Let’s have a look at the common dice available and known to most players. There is the D2, also known as a coin. The D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 and D100 (usually constructed by using D10). And I encountered some common systems. There is dice-pool system like in Shadowrun or the World of Darkness. Take dice, the number is usually given by the characters ability and then try to reach with X dice some threshold. The more dice reach the threshold, the more successful you are. A modification of this is that you throw X dice and keep Y dice and combine the value of the kept dice to reach a threshold. Or you have the take dice X, usually a D20 or D100 and try to be beneath some ability value. The quality is usually shown by the difference of the value of the dice and the ability value. Or you combine some dice like 2D6, add a value and then try to reach a threshold. Another one is that the ability determines the dice and then you have threshold. And there are still different systems out there.
To be honest I hate the throw a dice, compare it to an ability and be beneath it, get the difference for quality. For a D20 the calculations are easy, for a D100 they spread become cumbersome. Most players aren’t really fast in calculating 73 – 37 in their head. Even though it is a nice exercise, it can be annoying.
My favorite dice is the D6 because everyone has one available usually. And with systems like Apocalypse or Traveller where you only need 2 or 3, it is usually easy to come up with. But I also like dice pool systems, because it is easy to find the successes and see how good you did it. And powerful characters and NPCs immediately seem powerful when they get out a metric ton of dice for a test. When the troll in Shadowrun soaks, he soaks and you can immediately see it when he packs out his 20 dice while the mage has measly four.
A friend once told me that dice are part of the appearance of the system. That’s why Shadowrun uses so many dice and Earthdawn as a magical world uses so many different looking dice.
Since the game is a Cyberpunk-like game and computers are a big part of the world, I play with the thought of using D8. 8 values as in 8 Bit as in one Byte. This probably won’t be mentioned in any rules but it is the background of the thought. Using 8 coins will be hard and not enough people can do base-2-calculations in their head. The problem with the D8 is that people usually do not have a lot of them. Thus using a dice-pool system will be cumbersome for most. Then it is back to maybe two dice and combining them.
Another idea would be to use the Apocalypse Engine for the game. The dice are easy, the rule set is easy to grasp and great to fit to a setting. And it has the advantage that it does what I want: let the GM and the players create stories. I want more and more that people create stories together than to go through a mission or adventure the GM created. But that would also mean that I get into the limitations of the Apocalypse like a class-based system, skills replaced by moves etc. And I have not that much experience with using the Apocalypse. But maybe this is in the end the way to go. And I have the feeling that for each of the “settings” mentioned above, I would need new playbooks. The rebel-playbooks, the runner-playbooks and the police-playbooks. The game would become essentially three games and not a general purpose-game for the world. Apocalypse would also mean that I am limited in the attributes and as mentioned in the skills, since there are no skills anymore but moves depending on the playbook. That would completely change the way the game needs to be designed. Are there Apocalypse-games that use other dice than D6? Then I might be able to go with the D8 but this would mean more playtesting because I wouldn’t be able to just use the known values (10+ success, 7-9 success with a disadvantage, 6- fail). And that would make it very hard.
Recently I started thinking about it again. With the Apocalypse Engine there came several new Cyberpunk-like games up but not one is really satisfying me. The Sprawl is too much like CP2020 but has not enough cyberware, The Veil is a bit weird and uses emotions for attributes and Headspace is cool but definitely not what I have in my mind. Soon (hopefully) there will be a kickstarter for Sigmata which seems to be rather cool. But this also means that it will take some time until it will be released.
So, back to the drawing board. I have a general idea of the setting in my head but I am not sure what type of game to play with it. The game is set in the not so far future. There is a private elite that has at least as much power as nation states – be it the super rich or corporations. Most people are only gears in the machine. Maybe there are people who rebel against the system and try to leave it. That might create a parallel society like it is described in Walkaway by Cory Doctorow.
I am not sure if there is uploading – as in uploading the brain. Because I am not sure if the implications. Or maybe it is available but only in the lab like in the Nexus-trilogy of Ramez Naam. I am also not sure at what level artificial intelligences are. Are they only expert-systems or real intelligence beings. How powerful are they and how much can they learn?
I want to have Appleseed-like exo-skeletons because they are awesome. The question is again how available are they and can players acquire them. If it evolves around a group of police-wo/men then it is more probable than if it evolves around of people who left the system.
How available is cyberware? Is it easy to acquire and to implant or huge surgeries? Is it cool to have it? Cool enough to amputate your arm and replace it by a robot-arm? Is there technology available to improve the flesh without amputating it or heavy surgery? Maybe nanites that will regenerate you or strengthen your muscles?
Assuming I am extrapolating from today I see mass surveillance as a big part of the game. But the game should already describe ways to circumvent it. Otherwise players spend probably too much time with this part. What do people think about it? Is it good or not? Is there a lot of voluntary surveillance because people are still using some central private infrastructure or did they move back away to some decentralized infrastructure? Is this maybe one of the differences between people in the system and people outside of it?
What about hacking? There should definitely be hacking available to the players. But how to realize it mechanically? A mini-game in its own? Kind of like the dungeon crawl from CP2020 or is it possible to integrate it better into the main game. More social engineering, more automatisms?
What about 3D-printing? How affordable is it? How endurable are the products? What can you print? Only parts? Whole machines? Can you print food? Do they have essentially replicators? What resources are needed for it?
Coming to resources: what is the state of climate change? What are the power sources? Do we have fusion plants? Are we going complete as Sci-Fi with something like cold fusion? Or are we still struggling with old fossil energies and maybe even some blown up nuclear plants?
So many questions to think about and I didn’t list all I have. In the end is the question what game do I want to play? I could imagine the crime-fighting police group. Or a game about the people who left the system searching for resources and a way to rebel. Maybe two settings? One is playing the police-forces embedded in the system who solve crime and will regularly arrest people outside of the system because they are terrorists. And the other way be more Shadowrun-like. People outside of the system who try to make their living by doing anything. Or even rebel-campaigns where the big picture is to dismantling the system.
It is hard. I have to think more about it. My plans are to do some posts about possible mechanics in the next weeks, so subscribe to the blog if you are interested in following what will develop. I am not sure yet if something will come out of this but if it does, it will be Creative Commons-licensed and will be shareable.
What else is up with me recently. Well, after reading a book called “Fettlogik überwinden“1 by Nadja Hermann I decided that I have to do something against being overweight. I was still far from adiposity but I never would have wanted to get that far. I didn’t already like that I had to start L-size-t-shirts and that my pants-sizes increased but I didn’t bring up my will to do something against it. After reading that book my mindset changed. I lost 10kg2 in ca. 3 months and build up some muscles as well. Now I officially ended the diet but I still want to get down to a weight that I am jacked. Thus I still have to do something about it but after 3 months I already don’t want to count calories anymore and weigh all the food I eat. I am trying now intermittent fasting in a 16/8-rhythm. 16 hours of fasting a day (from 10pm to 2pm) and 8 hours of feeding. Last week I definitely snacked too much in the feeding time, this week I’ll try to reduce that.
In addition my sports-activities radically changed. A couple of years ago I went up to four times a week to karate-training. But after I got a minor injury in a competition, then my second child was born and so I didn’t went to training at all for ca 2.5 years. In the meantime I tried several bodyweight-programs but nothing for very long. And half a year ago I started going to Karate-training again once a week. Shortly after starting the diet though this completely changed. Now I am going to training twice a week, I go running 2-3 times a week and do bodyweight-training two or three times a week. Thus it is now 5-6 times a week sports for me and sometimes even on every day while one day involves very light training. I kind of have to make now training plans for myself. This whole thing takes up a lot of time even when my running/bodyweight-sessions are only 30-90 minutes3. This also means that I do not have that much time doing something else in my leisure time. I am not sure yet how I feel about this. My body likes it and it is better than watching Netflix and reading Twitter all evening.
I also changed operating systems in the meantime. You might remember me posting about Manjaro, Arch and Fedora. In the meantime used Qubes for a couple of months. It was great and probably secure but it had its flaws. For one I couldn’t get my optical drive working in the way I need it to because of technical limitations because of the security features of Qubes. And there was always a bit of a mental overhead where I want/have to do what. So I abandoned it. But I didn’t want to fiddle that much because my amount of free time is limited and so I gave Ubuntu another try. After my pretty bad experiences with 15.10, 16.04 is great. I installed it, the installer supports now even full disk encryption, and everything worked. No fiddling, nothing. It just worked. And it is still working. I am enjoying Unity4, play around with some other stuff and have so far no problems at all. I am surprised. This is the most Mac-like experience I ever had with Linux.
Podcasting is happening not a lot lately. Japanbezug, a German podcast about Japan I was doing, just needs too much time per episode. I don’t see me doing anything with it in the next months or even years. EMUI, the podcast accompanying this blog, is not doing anything either. I just don’t feel like podcasting at the moment. But I miss doing regular Retrozirkel-episodes. This has more to do with scheduling issues. The next episode will come.
I expanded my retrogames-collection by some nice titles and bought a GB Boy Colour. A Gameboy Color-clone with a backlit-screen. It is really excellent.
And I found a way to organize my collection better. Gameboy and Gameboy Advance-games are now in binders and I use the sheets used by trading card gamers to put the games in the binder. 9 GB-games per page or 18 GBA-games. For my NDS-games I find nice boxes by Hori which hold 24 games per box.
Right now I am playing Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. A really nice RPG where you play Mario, Luigi and Bowser. But where I liked in the past when games were long, it is now a bit harder. Usually I play now only while commuting and so it is like 20-30 minutes per day. Luckily this game has a lot of save points but after 3-4 weeks playing I am like only half way through the game. I am already thinking about what to play next. Maybe Castlevania 1 or Super Mario Bros. 2 Lost Levels? Or will take the plunge into the Metroidvania-world and start playing Castlevania: Circle of the Moon? I also have a lot of Zelda- and Advance Wars games I like to play. Problems I didn’t have a decade ago when I could play several hours a day…sometimes it sucks to be an adult 😉
And now to the last topic: pen&paper-RPGs. Thanks to a very good friend I was part in a short L5R-campaign with some great people. It was really fun. But I had to trade the biweekly RPG-sessions to have another day of karate-training in the week. And I want to get better in karate and go to competitions. Maybe I’ll find the time to play or run a one-shot from time to time. Especially since I found out about a couple of japanese RPGs that were translated to English which have some great concepts. I really want to play those. And I miss playing Shadowrun. At least I can read Shadowrun-novels again since the old ones get re-released as ebooks and from time to time a new one appears. My favorite of the re-released ones is Burning Bright5 and from the new ones it is Shaken: No Job to Small. I can recommend both and I think even non-Shadowrun-fans might like them.
This post is now more than long enough and I won’t write about to-do-lists and minimalism. Maybe I post later about those. We will see. Have a nice day.
Gerade mal wieder auf der SSD rausgesucht, nachdem ich auf rpggeek.com lesen musste, dass ich deswegen als “RPG Designer” gelistet bin, dachte ich mir, dass ich die Sachen ja mal wieder online stellen könnte.
In der ZIP sind das Grundregelwerk inkl. Story, welche die Hintergrund beschreibt. Ein (ziemlich hässlicher) Charakterbogen, zwei Archetypen1 und eine PDF mit Material, die helfen könnten sich in die Welt einzufühlen. Die Liste ist nicht lang, stammt nicht nur von mir, sondern wurde gefüllt mit mehreren Leuten zusammen, weil ich da nicht alles von gesehen, gelesen oder gespielt habe.
Hier der Download für 13 – Das Rollenspiel. Auch wenn ich nicht sehe, dass ich da jemals wieder was dran baue, freue ich mich über Feedback.
Ich hab da noch ne Bastet-Priesterin mit Job Edelhure rumliegen, aber der Charakter ist mir eher peinlich. Auch wenn die Intention war, mal was anderes an Archetypen zu haben, als den Standardkram. Auf Anfrage per Mail schick ich die PDF raus.↩
Now I have the chance to build a new character. Since we are a group of 6 players a lot of the roles are set already. There is tank (dwarven fighter), a big weapon (half-orc barbarian), the range-combat guy (elven ranger), a buffer (drow wizard whose main job now is to hand out haste…) and a rogue who can do some damage and can disable traps. Since I do not want to play the healbot anymore I had a look around other classes and I came to the conclusion that each and every class seems pretty boring.
Whatever you are doing, the only thing that is expected as it seems is to optimize the heck out of your character, I mean specializing it because the game mechanics do not allow anything else. And everything is very much straight forward it seems. I just do not see how most of the abilities can be used within the setting and the rules in a creative way. And finding holes in the rules isn’t the creativity I mean. There is just not a lot of space to do unexpected things. Even a magic based character can’t do that unexpected stuff.
And the setting is more suited to rail roading than to open gameplay. Rail roading in that case means that there is not much in terms of left and right what we can actually do. In games that play nowadays or in the future have in my experience an intel- and a mission phase. In the intel phase you do your legwork. Try to get information etc. More than just ask around in the local tavern but go to the target location and find out information that will make the mission easier and come up with unconventional ways to solve it. But doing intel with a classic dungeon crawl, on a graveyard or some “bad” place isn’t really possible because you get thrown into the “mission” usually immediately if you are coming near the dangerous terrain. And therefore the mission phase becomes usually pretty straightforward as well because the setting rarely allows for unconventional solutions.
Maybe it is just me but I think I found now out why I actually do not like fantasy-settings. I would be grateful for any suggestions how I can make it more fun for me and I would be really really grateful if someone could give me some hints for interesting builts that allow a diversified gameplay for a new pathfinder-character. I planned to do a Paladin but that’s in the end more or less only one action all the time as well.