RPGs from Scratch Discussion
July 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm #53636
Using your Tesla analogy, I would apply it to what you’re doing like this:
Tesla is at their core an energy company. They have really good battery tech, but they needed to create a market for it. They saw a hole in the market for “good” electric cars. So what they did to get started was buy Lotus Elises and put electric power plants in them, because what they are good at, and what they really want to be doing, is making electric power plants (see: power wall, gigafactory, etc) and almost nobody (who is willing to license it out) is better at designing chassis and suspension than Lotus. Once they proved their core technology was sound, and built a buzz around themselves in this new space, they decided to tackle the project of developing an entire car (the Model S). Even the Model S is mostly just impressive for being a delivery mechanism for their battery tech; every “Model S destroys _______!” video you see is a drag race, and not a road race, because Tesla still isn’t as good at building chassis or suspensions as other players in the space that have been there longer (try finding Model S nurbergring lap times, and you will only see stories of them failing before completing a lap).
What you guys maybe need to decide is:
Do we think we are better at developing game settings than Wizards of the Coast?
Do we think we are better at developing game mechanics than Wizards of the Coast?
The answer may fall somewhere in the middle, but from the Bad Storytellers podcast, I get the notion that what you guys really want to be doing is developing a module for 4th edition with some novel supplemental mechanics rather than totally from-scratching a rule system. Something with the scope of Eberron, Ravenloft, or Dark Sun that comes with key mechanical differences that sets it apart, or even something like 4th Edition Gamma World that adds a CCG element to what is basically 4th edition combat rules, but still with 4th Edition “under the hood,” so to speak.
Anyway, I really like both of y’all’s new shows, and feel free to discard or make use of any, all, or none of this commentary; even though I’m a game developer by trade, I’m still just a guy on the forum as far as you guys are concerned. There’s no wrong way to have fun, so if you guys are having fun, keep doing it, and we’ll have fun with the process.July 20, 2016 at 12:38 pm #53638
Dave Noonan, one of the senior designers of 4th Edition, used to keep a really interesting blog where he would do things like research the origin of party roles or class archetypes. Hasn’t been updated since 2013, but it’s still out there and interesting if you guys want to know what tabletop designers nerd out about: http://nnnooner.blogspot.com/2009/03/so-where-did-these-roles-come-from.htmlJuly 22, 2016 at 10:57 am #53655
i am full agreement with max in saying working on game mechanics first would be important. and what you seem to be doing is setting houserules for existing games.
it isnt bad building a frame then seeing what would fit to make it run well, it just takes more time.
getting out what you want to see, using examples to highlight, and “real worlding” certain mechanics is fine for non-professional game designers, we have all done that.
in the end as everyone had stated what would make it fun.
initiative: deciding who goes instead of rolling is fun, Firefly rpg does that. other games, like brandon sanderson’s mistborn, uses the abilities WITS and REFLEX (everyone declairs actions from the lowest to highest WIT, then actions are preformed starting with the highest REFLEX)
stronger opponents or boss battles
i too have had my players one-shot a baddie i spent time on. My problem has been my players complaining when i give a baddie something they wont achieve or dont have access too. but that is case by case.
bosses are supposed to be tough, but more over they are also tough because of environmental factors (i.e. minons, fortress, etc…) i flooded a room with low level minons who were used as cannon fodder and blocked players from moving around keeping them from direct contact for a time.
skills and the like.
fate has a good system where there are set skills that handle certain situations but they encourage you to be open with skills (having a high resourse can be intimidating. i don’t have a good personality but i am pretty so i will use that when talking to people.)
combat and weapons
only have classifications if they add something. Palladium system categories weapons under time period but they have so many that they are only changing the skin.
their combat system is just as annoying but i wint get into that.
so keep up with weapon abilities and how they effect the attack
advancement and templates
I too like a soldier tree or a wizard tree to work off of. remember d&d has a set up that they are marketing for everyone including inexperienced players. did you want the sytem to be simple to pick up or take time to learn and build.
Dragon Age Rpg is such a simple sytem that, like world of warcraft, the world exists already so they needn’t have such a complex system. complex or not i could see using that in any settings and being just as fun.
so to sum up
*mechanics are important but can wait till you know what you want
*is the game going to be for experienced players or can anyone pick up and roll
*have a reason for whatever you include into the game
*watch for ways the system can be manipulated, “Do you follow rules as written or rules as intended”August 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm #53791KaosubalooParticipant
Episode 3 is out and I once again find myself repeating the same criticism that has been stated before; you seem to be focusing a lot on building a setting (which is fine) at the detriment of building mechanics (which is less good).
In the case of developing player races, I think you really framed your question wrong in the first place. The question you were trying to answer was “What player races do we want to use”. However, a better question would have been “How do we want player races to be distinct from one another” or perhaps “What do we want player races to do mechanically for a character”. Consequently, you put the cart before the horse by developing setting details about different races without having a clear idea of what would make them feel different from one another.
The effect this seems to have had was for you to assume the structure of how races would look, namely like 4E race mechanics, without really understanding why the mechanic is built the way it is or considering alternative solutions to the mechanic. In the case of 4E races, they are designed mostly to suggest character roles. A Dragonborn is designed to be a good tank. A Wood Elf is designed to be a good striker. D&D Style Racial hit points, Attribute adjustments and in some cases the racial powers are all designed to guide a player towards building a particular type of character. Of course you aren’t locked into that choice, but an Eladrin will always be a more effective Wizard than a Dwarf. Do you even want your racial mechanics to serve this function? It’s an important thing to consider!
As for alternative mechanics, it is almost painful that you didn’t consider implementing Races as a form of Class Track. It seems like a natural fit into the system and there are a lot of strong arguments for integrating two mechanics into one in a place where it makes sense to do so.
Guess who, it's Kaosubaloo!August 2, 2016 at 7:46 pm #53795CatKeymaster
Something that’s a pretty interesting occurrence with this show is that there was 5 episodes recorded before we even launched. There’s been such a great interaction after the episodes go live and as a result a missed opportunity for direct feedback from you guys coming into play. In retrospect we should’ve seen this coming. Don’t know what Josh and co’s plans are, maybe we can angle things to synch up tighter.August 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm #53796KaosubalooParticipant
@Cap Having a buffer is not a bad thing, but a buffer that amounts to recording 2 months in advanced is definitely pretty big for a show like this one where there is a lot of potential for audience interaction/feedback in between episodes. Maybe just try to reduce it to being 2 or 3 episodes ahead?
Also I forgot to mention this before, but I really like the idea of Croc people. It fills the same neesh as Lizardmen or Dragonborn, but it’s definitely a good way to put your own flavour onto the idea.
Guess who, it's Kaosubaloo!August 3, 2016 at 9:57 am #53809
I share @Kaosubaloo’s point about starting from fiction again. Knowing there is a 5-episode lead time is good to know, means we’ll probably continue to have similar critiques of the sessions for awhile.
At a high level, I will also add that you guys are kind of already building the second or third floor of your house right now before the concrete of the foundation is even dry. I would really like you to think through how momentum works as the Universal Currency For Everything, and try playing a couple simulated rounds of combat with it before moving on. I have some pretty big concerns that the way you level, attack, stat up, etc all revolving around a single pool of resources is going to not be too awesome in practice.
I don’t personally love the idea of saying “Ok, let’s take this stuff people know and turn it on its head!” when designing races. Particularly Orcs as presented in this episode; I think if you want Not Orcs, you need to not use Orcs. The advantage of tropes, archetypes, and stereotypes is to outsource your training to other properties and reduce the barrier to entry. You create a burden of learning overhead when you change basic things about something everyone already knows; the reaction you’re going to have to this is the same as you handing someone what looks like a chocolate chip cookie, but after it’s in their mouth they have the crushing realization it was A RAISIN COOKIE ALL ALONG!!!!11! It doesn’t matter if you like raisins, it just isn’t what you were expecting when you took a bite, and a large percentage of folks are just going to spit it out and be mad at you. The Dark Sun D&D setting did this with savage elves and cannibal halflings, but it worked for them because that was an alternate setting that people knew was going to be Not Your Big Brother’s D&D Campaign and they already had the standards over in the other settings. Orcs, Humans, and Dwarves were the only “standard” races you guys included, but you dramatically changed the flavor of what Orcs are all about. Humans were almost exactly like they always are, and Dwarves were mostly like we typically see Dwarven society with some edits. Rather than coming up with a bunch of racial binaries, why not come up with some sort of Rock, Paper, Scissor triangle of racial weakness between what seemed maybe subconsciously to be the races you guys really like, then have the other races mess with that in some way by fitting between the points?
The D&D optional race Thri-Kreen is almost exactly what you guys designed as “bug people.” They aren’t a super ubiquitous race, but they are out there and have a similar “you can manipulate a small thing as a free action once per turn” bit of flavor mechanics.
The way stat bonuses were kind of being casually given to races was interesting to me too; I didn’t feel like we knew enough about the general mechanics to know if a +1 to this or that was meaningful. I will say also that an entire party of dwarves handing out a d10 of bonus damage to each other whenever one of them hits sounds like it will be super OP in any rule system. What would have been really interesting to me is a race that could either accrue momentum faster than normal or prevent another race from accruing it themselves. Like play with your mechanics, and build off of them. Right now it seems like there are a bunch of seemingly disjointed piles of numbers laying around that are going to add up to less than the sum of their parts if you don’t codify your system around the core mechanic. Applying a fictional skin to a mechanic is the easiest thing to do, so worry about that later.August 3, 2016 at 10:44 am #53813
You know what might be another interesting way to approach racial differentiation is to use a “color wheel” approach: array all your races around a circle, and then have each race have a Nemesis in direct opposition to them (across the wheel) and then Allies to either side that are synergistic in some way. That is kind of similar to Chinese Zodiac sign compatibilities, and I think could be an interesting thing to hang your cosmology on later. You could perhaps define some benefit to a tag team, like “Dwarves and Humans work well together, and get an extra momentum for doing something awesome together” or what have you. But that gets into momentum balance and how freely you will need to hand it out in order to make sure people can level in a reasonable number of play sessions while still feeling cool situationally to spend it and all that.August 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm #53815
I’ve been thinking about this most recent episode a bunch today, and I’d like to present you guys with the following chart, and challenge you to consider the implications. I would suggest you ought to be able to replace “race N” with any core game concept (they need not total to 6), and it should mean something to you. I don’t really have a complete conception of what I’d like this chart to mean exactly, and I have a few other visual representations I may also try, but I figured I’d leave it here as a conversation generator to see if it resonates with anybody.
August 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm #53816
i would have to say I this would be a good visual for any system that depends on races.
would you also include racial counters, elves have more magic/ orcs have a resistance to elven magic
after hearing of the 5 episode buff we should ignore the lack of system and just comment on decisions the hosts madeAugust 3, 2016 at 4:19 pm #53817
So this diagram is an attempt to codify my desire to have Momentum as Currency be the core mechanic, and everything in the game builds off of that. You could treat that momentum circle as a metaphor for perhaps two things:
1) A Pool of Momentum: races “swimming” across the pool of momentum get a bonus to momentum when interacting with the opposing race
2) A Well of Momentum: races get a detriment to momentum when bridging the gap to the opposing race
If you like the idea of racial binaries or natural enemies and allies, it becomes “race 1 is extra motivated to defeat race 4, and build momentum quicker” or “race 1 is well matched with Race 4, so it is harder to build up a momentum advantage.”
Again, I don’t have it all gelled together yet, it’s just something I was considering. I also had the idea of a sort of momentum mountain, with humans at the mid-point and other races higher and lower on the slope to indicate it was harder or easier to build momentum (interacting down-slope is easier than up-slope), but I didn’t think that one made visualizing the relationships necessarily more easy.August 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm #53818DougParticipant
Keep in mind, we’re trying to create a system that can be adapted to any setting. So making up the different races was mostly for fun, and the function was to give us some window dressing for the upcoming play test. The goal of which is to see if it even HALF works.
If you want to reach my in-character profile as "General Manager" of the Ghostbusters, tag me using: @sevenAugust 4, 2016 at 12:07 am #53826
still max’s idea still works for anything, implant race here, create opposite, rinse repeat.
i think having 4 stats like ghostbusters body, mind, influence, spirit (power whatever) would be best for your sessions. each stat can just represent the overall abilities and when races are created you chose in what ability they are best with.
categorizing race for terrain isnt a bad idea and starting races are the most dominant races in each terrain, more that would follow are lesser in stature or civilization.August 4, 2016 at 8:20 am #53827
@Doug that’s exactly why I’m trying to extract out the mechanics from the flavor; I’ll reiterate applying a fictional wrapper to a game mechanic is the easiest possible thing, but if your game isn’t fun no amount of interesting fiction is going to save it.August 4, 2016 at 8:43 pm #53831tehmsuParticipant
I’ve never sat down with a tabletop rpg, so my perceptions of most of the races are filtered by secondhand listening to other podcasts or games like World of Warcraft. So while you were thinking of bug people, I was recalling the Silithid and the Mantid, dwarves remind me most of Dark Irons, humans and orcs sound familiar enough. Among the many playthroughs you’re sure to do, I’d recommend at least one where multiple party members are the same race – thinking of 3 or 4 orcs all together with that racial +1 aoe effect might be fearsome.
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