Friday, 30 January 2015

Point Buy vs Dice Rolls

What do you prefer?

I've never been a fan of point buying. having to choose something high, something low, I always end up min-maxing for the missing link in the group. No Cleric? I'll min-max my CHA & WIS high, Need a Fighter? Super STR & CON man to the rescue!
I far prefer to let the dice speak to me, if I roll up decent stats for a Warrior, I'll be a warrior. If my stats suck for a Warrior, even if the group Needs a warrior, I'll still choose something that matches my stats, and we'll have to figure out how to play, sans warrior.

Does anyone else feel like re-rolling, is like aborting that life? that person you were going to become, is thrust back into the void? never to see the light of day?

My System:

The Problem with most systems is, the limited stat block. when you only have 5 or 6 stats, the chances of
rolling the right stats at the right time can be small. Mathmatically, you'd be less likely to roll at least 1 value above 14,  let alone 2. So you want to provide the player with some fall back, some way to ensure you'll get whats needed to play something good

Since each of my eight lifestyles only really needs 2 values to be above average, and I have 16 Characteristics altogether, the chances of rolling above average almost negates the chance of getting a dud character.

Then we added the fail-safe.. The Spare Roll. 

At first the spare was just that. Spare. You used it to swap with your lower scores, to make sure that you had some chance of getting the career you wanted. But what happens if your spare was lower that the rest? Its usually going to be a low score.. so now it looked like a nice little point bonus for skills or for background points.

Swap Two, Minus One.

Even after swapping the spare, many players came to the game from other systems which allowed them to swap any and all stats.. blocking players from doing something results in unhappy players.. but providing any and all requests.. at a price.. results in players asking themselves.. is it worth it?

So, you choose, Do I keep the stats I have, or do I pay 1 point from one of the swaps, AND 1 point from the spare to make that swap.. is a 16 Strength swapped with 10 intelligence worth the 15 intelligence, 10 strength and minus one from Spare.. or 16 INT, 9 STR instead?

Why do spare points matter? because the nice little bonus for skills & backgrounds is what makes character creation more fun.. 

Now the spare becomes something you don't just throw away. Some players actually swap a good stat from the Char list, that doesn't match their lifestyle, to the spare slot to ensure more swaps, and more background points because more background points means more background choices, which could mean a starting level 2 skill vs just a few level 1 skills.

Rules Description:

In Character Creation, Each of the 5 Aspects of your characters background, (Race, Childhood, Apprenticeship, Journeyman and AdventurePath) cost Background Points, these are respectively averaged at 0, 4, 8, 12 and 16. Through the process, you usually earn 20-30 background points, so its typical to need 10 background points from the spare roll to make good choices.

When you retired a character (or they die) you (the player) earn Karma Points, which often get spent to buy background points for your next character. Since rare races can cost up to 50 background points, and each of the other 4 aspects can cost 10x the average for the rarer choices, the most extreme character might cost as much as 500 Background points!

GMs can easily create any of these aspects to match their own world, or raise and lower the 'costs' associated to match their world.. High fantasy might halve the magi background point costs, while low fantasy might double it. If Elves are impossibly rare, a GM might allow you to choose an elf, but at 10x the racial cost, while an all elf campaign, might negate the race cost completely. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Spells, Spellcrafting and Components

This is more of an overview as Andreas raised some thoughts on the subject and I wanted to expand on my ideas, without cluttering his blog discussion.

For World-Builders

First, sorry for posting this in World-builders, not exactly the right group for this, but then I thought, ok, If we preface some points, its still pertinent. So:
Where I say 'you' the player, switch to 'mages in this world', if I'm talking about specific gaming stats, then think of instead as your notes for your characters in your world, I think its important to understand that in your world, that you created, its just as important that you follow your own rules, your canon, your defined reality, because if you break it, your readers (and for gaming, players) are going to break their sense of disbelief, and ruin the experience.


My System is fairly robust, As you might know from reading the blog so far, I have included almost every single system that existed in the 90's and amalgamated, I've added all possible styles & types from books that I've read over the last 30 years, Every player who asks: Do you know X-system, or such and such style from this Author, and I say, ok.. describe it.. and the answer is always. Yes that very possible and doable.. So I think its rather robust because no-one has been able to break it yet.

Possibly after writing this, and you read it, you may find a way to break it, upon which the answer would most likely be: I must not have made it clear in my post.. I'll try and clear that up for you.

Spell Casting

When you cast a spell, Depending on how you learnt it, you wave your arms, and/or use ingrediants and/or speak special words and/or commune with nature, demons, elements or 
such and invoke the powers to make the magic happen. 

In Game terms, I use Magic Points.. but I also have sub points called Exhaustion, Persistence, Torpor, Regeneration Rate and Burnout. All Spells have a value assigned to them, typically a Magic Point cost, but any spell can include E, P, T or even Reg as cost too. On top of that, or instead of it, Points can be reduced in their costs, based on external factors, such as gestures, words, components, lost knowledges or gifted aspects from nature, demons, elements or other.. (more on these points later)

Confused? Lets Look at some examples:
Dweguri, Dark Elf Mage, was taught to cast Cave Lights using glow mushrooms, but, if need be, he can summon the inner strength to cast the spell from his magic alone.
Cave Lights, Lvl 1: Magic Points: 3, Component: Glow Mushrooms: Mp reduction 3mp, increases the glow of all cave mould and surfaces by 2 light levels.

NiWalke, Fire Mage, uses fireball as his go-to spell.. he learnt it in the college of fire, and understands its intricate workings, to the point where he can cast small, medium or large fireballs, and throw them great distances on occasion. NiWalke finds himself drained of much of his magic, but facing off against an Ogre, he spots some sulphur on the ground, remembering back to his college years, he manages to scrape together two handfuls of the powder, just in time to throw a great flame into the beast, enough to aid his companions to escape
Fireball (College of Fire, lvl 4: 10 Magic Points Base + 1 Exhaustion: Component: Sulphur -4mp per handful, Coaldust - 3mp per handful) NiWalke, studied Fireball x3 times, reducing base MP to 8 and -2 exhaustion & -2 Torpor) 

While in both cases, I'm using material components, dependant on the school, the culture, the style of your game, any one of these could be replaced with other 'cost reducers'

Spell Crafting

In All Spells, There are basic structures of logic, Whats the basis of the spell, what does it do, outside the normal physical world, then all the nitty gritty: how far will the spell go, whats it do, who/what does it do it to, how fast is it, how hard is it to dodge/resist/unweave.

Then look at Who is crafting this spell. If its a college of magic who have the resources to study this spell and its types, groups, styles, schools, effects, over and over to improve it, get the components right, or more effective, vs if its a Hermit in the woods, who devoted their life to one single spell in one direction.

This usually results in a specific spell value.

Except from my Excel Character Sheet
The Magic Points are related to how much of the physics of the world are being bent to make it happen. Exhaustion is how much power drain the caster is going to feel, (persistance is how much Exhaustion this particular player/character has in store, before it begins to affect him), Torpor is his limit to any given spells power.. a maximum level if you will, and Regeneration, relates to how many magic points he'll gain back after a full nights rest.

Components in Play

So, while you can and probably should use components in some form, it can be time consuming, both for the character, in terms of actions and initiative to get out the components, or prepare them or make them happen, and in battle, you only ever care about MP & time.. Most spells are 'built' with the concept of casting in 1 combat round.. well.. Battle magic is, 

Spells which are far less likely to be used in the heat of battle, will be cast over minutes or even hours.. the better spells, costing hundreds or even thousands of magic points to cast correctly.. impossible in a single round... But.. in a ritualistic manner, reducing the cost to cast (each Combat round is considered a 'component' to reduce MP costs), using candles, materials, and/or including other magi or natively magical creatures, such as fey, demon, elementals or other.. can reduce this 'cost' to a realistic level.. explaining 90% of fantasy authors usage.
I won't go into it deeply, but, using someone elses magic, freely or against their will, your or their blood, or life essence as a component to spell casting, and sacrifice, either willing or otherwise are other aspects of 'components'

So, At the end of the day.. A player decides during character creation, did he get his/her magic from a school, some cult or group, a hermit or is self taught.. (from left to right, with increasing difficulty to create your character, but more freedom of choice) which obviously affects which spells they start with, how they have access to new spells as play progresses but most importantly.. were they taught to cast spells with components.. or just plain magic.

Thursday, 1 January 2015



I felt it necessary to include this little caveat at the beginning of many of my posts, as the average reply seems to be completely off topic, sure, there are trolls, but I find the average gamer to be more intellectual, so I get smarter trolls!

1. Blogs

When I began Blogging in the mid 90's they were webpages I had to write out the HTML for. It was considered then (and to much of an extent now) to be a log of events by a developer, written on the web for a chosen audience to view (often the dev team, but sometimes publicly).
Later Blogs became more public, more open, allowing readers to identify with the author, wanting to read things they agreed with.. Later still Trolls started to disagree with what was written, rather than just going somewhere else.
I wrote my early blogs as tech manuals for my player base, but for this Blogger site, I've rewritten them into a kind of diary about what I did back 30 years ago, when gaming was still viewed as a 'nerdy satanistic unhealthy thing'
I hardly ever edit what I write, If I wrote "thought of the day" expect it to be brain vomit of ideas about a topic, often unresearched, which I admit does entice trolls to come puke their own thoughts.. sometimes I learn something new from their 50 hour long posts on why I'm wrong.
I do use click-bait titles, because, quite honestly, I've always done that, even in real life I start topics with a more controversial way of thinking about things, I get more honest answers out of people that way. I'm not doing it to gain readership, because this blog is for me to ensure I get it out of my head and onto (e)paper, and maybe, just maybe one person might benefit and their gaming will get better.

2. Dungeonworld is a World Simulation Roleplay Game.

It concentrates on the ideas that a good story can be told in a way that doesn't need to break the existent universe they are in. Dice are used to measure the degree of randomness in a world, yet they should not make the world random, they should merely indicate to the GM & players, in which direction should the decision be, and how 'strong' it should be.
Dungeonworld core mechanic is an open 2d12, 1's and 12's modify the result for 'extra' boosts. We also use Open Ended d100s for more realism.
Dungeonworld is a far more realistic Roleplay System, health is based on real life health, pain, wounds, diseases, infections, stress etc, Players will have to think, not only about how to take out the creature, but how to survive the trek back to camp. Much Pain has been taken to ensure that the realism is as close as a roleplay game can get, and yet, still be fun to play.
Dungeonworld is a more complex game, because complexity gives players more choices, takes away the heavier thinking, compartmentalises the aspects of play so that you only use what you need to use and get into the game & plot and adventure without worrying if your character is min-maxed to perfection.
Dungeonworld is supported with an Online World, allowing GMs to sit back and relax, think more about the situation they are in, rather than figuring out the complexities of an entire world every session. Players can be more relaxed in the knowledge that their GM isn't going to miss out on something critical, because the Online world will cover that.
Lastly, Dungeonworld is a Live World, if you kill the goblin hoard in the forest of thieves.. other players won't be able to.. their already dead. The actions of players have consequences on the world.

3. Dungeonworld(tm & r & c)

Dungeonworld(one word) became a name in 1992, I trademarked it then and have owned it since then. Australian Trademark & Copyright laws state that I have full ownership of that name, and anyone publishing in Australia would be in breach of those laws.
I have only recently become aware that a UK based games company is publishing under the name Apocalypse World: Dungeon World, I have written to them to express how this violates my trademark, they did not write back, but instead threatened the two other Dungeon World companies that exist in the world(and failed).