Thanks! They're certainly a fun grab-bag of add-ons.
On the Escalated thing... Will need to think on that one. Part of the rationale for naming them that way was as a warning - that these things can get hella dark if you follow them to their ends, and making players aware of this out the gate is helpful. Being ambushed by where that mechanic is taking you seems potentially much worse to me than going "Oh, ew, not for me at all".
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Thanks! They're certainly a fun grab-bag of add-ons.
I'd love 'em. firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would!
And yeah, Infected is much older than Schema 7. I would *not* try to import conditions to it without a total overhaul, but cues, man... Whooo, I'd want to bring those. Luck, could go either way.
1. This is terminology from a holdover, and is just dice from having applicable equipment as a condition.
2. Same again; there are just two tiers, the granular score and the have-it-or-not bit. The clearest terminology, in tests, has turned out to be the D&Dism of "ability score" and "proficiency", which annoys me, but clear is clear.
3. Fair, that. I've had readers go both ways on that, (your way and the reverse, where envisioning the general rules is hard without knowing character bits).
4. Not *exactly,* but if you click over to my storefront, there are a few free games in various states that use forms of the general engine, some of which demand a lot less 'co-designer' work (Infected is pretty close to 'just make characters and go').
1) Well, I am *now.* But yeah, examples there would likely be good.
2) I have, but not with that specific wording and layout. I feel like an adjustment to the character sheet to link up skills in the same field might be called for, or similar.
3) That's.... Actually, looking at it, I need to clarify. In my head and play, the concept is that *standalone* conditions generally pick up trouble at three, while clustered ones tend to pick it up as you go from one condition to the next (though neither is a fixed rule).
Okay, let me hit these right off.
1) The rules make sense in general, though I'm a little concerned on "will I be bored if my character keeps failing to get elected?". Also, I feel like rules would make sense more quickly and readily by presenting us some kind of character sheet early on, and having a list of starting Mos Maiorum to toss in the middle of the table (both to add flavor and as a quick list of customs to violate) again presented early, would help speed up absorption. But then, I would.
2) It sparks for me, and feels very engage-able as a rules set. Obviously it needs to get dressed up in format, etc, etc, but the rules themselves aren't going to be an issue there. Adding more, uh, character to the characters might be useful to prompt stronger roleplay - as it is, I'd find it very easy to treat this like a board-less board game (one I think I'd like, yes, but that might not be the kind of play you want).
3) I don't know the period in particular, but it seems a little dry to have a Rome-related game without specific references to one of: The Colors as racing fandoms that are also kind of political "parties", the 'mob' generally, or something about Gladiatorial nonsense. Which usually go together with the whole aspect of "I, Patrician, need/want to appease the dangerous underclass, bread, circuses, etc". That stuff.
Also, unasked, but I gotta: Your current introduction wants to sell me on someone else's book, instead of your game. and, like, I'm sure it's a good book, but.
I feel like just the face might not be enough? Like, it's a strong iconic look, and *including* it might well be what you want to do, but more?
Honestly, I suspect the ideal would feel like an album cover, possibly digitized in that way?
All right! I've gone through this a fair bit, so let me see if I can answer what you're asking:
The Injury system, as it is presently, feels a bit bloated right now. I don't think any particular part of it is necessarily a problem, and it certainly escapes "god hit points are so utterly flavourless", but it feels like it would bog down combat in "How are you hurt, exactly?".
I'd therefore invite you to consider Die Hard (the original). There's a show in which the protagonist takes serious damage in a whole bunch of ways, but the show itself only really chooses to focus heavily on "Generally messed up" and "Significant foot injuries", right? Now, those foot injuries add distinctive, significant flavour to the proceedings, and the general injury and exhaustion certainly get shown off to effect, but adding more focus on other specific injuries would probably have given diminishing returns, if not actively distracted.
Anyway, that's just an example to show why I'd suggest that you likely want to rejigger injuries so that:
1. Body blow injuries are the standard, and run up general pain, blood loss, and exhaustion - enough flavor to feel 'ouchy' but generalized, for speed. Which is, yes, a bit of a compromise back in the overall direction where hit points live, but with consequences.
2. Specific, locational injuries stay, but become much less common (only occasionally rolled, available to called shots), and even more flavourful - Ideally, getting even one can then be a major consideration.
3. As a side effect, this could make called shots quite attractive, which might change the desired difficulty for taking one (or not).
Now, marketing. Fair warning - I'm not great at marketing, so I can only tell you what would engage ME.
Only the whole, The Wizard's Tale feels heavily influenced by late 80s (?)/early 90s(?) games - the era of Palladium, Rolemaster, and so on (though not necessarily those games particularly), especially in terms of the stat structure. And it's pretty combat-focused, in rules terms. Together, those things are it's main feel, to me.
Which in turn makes me think that the right positioning for the game would be to refine it a little in a way that leans into that era and identity, both in terms of book feel and in terms of setting. Cover art, tagline, all that sort of thing - look for a cluster of media in that period and the children of it, and aim to be (and sell as) the game for that. (Example: Krull, Masters of the Universe, Heavy Metal, and related science-fantasy are a sort of clump from moments surrounding that era, with Thor and Gloryhammer as modern kids of it. That might not be the cluster you'd want; just example).
With a good cover and clear "this is for that", I suspect you'd get some traction putting it up on Drivethru/Itch and then tweeting about it and doing a round of posting on various forums and such. Maybe not enough to actually get anywhere, but, you know, some.
So, I've made Schema's newest iteration free for the duration of the jam, because I for sure want feedback on that.
MY QUESTIONS - PLEASE READ THE GAME BEFORE READING THESE:
1) Are there any rules or sections that are 'out of order' enough to be aggravating? For example, there's some stuff in character creation that's not fully explained until after it because I trust that it's fairly intuitive, but I could be wrong about that....
2) As written, cues are described as being all about "back up my character concept". This could be expanded to explicitly include things like "build and escalate dramatic character relationships with my character", but I'm unsure if that's better reserved for supplemental material. Is that more than you'd want right out the gate, or would you want a discussion of writing more complex cues immediately?
3) A lot of things that are implied by the rules are expanded and shown off in the example section rather than with the rule itself, to the point that that section is absolutely critical. Reading through, was that obvious? Did the example section open up the game for you as intended / did you skim or skip a lot off it because it didn't seem that critical?
4) The current intention is to write a short 'safety tool' supplement that will likely include an altered stakes sheet (to put the X card mechanic, etc, right on there), or alternately a second sheet to go beside stakes. My overall feeling is that the game engine itself doesn't specifically drive towards sensitive topics - which means the level of safety stuff groups will want will vary primarily according to the other material used - which means I should provide a flexible setup that can be adjusted for a little or a lot. If you have experience with such tools, does that strike you as a reasonable stance (and if not, what would)?
5) Generic open question: Any other feedback you think would be handy / anything I ought to know?
If you're casting around for good questions to ask with your game, and it's specifically design input you want, you might want to consider inverting the Power 19 questions from Socratic Design. This could give questions like:
1.) What do you as a reader feel like this game is about?
Alternatively: This game is intended to be about [thing]; do you feel the text conveys that (and is there anywhere that could be conveyed more clearly)?
2.) What kind of action do you imagine the characters engaging in?
Alternatively: The intent is that characters will [thing]; do you feel that's forwarded well by the text (and is there anywhere it could be forwarded more)?
...And so on.
A hack that swaps inventory scores for a pool of "breath points", which can be used for effort, carrying capacity, and potentially magic:
I'm Levi Kornelsen!
I like cats up close, raccoons over there, and porcupines at a yet greater minimum safe distance.
Games I'd like to respond to would include... Hm.
Mostly older stuff comes to mind?
~ The Primal Order
~ Any of the White Wolf games, though I've done response games for several already. Wraith, god.
Of the new Itchy content, Anna Landing's Steading was my first buy and still makes me really happy; I would love to riff out around that.
As a fun aside: A version of "Overcoming Evil" where the GM brings out the prep for step 4 and the players flip it or don't change tactics and keep on bulldozing through?
So, like, the plot can work without a full reversal, but that usually means heaping on the pain, and making it obvious.
Darkest Dungeon and Torchbearer know this.
I was waiting for "railroady" to appear. :P
Okay, so, personally:
1. I'm completely happy if a game loads me up with meaningful choices that do not particularly form into any given plot structure. That's a good design, and Blades is good in that field.
2. I'm also happy if a game pulls towards a given structure without forcing it (by enticement and having things like moves that all point that way) - it "pulls" instead of "pushing".
3. And I'm happy if a game demands plot in a way that's deeply, deeply integrated rather than feeling like a tacked-on layer, so that "play the game" is "run the plot", straight up. Fiasco, for example, IS a plot structure in gameable form, as is The Mountain Witch. And for references right at hand, so is Atop A Lonely Tower, up there in the "Play" forum.
4. I'm not as happy when one layer of the game says "You're free to do as you like" and the other (or the GM) says "No you bloody aren't", unless I signed up for that exactly ("Want to play adventure module RB4?").
I'm primarily thinking about emergent plots, elicited by playing the game without the GM or others driving hard towards the structure (other than as dictated by the rules), but the above (as written) is relatively neutral on how you CAUSE the plot to appear.
Let's talk about plots!
1. DEFEATING EVIL
Here's the basic plot of a "defeat evil" story.
1. The hero is called to action against a partly-known enemy.
2. The hero collects their armaments.
3. The hero makes easy progress towards confrontation.
4. The first confrontation fails; the hero learns much more about their adversary, but is now faced with (or trapped in) a harder and more isolated place to go through to the second confrontation. (The adversary is defeated but revealed as not the real threat is also "learns much more").
5. The hard journey occurs; it is a grinding one, damaging the hero.
6. The hero emerges at the heart of or out of the bad place; a last confrontation occurs there.
7. The hero is victorious, and at least a little changed.
Here's my assertion about this plot: When gaming falls into this loose structure, roleplaying games tend to fall pretty flat on 4 without good and flexible prep. Additionally, many games empower but don't really change the heroes at the end; they aren't made different by their struggles, only stronger.
2. RAGS TO RICHES
Rags to riches (Joseph, David Copperfield, Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling) goes like this...
1. The protagonist is shown in exposition as miserable, under the thumb of some antagonist (which need not be a person).
2. A great gift of position, status, wealth comes to the protagonist (sometimes explicitly temporarily).
3. Enjoying this gift, the protagonist shows both that they enjoy it and have qualities suited to it (which future allies notice), but also that they are in some way unready to hold it - a lack of maturity or self-assertion, often.
4. The gift expires / a crash occurs and it is lost. The antagonist reclaims the protagonist, who is left to reflect, despair and possibly plot.
5. The protagonist or their future allies take some action that has the potential to reclaim the gift. The protagonist shows new maturity or assertion which seals it.
6. The protagonist returns to a gifted state, often more grown up or now on their terms.
My Assertions: Traditional RPGs aid with very little of this, but good prep can get you a "gift" that trends this way, and an antagonist that's ready to make these moves. Also, it's likely that (4), again, will feel railroaded unless prepped with care, might be taken badly and won't prompt a "personal growth" point, and the action taken/"their terms" will be violence (and the more traditional the system, the more likely it'll be violent). Low points and reversals being growth points is a thing - a mechanism for "the bigger the hit, the bigger the potential growth" seems like a clear thing. Moving into (5) might do well with a "mentor" npc that tries to teach them to do it "properly" early on, but comes around to "I was wrong; let's do it your way" after (4).
3. THE COMEDY
So, this one (Oscar, Midsummer night, etc) is... Different.
1. A series of characters are introduced, many of whom are largely out of alignment with the world. They are with the wrong partners, trying to be something they can't, not in good family setups, and so on. They are dissatisfied.
2. Their dissatisfaction leads to them calling in or going out to some agent of chaos - or, by distraction and conflict, mistakenly turning something into an agent of chaos (grabbing wrong bags, say).
3. The agent of chaos causes an atmosphere or domino effect of things falling apart, or circulates and disrupts, or multiple such. Things get slightly ridiculous.
4. Things get bad or weird enough that under the pressure, the misaligned setups the characters cling to come apart (sometimes explosively). This is largely portrayed as worse chaos; it tends to the ridiculous or horrible-seeming, or both.
5. In the chaos, one or two things that were out of alignment come into alignment via realizations, amends, and so on. These prompt other wrong things to be set; realignment spreads.
6. The chaos comes to an end, whether by coming to a climax, being overcome by the realigned characters, or otherwise.
Assertions: Putting this into an RPG in mechanical terms as something that will emerge from play would likely require relationship traits that can be overwritten, and some evident "good state" they can be shifted into. I have never yet seen a game suited to generating this; but I believe it'd be possible.. Turning Fiasco inside out might do it; it's the closest I know of.
4: THE TRAGEDY
Always a classic....
1. The protagonist is described as having some strong desire, often related to power or position.
2. To obtain this desire, the protagonist takes some terrible action (which includes striking a nefarious deal).
3. The desire is fulfilled! All seems well.
4. Problems (internal and external) with the desire or resulting from the bad action slowly appear; further bad action is taken to resolve them, but they don't resolve well and/or spin out more problems.
5. The problems resulting from this badness connect - enemies form a side, visions cause public outbursts in front of those already suspicious, and so on.
6. The unified problems come for the protagonist, to defeat said protagonist. The protagonist may escape through suicide, face their fate, or attempt to escape the tragic end (they sometimes do escape, to prove some point about forgiveness or some such; blech).
Assertion: Traditional RPGs have all the tools for this to occur, but it only occasionally does; players flee the possible plot as it emerges and GMs often help with this. But if the group is up to go there, traditional mechanics don't push back on it.
5. THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Something you'd expect RPGs to be great at: The Hobbit, Alice in wonderland.
1. The hero is portrayed at home as vulnerable or incautious. They may be small, naive, curious, etc.
2. By some device, the hero is pulled into a strange new (part of the) world. They must perform some task or seek some exit to return home.
3. For a time, the new world is relatively wondrous, though not without challenges.
4. The wonders of this new world darken and the challenges intensify; a singular dark power takes precedence.
5. The hero is taken (or goes into) the clutches of the dark power, where it becomes plain they cannot defeat that power alone.
6. The hero escapes the dark power in some daring fashion; they bring out with them knowledge or treasure or personal growth (or all).
7. The hero passes on what they have gained or learned to the aid of those opposed to the dark power, or otherwise weakens that power by the escape itself (which folds 7 into 6). Confusion and realignment occur in the new world.
8. The hero returns home, often somewhat changed, grown, and enriched.
Assertion: So, this plot seems like it should be both easy and potentially natural for traditional tabletop play, so long as the players don't carry the assumption that they can fight any enemy presented. It fails as the emergent story for many because it ultimately makes the hero the critical factor but does NOT provide a power fantasy, which players are commonly expecting and seeking (even if they don't mean to), and which systems often aim to provide.
Last assertion: RPGs as traditionally set up are really really good at creating narratives; they're actually pretty bad at generating satisfying plots. They do mechanistically ok on Overcoming Evil, except that they tend to fall flat on the "personal growth and development side", substituting in "MOAR POWER" for that. (Aside: A lot of them also construct their "Evil to be overcome" in colonialist, racist, and otherwise befuckered ways, but that's not so much a plot-generative issue as a "the material that's grabbed first for this plot is often shit".)
Anywaaaaaaaay. Your thoughts?
I agree with the first tilt coming on a little suddenly. However! Rather than adding another step, I've been thinking about rewriting those tilts and the line that brings them in so that they're more clearly "early weirdness" - less major setbacks, more things like "The client wants us to operate under a false flag?" and other stuff that feels like startup difficulties.
Like, on the one hand, this is a solid lens. But on the other hand:
You won't be hacking Kagematsu anytime soon to give you Conan Fantasy Pulp... it's probably not going to be a "smart plan".
Conan, chained, is being taken to the tower of the nightmarish god-king. On this journey, the daughters of the god-king, each wishing for escape from their horrific father and the vile machinations of the others, seek to seduce and turn Conan to their will, so that he will join them in their personal betrayal and murder of the God-King, and their ascent to that inglorious throne.
So, I have a game I'm building on paper and (as of last night), also as a Twitterbot. It's functioning now on Twitter, though it's not great yet, and I'm looking for fun ideas to build into it.
The Project Rundown!
If you want to see it in action, the twitterbot can be found at @RhamnusC - but it's very much "for testing purposes" right now (when it's good enough to be "released", it'll get a mention in the monthly thread).
More to the point of development, I'm building it on Cheap Bots Done Quick, and the bulk of the source code can be found here: https://cheapbotsdonequick.com/source/RhamnusC. You should absolutely feel free to steal any part of that and use bits in your own projects, if any.
The code is in Tracery, which there's a tutorial on over here. Some of it should be pretty readable right out the gate - "origin" is the bit it tweets regularly, and if you see #thing# in a sentence, that means go find the entry for "thing" and put one of the replacement text bits for it in here randomly.
Now, that "bulk of the source code" doesn't include the triggers for replies - If you reply to the bot, it triggers a reply, and that code looks like this right now:
"YEAH; THE CLIENT IS":"#jobquestion#",
"THE JOB IS":"#setupquestion#",
"THE TROUBLE WAS":"#progressquestion#",
"THINGS ARE COMING ALONG":"#bigtiltquestion#",
"THE END IS CLOSE":"#climaxquestion#",
"THE WAY IT ENDED WAS":"#closingline#"
Where It's At In Development:
Abe Mendes gave the bot a full test, and it worked fine, has good point, buuuut went a little long and is a bit clumsy in terms of prompts, so I cut it down from eleven questions to eight so far, and might find a way to bring it down to seven before calling it done; I'm working on those prompts, too. Aaaaalso, Cheap Bots has a deliberate 'failure rate' of 5% on responses, in order to stop bots from infinitely looping back and forth if they tag each other, and that puts an artificial premium on "Keep it short".
The Feedback I Want First:
Primarily, what I'm looking for right now is help expanding the lists.
The lists are these bits:
, "biome": ["taiga","cragland","badlands","savanna","marshland"]
, "settlement": ["up in huge trees","in walled cities","in twisty towers"]
, "authority": ["the justice system","a local theocrat","the ruling tyrant","the commoners"]
, "antagonist": ["a rebellion","a volatile mage","a debt collector","a nomad clan"]
, "issue": ["mining rights","border claims","trade routes","an archaic law"]
, "complication": ["bandits","a dragon","dark cults"]
, "job1": ["smash and grab","sack and burn","seize and hold","recon In force"]
, "job2": ["do a leadership decapitation","hunt bandits","hold a line","garrison some place"]
, "job3": ["bodyguard someone","fight in pitched battles","do covert patrols and ambushes","interdict and blockade some place"]
, "tilt1": ["the locals are fighting with the enemy"]
, "tilt2": ["our side has no real defenses"]
, "tilt3": ["the enemy is hiring extra forces"]
, "tilt4": ["the client died and their heirs are squabbling"]
, "tilt5": ["the client can't pay"]
, "tilt6": ["the enemy offered us more"]
I have a bunch of stuff to add to those, and will likely start adding random expressions to other bits of the dialogue, so as to give different prompts each time, but the lists are the meaty bits that need to be as extensive and as inspiring as possible. So! Ideas! Gimme!
Other feedback I want: Pretty much anything that's actionable. "This prompt is weak" is actionable; I can do a thing there. "This game stinks" is not.
Also fine in this thread: Any discussion towards "Have you tried?" and "I want to do something like this; gimme a hand?"
Makes perfect sense - I just didn't want to go diving in and messing around while you're all still sorting "How we want things to work"; best to get the intent first, and 'set precedents', so to speak, onward from that.
Same thing they do in the video game development forums, and go "Here's my project, here's where it's at, the input I want is thus-and-so, I'll update as it develops".
Basically, public design and development threads. Which...
Like, on the one side, those can get awful market-ing-y, for sure, especially if they keep being updated post-release, which is contrary to keeping marketing in the stickies.
But at the same time, we seem to have a LOT of subforums for design, which suggests the expectation of a lot of threads on design for each subtype, which makes me go "Maybe project development threads up to the point of release are intended to be a thing?"
I'ma use a dungeon as an example.
A dungeon that has a big monster at the end has provided the material for a climax, which is a narrative piece (whether you want to call it a 'beat' or not, dunno; that's not my terminology)
Foreshadowing and building up to that monster by having things like the giant claw marks here, the weird cult of kobolds that pays homage to it in the cave over there, and so on, more firmly establishes it as climactic - it improves its quality as the narrative device (beat?) of "climax".
D&D and many other games have bits pointing this way all over the place; they just aren't typically explicit or direct.
Making them more explicit, in the sense of Do This To Get That, is useful.
Heh. While I suspect that being able to go "Okay, my game supports this", and then spin that into "You should buy my game and thereby get THIS!" would be a strong (and honest) marketing method....
...Uh. I kind of suck at marketing. I think there's almost certainly a method and vocabulary to do it with, but damn if I know them.
I'd put the Rules Cyclopedia and Hackmaster in the OSR category (and the Cyclopedia as core to some gamers there I know). So... I think we'd need to talk specific games and artifacts to reach full agreement on the level of Ludus running around.