Tabletop RPG Catch All

You are right. I need to work some things out in front of friends. Do you have any recommendation on how many to start with? You run the battle plus one friend? Two? Three?
I didn't want to put something unfinished in front of someone. And its funny that you mention it because my wife asked me this morning what I was doing madly typing on my computer for hours several days a week. She thought I was writing a book but I told her and she suggested one of our mutual friends would be interested in testing it. She then said that she looks forward to trying it herself when I explained some of the basic goals and mechanics.

I find it really lending itself to rewrites akin to your 5 iterations. I started with class customization ideas that I now have to revamp because I fleshed out the Action/Reaction system. Some of the skills I gave to my themes like Royal Guard or Commando sound a lot like reactions. One of the Royal Guard attack/damage bonuses was when an ally next to you damages an enemy which is absolutely now a reaction.

I also came across a "Why is Mordheim the best TTRPG?" video on youtube. It inspired me to look up the rule book online and I am making my way through it. The thing that struck me is the similar goals for accessibility and freedom to adapt anything into a fighter in your warband. Now they have gone overboard with the scenery building creativity. But their order of combat is similar to what I am implementing RMSA (Recovery, Move, Shoot, Attack). Where I am doing MAR, RMA or MRA where you can React before or after Move and/or Attack but Move always comes before Attack.

fangblackbone wrote:

You are right. I need to work some things out in front of friends. Do you have any recommendation on how many to start with? You run the battle plus one friend? Two? Three?

Unfortunately, no. I’m fortunate that my group is willing to humor their GM, so I’ve been running my homebrew system for my campaign and making changes after sessions to address issues I encounter. If I had to guess, at least a few other people so you can get a feel for how things work in a typical group setup.

I didn't want to put something unfinished in front of someone. And its funny that you mention it because my wife asked me this morning what I was doing madly typing on my computer for hours several days a week. She thought I was writing a book but I told her and she suggested one of our mutual friends would be interested in testing it. She then said that she looks forward to trying it herself when I explained some of the basic goals and mechanics.

Sounds like you might have two possible testers.

I find it really lending itself to rewrites akin to your 5 iterations. I started with class customization ideas that I now have to revamp because I fleshed out the Action/Reaction system. Some of the skills I gave to my themes like Royal Guard or Commando sound a lot like reactions. One of the Royal Guard attack/damage bonuses was when an ally next to you damages an enemy which is absolutely now a reaction.

I work as a developer in an agile environment, so I like using an iterative approach. The sooner I can get something out in front of someone, the sooner I can find out how broken/wrong it is. If I didn’t, I’d be afraid I would put together a system that was too complicated or confusing or didn’t actually work (or wasn’t fun!).

kenada wrote:

I like using an iterative approach. The sooner I can get something out in front of someone, the sooner I can find out how broken/wrong it is. If I didn’t, I’d be afraid I would put together a system that was too complicated or confusing or didn’t actually work (or wasn’t fun!).

This is exactly my experience too.

Get the absolute smallest set of rules to check your idea, and play it with some people (or even run through it yourself as if you were a game group). You'll immediately find things that do and don't work, and seeing which bits people have fun with and which make them stop to figure it out will really focus where you need to put the work in.

Writing up rules without play is dangerous. You can easily end up spending lots of time on something that doesn't work at all in play.

I tentatively have 5 testers!

I think the first test is character creation (what will I learn that is too confusing and not as engaging as I'd hoped)
And then perhaps try out an on the fly puzzle room as a surprise to see how that goes.

Perfect! Good luck!

Also, another bit of playtesting advice: the ones that don't go smoothly are the most valuable. If you feel the design crash and burn in testing, just remember that you will learn great lessons from it!

Be sure to take lots of notes, or even record it, so you don't forget anything.

I was wondering about recording it...

When I was playing The One Ring first edition for the first time the GM got the players together to learn the combat system and skill checks as they were worried that it was so different to what any of the players had encountered before that if we did not know it before playing, the game would grind to halt as we buffeted the GM with questions as to how to play. This session, which we dubbed 'Session -1' was immensely helpful as not only did we understand the system, but we also added in some mutually agreed house rules to make things more approachable.

Creating game systems is extremely difficult as they need to reflect the likelihood of various outcomes that are reflective of what would be regarded as reasonable. Most systems I have encountered are based on rolling dice, modify the result based on the conditions you are in and known variables, and compare result against predefined target number. The tricky part is considering how to model these variables as there can be a dozen of them in some cases, which is not fair on the players to remember or know how to apply them. I say this after playing Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 4th Edition, which suffers quite badly from this. It's so bad that the players are having to use flow charts to see what modifiers they have to apply to their dice rolls.

I do wish you luck in creating your game, but I would caution you as what you are actually trying to create. Is is a tactical RPG or is it a narrative driven experience? Perhaps it's both! Either way, make sure you have some core pillars to the design before spiralling off into all kinds of directions else you'll end up trying to make Star Citizen and nobody wants or indeed needs that.

When I get to dice rolls and combat I want to try to run an exercise like this:
Nobody dies on either side just keep a running tally of hits and misses and how much damage each is doing per round for 3-5 rounds. Glaring issues like one side not being able to hit the other or if the enemy is out damaging the party by 50% or more should show up immediately. You also don't want players to one shot everything either.

But that is much further down the pipeline.
I am emphasizing collaborative story telling and am going to have at least a 50/50 mix of puzzles with combat. And some puzzles will have more than one "round" and can branch in different directions.

+1 Forward, the podcast powered by the apocalypse about PbtA games produced by The Gauntlet is running a short series of actual play episodes where Rich, Rachel and two of their friends are playing Apocalypse World: Burned Over, but set on Tatooine in Star Wars. It's a really good introduction to the game system and style if anyone is PbtA-curious. Burned Over is like AW 2.5, it's a sort of patch re-write from the original authors that modernizes a few things and gets rid of some stuff. Rich and Rach are great!

Herding testers is worse that herding cats! I am VERY grateful for the interest though.
They are going to test character creation, eventually. So I thought in the mean time I would set up an encounter in a spreadsheet and use an online dice roller to capture the flow of combat.

I think the biggest message is the typical "being level 1 sucks".
Well combat at level 1 is all over the map. I don't want everything over in 1-2 rounds. And on the other hand, with a simple 2 friends on 3 foes test, I may have created a situation where the party will most of the time not be able to kill an enemy. The numbers will work out a lot better with 3 and definitely 4 in the party, but that seems to be a big flaw if 2 of those party members get incapacitated. And that is with giving pretty decent boosts (health, to hit, and damage) to the party over basic enemies. (level 1 enemies have to roll under 10 on a d20 to hit; level 1 players have to roll less than 12 -10 + other bonuses from attributes and equipment)

Even with the boosts, the first 2 rounds, the enemy hit 5/6 times and the party hit twice. The next round, neither side hit with any attack. For that matter, 1 party member hit only 3 times in 10 rounds. I am tempted to incorporate a graze system where if you miss, you graze for half damage. (minimum of 1 per d6 damage)
But at that point I get the feeling combat will be to deterministic.

The other thing to look at is that an online dice roller may not be a similar experience to real dice.

Ennie noms' !
https://ennie-awards.com/2022-nomina...

and...oh...wait just one minute...

zoom and enhance....

IMAGE(https://smackfolio.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/capture-1.jpg)

ooo...my imposter syndrom 'aint going to like that...

(seriously though, Uncaged: Goddess is up for FOUR awards including product of the year. Heck!)

That is absolutely amazing! Congrats pyxi!

Well combat at level 1 is all over the map. I don't want everything over in 1-2 rounds. And on the other hand, with a simple 2 friends on 3 foes test, I may have created a situation where the party will most of the time not be able to kill an enemy.

And fixed... I went back through the numbers and rolled damage for all the hits on both sides. I've come up with a compromise by giving enemies ranks: minions, champions/leaders, and bosses. Minions are designed to be fought 1 on many. They will miss if they roll above 10. But, the party is considered on par with champions/leaders. So they are 1) designed to go 1 on 1 with them and 2) when the party fights the lower rank minions, if they miss, the party grazes instead and do half damage. By extension, Bosses are designed to fight a full 4-6 party so the Boss will graze against party members in lieu of missing.

I have a lot of work to do to flesh out how this system scales with extra damage die. But I am already have ideas for heavy armor and shields being able to "block" 1 graze damage die, reducing any incoming damage to 1. (and perhaps halving non graze damage)

It sounds like a lot of mental noodling but I am having the most fun. I was eliminating and refining so many things in the Starfinder SRD that it just made more sense to fully commit to my own route.

Ennie voting time!

So, Uncaged Goddesses is up for FOUR awards this year (Best Cover, Best Interior Art, Best Adventure and Product of the Year). It would be super cool if folks could pop through and vote for us in those relevant categories, should you get a minute!

Thanks!

Paleocon wrote:

Has anyone here played 7th ed Call of Cthulhu? I want to run a campaign based on the Chalmers book The King in Yellow and was wondering if that was a good system to use.

I just saw this kickstarter and, though I think 5E is not the best system for it, it promises to get around some of the issues with their own fear system. Looks interesting.

Steinhardt's Guide to the Eldrich Hunt

It’s looking like I finally found a skills and specialties mechanic that works pretty well. I have some work to do with revising my exploration procedure, but the ease with which I have been able to add new specialties has been very nice. Today’s post is not going to be about that.

I have found myself converging towards other games with the need for a “town turn”. This started with giving teeth to lifestyle costs (from the 5e SRD) and finding they were similar to accommodations from Torchbearer. Now I realize I need more structure because otherwise players may just adventure nonstop, which makes no sense from a pacing or even verisimilitude perspective.

I have basically two ideas for approaching this. Since I want time to be handled concretely, they both define specific periods. The first is that a town turn is one week. If you stay in town (pay a lifestyle cost), you’re there for a week, and there are town activities you can do (like engage in a project). The second is to use my stress mechanic to cause PCs to gain stress for every week they adventure. Unlike normal stress, you can only recover this stress in downtime (probably going to be a week).

I prefer the first one because it requires less bookkeeping, but I’m not sure whether to start with it or the other. I’ve been following the adage of try something, and if it doesn’t work, I can double/halve the numbers (ran into that with skills during character creation). However, these are two different approaches. I guess try the one based on stress, and use the other as the halved/simpler system? Hmmm.

Is this in addition to travel times and camping?
The Pathfinder video games and Solasta have implemented travel time on an overworld map with resting/camping at least once or twice in between adventure hubs and towns.

Wrath of the righteous also has the corruption mechanic that causes adverse effects the more you rest outside of a town (safe area). Members of your party can be assigned duties during camping to cook, keep watch, and perform rituals to reduce corruption gain.

Wrath also allows you to skip camping, causing the party to be fatigued. I believe the only side effect is the party's strength is reduced severely.

Solasta limits camping to specific campfires in adventure zones and NPCs in town. Solasta also uses time of day to control when you need to camp such that it could be more frequent if you travel at night.

Solasta also only allows leveling up while resting.

Stress is an interesting mechanic. It could have side effects like reducing saving throws to fear effects or cause you to fumble more in combat and things like lock picking.

fangblackbone wrote:

Is this in addition to travel times and camping?

Addition. I have a rough exploration framework includes tracking time spent exploring as well as camp. It needs some refinement, but the latest iteration seemed to work okay last session. My homebrew system uses conflict resolution over task resolution*, and the exploration procedure builds on that.

There are two problems I’m trying to solve. The first is pacing. Twenty three days have passed in-game. In that time, the PCs have gone from 1st to 5th level and have done two (and arguably should have done four) adventures. They have taken no downtime between adventures. They’re always going from one to another.

The other issue is it just seems like there should be some kind of toll from adventuring nonstop eight hours a day, day after day, week after week. Some systems (like Blades in the Dark and Torchbearer) model this with mandatory downtime between jobs or a town phase. I feel like I have a gap there.

I actually tried suggesting you should have mandatory downtime between adventures, but that got some pushback. Given the basic grounding of the system (time is still handled concretely), I think I’m going to need to ground the downtime requirement as well somehow. That’s what drove the two possibilities I suggested in my previous post.

The Pathfinder video games and Solasta have implemented travel time on an overworld map with resting/camping at least once or twice in between adventure hubs and towns.

Wrath of the righteous also has the corruption mechanic that causes adverse effects the more you rest outside of a town (safe area). Members of your party can be assigned duties during camping to cook, keep watch, and perform rituals to reduce corruption gain.

Wrath also allows you to skip camping, causing the party to be fatigued. I believe the only side effect is the party's strength is reduced severely.

Solasta limits camping to specific campfires in adventure zones and NPCs in town. Solasta also uses time of day to control when you need to camp such that it could be more frequent if you travel at night.

Solasta also only allows leveling up while resting.

I currently require being in a safe place to level up, but if I can establish some sort of downtime period, it makes sense to do it there. It’s not just about verisimilitude but pacing. During downtime, play should be a bit more free-form. While one player levels up their character, the others can work on projects and other things.

Stress is an interesting mechanic. It could have side effects like reducing saving throws to fear effects or cause you to fumble more in combat and things like lock picking.

Stress in my homebrew system developed out of System Strain from WWN. Like WWN, you accumulate stress from beneficial and harmful effects. The difference is I am using it much more broadly. For example, my privation loop is meant to have teeth. Even dying uses stress (instead of a condition) to model bleeding out.

The basic way it works is you have a limit of 10+CON. Healing causes you to gain 1 stress. If you are at your limit and receive a beneficial effect, it does nothing (i.e., no healing for you). Most harmful effects cause you to gain a variable amount. Being at your limit when you subject to a harmful effect kills you.

So given this post and all I’ve written, I’ve switched my position from preferring having a “town turn” that lasts a week to defining stress costs from adventuring. I don’t think it would be tracked separately. Instead of recovering 1 per good night of rest, you could take a week of downtime to recover all stress. Hmm.


* See Vincent Baker on conflict resolution vs. task resolution. John Harper also has a couple of nice posts with diagrams showing how conflict resolution and task resolution differ in terms of authority and resolution of the situation.

The way I handled exploration last session was as a series of scenes. At the end of each day, the PCs make camp, and I go over a list of prompts for things to do during camp. These can result in further scenes. For example, we had a partial success where the thief lead the party in the right direction, but their stopping point was near an animal graveyard. If the party just rested without doing anything about it, the danger modifier to event rolls (also still a wip) would have been increased.

The barbarian (taking cues from the AD&D barbarian, so anti-magic) was concerned it was cursed. She used her Detect Magic speciality to see if it was safe, and the result was no. The skulls followed her as she entered the area, and the bones came together as skeletons (but with more HD). Naturally, a fight ensued. The barbarian got to smash some skellies, and the cleric got to be a turning machine. The thief mostly whiffed, but he did get in one nice hit with his anti-undead sword.

This situation is a good example of conflict resolution. In a task resolution system, it’s up to the GM to decide when the situation was resolved because that all that rolling would determine is whether the ability functioned. The answer would be in my notes or up to me regardless. However, instead, we used the dice to make that determination. Since one of my goals with my homebrew system is run an exploration-driven game without having to do much prep, that was pretty awesome.

Players are funny. I was trying to explain the above town rules to them, and they immediately started trying to parse out what was and was not adventuring. I assume this was to avoid the weekly stress from adventuring. So now town turns are a thing. I have different turn granularity depending on: combat (10 seconds), dungeons (10 minutes), wilderness (1 day), and town (1 week). It’s less “sim”, but it’s simple and easy to adjudicate.

In essence, when you visit a town, you determine where you are staying: streets, stable, common room, private room, or other (friends or your own residence). If you pick streets, then town is treated as wilderness (except the guards are unlikely to let you make proper camp for a good night’s rest). Otherwise, you pay an increasing cost for more benefits. Staying with a friend requires making a Connect skill check.

Hahaha. Lay down the law and silence any discontent like any true tyrannical game designer

Big Ennie wins for Thirsty Sword Lesbians (congrats Evilhat) and...the Goddesses team! with Uncaged: Goddesses (Silver Best cover & Gold Best Adventure)!

WTG, kudos to the whole team Pyxi!