Friday, 30 March 2012

Playing around

So, I've had very little time to play around with some of my options. When I have though they do work, maybe need a few more play runs to get them fine tuned, but it is very quick and it does lead from one thing to another. However there are some ground rules needed I believe:

Plenty of goals
Each character needs at least one or two goals, possibly more. These can be personal goals, and probably should be, this ensures that there is always something to do and means that different goals can be affected by events, where they are more appropriate to the circumstances.

Still need to keep a list of NPCs that can be referrenced back to. I think that maybe I was a little harsh on this on my previous post, if I were gaming face to face I'd have to keep a list of NPCs anyway so the fact I'm going solo just pushes that responsiblity onto me.

Random encounters
I feel like I need random encounter tables. Just drawing the cards tells me something, it just doesn't fill in the complete picture. If you've read the rest of the blog you will know that I've struggled with this in the past anyway, so it's nothing new!

A mission
The game needs to set off with a specific mission I feel, or to decide on one very soon into play. I admit I could be completely wrong, but if there isn't a mission then one of the player drives/goals needs to be substituted in otherwise there is nowhere to go (a fairly common complaint with sandbox-style games). Ideally the mission should be multi-faceted, having only one clear goal doesn't give much scope for subplots that can derail the game and lead to intrigue and excitement. It might be a requirement to have a random mission generator, undecided as yet.

So where do I go with this? I guess I need to source the following:

A big list of character goals (I guess it's lucky I've got one of them floating around somewhere for a long forgotten project! I will post it if people are interested)

Random encounter tables (I have got a few, but generic ones are never generic enough for me, there's always some bias, usually towards fantasy, I'd like to create my own. In the meantime I'll state my references)

Mission generator (again I have a few, I'd really like to sit down and make a truly generic one that could be used for this system. Again I'll state my references)

Name lists (thankfully I have The Everyone Everywhere List, the best money a soloist can spend! But I still need ones for other settings, villages, ships etc.)

Until next time Steve

Friday, 23 March 2012

Themes and chart

OK, so last time I hashed together a very quick table to show how the card drawing mechanic could be used. I've pondered the table a little longer and come up with this, for the interim at least:

A PC positive
2 PC negative
3 NPC positive
4 NPC negative
5 Social
6 Senses
7 Item
8 Location
10 Escalation
J Subplot
Q Subplot progress
K Subplot complication
Joker Change a theme

I think this shows promise, alright it is similar to Mythic's focus table, but with the added theme it could work. Of course I could leave positive and negative out and require a Fate question to determine this, this would then give greater scope to include more types of event, perhaps a bit like this:

3 Social
4 Senses
5 Item
6 Location
7 Escalation
8 Subplot
9 Subplot interruption
10 Subplot alteration
J Physical
Q Intellectual
K Combat

As to themes, there are so many, just to start:
Love, Desire, Tragedy, Fortune, Personal, Action, Mystery, Specific character goal/motiviation, Monstrous, Friends, Enemies, Horror, Crime, Mundane, Mystical, Fantastic, People, Martial, Economic, Warfare, Weather/Environmental, Religon, Social, Alien, Family, Government/Authority, Zombies!, Physical, Intellectual, Nemesis/Joker/<Insert named archenemy here>, Darkness, Romance, Glory, Courtly favour, Saxons/Trojans/<Insert people type here>, Police

I've not thought these through connected to the tables, just chucked them out of my subconcious so many may not entirely fit but I hope this gives some you ideas if you want to playtest, and please do!
Also don't forget to use your themes to inform your questions. A Zombies!, Action!x2, Darkness game would require questions like 'Is the zombie unarmed?', 'Is it light enough to see?', 'Does the door hold?'. While a Mystery game might have more questions like 'Are there any tracks?', 'Can I hear anything?', 'Are there any knives in the kitchen?'. Only a subtle difference but one will build tension, while pure action demands that it is in your face.

To chuck in another alternative that occured to me, you could treat Spades as Positive, Hearts Negative, Diamonds Ambiguous and Clubs as New, rather than have any themes at all (at least tied to the cards), hmmm.

I guess now I just need to find the time to sit down and playtest all of these designs and see which work best, or at all!

Until next time Steve

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Solo gaming re-think

Following on from a post on JF's Solo Nexus blog (a must if you want to explore all solo role-playing opportunities) by Carsten, I've been thinking about Mythic. I think this story needs to be told from the start:

A long time ago, in a galaxy very, very near I didn't own Mythic and toyed with the idea of creating my own Mythic-like system. Unfortunately it was a little complicated and relied on lots of tables, mostly from Starblazer Adventures with a linking chart or two.

Then I took the plunge and bought Mythic and I've been happy dabbling with it for a while, and indeed am in the process of using it 'properly' for my Cardinal's Blades inspired game. But something Carsten alluded to in his post about it being too complicated struck a bit of a chord.

In a bizarre twist of fate on the FU RPG Yahoo Group one member recently posted a write up using just the standard FU results, for those not familiar with this free game the possible results are:
6 Yes, and...
5 Yes
4 Yes, but...
3 No, but...
2 No
1 No, and...

To further explain, you start with one die (I call this the standard or static die, but this is unofficial, you always start with one die!), if the situation is difficult (the opponent has a skill you don't for example) you roll a Penalty die and read the Worst Result. Similarly if you have a net advantage, you roll a Bonus die (or two) and read the Best Result. As an aside get this game now, it is free and adds so much more than this very simple breakdown, with extremely little added complexity.

I was intrigued, but the scene setup and random events are instrinsic parts of Mythic so I was quite happy to dismiss it and carry on with Mythic. Now combine this with Carsten's thinking also using standard d6 and my mind is buzzing with my earlier thoughts. While thinking about this I thought about using cards (following on from my dabbles with using cards for AHQ!) and instantly Savage Worlds sprang to mind (more on this later), so now that the story's out the way and to make things clearer, I'm going to swap to headings that zero in on the situation in my mind.

Mythic is too complicated, particulalry in random event creation (is this why there are a few online Mythic generators?)
There are too many things to remember to make the process super smooth, updating lists, the Chaos Factor etc.
I'm a d6 type of guy recently, swapping to a different die type, while seemingly trivial, is a slight hassle (especially when you have to roll it four times in a row)

Keeping everything broad and generic, while avoiding blandness
Adding any unnecessarily complication
A system with difficult interpretation
Requiring too many random tables, or lookup sheets
Something not reinforcing the game feel that the player is looking for

Possible solutions
Using the standard FU die roll for gaming questions, with bonus and penalty dice for greater and lesser probabilities (per the FU write up)
Rolling an additional die (or die type) to determine whether a random event occurs
Something using cards to generate a random event?

Current thinking:
Yes, I will use the standard FU rules with probabilities affecting the dice rolled
I will use a single d20, if this equals the result die (i.e highest bonus die, or lowest penalty die, or the standard die) then a random event occurs (this probability is in line with Mythic at Chaos Factor 5), although could also just use 1 or 20.
When a random event occurs draw one playing card from the deck and compare it to a chart.
Interpret the event and carry on!
I think this is a much simpler system, with the scope for quite a bit of customisation, and therefore genercisim or modification appropriate to the player's game.

But how does this do that?
The answer is in the comparison chart. My initial thoughts are somewhat hazy but I'm currently thinking that each suit should be assigned a 'Theme', for example in Savage Worlds there are interludes keyed to Love (Hearts), Desire (Spades), Tragedy (Clubs), and Fortune (Diamonds), in SW these are used to push a player to generate a backstory with that theme while there is an interlude in action.

These Themes can be chosen at the beginning of the session, specific to that game. As an example for my Cardinal's Blades game I could choose Action! (C), Personal (H), Horror (D) and Mundane (S), so when I draw 7S I get a mundane event. The numbers could also be used to lend interpretation (this where it gets fuzzy!) say:

A Benefit
2 Adversity
3 Enemy
4 Encounter
5 Complication
6 Sign
7 Item
8 Escalation
9 Economic
10 Social
J Intellectual
Q Physical
K Change theme

Don't pay too much attention to this hasty table! It is just an example, in fact I would be happy to work it over with anybody interested. You could pick more themes of course and split the suits as you wished, or have five themes and tie one to the picture cards for example. As I said this is where it gets fuzzy. So going back to my 7S my player suddenly remembers he needs to get his sword repaired or a new hat, or I could ask a question or two to pinpoint.

On a downside this method also still requires character lists (and possibly others if the player wants them), I think it is going to be difficult to get away from these for the solo player, otherwise it could be a treadmill of new encounters with no two people the same.

Round up
So there you are, that's my current thinking, I'll continue to tinker with it as time allows, and continue with Mythic in the meantime, at least to finish my Cardinal's Blades game.

Until next time Steve

Friday, 9 March 2012

Elasticity of time

I've never really understood Einstein's relativity of time theory (I have only ever looked at it briefly in my defence), however that doesn't stop me wondering where my time goes.

I realise now that the luxury of miniatures is just a little too much, I need to streamline, so that means revisting my decision and instead selecting FU as my system. It's not a hard decision, FU is very light, and while AHQ allowed me to dream about minis, I just don't have the time to set it all up whenever I need to play.

This also adjusts my thinking on the random encouter tables. I'm going to go with Mythic, and if I need clarification I will roll on my new encounter chart:

1-40 Most expected category
41-65 Second most expected category
66-67 Arts/Entertainment
68-69 Authority
70-75 Civilian
76-77 Criminal
78 Medical
79-81 Merchantile
82-84 Military
85 Noble
86-87 Professional
88-89 Religious
90 Supernatural
91-100 Unusual

I'm also thinking of using this for the strength of the encounter, if I really need something random:

1-3 1d4 Mooks (1 Condition)
4-5 1d4 Mooks (2 Conditions)
6-7 1d4 Named (1 Condition)
8-9 1d4 Named (2 Conditions)
10 1d2 Full character

Until next time Steve