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Author Topic: Burning Wheel Lite Lark  (Read 11238 times)
Luke
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« on: August 02, 2004, 06:11:33 PM »

So, I'm bored at work. What do I do when I'm bored at work and have read every forum post and news article? Design a game.

Goal: To distill my game design concepts in BW down to their most mechancally simpe components while retaining the feel of the game.

What I'm looking for: Comments from people who've read the game, as well as fresh eyes. I like to brainstorm, who knows what'll come of it.

End goal: To "recreate" BW, but also to take this final product and see if it can be overlaid on another conceptual framework.

Basic Mechanics
All players roll three dice (3D) for any and all of their character's abilities.

Abilities are rated: Useless, Crap, Good, Excellent and Superb. Ratings determine TN.
Useless is TN 6, Crap TN 5, Good TN 4, Excellent TN 3, Superb TN 2.

All abilities start rated Useless.

Difficulty of a test is determined by the number of successes needed to pass (as in BW, we'll call it the Obstacle). There are only three difficulties: Routine (Ob 1), Difficult (Ob 2) and Challenging (Ob 3).

Character Burning
Use the lifepath system, however there are no set stats, skills or attributes. The only thing a player takes from each lifepath is its title. In play, the character posesses any ability that the player can reasonably describe under one of his lifepaths.

For example, a player makes a character: Born Peasant, Farmer, Hunter. During the game, he has to determine poisoned or rotten grain from good stock, he rolls his three dice. Due to his lifepaths, he could reasonably be described to have that knowledge.

Life experience
Each lifepath that could reasonably be applied to a situation improves the rating and reduces the TN by one.

So for our farmer, he'd have a Crap chance at sorting that grain. He'd roll 3D at TN 5 needing 1 success. Actually that's not too bad of a chance at all.

A character with the lifepaths Soldier, Sergeant and Captain would have a Good TN for anything relating to soldiering. He'd roll 3D and need TN 4 for success. If this career soldier was forced to sort that farmer's bad grain, he'd roll 3D and need 6s for success (he's Useless at it).

Traits
Traits can be purchased for the character during burning as in the standard game. Also, they can be gained as lifepath traits. There are three types of traits:
Traits that grant an additional ability. These start at Crap for 3 pts, Good for 6, Excellent for 9, Superb for 12. Such as Gifted, which would grant the character the ability to do magic shtuff.
Traits can allow a reroll of a single die. They cost 2 pts.
Traits can break a tie. They cost 1 pt.

Various fantasy races would have their Common Traits which I won't detail right here an now.

Task Resolution
This is where I am divided. Task resolution can be simply resolved using the BW system: Whoever gets more successes wins, or roll equal to the set difficulty and pass the test.

But what about doing something different? Something more fluid to stay in line with the open character concepts.

In that vein, every character gets three chance to pass a test. A player isn't required to take all three chances, but he may if he desires.

The GM often describes a problem that must be overcome. People are getting sick in town, for example. A player is expected to come up with a solution. "I check the grain, is it poisoned?"

Test your Farmer lifepath.

State your intent -- what you are looking for -- and state how you are doing it.

If the player succeeds on the first try, the GM offers any information he has on the subject (degree of which can be based on successes over obstacle) and the player may narrate a detail into the story.

If the player succeeds on the second try, he has taken twice as long to complete his task. (Should there be a time or turn mechanic in the game?)

If the player succeeds on the third try, he barely passes the test and the GM may narrate some detail into the story based on the player's actions. For example, in order to discover that the grain was poisoned, our former farmer had to taste some of the grain. Now he's sick.

Conflict Resolution
Again, I'm divided here. Part of me thinks it would be cool to use the scripting mechanic with these die mechanics. All melee attackes would have an Add of 1 in this case, and missile weapons would still use the DOF to generate their IMS.

Use three volleys in the exchange, but characters only get one action in each. Script as normal.

Or, abstract it. Using the Rule of Three described under Task Resolution above, players each roll three times per conflict. This becomes something of a dice game, but it could be fun.

Win with Three out of Three
Total Victory. Winning player narrates the result. It can be as ugly or as neat as he wants to be.

Win with Two out of Three
Victory. Victorious player comes out bruised and scratched, but on top. He suffers one wound (see below), and may narrate a non-fatal/mortal/preposterous fate for his target.

Win with One out of Three
Barely scrape out a victory, may inflict one wound, if applicable, but both participants then must then retreat to their respective corners.

Lose Three out of Three
You're fucked.

Lose Two of Out of Three
You may deliver a rueful speech stating how you will get your revenge.

Lose One out of Three
"Get your hands off of me!"

This needs more work, but I think I like the direction.

Wounding
Wounding would be done in three types: Incidental hits subtract -1D, Mark hits subtract -2D, Superb hits subtract -3D.

Or... Incidental hits raise TNs by 1, Mark hits raise TNs by 2, Superb hits raise TNs by 3.

TN of 7 or more means that ability can no longer be used until the character recovers.

Or... beccause I love crunch, wounds only effect one of the dice at a time. Each wound raises the TN of one die until all dice are wounded. Additional wounds (beyond 3) start back with the first die. Raising the TN above 6 means the die cannot be used for this (your arm is hanging limp, for example).

Equipment and Weapons
Tools, books, equipment and weapons --anything makes it easier to get a job done-- reduce the TN for certain applicable abilities.

Simple, primitive or half-assed gear reduces TN by 1.
Run of the Mill stuff reduces TN by 2.
Crazy stuff like force-swords or magic books or machine guns reduce TN by 3.

So if someone who has no skill what so ever (Useless/TN 6) picks up a machine gun and shoots you, he only needs TN 3 to blow you to pieces.

Hm... Or...
Tools can reduce one die by the appropriate target number

Or...
Gear can allow rerolls. 1D, 2D or 3D respectively. Actually, I like this the best.


What the game lacks right now is an emotional core. It's simply a resolution mechanic/system. I need to make some decisions on the direction of the game -- whether to break from BW fully, or mimic it's big brother-- but thoughts are welcome.

thanks,
-Luke
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2004, 07:42:16 PM »

Hi Luke,

A nifty project! Although I'm seeing the two spectral rulebooks for HeroQuest and Trollbabe floating behind you, undulating in the air and moaning softly ...

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2004, 09:03:11 PM »

Hi Ron,

I've never read either. Do you think I am reinventing the wheel? (ugh, pun absolutely not intended.)

The three dice/three successes system I think could adapt my existing mechanics rather well. Making them more broad, though.

But I feel this tugging in another direction. To take that core mechanic and, well, play with it.

Anyway, if you think I am treading well-trodden ground with any of my "innovations", speak up. Perhaps I'll even manage to do some research!

-L
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jdrakeh
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2004, 08:51:09 AM »

Sometimes being innovative isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Me? I'd just like to see a lite version of BW so that I had something with meat on its bones to point prospective BW players towards (you know, as the main event is sold out). If it's innovative, I guess that's a bonus - but it doesn't have to be in order to make me happy ;)
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Sincerely,
James D. Hargrove
Luke
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2004, 09:23:08 AM »

Well that's just it.

I feel like racheting down the design this much actually produced a different game altogether.

I really like the idea of only using three dice for everything and varying the target number. But that's anathema to BW, where you vary dice and never the TN.

Like I said, some input into actual design'd be cool.

I'd be happy  to even divide this into two games -- BW Lite and "the other thing" -- but vision here is very myopic. I'm just too close to the heart of the matter.

-L
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rafial
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2004, 11:58:19 AM »

I'm not sure you are ratcheting anything down, but rather racheting to the left.  After all, BW's core mechanic is pretty light to begin with, the bulk only comes with quantifying how the core mechanic actually gets applied under different circumstances.  And as you've pointed out, you've barely begun to do that here.

What you've got here is a new core mechanic.  It's got similarities to the BW mechanic, but also significant differences.  So I wouldn't think of this as a child of BW, so much as a cousin.  So I wouldn't try to make this BW lite.  I'd break it off and make it its own thing.

To elaborate on Ron's comments:  as far as Trollbabe goes, I think he's reacting to the "reroll with progressively more dangerous consequences" idea.  That's very similar to Trollbabe's central mechanic.  Also the idea of Gear providing rerolls (in a way).

As for the Heroquest connection, I'm less familiar with that game, so I'm less sure what he's seeing, but maybe Lifepaths as the equivalent of Keywords?  Using lifepaths in that way also reminds me of Sorcerer Cover, or traits in the Pool.

As for mechanical feedback, I think I'd go with the TN adjustment on wounding rather than a die penalty.  You've already established that the TN is what varies in this system, and -3D would be completely incapacitating all the time, to everyone, whereas a TN+3 would still allow actions if you had a starting TN of 2 or 3.

Task vs Conflict resolution.  I may be wrong here, but I think it's important to pick one or the other and stick with it.  BW is definitely all about Task resolution.   Maybe these rules should focus on Conflict resolution.
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rafial
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2004, 12:07:32 PM »

One more observation on the theme of "BW Lite" versus "The Other Game".

If what you really want is a "light" version of BW, that could be used to introduce people to the system, you don't want a different core mechanic.  And as I've said, the BW core mechanic is light.  The place to cut is in the surrounding detail, i.e. have a small and focused set of broad skills, scripting, but with a very small set of manuevers, perhaps fixing everybody at one action per volley (i.e. no reflex score), a small set of traits, no shade (everything is black), etc.

As for your mechanics that opened this thread, I'd urge you to take them in their own direction.
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Luke
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2004, 05:12:22 PM »

Insightful and clear as always, Wilhelm.

Ok, since it's the title of this thread, let's do BW lite.

I'd include the basic die pool mechanics: Roll a number of dice equal to your ability. Shade determines TN; there are two shades.mundane and heroic. Number of successes determines difficulty of roll.

Character:
Abilities are rated 1-6.

3 Stats: Insight, Agility and Power. (I'm open to suggestions for a better combination of Will and Perception).

15 Skills (though I might be forgetting a few):
Academia (literacy, research, symbology, history)
Artistic (sculpture, painting)
Artisan (masonry, architecture, engineering)
Craftsman (pottery, tanning, armorer, weaponsmith, blacksmith, carpenter)
Criminal (lockpicking, pocketpicking, forgery, scams)
Doctrine (religious history, ritual)
Martial (swords and axes)
Military (as in tactics and strategy, not fightin')
Musical (musical instrument performance, singing and composition)
Philosophy (study of the human condition, the ultimate in heretical skills)
Peasant (farming, animal husbandry)
Physical (climbing, stealthy, swimming)
Seafaring (navigation, maneuvering a boat, rigging, knots)
Social (persuasion, inconspicuous, falsehood, ugly truth)
Sorcerous (spell-casting, enchanting, summoning)


Character Creation:
10 Human Lifepaths:

Peasant
Time: 8yrs
Stat: --
Skill: 2 pts: Peasant, Physical, Craftsman
Trait: 2 pts:  Salt of the Earth, Suspicious of the New

Villager
Time: 10 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: 2 pts: Social, Craftsman
Trait: 1 pt

CityDweller
Time: 12 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: 3 pts: Social, Academic, Artisan, Philosophy, Doctrine
Trait: 1 pt

Noble
Time: 12 yrs
Stat: +1 any
Skill: 4 pts: Social, Academic, Martial, Physical, Doctrine
Trait: 2 pts: Noblesse Oblige

Courtier/Courtesan
Time: 9 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: 3 pts: Social, Academic
Trait: 2 pts: Eye for Wealth

Outcast
Time: 8 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: 3 pts: Criminal, Physical, Philosophy
Trait: 2 pts: Warts and Scars

Religious
Time: 10 yrs
Stat: +1 In
Skill:  Doctrine, Academic, Social
Trait: 1 pts:

Soldier
Time: 6 yrs
Stat: +1 Agi or Pow
Skill:  2 pts: Martial, Physical, Military
Trait: 1 pts: Hardened, Bitter, Tough

Sea-Farer
Time: 7 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: Seafarer, Physical, Musical
Trait: 1 pt: Sea Legs

Servant/Slave
Time: 8 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: Social, Physical, Peasant
Trait: 2 pts: Broken
 
5 Elven Lifepaths:
Wilder
Citadel Dweller
Etharch
Soldier Protector
Wanderer

6 Dwarven Lifepaths:
Clansman
Guilder
 Artificer
Dwarven Soldier
Dwarven Noble
Dwarven Outcast

X Orc Lifepaths:
Chattel
Legioner
He Who Bears the Lash
Born Great and Black
Servant of the Dark Blood


Ok, you get the gist. More tomorrow. (Every time I sit down to do this, I get interrupted).
I'll post simplified scripting, injury, and sorcery.

-L
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rafial
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2004, 11:34:17 PM »

Good stuff!  I still say give shade a miss.  Set all lifepaths at the same number of years (this may differ for each race).  Or don't worry about years at all, just say you get to pick N lifepaths (3,4?), age whatever you want.  Standard number of stat point (10,11?) (no age chart).  I like Insight as stat name.  The game should feature Steel (it's a key element to the BW feel, you don't always react as well as you think you would).

Skills.  I'd say combine Artisan and Craftsman into Trade, and the player picks a suitable occupation.  Musical and Artistic should probably be just Artistic, pick your medium.   Physical is fine, but Athletics rings better to me.    How about adding Woodcraft for tracking and outdoor survival stuff?

Artha should remain, maybe just fate points, generated by incovenient BITs, and spent to open end rolls.

Oh, and the title of this system should be "The Training Wheel"...

(Instinct: protect head and get behind solid cover)
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Luke
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2004, 04:58:01 PM »

Ok.
Since I can't edit my old posts, I'm just redoing the parts I change.

Revised Skills:
17 Skills (though I might be forgetting a few):
Academia (literacy, research, symbology, history)
Artistic (sculpture, painting)
Artisan (masonry, architecture, engineering)
Craftsman (pottery, tanning, armorer, weaponsmith, blacksmith, carpenter)
Criminal (lockpicking, pocketpicking, forgery, scams)
Doctrine (religious history, ritual)
Forester (tracking, hunting, trapping, orienteering)
Martial (swords and axes)
Medicinal (Field dressing, herbalism, apothecary, surgery)
Military (as in tactics and strategy, not fightin')
Musical (musical instrument performance, singing and composition)
Philosophy (study of the human condition, the ultimate in heretical skills)
Peasant (farming, animal husbandry)
Physical (climbing, stealthy, swimming)
Seafaring (navigation, maneuvering a boat, rigging, knots)
Social (persuasion, inconspicuous, falsehood, ugly truth)
Sorcerous (spell-casting, enchanting, summoning)


I still think there has to be an age/stat chart of sorts. But instead of individual ages per path, the number of paths should determine age and starting stats.

So here goes:

Human Lifepaths, Age and Starting Stats:
1 Path: 9 pts, 8-12 yrs
2 Paths: 10 pts, 13-16 yrs
3 Paths: 11 pts, 17-26 yrs
4 Paths: 10 pts, 27-37 yrs
5 Paths: 9 pts, 38-50 yrs

10 Human Lifepaths:

Peasant
Stat: --
Skill: 3 pts: Peasant, Physical, Craftsman, Forester
Trait: 2 pts: Salt of the Earth, Suspicious of the New

Villager
Stat: --
Skill: 2 pts: Social, Craftsman
Trait: 1 pt

CityDweller
Stat: --
Skill: 3 pts: Social, Academic, Artisan, Medicinal, Philosophy, Doctrine
Trait: 1 pt

Noble
Stat: +1 any
Skill: 4 pts: Social, Academic, Martial, Physical, Doctrine
Trait: 2 pts: Noblesse Oblige

Courtier/Courtesan
Stat: --
Skill: 3 pts: Social, Academic
Trait: 2 pts: Eye for Wealth

Outcast
Stat: --
Skill: 4 pts: Criminal, Physical, Philosophy, Forester
Trait: 2 pts: Warts and Scars

Religious
Time: 10 yrs
Stat: +1 In
Skill: Doctrine, Academic, Social
Trait: 1 pts:

Soldier
Stat: +1 Agi or Pow
Skill: 2 pts: Martial, Physical, Military
Trait: 1 pts: Hardened, Bitter, Tough

Seafarer
Stat: --
Skill: Seafarer, Physical, Musical
Trait: 1 pt: Sea Legs

Servant/Slave
Time: 8 yrs
Stat: --
Skill: Social, Physical, Peasant
Trait: 2 pts: Broken

Sorcerer
Stat: +1 Insight
Skill: 4 pts: Academia, Sorcerous, Medicinal, Social
Traits: 2 pts: Believes in Magic, Spooky, Gifted

Players must choose Peasant, Villager, City Dweller, Noble, Slave or Seafarer as their starting lifepath. After that, choose the paths that your character has walked, in order, in his life.

Note: A character not born Noble must take Soldier or Courtier before taking the Noble lifepath.

Elves, Dwarves Lifepaths, Age and Starting Stats:
1 Path: 10 pts, 8-12 yrs
2 Paths: 11 pts, 13-25 yrs
3 Paths: 11 pts, 26-50 yrs
4 Paths: 11 pts, 51-100 yrs
5 Paths: 11 pts, 101-200 yrs

Elves must start with either Etharch, Wilder or Citadel. Elves who don't start Etharch must take Wilder, Citadel and Soldier Protector in order to take the Etharch LP.

5 Elven Lifepaths:
Wilder
Stat +1 Agi or Pow
Skill: 4 pts: Elven Forester, Peasant, Physical, Medicinal
Trait: --

Citadel Dweller
Stat --
Skill: 5 pts: Academic, Elven Crafts, Social, Artisan
Trait: --

Etharch
Stat +1 Any
Skill: 7 pts: Social, Elven Spell Songs, Martial, Academic, Artistic, Musical
Trait: --

Soldier Protector
Stat: +1 Power
Skill: 5 pts: Martial, Physical, Military, Seafaring
Traits: 1 pts

Wanderer
Stat: +1 Insight
Skill: 6 pts: Elven Forester, Philosophy, Human-wise, Dwarf-wise
Traits: 1 pts

Special Elven Skills: These skills use exploding dice.
Elven Crafts (carpentry, weaving, cloth-dyeing, pottery, jewelry)
Elven Spell Songs (this skill allows the character to explode any of his normal skill rolls, or physical stats)
Elven Forester (tracking, hunting, camouflage, trapping)

Dwarven Lifepaths
Clansman
Stat: +1 Pow
Skill: 5 pts: Peasant, Craftsman, Artistic, Social
Traits:

Guilder
Stat: +1 Insight
Skill: 4 pts: Social, Dwarven Appraisal
Traits:

 Artificer
Stat: +1 Insight or Power
Skill: 5 pts: Dwarven Arts, Academia, Military, Musical
Traits:

Dwarven Soldier
Stat: +1 Power or Agility
Skill: 4 pts: Martial, Military, Physical
Traits:

Dwarven Noble
Stat: +1 Any
Skill: 7 pts: Social, Martial, Artistic, Musical, Academia, Military
Traits:

Dwarven Outcast
Stat +1 Insight
Skill: Criminal, plus any three.
Trait: 2 pts: Adventurous

Dwarven characters must take Clansman, Guilder or Noble as their first path. Characters not born Noble must take Soldier or Artificer before choosing the Noble LP.

Special Dwarven Skills:
Dwarven Arts (metal-working, stone-working, weaponsmithing, armorer)
Dwarven Stentorious Social (any kind of competitive social skill test for Dwarves explodes)
Dwarven Appraisal and Accounting (appraisal and accounting are open-ended)

Orc Lifepaths, Age and Starting Stats:
1 Path: 8 pts, 6-10 yrs
2 Paths: 9 pts, 11-16 yrs
3 Paths: 10 pts, 17-25 yrs
4 Paths: 11 pts, 26-40 yrs
5 Paths: 12 pts, 41-100 yrs

Chattel
Stat: --
Skill: 2pts: Peasant, Craftsman
Trait: 2 pts: Tasting the Lash

Legioner
Stat: +1 Power
Skill: 3 pts: Martial, Physical
Trait: 1 pts: Hatred-Filled Eyes

He Who Bears the Lash
Stat: +1 Insight or Power
Skill: 3 pts: Social, Martial, Physical
Trait: 2 pts: Where There's a Whip, There's a Way

Born Great and Black
Stat: +1 Insight, +1 Power
Skill: Brutal Intimidation, Martial, Physical, Social, Military
Trait: 2 pts: Born to Rule

Servant of the Dark Blood
Stat: +1 Insight
Skill: Rituals of Nights Blood, Sorcerous, Doctrine
Trait: 2 pts: Blasphemous Hatred


Orc Special Skills:
Brutal Intimidation (any intimidation test explodes)
Rituals of Nights Blood (This skill governs Orc magic)

Orcs may either be born Great or born Chattel. Orcs not born Great cannot take the Great LP.

The stat pool is divided between the three stats as the player sees fit. Lifepath bonuses are then added in. (This is an extremely flawed method, but it'll work for now.)

Stats for Humans, Elves, Orcs and Dwarves range from 2-6. If a stat is lowest stat is 2, then the highest stat must be 5. If the lowest stat is 3, then the highest stat can be 6.

Starting character experience is decided on by the group before burning characters. Two LPs is young and/or inexperienced, three LPs is an experienced novice, four LPs usually gives a well-rounded and experienced character. Five LPs is an experienced veterans.

Common Traits for the various races to come.

Got to cook up a simplified magic system. Probably should be a very simple wheel of magic, perhaps based on the three stats?

Scripting will consist of 1 action per volley.
Actions limited to: Attack, Defend, Manuever (Push, Charge, Get Inside, Lock), and Physical Action (Throw, Grab, Open, etc).

phew!
-Luke
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2004, 09:14:18 AM »

Just wanted to say this is an excellent project. I got Burning Wheel a while ago and while it is a thing of beauty, it also broke my brain -- trying to follow all the skills and grayscales-o-death and lifepath switchbacks. Obviously boiling all that down loses some things that were worth having, but it also makes a more manageable game. And so far I think you're boiling the Wheel (mixed metaphor) down to its essential coolness pretty successfully.
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Luke
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2004, 09:18:52 AM »

Quote from: Sydney Freedberg
Just wanted to say this is an excellent project. I got Burning Wheel a while ago and while it is a thing of beauty, it also broke my brain --


This from a man who wants realistic combat in rpgs!

;)
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2004, 09:36:57 AM »

Looks good Luke. Is there a reason you left in a "Time" attribute for the Religious and Servant/Slave lifepaths, or was that just an oversight?

You haven't touched on this yet, but I do think you need to include Grief, Greed and Blasphemous Hatred in some shape or form. To me, they define the system as much as Scripting, BITs and Artha.

Speaking of which, do you plan on using the BITs as is, or will you rework those as well?

Finally, as a rough way of making stat selection more about the hard choices, how about mandating that none of your stats can be equal? One has to be high and one has to be low?
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Luke
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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2004, 09:47:35 AM »

Thor,
good suggestion about the stats. While I like vanilla characters, but hard choices are the name of the game.

For Traits I was planning on trimming down the Common Traits as much as possible, but keeping Greed, Grief and Hatred.

For Beliefs and Instincts, I was thinking we'd trim it down to one each.

-L

edited because it is hard to type coherent sentences when one is one the phone, listening to music, watching a video about robots and having an IM conversation with Pete about the annual. Sorry!
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2004, 10:06:44 AM »

Sounds good all around.
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