority no.1. Also, monster can and should, be taken down with one hit too, if its placed well. Players should be looking to get that hit, and not be hit. and be creative with that.

Luckily, they are Heroes, and can mitigate the wound or the check vs death with the luck rules, allowing lower level characters the chance to avoid mistakes made, and higher level characters should have players who have learnt not to make such mistakes.

There is no way to tell if your going to die from a single 8pt wound or 20 x 2pt wounds, so you can't calculate the odds of surviving several blows from a creature. Don't get hit is the way to survive.

Eventually if you keep putting your character in extremely dangerous situations, odds are they will die, so players will often retire a character that's reached a point of no return, and use them as a support character for their next character to join and learn from.

The Game runs faster, Players don't have 'pure numbers' to game, luck plays its part and its far more realistic without sacrificing game play.

and a lightning bolt will kill 20% of people, no matter their level.. though, holding a metal blade in a lightning storm is more likely to get you hit.

The Demise of G+, what does it mean?

If you're reading this on Blogger, or G+, and you want to continue reading future blogs, please book mark it, or somehow take note of where it is, because its only a few more days til G+ will shut down and you'll not be notified of it as far as I can tell.


The Demise of G+ and what it means to many websites.


There was once a time on this blog that I'd see a reader count of 500+

I noticed first, that the share with community button stopped working, it dropped to 150,

So I had to specifically go find the groups and post them there.. but then groups actively blocked blog posts.. and I was very confused, because as far as I was concerned, the whole point of the communities was to share like topic blogs. The blogging community thrived on topics being raised by those who wished to speak of it, and readers did the rounds of several blogs to get a balanced view.

Three months ago, I posted something interesting.. and hit 30 views!

My Last blog got 2.. Seems that even though G+ is still working, they're already shutting down small part of it.. what next? blogger too?

G+ has its tendrils in many things, the little +1 button for sites, was awesome, if underused.

Imagine, if everyone actually used the google search +1, visit the site and it is what you wanted? +1 so the community can see, this is a legit site, because the 3,000 people who visited said so..

the site that was click bait? 0 +1s..

Blogs got +1s for decent content, so googling blogs showed several sites with good scores.. worthy of a read..

Communities rose up on several topics, you'd join a community and +1 the good ones.

Humans are socialable creatures, without it, our minds retreat, put up defensive barriers to ward off attacks until we break those self destructive walls or die lonely. Google+ was one way to help find like minded people and communicate..

Now?? Don't know.

Facebook has, for the longest time, been shallow, full of haters, and too open to scrutiny.. all your friends, even ones you barely know, can see that you've made a cake or had a birthday or turned 40 or gotten interested in freaky looking board games, and they comment "arn't you skilled" or "happy birthday you ole fart" or "WTF is that? are you into satanic worship now?"

Its too open.

MeWe has so many barriers of entry, you can't see posts unless they are your friend, but you don't know their posts exist unless someone comments on them. There is no personal wall to put up things, you need to create groups and invite people into those groups, and then add all the people in the group as a friends so they can all see your posts..

It needs work. but what else is there?


Thursday, 7 February 2019

NPC Lists

I have run a few campaigns that have gone on for years, and I return to them time and again, because I have a lot of data on NPCs, that just 'makes' the game more alive.. Players always comment when they find out, and I thought maybe I should share.

NPC LISTS.. 

A simple 'how to take your game up a notch'.

When we start Gamesmastering, we often have simple notes, names of towns on a map, dungeon locations, maps of the dungeon, but often when players arrive in a town, we have to quickly invent names of Taverns and N.P.C.s. Its so common, many game systems even have charts to help the GM come up with these, in the rules. Usually the Casual GM with a fly by night campaign, will end there.

But what about the consummate professional?
Fable II NPCs.


When players are arriving back in your city or town, weeks or months later, will they ever see your NPCs again? or worse, will they only ever see your NPCS?

If they frequent the same bars, sure, the bartender will likely still be there, but what of the staff? the patrons who frequent the place, might on certain nights of the week, but every single day?

Taverns

A simple approach is to have a page from a calendar, rip one out of an old calendar, re-write over the month with the name of the tavern, jot down the name of the bartender, and depending on your size, 2-3 bar wenches. 
Now, on the first row assign the bar wenches to days of the week, busy nights, get all 3, average get 2 and empty, one or maybe just the bartender. 
On the rows below.. roll on your favourite NPC generator and jot in regulars, each 'day' could cope with 3-6 names, in a social 'group' and on the very last row, non regular visitors.
Busy nights, should have 3-6 regulars per bar wench, so make sure you've got a bunch of names in those columns.. They aren't all going to be brawling 2nd-3rd ranked fighters, there should be some kind of hierarchy, choose 1 per 'group' as a leader, mark him as such. F2 or something. add some key 'visual' feature "broken tooth" or something..
Thomas Schmall: The Inn Keeper : oxpal.com
Viola, Your players arrive in town, you pull out 2-3 'calendar' taverns and ask which one they want to visit, remind them of the day of the week (they should be able to tell based on market activity). Once they choose, glance at your days of the week to determine how busy or empty your tavern is, roll d6 more irregulars, space them out on separate tables.. based on the weather.. cold: put em all closer to the fire, warm? the windows.

If your players engage in conversation, it'd be likely the leader who'd address them, point out your visual feature.. because weeks later when they return to this tavern, they'll remember 'broken tooth' better than they'll remember "Bob Farnsworth"

Now.. heres the fun part..

If your players are using this town as a base of operations.. have your irregulars turn up in different taverns, maybe broken tooth might be brokering a deal in a different place when the players turn up. Players aren't playing this game 24/7 so they'll forget and blunder over to talk to him, remind them.. "You see the broken toothed man from the Boars head, but he's engaged in a private conversation, seems like a bad idea to draw any attention to yourselves", If they now decide to go talk to broken tooth, its their own fault that they've angered him and he's now against the players.. add a -1 friendly to his name.

Over time, you'll add notes to N.P.C.s that players engage with, events that may (or may not) be relevant to the game.. maybe they sold a magic dagger to Klint Korgush, so next time there was a brawl in the Boars head, he accidentally killed a guy, and he sits in jail, blaming the players, his friends in the tavern don't look kindly on the PCs from now on.. 

But how will you know this?

Each session your players are going through adventures.. at the end of the session, roll some dice, consult some charts, and modify some N.P.C.s. Maybe Two NPCS have fallen in love with each other, a regular and a bar wench, or some guy fell off a ladder at work, and has a broken foot..

Make up a chart of things that might happen, roll once per tavern, 3d10 to find which 'day' of the month it happens to, d4 or d6 for which one in your list. it takes all over 5 minutes, 

But when your players come back after a quest, and spy Lillian the bar wench being overtly friendly to Bob.. then after the next quest, Bob has a black eye and Lillian is with Steve, then next time, Lillian has stopped working at the tavern they might inquire and find that she's married Steve now..

Years later, the characters have traveled the world, and return to grab some stash.. and you've been making the rolls all this time, and they walk into the Boars head, and find that Steve is no longer around, Bob is, and he's talking to a 16yr old kid that looks a little like Lillian and Bob, and he's interested in being the players sidekick, learning the ropes to be an adventurer, because Steve used to tell the stores of the adventurers often, before he died defending the town against goblins, and Bob took over as dad, but turns out all along that its Bobs kid..

20 rolls on the chart got me that.. 20 adventures, taking between 3 months and 2 years to perform, 17 years of adventuring, in real life, maybe 2 years, and the players return and the look on their faces when they see Bob in the Tavern, with a kid that looks like Bob, That's the moment, as a Gamesmaster, that my players understand the level of depth my world 'potentially' has.

Not just taverns, but town halls, guilds, and market squares all have the same or similar regulars, and goings on..  Noble families, administrations, governments too.. just a few more rolls.. and now you have a whole continent of NPCs for players to interact with.



Monday, 28 January 2019

Runaway Success, Kickstarter Blues

Careful what you promise, you might get more than you can handle.

Kickstarter First World Blues


First World Problems.. being too successful.. Kickstarter has its fair share, and I honestly thought my little project would be too self contained for such.. but.. here we are, and I'm at 600%+ of funding, facing 300+ hours of work for $5.50 an hour.

My Earlier, colourised, world map.. well, an unfinished part.. 


What went right:

I gathered a decent community of people before I started, I let everyone know months, then weeks in advance, I expected to get 50% of the way there from my own marketing, and maybe 25% from the kick on effect of that, then I'd have to promote it to cross the finish line.

I hoped to learn 3 things.. How to set up marketing for a kickstarter.. How to Run a kickstarter, and finally how to push through the funding, chasing the market to cross the finish line..

two out of three ain't bad.. but this new lesson, well that's gonna teach me.

What went wrong:

I was woefully unprepared to succeed.

I moved my goals around in the first 48 hours, which lost me a little respect.

I added a new tier without properly calculating the plausible (and now actual) end result, and I didn't do my math on the results of that new tier, adding 80% more work, for very little increase in payment.

What Happened?

Kickstarter, kickstarter happened, exactly as its meant to.

Kickstarter has an internal algorithm, If you hit certain thresholds within certain time frames, their system promotes your project. People spot it, and if they like it, they'll back it.

Because I had funded in the first 24 hours, I got an initial bump, I saw a bunch of new and increased pledges in that period as the news went out to 'saved' backers, so KS internal advertising was promoting my project.

I was hitting 10 pledges a day or so.. some, maybe 3 from external sources,  and the rest from internal search engines. Meaning, if someone came to kickstarter to browse the projects, mine was bumping into 10th place average, people were finding it often and pledging often..

External vs Internal.
Kickstarter works by having people come and pledge, if they don't come, existing pledgers might pledge, but since they have already and recently, they might have spent their monthly/quarterly amount, so kickstarter is likely to prioritize external pledges as being more of an advertising boost for them, as a result, by my staggered posts to several locations about my project, meant I was bringing in a steady stream of backers.. so kickstarter was rewarding me by keeping my project high up in the charts.

Higher than Average follow on pledges.
When someone backs a project, similar products are posted in the spot below your success screen. The problem here might be, after backing a $100 board game, I'm done for the month, so I'm unlikely to back another $100 board game.. BUT.. at $4 a map, I was in the sweet spot of.. just 1 more thing, and inexpensive.. so as often as not, I think, people were spotting my project and deciding that little bit extra was worth it.

How do I know all this? Well that's why I did a kickstarter.. to discover how their metrics work. They use a different link mechanic to record each and every backer, where they came from. If a backer spotted my project from the screen of another project.. I can see which project lead to them choosing mine.

A Break down of what happened and When:

(Apologies, Kickstarter doesn't give out data until later so I had to rig up this, which is in reverse)


The First 16 hours.. to 120% funding.

The Purple is the "make 100" limited pledge, light purple are people pledging at $4, dark purple are people pledging above $4, and red are people adjusting their $4 pledge later, I wanted to see the typical level of people understanding what they are doing up front, vs coming back and pledging more later.. (doesn't yet take into account the shift from dark purple to red, just the increase)

So far so good. People tend to be pledging at the amount they intend to pledge at, the red 'adjustment' at the beginning stays true for most of this part of the graph, that person was the first pledge, who adjusted up, not realizing he could from the very beginning.

M) The first pledge for 'just a map' it increases at maybe 2 pledges a day for the first 3 days.

A) You can (sorta) see here the jagged increases as people realise they can pledge above the base $4, some friends and family who've come in with their first backing at $10 bring up the darker purple line, A0, A1 and A2 are people pledging $10 or $12, they've got an idea of what they want on the map, and know how much they need.. so hopefully my descriptions were on par, people understand what the 'rules' were and followed along.

Between A2 and B), there are a number of people just joining with increased their pledges, note the dark purple bump up a few times.. they can see 'oooh, look, I can jump from $4 to $6 to help fund the goal.

The Psychology of wanting something to succeed is all well and good, but if you don't give people the tools to do so, how can they. People here have pledged the minimum, but to get it higher, they either need to go out of their comfort zone and sell it to their friends.. OR they can just give a little more.. yet.. what will they get for this little more, you need to reward people, just a little reward, to increase their pledge.


13 days of funding, 630%, 20 hours to go... 


Now, the next stage in the process.. the goal has been achieved.. but I had 12 days left.. How to keep it going?

Kickstarter has this stretch goal system, adding more and improving your product to raise more capita, Its not directly created by kickstarter, it was done by some board game projects and has just become 'the done thing'. I didn't expect to have to do this, so my initial stretch goals were just 'pie in the sky' thoughts, but now.. at almost $400, I had to consider, I was actually going to hit $500.. I needed to have more realistic goals... AND means to achieve them.

So I added in the $3 Easter Egg pledge.. (I named it 'a little thing' but later I couldn't change the name, another lesson learned) but.. note the rocky road after.. no.1 was the first cancelled pledge, there were some adjustment pledges in there, people giving up their $4 pledge for a $2 map, but straight away, it gets snapped up (99 of 100 taken.. 1 left... fear of missing out.. people jumped on it)

People who had backed before, were not 100% keen on the change, some voiced it, some acted on it. My experience is, for every 1 person that does something, 25 people are thinking it. I hope I addressed the concern in my next update message, that I had no intention of diluting the project, I just didn't want anyone to miss out.

C) from here starts The New Yellow Wedge, the new $3 Easter Egg pledge, which as you can see goes as strong as the map pledge.

D) Some people like to help out, this was a map pledge +, just helping the project to get to the $750 tier.

E, F and G) Once it was understood that there were no real bounds.. some people just started pledging crazy amounts, some, to break the rules of the map (which was allowed.. i.e. you pay for it, I'll break it) and some want whole kingdoms of stuff going on..

For 200+ backers, I've had only 5 cancelled pledges.. I understand this is very very good, but maybe in the last 24 hours, some might quickly jump out. (I understand some advertising companies, pledge to access your details, then back out in the last 24 hours)

So there I am..

The graph doesn't show, someone bought the map, and pushed the total to $1830 at the time of writing..  have 20 hours left of the project, so if you've just seen this pop up in your feed and want to grab a final slice of the pie, feel free.

I don't know where this will go from here. There is enough interest, so I'll likely post a drivethuRPG map PDF for $4 or something fair to the backers (can't have it cheaper than the KS price), Many of the backers have asked I do another.. which I'll consider. but won't have it as cheap as this (I'd like to gauge what kind of interest people would have if it was twice the price...)

Monday, 14 January 2019

KICKSTARTED!

So, I was umming and ahhing about what to do as my first Kickstarter..

Something small, easy to deal with, easy to produce, just enough to cut my teeth but not too much if it got a bit crazy

Then I saw the Make 100 Challenge.. only make 100 of something..

Well I said.. I can do that!

So I DID!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1203688183/make-100-fantasy-locations



Its Simple Enough, I'm going to draw 100 locations on a map, so fellow GMs and Authors and Artists and anyone interested, can just have a cool little map for their own.

I draw these kinds of maps for people from time to time as commissions, I've charged as much as $200 for them, its usually 10 hours of drawing after 25+ hours of preparation and discussion with the author / games designer. So its not too far off what I've done before.

The Interesting part (for me) is getting 100 different locations into the map, I'll have to sort them out, structure them, get a feel for what goes where, interpret them from some backers it might be confusing mess..

So lets see where this goes. I'll post some thoughts on Kickstarting a project and How it all works out in the coming weeks.

Heres the Kicktraq for it
Make 100 Fantasy Locations -- Kicktraq Mini

Monday, 7 January 2019

DD12 Cataclyzm Playtest Diary II


I've been playtesting Cataclyzm to get a feel for how the game flows well, as its not a traditional roleplay and has moments where even I as GM get fazed and left wondering if I'm making a fun game or forcing an idea. So I decided to blog my thoughts..

DD12 Cataclyzm Playtest Diary #2

The Bleak Rocky Landscape of Cataclyzm

Ok, So this week was a bit of a bummer..

A) With a two something week hiatus from Christmas and New Years, we all sorta forgot where we left things.
B) We were down 50% of the group, Normally I would cancel if I know that 50% are not coming, its the threshold, too many decisions are left unanswered with half the group being mute torch bearers.

So, when half your group is going to miss out on XP, plot, mapping, adventure.. how can you continue? Side-Quests!

except.. and this is probably where Cataclyzm is lacking right now..

In a bleak, rocky, dark, nothing terrain, there are no side quests.. yet..

Normally I have a backstory for the world, whats going on in nearby villages, what things are problematic for the locals. I've had brave peasants ask the very high level heroes to dispatch goblin camps, for a few gold they managed to scrape together. Or on the other end, I've had lower level characters asked if they feel up to taking out the evil wizard that has set up a lair in the mountains, complete with crypts, graveyards and some giant undead dragon guarding the front door.

Its up to the players to gather the information and make an informed decision on if they want to take on a side quest.

But here I was, 3 players, ready to play, I have zero side quests. Nothing..

So, my fall-back.. character development.. While camping between travel, what do your characters talk about? Who ARE you? This was a little lacking, as 3 players down, meant we'd have to repeat all this again next week.

So what else could I focus the plot on? Starvation..

Cataclyzm is supposed to start getting your characters thinking about where they are, what they are doing.. walking around looking for food is the draw card to get players to move, look around, find stuff. sometimes horrid stuff..

They went back to the Turtle thing from the previous week, poked it with a stick, got some flesh from the carcas, but then promptly discarded it when they realised it'd likely be off.. They tried to clear some of it, so they could use the shell as a huge shield or something, but that acid blood kept them at bay (the idea, not any actual acid blood)

Eventually, they decided to carve their bone clubs into weapons.. Now, I was thinking, this is where it'll get interesting.. cept it didn't really..

The Skills system in DD12 is more static than full Dungeonworld, and as a result, crafting rules are less creative and more 'roll=>pass=>apply modifier', I'm thinking, at the very least, DD12 Cataclyzm would need the full crafting rules..

Thats an aspect of the differences that I've been working for..

Lets say your players LOVE combat, combat stats, working the numbers.. so they start with DD12, then add the DW-combat system into it, the rest of the rules on all other stats and skills are DD12, nice, simple, clean, easy.. but combat, uses all the bells and whistles..

Eventually when all 12 rule sets are structured, it'll all work nicely, but until its all built. its a mishmash of rules and broken mechanics.. work needs to be done, play-testing needs to be done.. and it all takes time.

The Encounter rolls were interesting.. first they found a fellow human, I rolled aggression and got way above 20, so this 'thing' was an insane leftover warrior.. he'd lost his tribe, gone nutz and was just eating anything and anyone he fought.. I adjusted his health to account for the battles he'd gone through, even still, he fought a good fight before going down. The group gained some battle scarred weapons and armour, that'll likely help them for a fight or two.


Next was a Wraith.. The point to rolling up things that are impossible to battle, is to show how the world works.. The Wraith had no life-force, its very existance was eating away at itself, exertion, of any kind, just drained itself away to nothing.. the players managed to startle the thing into moving, which caused 8 of its last 10 HP to blurr away into nothing.. the players figured it out, but decided to try a different approach, and they used their crystals. One player now has a red "wraith infused" crystal.

While I was GMing, I was asking myself.. what would other GMs do? How can I make sure Cataclyzm is playable by other GMs with less experience, less creativity?

I'm thinking of making several random charts, with random effects, but after playing a few games with decks of cards, I feel the aesthetic of drawing a card from a deck, so players get a sense of what it is they are facing too, is very pleasing and adds to the game play.

Roll on a chart for a base monster.. ok you got a Wraith, its 7th level, the group is 3rd, so draw two flaw cards, the 1st?: Slow.. ok cool.. and 2nd? dying.. niiice, ok, so my players now have a chance to defeat it, and I don't have to re-roll. 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Twelve Archtypes of Christmas

Having a new player watch the game, who can't make up their mind as to what to play, You start with something simple, but then suggest increasingly complex character choices..

On the First Day of Roleplay, My GM said to me:
Play as a Warrior in Chain.

On the Second Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
Game as a Ranger, or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Third Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
to Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger, or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Fourth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger, or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Fifth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
a Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Sixth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
a Snooty Elven Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Seventh Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
a Book Academic,
Snooty stuck up Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Eighth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
a Short Dwarven Blacksmith,
Book Academic,
Snooty Elven Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Ninth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
to Haggle as a Merchant,
Short Dwarven Blacksmith,
Book Academic,
Snooty Elven  Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Tenth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
to Croon like a Bard,
Haggle as a Merchant,
Short Dwarven Blacksmith,
Book Academic,
Snooty Elven Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Eleventh Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
a Medieval Doctor,
Croon like a Bard,
Haggle as a Merchant,
Short Dwarven Blacksmith,
Book Academic,
Snooty Elven Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain

On the Twelfth Day of Roleplay, my GM offered me:
a Mind Bending Mystic,
Medieval Doctor,
Croon like a Bard,
Haggle as a Merchant,
Short Dwarven Blacksmith,
Book Academic,
Snooty Elven Noble,
Spell Caaaasting Maaaaaaage,
to Pray like a Priest
Sneak like a Rogue,
Game like a Ranger,
or just
Play as a Warrior in Chain





Thursday, 3 January 2019

Happy New Year to All

Happy 2019 to everyone, those whom are reading this, those who are not, and everyone in between.

Do you celebrate New Years in your game / world?


Every now and then, I check the notes of the calendars of my world and see if its appropriate that locals are having a festival.

Festivals are important for people, to mark the passage of time, If you want to really get into this, go interview some people in small towns about their local festivals, how they plan it, how much time is put into it, and what they do inbetween time.. often its 'plan the next festival'

If we look at modern times, what with the work week, schedules, productivity and such, we've lost a lot of good ole fashioned festivals. We've managed to hang on to a few religious ones, a few non religious ones and some cross-overs.. such as Christmas, New Years and Easter.

Christmas and Easter, might be a tad hard to just plonk into your world, Maybe a great hero from a great time, might have stood for some goal, and people celebrate his birth and death, but I think its a fair call to say that marking the passage of time, the end of the year, would be universal.

So what do your folks do for New years? Local Wizards blowing off some fireworks spells?

In Estonia, we walked to the gravestones of ancestors and gave thanks, said hello. So maybe witches might summon up the spirits and communicate each year?

Russian New years is kinda like Australian Christmas, hand out pressies, eat a big meal, stay up to midnight and give your besty a hug before falling asleep somewhere that's not often your bed.

What of the aftermath, Russian New years is 10 days long, no-one goes to work, they just stay indoors, eating, drinking and so on, If your adventurers arrived in town mid-festival, would they find closed shops? full Inns? people sleeping in the street?

How about mid adventure...

"Hang on guys, before we enter the next room and solve the traps and kill the monsters, I'd just like to say a few words and count-down for New Years, about how much I appreciate you all!"