Friday, September 17, 2010

2e Hack, Round 1: Core Mechanic

I've been racking my brain about my (potential) Game Chef contribution, which I'm coming to think of as just too ambitious given the time constraints, but, barring unforeseen circumstances, I should make it in on time. During all that game-think various other mechanical bits have been floating to the surface, so I thought I'd throw down on some unfulfilled promises and start working my way through that 2e Hack... So let the first hack session begin:

Core Mechanic
As far as I know there are three basic resolution systems in 2nd ed. AD&D. The first is the simplest, roll over X on a D20 to generate a pass or fail. (Saving Throws), The second is almost identical, roll under X on a D20 (or D%) to generate a pass/fail. (Ability Checks, Proficiency Checks, Thieving Skills) and finally the To-Hit/Damage mechanic, roll of X on a D20, with the degree of success being based on a second die roll with a situationally determined die-type.

There are of course outlier mechanics (Roll X on a d6, like the elves ability to detect secret doors), but the above three are by far the most representative of the system, I think, and the to-hit/damage roll is both the most iconic and the most versatile.
So, that'll be the resolution mechanic right there. Roll 1d20, try to get X or higher. If the roll is higher than X than you reduce the challenge your confronted with by XdX points.

Potential Problems:
Rolling multiple dice takes more time.
The d20's linear progression and unpredictability.
The d20 result doesn't directly effect the degree of success (the "damage dice")
The use of polyhedral's.

My solution to the above is as follows:

Roll 3d6 (totaled) and add any relevant modifiers. If the result is greater than X (the "AC") than the action succeeds. The, the value of 1, 2 or all 3 dice are totaled to determine the impact or effectiveness of the action, based on the situation (the "damage").

So that's the system that I'm going with.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Game Chef, 2010 and Belated Updates

First, an update on my current projects.

Shadows got derailed a little by the Cute and Fuzzy Design Competition over at story games, though I don't know if it'll be finished or not. I have two days until the already pushed back deadline, and I'm pretty sure no one else has contributed anything, so, though I want to finish the game (and would like to go on a breakdown of it here sometime) I not sure of its ETA, if any.

The 2e has had some work done to it, but nothing serious and nothing like the "watch me design" process that I originally intended. After Game Chef I plan on setting a weekday to regular update the 2e Hack and watch it unfold in all of its old school glory (or lameness, depending on how things turn out).

So, now, on to Game Chef... I read the ingredients as soon as they dropped and will start posting my thoughts about the game, and the development of it, here, updating daily until the competition ends, with the first post going up tomorrow evening.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shadows Design Diary, Part 4

So, its been a couple of days off after attempting to digest the comments made by various folks on the internet, and today I spent quite sometime thinking about how to streamline the game and make it easy to learn and easy to play.
Actual changes: mechanics are going to be put in play to keep the group together as a whole, basically, your Characteristics (now called Values, to better represent what they do in the game) will go overboard when you don't have your quest mates their to balance you, so that your highest Value will begin to consume and then corrupt your lesser Values. Also, I cut back on some of the lights and removed them as a separate step in character creation.
The dream: I have a visual and stylistic motif in mind for the final look of the book and I'm struggling to get the art done for it so that I can been laying things out while at the the same time I know how I want to approach presenting the material, and thats as a bunch of short, easy to read and as independent to read as possible articles. Hopefully I can break up learning the system and the setting, as well as creating Persona, as something that occurs in play, but I think that might require some serious trade-offs that I don't know that I'm willing to make.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Internet Goodness

So I've actually got some pretty decent feedback vis-a-vis the role playing forum sphere (Forge, Praxis, Story Games, and it made me start to think really hard about complexity, clarity and redundancy. I know I'm going to try and rewrite the whole thing in a more digestible way, and that I'm going to take a long hard look at the mechanics and make sure that they'll (in theory) do what I want.
Since this whole thing started as such a stab in the dark, I've also thought a lot about what the game is about and what I want to get out of it and its setting. Although I haven't seen them used a lot lately, I'm thinking about fishing up the whole "Power 19" thing and filling it out, as well as using some advice I helped flesh out over on the Forge (you can check it out here: defining the package ).

So, hopefully in the near future there will be a pretty, easy to use beta text for the game that I can start distributing, but we'll see. Also, a name change: A Light in the Darkness: The Story of a Revolution. Shadows seems to generic and though it has ample meaning in the game, its most obvious meaning don't mesh with the tone and theme that I'm striving for.

Also, this (Cute and Fuzzy Design Contest). I'll be doing a follow up to this soon with my own contribution...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Right to Dream

I've talked quite a bit about Sim play over at the Forge (as masqueradeball) and I just finished listening to Vincent Barker talking about Sim play over at Theory From the Closet (which I'm working my way through backwards). I just wanted to weigh in a little bit here about what I thought about Sim, why I identify with it as much as a person can identify with a CA and with the additional caveat that all this verbiage spent on theory might be a waste of everybody's time.
So here's my take: The Right to Dream is about coming together with a group of people and establishing boundaries and then exploring the space within those boundaries with no end in sight other than to explore the world in question. You don't want to win and you don't care about coming out at the end with a good story, what you want is experience and exploration, to come closer to understanding and engaging in a fantasy than you would have ever had if you hadn't jumped into the sandbox.
No one is right or wrong, everyone wants to support everyone else's exploration, but it takes a lot of common ground to do this. Its dangerous, to hand someone your idea for a story or a character, or to invite someone into your vision of your favorite fictional world, and to let them bash around in it with you. They might break something you hold sacred. With no direction, too, play can devolve into strange things, highly personal nooks of dream space, places that only entertain or make sense to anyone but the one dreamer. In the Right to Dream you have to promise not to break anything and not to beckon people to go too deep.
So, thats it, the Right to Dream. Why would you do it. To play in that childlike sense, when in little moments you transcend and emerge through the game into the fiction. Its about wanting to act out in a way that isn't acceptable anywhere else. Its about exploring just how durable your visions are. There are so many reasons and so many reasons to buy into the Right to Dream, but that's my take on it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


And now for some asides... two different game design ideas have floated into my brain and I don't think that working on them will have too much impact on the Shadows design. One is an idea for a one shot game about indie-kids degenerating at a party. The idea is to use cards with specified drama bits to keep play going, with different players using the drama cards to create scenes to block the other players from achieving their character's goals. Competitive but light-hearted.

The second idea is less well-formed, but might yield some interesting results. After listening to Ron Edward's interview over at the Walking Eye Podcast, I got thinking about the gaming culture (as I knew it) when I first started gaming. Second Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was the game I started with and spent a decent amount of time on. I think it was already moving towards its death throws, Alternity wasn't too long after and from all reports its was sort of test run for ideas for the 3ed of D&D.
I wanted to revisit 2e and see what I would do with it now, sticking to its form and structure, but re-writing the rules to fit both my tastes now and to better reflect how we used to play it, as best as I can remember. We'll see how that turns out. My current plan is to do all the reworks here and maybe on some D&D related forums out there (EnWorld, anyone).
I know that the idea is a little out of date, but I haven't seen any love for 2e on the internets, but there have been countless OD&D/AD&D remakes and updates, so why not a 2e update. Someone, somewhere has to be with me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shadows Design Diary, Part 3

Just a quick little update to keep this little project active: So things are going okay in terms of the progressing design. Its been hard getting attention and finding people to discuss the game with, but I should expect that. This is my first game design that I've really tried to put out there in the public forum and don't have a lot of social currency in the online or any real world gaming groups at the moment. I'm doing my best to try and correct this. The newest written draft of the rules is going swimmingly, but I'm having a difficult of time writing the setting information out, because I'm reluctant to expand it. The setting right now is solid enough to create characters and situation, but not specific in a real world anthropological survey sense.
I'll be doing my best to get people to review the draft as soon as its completed and I'm hoping to get a little craigslist indie/story game group going on the weekend.