alexandraerin: (Default)
You remember when I made some posts about the A Wilder World combat system and experimenting with "fistful of dice" combat systems for it? At the time I concluded that it was a mistake, but after a discussion regarding the pros and cons of "fudge dice" systems, the more I think about it, the more I think a multi-dice combat system is the way to go.

Any "roll once and try to beat a number" system is ultimately only going to work within a fairly narrow range of numbers. Some of the underlying system assumptions about AWW give this a bit more elasticity than usual, but there will always be a point where a character always hits or becomes untouchable, and efforts to get around this with a critical hit/fumble system simply add random swinginess to combat.

This is what I have in mind: the number of dice you get for an attack roll are based on your raw ability. So when you make a melee attack with a Prowess of 4, you roll 4 dice*. The dice are not added together. Instead, rolls of 5 or 6 are counted as successes. Rolls of 1 are discarded. Rolls of 2, 3, or 4 can be turned into successes by "spending" your attack bonuses to raise them to a 5 or more. So if you have +3 to attack and you rolled a 5, a 6, a 1, and a 3, you can turn that 3 into a 6. If the 1 were a 4, you could put one point of bonus with it and two points on the 3 to give you two more successes.

Each natural 6 is worth 2 points of damage or effect. Any other success (a natural 5 or one created through bonuses) is worth 1 point of damage or effect.

Defense rolls work the same way. If you can match the attacker's successes with your own, the attack is defeated. Otherwise, every natural 6 rolled subtracts 1 from the damage/effect of the attack.

Advantages:

  1. There is no point at which an attack automatically hits or a defense automatically succeeds. There are points at which it's statistically almost a foregone conclusion, but no point at which it's completely so.

  2. It preserves the notion that more skilled opponents have more deadly/effective attacks.

  3. The stakes always go up with skill. Equally matched attack and defense always results in a 50/50 chance of hitting or missing, but the consequences of a hit increases with ability instead of the most common result being a hit for little damage.

  4. The above means that damage resistance type abilities have a usefulness and flavor that's separate from hit-avoidance ones.

  5. There's a ceiling on damage that the random number generator can't break.

  6. Attack bonuses can proliferate higher with fewer consequences, and the point at which diminishing returns kicks in is higher for characters with higher relevant ability scores. That is, a character with Prowess of 1 won't normally benefit from having more than +3 to attack, but a character with a Prowess of 5 can potentially make use of a total of +15.


Disadvantages:
  1. Attack rolls--and particularly applying bonuses to them--become less straightforward. In particular, it becomes possible for an inexperienced/not-math-savvy player to apply their attack bonuses "wrong" and end up with a weaker hit than they would have had.

  2. The scale for attack bonuses, damage bonuses, and effect bonuses changes quite a bit.

  3. The effect system is going to need some re-working to suit the new scale.


Even with the disadvantages... and I consider the first one to be substantial... I think I'm going to go with this, because it really does redress what the weak points of the combat system have been. If it turns out to be totally unwieldy in play, I can revise or even scrap it.

*(Of course, abilities of less than 1 are possible in AWW. My initial idea was that you'd roll Prowess +3 dice, giving you 1 die for -2 and 3 dice for a score of 0. This results in far too many dice on the table and is one of the reasons I discarded this whole idea the first time around. So instead I'm going to have dice equal to ability with a minimum of 1, and have the "dead die" range increase for each point below 1. Characters with a score of 0 discard dice that show a 1 or 2, characters with a score of -1 discard dice that show a 3, and characters with a score of -2 discard all dice that are lower than 5... which means that attack bonuses do not ever apply for someone with a score of -2. I regard this as a feature, not a bug. No amount of training can overcome that profound a physical limitation.)
alexandraerin: (Default)
I figured out what was wrong with the combat system... I changed one of the fundamental assumptions behind it and didn't change the numbers to match.

For most of the years I've been developing this game, I was using the idea that attacks and defenses were interchangeable actions... i.e., if you had two actions in a round, you could attack twice, or defend twice, or attack once and defend once. There are some problems with how such a system plays out in practice... it makes ganging up on one target with many attackers even more attractive of a strategy because their ability to defend will actually run out, it encourages builds that focus on offense and ignore defense because in a real way defending yourself means cutting your offensive capabilities in half and you can't win a battle by defending... so I dropped it in favor of a system where defending doesn't count as an action, you can always do it as long as you're free to act.

And that's a good solution, but not with the numbers I was using where defense was a conscious choice and something you could run out of. Since a defense roll works exactly the same way an attack roll does (same numbers, same scale), then if every attack roll is met with a defense roll, this means that--all other things being equal--every attack will be met with an equal and opposite reaction, making the most likely outcome an attack will miss/do no damage and the second most likely option being it will hit by 1 point (and do 1 damage).

The "fistful o' dice" approach would have gotten around this by making the whole thing more complicated and bringing more dice into play. My actual solution is going to go in the opposite direction: fewer dice. Unless the target is going all out to defend, then every attack will simply be resolved with an attack roll, with the target's defense bonuses being subtracted from it.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I'm sitting in a bookstore cafe working on the combat rules for A Wilder World, and I think I know why I have so little confidence in them: they're wrong, and always have been.

The structure of a fight scene is just fine. The whole fight points/wound points thing, the simultaneous unfolding of action, the abstract distance... all of that's great.

But the attack roll/defense roll mechanic is wrong. Even with escalating attack bonuses nerfed, it's too easy to have a character who has no chance of hitting another who has no chance of missing them. And I don't think there's anything wrong with a game where some people are good at fighting and some aren't, I don't think you actually need to have everyone in a party on the same footing in that area any more than they all need to be equally good with locks and traps or whatever, but it's just too easy. Making natural, obvious choices for a fighting character basically turns out combat munchkins. (This is the kind of insight that having a bunch of people making characters helps me notice.)

The other problem is that with equally matched opponents, the most likely outcome is little or no damage on every attack. I don't see this as a huge problem because the typical fight scene in a fantasy adventure story shouldn't be featuring equally matched opponents, but the ones that do should be climactic, not tedious and decided largely by random swinginess.

I have some thoughts for how to fix this. They all lean towards turning AWW into a fistfull o' dice kind of game, at least for combat... this is a sharp departure from the out-of-combat check rules, which typically use only one die, but maybe that's good. As things stand, attack and defense rolls are almost-but-not-quite identical to checks, and having them be completely different might be less confusing. Once a player understands that they're not the same thing, there would be no chance of mixing them up.

The mechanic I'm leaning towards would also make a sharper division between attack bonuses and damage bonuses. More accurate attacks would still equal more damage, but damage bonuses would effectively be put on a different scale.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, so, here are the Basic Qualities that I'm adding to the 24 currently available.

In keeping with the idea of having three Qualities to represent D&D-style core classes, I'm adding three that specifically match the concept of a bard:


  • Minstrel: The minstrel's abilities revolve around influencing people through music and knowledge of stories and songs. They have a Bardic Magic option that allows them to use a fine musical instrument as a wizards' implement (including the ability to give it implement traits), but which hampers their ability to use magic quietly. Note that if the option's not taken, this is not a magical Quality... the option is just there so that someone who wants to make a musical magical character doesn't need to take two overlapping Qualities.
  • Illusionist: The illusionist can create images as Trivial or Ordinary Magic (depending on whether it's an obvious illusion or not), inflict mental damage with physical spell attacks, and gets a nice bonus to spells that deceive or hide.
  • Booster: As in "Morale Booster". This is based around the "Leader" combat role as articulated in D&D 4E, especially as it's realized in the "Lazy Warlord" build and the Bard class. Basically, it's the combat cheerleader.


Now, if you've been following the development, you're probably thinking that Wayfarer and Smooth-Talker fit the bard concept pretty well, too. And that's the fun of it. There's no chart that says "a bard is this, this, and this." It's all plug and play.

Then I'm adding three new Folk Qualities.


  • Ancient is a celestial (or sometimes infernal) spirit that wraps itself in a mortal form in order to walk in the world. Ancients typically gray-bearded sages, wizened crones, and little stoop-backed elders who smile knowingly at everything. The direct inspiration here is Gandalf and other Maiar spirit "wizards" of Middle-Earth, but there are a lot of potential antecedents in fantasy and fiction and folklore. Despite their appearance, an Ancient is not in any way infirm (unless you stack their Attributes that way) and so they can be used to make a venerable fighting master as easily a mystic one, though their abilities tend to lean towards wizardly things. Ancients aren't born, they simply will themselves into being, so a character with the Ancient and Elf Qualities would be one who'd manifested as an Elf.
  • Zirathikul (the name's been expanded to something with no Google results) are the arachnoid merchants that I described previously.
  • Gnomes are the quiet, unobtrusive folk who live in holes. Their abilities reflect their ability to fade into the background and go unnoticed by larger folk, and their love of interesting puzzles and mechanisms with lots of little fiddly bits.


That brings the total up to 30, which I think is probably more than enough for the Basic Guide. I have some half-formed ideas for a 7th and/or 8th Folk Quality to add, so that there are more ones that aren't as human-like in their presentation, but I'm going to be capping Basic Qualities at 32. If I only come up with one more Folk Quality, I'll probably add a generic Adventurer Quality to get an even number.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, this weekend I'm going to be putting up what I call the "game balance revision" to the Basic Character Guide. There's going to be some version of the aforementioned Gear and Detail changes, and a change to how high Attributes are purchased. I'm also revising the Folk Qualities a bit to change some of their ranked abilities into static ones. My thought in giving them so many was that choosing a Folk Quality should have more impact on your character than choosing other Qualities, but that wasn't the way to go about it. Some of the Folk Qualities I've made since those first three have provided me with a better model.

On that note, I'm going to rolling a few more Qualities into the update, including two or possibly three folk types. One of the two definites is Gnomes. These Gnomes will be recognizable to MU readers, because I'm sticking with the idea of Gnomes as the best generic for Hobbit. To people who just tuned in for the roleplaying stuff, you're probably thinking, "Wait, what about Halflings?"

Here's my rationale for avoiding using Halflings: first, the name is an insult. Just look at it. What people are going to define themselves on the basis that they're about half the size of "normal" races? In the original Tolkien, "halfling" was what humans called hobbits, and it's hard to imagine it being flattering. The name "Hobbit" is out of bounds because it's trademarked by a litigious estate, but that doesn't make "Halfling" make any more sense in-world.

The other reason I avoid it is because years of memetic drift within D&D-style gaming have changed Halflings from being Hobbits with the serial number filed off into being their own thing. Years of people playing them as adventurous burglars has turned them into a people made up of adventurous burglars. "Gnome" still has the power to conjure images of tidy sub-urban/terranean domesticity.

So, that's Gnomes.

The other definite is Zirakul. The Zirakul (the word is both noun and adjective, plural and singular) are vaguely humanoid spider folk. I made up the name off the top of my head because it was my intention that they not have a name that recognizably means "spider" to human players, because why would it? I'm still working on their lore, but their abilities include having an extra pair of arms (no, no bonus attacks, but more flexibility in gear and some bonuses to wrestling-type attacks for effect) and legs (added resistance to some effects), and obviously climbing and jumping bonuses though not as much as you might expect because that kind of spider-stuff doesn't scale up well without actual superpowers, and Perception bonuses keyed to movement.

The Zirakul have an option that makes their face and demeanor difficult to read for non-Zirakul, which gives them a bonus when it comes to lying and hiding their emotions but a penalty when it comes to persuasion. Skipping the option would indicate that the individual has spent time learning the art of facial expressions as other folk recognize them.

The Zirakul are native to forested mountains, but they're known as traders and travelers. They regard themselves as patient and rational in comparison to other folk. Visually, I picture them as being taller than a human and fairly big across the thorax, and hairy, and with a fondness for big billowy silks (what else?). In their own culture, the typical garments consist of elaborate wraps, but they know how to make things that resemble humanoid clothing for their own forms.

The point of the Zirakul (and the potential sixth Folk Quality that would be in the Basic Character Guide) is to offer options other than the standards. The shapeshifting Goblin being based more on various folklore than the D&D cannon fodder somewhat fits in that category as well, while being less wholly original.

The other additions to the guide will revolve around the bard archetype.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, I was thinking that I'd get the Advanced Qualities integrated back into the Basic Character Guide before focusing on getting the ruleset finished for the playtest, but during a lunchtime brainstorm, I realized that the Advanced Qualities, way more than the Basic ones, are heavy on the minute details of the combat system (that are likely to change with testing) and will also likely be subject to re-balancing.

Between that and the fact that Advanced Qualities aren't even an option for the initial levels of gameplay, I'm going to call the Basic Character Guide "beta ready". Although there's one final change to the process I'm strongly considering. Looking at the sample characters that have been submitted, I feel like I erred on the side of generosity with Detail/Gear allotments. I want people to be able to realize a character concept at level one, but I fear I've made it too easy to get high-quality equipment right off the bat and prevented anyone from having to make hard choices there.

Here are the measures I'm considering:

  1. Taking away one Detail and one Gear Point from starting characters.
  2. Getting rid of the initial "twofer" on the Gear Details. This would make the Luxury Gear option currently redundant as there's nothing Luxury Points can buy that Gear Points can't buy.
  3. Making weapons, armor, and implements more expensive.
  4. Eliminating some of the traits that Luxury Points can buy, notably the "Extra" trait for weapons. It's not that I want Luxury Points to be worthless, just better for signaling "look at me, I have nice things" than "my weapon kills harder than yours". Actually, I think what I'll do here is make it so that the Extra trait can only be purchased with LP for traits that can be purchased with LP.


I'm pretty sure at this point that I'll be implementing some combination of those changes, but I'm not sure which ones.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, version P.21 of the Basic Character Guide is up. This one mostly just clarifies stacking bonuses from multiple pieces of Gear.

There are two changes to wizards' implements, one of which was suggested by two different readers and one was suggested by no one and might make some people unhappy. The trait "Powerful" has been replaced with "Boosting", which only applies to one check per scene.

The reason for this change is that the Powerful trait allows a wizard even at the outset to effectively boost their Magic score into the same maximum range of other attributes, which undercuts the point of having a lower cap on Magic and turns it into more of a Green Lantern ring situation. Barring the penalties on Instant Checks, having an effective Magic score of 6 makes the wizard as good as everyone else at everything... the other things that contribute penalties to spellcasting are usually things that would impair others, as well.

I'm walking a fine line with magic, trying to keep it useful but slightly dangerous to rely on but not so limited that you run into the problem of wizards blowing their wands early on and then being useless, or doing nothing until the climactic scene. There will probably be multiple rounds of change to how spell checks and magic burn work during playtesting.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, so, there's another set of minor revisions coming on the Basic Character Guide... one tester noticed that when I reorganized the Gear section, language that prevented or limited stacking of bonuses from similar gear got poofed away.

I've got about half the work done on turning the second and third tiers into Advanced Qualities. When I've got that done and added in the financial side of character advancement, the BCG will be complete. Not "finished", because actual testing, but complete in the sense that it will have everything would need for the character side of gameplay.

Some of the Advanced Qualities are being revised a bit in the process. In particular, the Goblin chain... I like all the abilities that the Puck had, but they're not all uniformly Puckish. Now that multiple branches are possible, the Goblin is going to be the example of that in the BCG.

As of now, I've gotten absolutely zero feedback on the chapters of the Player's Guide that I posted. I don't know if that means no one's seen them, or no one's interested in them, or no one's seeing any problems with them. I've gone ahead and started writing the combat rules anyway. When they're finished, the Player's Guide won't be complete in the sense the BCG is, but it will be as complete as it needs to be for playtesting.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, two pieces of news. The first is that the Basic Character Guide has been updated with a few minor corrections/revisions in the Gear section, plus a few Folk Details for Dwarves and Goblins.

You can get it here.

The second is that I've decided to take a slightly different approach to developing the Player's Guide. Specifically, I'm not going to make you wait until it's done to see it. This link will take you to a PDF that has the basic non-combat rules of the game. It's not that different in scope than things I've posted previously as blog posts or Google Docs for earlier drafts of the game, though it's more detailed in the area of checks.

I'm posting this basically to motivate myself to get the combat sections finished up. I am looking for feedback, which I will use not only to improve these chapters but also to improve the stuff that's still under construction.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, so, I've basically got everything but step 5 and some revisions to the character sheet done for the next version of the Basic Character Guide, at least on the character creation side. I'll be adding the first draft of the character advancement section after that, which has no effect on this part of the playtest but might help people plan their characters.

But since the "higher tiers" now fall within the advancement section, that means they're going to be missing until that section is ready. (And in fact, the need to reformat them is the main reason that section won't be ready as soon as the rest of the guide will be).

So I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the old versions of the Qualities are still available somewhere in the meantime. And since making a PDF of them was so easy to do, I went ahead and did that first. You can still see the full three-tier versions of the Qualities in the last version, but this one has the new ones (Brute, Tracker, Smooth-Talker, and Pyromancer)... so if you were hoping to see what they're like, you don't have to wait.

Here's the "Legacy Qualities".

The next version of the Basic Character Guide should be up late Saturday or Sunday. After that, I don't expect many changes to the structure of character creation, though the numbers of things like Details and Gear may be tweaked by further feedback.

I want to thank all the people who've tested and given feedback.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, I'm completely reworking Quality progression in A Wilder World based on reader/tester feedback. This is something that grew out of the thoughts bumping around in my head when I went to sleep last night, which I laid out in my last post on the subject.

When I say "completely", I don't mean I'm throwing out the content I've already created. If you were looking at the higher tiers of your favorite Quality and going, "awesome, I can't wait to play a character who gets there", fret ye not. The progression from Treasure Hunter to Expert Treasure Hunter to Master Burglar is still going to be there. It's just going to work in a less convoluted fashion, one more in keeping with what players were apparently envisioning when they started reading about Qualities, tiers, and levels.

Here's what the Qualities listings are going to look like now. At the top of the crunch box (the part with the special abilities), right under the name "Treasure Hunter", you have a level indicator. This level indicator is not attached to any ability, it's your level of Treasure Hunter. Some abilities (usually the first one listed) will refer to your "Treasure Hunter level" (or whatever Quality it is).

Then you have some abilities with ranks, as there currently is, and one or two static abilities that don't have ranks and don't change with levels.

Tier two and three? They used to be on the next page, but now they're gone. The whole Quality section is one Quality, one page. You turn the page and then you wash your hands and you're looking at a new Quality. When you add a Quality to a character, you just have one page to print/copy.

So what happened to tiers 2 and 3?

They're now separate Qualities, not listed with the starter ones because they have a prerequisite of having x levels of the Quality "below" them in the tier scheme. The original idea was that you could advance your character by buying more Qualities or training into higher tiers of the ones you have now. Now, they're the same thing. Your choice is now to pursue more Beginner Qualities or focus your way towards an Advanced Quality. This also opens the possibility of having paths of advancement not tied to a particular Beginner Quality, and also makes it possible to introduce longer or shorter chains, or branching ones.

So, the tier/rank/level/progress-towards-next-tier confusion is resolved like this: tiers are gone, level is attached to the Quality itself and replaces the separate progress-towards-next-tier bubble thing that didn't have a name, ranks are still clearly attached to individual abilities that have ranks. Character advancement works mostly the same whether you're branching out or specializing.

This change eliminates the "dip into the next tier's abilities" mechanic I was so fond of, but that had some implementation problems. It worked better with some abilities than others, and limiting higher tiers to abilities that could come and go within an adventure without causing problems wouldn't have been worth it. Plus, it was another thing that seemed to be confusing.

Now, if each former tier is now its own Quality, does that mean that a Master Burglar now has three separate sheets? ...probably. I could keep the advancement paths tied together on a page because they are tied together, but I think some would benefit from having a fluffbox (the descriptive text above), and I know that some would benefit from having the ability to have the crunchbox steal space from the fluffbox. That, and in the long run, I don't want every Advanced Quality to be locked into a definite progression with another one.

My description here is probably not doing justice to how simple and streamlined the change will be compared to the previous way of doing things, so I'm going to stop describing it before it gets any longer.

(As a side note, character advancement rates are ultimately going to be pending playtesting, but I'm almost 11110% sure that I'm going to get rid of the idea of an overall character level, leaving the level a Quality has as the only use of the word "level" in the whole character scheme, for further clarity.)
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, as I'm redoing the Basic Character Guide, I'm thinking about a few things.

One thing I've decided to do is tweak the idea that characters can start with progress towards the second tier. Letting brand new level one characters dip into second tier abilities even once or twice an adventure drops a lot on the plate of newbies, especially since the way it stands now, the simpler your character is, the more often you'll be doing that.

That's not a very newbie-friendly approach.

So I'm either going to do one of two things with that. One of them is to just drop the idea entirely, new characters start out with no progress on their tiers. The other is more complicated than that, and for that reason alone I'm probably not going to do it, even though it's appealing. It's something that will really have to wait until I hammer down the advancement rates, though, so I'm not even going to get into it. The upshot is that the fewer Qualities you start with, the easier it will be to advance those starting ones towards the second tier.

Either way, for all characters, the second tier is going to be something to look forward to, not something to grapple with from level one. The other advantage of this is that it means nobody has to print off/copy the second page of any of their Qualities to make a beginning character, which saves some hassle.

Practically speaking, it's hard to balance more Qualities versus fewer. The fact that the characters with fewer Qualities start with the first tier abilities at higher levels mathematically works out to be about the same when you're comparing Qualities with two ranked abilities, but the extra static abilities of the character with more Qualities is an advantage that's going to be present to varying degrees depending on the number and nature of those abilities.

So what I'm thinking is: Details. Details are the natural equivalent of a static ability. They give a bonus in the neighborhood of +1-+2 or a slight extra capability. So, maybe the cost of having three Qualities will be fewer Details and the benefit of having one Quality will be having more of them.

The exact details of this will take some working out, but I think it's a solid idea. And yes, it does give the newbie player who wants a simple character more resources to spend, but Details explicitly allow you to save them up for filling in later.

The other change I'm considering is also to simplify things for players (especially new ones), and this is to simply present the instructions in the form of "Pick two Qualities", and then having simpler or more complicated characters as an option at the end. This makes the character creation process smoother, it makes balance simpler (with one or three Quality characters being presented as optional variants, I can just flat out say "These characters may not handle exactly the same as a standard one, though they should be within an acceptable range."), and while one person did mention a plan to make a three Quality character, exactly none of the characters I've been shown would be impacted at all by this particular change.

At the end of the day, the balance isn't going to be perfect, and that's okay because that's not my goal. My goal with balance is to have everyone playing on the same field.

All of this post is a lot of TL;DR to say that the process of making a new character and playing as a low level character are both going to be a bit simpler.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Doing the rewrite has proved to be tedious in some places, so to reward myself I've been adding more of the fun stuff in... specifically, more Qualities! When the next update goes live, it's going to have at least four more: Brute, Tracker, Smooth-Talker, and Pyromancer. Another possible one, Theurge, is pending some development/conceptual issues.

People who've been following my development logic might notice that these five Qualities fit the theme/pattern of the first ten in the Guide: Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, [Cleric], and Wizard. It's always been my intent to have three Qualities for each of the "basic character classes" present in the Basic Character Guide, to better convey the mix-and-match aspect of things.

Brute (Berserker/Battlerager) is a pretty straightforward "striker" template. It's grouped with the fighter types but as of this writing nothing in its abilities specify close attacks or physical attacks. Anybody who takes the brute force approach can be a Brute. The Brute's presence actually adds to intimidation tactics used by anyone in the group. There's no "uncontrollable rage" mechanic attached to the higher tiers, despite their names... merely abilities that reward the character for not defending/taking hits. Combine with Stalwart for a kick-in-the-door barbarian, with Assassin for a really brutal striker.

Tracker (Hunter/Hawkeye) has tracking and sensory abilities, mostly vision but others at higher levels. The Tracker has an ability similar to "Hunter's Quarry" from D&D 4E, but more tied to actual observation of an enemy than battlegrid mechanics. The third tier needs a better Commando name... I'm looking for a noun form of "inescapable" and not coming up with anything. I might go with the dramatic, fantasy-sounding "Foestalker".

Smooth-Talker (Charmer/Silver Tongue) can be a con man or otherwise ridiculously persuasive character. They not only make a good "face" character for the party but are good at social combat, to the point that by the second tier they can fend off physical attacks verbally. In the third tier, they get an ability that's called Diplomancy, as a nod to the D&D 3E munchkin trope, but it's a bit more specifically limited in scope.

Theurge (Heirophant/Wonderworker) is the "divine magic" character. Qualities like Life-Touched are there to represent specific divine blessings, but for people who want "cleric spells" that work as analogue to "wizard spells", Theurge is designed around reflavoring the Magic system as divine magic. The thing that's tricky is that this has to provide specific advantages, to be Quality-worthy.

Pyromancer (Fire Mage/Phoenix Wizard) is a specialist wizard. This is going to be a major subset of Qualities when I put out the magic-themed Character Guide. Specialist wizards have a static ability in their first tier that gives a +2 bonus when using magic that relates to their specialty, usually with something that improves that in the second tier, and other abilities that revolve around it.

If it seems disappointing that two of the three wizardy Qualities have so much overlap (Pyromancer and Battlemage are both kind of focused on the fireball-throwing kind of wizard), there will be at least one more specialist wizard in the Basic Character Guide by launch: Illusionist, as part of a cluster of Qualities based around the bard-type character class.

The final slate of Qualities will be between 30-36. I want to pack a lot of value into the basic set, because while I do plan on selling expansions and that being a major source of income within the project (insofar as money made from roleplaying games can ever be "major"), I also want there to be a lot of replay value in just the basic set.

As for the actual rewrite/update... I have the Qualities chapter redone and the Gear chapter redone, and I have started on the Attribute chapter. After I finish that and the Detail chapter, I think I'm going to rewrite the overview as it exists now and put the update up. It won't be "finished" because I want to redo the whole overview with a different approach and add a primer on gameplay terms, but it will be in a state of usability greater than or equal to the original draft I posted.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, playtester Pip has updated the electronic character sheet/spreadsheet that I posted last night. Among other improvements, there are now three separate, more detailed sheets for Qualities. Each Quality page is basically a template. Because different Qualities have different numbers/arrangements of abilities, you'll need to copy and paste rows of cells to re-create your individual Quality and then delete whatever rows are extraneous.

It occurs to me as I'm looking at this that this is the kind of thing that Access was tailor-made for. It's been years since I've played around with Access, but it's possible I could actually make my own full character creation app without much problem. That's the sort of thing that's going to depend on character creation being a finalized process, though.

Anyway, here's the link for the updated sheet. Some parts of it look weird in the web viewer, but you'll need to download it (menu at the top) to use it anyway.
alexandraerin: (Default)
As I said, the Basic Character Guide is undergoing a major rewrite, but for people who want to keep playing around with it while I'm working on the next version, here are a couple of things that might help.

First, it's been brought to my attention that the section on how to read a Quality wasn't very useful for learning how to read a Quality. I'd thought it had more information than it actually did, but then, I went through a lot of drafts.

Here's an improved version.

(Sidenote: The pattern of alternating bubbles in the third tier is reversed in this. That's because I got it backwards before. It should go big-little-big.)

The second thing is something that was created by a playtester whose name I'm realizing I don't actually know. Let me know what to call you and I'll give you credit. It's an Excel spreadsheet version of the front page of the character sheet that automates the task of totaling up attribute points... it doesn't tell you how many you have left, but you put your scores into the appropriate spaces and it tells you at the top how many you've spent. There are also spaces for the other things on the front page of the sheet.

Here's that. Note that you can't edit it in the viewer; this is something you'll have to download and then open in a spreadsheet viewer on your own computer. It's a great start on an electronic character sheet.

Couple things that should improve the quality of life a little.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, I have been surprised and gratified by how much detailed feedback has come in since I posted the test version of the A Wilder World character guide the day before yesterday. I really expected it would take longer for anyone to get into the nuts and bolts of the thing.

I think the Gear update is going to be the last incremental update for a while, because I think I have a handle on the material now. I'm going to be going over it from top to bottom now, moving it into the form it'll use for the beta.

People who have taken their time delving into the thing, don't despair. I'm not done accepting feedback. But I feel like now I have a clearer idea of how to organize and express my ideas. If anything, I expect to hear from even more people as the booklet gets more newbie-friendly.

On the subject of newbies, the people I've heard from so far have been a pretty decent cross-section of the gaming community, in terms of experience level, ranging from relative beginners to people with years and multiple systems under their belt.

One thing that the early feedback has made clear is the importance of having an electronic version of the character sheet. I think I can make editable forms in Word? In any event, I'll be looking into it.

The next configuration of the Character Guide is going to include a section called "Gameplay Primer" that will give an overview of the rules for checks, attacks and defenses, and magic... not enough to play the game, but maybe enough that someone who'd read it could sit in with or shadow a group of experienced players and pick up the rest, and more importantly for immediate purposes, enough to understand how an attack bonus compares to a damage bonus or what Magic Burn Tolerance does.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I've had five different people send or describe their characters to me (without an electronic character sheet, it can be hard to convey all the choices made in character creation), and all of them had the same Wealth score: 3.

Before I say anything else, I want to say that this isn't about people making characters who are "wrong". If I didn't want it to be possible to have a certain Wealth score, I'd cap it off lower than that. If I wanted it to be rarer, I'd make it more expensive. But when people making different characters keep making the same choice, there's a potential balance issue. Maybe this choice is just too appealing to be ignored. Maybe the system seems to make it necessary.

The reason for the appeal is obvious with a little analysis: more Wealth means more Gear, with a side order of "having more attribute points than places to put them". As things stand, you can max out a character in their particular area of expertise (at least for a starting character) and still have plenty of points to spare. If the stuff your character is good at is maxed out, giving up one of your abundant Attribute point for a scarce Gear Point to purchase something that might make you even better in your chosen area is a no-brainer.

If people were to write character optimization guides for AWW as it exists right now, step one would be "Put three points in Wealth." For every character, regardless of their concept or image. Which is the opposite of what I want. A score of 3 in Wealth is supposed to say something about your character's background and capabilities, not that you wanted/needed more Gear. Wealth: 3 is pretty much "Baggins of Bag-End" territory.

The Wealth-Gear connection was something I added late in the development, and in retrospect I didn't think it through. I was worried that it would be an undervalued choice and I wanted to beef it up a little bit, so I tied starting Gear levels to it.

But Bilbo's moneyed upbringing didn't actually leave him better equipped for a life of adventure, did it?

So what I'm doing is this: cutting the connection between positive Wealth* and Gear. The new starting allotment is 4, and the first level of Extra Gear Detail a character takes gives 2 more instead of 1. This would actually keep the Gear lists of most of the characters I've seen the same, but free up those points that went into Wealth.

Negative Wealth might still decrease starting Gear, because otherwise the min-max guide will just begin with "take two points of negative Wealth"... if your character doesn't need positive Wealth for other reasons, there wouldn't be much drawback to taking negative.

Positive Wealth still might have some impact on your starting equipment, details pending, but it won't be in the form of additional Gear Points. Maybe a sub-system of Luxury Points. Any kind of trait that very specifically represents exceptional appearance or quality would be marked with the price in Gear Points or Luxury Points (i.e., buy them with either), and there could be some items that require Luxury Points. So Wealthy characters would still have more and better equipment, but primarily in ways that affect the social sphere of influence that the Wealth attribute is meant to be strongest in, anyway.

Yeah, I actually really like that idea. This way, being wealthy isn't a prerequisite for having armor, but the wealthy character is more likely to have shiny armor.

The other change I'm making is raising the attribute cap back up to the original planned ceiling of 6. My thought was "Ooh, too big a range of starting attributes might be too unbalanced, better start low and increase it if it's okay", but it's not like the test is going to spin out of control and kill people if the game's unbalanced.

These changes will probably go live tomorrow, since I mostly work on AWW at night, but I wanted to get the thoughts down and out of my head now while they're fresh. For people who are playing along at home, the cost for an attribute of 5 is 7 points and an attribute of 6 is 9 points. There may or may not be a "one 6 limit" for each character.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, so last night I sat in a bookstore and did a major revision of the Chapter 4's catalogue of gear. How some things work (especially the wizardly stuff) was tweaked, I compiled everything that can actually be "purchased" into bullet lists instead of having things scattered throughout the descriptive text, and I integrated the accessory versions of standard gear into the lists with the full versions. I think the intro part of the chapter will also probably be revised further, but I wanted to put the update out for feedback because the final version of the intro will have to reflect the final version of the catalogue.

If the new format works for people, I'm going to use it as a model for the Details and Magic Gear sections.

PDF.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I wasn't expecting to put out a major revision to the BCG so soon, but I've received more feedback sooner than I expected, and a lot of the early feedback has centered around the presentation of the Magic system and the Spellcrafter Quality, which is the first glimpse into that system that people get reading the manual from front to back.

One person felt the whole thing had "too many moving parts", one person thought the Spellcrafter was a weird and unnecessary throwback to D&D's eccentric handling of magic, and one person lamented the lack of a basic or entry-level wizard Quality.

I wasn't really satisfied with the execution of the Spellcrafter concept myself, so I've pulled it and replaced it with a more straightforward "utility wizard", simply called the Magic-User/Mage/Archmage. I think this version does a good job of capturing the flavor of the D&D wizard without any of the headaches that go along with stapling overtones of Vancian magic to a flexible and freeform system.

I think there's a lot of promise in the Spellcrafter concept, but it's a more complex idea and it's going to take time to get it right. So for now, it's out, and the Magic-User is in.

I'm also going to be streamlining some of the concepts in the magic system, like Magic Burn, which will require minor revisions to the Gear section. It won't change what wizardly options are available or what they do in general terms, but the allusions to how they play out in game terms will need updating.

That's for later. For now, I've just replaced the Spellcrafter with the Magic-User. If anybody out there really thinks the Spellcrafter was incredibly awesome and is disappointed to see it gone from the test, I can work on re-working it before the gameplay testing, but I think people more people are likely to be happier with the Magic-User.

(Updated PDF.)
alexandraerin: (Default)
It was pointed out to me that the text in chapter 5 (Details) conflicted with the overview and got the order of steps wrong... this was a result of some last-minute rearrangements and then not remembering where all the references that would need to be changed were. Since this actually impacts the character creation process (characters made following the instructions in the overview will be different than ones made following the instructions in the text), I've revised it and made the change live.

Note that the original link still points to the revised file... the link should stay live through the whole process. If you've downloaded the PDF, you'll need to download it again to get the new version.

(Here's the link again, for reference.)

Also, due to the popular demand of a majority of the people who've given me feedback, here's a PDF of just the character sheet. It's not every day you can please two people at once.

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