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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 23 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Inspiration vs. Theft  (Read 951 times)
otspiii
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« on: December 07, 2008, 10:46:58 PM »

I've been working on a system meant to emulate shounen-action style manga in my spare time.

I've always been fond of the genre's neurotic method of storytelling, which is typified by ridiculously exaggerated challenges being overcome by equally ridiculously exaggerated solutions that somehow manage to be simultaneously very technical and descriptive while completely disregarding scientific accuracy.  A lot of it tends to center around fighting, but there's quite of bit of it focusing on more unusual topics, like cooking or football.  No matter the subject, however, the mood and flow stays more or less the same.  I know the stuff's target audience is pubescent Japanese boys, but I just get a huge kick out of the over-the-top-ness of it all.  It all came to a head when I tried to run an Exalted game in something similar to this style.

I just couldn't.  It didn't work.  The game ended up pretty fun in its own right, but I couldn't capture that mood at all.  Something was missing.

I looked at BESM and a few other systems, but none of them seemed like they'd be any better.  In the end it always came down to two people rolling dice at each other while giving out half-hearted descriptions of their actions, and then one of them has higher numbers and wins.  It was always really difficult to make clever plans and trickery anything between game-breaking or impotent.  I decided to take matters into my own hands and write a RPG that would let me capture that spirit.

It was really hard.

I had a clear vision for a modular point-build system for designing special abilities for characters, a design-your-own skill system, and a flexible difficulty system that worked well for a variety of situations.  In the end it just kept coming down to the same old "we can say what we want about our actions, but ultimately conflicts come down to who has the bigger die pool/more luck" syndrome.  It's possible to have exciting narration and an engaging back and forth even with this kind of system, of course, but it relies entirely on the player's creative momentum with no encouragement from the system at all.

Around this time I found The Forge and started going through old design philosophy posts and reading the hosted articles.  They gave me a lot to think about, and certainly increased my clarity of design vision in a lot of ways.  I kept devouring any roleplaying book I could get my hands on for inspiration, but nothing seemed like it would fit my vision.  I went from a weird d10 system with variable difficulties based on your core stats to something that was almost like trying to play poker with dice to a system that I'm still using as a quick-resolution system that was all about taking the sum of your two highest dice and sacrificing excessive dice for a roll-bonus.  I even tried to switch to a card-based system for a while, which was a complete disaster.  Unable to come up with a pleasing solution to my core problem, I put the project to the side for a while.

The big resolution to all of this, and the part of the story that explains why I'm posting all this here, came when I got my hands on a copy of Dogs in the Vineyard.  I really admired the system for being really cleanly geared towards encouraging players to explore their own morality and create really powerful open-ended stories on primal themes, but this really didn't have anything to do with my system.  My system was more about reflecting that demon vampire wizard's eye beams with a mirror and then when he dodges and taunts you you're all like "I wasn't aiming for you" and the roof falls on him.  Very different styles.

What really excited me was the back and forth dice system that encouraged varied and creative skills, made otherwise mundane conflicts like cooking challenges or trying to blow a balloon faster as complex and interesting as combat, and really encouraged descriptive dialogue between players instead of just rendering it fluff that the player could fill in at their leisure.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  I took apart the DitV system completely and tried to figure out what I could learn from it.

In the end I built a system that I am very excited to start play-testing and that I hope/believe will capture the style I want to emulate very well.  The problem is that the very core center-most rules are a bit too similar to DitV's.  It is my serious hope that the game will strong enough to stand on its own, but I would really like to see how others feel about my system and its similarities before I take it any further.

There are several major similarities between my system and DitV.  The Raising and Seeing mechanics are pretty much identical, since I really couldn't find a cleaner better way of doing it.  Fallout works differently, but has similarities.  Stats, Traits, Relationships, Items, etc are all lumped into being one thing called "Facts", which work slightly differently from DitV Traits but maintain the "XdY" style of being written.  Other than those things, however, the systems are extremely different.  The way that Facts are used is a lot more complicated, there's a free-form system for supernatural abilities, there's a modular system for applying different settings and situations to campaigns, and many other things.  My hope is that I can be seen at least as separate from DitV as the dozens of old Fantasy Heartbreakers were from D&D (or hopefully slightly more so, since Fantasy Heartbreaks mostly just wanted to be D&D+, while I'm trying to aim for a completely different gameplay style).  That said, DitV is so different from many other systems that the fact that I'm hovering so close to it in some ways really stands out.

I want to make the best game I possibly can, using whatever mechanics will make that happen.  However, I also don't want to be some weird asshole who bursts into these forums and just starts stealing people's game-mechanics and running wild with them.  The purpose of this post is for me to ask lumpley (and to an extent everyone else on these forums) a question.

From what I've posted here, are you comfortable with me calling my system my own, as opposed to listing it as a DitV setting mod like Banthas in the Vineyard or Hounds on the Moor?  Of course, credit will be given in the rulebook for the inspiration if I ever end up posting it on the internet/self-publishing it.  I would also be glad to share the rough un-playtested draft I have now if it is desired.

I await your response.  Thank you for reading this.
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Hello, Forge.  My name is Misha.  It is a pleasure to meet you.
lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2008, 07:06:31 AM »

From what I've posted here, are you comfortable with me calling my system my own, as opposed to listing it as a DitV setting mod like Banthas in the Vineyard or Hounds on the Moor?
Absolutely.
Quote
Of course, credit will be given in the rulebook for the inspiration if I ever end up posting it on the internet/self-publishing it.
That's just what's called for. I hope you do publish, and all I'd ask for is a line something like "these rules are based on Dogs in the Vineyard by D. Vincent Baker."

-Vincent
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otspiii
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Posts: 67

A Very Powerful Wizard


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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2008, 08:15:25 AM »

Wonderful, once the game's in slightly more tested shape I'll probably make a "First Impressions" post about it.

Thank you very much.
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Hello, Forge.  My name is Misha.  It is a pleasure to meet you.
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