Monthly Archives: April 2006

Graphics Card Woes

If you're handy with computers, please check out this thread here:

Reserve System: The Power 19

From here: 

1.) What is your game about?

The Reserve system is about resource management and cool powers.
The Shattered Vistas, the setting the game is being designed around, is about a dark and broken world.
2.) What do the characters do?

The characters hunt through ruins for forgotten relics of a bygone age, weild dangerous magics, and ultimately have to decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to let the very fabric of reality exist just a little bit longer.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

There is a traditional player/GM breakdown.  The players (including the GM) make decisions about how they will spend their in-game resources, and explore the dichotomy of preservation of the one and preservation of the whole.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The Shattered Vistas are a dying, and hostile world.  Players must use their resources wisely to achieve their goals.  Restoring the Vistas is an uphill battle, and the more meaningful the restoration, the greater the cost.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

Character creation features a number of nifty crunchy bits to choose from, and optimizing a character is half the fun. 

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

The game rewards knowing the rules and using them.  You can’t just sit back and roll the dice.  To survive, you need to actively spend what you have.  You can’t just sit back and let the game play you.
Characters need to go out and face the world and the mounting problems, and not just sit at home, or even set out to make things worse.
Character death should not be severely punished.
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

I’m not sure yet.I’m pondering the idea of stages of corruption in the vista.  Facing a stage of corruption, whether its resolved or not, yeilds a reward.  Deciding that the price isn’t worth it needs to be a valid choice.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

So far, traditionally, with the GM assuming the majority.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

There’s the stick:  if they don’t care, they’re likely going to die.  Hopefully the setting of the Vistas will be bleak enough that the players genuinely want to see it change for the better.
10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

Roll a die pool of d6s based on a Stat, add appropriate bonuses, and spend points from a relevant Reserve.  4’s and above are successes, and 6’s have the ability to do extra damage to others.  All rolls are opposed, either by another character, or the setting itself.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

The Reserve points: you have enough of them that they’ll come up often, but not enough that it’s always an easy expenditure.  The setting gets a die pool based on how dangerous the place you are is, this reinforces the whole “reality sucks and is out to get us” idea.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

Yes.  They get new powerups and stat boosts.  It’s likely going to look something like Savage Worlds.  (note-unspent Reserve points do not turn into XP.  Use them or lose them.)

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

When characters advance they get new powers and abilities, and game-play options.  It’s not about having a bigger number; it’s about having a greater variety of choices.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players? I want the players to squirm and think hard about what their next move is going to be.  I want the players to look at the setting and say, “wow, someone needs to do something about this.”

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

Setting and Magic.  The theme doesn’t have any teeth unless the setting is sufficiently bleak and detailed.  The magic system is also key to the whole theme of self-sacrifice.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

I’m really keen on making a mechanics systems where players have to make meaningful decisions every action.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?

It does post-apocalypse straight-faced, unlike say, Deadlands.  At the very least, the resource-based conflict system should be new.
18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

Get a print-book available for sale online and make some extra cash on the side of my real job, and maybe end up making 2-5 supplements.

19.) Who is your target audience?

Conflict/mechanics focused (i.e. Gamist) players for the system.  White-Wolf fans for the dark setting.

Buy Guild Wars: Factions

Guild Wars factions came out Thursday for us special pre-order folks.  It rocks, even harder than the orginal Guild Wars.  If you don't play Guild Wars, now's the best time ever to get in.  Why?  I'll tell you why… in the form of a top ten list!

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Buy Guild Wars: Factions

10: The tutorial information and area is amazing.  It's also skippable for those who don't like that kind of thing.

9: There's a spot waiting for you in the Iron Dragon Society.

8: Tengu!  What's not to like about malevolent sword-weilding bird-men?

7: Kaineng City is awesomely huge.  It's a third of a continent.  It has street-to-street fighting against outlaw guilds.

6:  Many maximum quality items can be bought from NPC vendors, and certain high level areas drop specific maximum quality items with high regularity, making acquiring high-end gear possible for all.

5: Semi-regular free-updates!  Three of the most popular areas in the game, the Underworld, the Fissure of Woe, and Sorrow's Furnace were NOT included in the original release, and were added into the game as a free expansion!

4: There's 8 professions to choose from, and you get a secondary, so there's FIFTY-SIX class options.  Furthermore, each class has 150 to 200 skills to choose from, and you can only have 8 equipped at a time, so variety within the classes themselves is huge.

3: Plus, you can change your skills at any town, and later in the game you can even freely change your secondary profession.  Endless variety!

2: You hit level 20 early, and the vast majority of the game is level 20 content.  No grind, just challenge.

1:  No Monthy Fee!

The Xbox Is Fun

So I am borrowing the XBox of one of my friends. It is really darn fun. I have a PS2, and I honestly couldn’t compare the systems on a hardware level, but the controller layout seems alot easier to handle.

Crimson Skies is awesome. You fly planes around and shoot stuff. And fly planes around. I do the craziest stunts. Because I can. There’s like a railroad tunnel that trains go through, right?

It’s just barely big enough for you to fly through the tunnel. With a plane! Booyah!
(And no, there wasn’t even a power up there. I did it BECAUSE I COULD!)

There’s also Nazis. And Nazi Robots. And Zepellins. And Nazi Zepellins. And Nazi Robot Zepellins. And no, I’m not making any of this up.

Jade Empire is also awesome. It has RPG-style customizable statistics, and a really cool fighting engine. The whole thing really feels true to the Wuxia style. You can collect special techniques and styles and stuff and your enemies all like “you cannot withstand my Dire Flame Fist Style!” and I’m all like “oh yeah?! My Tiger Claw style is superior!” and then they’re like “what, can it be? The Iron Body Technique? I should have known!” and I’m like BULLET TIME! But it’s with a sword, so it’s like SWORD TIME!

But seriously, Jade Empire is rocking awesome. I really want to play a Wuxia RPG right now.

Maybe I Should Have Been a Wargamer

Recently I played the Doom boardgame, and I have to say, man, that's really fun.  In a way, more fun than alot of my rpg experiences.  The game is suprisingly tactical.  There's alot of stuff to think about.  I haven't played a tactical combat this satisfying since I ran D&D (pre-burnout).

Should I be focusing on wargames instead of rpgs?  Probably not.  They look dreadfully boring, although Mordhiem rocked my socks off.  (And I've essentially been there, done that, commanded armies at a time as a D&D GM.)

I'm looking forward to running another Savage Worlds thing.  This time I'm going to pull out some of the more interesting tactical options, whip out the battlemap and burst templates and really go to town.  But I'd rather be *playing* in a really cool tactical Savage Worlds game.  Or D&D.  Or Shadowrun.  Or Exalted 2nd Edition.  But run them?  No thanks.

Bizarrely, the one game I'm playing in is L5R 3rd (which is much better than the older editions), and I'm playing a shugenja, which don't seem immediately gamable.  Perhaps as I accumulate more and more spells I'll have more options, but it seems like there's alot more chargen options for samurai.

(Maybe if Koihime dies, Alex will let me play Kakita Jun, tainted-from-birth duelist.  Who doesn't think she's tainted.  Overpowered yes, but with a tragic backstory!)


Word of the Day: Vengenda

n: An agenda heavily or entirely featuring vengance as a key activity.

ent: derivative of the phrase "Vengance is on the Agenda."

Correct Usage: "Gee, Steven Stegal sure has a busy vengenda."

Incorrect Usage:  "I have to go see a gynecologist; my vengenda's infected again."

Errata is Change is Good

Maybe its just me.  Maybe I have a near-superhuman level of perception.  Maybe I'm just obsessively anal retentive.  Maybe it's both.

I can't read an RPG and *not* find errors everywhere.  Not just spelling, gramatical, and formatting errors.  Rules inconsistencies, grey areas, obvious numberical errors, broken mechanics, etc.  I will find them.  (This sometimes drives people around me insane, as I try to convince them what the rules really are.  Between games, of course.)

It amazes me how these things can make it into production.  I'm a writer, and I know that the first draft always comes out looking nothing like you expected it to.  (Case in point:  my own Council of Magisters a 2006 Game Chef entry.  But CoM isn't being published for money.  I haven't run it past an editor, and it's only in its second draft.  It's got a long journey ahead of it before I start trying to get money for it.

Of course, lots of editors are there for the spelling and grammar, not the rules.  So I can forgive them for letting a product with some conceptual errors ship.

What I can't forgive is a company not mantaining an errata page.

I am insane about errata.  I pencil it into my books.  For books with extensive errata, I have printed out significant paragraphs and physically taped them into my book over the erroneous sections.  (Epic Level Handbook, updated using the 3.5 SRD information, and Shadowrun 4th Edition, 1st Printing)

WotC and FASA (and now Wizkids for SR) have been great about errata pages.  They're the gold standard.  (The D&D line is plagued with errata, which is unfortunate, but at least WotC does something about it.)

For a long time, I thought White Wolf was one of the worst contenders.  Sure, they have some errata posted, but not for any books that have come out in the last few years.  (I still have my homespun Exalted Mortal Thaumaturgy Clarifications file around somewhere.  They did finally say what the xp costs for it were, but theres a new edition so its water under the bridge.)  Some of the stuff they've done is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.  They correct it some of the time.

But I recently picked up L5R 3rd edition, and have found numerous things I had issues with.  I went online to see if there was an official errata page, and AEG's official L5R website has none.(  That's even worse than White Wolf.

So here's what to do for success:

*Your product is going to have errors in it.  Correcting them improves your game.

*Have people on your staff who look for this sort of thing.  (Why yes, I am willing to do freelance editing work.)

*People who read your product will find errors.  Solicit feedback from your fans.  Compile it.  Find the problem, and solve it.  Regularly update errata pages.  Once a month is not too much to ask.  If you do not have someone in charge of errata and clarifications, get one.  (Why yes, I am willing to do freelance Errata and Clarification Management.)

*As economically feasible, publish new printings (not editions), with the improved rules in place.

I Do Not Want to Write a Fan Supplement

There's alot of fan supplements out there on the internet for roleplaying games.  Mage converted to BESM!  Fading Suns converted to 7th Sea!  Mage converted to GURPS!  (I've seen all three!)  Bigger and better robots for Exalted!  Near-infinite D&D spells, feats, and prestige classes!

I do not want to write a fan supplement.  I do not want to work on your game on my own time.  I want to be working on my own game, which I can publish, with my own name on it, funded by my own creative efforts, and putting a couple of bucks into my own pocket.  If I'm going to be spending dozens, or even hundreds of hours on something, I had better be the one reaping the rewards, not you.

So I do not want to augment your Already Published and Famous Role Playing Game.  I want to write my own from the ground up.

Why Willowrants?

Because I took a look at the number of files I would have to upload to princessbill, and decided the memory useage probably wasn't worth it.

Because was taken.

Because was taken.

Because,, and were all taken.

 Anyway: Premise:  The People's Republic of Prester John.  Discuss.

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