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Posts Tagged ‘spectra’

[NGDM] Tying things together

I promise I’m still here! The last couple of days in the office were pretty busy, but I’ve been collecting my thoughts on what’s been done so far on this project and where it’s still in need of development.

Here’s everything that’s come up so far, with some clarifications that I’ve been mulling over in the meantime:
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Character Creation: Spend points to buy dice for your roles. The point cost of a die is equal to its denomination. You can buy as many dice from as many different roles or the same role as you can afford. Unspent points are saved, either to spend in-game on special effects, or to acquire dice later. For each die you buy, write down a keyword representing something that you can use to perform actions in that role.
Taking Actions: The maximum number of actions you can take is the total number of dice you possess. If a character’s action is unopposed, simply committing a die to the action succeeds – it does not need to be rolled. Roll dice only when an action has a chance of failing due to outside factors, and negative consequences would result from failure. Players describe how they use their dice to apply to the action. The highest roll wins if two or more characters are acting against each other.
Initiative: Actions in a round take place starting with the smallest die and moving upward, ties broken from lowest wound penalty to highest. Taking stress reduces the maximum size die you can use by one denomination per point of stress. Players may opt to reduce the size of their die to act earlier in a round.
Consequences: Wounds are acquired in physical combat. If the attacker’s combat roll is higher than the target’s, the difference is the number of wounds dealt. The target also gains the keyword “wounded”. Each wound a character carries represents a cumulative -1 penalty to die rolls. Any player may hit the “wounded” keyword to complicate an action of any color. Stress is dealt in social or mental combat. An attacker whose roll exceeds the target’s roll adds a keyword to the target’s stress track in a roll of their choice. Each keyword in the stress track reduces dice in that column by one denomination. Any player may hit a character’s stress keyword to complicate an action of that color.
Complicating Actions and Hitting Keywords: Hitting a stress keyword or the “wounded” complicates an action automatically. Hitting other keywords may or may not complicate an action. When an action is complicated, the GM or another player adds a detail to the scene that makes the action more interesting, which raises the stakes in character points for passing the scene (+1 per keyword hit). Die keywords may be hit to bypass a complication if the player chooses.
Healing: Characters heal 1 wound and 1 stress point/keyword if they pass an entire scene without their “wounded” or stress keywords being hit. Characters may use the Healing or Support roles to assist with wounds, or the Support or Communication roles to assist with stress. The roll to assist with wounds has a difficulty equal to the target’s current wound total, and each point of success removes 1 wound. The roll to assist with stress has a difficulty of 5 per stress keyword the subject has acquired; success removes one point of stress and its keyword.
Special Effects: Character points can be spent on an action to enhance a roll in one of the following ways;

* improve a die in the initiative sequence by one step without reducing its denomination;
* act without wound penalty for one roll, but at the cost of strain (+1 wound)
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I codified keywords a bit more in my head, since that was the main part that hadn’t been made concrete thus far. The narrative side of me just wants to leave tags as tags without making them beholden to the dross of numbers, but this also has to be a playable game. Also, taking a cue from Kenneth Hite’s advice in his recent Metatopia seminar on game design, I had to make sure that the mechanic for keywords had a reward tied to it so that players would have incentive to hit them. As I have it now, everyone gets to start a scene, and your reward for passing the scene starts at 1 character point, plus 1 for every character you bring in to the scene. Each time a keyword is hit, the stake goes up by a point (unless you’re hitting a keyword on one of your dice to overcome another keyword like “wounded” or one of your stress track, because you don’t want to deal with it). I also came up with simple procedures for resolving various dice actions that follow from what had already been determined or could be inferred.

At this point, while I’m going to continue working on this for the rest of the month, I’m also turning it loose into the wild. Feel free to use this, test this, even break this. Try it in different genres and at different point levels to see how it handles. It doesn’t qualify as a successful NaGa DeMon entry if it doesn’t see play, after all.

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It’s NaGa DeMon!

…or, if you’re not hip to the lingo, National Game Design Month!

I’ll be trying my hand at this, and blogging about it as I go. Today, some groundwork. I know I have an idea, or rather two separate ideas, that might or might not go together. One is a premise, and the other is a mechanic. We’ll deal with the mechanic first, as that’s one of the harder parts.

The concept as it stands right now is to turn the classic RPG idea of “character classes” on its head. This is an idea I’ve batted around previously, both here and abroad – instead of being a wizard or a warrior or a thief, you have access to wizard dice, warrior dice, and/or thief dice, and you roll those dice when you want to take an appropriate action.

What this system allows, in theory, that a rigid class structure doesn’t is to cross-train and synergize your abilities. If you’re a thief with some magical talent, you can describe how your breaking and entering is enhanced by the spells you cast to get to roll both your thief dice and wizard dice, adding them together to get a better effect than you would independently.

This does require us to define specific roles ahead of time and map them to the dice, and that means we have to be mindful of the types of dice available (unless we want to resort to online virtual dice rollers that can generate any type of die), and it also forces us to consider what the dice mean and how that applies to the roll. Does one “class” naturally have less ability to succeed than others? We would hope not, if we’re interested in balancing the two against each other; otherwise, everyone will just choose to get the most effective dice and forgo all the rest.

As I’ve envisioned it so far, the dice cost a number of “character points” equal to the number of sides on the die, so bigger dice cost more. That kinda levels out the playing field a little, and you can buy lots of little dice as opposed to one big one, but it still doesn’t provide quite the egalitarian sense to all of the different roles as I would like – preferably, the roles should be relatively efficacious in their fields of specialty, so that the choice is what you *want* to play as opposed to what gets you the biggest mechanical benefit.

I’m thinking we’ll need to add another axis to this graph – size of die and perhaps color of die, mapping the roles to the colors and not the shape/number. In the example above, then, wizards and thieves and warriors all have access to d4, d6, etc., but wizard dice might be white whereas thief dice are green and warrior dice are blue. This means we have to put a little more thought into how one acquires these dice, since you’re not just choosing to split up your points among your roles any more.

Or are you? You can just as easily say “I want an arcane burglar, emphasis on the burglar, so I’m going to buy bigger dice from the thief pool and just a few small dice from the magic pool”. Hmmm. This could work.

I’ll sketch up a possible framework and come back.

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