Yesterday I wrote that it was still a bit too early to talk about my projects. Today I think it’s already time to reveal at least some details to you, my dear readers. Yes, I made a lot of progress yesterday. It seems my creative juices are flowing.
First I have to admit that I don’t have one but two projects for NaGaDeMon this year. I thought this might increase my chances of at least getting one project done this year. Let’s hope it doesn’t achieve the opposite instead.
The first thing I am working on is Galaxy Core, the rules I wrote for NaGaDeMon 2012. The game used a d% for task resolution, which didn’t actually make that much sense, so I am now reworking it to a “d20 roll under” core mechanic. I also want to generally simplify things. If you are interested in what Galaxy Core looked like in 2012, feel free to check it out on the Stargazer Games website. Any feedback is highly appreciated, by the way!
The second project is … *drumrolls* … Warrior, Rogue & Mage Pocket Edition. It has been a couple of years since I last worked on anything WyRM-related and it felt way overdue. The Pocket Edition will be a simplified version of an already simple game. The first thing I did was to throw out skills and talents and rework the magic system. There’s no mana anymore, but there’s some backlash if spells fail which cause damage to the caster. I also made some major changes to the combat system. Overall I try to make things simpler, while keeping the spirit of the original game. This is actually harder than I expected, and it may take some while until it feels right. This new edition of WR&M will also be released under a more open license than the original game. It will – if I ever get it done – be my gift to all the WR&M fans out there. So stay tuned!
November is a special month for all budding game designers. It’s the NaGaDeMon, the National (or rather interNational) Game Design Month. A couple of years ago, Nathan Russell had the awesome idea to riff on the concept of NaNoWriMo, but give it a gamer-centric spin.
The idea behind NaGaDeMon is to create, write about, and playtest a game during the month of November. It doesn’t have to be the one game to rule them all, but as long as it works and the whole process is fun, you’ve “won”. There are no special prices, no prestigious awards, but the warm and fuzzy feeling that you created your own game in that limited time.
I’ve worked on NaGaDeMon projects myself over the years, but alas most of them weren’t really finished. I already have some ideas about a game to work on this time, but it’s way too early to write about. But I might be reusing some old ideas. I hope that’s in line with the official NaGaDeMon rules. So what are your plans? Have you already started working on your project? Please share your comments below!
Today I stumbled upon a blog post by John Wick about game balance, social skills, weapon lists etc. If you haven’t read it yet, please check it out and come back afterwards.
You’ve read it? Good. Welcome back! In his post Mr. Wick has tackled several issues. I already had some discussions about this post on Google+, but I thought writing a blog post would be a good idea. So, here it is.
Let’s first talk a bit about balance in games. I agree with his conclusion that balance between players is totally overrated. If you ever played a successful RIFTS campaign, you probably know that already. It’s not important that the player characters are on the same “power level” but everyone needs to get into the limelight from time to time. If someone is in the spotlight all the time, the game suffers.
He then somehow comes to the issue of weapon lists and brings the example of the famous “tea cup scene” in Chronicles of Riddick. His conclusion is that one should throw out weapon lists completely. I agree that weapons lists and other detailed stats don’t necessarily help to tell an exciting story, but they can help to set the mood of a game. A game like Shadowrun just doesn’t feel the same if you remove the incredibly long equipment lists. Part of the charm of the game is to go shopping and find the perfect gun for your character. Of course you can run a cyberpunk fantasy game without all this, but it’s just not Shadowrun anymore. In my opinion it’s a matter of taste and not a question of whether or not it makes sense from a design standpoint.
Last but not least let’s talk about the most controversial topic of the post: social skills. John Wick tells us that he usually throws out social skills and prefers if players act out their characters. You want to convince a NPC to do something? Let the player act it out. If the GM is convinced, no roll is needed. I somewhat agree with him that it’s better if you can solve social situations in roleplaying games by just acting them out. I even let players succeed if they convincingly played their character. This can of course lead to problems. What is if a player can’t or won’t act out the character? I don’t need to be able to fight with a sword as a player to play a master swordsman in a game, so why make a difference when it comes to social interactions?
I try to always encourage playing out social interactions in roleplaying games. I try to use first person speech and avoid situations like “my character says to your character”. So if a player acts out his or her character convincingly I might not ask for a roll. In a way it’s meant as an encouragement. In non-social situations, an interesting description of how a character tries to break a lock, attack an enemy etc. might also lead to at least a hefty bonus. Generally I try to favor a cool story over dice rolls anytime. BUT I try to never make things harder for the players who are not able to come up with colorful descriptions.
I’ve had a rather lengthy discussion with Chaotic/GM on that matter on Google+ and I have to admit his reasoning is very sound. Treating social interactions differently than non-social ones will give a certain type of player unfair advantages. So perhaps I should rethink my GMing style or at least modify it, so that everyone has a fair chance at the table. So what are your thoughts on the matter?