Wednesday, 3 September 2014

September Status

Sorry for the lack of posts lately; I've been working on a lot of stuff lately, and haven't found the time to write about it!

It looks like I've pretty much lost the impetus to write detailed Actual Plays - and most of the time if I try to write a brief AP it turns into a long one. I think, if anything, I'm more likely to write about impressions, thoughts, and problems with games, rather than detailed accounts of the sessions themselves.

After its successful Kickstarter, I've been working on various things for Fear the Living. I've made up a couple of record sheets and gone through two editing passes of the game document. I'm currently working on the layout so we can move on to the final pre-production stage. It's only taken a month to get to this stage, so hopefully it might be completed in another month or so? We're also waiting on art though, so I guess that might slow things down a bit.

I've been slowly plugging away at the art for PowerFrame, although not as much as I should. There are still a lot of art-worthy gaps to fill, and a few outstanding essential pieces (chapter heading-bars, and the cover). I'm thinking I'll concentrate on those and a couple of other pieces to fill large annoying gaps in the layout, and release it on DriveThruRPG. Since it's currently aimed at PDF-only, I can always update the file if I get the chance to add more art later.

I'm also about to do another round of art for the Strays RPG, though, so I guess that will eat up most of my art production time for the next little while...

In the meantime, since I've been working on art and editing, my game-mechanical brain has been chewing over a couple of new projects: Thunder Hunters, which I discussed part of previously, and a currently unnamed tile and card based wargame.

Oh! I also ran my first session of Dungeon World a couple of nights ago! It went pretty well although we only had two players. The Cleric and Paladin formed a low-ranking Inquisitorial unit, investigating a skeleton-infested floating tomb.

Thunder Hunters

I haven't done too much more on Thunder Hunters, since +Annette keeps dutifully reminding me to work on PowerFrame instead.

I have pretty much decided to go with the option of combining stats so you only roll one dice pool against your opponent's target number (also made from two combined stats). So to stab something, you add Hit+Might and roll that many d6 against your opponent's Agile+Vigour. Rather than reducing hit points, Successes indicate what sort of effect you have on the target - anything from missing and overextending yourself, to manoeuvring, inflicting minor wounds (in the form of stat penalties), and finally lethal or defeating blows.

One interesting thing I've come up with, is to have larger creatures use larger dice. So people use d6, but Allosaurs use d8, and Tyrannosaurs use d10. This makes larger things scarier, and also provides a tactile sense of struggling against a larger creature.

Another thing I've been mulling over has been the idea of Spirit Points. The original idea was that killing creatures releases Evil Spirits that plague the tribe or allow the GM to develop the ecosystem to introduce new threats; however, I need to make sure the economy isn't set up to necessarily de-incentivise fighting dinosaurs, which is part of the appeal of the game. I do want to reflect what happens when you upset the balance of nature, but the balance can also tip too far against the tribe and threaten to overwhelm them if the wild isn't fought back to some extent. I'm still thinking over ways to implement that, although I'm not actively thinking about it right now.

Tile Wargame

I've had the idea for this sort of wargame for a while - you use tiles for terrain to create a variable battlefield, and cards to represent units. It's set at a medieval tech level, since I want the basics of infantry, archers, and cavalry. However, there's nothing which would prevent the representation of early firearms and cannons as well.

The main mantra is "No Modifiers", although what that really means is "the players don't have to remember to add any modifiers during play." All of a unit's melee and ranged defence scores are listed on the card, with different ratings for each of the six types of terrain they might be standing in. Attack scores are generally fixed, although some units may have alternative attack scores against different types of enemy units, or against units in specific terrain.

I've based the terrain on the types described in The Art of War - Open (plains, fields), Entangling (forests), Temporising (swamps, bogs), Precipitous (hills, elevations), Narrow Passes (canyons, bridges, streets), and Fortifications (castles, towers, walls). Each terrain tile has a movement cost for the three forms of movement - foot, hoof, or wheel.

Units don't track hit points or anything like that - I want to keep the bookkeeping to a minimum. Instead, we abstract the unit's condition. They start in Solid formation, and if they take a certain strength of attack they become Broken - you flip the card over, which describes the unit operating at reduced capacity. A Broken unit that suffers harm Falls Back and gives up its space; if it takes more damage after that, it's Routed and removed from play.

I've been slowly putting together a playtest set, although as my printer's out of ink I've been hand-writing blank unit cards on ivory-board. The entire game exists on a sea of floating modifiers, so I want to be able to erase and rewrite the details if I decide something needs to be changed. It's taken me a while since each unit has a lot on its card, but I just about have three small armies ready to do some local playtests.