Kingsmead update and a new system!

Well, since I haven’t managed to post anything here since January, and since ignoring those two short posts, since October, I suppose it’s only right I update here again.
Especially since I’ve run another bit of a playtest, this time with a new rules system that I’ve been working on. One which emphasises the roleplaying aspect over the fun with mechanics aspect. You know, sensible stuff. And originally for d12s, but I tested using d8s. Much fun was had by all. More on that in a moment.

First: Things that are gone.
Gnomes. Check.
Halflings. Check.
Warforged? Decided to keep them for now, calling them ‘Golem’. But I may change my mind as yet.
The Tieflings became Devilkin, but I may remove them entirely yet. For now, they’re an infrequent birth among wandering humans, similar to gypsies. I haven’t exactly worked out the reasons for them yet, although I may through in the equivalent of Aasimar being born among them too, as well as perhaps stranger things. Genasi things maybe? Again, they’re in danger of removal.

Second. Things that are changed:
Dragonborn/dragonkin are now simply Draken. They used to have an empire, they don’t any more.
Dwarves and Elves are slightly re-skinned as Stonekin and Wildfolk.
Shifters are also re-skinned as Weretouched, although much rarer, and infrequently born among humans in a certain tribal kingdom.
There’s a kind of Monkeyfolk wandering around. I’m not comfortable with them as player characters yet, but they’re going to run the gamut from the gorillas in Planet of the Apes (the Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch version) to Hanuman in the Ramayana.
The Darklings are currently something like Drow, but live in foggy swamps. I see them as something like Elves, but from another source.

The character archetype usually filled by a cleric or paladin in D&D is now taken up with the Godsworn. If you want to be even a little bit more of a warrior than a normal priest, you’re a Godsworn. They wander the land, espousing the teachings of their chosen god in all that they do.
The element wheel is a thing in my head now. A four-spoked wheel, with an element at each joint in the path. The central hub is taken by mind magic, so illusions and so forth. A mage may learn more elements, but must follow the path around the wheel – they can’t jump an element. Of course, they could start as a mind mage and have access to all the elements from the start. Mind magic is a lot more subtle for the most part, less forceful.
Mages from the Raethmoore Academy are taught at a young age to focus upon a single element. Fire Mages and Earth Mages abound. Mastering more elements is rare, but does happen.
Sea witches may be trained, or may have an inate talent. Their magic mixes water and air elements, but in specific ways, and certainly not upon land.
A class of semi-magical artisans and alchemists, the Tinkers are now added to the game. Inspired by Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, they are the magewrights and expert crafters, who know enough about magic to sense it and to invest the occasional item with some magical power.
I’ve introduced magic and holy items as being ‘soulwrought’, that is their makers have fashioned a part of themselves into the work. The maker invests part of their magic, or blessing, into the item itself. However, a completely mundane person could create a soulwrought item, such as a great work of art, or a particularly well made piece of equipment.

Third. Things I’m working on:
Goblins and Orcs need a better name. I’m tempted to fold Orcs in with my Giantkin: large, seven-feet tall behemoths that exist on the D&D spectrum somewhere between Goliaths, Half-Giants and Hill Giants. I like the idea of Goblins having horns. I may make them a cross between the traditional Goblins and Satyr, something like that.
Kobolds are a bit difficult. As they are now, they’re similar to Draken, but shorter, more wiry, and more wiley. I also don’t like the name at all. Closest ideas at the moment involve the Dray or Dreaks or something along those lines.

Four. Finally, on to a play report:
I pulled together four people, and we ended up with a crowfolk Tinker, a Fire Mage turned wandering minstrel, a sellsword and a lucky thief.
The group travelled to the village of Kingsmead for the early-Spring Planting festival, when the local farmers are blessed with a promising harvest at the end of the season, and one of the few times the village really gets wild and celebrates. There’s a market with travelling vendors, a ceremony, and a lot of merriment.
So far the group have noticed that there’s something magical about the village well, that the blacksmith is very good at his job and occasionally invests his wares with power, and that there are plenty of alleyways and rooftops to escape into.
Also, that a crow cannot drink easily from a standard tankard, that Clarice is a lovely name for a violin (but maybe she doesn’t need to be introduced to everyone ‘she’ meets), and that poor Tim never really recovered from his accident, poor little guy.
More soon, when they actually hit a plot item!


Unnamed System ready for review

Following from my previous ramblings about a d12-based system, I’ve now formed what seems to be a serviceable system that can use several different dice, d12s included.

If you’re not already following me on Google+, then you might have missed the posting showing off those rules. I’d obviously appreciate any feedback.
I managed to run using most of the rules and a d8 system in my Kingsmead setting on Wednesday. The play report will go up there shortly, along with a few of the optional new setting bits and pieces I’ve come up with.

First experiences with Traveller

I know I said I’d recap Dresden. I promise this will happen. It’s just not happening today.

This week it was decided that I’d run something, rather than just play along. Great says I, I have many of these things which people call ideas. Here are some of them. And then the players picked them apart, and it all got a bit interesting. As I’m sure you’re all familiar with.
My ideas for the game were a few options:
1/ Run Traveller for a complete change of pace. This involved more rules prep, since I was then going to use the Secret of the Ancients campaign series (Players: DO NOT READ THESE BOOKS. You have been warned.) Character creation is plenty fiddly, and would take a while, especially since none of us have exerience with the system.
2/ Run Blood and Honor, the samurai Houses of the Blooded setting by John Wick. This was mostly rules prep, and then I was planning on coming up with some game ideas based on what people wanted to play. Character creation is not too fiddly, but might take a little while since none of us have experience of the system.
3/ Run Legend of the Five Rings. More samurai, less rules prep as I’ve run lots of it before. This was 4th edition, and my experience is mostly in 1st, so a bit of fiddle there. And the game I had planned to take from the example in the back of the book, since it’s so similar to the 1st edition example adventure.
4/ Run my homebrew system, and set it in my Kingsmead setting. No rules prep for me, only a refresher of setting prep. Just get things together and explainable for the players, and have an idea how to run magic well using the system. Seemed doable, and would favour story over rules challenges, hopefully.
The players chose option 1, which was followed by over two hours of character creation and rules learning. But the game itself, once it was under way, went extremely well. I really enjoy the simple mechanic, and it was useful to have the story sat beside me and ready to go with minimal prep.
The characters were an ageing but moderately famous scientist with little in the way of promotion in his long career, a thief who pulled off a famous escapade a few years ago, a civilian colonist and courier who accidentally crashed during an important mission years ago, a marine who got thrown out for mental health issues but somehow managed to be drafted into the army infantry, and finally an army infantryman who was scapegoated for a disastrous mission and somehow found himself in the navy instead.
This intrepid bunch set off for Regina, following the death of the scientist’s strange old Uncle Vlen, and found themselves investigating his murder instead. So far, encounters with a broken down hostel computer and a paranoid ex-detective have left the group with little clue to motive behind the murder, but it seems the local legal system have found their man. He clearly supplied some drugs, but did not it seems pull the trigger on the murder weapon. More investigation will have to take place, especially with contact from a mysterious university professor claiming to have information.
I’m planning to run the homebrew Kingsmead some time in the next few weeks also, because thinking about it has re-ignited the fire I had for the setting.
Dresden update soon, I promise!

Apologies for the delay

It seems I’ve been lax in my postings of late, and it’s been at least three weeks since I’ve said anything. I won;t bore you, but due to some personal issues I’ve had a hard time working on it. I’ve even managed a few false starts, but I’ve resolved to keep this up, so I will.

I’ll take this post to just talk about some of the things loafing around in my head, and return with some regularly scheduled mayhem soon. There’s a bunch of stuff happened in our Dresden game that just got a little (a lot!) silly.

But back to everything else.

I was debating how to keep track of health or damage in the system I’ve been working on. I thought about a static five damage slots, with the damage applying equally from physical attacks or mental stress. Then there’d be an option to buy off your damage by trading off a line of the character sheet.
If you recall, it worked that the character had five aspects, five skills/achievements/what-have-you, and five pieces of equipment that they never went without. By trading off a line, you lose an aspect, a skill and a piece of kit. They don’t necessarily have to be relating or focus upon the same task, the point is your character becomes more limited. It’s very heavy-handedly stolen from Chris Tregenza and co.’s 6d6rpg.
The other issue I’d been having was that of scale, specifically with dice rolling. The point was to come up with a viable system for d12s. That worked, but it meant a lot of swing, and became especially difficult when I did some dice rolling to kill time and didn’t seem to roll very well at all. I know that the average of high d12 minus low d12 should not have so many results equal 1 or 2 or 3, but the data seemed to skew that way. I thought it would hug lower numbers, but rarely rolling above a 3 seemed to push it, probability-wise. I know what the curve looks like, but if my dice were that random, the rolls would show it. I might need new dice.
The system was perfectly viable with smaller dice (Feng Shui uses d6s and was part of the inspiration, Qin uses d10s), and didn’t seem to skew too badly. So it metamorphosed into a d-whatever system. But I have ideas for the d12s. It’s mostly about power levels. Superheroes would likely use d10s or d12s, as would the idea I’m putting together around the Malazan Book of the Fallen (fansite, since there’s several novels). The d6s and d8s would better suit the boy scouts, child’s toy dream defenders, and maybe generic science fantasy. I’m working on that.

I’ve also want to run Synapse again, since the rules were fun and the story worked well. But for some reason, I’m just not in the mood to right now. I’ve got a lot of stuff buzzing around my head, and I want to finish what I’ve started with some of it, but I also want to try out the new ideas. The eternal dilemma, it seems. I think I’ll set aside a time to run it properly, on a weekend or something soon. See how much I can get done if we play for more than two hours.
And if I don’t get distracted plotting Legend of the Five Rings, Traveller, and other sordid things.