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Author Topic: [A System w/ No Name] Basics  (Read 2618 times)
Marc Truant
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Posts: 30


« on: January 31, 2011, 05:38:55 PM »

A friend and I have started work on a new system as of recent after he found the New World of Darkness (the Storytelling System) limiting and ultimately uninteresting. Work just began last night, where we started by looking at what we liked from nWoD's system and what we didn't like. Some modifications here and there and we ended up with an entirely new system.

Well, the very basics of it, at least.

While not much is currently detailed, we've worked on basic character creation and some combat. Though it's not a very "unique" system in that it's not cutting edge or very fluffy (it actually comes across as quite crunchy at the moment), all we need to know is... Does it work in its current state and do any of you have suggestions?

I suppose a few of you will immediately dismiss the game for it's current lack of background or fluff, but again, these are just the very basics. Please note that magic isn't entirely worked out yet and there's still some balancing issues here and there.

Click!

Lemme know any of your suggestions, questions, and concerns so we can be on our way to make a fully functioning system! :) Again, it's not an entirely new idea, but we'll worry about that in a bit...


edited to fix the link - RE
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 06:21:55 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Mike Sugarbaker
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2011, 07:20:34 PM »

To tell you whether this works, we have to know what the task is that it's supposed to work for. You say that nWoD felt limiting; what were the limits you hit?

Equilibrium looks fun. What are your experiences with systems that use continua like that?
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Marc Truant
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Posts: 30


« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2011, 09:34:17 PM »

To tell you whether this works, we have to know what the task is that it's supposed to work for. You say that nWoD felt limiting; what were the limits you hit?

Equilibrium looks fun. What are your experiences with systems that use continua like that?

The limits we felt were mostly based in the setting... Also that our characters felt like schmucks and we wanted to up the ante a little.

And my experience with systems like that? I'm sure there's something, but nothing comes to mind yet. I'd say there's definitely an influence of the "good or evil" paths in recent video games, how you can shift between one or the other depending on your actions, but with our system, it's not necessarily good or evil on a spectrum. It's just whether you show confidence/arrogance or caution/reservation in your actions.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2011, 12:24:38 AM »

Hi Marc,

There's an RPG called The riddle of steel, which has spiritual attributes. Each SA is named by the player, say one is called 'love for my son' - each time the character pursues that goal, he gets an extra die for the dice pool (up to five extra dice).

Your equilibrium sounds kind of along those lines (though with it's own sort of spectrum it's dealing with).

With the riddle of steel, the game kinda revolved around spiritual attributes. Does your game revolve around equilibrium?

What might be interesting is instead of having a negative to stats, players describe some relationship their character has with NPC's, or their job, or other life stuff. They describe one that would be negatively impacted by impulse, and a second one that would be negatively impacted by restraint. Now the more they push toward one end of the spectrum, the more the other is basically boned. Like full impulse means my job as a photo journalist is suffering at -5. A bit like spider man has his love life or job suffering at various times.

Also, what I'd kinda say is that if the game doesn't revolve around equilibrium, it's either saying nothing at all or devoid of challenge. Equilibrium, and when a character might shift his position, seems interesting play if play revolves around it alot. (Ah geez, I feel like I'm doing a Ron here - jumping on a feature and insisting on it's significance/to bring it to the fore (note: simply mild teasing here))
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Marc Truant
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2011, 11:23:28 AM »

Hi Marc,

There's an RPG called The riddle of steel, which has spiritual attributes. Each SA is named by the player, say one is called 'love for my son' - each time the character pursues that goal, he gets an extra die for the dice pool (up to five extra dice).

Your equilibrium sounds kind of along those lines (though with it's own sort of spectrum it's dealing with).

With the riddle of steel, the game kinda revolved around spiritual attributes. Does your game revolve around equilibrium?

What might be interesting is instead of having a negative to stats, players describe some relationship their character has with NPC's, or their job, or other life stuff. They describe one that would be negatively impacted by impulse, and a second one that would be negatively impacted by restraint. Now the more they push toward one end of the spectrum, the more the other is basically boned. Like full impulse means my job as a photo journalist is suffering at -5. A bit like spider man has his love life or job suffering at various times.

Also, what I'd kinda say is that if the game doesn't revolve around equilibrium, it's either saying nothing at all or devoid of challenge. Equilibrium, and when a character might shift his position, seems interesting play if play revolves around it alot. (Ah geez, I feel like I'm doing a Ron here - jumping on a feature and insisting on it's significance/to bring it to the fore (note: simply mild teasing here))

To address your concern, Equilibrium will have both an affect to stats and story. The basics document is simply describing the game/rule aspects of the system, but as far as story goes, it's up to the player and GM as to how it'll work...and it's very much encouraged.

We want the system to be as limitless as possible, in a sense, and easy to play alongside a story...and of course, we're still working on the system itself so it's balanced, accessible, and fun.
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Silverwave
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Posts: 11


« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2011, 09:47:27 PM »

You might want to check out the somehow new Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition for the mechanic called Reckless and Conservative dice and Stance tracker. Basically, you have a slider (made out of puzzle set pieces that you clip together to form a tracker) with a number of red and green dots and between them a kind of separator which represent "neutral" stance. The more you push toward the red side, the more Reckless you are (you throw more Reckless dice), the more you go on the green side, the more conservative you are. Reckless dices tend to generates more successes (some sides have multiple successes on them) but can get you fatigue or bad side effects (call banes). The Conservative dices gives you less chances of failures (there is almost a single success on each side of the dice) but can cause a delay on your action.

It represent wether your character is being cautious and take his time to make sure he succeed (conversative) or rush head down carelessly in hope of getting better results but risking more (reckless). It's a mechanic of risk vs reward.

I feel like your Equilibrium mechanic tend toward this risk vs reward idea. Maybe you could get some idea from it.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 03:37:07 AM »

Marc, well there's a system that plays alongside a story, and there's story that is derived from the very movements of the mechanic itself.

From my observations, the system that plays alongside a story - whenever things get serious, people shunt that system to the curb (it's the optimal game move to do so). So that systems only every used for non serious, unimportant stuff and...what's the point of that? You could already decide the unimportant stuff by sheer fiat. So that's one observation on a system that plays alongside a story.
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Marc Truant
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 06:43:29 AM »

Marc, well there's a system that plays alongside a story, and there's story that is derived from the very movements of the mechanic itself.

From my observations, the system that plays alongside a story - whenever things get serious, people shunt that system to the curb (it's the optimal game move to do so). So that systems only every used for non serious, unimportant stuff and...what's the point of that? You could already decide the unimportant stuff by sheer fiat. So that's one observation on a system that plays alongside a story.

The point is to mix storytelling with gaming simply. Storytelling is always fun, sure, especially making decisions based in someone else's setting and interacting with a world they run...

But without the factor of random chance with some sort of challenge, then you can always just assume you'll have things your way. That was the big problem my friend and I had when we ran games with hardly any system. We felt like we were too easy on the players, and we also felt like it provided too much room for the player to mess around without any sort of consequence.

And what's the fun in that? I mean, you can derive something from it, yeah, but there's also a lot of fun in knowing that you won't always come out on top... Plus, and maybe I'm the only one on these forums who thinks so, nothing is more exciting than a dice roll. Will I hit? Will I miss? Will I be able to flee this angry mob? Can I successfully convince the edgy bouncer to let me in? What will happen if I fail to open this locked safe, which holds the antidote to my poison?

Storytelling, like I said, is fun in itself, but adding a little math to it and giving a little challenge and random chance? That's why I play tabletop RPGs in the first place.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2011, 05:09:50 PM »

Marc, I'm actually arguing pro dice rolls/mechanics involvement, rather than against them (which is probably what your used to encountering).

The parts of your mechanics which are to do with skill rolls or combat - they seem the same as most traditional designs. And to me most traditional designs are like glove puppets - the GM control the difficulty number absolutely and the modifiers absolutely and even the narration of outcomes pretty much absolutely, as much as a guy controls a glove puppet. But then the GM pretends the glove puppet decided someone didn't come out on top, not him? C'mon!

With your equilibrium, it might be a straight forward mechanic, but wherever you are on the equilibrium chart, there you are. No one can juggle some numbers and get the mechanic to produce whatever result they want from the moment. In that way it's not a glove puppet like skill checks are in possibly all mainstream RPG's and in your game too.

I don't know why 'GM chooses any DC he likes' skill checks didn't die years ago. I guess because when the GM chooses a DC the players like, they think the mechanics great. When the GM chooses a DC that's too high, the players blame the GM. It's a mechanic that never recieves blame itself, only praise.
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Marc Truant
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2011, 06:26:37 PM »

Marc, I'm actually arguing pro dice rolls/mechanics involvement, rather than against them (which is probably what your used to encountering).

The parts of your mechanics which are to do with skill rolls or combat - they seem the same as most traditional designs. And to me most traditional designs are like glove puppets - the GM control the difficulty number absolutely and the modifiers absolutely and even the narration of outcomes pretty much absolutely, as much as a guy controls a glove puppet. But then the GM pretends the glove puppet decided someone didn't come out on top, not him? C'mon!

With your equilibrium, it might be a straight forward mechanic, but wherever you are on the equilibrium chart, there you are. No one can juggle some numbers and get the mechanic to produce whatever result they want from the moment. In that way it's not a glove puppet like skill checks are in possibly all mainstream RPG's and in your game too.

I don't know why 'GM chooses any DC he likes' skill checks didn't die years ago. I guess because when the GM chooses a DC the players like, they think the mechanics great. When the GM chooses a DC that's too high, the players blame the GM. It's a mechanic that never recieves blame itself, only praise.

Hm. I think I'm beginning to understand where you're coming from.

As much as I'd like to take a more experimental tone with this system, whereas mechanics affect the story a lot more, the mastermind is really my creative partner. It's not to say I'm not experienced with design myself, but I'm more or less putting his own desires into rules and terms as well as encouraging him. Of course, some ideas are mine, but they have to go through the big man first! Sometimes we clash heads, but this is really just us trying to create a solid system where we can run our own campaigns.

The idea to share it with everyone else isn't something he entirely agrees with, but I remain convinced that if we do create a solid system, why keep it to ourselves?

But back to the main point, your point, the amount of control a GM exerts over any given scenario with our system is completely up to them and their players. If somebody wants to railroad, then they can... Though I hate railroading as much as the next guy, the system has no means to prevent it, and who am I to prevent it? If they want to control the game as an extension of their own, and only their own, narrative, then that's fine.

And it's also quite fine to create a liquid narrative where players' choices have a much larger effect on the story. Again, it's all up to the GM and their players, or if you'd like, the players and their GM.

If you had a hand in the creation and development of this system, however, what would your personal suggestions and touches be?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2011, 11:49:20 PM »

Good question. Something like a set amount of points the GM has, and it costs him a certain amount of them to call a skill check, costing more to increase OR decrease the skill difficulty. Also monsters cost points to introduce a combat with. Have it the amount of points recover per real life hour of play (up to a certain limit) and the GM also has a special cache of points which increase a bit per session, that he can draw on if he feels he needs more currency in a hurry, but are obviously something saved for a special occasion.

Also I'd have the instructions tell players to write say three things that are important to their character. Then when a skill roll or monster comes around they write down something that is related to those important things that is to do with the roll, and draw a line from the important things to it on a sheet. The record how many times the suceed or fail at these things and drawing a sense of what that'd mean in the fiction, from that record.

Before you try and think of ways of breaking it, I'm working from the assumption that how your playing is much like working as a group to build a sandcastle. Ie, people might push for their own designs on parts of the sandcastle, but no ones looking for a way to kick the thing over. If so, there's not much point looking for a way to break it. It is worth checking whether it allows people to creatively push others without others being a complete pushover ('everyone just agrees'), nor a complete stone wall ('GM's word is final'). I think what I suggested allows participants some strength, but not absolute strength. Anyway, that's my suggestion.
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Marc Truant
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2011, 07:07:28 AM »

Good question. Something like a set amount of points the GM has, and it costs him a certain amount of them to call a skill check, costing more to increase OR decrease the skill difficulty. Also monsters cost points to introduce a combat with. Have it the amount of points recover per real life hour of play (up to a certain limit) and the GM also has a special cache of points which increase a bit per session, that he can draw on if he feels he needs more currency in a hurry, but are obviously something saved for a special occasion.

Also I'd have the instructions tell players to write say three things that are important to their character. Then when a skill roll or monster comes around they write down something that is related to those important things that is to do with the roll, and draw a line from the important things to it on a sheet. The record how many times the suceed or fail at these things and drawing a sense of what that'd mean in the fiction, from that record.

Before you try and think of ways of breaking it, I'm working from the assumption that how your playing is much like working as a group to build a sandcastle. Ie, people might push for their own designs on parts of the sandcastle, but no ones looking for a way to kick the thing over. If so, there's not much point looking for a way to break it. It is worth checking whether it allows people to creatively push others without others being a complete pushover ('everyone just agrees'), nor a complete stone wall ('GM's word is final'). I think what I suggested allows participants some strength, but not absolute strength. Anyway, that's my suggestion.

I'm not sure about that first idea, but I definitely do like the second about writing the three important things. We have something like that, Characteristics, that are just basic ways of helping to sketch out a character...and if the GM sees it fit in any given situation, it'll either help the roll or increase its difficulty. It still needs a bit rounding out, but that's the basic idea.

As far as your sand castle analogy goes, what I'm thinking is including a system similar to Wushu where players can veto any given decision if they so wish. My friend actually became really interested in Wushu the other day, so we'll see where that goes.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2011, 02:54:31 PM »

I'm kind of thinking what puts you off the first idea is "But then as GM I wont have absolute power!". When really that's the idea. It depends - if you can say "I want absolute power as GM, then sort of give the impression players have agency but really it's just me allowing their actions as I will, on a moment to moment basis. Then I can cut them off whenever something I think, all by myself rather than as a member of a group or activity, isn't right, I'll cut them off. But not too often or that'll destroy the illusion of player agency" then cool, you know what you want and hey, okay, that's what you want. But if you can't admit that's the arrangement when it is (jeez how many times have I GM'ed under that arangement? Alot! I'll admit it!), well you've got a problem there and it doesn't just end at saying whether you like the idea or not. Really.

Is it terrible to bring up the idea? It just seems fact to me. If you can say the above, then you know what your doing and want to do it and okay. But if your telling yourself your doing X when really your doing Y - I dunno, is it horrible to point out the denial? Heh, probably still is, actually - that's (conflicted) human nature. Anyway, if there's a third scenario rather than just my two, I'm not insisting the two I described are the only ones that could be present. I just think they are the only ones present.

Quote
Wushu where players can veto any given decision if they so wish.
That'd really be nothing to do with the system I described, as it's absolute strength/a free veto. Creative push and pull doesn't involve one party going 'NO!' at all. So player veto is about as bad as GM veto (actually, given the GM is just another player, it's exactly the same thing)

Quote
Characteristics, that are just basic ways of helping to sketch out a character...and if the GM sees it fit in any given situation, it'll either help the roll or increase its difficulty.
I think this will make your players come to lothe writing out characteristics. Because they will be accutely aware of how any characteristic could be swung around and turned into a penalty against them. They will have a strong urge to try and min max them so they only ever give a benefit (and that's the optomistic players!), they will make them generic as possible, or they will just find a real disinterest in writing them at all and will grugingly write the minimum required. Characteristics will become the unfun of your game - players basically being penalised for being creative. Or if they end up getting more bonuses from creatively writing characteristics than penalties, why not just make characteristics only ever give bonuses/never penalties? I'd really suggest either characteristics give a bonus to a roll, or nothing happens and there is no penalty.

Okay, those are my iconoclastic ideas!
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Marc Truant
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2011, 05:58:45 PM »

UPDATE!

We modified the hell out of the old rules. A lot less math is involved this time around...and we stripped it down to the VERY very basics.

The new conflict resolution system is influenced mainly by Risus while the skills and attributes system are still influenced by World of Darkness... The new rules and whatnot are detailed in the document.
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horomancer
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Posts: 131


« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2011, 09:30:40 PM »

Hey there. Just viewed the doc in your first post, it is the updated version correct? Mainly I'm confused as there is no mention of equilibrium anywhere, so I don't understand what people are talking about, but oh well

I've worked on my own system on the side and it has many parallels to yours. I like the minimalist approach to stats and skills, though i do not see anywhere on what die is used for the game. I assume d6.
Some points- You have ranged and melee combat as their own separate skills and dice pools. I could see combat being a mix bag of these two and wounder what happens when I switch from one to the other then back? Do I need to keep track of both die pools? If I see i'm loosing in one pool can I switch to another skill and suddenly have a full dice pool again?
If I read static resolution correctly, either i pass or I don't on a static challenge, correct? No rolling of dice to meet a static number, just Stat+Skill >= DC. I could see that being a very frustrating thing as a players when they are off by 1.
In your system is there a method to factor in fumbles and other extreme failures? It doesn't have to be tied in directly to the dice, but I think something should always be present to cover the unexpected screw ups.

All and all it looks solid. Some minor suggestions for you-
1. Let players add skills for very specific and highly trained professions. Someone wants to be a doctor? Let them have a medical skill as apposed to just rolling Technology. Having such a mechanic goes a long way in letting players make custom characters, and keeping some players from trying to BS their way through a situation with inappropriate skill rolls.
2. Thematic Batteries. I saw it digging around the archives on this site. A player makes up a personality quirk for their character. At anytime they can invoke the quirk for a minus on a roll, but doing so grants them a bonus on a future roll. The example given was a character known to be a 'Reckless flyboy' driving an airship. The player forced a roll for a fairly mundane task of docking an airship at a -1, which granted them a +1 they could use later in game during a daring air chase. Simple, effective, and encourages players to take chances. You could use it for settings where mana may seem out of place, but you still want players to have that boosting option for rolls.
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