A quick design breakdown

I thought today, since I’ve been thinking about it for a while, I’d do a quick design breakdown of the DiceBenedict system that I’ve been toying with. Specifically, where I stole a bunch of ideas from.

So originally it spawned from the idea of a system built using only d12s, but after looking at how the probability curve behaved, I wanted to try it with some other die types. And yeah, it worked OK for most of them (I’m still not sure how well d4s work, but I don’t know if I need to worry overly much about them at this stage).

I’ve dropped the term ‘Aspects’ to describe part of a character, given that the character dice modifiers are all derived from the Aspects part of the FATE system. The idea of using various different facets for character modifiers comes from a bunch of gaming, but I think FATE had a lot to do with it. For a while, I contemplated them as adding additional dice, but I didn’t like that mechanic. Safer to stick with just the pair of dice, makes things a lot easier!

So we have the character modifiers and scene modifiers. That’s also another little nod to FATE, which had location Aspects that could be tagged for bonuses to dice rolls.
Limiting how many character modifiers could be tagged came around early, realising that a character would have a whole hoard of stuff they could use (and therefore skew the probability way off). The limit being specific to the dice used is new. It seems to have worked in play tests so far.

Spin points come from a variety of sources: FATE points, the honour pool in John Wick’s ‘Blood and Honor‘, but also from Action Points in Dungeons and Dragons (and actually from d20 Modern, which I enjoyed playing the crap out of about 6-7 years ago). I liked the idea of the group as a whole having to manage the resource.

SFX/manoeuvres come around from FATE too (I owe them a bunch really, it seems). But they’re also I think tied to the magic system in D&D (specifically the old multi-round casting times), and the similar system in Legend of the 5 Rings.

How combat handles has yet to really come across (playtesting it a bunch tomorrow afternoon), but I think it owes at least a nod to Feng Shui, or it will do once my first player breaks the system – he has told me his first character advancement will involve making his spells quicker, so he can cast every turn including the first, if he so wishes, and can boost effects quicker.
The loss of parts of the character came from a one-on-one playtest of the 6d6 system last year. Characters being hindered by their pain made sense to me, and certainly struck a chord with other games I’d seen with permanent damage hindering the character in the future (Legend of the 5 Rings, Vampire: the Masquerade and Blood and Honor all jump into my mind thinking about it, and the Dresden Files RPG – FATE again – has a nasty trade-off with a permanent character aspect change in some circumstances).

Overall, I think the focus is on a more story-driven game, which is what I play these days, and even how the D&D and Cyberpunk sessions I’ve played in recent years have gone. I don’t know whether this is because I’ve had more exposure to that kind of game, but I know I’ve tried to have a decent narrative background going back as far as I remember. Whether the rest of the group was playing that way or not. I think I’ve started playing with groups who follow that idea more.

Maybe I’ll play something quick and nasty soon and the rules will take a swing in that direction. We’ll see. I’ve yet to work out the best way to resolve combat damage, so maybe it will get brutal and deadly.

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.

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.

Further d12 system ramblings

I’ve kept bouncing around my homebrewed d12 system in my head, and it has now taken on characteristics of FATE and Feng Shui. I’m still a little unsure of how exactly the probabilities will play, but we’ll see.

So here’s how it’s laid out.
Roll 2d12 when it is deemed necessary by the group (explained below).
Subtract lowest from highest, resulting in numbers from 0 to 11. 0 (a double) explained further below.
Add up to +5 with modifiers. (+6 with plot point. See below).
Check total.

Then the modifiers come from five aspects that describe your character, then three skills/achievements/training/merit badges, and then possibly equipment depending. A magic sword that does extra damage against Orcs would likely get a +1 against an Orc.

So Let’s say I’m a wizard and want to cast a simple magic missile spell. I roll my 2d12, and the roll come up as a 6. I can add aspects, training and equipment, but only to a maximum of +5.
I have an aspect ‘spellslinger’, training in ‘magical casting’ and ‘magic missile’, and I’m carrying a staff that helps me channel my magic. That’s +4, so overall I get a 10. If that 10 beats the targets dodge/armour, it takes damage (I haven’t quite worked out the damage track yet).

If I’d rolled any kind of double, then something different happens. I instead earn the group a plot point, which I could either spend immediately to make some riotous example of the spell going amazingly, or keep and allow the spell to fail somehow. The plot points are communal, so anyone could use them. They let the players make narrative choices or give them a further +1 on rolls (similar to FATE).

How does this sound to people? So far, my ideas for testing it involve the Lookouts (for those merit badges as skills), Psychopomp and maybe some sort of high science fantasy setting in the cosmos.

Psychopomp

Inspired by this picture, I’ve been thinking recently about the idea of children’s toys invading dreams to keep the children safe. A friend gave it the name Psychopomp, I assume in the Jungian sense since I didn’t intend for death to be a central element.

So far, the ideas revolve around the spiritually imbued toys of orphans, protecting them from the nasty nightmares that patrol the night time hallways. Presumably an old Indian burial ground or nasty cult or something goes on in the past causing them. Perhaps it’s due to the sad children and concentration of them, who knows.

So far, I figure either having the nightmares led by someone called Mr Fierce is important, and that perhaps the orphanage is run by the Orphian order of priests/nuns, or the Orphian society would be good. Then I thought maybe a kindly janitor called Gabriel is helping the kids out, but in my head he’s Cab Calloway from the Blues Brothers.

I can sort of see the d12 system in my head working well, since I’ve finally worked out what rolling a double would do.
I need to think about how the characters themselves would work. It’s likely to be a cross between Toy Story and the Midnight Patrol in how it comes together.

Any ideas to contribute?

Further 12-sided Ramblings

I’ve been mulling over a d12 based system for a little while now, and I have the dice mechanic more or less worked out. My only big thing now is rolling doubles.

System so far is thus: roll 2d12, subtract the lowest from the highest, and add a skill value between 0 and 3. Compare that to a target number.
At first I thought rolling double 1 and double 12 would do something special, either bad or good, but then I thought about the poor numbers in the middle, and wanted to give them something to hope for.

The current idea buzzing around my head is have them play out for the 4 seasons. Only problem now is working out the spread. Do I have 1-3, 4-6 and so on, or 1 4 7 10 and 2 5 8 11 and so on as sets. I don’t want to make it too complicated, but I don’t really want to involve other dice like a d4 at all.
Avoiding complication is why I’m trying to avoid each double doing a different thing, but I don’t want it oversimplified with odds and evens or 1-6 and 7-12 (although I may give up and simplify to Summer and Winter if I have to).

Any feedback much appreciated.