Diceless???

lunaMy Crazy Brain is trying to make me die a pauper. First, it led me to try a Fudge dice mechanic for Luna. Then it brought up a mechanic based on Yahtzee. I bought a slew of dice in anticipation of using these new systems, worked out some of the problems that popped up. . . and now it wants me to design Luna so that it doesn’t use dice.

DICELESS!!! For Heaven’s Sake!

So, the challenge is to build a mechanic that doesn’t make use of a randomizer, but will still be fun to play. For those of you not in the know when it comes to game design, there is a general prejudice against non-random games. This has mostly to do with the expectation that there won’t be any surprises. I can understand this. There is a thrill to gambling with the life of your character.

So how do I justify making use of diceless mechanics in Luna? The random element can also lead to a behavior called “turtling.” The player makes certain that their character only performs the safest moves and has as much protection as possible. Or they may put together some unbeatable attack that they use over and over. The risk the players say that they want is almost completely nullified by their actions in-game. This goes against the principle of Being Awesome that I want to encourage.

A non-randomized system would also be a step closer to “Games That Play Like Fiction.” How hard the player works for something should be the determining factor on whether they succeed or fail.

Well, back to work on this. I will keep you informed with further updates. Be sure to leave comments!

No Fudging

I am cautious about making announcements for a game design when its this early in the process. In my last post, I announced that I would be using Fudge dice for the Luna System. My apologies to those of you that got excited about the prospect of being able to use your Fudge dice with another system than Fate or Fudge, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.

What started this excitement was that I had run across some old notes concerning my failed Dresden Files campaign. After it fell apart, I discussed things with my players and we agreed that the game had some holes in it and just didn’t meet our style of play. I still wanted to play in the Dresdenverse, so I looked about and discovered Unipool on the The Forge. However, I never restarted that campaign.

I re-discovered the Unipool recently and thought that would be a good starting basis for Luna. It used Fudge dice and fused with Universalis  I’ve been in love with that game since the demo I participated in back in 2002. The rules allow for pure creativity to occur. For someone like me, it’s perfect. However, the rules are somewhat complex and encourage frequently creating a new stories with new characters. I want Luna be a game that allows for a quick start using only the written rules, and allows for continued growth within a continuing story.

After going over Unipool and attempting to add my own ideas to it, I’ve come to the conclusion that what it is and what I have in mind are not really compatible. In the interest of making the best game possible, I’ll need to drop the Fudge dice. I have some other ideas that will do better. More to come. . .

The Death of a Poll. The Rise of Luna.

lunaIf you haven’t noticed, the “How Do you Feel About Dice”” poll is now gone.

This has been the first time I’ve been accused to being an internet troll. It’s especially odd since It happened on my own web site. There were enough complaints about the poll on the poll itself, that I decided to delete it. However, I did learn a few things from the experience.

I created the “How Do you Feel About Dice?” poll in a fit of whimsy, and the language I used was cutesy. Some people didn’t like that. To them, I extend my apologies. I had not intended on stirring up a controversy for its own sake.

I phrased the poll in such a way because of the odd attachment I have seen some roleplayers develop toward their dice. I’m certain I am not the only one that has noticed this.  It is regularly lampooned in the Knights of the Dinner Table comic.

I have had some interesting conversations about the importance of dice on the RPG.net and StoryGames.com forums.

What have I leaned from this, outside of being more serious when I invite people to participate in a poll? That  have learned that roleplayers prefer a random element in a game since it can add Surprise to the story. Nobody likes a predictable story.

So, I have made a couple of decisions. First, that the upcoming Luna System will use Dice. Second, they will be Fudge Dice. Why? Because they seem to fit in with the feel that I want the game to have. There will be more on this later.

Dream Palace Conflict Resolution

DP LogoIts taken me a while to describe this accurately. Dream Palace has a unique and elegant system for resolving conflicts within the game. I’ve had to do a lot of “unlearning” when it came to game design when I came up with this.

I got into roleplaying games when I was barely out of my teens. At that time, roleplaying games had to be a near mirror of Dungeons & Dragons in order for it to be considered marketable. Things have changed over the years, though. Computer and console roleplaying games have taken the top spot over tabletop games in popularity. I’m hoping a fast and easy to learn roleplaying game will help bring players back to the tabletop.

You can read about Dream Palace’s Conflict Resolution mechanic Here.

The Crazy Brain Won

If you are a regular reader of this site, you may have already read the epic struggle between Me, my Crazy Brain, and my Perfectionist Brain.

If you haven’t read it, go here and do so. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Good.

Personally, I don’t mind the Crazy Brain at all. When it gives me an idea I can work with, I can get positively euphoric as I play with it in my head. However, it can also lead me down some tangents when I am working on a project. I can be quite the idea machine, but if I don’t spend any time actually developing them, they go nowhere.

I can get so bad that in our last gaming session together, Ralph Mazza wanted to show me a game that is somewhat similar to what I am doing, but then told me it was probably better that he didn’t because it might give me ideas.

I have been working diligently on Dream Palace for the last few weeks, but the Perfectionist Brain had been holding the project hostage. “Is this a Competitive game or a Cooperative game?” it kept asking me. Actually, this was an important question since it would affect how the game ends. Dream Palace has major elements of both. It is Cooperative since all the players are striving to come up with an entertaining story. However, it is also Competitive since all the players are jockeying to influence the story.

Miraculously, my answer was delivered to me. I have been reading  The Art of Game Design: a book of lenses by Jesse Schell. There is a section in there that addressed the question and allowed me to come up with an answer. There are some already established games that can be played both Competitively and Cooperatively!

A primary example was the old arcade game Joust. It has a “Survival Phase” in which both players need to live through in order to get 3000 bonus points, and a “Gladiator Phase” in which on must kill the other to get the 3000 bonus points.

Being able to play either way made sense for Dream Palace. A movie is primarily the combined effort of those involved, but there is always the possibility of a single star rising from the ashes or a poor movie. So, the Crazy Brain’s idea about Star Power tokens will be added to Dream Palace.

Star Power tokens will be awarded to active Cast members by members of the Audience for actions in the story that entertain them. It’s given me something to think about for the endgame, but should slow down the development of the rest of the it.

Thank you, Crazy Brain!

SOL Now Available for Free Download

SOLOnce upon a time, I created SOL: The Omniversal Roleplaying System. I followed the old adage of building a better mousetrap, and created a universal system that lacked the flaws of the systems of that time. However, I really didn’t have that much of an understanding of marketing at that time and it really didn’t provide much of anything new to the gaming table. So it’s been sitting around and not doing much of anything.

I have made the game available for in the Free Stuff section of the website. Please feel free to download and make use of it if it suits you. Both the system and the forms are there for your use.

Only 3 Days Left in the Adventures! Poll

VoteThere are only three days left in the Alternative Game System Poll.  If you haven’t voted for the Open Source game system you would like to see adapted to the Feylands fantasy adventures, now is the time!

It has been an interesting measurement of popularity so far. When I first put together the poll,  I chose those systems that I had been fairly certain would get plenty of votes. But there have been a number of games that have suddenly popped up from the Other category that have become unexpected contenders. The Top 4 games at the time of this writing are:

  1. Dungeon World – 84 Votes
  2. FATE- 30.5 Votes
  3. EABA (End All Be All) 25.5  Votes
  4. Archmage System (13th Age)- 25 Votes

Our latest surprise is EABA v2.01 from BTRC. It’s only half a vote above the Archmage system from Pelgrane Press. Thank you all very much for the current feedback. It’s good to see what my audience would like to see come out of this company.

So if you haven’t voted yet, or you know some friends that would be interested, pass the word along quickly! Vote!