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A member registered Jun 07, 2020

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We are definitely all having fun. Of course our experiences with your system are very influenced by the sort of game we're playing - Barkeep on the Borderlands is a chaotic urban sandbox, and doesn't play at all like a classic adventure and/or dungeon adventure. But, Brighter Worlds works very well for it. After ~20 sessions but only about 6 XP each (they seemed reticent to use the Eulogy-based XP system, so I'm just handing out XP when they accomplish major feats), they've gathered piles of items, spells, allies, and other tools, so they can work their way around most problems in strange and surprising ways. BUT, their stats aren't too high (I think only one of them has a d10 stat) so when it comes down to a roll, they still have (what feels to me like) the proper amount of opportunity to fail. And combat - which we've gotten into very, very sparingly - still feels dangerous and like something they want to avoid. That suits me well. Their problems are resolved more like - I don't know - Dr. Who-style, rather than Conan-style. None of the callings are primarily about doing violence, and I think most players ought to try a game like that sometime. It's surprising how few there are.

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Hello! We've continued to play each week since I last posted. Most of that time we've spent in Barkeep on the Borderlands, and my Artificer, Witch, Soulbearer, and Sneaky Bastard have gotten up to very satisfying amounts of trouble in this chaotic, urban, social sandbox. We haven't been in any true dungeons since I last posted, so the issue of the shadow being able to scout ahead hasn't come up as often. The player has very often used it to creep the shadows of other people, monsters, and animals, to find out their surface thoughts and to subtly try to influence their thoughts. The player also has the Multifarious Copies ability that allows the shadow to look like someone or something else.

The rulings I've had in place since the last post are: splitting off the shadow costs all your Grit if you have any and you are deprived until you have a quick rest (enough to restore Grit); the shadow can only go 200' from the owner; the shadow has no independent mind and the owner can only pay attention to their own body or the shadow (one or the other) at a time (so it can't function like a lookout, and the owner can't move their own body while using the shadow [so it's not a helpful scout if the party is on the move]); the shadow can't walk through bright light; the shadow can't read the mind of a being that isn't casting a distinct shadow (which has led to fun problem-solving); the shadow can't see any better than the owner and doesn't have nightvision/darkvision (but can "feel" its way along in total darkness); and the shadow CAN speak (especially in its Multifarious Copy illusory form) but only in a whisper. 

All those rulings have made for a shadow that's pretty fun to use. I like the "read surface thoughts" ability in particular, because it lets me describe the internal worlds of all sorts of weird beings - things the players would otherwise never be able to learn about. Because it can also let the PC communicate with the being, it's still a very strong power; kind of like two powers in one, compared to some of the other abilities. But, it is also kind of this character's "whole deal" and it makes for a fun character. Like I said, we haven't gone dungeon crawling for a while, but I think the rulings I've made with your help (particularly that using it costs Grit, the range limitation, and the fact that the player can only control and see out of either their body or the shadow at one time) will make it manageable and not too OP. (It will help if one's dungeons have loooong corridors and a sense of urgency, so the party can't afford to stand around long.)

Your suggested change sounds much more manageable from a GM perspective. All the rulings I've made are a lot to keep in my head, especially considering I also have to remember all the rulings I've made for all the spells. I'll stick with what we have, because it's fun for us, but I can see how the new version could also be very useful. (If I were a Sneaky Bastard with that power, I might want to get For He Can Creep ASAP, so I would have more opportunities to easily touch someone who doesn't know I'm there.)

Other balance notes: our Witch has Wild Spellcapture, and it seems very powerful. They're in a high-magic setting so opportunities abound to grab spell effects constantly, and he now has quite a library of abilities.

Our Soulbearer seems underpowered by comparison to the Witch and sometimes lacks things to do. She can turn into a big tough owl and, with Speaker of the Dead, can talk to nearby lingering souls. But, the Witch can also fly (because of a spell), and sometimes a session or two will go by without any helpful spirits to talk to. I kind of feel like I want to add Psychopomp to the Speaker of the Dead ability to give her a boost, or to make Soul Sight a free ability. Maybe she could get a Class Ability to let her summon a swarm of animals, or be able to do something with elemental spirits too, or have special abilities involving rituals - I don't know. The Witch also has access to animal abilities (they can choose to their own owl that can scout around) but also gets powerful spell abilities (able to capture spells, and cast extra spells by letting their familiar do the casting) so in some ways I think the Witch can easily eat the Soulbearer's lunch, so to speak. 

Thanks for asking! I hope this is useful.

Thank you very much! I think I will start with your first suggestion, "Set your Grit to zero to split it off, you’re deprived until you recall it." I think this will have the additional effect of also making the player feel the shadow pulling away from them. It's not just a drone that flies away on command, it's a little piece of its owner. I may also have something happen to the PC when their shadow is away - first of all, obviously, THEY cast no shadow, but also maybe their eyes turn inky black, and/or they feel cold all over and can't warm up (linking to how they have no Grit, are deprived). Better than this, I could just ask the player, "What happens to YOU when your shadow is away - how does the separation of you from your shadow affect you, and possibly the way others perceive you?"

I also like the ideas of spending an hour in complete darkness, or spending an hour deprived as you work to regenerate the shadow - like, maybe when it separates it "tears off," and it can't just reattach; when you're done with puppeting it around, it dissipates and it needs to regrow. I'll see which of these things appeals to the player.

I'll post again if/when I have other feedback. They may actually get into a real fight soon, but it's hard to tell. I like that there's no simple, obvious "fighter" class in the game. Although the Artificer, Grimblade, Bag of Bones, and Devoted are or can be made "tanky" and dangerous, they all very much have other stuff going on, and just killing things is obviously not their "main thing" or top interest. It makes them approach the world in a different, non-murder-hobo way. (It may also help that half my group is new to RPGs.)

I have some quirky adventures without obvious "win buttons" picked out for them to experience next. Depending on where they go, they may do Black Wyrm of Brandonsford, Barkeep on the Borderlands, the Cross Stitch, or others. I think those will be good matches for their weird capabilities, and give them opportunities to make trouble for themselves. 

Thanks very much again for your very thoughtful input. We are having fun and I look forward to finding out what happens next!

In particular, I'm posting because I could use some help with the Sneaky Bastard's Shadow Clone ability. "You can separate your shadow from your physical self. Your shadow is insubstantial and immaterial, but cannot pass through opaque objects. It is immune to physical damage, but vulnerable to magic and bright lights. Your shadow can hide in the shadow of another creature, and while there you can read their surface thoughts, and communicate with them mentally." My player took the add-on "Multifarious Copies," which lets them change the shadow's physical appearance. I need to house-rule a way to tone this power down, because it overshadows (lol) the other PCs (whose players began to mutter about it being overpowered in our last session).

This thing is the ultimate scout, especially in your typically shadowy dungeon, cave, castle, or other adventure location. It's basically invisible, can't be hurt, can read surface thoughts of any creature, and create moving illusions of other creatures. In practice, the player of this shadow is in charge of all the party's movement in dangerous places; most of my interaction is with that character, asking them where they move the shadow, and telling them what monsters, traps, and dead-ends it sees. I've already ruled that it can only go 150' from its owner, the PC has to test WIL to read thoughts without being detected, and it can't see in perfect darkness (even though I kind of think it should be able to, since it IS a shadow!). How should I change it so that this player still has an awesome shadow power, but one that doesn't disarm so many of the dangers and surprises of adventure locations? 

My first thought is limiting the number of uses per day, and the amount of time per use.

Hello! I am about six sessions into running a Brighter Worlds campaign. As a GM who prefers lighter RPGs, but also likes to give players the ability to create characters that are fun and exciting to play right from the start, I really like the concept of this system and the experiences I've had with it so far. I have a very talky/silly group, such that even after six sessions we still haven't had a combat; they prefer to sneak around, fiddle with objects, (try to) outsmart NPCs, trigger random consequences, and avoid violence. So, I can't tell you anything about how combat works for me so far. 

My biggest concern is in creating obstacles that actually challenge the party and can't be side-stepped immediately by an obvious use of one of their many powers. We have six PCs: a bag of bones, a witch, an artificer, a cleric of small gods, a soulbearer, and a sneaky bastard; and, between their class powers and random rolls on the starting equipment table, they have 6-7 sentient or semi-sentient pets as well. 2-3 of them can fly (depending on how well one of them rolls), they can read minds, communicate telepathically, scout ahead invisibly, create illusionary duplicates of other people and creatures, unlock doors, and become trees, and one of them never sleeps (or breathes or eats). This is before they start leveling up, finding magic items, or growing diegetically. And, all of these abilities (except opening locks) are permanent and have little or no cost. 

In D&D terms, it feels like we started out with a band of ~7th level magic users. Many OSR adventures won't challenge them as-written. Their abilities are so varied I struggle to keep them all in my head while skimming modules and writing my own content. It's fun in play when they leverage their abilities in a creative way, but sometimes they don't have to be creative: they push the button on their character sheet and walk around the obstacle. 

The Calling powers, most of which are always on and don't require the use of resources, obviate many of the NSR/OSR principles that are based on having low-powered, mundane pcs with limited resources, who have to rely on their wits to survive. Despite being so close to them in terms of rules, this game doesn't feel like Cairn or Into the Odd in play. (In a weird way it's like a D&D 5e version of Into the Odd, except in 5e the characters are loaded with combat powers, and in Brighter Worlds they're loaded with exploration powers!)

All of this is fine when the players enjoy it. Sometimes, though, I think they've felt a bit disappointed when puzzle encounters turned out to anticlimaxes.

I just want to mention all this because I think GMs should prepare a wide variety of challenges for Brighter Worlds PCs, and to be ready for them to steamroll over some of them, and get hung up on others, in an unpredictable way. Pre-made adventures may not work as written because the PCs have the powers of mid-level D&D adventurers, but not their combat strength.

Can't imagine anything more Winnie-the-Pooh than this. Perfect. Would pay for Tigger DLC (or a print copy).

I think this is a great and impressive work of minimalism and choosing just the right word where it matters. There's almost no setting here, but what's implied is meaningful and impactful, and sits at the crux of many popular media properties, so that anyone with basic knowledge of sci-fi can easily fill in the gaps with their setting(s) of choice. Mechanics are clever and elegant. That Trauma flips over and becomes Hits when a PC becomes Irregular is an especially good touch. I look forward to the expansion, although, for one page, this is pretty much perfect as it is.

Thank you! That's very helpful. I thought that's how it would work, and I just wanted to make sure - I didn't want to accidentally make Events too easy. For the benefit of other potential buyers: I have no other rule questions and the game is laid out in a super user-friendly and thoughtful way. You make a few copies and you're ready to share it with your friends at the table; and when your friends see the copies, they'll immediately understand how to use them.

I haven't seen any other game quite like this, and I hope I can get it to the table with my group soon. "Powered by the Apocalypse" games were the standard in adapting short-to medium-length drama, particularly high-status serial television drama, into RPGs for several years, and I would LOVE to see this ruleset adapted in a similar way. I think it could be just as adaptable as PbtA, and could be used in many settings. The "playbooks" are perfectly written to allow players the leeway to make many different versions of a bounty hunter, pilot, droid, etc.; at the same time, they give enough colorful inspiration that just about anyone - whether a complete newbie to narrative RPGs or otherwise - will light up with ideas; and there's enough structure that every character will be interesting and will fit into the group.

This whole game is a real feat of structured creativity. A designer's task is to lay out a sort of flowerbed bursting with vitality and potential, and leave it to OTHER PEOPLE - veterans, beginners, and everything between - to make something of it. I can feel just from reading it that this game is ready to pop. Another comment here by JDCorley mentions the balance of "straight" and "funny" - I would also say there's a balance between light moments and meaningful moments that is really remarkable. Some players will naturally lean toward being goofy, some will want to play it sentimental or serious sometimes, and this game will accommodate all of that.

By the way: I have the print version as well as the digital copy, and it's a great print job. Nothing but good things to say about it.

How often can a character use a Host Experience? I know each of their three starting Hunter Experiences can only be used once and are then crossed out. But, are Host Experiences also permanently crossed off after they've been used once?

You said "Zaibatsu" so I bought it. Not disappointed. The uncompromising nature of rolling for either 9+ or 7+ (if skilled) to succeed on 2d6 is majestic, and the incredible danger of combat is so scary and cyberpunk. Trading bullets will see you left bleeding. The included scenarios are stylish, dark, well-written, and oriented toward investigation and the use of careful, cautious judgment. Cheers!

Wonderful! I would love for every system to have a modular ruleset add-on like this. Most of the GMs in this space are rules tweakers and mix-and-matchers anyway, and a modular set like this is a great jump start. Thank you!

I've edited my original comment to reflect that I had misread the rules about skill checks. Also: I didn't actually realize there is NO battle system in this game until you said so. So much of the Final Fantasy games is about standing in a line and choosing attacks when it's your turn - but that's not really what fires our imaginations when we think about the series, is it? It's all these other things, which you've captured in one page. I like the new mission event system in the 1.2 version - like everything else here, it's very final fantasy and I can immediately see how well it would work. And I like the idea of having free skill uses. If I ran a campaign of this, I'm sure I would be thinking hard about some way to use mana points - but that may be the exact point when this game would go from being perfect and simple to too complicated...

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Wow, this is one of the MOST Final Fantasy RPGs I've seen. Lots of inspiration perfectly tuned to Final Fantasies VII, VIII, and X (and others - like XV - too).  GMs will have to figure out their own rules for combat - by default, we only have skill tests here - and create their own enemies and bosses. (Off the top of my head, I would create a mini-damage system where normal attacks do 2 HP, attacks using an element the enemy is strong against do 1 HP, and attacks using an element the enemy is weak against do 3 HP - you'll want to have something at least that complicated to make use of the elemental spells and weapon styles.) I will probably tweak the standard resolution system - rather than rolling d20-2 vs. stats for all tests [edit: please disregard; I had misread the rules!], I will just add 2 more points to every stat; even more more likely, I will apply a variable penalty/bonus depending on the difficulty of the action. Thank you! This is bursting with inspiration.

I don't think has updated the PDFs yet - the drop table hasn't changed, overcharge is still in there, etc. Maybe the staff are on holiday break. :)

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I ran this last night as a just-after-Halloween one-shot for my group. Aided by the many excellent random tables, the crew (an Appalachian prepper werewolf, an Instagram influencer gillman, and - well - basically the ghost of Mike Tyson) went to the Tommyknockers club to watch their favorite band, Paradise Instinct, but the set was interrupted by a scuffle with the gutterpunk vamp gang the Teeth, resulting in a werewolf freak-out by local drunk Dixie Dave (a total poser, btw - he's actually from Boston). When the dust cleared, lead singer Tina Thorn (a demon) realized her phone had been stolen by her ex-boyfriend (local slacker and vampire Eddie Powers), which was a real problem since she'd left a voice memo on the phone containing her true name! Also stolen were the band's equipment for their next gig. Luckily the crew was able to locate Eddie and the Teeth (with the help of some improvised palmistry) and splattered him and his freaky friends, including a scary tentacle-extruding "holehead" who seemed to be running a ceremony to summon or bind Tina using her stolen stage costume. They were all able to make it back to Tommyknockers in time to deliver the equipment so the band could make it onto the Magic Bus - a roving semi-magical double-decker bus/club - and the group received the best reward of all: free tickets to the show!

Everything above was inspired by or came directly from the many random tables in the book; but it was also super easy to improv because of the strong theme that oozes, seeps, and splatters from every word and illustration. The layout is excellent, and every two-page spread contains the complete rules for that component of the game - combat, equipment, etc. A joy to read and use at the table.

Dudes! You should play this game!