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Author Topic: [Aspect] What do I do next?  (Read 6191 times)
John Bromberger
Member

Posts: 16


« on: December 12, 2005, 02:24:36 AM »

Hi everyone. ^_^

I could use a little help.

Aspect is the rules set (without setting) I have designed - and am exceptionally happy with. Its designed with several goals in mind, which it achieves to my satisfaction ...
(1) Very simple character creation mechanics - some of my groups are newbies
(2) Quick task and conflict resolution - without loss of detail
(3) To encourage description of actions - I've essentially used Exalted stunting
(4) To have depth of rules, and incorporate lots of strategy without slowing the game.
Its designed specifically for fantasy settings, and is intended to work especially well for Exalted and D&D settings. It's intended to be portable into futuristic and modern settings too, but that is not the primary goal.

I'm pretty much happy that I've acheived these goals, after about a year of playtesting by two groups I have been stortytelling for and one group someone else has been storytelling for. The rules have changed greatly over time (sometimes on a daily basis!) to match up to the above requirements. The biggest changes were
(a) placing the mechanic for all tasks, including combat, onto the same mechanic
(b) dropping attributes - no more Strength, Dexterity etc.

The question I now have is ... where do I go from here?

I think it's a great system, and I want to share it. But I want to retain rights to it, or at least credit for it.

I was thinking of putting it up on the Web as a free download, with some way of letting people donate if they think it is good enough. But I'm not sure I would get the audience I'm wanting? Is that workable?

Its about 100 pages long without art work, a lot of that being tables of different kinds (the "magic" system is very extensive and compact, and is based on a feat tree type concept). My aim hasn't been to make it look good as much as BE good ... but if I want to share it, that might not work. Should I get someone to do art for me?

Should I write a setting for it? I had one, but decided to divorce it totally from the game system. Aspect is designed as a tool for experienced storytellers (like me, I'm 35 and have been playing RPGs for 23 years now, storytelling for about 21). It should also work well for newbie storytellers, but it is specifically designed for those with experience.

Should I go for additional playtesting or at least evaluation of some kind?

I'm sure everyone else thinks this about their system, but to me this system is really really good (and everyone I've shown it to seems very impressed). How do I go about sharing it further?

Kind regards
John
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2005, 02:47:34 AM »

Heya John!

Welcome to the Forge :)

Let me ask you real quick, what are your goals for this game right now?  Are you looking for us to feedback and critique your system or are you asking for advice on how to best publish your game (even if "publish" means putting it up on the web for free)?

Peace,

-Troy
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John Bromberger
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2005, 04:32:07 AM »

Hey Troy.

Good question. I think the answer would have to be evaluate and critique, at this point. I guess that means describing the system in a bit more detail!
If there are good ideas, I may even change something - though the system already works great (for me).

Here are some of the basics ...
(1) Every action must be resolved with one and only one roll.

(1a) To accomplish this, each action is mapped to one of 21 abilities (five of which are used almost exclusively as conflict attack abilities, and three as defence, leaving only thirteen others). Why so few abilities? To make each one broad enough and powerful enough to rival the appeal of the combat abilities.

There are only three social abilities (Leadership for commanding and intimidating, Diplomacy for trading and negotiating, and Performance for Bluffing), which makes social abilities more powerful and hence relatively more attractive to players.

(1b) The mechanics for each roll, whichever the ability, is to add
 - Ability score (a value of 2 is human average)
 - Talent bonus (essentially the bonus from feats)
 - Item bonus (for the use of an appropriate item)
 - Magic Bonus (for bonuses from magical items)
[All these are added on the character sheet, and only need to be calculated on level up]
 - one d6 roll
 - a stunt bonus varying from 0 to 3.

Difficulty varies ... with set difficulties for environmental effects, and the difficulty in opposed combat being your opponent's roll.

The storyteller never rolls dice. "NPCs" replace the d6 roll with a 4, and do not get stunt bonuses. The storyteller is expected to give good description anyway! ^_^

(1c) Combat is turn based, with each player having one action and one move per turn. Extra attacks come from Talents only.

To resolve an attack, the defence roll (Dodge for targeted attacks, Fortitude for area attacks) is subtracted from the attack roll (Archery, Melee, Thrown, Unarmed or Thaumaturgy). The difference gives hit points of damage.

Combat manuevers - disarming, clinching, knocking back - usually subtract the defenders Athletics from damage done. The manouver succeeds only if you do damage.

Initiative is rolled once for the entire combat, and is simply an Awareness roll.

Hit points are 15, and stay that way (certain Talents increase this however).

(2) Character creation ... mechanically, you have 13 points to distribute amongst Abilities, and you can choose 6 Talents. That is it.

The (very broad) Abilities are
 - Archery, Melee, Thaumaturgy, Thrown, Unarmed
 - Dodge, Fortitude, Willpower
 - Athletics, Stealth, Travel
 - Larceny
 - Craft (all crafts included in one ability)
 - Linguistics, Lore and Medicine
 - Diplomacy, Leadership, Perform
 - Awareness, Investigation

Talents are all based on Abilities. You cannot go deeper into a "tree" of Talents than your base value in the corresponding Abilities. Most Abilities have Elements associated with them, from Fire Water etc to Time Shape Destiny Chaos etc.

Every magical spell or feat or ability from the various systems I have found (ranging from Rolemaster to Exalted to D&D to Mage to Vampire) are designed as Talents. Talents are things you can just use, as often as you want, without spell points or limits on times per day.

I've removed every limiting factor I could ... in general, they only appeared necessary.

To evaluate, if you are willing, I'm sure you need to ask more questions. Please ask away ... the system is complete, at least complete enough to play for about a year. So hopefully I will have answers!

Do you need examples of Talents?
Melee Focus (+1 to Melee rolls)
 - Extra Melee Attack (per Turn)
Performance Focus (+1 to Performance rolls)
 - Phantom Replication (create base Performance copies of yourself)
 -- Shadow Replication (yeah, Naruto, the copies can attack)
Linguistics Focus (+1 to Linguistics Rolls)
 - Universal Translator (speak and write any language you hear or see)
Thaumaturgy Focus
 - Elemental Empowerment (imbue items with aspect of element)
 -- Elemental Bolt (focussed attack)
 --- Elemental Mastery (damaging elemental balls of energy or matter (never damaging allies), walls of element etc
 - Rune Magic (inscribe other Talents for later activation)

Sound interesting?
Anything you don't think is workable? It seems to work in practice.

As I said, I don't exactly know where to go from here. ^_^

Kind regards
John

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Matt Machell
Member

Posts: 477


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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2005, 05:25:05 AM »

Hi John,

you're an Exalted fan, right? I get that feel from this, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but can lead to a certain in-built assumption of how games work and what the system is there to do. You might end up with what is effectively your "patch" for Exalted, rather than starting from the ground up and saying "what do I want from this game?". I'd suggest a quick look at the article on Fantasy Heartbreakers, as a bit of background reading as it's all about game designers who think very much inside a particular box...

A good starting point it to think about what the players and the "Storyteller" each bring to the game and what they get out of it. What kinds of behaviors do you want to reward from the players (including ST)? What do they play the game to do? What kind of fun is it?

You want to playtest lots, and make sure you're not the guy running or even playing in those games. Cos if you are you bring your assumptions with you, and what is obvious to you might not be so obvious to others.

You might also want to look at The Shadow of Yesterday since it's available free and has some of the features you mention being interested in (quick, descriptive, easy rolls). It also does many things differently to your standard fantasy game.

-Matt



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John Bromberger
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2005, 05:50:33 AM »

Hi Matt.

Thanks for your post. Some good ideas there. ^_^

I'm well versed in systems and systems mechanics. I own many systems, and have played many more. At one point we were playing a different system every week. I've read over a lot more systems than I have played or storytold, too ... especially the free ones on the net (like Shadows of Yesterday).

You might note from my goals that games like Shadows don't actually match up to what I want - in general, they are too complex with too little detail!

I also don't need some of the newer and fun mechanics like "sharing" the story - I've been doing that for years, like many experienced storytellers I think. I don't need experience mechanics like keys, as I don't give experience per session (and it isn't recommended in game). I prefer leveling everyone up at about the same time, whether they have killed every monster or run from every fight. Overall, I've done my background reading and know what I want. ^_^

I am a statistician / mathematician by trade too, which helps with the number crunching.

I guess I'm really asking here - do you think this system is worth publishing? Would anyone be interested? How can I get it playtested to find out if it is as good as I think it is? If nobody is interested it won't change my opinion ... I like it, and I'm comfortable with that; I just want to share something I enjoy. ^_^

As to Exalted - I was an Exalted fan, rewrote a huge number of charms (including every single Lunar Charm) and found that it was not quite what I wanted. I like some things from White Wolf, rather than Exalted alone. But their mechanics were too clunky for me (subjective opinion, I know!). I like D&D (never played it the way most people seemed to) but it clearly has its flaws and is too complicated. I loved Rolemaster, but it took too much time. Various superhero games were nice (DC, Aberrent etc) but not quite what I wanted. Feng Shui was very interesting, but penalties are not quite stunt bonuses. I loved Call of Cthulhu more than Unknown Armies (though I have won best DM prizes for Unknown Armies too). L5R ... too many systems to name really.

So no, the game is no longer really linked to Exalted. It has many similarities to other games, and more similarities to nothing at all. But its designed to work for an Exalted setting as I like the Exalted flavour more than their mechanics. ^_^

Playtest lots? Sounds like a good idea. How? I have, and some friends dissociated from me have. How could I arrange to get it playtested more?

Kind regards
John
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2005, 05:56:45 AM »

Heya,

Looks like you have a decent task resolution set there.  It looks workable and that's fine.  There's a couple other quick things I'd like to know :)

1.  What part of play does your game encourage or emphasize?  IE: what is the goal of your game?

2.  What do the characters do in your game?

Peace,

-Troy
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John Bromberger
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2005, 06:14:17 AM »

Hi Troy.

(1) It emphasises description, via stunt bonuses, but not to the extent that nothing is ever accomplished.

It probably emphasises strategy even more than description, actually. The talents are modular, and only really come into play as powerhouses if used together - either one player combining useful Talents, or several players combining theirs.

So, description and strategy.

I had thought that it might de-emphasise conflict, because of the vastly simplified system. I was dreaming, it doesn't. It just makes combat a lot quicker - though not blindingly fast.

(2) Whatever they want. Literally.

With one proviso - its a game designed for heroes, with the players being "good". Sure, it could work just as well with the players being "evil" (there is no alignment mechanic or mechanical penalty for being "evil") but its intended for heroes.

Otherwise ... investigation, interaction (social and physical), combat, whatever the heroes want to do. The basic answer is they go out and change the world in the way they want to.

Level progression is a huge thing, even though the system is classless (and races are just requirements on Abilities and Talents with either one +1 Talent Bonus to one Ability or a free (restricted) Talent). Each time you go up a level, your power grows almost exponentially (though it may plateau at higher levels ... I'm not quite sure of that).

Does that answer the question adequately?

Kind regards
John

P.S. You can practically play anything from any fantasy race to most kinds of undead to a rock or sword or inanimate object to a golem to a shapeshifter.

One group is currently a Mummy, a crow, a pirate and a Wizard (kind of).

I haven't seen two charaters that looked the same, simply due to the extensive variety of Talents.
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Matt Machell
Member

Posts: 477


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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2005, 06:44:05 AM »

I also don't need some of the newer and fun mechanics like "sharing" the story - I've been doing that for years, like many experienced storytellers I think.

Most experienced storytellers haven't, which is kinda the point of games like TSoY. Now if you've looked at that kinda of thing and said "hey this isn't for me" then cool, but we have to ask, as you'd be suprised how many people turn up with "I'm designing an RPG" who've only ever seen D&D or White Wolf.

Keep in mind: There are lots of techniques you might have, that you can pass on through the structuring of your rules. Things like "I always ask for a driving goal in character creation" can make a huge difference in the game, but unless you're explicit about this being part ofthe rules then it can get lost in that "but this is how people play" assumption. Think of your rules not just as a method of deciding if XYZ happens, but in passing on your groups cool play experience to others.

-Matt
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2005, 06:54:44 AM »

Heya,

Looks like you are a very experienced player and GM.  And it looks like you have a pretty good idea what you're after here.  I have a couple follow up questions:

Quote
So, description and strategy.

I had thought that it might de-emphasise conflict, because of the vastly simplified system. I was dreaming, it doesn't. It just makes combat a lot quicker - though not blindingly fast

3.  How does your game assist in the GM in creating opportunities for the players to have chances to strategize and describe?

Quote
With one proviso - its a game designed for heroes, with the players being "good". Sure, it could work just as well with the players being "evil" (there is no alignment mechanic or mechanical penalty for being "evil") but its intended for heroes.

Otherwise ... investigation, interaction (social and physical), combat, whatever the heroes want to do. The basic answer is they go out and change the world in the way they want to.

4.  How does your game reward the players and characters for doing thing?

Peace,

-Troy
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John Bromberger
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2005, 11:53:46 PM »

Hey Matt.

You're right, you did have to ask! ^_^

And you have made me realise that I do need to emphasise in the storytelling section that the storyteller should not channel the players, but should allow them to direct the story.

Mechanics to facilitate that ... I don't know. I can see why it could help some storytellers (and might work in some systems), but in the same way that I don't want my storytellers to channel their players, I don't want to channel my storytellers! ^_^

Part of the cool play aspect for me as a storyteller, is that I can do whatever is fun for my players. I've stressed that in my game - the storyteller's first priority is to make it fun for the players.

And hi Troy. ^_^

(3) Complicated question. I might need to take it apart!

How does the game help the players have chances to strategise? It gives them very broad Talents. Earth Mastery would be an example ... you control earth and stone within 5 yards of you. Full stop. Walls of stone, "fireballs of earth", passwall ... all combined in one feat.

There are a lot of combat options. It includes movement and ranged attacks, immunities to opponents weaponry and attacks, different combat manouvers (clinch, disarm, knock back or down) and different types of vulnerabilities (to dodgeable attacks, area effects and will destroying effects). Talents build upon these. The Vampire Talent fits well with Unarmed ... a Talent increases range by a factor of ten, another allows melee attacks out to ten yards.

You want to gain information from the foe? One Talent allows you to read his mind, another to steal his thoughts and make him forget them, another prevents him from lying to you, another to pick up information "from the air" as long as someone nearby knows the answer. Options, almost always provided by Talents. That is the strategy aspect.

How does the game help players have the chance to describe?

There is a section on description bonuses and how to describe actions quickly and effectively (and pitfalls in description). Description bonuses are mentioned everywhere actions are mentioned. I have a nice example of the different bonuses for different categories of description.

Also, if there is no description, the game is blindingly fast. That shifts time that would normally be used rolling dice and calculating numbers to time that can be used to describe.

The game isn't phenomenally tactical by the way. You do more of your strategising when you level up more than apply tactical combat or conflict resolution ... although sometimes there are surprises as players begin to use more lateral thinking in problem resolution.

How does the game help the GM create opportunities for the players to strategise / describe / do what they want?

It gives him time to do so. He never rolls dice. Foes are very simple to create mechanically (I have a section on "monsters" and "monster" design). The difficulties / target numbers are laid out in a table.

The game is designed to give the storyteller the time to do all the things he always wanted to, but never found the time to. He has time to focus on the players, advice to meet each of their needs individually, recommendations on what to include in each session (especially what and where).

(4) How does the game reward players for doing things?

You know, I think this is one of those assumptions Matt was talking about.
I'm not sure its properly specified. Sure, magic items and types thereof are detailed. But other types of rewards including social rewards?

Basically, the game rewards players by developing their characters in the way they want. Do they want to be a great politician, with diplomacy and leadership. If they act that way, they will get allies (or servants and slaves if they desire, though I kind of hope they won't. ^_^) Its pretty much impossible for them not to get what they want.

Do they want to be a great craftsman, with hordes of magical items. The mechanics are there for them to create rooms full of magical items in seconds, without using up any materials.

The philosophy of the game is pretty much "the players don't need to do anything specific to be rewarded. All players are rewarded. However, they choose the type of reward they will receive." Even players who literally sit around and do nothing will still go up levels, and be able to choose Talents and Abilities. They just won't receive recognition in game or from their peers - which is a powerful thing.

Really good questions there! ^_^

Kind regards
John
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John Bromberger
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2005, 04:17:30 AM »

Hmm.

It seems I do do a little channeling, now I think about it ... of the players.
Description bonuses.

Those are a major reward - if they describe things nicely, making things more fun for everyone (hope that is not a subjective opinion!) they get an immediate bonus (+1 to +3) to the action they are undertaking.

I guess that is a built in reward.
I missed that at first - but I've now added a text page in the stoyteller section detailing player (and character) rewards. ^_^

Kind regards
John
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2005, 04:53:38 AM »

Heya John,

After looking things over now, I think I have a pretty good idea about what your system is and what it can do.  If your goal is simply to put something up on the web for people to download for free and play, then I think you have a pretty good game for that.  As far as your first stab at an RPG, it's pretty good.  I do like the "broad talent" thing you have going on.  So if you're just asking if it's good enough for the 'net, I give you a resounding yes.

As time goes on, you're going to want to expand it and make modifications.  Trust me, you will.  And that's fine.  That's what design is all about.  Never rest on what you've done in the past, always seek to do something better.  For a first time, first try game, you've done a decent job.  Make sure you link the URL where people can download your game on any sig you have at Message Boards like this one or over at rpg.net or something.  If you don't get the word out, no one will know your game exists. 

Good luck to you, and if you have further questions, please don't be afraid to ask.  The Forge is always here to help :)

Peace,

-Troy
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