Thursday, January 28, 2010

Monster makre

Yes, Im french canadian now

So my next mental hurdal (man i wish I was getting this all typed up as fast as I'm figureing it out) is monsters.

A game setting requires lots of monsters, and I have all the consepts, I just need to get them all stat-ed. Ug, I hate stats.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Magic XP

So let’s say you earn some XP.

In a classless system you spend the XP directly on skill points, ability modifiers, etc. If you want a character attribute improved you use the currency of XP points.

In a classed system, you accrue XP and when you have enough, you gain a new level with new cooler stuff.

What about a magic item creation system that creates a type of hybrid between these two ideas. What if there were classes but upon receiving XP it was not automatically applied to your level? What if you received XP, but then kept it, in a proverbial “bank”?

From the ‘bank’ you could certainly “cash in” your XP to put toward your next level. But with it you could do other things as well.

Because I’ve been contemplating it recently, what comes to mind first is Magic Item creation. What if you could take that ‘banked’ XP and apply it to an item. Once the item had accrued enough XP, it would qualify for an “item enhancement feat”. This ‘feat’ would grant the item magical properties.

The next thing that comes to mind is powering High Magic spells. Much like in D&D, some spells have a XP cost. This cost would come out of the ‘bank’ rather than the XP spent on the character. This way, casters could not cast themselves down a level. (Not that I know anyone that this has actually happened to, but still theoretically.)

Now to address the comment made on the last magic item post, The reason I would have them be feats and not an "imbue" ability is, that if I as a player don't want to imbue something with magic power, i don't have to. With a feat, I can decide, "oh I don't want to magic up my sword anymore, I think I'll take 'Mounted Combat' instead".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I'm going to try and playtest Spider this weekend just to see where the kinks are.

and I'm thinking

Magic items

Monday, January 25, 2010

Magic Items ARE dumb

No, Magic items are cool, but the fact that everyone gets their items from "Magic R Us" is dumb. I think everyone should have a magic item or two or seven, but it should be your magic item. not one you just bought with all your shwag.

I'm liking more and more the idea that you make the items magical, not some wizard who cast a "cool item" spell on it. I also like that they grow with you so when you first get your awesome "+3 Guitar of Love" and it's so cool, you dont have to go buy a cooler one 4 levels later because now the +3 bonus just doesn't cut it anymore.

Burning feats to magic up your items could get costly, so the obvious answer is to give more feats.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fun Post

Alright it's a link, you caught me.

Even though I haven't seen either of these movies, I somehow feel that this is a ridiculously accurate compare/contrast.
Why District 9 is better than Avatar

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Magic Items

In the Spider setting, I am using a concept I refer to OOG as "magical pollution" (the same way George Lucas refers to lightsabers as "laser swords"). Similar to the rules in Unearthed Arcana (3.0), a character can take feats that grant him minor magical boons do to being exposed to magic.

I am thinking of having magic items work the same way. Over time they accrue experience and qualify for, perhaps, some sort of "item enhancement" feat?

Just a thought as of yet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Bah. I don't know why I've been so gamer-brain dead lately.

It probably has something to do with my wife being out of town. I haven't done any work on Spider this week.

I have been thinking about my experience point system. How I want it to be as simple as possible. the d&d (3.x) way wasn't complex per se, but the totals were huge. What was it? 2500 for second level? I don't have my books here with me.

I wish there was a way to have a relative experience system. If the monster was very very challenging, give X amount of experience. If the monster was less challenging, then give Y amount. So, if a 1st level party fought a tribe of goblin barbarians they would get X, while a 10th level party would get Y, far less than X.

This brings up the idea, couldn't a party make an easy situation difficult, by say not buffing up before a fight, to get more XP? This could be construed as power game-y. Should a party that intentionally pulls punches get more of a reward?

What about the scene in "A Princess Bride" where Inigo Montoya fights the Dread Pirate Roberts. Before the fight Inigo says, "I'll have to do it left handed". He was purposefully making it difficult, to try to even up the fight for Roberts. If he had won with his left hand, should he have gotten more experience?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heist: RPG style

I was commenting in Rob Donahue’s blog, Some Space to Think, but decided that it was too long, and a good excuse for a post.

The only time I have ever been involved in a “caper” in an RPG was in a game of D&D. The party had been adventuring together for a while so we were familiar with each other’s abilities.

The target was a very influential council member of an Arcane Empire. We did some research and found out he was throwing a big party. During the party we had to locate, and breach the secret vault door. All of us had to get inside. Then we had to find the object, I can’t remember what we were stealing, some sort of Mcguffin. After all that we had to get out.

Figuring out how to get us all into the party was a blast. Some of us had invites, some were disguised and waiters. It was a lot like the scene in Mission Impossible. I remember I was posing as one of the invitee’s footmen.

The really fun part was seeing our plan work in MOST areas and in the places it didn’t watching each of us use our specialties to fix the problems.

So I guess to answer Rob's train of thought, I think that you have to let your players defeat the bad guy with their plan, and sometimes that means that they dont ever have to actually fight or even see the bad guy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday: Funday WEEEEEE!

Boring post: Favorite movies ever.
Organised by genre.

Sci-fi: Star Wars: ANH, Dune (Sci-fi channel version)
Action: Die Hard, Equilibrium
Horror: Jaws, Night of the Living Dead
Comedy: Sean of the Dead, Three Amigos
Heist: Ocean’s 11, Snatch
Kung – Fu: Mafia vs. Ninja, Hero
TV: Firefly, MST3K Wait no, Spaced, the British TV series
Drama: Braveheart

I know, I know, Jaws isn't a horror movie, but it's the only movie to continually scare me.
And I know Equilibrium is sci-fi
Deal with it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

an Alignment by any other name

An anonymous made a good point in the comments yesterday. Sometimes in an RPG we, as players, immediately know our character. I’m the Diplomat; I’m the Curious Cat; I’m the Big Dummy.

Other times though our characters are more ethereal, we aren’t sure what our character would do in a given situation. What if your alignment was the result of a short questionnaire? Unfortunately I don’t think the general population would take the time to let a questionnaire tell them what their character’s personality was. Most gamers I know would reverse engineer the survey and just pick what they wanted anyway.

So what are the criteria?
Doesn’t affect the characters mechanically.
Doesn’t use convolutable terms like law, good, chaos, etc.
Helps players define what their character’s actions would be vs. what their actions would be.

How about Reckless vs. Conservative
I think this is very appropriate considering the western genre. Many western characters can be graded on how reckless or careful they are.

And because I think it’s clever White Hat vs. Black Hat
I think this would be a good way to do it, but it could potentially have the same problems as good vs. evil

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Magic Fuel and Good Humor

Well I think I have cracked the magical nut. Today I transferred my magic damage blueprints to healing spells. I have made it cost more to heal than to damage. I did this because it is easer to stab someone in the eye than to fix someone’s eye. It also makes the world a little bit grittier. Now I just need to fiddle around with power levels, manna quantities per level and all that fun stuff.

I was also thinking of an alignment system and harkened back to my high school literature days to remember the four Humors: Sanguine, Melancholy, Phlematic, and Choleric. I know I know this isn’t an “alignment” per se. Bad people aren’t melancholy while the good are Sanguine. But I dislike the limitations mechanical alignments put on players. I do like having a system to help direct players, especially inexperienced players, in their character creation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

7 things to do today

Sorry about the no post yesterday. I was sick and my car’s in the shop. Sad.


Over the weekend I went through and prioritized all the things I need to do for Spider, from finishing the writing to having it printed to selling it. The things I think I need to have done [I emphasize ‘done’ because ‘finishing the book’ should be the first thing I work on, but I know it will be a work in progress till the end] by this year are as follows:

1) Register the Domain / setup the website. – Early 2010
I think I need to do this now so that I’ll have these when I need them.

2) Playtest, Playtest, Playtest – Mid 2010
I’ve somewhat already started this, but I really need to get serious. Unfortunately before I can sit down and run a pure Spider game, I need to finish the Magic system. I’ve got a working blueprint for damaging spells, so I just need to transfer that to healing, curses, buffs etc. Then it just needs refined.

3) Form the Business – Late 2010
I’m not sure if I’ll do a DBA, LLC, or go all out and INC. I know I’ll need to do something so I can be ready for 2011.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Post: New Boots

This will be my last post for this week. I'll try to stick to this posting schedule in the future as well (m-f).

On Monday I got some new boots of 90% leather construction. I quickly realized that new leather boots are much harder to break in than new shoes. But I'm looking forward to the challenge and the reward of good boots.

It also led me to think about new years' resolutions. I'm not usually into that sort of thing but I've made two for this year.
1) Write one letter to my congressman.
2) Start introducing myself as a Game Designer.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

3d6: Feels Like Chicken

While thinking about going to a d6 based system, my wife brought up something that I think I never would have thought about. She said that using only d6’s “felt” less magical. I had to stop and ask for clarification. She meant that using the polyhedral dice gives the game an innately “mystical” feel. The unfamiliarity of the strangely shaped dice lend themselves to a magical theme. I do intend to include magic in “spider” so I am weighing this heavily.

What ‘feel’ do you lose by using just plain old dice? Is that loss acceptable to highlight other aspects of the setting? The recently released Dragon Age uses an all d6 system. I’ve read some things about and it sounds like people like the game, but I think it’s too early to tell how game play “feels” without the other dice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

3d6: HP / Level

“But what about Hit Dice?”
Yes, If you remove all dice but d6’s you can no longer say this class has dX hit points while this class has dY. I have so far come up with three solutions to this. Spider only has three classes so that makes it a little easier.

1: Easy but Unfair.
Take the lesser (casting) class; assign it 1d6-2
Take the middle class; assign it 1d6
Take the greater (fighter) class; assign it 1d6+2

This option is easy to implement but severely inhibits the caster. It gives them a 50% chance of rolling a 1 on their Hit Die. The fighter on the other hand has no chance of getting less than 3.

2: Hard but Fair-er
Take the casting class; assign it 1d3
Take the middle class; assign it 1d6
Take the fighter class; assign it 1.5d6

This option requires a little more thought when rolling but spreads out the points more evenly. Caster has 33% chance for each, Fighters spread is 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9. I honestly like this option but I don’t think people would like to do the math for 1 ½ d6.

3: Mostly Easy and Possibly Fair
Take the casting class; assign it 1d6
Take the middle class; assign it 2d6 & take the best
Take the fighter class; assign it 3d6 & take the best

Alright, my wife came up with this and I find it the most intriguing. It’s relatively easy, requires no math, but the numbers are a little ethereal for me. (I’m no probabilitition or statition or even a spellatition) Another problem that it has is it makes char-gen difficult for characters > 1st LVL

All of these have limitations and draw-backs and the best solution may to not have hit points / level even be a function of the dice, but some static number.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

3d6: On the Offence

Yesterday I talked about how 3d6 causes average rolling. In combat that means fewer Critical Hits, but also fewer critical failures. One way to compensate for fewer critical hits is to increase the odds. Say instead of crit-ing on a natural 18 (.46% chance with 3d6) that you crit on a 16 or higher (something like a 4.6% chance). This makes the odds of criting go up to be about on par with D&D. You could likewise increase the odds for “fumbles” if so desired.

On the other hand instead of making them more frequent, you could make Critical hits mean more. The standard (read D&D) method for rewarding high rolls in combat was to have you confirm your critical hit with another d20 roll, then deal double damage. This was nice but did not necessarily mean that your hit dealt any more than a regular hit depending on how much damage you rolled. With a poor damage roll you could end up feeling like you “wasted” a Crit.

In a vitality point system, where a character has an amount of hit points and an amount of vitality points equal to his CON modifier, a critical hit could bypass the hit points and deal straight vitality damage with a good damage roll you could severely hurt an opponent, and that’s what players want when they crit.

One of the, at first, unseen benefits of moving to a 3d6 system, is the ability to “enrichen” the dice. Let’s say you were to use this 3d6 crazy thing. What if then, all your damage was based around the d6. You could eliminate the need for damage dice because your attack and damage are the SAME roll. This means that when you Crit, you’ll probably really Crit.

Tomorrow I’ll go in to Hit Die

Monday, January 4, 2010

3d6: Average is Good

If everyone is special, then really no one is.

The first thing to take into account in using 3d6 instead of 1d20 is the fact that you end up with a much more average roll. With 1d20 you have a 5% chance of rolling any number. This means that you are just as likely to roll an 18 as an 8. In game, this means that, barring bonuses, you are just as likely to shoot the bad guy in the head, as to shoot his goat.

With a 3d6 however you have a similar range of numbers, 3-18, as opposed to ,1-20, but you are much more likely to get the result of a 10. This is because there is only one combination of dice that gets 18, three 6’s. There are twenty-four combinations that get you 10. In game this means that spectacular success and failures happen fewer and farther between.

This makes the numbers on your character sheet matter more. If you are more likely to land a few points from 10 on a die roll, then you can't roll hoping to get that 17 so you'll succeed. Your bonuses will mean a lot more. And in an RPG your bonuses and your character sheet are you. So this means that your character is more important than the dice you roll. This character is good at basket weaving not just a PC on a lucky streak.

Tomarrow I'll go over what this does to combat.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas and New Years

Phew. Havent been able to post due to Holidays.

During my work vacation I finally broke down and thought good and hard about changing "spider" from a d20 to a 3d6 system. I like the idea and I think I'll delve more into all the ramifications one at a time, this week.