Thursday, 9 August 2018

Dungeon Delvers Twelve: Cataclyzm

Today, I thought I might just put it in writing, what I'm up to, what I'm developing and what you can see coming out of the EFRGames product line soon:

Dungeon Delvers Twelve: Cataclyzm

When I returned to Australia in 2012, I discovered something unsettling, The Roleplay game that I'd been working on for the last 25 years, had become outdated, outmoded. The Audience and Market for roleplay games had indeed increased, as I understood, but it had also changed.
While I have a few posts about it, <will post links later>, I'm not so stubborn to resist change. If the players can't handle accounting, math, science and are more focussed on narrative, then so be it.
So Dungeonworld, the Roleplay Game for Accountants, got shelved. Later in time, when this generation starts looking for more crunch, I'll dust it off, and print it up.
So Dungeon Delvers Twelve is the core mechanic, the Two-Twelve-Sided-Dice system, with some simplification, tweaking and the like, I trimmed the fat. I got a 1 page, convention set of rules, an 18 page core rules without any fluff, and got a 50 page cut down of the whole system.
So Now I needed a scenario.
Everyone talks about the Heartbreaker Fantasy RPG, So while that is my personal core, everyone else has done it to death, so the likelyhood anyone is going to see my fantasy core rules and even consider buying it, would be bupkis.
If I'm going to trim down my rules, change the core name, I may as well go for a whole nother aspect of genre.. but what?
I like minecraft, bought into it after meeting Marcus, should have invested, but that's another story. The Open world, Crafting gear, building locations, that appealed to me. but you are somewhat alone. This is the part of the game that gamesmaster love, they LOVE to create a world, and then have people walk in it.
The Problem is often that the system used, will reflect how the players are supposed to behave in the game. Most games focus on combat, looting, and the acquisition of power, While this plays a part in any RPG, its only a small part, yet the rules for many system are only focussed on that small part.
So, a wonderful, creative GM, makes up a great world, a great plot, and the players hack their way through it, because the system encourages it.ouch.
I asked myself this ages back.. why can't my players be something else, and I introduced the ability to be anything. Bartender? great! Shop Keeper? Great! The Local Lord, working out the logistics of his kingdom? a Doctor, discovering new potions, techniques or ways to heal people, why not a bard, travelling the land, delivering messages and lifting the spirits of those he encounters, or better yet, the nerd, the ultimate juxtaposition, by playing a nerd in a game build by nerds, for nerds. How about playing as a person who just wants to 'see' everything, and write it down for others to read about.
Add in Crafting, via the local blacksmith, and viola.. finally It seems like all the pieces have come together and I have a game that I feel proud of..

So what scenario would suit that? All of them.. Blargh.. ok.. so I need to focus on key points.

You can't escape combat, anyone doing a roleplay game that had zero combat would be shot down, because at the end of the day, the lowest form of conflict resolution, is win-lose. I hit you, your dead, conflict resolved.
Crafting is only really fun when you lack the final goods. If the local blacksmith sells weapons, why do you need to make them yourself. Sure, there comes a time when you're level is so high, that not even the most accomplished mage-blacksmith is good enough to make the ultimate blade-staff that you need, so you end up making it yourself.. with cludgy rules, tacked into the last chapter of the book.. ug!
So Crafting works better with scant resources, and even less local talent.
Medicine, a form of crafting, but then there is the human body.. Doctors are only useful when there are wounded.. which combat takes care of.. 
So It hit me, the Warrior, The Shaman (medicine man) and the Blacksmith are three characters that could fit together as their own little group.. As long as you have one of each, you can have a group without any need or backup required..

Lost? Stranded? in limited space?   The scenario works where we have : limited resources & technology, yet an abundance of opportunity to gather resources and invent the technology, a requirement to survive means a need for weapons, armour, potions and the like, and of course the need to fight, because the world is dangerous.. which often means young.

So I grabbed out my world building notes, and found what I was looking for. The Beginning of everything.

Cataclyzm, the time when all things began (and ended) A time where all great existing civilisations have come to a catastrophic finish and must start over. Some technologies might somehow survive, but for the most part its all gone.

Numinera and the Cypher system went down that path, they chose post apocalyptic, and look where that got them. Mad Max is very popular again, While I don't want to step on any toes (or risk law suits), there is nothing wrong with structuring the rules in a way that allows the players to choose that plot path for themselves. The Concept of a New beginning is rather Apt.

So Cataclyzm starts with players opening their eyes to a blank charactersheet, like the blank world around them, and are thrown into a situation where they need to make quick decisions. Each decision helps them to create their character, as they fight off an unnameable horror, If they kill it (yes, you can die in character creation) their survival instinct kick in and their hunger takes over.. They ravange the corpse, making their first meal in this hostile environment.

The Characters then work out what they are doing in this world, who they were in the old world, and if any of their skills might match their new lives. They find others in a nearby settlement, join and begin to work together. As survivors of the horro from ouitside, they are revered as heroes, and the support of heroes is the survival of all, as such the viallge itself, becomes a character that the players interact with.
The gamesmaster plays as the village, when the heroes are returned and resting. The GM makes choices for the village and the players now are the GMs of the village. The GM can take on the roles of the Merchant, Leader or Knowledge Keeper, while the GMs take on the roles of the villagers, their needs, their wants are now part of the fabric of the game.

Through crafting, logistics and game mechanics, woven within the story, now the GM gets to play too, and together, they stand a chance to build a new life after the Cataclyzm.
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