Sunday, November 29, 2009

So I'm considering making a video game.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my interest in game design applies just as much to video games as it does to tabletop fare. The main reason I focus on non-electronic projects is that I can focus most of my efforts on the tasks that most interest me- creativity and the actual mechanics of the game, rather than matters like animating an orc's attacks or trying to hunt down bugs.

Still, I've been paying alot of attention to the freeware release of the Unity3D engine- it's gotten plenty of buzz in the local game development interest group I'm a part of. And when Rock Paper Shotgun community member James Carey announced he was going to try an experimental game-building project, my first thought was "Wait a second, I could do that!"

The question is:
what sort of game could I do well? Something that had relatively few demands in terms of programming and creating assets, while drawing on my existing strengths (world-building, writing, complex systems of game mechanics). Something set in a small, well-realized game space.

And the answer is: The Oregon Trail IN SPAAAAAAACE.

The game's setting would be Maelstrom, a world (or rather, a solar system) that I've already talked about a little. You would play as the captain of a ship that's sailing along the main Aetheric Current, the setting's foremost trading route; a formidable journey that takes you by each of the 4 gas giants (the setting's equivalent of continents, since their moons are the the setting's inhabited worlds). The entire game would take place on your ship, the goal being to effectively integrate various aspects of the game into the actual first gameplay of moving around and interacting with things. To look at the map, you walk into your quarters, look at your map, and press "e" (rather than just hitting the "m" key wherever your character happens to be on the ship).

There's much more to the game's design than that, of course. I intend to take a page from the obscure gem King of Dragon's Pass, and confront players with a constant series of unique dilemmas where the crew members they've recruited will weigh in as to the best course of action.

The plan is have this be my main project for the month of December, to post development notes and weekly progress reports, and to have some kind of working prototype ready before 2010 comes along. We'll see what actually happens.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

M&M + FF7: Jenova Powers

Grisly Scene in action.

As mentioned before, I'm really proud of how these turned out. They're essentially a concrete mechanical way of adding in the elements discussed in my post on drawing on the slasher genre, while also creating some engaging gameplay. Both the powers and the associated drawbacks are designed to give a character something of a sinister bent, whether they're a well-intentioned hero or BBEG.

Jenova Powers are only available to characters tainted with Jenova cells. They can provide a notable edge, but generally come with drawbacks and require special GM permission to customize beyond the options listed in their descriptions. If a character's current corruption score is less than a power's prerequisite, that power is nullified (any drawbacks remain in effect). Characters may opt to nullify extras that increase a Jenova Power's corruption prerequisite so that they can retain the use of the power in a weakened form.

(1 pt per rank, Corruption 3)
You gain a materia slot as though you were a Device with the same power rank. An absorbed materia can be knocked out of your body by a strong impact, so others can still attempt to disarm them if you're helpless.
-Additional Slot (+1, +1 Corruption): Each time you take this extra, you gain another materia slot or form a link between two unlinked slots.

BACKSTAB (1 pt per rank, Corruption 2)
You add your power rank to your damage bonus for lethal attacks against surprised opponents, as well as bluff, disguise, and stealth checks made to prevent someone from recognizing you as a threat. (The limited application of this bonus might lead the GM to declare that you partially succeed at a check. For example, he might say that a target's bodyguard rolled well enough to notice you lurking in the shadows, but not well enough to defeat your stealth check for the purpose of recognizing that you pose a threat; the guard orders you to come out in the open, but he doesn't draw his weapon or sound an alarm.)
Drawback: Temper
Choose a trigger that aggravates your character towards a person, such as being treated in a disrespectful manner. This trigger should have a frequency of Very Common (meaning there's a 25% chance that you'll get through an adventure without it coming up at least once). When someone sets off the trigger, your character must make a will save (DC 10+power rank) to avoid lashing out at the person in question. If your character is in position to "lash out" by making a lethal surprise attack, the save DC increases by 5, and if they fail the save by a margin of 5 or more they must make the attack rather than lashing out in another fashion (i.e. verbally).

BOOST (1 pt per rank, Corruption 0)
Each use of this power boosts one of your physical ability scores, as normal. The modifiers from these boosts are applied after the normal limits on ability scores, skill check bonuses, damage bonuses, and so on.
-Mental (+1, Corruption +3): You can also boost your mental ability scores.

(2 pts, Corruption 6)
The power's duration is continuous, but a duplicate's Power Level decreases at the rank of 1 rate per hour until it reaches 0 and dissipates. Your clones have no will of their own; you must issue them commands, which can be done as a move action.
Power Feats
-Mind-Link: As normal.
-Progression: As normal.
-Long-Lasting: Each time you take this feat, the interval of the rate at which your duplicates fade increases by 1 step along the Time and Value table.
Drawback: Degradation
You suffer a penalty on to skill checks, attack rolls and Defense equal to half your power rank, rounded up. This penalty fades at the rate of 1 point per 20 minutes. This drawback occurs with a frequency of Common; with GM approval, a player may also voluntarily choose to have the degradation's effects occur as a Complication.

FRENZIED ASSAULT (1 pt per rank, Corruption 4)
As a full action, you can make a melee attack against all opponents you can physically reach within a radius of (power rank × 5 feet). This attack can be a normal strike or a special action like Disarm or Trip. Make one attack roll and compare it against all targets in the area.
Power Feats
-Agile: After making your attack, you may move adjacent to one of the opponents you targeted.
Drawback: Bloodlust
Whenever you attempt to inflict nonlethal damage, you must make a will save (DC 10+your power rank) or attempt inflicting lethal damage instead.

(4 pts per rank, Corruption 7)
You gain linked Mental Blast and Emotion Control [Fear] equal to your power rank. You may not use these abilities directly; instead, you use the "materials" on hand (usually fresh victims) to create grisly scenes which function like traps. Each time someone comes across one of your scenes for the first time, they must make a will save (DC 15+power rank) to resist your power's effects; if they succeed, they become immune to any other scenes you've created for the rest of the day. It takes five minutes to create a scene; you can invest additional time to increase the save DC by 1 for each rank the construction time moves up on the Time and Value Progression Table (So for example, a scene that took an hour to create will have a save DC of 18+your power rank).

MASTER OF THE ELEMENTS (1+ pts per rank, Corruption 5)
While outdoors, you can influence the atmosphere around you. This power functions identically to Environmental Control, except that instead of the ability to create light you can instead gain the Obscure [Auditory, Visual] effects.
-Improved Control (+1, Corruption 9) Your abilities also function indoors.
-Gradual Influence
(-1, Corruption -3): Any changes to the environment take an hour rather than a standard action.
Drawback: Negative Lifestream Link
You add your power rank to the DC of any attempts made to stabilize you, as well as subtracting it from your bonus on any recovery checks granted by healing effects.

(5 pts per rank, Corruption 7)
You have an alternate form, which you can change into or out of as a full action. While in this form, you may not use Device powers, but the limits on your Save DCs and Toughness save bonus both increase by half your power rank (rounded down). Your alternate form grants traits whose total value is equal to 5 power points per rank; these traits may include the Additional Limb, Growth, and Speed powers.
Drawback: Brute
Whenever you wish to communicate something to another person in a way that goes beyond simple gestures and body language, you must first make an intelligence check (DC 10+power rank). This DC increases by 5 if you want to use complete sentences and another 5 if the communication involves a measure of subtlety and/or detail. You may retry this check once per minute.

(1 pt per rank, Corruption 8)
As a full action, you can grow (or retract) a single angelic wing that grants Flying at your power rank.
Power Feats
-Wingless: You can fly without growing your wing first, though this decreases your effective ranks in Flying by two.

PROFILER (2 pts per rank, Corruption 4)
You gain Emotion Control and Mind Reading equal to your power rank. You must may only use these abilities on targets you have observed for at least 5 minutes, and must speak with them in order to go beyond merely reading their surface thoughts.
Your mind-reading abilities are based more on your ability to extrapolate from behavioral cues than true psychic ability; at the GM's discretion targets may get an additional bonus of up to +10 on saves to avoid revealing information that should not be obtainable this way. For example, you could use your mind-reading power to accurately guess a security password consisting of a phrase the target selected themselves, but would have a much harder time if the password consisted of a string of random numbers the target had memorized.
Drawback: Obsessive
When given a choice between pursuing your current target and taking some other course of action, you must make a will save (DC 15+power rank) or be unable to put aside the current pursuit. You may reroll this save once per hour.

PUPPETEER (2 pts per rank, Corruption 5)
You can sense the minds of those with Jenova cells and/or Geostigma Syndrome, so long as they're within a radius equal to half your power rank on the Extended Range table, rounding down. You make a power check as a free action (DC 20-target's corruption score) and apply the result to each mind in range. You may then select one mind and continue to track it so long as you maintain concentration.
You also gain Mind Control at your power rank, usable only on targets you're tracking (meaning you can never target those who don't have Jenova cells or Geostigma Syndrome. You can purchase any of Mind Control's listed power feats, extras and flaws. Sustaining mind control also lets you continue tracking target's minds as a linked effect.
If someone else is using this power to continually track you, you automatically become aware of their mind as well and may attempt to mind control them yourself. If they're within the normal range of your own powers and have a lower corruption score, the amount by which your corruption score exceeds theirs is added to the save DC of your mind control.
Power Feats
-Accurate: You can recognize minds you've detected before, in the same way you can recognize faces.
-Corruption Sense: You know the current corruption score (if any) of each mind you can sense.
-Distance Sense: You know the rough proximity of each mind you can sense.
-Horde: Each time you take this feat, the number of of total minds you can simultaneously track and maintain control of (but not simultaneously *gain* control of) increases by one step along the time and value progression table.
-Vigilance: You may maintain concentration when a target you're tracking moves out of range, regaining your awareness of their presence if they come in range once more.
-Duration (+1): Your mind control's effects have a duration of Sustained (Lasting). You can't concentrate on subjects that are out of range or maintain any kind of mental link, but they continue to obey the commands they've been given.
Drawback: Disturbing
Your power rank applies as a penalty on all social interaction skill checks.

(1 pt. per rank, Corruption 6)
You gain Regeneration [Resurrection] at your power rank. You can use some of these ranks to increase the bonus on the recovery checks made to resurrect yourself (these checks do not benefit from any power that boosts normal recovery checks).
Drawback: Dark Rebirth
Whenever you successfully resurrect, you permanently gain a point of corruption.

UNSTOPPABLE (3 pts per rank, Corruption 1)
You gain Impervious Protection and Regeneration at your power rank. You may only use your Regeneration ranks to improve your Recovery Bonus and Recovery Rate. Subtract your power rank from the damage bonus of enemy attacks when determining knockback distance.
Drawback: Numb to the World
Your power rank applies as a penalty to all Notice checks you make. This penalty doubles when making checks against someone who's deliberately trying to avoid being noticed by you.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

M&M + FF7: Jenova Corruption

During character creation, you may choose to have your character be tainted by Jenova cells. This neither costs nor grants power points. They could have been injected with cell samples deliberately as a test subject or member of the SOLDIER program, exposed to them by accident, or had grown them naturally because their body surrendered to Jenova's influence through the lifestream (rather than killing itself in the process of suppressing that influence, meaning they recovered from a seemingly terminal case of Geostigma Syndrome).

Characters who are tainted by Jenova can spend power points to purchase Jenova Powers. They also have a Corruption score, which starts at 1. Whenever you use Extra Effort and have a Jenova Power active at some point on the same turn, you must make a will save (DC 20+your current corruption score) or gain another point of corruption. You may ignore the fatigue Extra Effort would normally impose by giving up this saving throw. You can lose a point of corruption by refraining from using any Jenova powers for period of time equal to a rank of (10-(1/2 your Corruption score, rounding down)) on the Time and Value Progression Table. If your corruption score ever reaches 10, you permanently lose your free will and become an npc puppet under Jenova's control.

In addition, your corruption score provides drawbacks of equal total value, selected from the following list; for example, at Corruption 2 you could choose to have the basic versions of the Tainted and Puppet powers, or just the Tained power with either a moderate frequency or moderate intensity. Reducing your corruption score causes the drawbacks to diminish as well, with the most recently selected developments fading away first.

If you fail your d20 roll against this drawback's Intensity, you fall under the effects of Mind Control with the Conscious flaw, at a power rank equal to your corruption score plus half your level. While controlled, you are compelled to take actions that will advance Jenova's agenda- this could mean damaging/corrupting the lifestream, aiding one of her more willing puppets, or just trying to kill people. You make will saves to break this control, as per the normal power rules.

If you fail your d20 roll against this drawback's Intensity, you gain an additional point of Corruption.

Weakness (Lifestream): You suffer the standard penalties when exposed to an object (such as holy water) or location (such as sacred ground or a cave with natural materia deposits) that carries high amounts of healing lifestream energy. At higher frequencies, the penalties could also begin cropping up due to normal healing magic. Note that you still gain any normal benefits, such as holy water's improvement to your corruption score's reduction interval; you're just simultaneously weakened.

So why in the world would you want to have a corruption score? Because Jenova Powers let you do things no one else can. But that's a matter for the next post.

Image by Zetari.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

M&M + FF7: Materia

Adapting Materia from their original role in the videogame proved rather tricky. From a fluff perspective, they're raw crystallized magic. From a mechanical perspective, they provide the world of FF7 with spells you cast mid-combat, and yet they also serve as interchangeable equipment upgrades. I tried to reach a compromise that was balanced, made sense within the setting (omitting the materia that increases the amount of coinage you find, for example) and still stuck to the same underlying mechanics of materia slots. Oh, and it also had to still be fun.

The Materia power is identical to the 4-point version of the Device power, with the following restriction: The power points must be used to create a single ability that takes a full action to use and has a duration of Instant or Instant (Lasting). Additionally, Materia must be mounted onto a device's materia slot (see below).

Device Extra: Materia Slot
The device in question can hold one Materia, letting you use that materia's ability as an Alternate Power. The Materia's effective PL is limited to your device's PL. This Extra can be taken multiple times.
Device Extra: Linked Slots
A pair of unlinked materia slots on the device become connected. Materia stored in these slots may be used together as though they were combined via the Linked extra, assuming their powers are compatible.

Feat: Materia Attunement

You may attune yourself to a Materia, allowing you to use it whenever it's on your person rather than having to equip it in an appropriate slot. You must first concentrate on the materia for a total amount of time equal to half it's power rank on the Time and Value progression table. You may only be attuned to one Materia at a time.

Players can also use Support Materia. This type of materia always costs 1 point per rank, and grants one of the following Power Modifiers to any materia in a linked slot whose power is of equal or lesser rank:
-Added Effect (Links paired materia to Device's power)
-Selective Attack
-Turbo (Paired Materia gets +2 to effective rank, gains the Fades flaw, recharges by not being used for 8 hours)

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mutants & Masterminds: Final Fantasy 7 Rules

Using Mutants & Masterminds to run a game set in the world of FF7 is fairly simple; you just limit the powers people can select, making them available in several different ways.

All characters can buy ranks in the following powers:
-Leaping (max ranks=1/5 PL, rounding up)
-Luck Control
-Protection [Cannot include the Impervious extra]
-Super Movement [Sure-Footed, Wall Crawling, Wall Run] (Wall Run is from Super Speed and must be taken before Wall Crawling)
-Super Strength (max ranks=1/5 PL, rounding up)

Personal Devices can have the following powers:

Non-personal devices should generally be adapted from the Equipment section rather than being custom-made.

Materia (see next post for full details) can be created using one of the following powers:
-Element Control
-Emotion Control
-Enhanced Ability
-Healing [Cannot include the Resurrection extra]

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Influence-Based Experience

This is just a brainstorm from a while back that I keep meaning to revisit and write up; whenever I've had the time and energy to do a large stint of game design/writing, there's always been a higher priority like Trigger Discipline. So in this case I'll cave, and try posting the original chat transcript instead.

(11:02:46 PM) Dagda: Evening
(11:03:23 PM) Isaac: hi
(11:03:28 PM) Isaac: How are you?
(11:04:23 PM) Dagda: Not bad. Just thought I'd check in- *if* memory serves, our past communication's been about some game projects of yours.
(11:05:21 PM) Isaac: That's correct. I originally posted on /tg/ because I was concerned I had too much fluff for the game world, and I wanted to guage opions if anyone would read it.
(11:05:48 PM) Isaac: Then some /tg/ers asked me about the combat system, and when i explained it we had a bit of a chat about dice pools etc.
(11:06:42 PM) Dagda: So how're things now?
(11:07:50 PM) Isaac: Looking up. SOme recent exoperineces with dark heresy have given me justification to move away from the range/delivery/cone/aoe type magic system. I prefer less number crunching that 3.5th ed.
(11:08:10 PM) Isaac: Magic has been one of the major things holding me up
(11:08:27 PM) Dagda: Huh. I actually don't know anything about dark heresy's 'magic' system.
(11:09:24 PM) Isaac: Its strength is that it expects the GM to be able to narrate the effects, and beyond chance to succeed and general area of effect its very narrative
(11:09:42 PM) Isaac: somthing I had wanted to move towards but was afraid of alienation the rules lawyers
(11:09:51 PM) Isaac: DH has made me brave :)
(11:10:10 PM) Dagda: Always good to have more to draw on
(11:10:16 PM) Dagda: What sort of setting was this, again?
(11:10:17 PM) Isaac: Sorry for my crappy typing, its bloody cold here and I keep hitting extra keys
(11:10:29 PM) Dagda: Hadn't even noticed the typos.
(11:10:32 PM) Isaac: grumble grumble NOT steampunk
(11:10:56 PM) Isaac: it has steampunk elements and did before SP got big
(11:11:10 PM) Dagda: People initially grasp a concept based on existing references. Accept it.
(11:11:24 PM) Dagda: Before SP got big? Just how long have you had this setting in mind?
(11:11:49 PM) Isaac: I hate to admit how long it has been worked on, it gets left behind for Rl, as everyone's work does
(11:12:06 PM) Isaac: I'd say since 2000, at least, i started working on it in 2000
(11:12:17 PM) Dagda: So what's the tech of the setting running on, if not steam?
(11:12:40 PM) Isaac: Oh it is steampunk, I was just being bitter
(11:12:44 PM) Isaac: but you have to take out the lighter side of steampunk...ever read China Mieville?
(11:13:22 PM) Isaac: Its victorian era with elements of political unrest (church vs. state vs. the prolitariat)
(11:13:40 PM) Dagda: Doesn't look like I have, no. Victorian era, eh?
(11:13:57 PM) Isaac: explicit magic users who ar esecond class citizens and deep conspiracy tieing it all together
(11:14:12 PM) Dagda: What's the focus of the action?
(11:14:32 PM) Isaac: most often PCs take on the role of these second class citizen magic users
(11:14:39 PM) Dagda: Are secrets and politics a part of the gameplay or more just the driving force behind the adventure plotlines?
(11:14:54 PM) Isaac: Definitely part of the gameplay
(11:15:29 PM) Isaac: And as these magic users and inhumans you skulk about aiding one faction or another, or building your own fortune and empire
(11:15:53 PM) Isaac: While trying to uncover the few big secrets that hold the city together
(11:16:26 PM) Dagda: Can you give me an example of how the system would fit into a conspiracy-oriented encounter?
(11:16:59 PM) Dagda: Assuming it's not on a larger scale than just an encounter
(11:18:42 PM) Isaac: There is a heavy emphasis on non combat skills, and combat is fairly deadly, so a lot of the gameplay is intended to be the dealings, information gathering, subtle use of magic while staying under the radar of the Crown and the Church while trying to meet the expectations of your Guild and set up your own goals/contacts/infastructure.
(11:19:10 PM) Dagda: What role does combat play in an adventure, then?
(11:19:18 PM) Isaac: Then consider that while you may be allied with your group, each of them has their own goals from their Guilds which mayconflict with yours, but the presiding body has told you all to play nice.
(11:20:41 PM) Isaac: When negotiations fail, naturally, when you are backed into a corner by a powerful faction you owe alliegience to.
(11:21:40 PM) Isaac: While you are trying to master your own fate you keep ghetting drawn into the business of other factions. When you get caught by the Crown or the Church, when you have to pick one faction over another, thats when combat comes into play
(11:22:56 PM) Dagda: So combat's what happens when things get bad. It's something you avoid if you've been playing your cards right in general.
(11:24:32 PM) Isaac: definitely. Door kickers beware, its a good way to die. While the players have magic, the best magic, its slow and subtle and they are outnumbered. They are often ostricised from aspects of society, barred from parts of the city altogether and if caught practicing magic without the right sorts of permuission, coudl be attacked/killed on sight
(11:25:09 PM) Isaac: I have actually found the 'flavour' of the magic a bit similar to unknown armies, in as much as its underhanded, personal and less flashy than say, DnD
(11:25:49 PM) Dagda: Though it varies- if you invest in political skills, you can get away with being mediocre at combat. If you invest in combat, you can afford to get into more trouble.
(11:25:54 PM) Dagda: I presume.
(11:26:26 PM) Isaac: True, I guess my playstyle is influenced by teh types of players I make
(11:26:39 PM) Dagda: Without compromising the "combat is dangerous and it's best to avoid it where possible"
(11:27:03 PM) Isaac: less capable physically, with a mystic focus, but there are stealthy superhuman assassins, demon possessed tanks etc. for the action oriented
(11:27:16 PM) Dagda: So what's the "price" of magic in this setting, if anything?
(11:27:24 PM) Dagda: How does it work?
(11:28:06 PM) Isaac: A mana based name change. I don't call it mana, but thats what it is. Many spells need physical components or foci, it varies from class to class.
(11:28:30 PM) Isaac: There is an undercurrent of power that these second class citizens can tap, its what sets them, apart from humans
(11:29:03 PM) Dagda: So will casters have a reserve of mana points? Do these automatically recharge on a daily basis, or. . .
(11:29:12 PM) Isaac: they start human, but develop or discover their aptitude early on, and most magic is hereditary, so if your dad was a spellcaster, you woudl already be hanging out at the guildhall until the day your power manifested
(11:30:04 PM) Isaac: they do recharge on a daily basis but this process can be hurried by immersing yourself in areas thick with the power, or draining it from other spellcasters, both of which have their own risks
(11:30:56 PM) Isaac: Stealing other spellcasters power runs the risk of uncontrolled mutation, and spending too much time in the waypoints of power can affect the mind and loosen ones grip on reality
(11:32:05 PM) Isaac: I have made strong effort to keep the game very streetlevel, where your informants, allies, enemies and past are as important if not moreso, than your strength score or gold pieces.
(11:32:53 PM) Dagda: Then do you intend to work those factors into the system?
(11:33:42 PM) Dagda: After all, it's entirely possible to have mechanics for both moment-to-moment factors like throwing a punch and larger-scale elements like cultivating pull with different factions.
(11:33:53 PM) Isaac: yes, part of your character creation is the purchase of contacts, past events, histories, bonuses from your hometown etc.
(11:35:12 PM) Dagda: And are the resources alotted for this ones that can also be spent on personal abilities instead? How much can you focus on one or the other?
(11:36:33 PM) Isaac: at this point, completely freeform. If you wanted to max out physical stats at the expense of even choosing a past, so be it. It cill ead to broken characters, but the world is too dangerous for a walking warmachine PC to survive too long. No amount of physical prowess will keep you alive when the ruling classes bring out their big guns
(11:37:15 PM) Isaac: But the idea is for PCs to choose a class, a faction, a past, a hometown, allies/enemies and a debt system
(11:37:40 PM) Dagda: So the system's fully freeform? I buy a past with the same resources that buy attributes and skills?
(11:37:46 PM) Isaac: sorry phrased that wrong. there is a debt system that allows for debts you owe and others owe tht can be called in at any time
(11:37:49 PM) Isaac: yes
(11:38:24 PM) Isaac: the class abilities, which are essentially schools of magic, are locked into the class you choose, but all your stats and past are up to you
(11:38:31 PM) Dagda: What about character advancement once the game proper begins?
(11:39:22 PM) Isaac: Continues to be freeforem. While I LOVE the DH career system (which is a lot like MMO advancement) I feel that limiting people into a career is not what I'm aiming for
(11:39:38 PM) Isaac: you get your XP and decide to spend that on more stats, more magic, skills, traits etc.
(11:39:49 PM) Dagda: Yes, but are people earning xp and then spending it on whatever?
(11:39:56 PM) Isaac: yes
(11:40:41 PM) Dagda: Rather than having some manner of causal link? Like, if you want contacts and support from this faction, you don't spend xp, you do in-game actions that net influence points with that faction.
(11:40:53 PM) Isaac: I alway sliked the idea of a system where XP was marked for the manner in which it was earned, and must be spent similarly. Makes little sense to become a better swordfighter when you got some XP for good bluffing
(11:41:06 PM) Dagda: (Or both- an ability might cost X xp plus Y influence points)
(11:41:58 PM) Dagda: It just seems to me that if you want a focus on acquiring influence, you'd do well to treat it as a form of overarching character advancement.
(11:43:05 PM) Dagda: You want to get more standing with this faction, so you try to do them favors. Pull it off and you'll get the cryptography support you were wanting to have available, or the muscle, etc.
(11:44:07 PM) Isaac: I like it. It doesn't really make sense for faction favour to be purley XP based
(11:45:42 PM) Isaac: The idea was to RP actions to curry favour with each faction, but I could certainly work in a more concrete mechanic
(11:45:54 PM) Dagda: I can actually suggest a way to tie political pull into character advancement even further:
(11:46:02 PM) Isaac: please do
(11:46:02 PM) Dagda: Training.
(11:47:24 PM) Dagda: You want to learn how to fight? Well, this mafia-type organization can show you plenty of dirty moves, or this contact's a drill sergeant who can teach you the proper way to handle a rifle, or this organization prides itself on their ability as duelists. . .
(11:47:51 PM) Isaac: hey, thats got potential
(11:48:04 PM) Dagda: You'll be hindered if you try to learn an ability on your own.
(11:48:19 PM) Isaac: So if you want to increase your magic you need to keep your Guild happy, if you want to have more contacts/better social you work for the local crims
(11:49:04 PM) Dagda: It'd be kinda like classes in the d20 system.
(11:49:08 PM) Isaac: that actually opens up a whole boatload of potential fringe benefits, includinginformation, allies, weapons, better tech and resources gained at each level of 'favour'
(11:49:26 PM) Isaac: I really like this :)
(11:50:43 PM) Dagda: In the sense that if you just want to learn particular thing- say, to get decent at picking locks- you can expend a "use" of a contact to serve as a trainer.
(11:50:48 PM) Isaac: One aspect was the PCs advencement up the ranks of their own organistaion, but that can be expanded to all factions to accomodate this mechanic
(11:51:26 PM) Dagda: But if you want a package of skills- like the whole host of abilities needed to become an expert burglar- you'll want to curry favor with the appropriate organization.
(11:51:32 PM) Isaac: thats great, and it adds for a more realistic and RP friendly way to level up rather than the oots joke of literally dinging after an encounter
(11:52:22 PM) Isaac: and it works with the idea that there are often long periods of downtime between missions where the PCs muct get by on their own. That gives them a lot of tiem to seek out the necessary contacts
(11:52:34 PM) Dagda: So in addition to things like contacts, gear, and favors influence can be spent to gain training.
(11:53:40 PM) Dagda: If you *really* wanted to pursue your concept you could have influence be XP in its entirety. It'd certainly convey a strong sense of flavor.
(11:54:08 PM) Isaac: oh yes, thats ambitious. that really could work, though
(11:55:10 PM) Dagda: Personal experience learned from overcoming challenges would thus be relegated to a matter covered by the Training rules
(11:55:53 PM) Isaac: yes, you have lived through the event, now you wish to learn the skills behind it and how to apply it when you want
(11:56:32 PM) Isaac: This is a great idea for a game so heavily involved in the day to day life of the PCs. It fits right in with what I already have.
(11:57:41 PM) Dagda: I suggest having two types of influence- that which is awarded specifically and that which is yours to assign.
(11:58:00 PM) Isaac: I think I see where you are going with this...
(11:59:14 PM) Dagda: The second type would be relatively small in supply and could represent general pull. In fact, I'd recommend that you only be able to use it to *augment* influence you earn with a specific fashion.
(5/19/2009 12:01:14 AM) Dagda: Today my actions earned me the gratitude of Faction A (to the tune of 3 Influence Points), Faction B (4 IP), and Faction C (1 IP). I also earned another 3 bonus IP to assign how I wish, though I can't go beyond doubling the IP recieved with a given faction.
(12:01:28 AM) Dagda: So I can only assign 1 bonus IP to group C.
(12:02:19 AM) Dagda: The question is what exactly would earn bonus IP. The answer should tie heavily into your idea of how the game world works.
(12:03:20 AM) Isaac: Each faction has a very specific set of goals. If the PCs advance those goals in any tangible way, that could be considered a successful mission and gain them gratitude (and therefore influence)
(12:03:53 AM) Dagda: With regards to bonus IP I'm specifically talking about overarching themes.
(12:04:53 AM) Dagda: It should be a reward for something players are expected to do over the course of their adventures- perhaps just accomplishing impressive things.
(12:05:18 AM) Dagda: The idea being that doing so improves people's regard for you.
(12:05:47 AM) Isaac: It could tie into their own personal goals...without getting too anime, they might gain this extra IP for following/forging their own destiny in a city where everything is orhcestrated and run by bigger thanlife forces
(12:06:19 AM) Dagda: Oh ho!
(12:06:33 AM) Dagda: THAT opens up a whole new window of opportunity
(12:06:57 AM) Isaac: Each player must decide a goal at character creation, and this can change during the course of the game, based on who they interact with
(12:07:15 AM) Dagda: And you can give that goal *stats*
(12:07:35 AM) Isaac: as in its importance to you, or how complete it is?
(12:08:09 AM) Dagda: Both, neither, depends on your conception of the setting and who characters are.
(12:08:33 AM) Dagda: Preferably, it shouldn't be too out there.
(12:08:40 AM) Isaac: I agree
(12:09:29 AM) Dagda: The idea behind Bonus IPs is to give people a little leeway- their character advancement isn't 99% determined by whose in-game agenda they're pushing
(12:09:41 AM) Dagda: They can steer a little, from a metagame perspective.
(12:10:18 AM) Isaac: Yep, and thats a good thing, with such an open ended character creation, it'd be stifling if they couldn't have some leeway while advanceing
(12:11:43 AM) Dagda: *Something* is earning them a little more regard from people in general. It's their choice how they leverage it.
(12:12:33 AM) Dagda: Now, here's something else I'm wondering.
(12:12:57 AM) Dagda: To just go on a relevant tangent
(12:13:06 AM) Isaac: Thats great, it gives them the opportunity to build their own empire/destiny/allies in the shadows while they pay lip service supporting other factions agendas
(12:13:23 AM) Isaac: Its so triple agent, its just the feel I've been trying to capture
(12:14:13 AM) Dagda: It seems to me that faction influence has to ways it can be potentially be spent: one-time favors, and various "level up" abilities.
(12:14:34 AM) Dagda: Be it personal training or other permanent benefits.
(12:15:48 AM) Dagda: I think you'd want to have Influence Points "level up" both your flexible, personal pull and your faction pull
(12:16:42 AM) Dagda: And you can either permanently expend a level-up bonus to get a permanent bonus, or keep it on reserve for a per-adventure bonus.
(12:19:02 AM) Isaac: ala fate points?
(12:19:24 AM) Isaac: or an on the fly gaming purpose (calling in an orphans network to run a message?)
(12:19:32 AM) Isaac: street urchins*
(12:21:19 AM) Dagda: The idea is that if I've got X influence points with the Street Urchins, I could spend some permanently to gain a permanent contact OR leave them in that faction's per-adventure pool and spend a similar amount to get that contact's aid for that single adventure.
(12:22:14 AM) Dagda: Another example would be acquiring a weapon from a faction's armory as a permanent possession versus borrowing it for a week.
(12:22:51 AM) Isaac: and the necessary IP to buy either the perm or temp benefit scales according to its worth
(12:23:12 AM) Dagda: Permanently purchased resources are always on hand and reliable- you don't have to jump through any hoops to prevent the faction from turning you down.
(12:23:19 AM) Dagda: Yeah
(12:24:04 AM) Dagda: You want the organization's best cryptographer? It'll cost you a good deal of influence, and require several difficult skill checks.
(12:24:52 AM) Dagda: Acquiring something permanently takes longer and is even more difficult, and you aren't getting that influence back at the start of the next session. But you've now got a permanent resource.
(12:25:00 AM) Dagda: Unless, of course, things go south.
(12:25:26 AM) Isaac: And the skill checks might be influenced by the PC having too much IP with a faction that is a rival to the one they are currently working with
(12:25:48 AM) Dagda: And of course, favors can be owed both ways. You can "go into debt" with a given organization, influence-wise, in which case you owe *them* a favor.
(12:25:55 AM) Isaac: Ah the inf are like fate points in DH, regenerating between sesions
(12:26:09 AM) Dagda: More power, but more obligations when it comes to how you use it.
(12:26:14 AM) Isaac: That is perfect, owing a debt, I already have the ground work for that set up in the rules
(12:27:50 AM) Dagda: What I'm saying is that temporary benefits would draw on a reserve of influence that replenishes- but you can permanently deduct from that reserve to permanently gain something.
(12:28:05 AM) Isaac: I get it
(12:28:54 AM) Isaac: It compliments the feel of the game perfectly, shady deals and danderous debts
(12:29:00 AM) Dagda: This even allows for temporary training- you get a "crash course" in something. It's only one session of training, so it won't temporarily make a beginner a master, but it could be relevant for the task at hand.
(12:29:18 AM) Isaac: Hey thats neat
(12:30:35 AM) Dagda: Someone challenges you to a duel? Better learn how to handle a flintlock pistol real fast.
(12:31:18 AM) Isaac: That precise situation lends itself to fantastic RP opportunities
(12:31:56 AM) Dagda: (Or call in a favor with an assisn contact to get them to poison your opponent's breakfast)
(12:32:03 AM) Dagda: *assassin contact
(12:32:26 AM) Isaac: brilliant
(12:32:29 AM) Dagda: That remind me, you'd also want rules covering your relationship with contacts.
(12:32:50 AM) Dagda: Some favors are done for an organization, but many more are personal.
(12:35:46 AM) Isaac: There is fluff regarding the movers and shakers in each organisation, and sometimes these people have goals that are not synonymous with that of their organisation. It'd be interesting if the PCs develop more IP with a particular person within the faction than the faction itself...
(12:37:41 AM) Dagda: A contact can help you out of personal obligation or via a faction
(12:38:25 AM) Isaac: This whole mechanic could lead to very complicated webs of deals, favours and obligations, but thats exactly the world I'm trying to foster
(12:40:06 AM) Dagda: I think getting help from a contact should either be replenishing (when they're a friend, or you've got heavy blackmail on them, or you've built up a professional relationship with them) or one-time.
(12:41:14 AM) Dagda: If a contact is a part of a faction, you can "buy" some or all of their services with faction IP. Otherwise, you'll need bonus IP and/or personal favors.
(12:41:46 AM) Isaac: Sounds good
(12:41:49 AM) Dagda: I think you'll definitely want players to be able to make their own contacts.
(12:42:58 AM) Isaac: In as much as they seek them out (I want to find a swordsmaster) and the gM fleshes it out, or they make up the entire NPC?
(12:43:27 AM) Isaac: In the character creation, when they choose their initial contacts they were allowed to select from alist or make their own, with GMS blesing
(12:43:33 AM) Isaac: blessing*
(12:46:02 AM) Dagda: I'd say let the player specify the Services they want the contact to have (i.e. what the contact can do for them and how well they can do it), then let the player and the GM work together to come up with the fluff.
(12:46:31 AM) Isaac: Cool. I don't think people that can't work with the GM would be the crowd that this is aimed at anyhow
(12:47:27 AM) Dagda: Factions, meanwhile, have a set list and hierarchy of services. They're large, predetermined packages, while unafilliated contacts provide small amounts of custom-picked abilities.
(12:48:35 AM) Dagda: A magic-user who wants to learn how to swordfight doesn't have to spend alot of time building influence with, say, the City Guard; he can take an old swordmaster as a contact instead.
(12:48:40 AM) Isaac: Definitely. I was just thinking how the factions themselves, and their set benefits at each level of favour almost mimic the DH career system, a system i'm very fond of, but uses it in a different way
(12:49:10 AM) Isaac: Great thinking, that lets people focus on their long term goals while picking up bits and pieces wher ethey need them.
(12:49:45 AM) Dagda: Of course, there's also the matter of *losing* influence.
(12:50:15 AM) Dagda: Are players going to have to take sides in this setting?
(12:52:54 AM) Isaac: Eventually they will, if they invest any amount of time in any one faction, have to pick one side over another, as so many are directly opposed to one another.
(12:53:20 AM) Isaac: you can't be a part of faction A AND faction B. One wants to save the forest, one wants to destroy it completely.
(12:54:16 AM) Isaac: If you start to curry too much favour with a faction that opposes one you are 'in' with, there woudl have to be consequences
(12:54:32 AM) Dagda: I imagine that first you lose any accumulated influence with a given faction, and then they actively become your enemy as your influence drops into the negatives.
(12:54:41 AM) Isaac: And if you are in too deep, they might consider you cannot be allowe dto leave, as you know too much
(12:54:54 AM) Isaac: Thats how I pictured it as well.
(12:55:36 AM) Isaac: They start to hear about you working for a rival, and your favour with them starts to drop. Eventually, without replenishing it by working for them, it goes into negatives and they consider you an enemy
(12:56:19 AM) Dagda: The idea of permanently spending influence works here- metagame, the points spent on the training stay spent, so your influence goes negative more quickly. In-game, they're more of an enemy because you didn't just betray them, you betrayed them after they taught you what you know.
(12:57:32 AM) Isaac: I'm running out of ways to compliment you here, thats an excellent idea.
(12:57:47 AM) Dagda: Heh
(12:59:56 AM) Isaac: You are an incredible help, this will completely revolutionise the way I'm working. You'll get a thanks on the dedication page for sure :P
(1:00:21 AM) Dagda: Neat
(1:00:45 AM) Isaac: I presume you're cool with me running with these mechanics?
(1:01:10 AM) Dagda: No prob
(1:03:37 AM) Isaac: The vbest thing about it all is that I have all the fluff and groundwork already done. Now I have the fun job (no sarcasm, really) of making up faction packages :)
(1:06:21 AM) Dagda: First step is to define the different Services.
(1:08:21 AM) Dagda: Way I see it, you've got: NPC assistance, single skill checks, training, equipment, and Secrets (i.e. plot-advancing hints).
(1:08:27 AM) Dagda: For starters, anyway.
(1:09:21 AM) Dagda: Plus faction-specific favors, like having the city guard overlook a crime.
(1:09:32 AM) Isaac: Well i've got the actual skills and traits as a starting point for them, if you want the lockpicking skill, who could you learn it from? So I shoudl categorise skills according to the different factions that exist
(1:10:02 AM) Dagda: And of course, the GM can always let the players request a favor of their own imagining and then put a price tag on it. There can even be in-game negotiations.
(1:10:03 AM) Isaac: This is a new level of work, but its a huge step forward for the game itself
(1:10:17 AM) Isaac: Oh brilliant that woudl work so well
(1:11:12 AM) Isaac: What about using actually money to bribe or add weight to what you want, ie, the guard wont overlook the crime, but you can pay them off to affcet the negotiations/diff roll
(1:11:50 AM) Dagda: I'd say that someone's capability to train should depend on their level of ability with the relevant skill, with the potential for outside modifiers if they invest character ability into becoming a better trainer.
(1:12:35 AM) Dagda: And of course, a player can do this too. Acquire influence with the street urchins by showing them some new dirty fighting moves, and so on.
(1:13:33 AM) Isaac: Wow, and in that way they can gain inf with the faction they ar etraining/helping
(1:13:39 AM) Isaac: wow this has some real potential
(1:14:30 AM) Dagda: Know what else would be interesting?
(1:15:03 AM) Isaac: please do tell me :)
(1:15:56 AM) Dagda: If you gave faction some different stats- social standing, popular support, wealth, ratings in several different areas of capability as derived from their member's numbers and average level of ability. . .
(1:17:51 AM) Dagda: Not only would you ahve a quick general reference regarding the degree to which they can provide services (no gold-plated carriages from those street urchins), it would let players mechanically influence a given faction's standing. Or even. . .found a faction of their own.
(1:18:23 AM) Isaac: Fuck yes, thats exactly what i wanted them to be able to do, build heir own empire/crime family
(1:18:55 AM) Isaac: and I don't swear often, but thats perfect
(1:18:55 AM) Dagda: Kill a faction's head swordmaster, and their military prowess goes down a bit. Better yet, convince him to side with another faction to give them a corresponding increase.
(1:19:28 AM) Isaac: And if you allow other people in a faction get ito debt with you you can gain their loyalty and take over an existing faction...
(1:19:46 AM) Dagda: Could be.
(1:27:29 AM) Isaac: I can imagine a complex matrix that shows which factions sit well with which other ones and with various castes and classes within the city. I already have a V:tM like breakdown of how each school of magic views one another, now I'll expand it to include all factions.
(1:28:37 AM) Dagda: And entries mentioning which factions can provide different types of training/equipment.
(1:30:52 AM) Isaac: definitely. have you seen the career paths in DH? I imagine it would be similar to how they are set up. As you gain levels in favour a wider range of services become available that you can purchase
(1:38:09 AM) Dagda: That and the services are more potent, so to speak
(1:39:03 AM) Isaac: Yeah, they won't kill someone of good standing to save you from a trial if you are but a mook to them, but if you are invaluable to them they would go to greater lengths to protect you
(1:39:10 AM) Dagda: You could have a more "elite" faction that provides more potent services, but costs more to "level up" in
(1:40:01 AM) Isaac: That would definitely be in, there are a few factions that are elite, in that regard, with a lot more pull and greater resources.
(1:40:02 AM) Dagda: The variable being less the overall IP cost for a given service, and more how "valuable" you are to that faction.
(1:41:01 AM) Dagda: Something that's a minor favor for a noble is a life-changer for a street urchin.
(1:42:04 AM) Isaac: True
(1:43:54 AM) Dagda: And a gang of street urchins rallying to your defense is worth about as much as the noble lending you a handful of trained guards.
(1:45:16 AM) Isaac: I've saved all this, I gotta go grab some dinner, its pm here in Australia, if you're not around when I get back, I can't tell you how much I appreciate this brainstorm, you've reinvigorated my interest in this project. You've been an invaluable help to a stranger for little thanks or reward. You're a hell of a guy, Dagda. :) I'll be back in 30 or so. Thanks again.

And he's single, ladies! In all seriousness, I love having these sorts of discussions; if you've got some rpg project that you'd like feedback or suggestions on, you can feel free to hit me up via IM.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Final Fantasy 7 + Slashers

Back in that post reviewing what I'd been up to this last month or two, I mentioned that "World Of Darkness' amazing Slasher supplement inspired me to go back and revisit. . .my old idea for setting a campaign in the world of the FF7 series. I know it sounds deranged, but these two concepts are peanut butter and chocolate, seriously."

See, it's like this. In the wake of the original video game's events, you've got a setting with a military force of supersoldiers that's now been disbanded- plus untold numbers more that have been exposed to Jenova Cells in one fashion or another, even just by having blood from a SOLDIER spill on an open wound. And all of these people are being influenced by an alien subconsciousness; this influence largely consists of making them want to kill everyone.

Literally, everyone.

As in they want to personally murder every last human being on the planet.

Granted, Slashers in FF7 don't beat your skull in with a cement block; they slice through steel doors with swords and have duels on the backs of motorcycles. But the "those who fight monsters" theme seen in White Wolf's book very much applies here, since the ones best suited to fighting the slashers are other ex-SOLDIERs who have managed (so far) to resist the mental corruption.

I'm not suggesting your FF7-based campaign be a horror game; the idea is to enhance the adventuring setup described in the earlier post, in two different ways.

First, npc slashers provide a temporary shift towards thriller movie territory; a scary iconic enemy (similar to Dragons in D&D) that alters the nature of the encounter/adventure by being a far more serious threat than any normal enemy. Yes, the players are going to be far more powerful than any average joe slasher movie victim, but that boost in power applies to both sides, meaning they'll still be facing a very real threat.

Second, the Slasher villians and the chance to play as a character with Jenova Cells both help provide an overarching conflict to the setting (and thus the player's adventures). Western fantasy has holy knights fighting the corrupting influence of the devil and his foul servants; in the world of FF7, you have hardy survivors engaged in a similar struggle against Jenova and her psychopathic pawns. And in both cases, the future of humanity is at stake.

Now in case it's not clear, I'm not saying to gloss over all the fun, inventive aspects of the setting in favor of black leather bodysuits and ominous latin chanting. My goal here's just to facilitate a game where you can have it all- to capture both the madcap fun of parts like FF7's early Midgar sections, and the chilling tension that came from moments like escaping confinement in the Shinra headquarters only to see the hallways outside are covered in fresh blood.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Hey, I should write that down!"

I finally found a reason to use twitter! As its name might imply, dagdasnotepad is a sort of bite-size companion to this blog/portfolio, a collection of the ideas that pop into my head and seem worth holding onto. They're also potential blog posts, if people show interest in hearing more about them.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

8 steps to running a game based on Berserk

As anyone who's sunk their teeth into this dark fantasy manga knows, it's got quite a well-crafted setting. A war-torn setting where white-knuckle action is mixed with grim hardships borne simply out of human nature. The supernatural presence is subdued, but also hideously powerful- a monstrous evil that's simultaneously all too human. It's a great setting-but how do you adapt the awesome elements to a roleplaying game?

Step 1: Use Fantasy Craft. It's built so that magic is optional and not integral to the game's content, and has the crunch to really get into a detailed representation of the subject matter. I know no better system for the job.
Step 2: Don't tell them it's Berserk. To steal some advice from one of the people I brainstormed with on /tg/: Tell them it's 'Badass Mercenary Quest' or something. A little bit of foreshadowing with dark lore, one or two demons, more mercenary adventures, then OH GOD WHAT THE HELL WHY?! Which happens to be an excellent summary of step 3. . .
Step 3: Gradual, ceaseless evolution of the story. Escalation is already a natural part of most rpgs; what Berserk can teach us is technique. Characters get more powerful, yes; but it's not just their skills that develop. Their personalities change, new personality traits appearing and old ones fading away as they become a little more mature, a little wiser and more cunning. Their long-term priorities change, sometimes due to introspections, sometimes because the change is thrust upon them.
Step 4: Player-driven overarching plots. It's the changes in the protagonists that lead Berserk's story to evolve, rather than just having static characters who are coincidentally caught up in increasingly grand events. The adventures occur as characters pursue their own goals- to form a mercenary band, to hunt down monsters, to rescue someone they love.
Step 5: Unfair odds. Characters in Berserk are constantly faced with encounters that are in no sense of the word "balanced". A wolf pack. A hundred men (many with crossbows). A demon that smashes through foot-thick stone walls and tree trunks. In metagame terms. . .I once played in a game (the "Elysium Nebula" one I've mentioned a few times in the past) where the GM was increasingly open about the fact that he was putting us in bad situations without bothering to come up with a way we could survive them. That was our department. And because he was willing to sit down and go over the particulars of the situation with us, and rewarded innovative ideas (Say, hacking into an enemy's comm channel and impersonating their commander), the result was one of the best games I've ever been in. It also helps to let the PCs have a variety of interesting tools on hand- ropes and throwing knives and small explosives. . .
Step 6: Inventive action. Berserk is full of innovative and interesting fight scenes, where characters do far more than cross blades. Spycraft's myriad combat feats help with this, but what I like to do is have my NPCs start the snowball rolling; come up with interesting tactics based around the situation and any unique abilities they have, then give the players chances to mount unorthodox responses of their own. . .
Step 7: Life sucks. The world of Berserk is a terrible, terrible place to live- full of desperate people who, as in real life, are motivated by their desperation to do all sorts of horrible things to others. Make it clear to the players from the get-go what kind of setting this game will have; if don't understand that the game is *supposed* to feel harsh and merciless, they'll find the experience much more frustrating from metagame standpoint. Rude awakenings are fine, just spring them sooner rather than later.
Step 8: Any means necessary. The PCs are by no means an exception to the above statement about desperate people. In Berserk, Guts would have died ages ago were he not capable of taking extreme measures without missing a beat- measures that have, on more than one occasion, lead to a mutated monstrosity the sized of a house referring to him as a monster. I talk in steps 5 and 6 about encouraging/rewarding innovation, but in Berserk it's not always enough to just be clever. You have to be ruthless as well, doing whatever it takes to come out ahead.

These are the pieces of advice I've got to offer. Any further suggestions are welcome.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kjallak Havengard

Kjallak's my character for a Fantasy Craft game I'm playing in via Skype. The players are all denizens of a group of islands in the middle of this sea that's separating two nations with an ancient rivalry; the premise is that we're going to take a stab at the courier business, running messages and precious cargo back and forth between the two sides by whatever means necessary. We needed a reason for everyone to have gotten together, so I volunteered to make someone who'd be recruiting everyone else at the start of the game.

The island's population is a diverse collection of refugees that sailed from the other side of the world, so all kinds of concepts are possible; Kjallak's background/motivation is that he's emerged as a leader among the 20-odd people that make up the new generation of his clan. Said clan once occupied one of the highest places in a nordic version of imperial china, and his elder's tales of glory have left him confident that his people can attain a similar level of status in this new world. He's forcefully charismatic, and driven by ambition- though he doesn't yet have a long-term goal, beyond the recognition of the Havengard name as a noble title. That's something to figure out as the game goes on.

Kjallak's first level is in Assassin, but from here out I expect to take an even mix of Captain and Courtier levels. His two biggest specialties at this point are Intimidate and Tactics. Hit the link for his full statistics.

Kjallak Havengard (Kee-YAWL-awk HAW-ven-guard)
Ruthless Human Corsair
Assassin 1

Str 8 (1 pt, -1 talent)
Dex 10 (2 pts)
Con 10 (2 pts)
Int 18 (18 pts, +1 talent)
Wis 8 (0 pts)
Cha 15 (11 pts)

3/3 d4 Action Dice, 9/9 Vitality, 10/10 Wounds
Defense 16 (1 base+4 Int+1 Spec), DR 0
Ref +1, Fort +1, Will +0, Init +6 (2 base+4 Int)

+5 Unarmed (+6 vs. Special), 1d6+4, 19-20

+3 Athletics (4) [Origin]
+6 Blend (4)
+6 Bluff (4)
+8 Crafting (Carpentry, Writing) (4)
+6 Disguise (4)
+10 Intimidate, 19-20 (4+2 BSM+2 Orc Armor)
+4 Prestidigitation (4)
+0 Ride (Water Vehicles) (0)
+3 Sense Motive (4)
+4 Sneak (4) [Origin]
+10 Tactics, 19-20 (4+2 BSM)

-Basic Skill Mastery (Officer)
-Martial Arts (Intelligence)

-Always Ready
-Menacing Threat
-Terrifying Look
-Hand of Death (21)

Interests: Languages (Native, Keehorn, Zetra), Studies (Seamanship)
Proficiencies: Unarmed Forte, Cheap Shot [Talent], Mix-Up (Pummel, Threaten)
Panache 5, Prudence 0, Appearance 4 (2 Panache+1 Grooming Case+1 Orc Armor)
10 Reputation, 100 sp stake, 30 coin in hand

Vented Ceremonial Orc Padded Armor (5 cold resist, 4 heat resist, 5.4 lbs) [44s]

Grooming Case (D, 2 lbs) [8s]

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