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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 31 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Dungeon Crashers] Early Build, Feedback Appreciated  (Read 1680 times)
MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« on: June 16, 2011, 11:33:13 AM »

This project was born due to an interesting Story Games thread starring Eero Tuovinen.

It interested me enough to generate some simple ideas for mechanics. After reading the thread the other night, I immediately wrote a little bit and the following houses the results...

Dungeon Crashers, an early build, google docs edition.

It is unpolished and the formatting is dirt simple. The ideas aren't fleshed out and the document is 4-pages. The character sheet mockup I created is maybe a little bigger than a quarter of a sheet of paper. I am pleased by this.

The following is my To-Do List...

  • General polish including editing and clarification
  • Formatting improvements
  • Statement declaring intention of play style
  • GM advice for running an off-the-cuff dungeon survival fantasy RPG
  • Proper explanation of what Fighting Spirit means to the fiction
  • Proper explanation of what a 'scene' is to the game
  • Combat structure*
  • Character Advancement
  • Emphasis on improvisation as a strength, extolling the virtues of the Adventurer Profession
* Which will just end up being, "Roll for static initiative, take turns, make checks, repeat."

I would really like some feedback. Tell me it is neat, horrible, depressing, a clone of something already in existence or whatever. I like constructive criticism and I would appreciate an explanation that builds upon your comment. Specifically, do you agree with everything on the To-Do List? Any suggestions about items that should go along with the ideas on the To-Do List? Does something need a much better explanation? Do the Abilities seem like they would produce fun for you? Is the equipment system too simple, not rewarding enough, too unrealistic, etc? Are you bothered by a roll under system that expressly uses D8s? How about that Condition system? Is relying on logic of the name alone for narrative/story qualities a bad idea? Any suggestions on Conditions I should "hardcore" into the game? Do you hate the Bad Guy system? If you do or don't, why? Too simple, samey, GM advice about personalization is garbage, etc...?

In any event, thank you for your time!
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2011, 01:03:03 PM »

I've had some interesting tidbits and points of contention come up in my thread on Praxis and RPG.net.

Turns out that player defined Disciplines aren't the way to go.

The Attribute and Task Resolution system needs some careful clarification text in order to prevent munchkins from a free reign.

The GMing section will need a careful but instructive set of rules, expectations and the like for an Adversarial-style of gaming.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, is that the Recall action needs some more structure. Sages will still be able to ask questions but with the added capability of inserting advantageous facts into the fiction. Instead of 1 to 8 questions or what-have-you, Sages win (tentatively) Recall points with successful Recall Checks that allow them to either ask a question for 1, insert a minor (+1) advantage to a situation for 2 and a major advantage for an entire scene for 3.

Oh, and I forgot to link to the SG thread this game is based on = Here It Is.
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2011, 03:25:06 PM »

Hi Matthew,

It's structure seems to be so much so survival fantasy (as you put it) that it's a gamist RPG?

Evaluating it in gamist terms, it seems to have no campaign ending built into it? What's your own experience with playing games with this structure (and yes, I'll grant it's been the traditional structure for 30 years or so)? From my own experience, while the initial battles might be exciting...but then there's another one - then another one - and all seemingly necessary, but without any concrete metric of getting towards an ending. So each battle becomes work - not done because it was fun, but because you 'have to' in a quest towards an indeterminant ending. In other words, a hamster wheel. OR what happens is the battles remain fresh and exciting, but no one really cares about the overall campaigns result.

What's your experience playing under that method?
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2011, 05:37:58 PM »

Hi Matthew,
Hi there, and thanks for responding!

Quote
It's structure seems to be so much so survival fantasy (as you put it) that it's a gamist RPG?
I would say that the rules focus on gaming, yes. I'm one of those folks that doesn't mind it if the rules don't attempt to bolster RP through mechanics. I guess I've lived so long without that kind of structure that it isn't much of an issue.

Quote
Evaluating it in gamist terms, it seems to have no campaign ending built into it? What's your own experience with playing games with this structure (and yes, I'll grant it's been the traditional structure for 30 years or so)? From my own experience, while the initial battles might be exciting...but then there's another one - then another one - and all seemingly necessary, but without any concrete metric of getting towards an ending. So each battle becomes work - not done because it was fun, but because you 'have to' in a quest towards an indeterminant ending. In other words, a hamster wheel.
I hadn't really thought about an ending. Usually in these sorts of games the PCs are either dying too often or the players end up retiring their characters for one reason or another. It is possible that I could go the way of older D&D and introduce ways for the character's to retire in style to a castle, wizard tower, abbey or guild. This would be as easy as writing a small section into GM Advice mentioning a suggested Level to start encouraging retirement.

I see what you mean though. The game supports more than just battles as written due to the emphasis that the Adventurer and Sage place on mechanized problem solving. But it could still get old after a while... Maybe I'm wrong in saying that the GM's responsibility is to keep his player's entertained with RP before and after a dungeon has been completed.

Quote
OR what happens is the battles remain fresh and exciting, but no one really cares about the overall campaigns result.
My question to you is... do the two have to be mutually exclusive? I know I'm not doing the GM any favors with my text when it comes to building a deep narrative his players will never forget... but it fits the style I'm looking for. At least for this game!

It is possible that the game's use should be moderated. As in, every other session instead every single session...

Quote
What's your experience playing under that method?
Before I answer that question specifically I'd like to give a little background on myself...

I don't think my own experience is unique but... I first played AD&D 2e when I was 10 or 11, it was my first RPG experience. After that, I would always be enthralled with the experience but I never had enough money to buy any books. For the next 7 or 8 years I played nothing but my own homebrews. I never wrote structure in those days. Just combat rules tied to an implied setting. We rarely did much dungeon crawling in those days, I'd let my players (usually one-on-one) run about doing mostly RPing until I wanted to break up the monotony of dialogue with some danger. I think this is part of the reason that I have a disconnect when it comes to writing a game that fills in the gaps that happen between the dungeons/battles. I'm so use to doing that myself. =/ At least I can make myself feel okay as I don't plan on selling Dungeon Crashers. =P

I did end up getting involved with a group that played D&D 3.5 almost exclusively (they rejected my attempts at introducing WFRP2e and Starblazer Adventures). Lots of dungeon crawling there and the plots were usually solid enough to get us into different spots to crawl through. Now, I didn't mind the weak plots because the joy of solving the dungeon's problems with swords, words and clever ideas was incredibly entertaining. The mechanics didn't actually support this style of play all that well, unfortunately.

So I'd say that my experiences with that kind of play are somewhat limited and didn't turn out that great. It didn't have anything to do with the structure of play, however, more or less it was the game's mechanics coupled with unimaginative GMs that ruined it for me. I know I love dungeon crawling because I love Roguelikes. :)
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2011, 03:31:05 AM »

Quote
My question to you is... do the two have to be mutually exclusive?
If they are made mutually exclusive, yes.

Or more to the point, say you actually wanted to make battles and an overall campaign mutually exclusive in terms of interest, how would you design it? For myself, I'd make it that following the conventions of one has no effect on the other.

I think I even have an actual play example - in my groups 3.5 campaign we went quite a few levels from just one off dungeons that I or others in the group made up. Latter at around 10th level, me and a friend decided to make up this cool bloodweaver campaign about this guy invading and...wow, that just didn't take off. I think it actually removed the fun of the one offs, with the insistance of 'this is about our campaign now'. Before that it had a kind of anarchic, impulse of the moment fun.

Quote
So I'd say that my experiences with that kind of play are somewhat limited and didn't turn out that great. It didn't have anything to do with the structure of play, however, more or less it was the game's mechanics coupled with unimaginative GMs that ruined it for me.
Well, how did the unimaginative GM ruin it? Was it perhaps the realisation that this unimaginativeness was going to go on...forever? Game after game after game of this same behaviour? Or if not forever, for as long as the GM deemed it should go on?

What if the campaign was only going to run for 10 sessions, do you think you might have stuck it out instead?

Anyway, for what it's worth, I think I've tried to make smaller combat rules which are intensely exciting - in order to still be exciting after hundreds of sessions. But the fact is, if you do anything for long enough, you get sick of it. No one can design something so awesome it breaks that fact. So if I seem to be harping on about having an ending, fair enough, but you can see why it seems important to me (even if somehow it is not the case I take it to be).
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2011, 12:18:10 PM »

Or more to the point, say you actually wanted to make battles and an overall campaign mutually exclusive in terms of interest, how would you design it? For myself, I'd make it that following the conventions of one has no effect on the other.
I had played around with an idea that would do the opposite - weave the overall narrative into every important decision, including combat. The campaign begins with some kind of nefarious plot, perhaps shrouded in shadow or out in the open. The GM starts out with "doom tokens" with which to generate traps, enemies, disasters, etc... He uses these to try and stop the players from interfering with the nefarious plot. Both sides have ways of increasing or decreasing the Doom. Stakes are set during scenes and the winner generates some kind of value and when that value hits a particular capacity, one side wins and the other loses.

As for specifically designing a game where campaign progression and exciting combats are mutually exclusive in the rules? I feel like traditional games already do this. And I think my game is fairly traditional but with some indie/modern influences that are suppose to make it more accessible and interesting to folks still looking for a brutal dungeon crawl/survival fantasy game. :)

Quote
Well, how did the unimaginative GM ruin it? Was it perhaps the realisation that this unimaginativeness was going to go on...forever? Game after game after game of this same behaviour? Or if not forever, for as long as the GM deemed it should go on?
His lack of imagination only ruined it because he didn't seek to make the dungeons or the combats interesting. It was; check for traps, go down corridor, open door, monsters charge & use their basic attacks, stomp them, find treasure, repeat.

I want to break up the strange, interesting and tricky combats with fun and dangerous problems that don't involve smashing an orc or finding three gems to open a door. (not that those things aren't tried and true cliches or anything!)

Plus, I know all of the pre-4e D&D monsters forwards and back from reading monster manuals as a kid. =P

Quote
What if the campaign was only going to run for 10 sessions, do you think you might have stuck it out instead?
Our D&D campaigns rarely lasted more than four sessions! The only time we got passed level 10 was when we started out as level 5 bad guys.

Quote
Anyway, for what it's worth, I think I've tried to make smaller combat rules which are intensely exciting - in order to still be exciting after hundreds of sessions. But the fact is, if you do anything for long enough, you get sick of it. No one can design something so awesome it breaks that fact. So if I seem to be harping on about having an ending, fair enough, but you can see why it seems important to me (even if somehow it is not the case I take it to be).
Agreed. I have gamer's ADD really bad so I prefer easily digestible setups like Lady Blackbird and Empire of Dust... and the actual combat rules in this game I think are going to be a paragraph as most exceptions and interesting rules will come from the Abilities and Special Actions (which I think I'm going to call Delver's Actions or something).
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 05:04:20 PM »

Quote
Our D&D campaigns rarely lasted more than four sessions! The only time we got passed level 10 was when we started out as level 5 bad guys.
We actually would do that alot as a group in alot of systems (from warhammer to shadowrun and so on). It was actually D&D 3.5 where we actually went from first level all the way to level ~10. I think it was that the overall leveling structure was mechanically tied to each combat (as in what range of monsters to use and significant XP listed exactly for those monsters). Anyway, do you want to just do ~4 sessions? Or is that just how it turns out? If you could decide, what what would you want?
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2011, 06:47:24 PM »

I envision this game being used for campaigns lasting about five sessions. But that is for the dedicated few. I'm sure two or three sessions would be the norm. That is one of the reasons why I like PCs beginning with 3 Levels already.
Survivability doesn't increase at an alarming rate, even as the characters get into the higher levels. A few misplaced rolls and some weak strategic/tactical thinking and the party could very well get wiped out.

^ Thinking about that last statement... I think a "living" world would make these campaigns better. That way if your character dies in the Pits of Chaos... your next character might be the one to conquer those pits and claim his stuff. Of course, such corpses will be subject to necromancy and demonic possession.

I was also thinking about writing in a sort of variant to the way characters are built. PCs begin with no Levels and only 1 piece of equipment, as opposed to 3 and 3... however, each player gets two or three of these characters. Whomever survives the 1st dungeon becomes a "real" PC.
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2011, 05:01:52 PM »

I've considered that 'start off with multiple characters who are very vulnerable to death'. I think it has exciting potential, because instead of the personality one would like to survive, one likely end up with a persona that wouldn't have been ones first choice to play on to herodom. Thus taking a person out of their comfort zone a bit. I would actually recommend that once a players lost all but one character, the final one instantly gains full PC stats (as it'd be rather drab for that last one to die or for the GM to pussy foot around (which is simply doing the same thing as giving it full PC stats, but not explicitly so in the rules)). I think having it would really help with word of mouth, which is important for RPG game distribution (free or otherwise). Good luck with it, Matthew!
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2011, 05:57:20 PM »

I think that would be a fine idea, actually. You could even describe it in game as a moment of awakening or finally hearing the call of the hero or some such cheesiness.

I'm not about gritty fantasy so epic and heroic fantasy moments like that would feel cheesy in a good way. =P

Thanks for the well-wishing... Once I get a revision of the text done, I'll make another post here for folks' perusal.
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
zircher
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Posts: 31

Have gun. Will travel.


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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2011, 11:28:01 AM »

Has the revised edition been posted?
--
TAZ
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2011, 01:42:40 PM »

Has the revised edition been posted?
Thanks for the interest, but not yet. I ran into an issue with the D6 roll under mechanic, particularly... my issue arose with a dislike for the way that opposed attack rolls were working. I'm going to move in a different direction with this game it looks like. I'll keep the roll under but I might expand the numbers to fit D%.

It seems I went and posted an idea before I really had it hammered out. =P

I'm usually wary of the D% but I do like its wide range of numbers. I'm combining that with the way most JRPGs and SRPGs handle attack/defense; the attacker has a 100% chance of hitting... but the defender's evasion ability lowers this. Thus, attackers don't really have a "to hit" stat so much as the defender has a "to dodge" stat. Resource-based blocking will be available for some and a few special abilities will alter evasion as well. The only normal on-the-fly calculation that would be needed is the critical hit range and that can mostly be ignored unless the dice rolled are pretty close to the actual evasion value.

Because of the D% range, I can add some more interesting doodads to the weapons and armor, as well. Still, I want to keep it as painfully simple as possible.
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
zircher
Member

Posts: 31

Have gun. Will travel.


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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2011, 02:01:01 PM »

I could see rolling (yuk, yuk) with the 'to dodge" stat.  When combined with a good armor system, you can get a fairly elegant combat simulation that has built in logic for touch based attacks/magic.  And, it could be easily argued that a competent (100% accuracy) swordsman should hit the log every time.
--
TAZ
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MacLeod
Member

Posts: 230


« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2011, 09:54:30 PM »

Agreed. :)
The game's genre changed from dungeon survival fantasy to tactical dungeon destroying fantasy.

Of course, all of that can be dialed down to something more grimdark if one wanted to... I just always fall into this trap where I want my fantasy more heroic and less mundane. That may or may not be a detriment to my ability as a designer but... I figure I should just design to my strengths and create something I actually enjoy.

Plus, I think pre-3.x D&D has dungeon survival fantasy down pretty good already. My beef is with modern heroic fantasy. =P

When combined with a good armor system, you can get a fairly elegant combat simulation that has built in logic for touch based attacks/magic.
You'll probably think my armor system is stupid, as it simply adds to one's Fighting Spirit (Hp). But before you call it stupid, my reasoning first... I really wanted to build this game for incredible speed.
I'm losing a bit on that goal for two distinct reasons off the top of my head; requiring players to throw two dice per Check instead of one and the inclusion of a Hp-like system instead of something like a Kill Save or tokens.
So, long story short... adding in an armor system that deducts points from points that will deduct points isn't something I wanted. 'specially since damage is (mostly) static for strategic consistency so some kind of wound multiplier system would fall short without a damage randomizer.

Quote
And, it could be easily argued that a competent (100% accuracy) swordsman should hit the log every time.
Definitely. The game is suppose to be about heroic folks. From the beginning, I wanted the game to be about Success. Attackers hit, special effects work, damage is consistent... You know, things you can count on. Create stratagems with.
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~*/\Matthew Miller/\*~
zircher
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Have gun. Will travel.


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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2011, 04:17:42 AM »

I'm not one for calling any design stupid when it is simple and does the job intended.

Adding to HP is just an ablative armor system where HP comes off of armor first.  There are a few things that might act as exceptions to that rule, poison blow gun darts and magic/non-ablative armor.  Would like to hear your thoughts on those.  Even shield spells that wear away would easily fit in that system.  There's a little bit of player strategy in there when a player has to tell the GM if they're taking it on the shield or armor.  Similarly, the armor repair skill/feat/talent would 'heal' armor.  When expended, a shield or suit of armor is not magically destroyed, it's just been rendered shoddy and ineffective at protection.

The armorer may be as important as the cleric after the battle.  :-)
--
TAZ
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