Progress on Distant Adventures

I want to get Distant Adventures wrapped up this month, primarily because I’m trying to do the Nagademon event with it. Which is basically Nanowrimo (which is a novel writing challenge where you write 50,000 words in November, or 1,667 a day). Nagademon is making a game in the month of November.

Anyway so far I’ve run 3 sessions – 2 with the same group to wrap up the story, and 1 with a similar story/setting but a different group (which we’ll also be wrapping up next week). The setting involved was Pirates of the high seas. The players were assembling pieces of a map that their deceased pirate parents left them, then they follow the map to treasure (cursed, of course, to make them age rapidly [like a year a day]). They break the curse by throwing a golden monkey head from the treasure into a volcano.

The game played very well, and once everyone got used to it flowed quite naturally. There were some complaints about player agency (given that losing a situation is akin to a “party wipe”, but that’s hard to grasp when your character has resulting non-combat outcomes they don’t like). I also found I needed a way to extend situations in the cases where someone reached their Momentum goal, but we still had more story to tell. Such as “the navy ship is closing, what do you do to prepare?” and the scene is over before the actual confrontation. Some of that comes down to me learning what kind of Momentum goals to set. I also am tending towards being a bit freer with Fate, as in players get 4-5 to start instead of 2. Anyway all these ideas will be integrated into the next revision of the rules, which I think I’ll try to do before my last session of the month next week.

Raw Feedback Notes
+++ From Playtest on Nov 8 2021 +++
– Overall went well, used the Pirate theme/setting. Situations felt a bit like a coin flip sometimes, and also player agency was sometimes missing
– Expand Character Creation section, sort of like FU Universal system, to include some guidance on what “things” can be, like mentioning archetype, cliches, careers, etc.
— Also mention just choosing 3 “things” to start, and add 2 more after the first situation or two, once you have a feel for the game
– Way to regain Fate on other roll results? “Go for a Fate roll” and try to get Doubles or something instead of a streak?
— Unlikely downside but might lead to stalling a “safe” situation to stock up on Fate?
— Also throws the math off if a player intentionally takes a turn off from generating Momentum
– One piece of feedback was each situation felt “like a race”…not sure if good or bad thing
– Have a way to remove Storyteller Momentum instead of generating your own?
— Seems like it’d only be useful RIGHT before the Storyteller is going to win the situation
— Likely just indicative of other problems with player vs Storyteller Momentum pacing, that more reasonable solutions will fix
— Using a reaction to a Dud for this could be a good middle ground
– Having a “thing” to not is too big of a swing on dice odds? 25% to 55% Dud
– Players help setting up the story and locations worked well
– Rules need to have a section on situation “scope”, to talk about how broad it can, such as our 1-month long voyage vs arguing with a bouncer to get in
– Note that after a failed Decisive roll that’s the end of it, the players have to find a different avenue to approach the situation
– Mention that you can permanently lose “things” as well, like equipment, or from removing a phobia, or change them in a campaign (instead of just adding new ones)
– Storyteller should use less “things”? Or balance another way, since no thing is pretty punishing, especially if Duds are going to hurt even more
– Duds didn’t feel impactful enough – losing a “thing” didn’t matter with 5 in even long situations, and Storyteller seemed to have an unlimited supply of “things”
— Reacting on Duds instead? Person targeted by the roll can do something back? Like do a flat roll for the best streak they can get, which then removes Momentum from the other group (could be cool!)? Or just adds Momentum to their own group?
— Definitely want a Momentum change on a Dud, but should still always remove a “thing” if it was used
– Other uses for Fate?
— Force Storyteller to re-roll a result (basically means it’s SUPER hard/unlikely for a Storyteller to get a Perfect as most players would spend to prevent)
— Also arguably more powerful than the current use of getting a re-roll
— Challenge a narrative outcome that a player doesn’t like, or lessen the effect of it, such as being paralyzed which the character really isn’t interested in working through, so they spend Fate to “Challenge” and…do something? Turn it into a Decisive roll off?
— Or does allowing the forcing of a full Storyteller re-roll achieve the same thing with less cruft?
— Could have 1 Fate = 1 re-roll, and 2 Fate = force Storyteller re-roll, to balance the effectiveness?
– Storyteller goal should almost ALWAYS (like 90%+ of the time) be bigger/longer than the players. Remove the note about “lower goal = favorable situation” too
— This is because the Storyteller has a lot of narrative control and things to throw at players, that they just react too, so to balance it out in the players favor overall they should generally have a lower Momentum goal
— Example from play had 7 situations: players won 4 and lost 3. Some were quite close though, and with the other changes (like Fate = force Storyteller re-roll) could already balance it enough
– Make a title page with picture (maybe that old one from my Java Traveller game?), author name, website, version number
– Add more examples and help for each section, kind of like FU Universal does
*- Don’t worry about page count or formatting/fitting perfectly for now. Just get content fleshed out then do that later

+++ 2nd & 3rd Playtest in mid Nov +++
– 4 Fate is a good number (maybe even 5, to make it easy to match “choose 5 things, write 5 Fate”)
– Spend 2 Fate to force Storyteller re-roll is good
– Dud = Slight to opposing group Momentum is good
— Mention the person the roll was against gets to describe what happens, like a reaction
– Longer Storyteller Momentum was okay-ish, but doesn’t need 80-90% of the time, maybe half the time
– Mention “wrench” concept in rules, of throwing in obstacles and difficulties
– New sheet for tracking Momentum that doesn’t require writing/crossing off items/printing paper works well
— Still include old sheet, for those that don’t want to gather a bunch of tokens/dice/markers for the new sheet style
– Situations sometimes end before the story is resolved, which is a huge problem
— Add a concept of “Overtime” that can be done by the Storyteller to lengthen a Momentum goal
— Keep the current Momentum score, so if you’re ahead you stay ahead? Resetting gets confusing because do you get your things back?
– Need rules for what happens on a Decisive roll if BOTH players roll a Dud
— Worse Dud loses? What even is a “worse” Dud?
– Players can get a “Cascade” which is when a Slight combines into an Average and combines again into a Perfect
— Let them change the entire scene/environment, sort of like how the Storyteller adds wrenches
— Change is not specific to their character, and is more a thematic element that can be utilized (potentially by both sides)
— Example would be “pirates spill out of the nearby tavern to help us against the navy”
– Rename Storyteller role to Referee (or something), to encourage the idea that all the players tell story elements too

I bought my dream dice

Goblin-Brain-DiceYou’d think after all these years of slowly adding to a dice collection I’d have everything I need. Then again those people likely can’t relate to this meme:

Anyway a couple years ago I bought some Gamescience precision dice. They were…alright. Ink quality was a bit poor, having to hand file/sand the sprue bit off felt like it defeated the purpose, and they felt way too light to roll and easy to chip/damage. I’ve also dabbled in casino dice, but as some people know, their sharp edges don’t roll much and are truly meant to be thrown on a craps table, not rolling 3+ of them in your hand at once for a game.

THEN I learned about precision backgammon dice. These dice are milled/cut from a cube, instead of tumbled into shape (which results in imperfections). They also have flat faces instead of indented pips. And they’re a standard 16mm size. Oh and the weight is terrific. So after much consideration (because they are pricey) I picked up some from a Canadian based Advanced Squad Leader website: http://asl-battleschool.blogspot.com/p/backgammon-dice.html.

Precision-Dice

I couldn’t be happier, and can’t wait to use them for Fickle RPG, Distant Adventures, and whatever boardgames I need.

Distant Adventures – new RPG for remote play

Compass
I think we were all hoping Covid would be over by now, and yet it drags on and on. I’ve done a few sessions of Fickle RPG remotely over Discord, and although they were fun, the system is clearly designed for face-to-face play. So I figured I’d put together an even lighter RPG that performs better remotely with mics and webcams.
The result is Distant Adventures (get the name pun?). It’s 2 pages of rules, with a page of examples, and no specific character sheet. Describing the game will probably take as long as just reading the rules yourself: Distant Adventures (PDF as of Nov 4)

But a brief summary of what makes the system stand out:

  • Characters are defined by “things”, which could be personality traits, features, quirks, or even equipment and gear. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator could have “big muscles, great shot, inventive, military training, M16 rifle”. Bruce Robertson from the book/movie Filth could have “alcoholic, degenerate, weak willed, manipulator, policeman”.
  • Situations have an overall Momentum goal/threshold set for the players and any opponents. All people in the group contribute to the same chunk of Momentum, and reaching the goal first means your group achieved what they wanted in a situation.
  • Momentum is generated by performing actions, which are resolved by rolling 5D6 and looking for “Streaks” (numbers in a row, like 3, 4, 5). There are Slight/Average/Perfect Streaks, and some re-rolls if a “thing” was involved, or session based Fate is used.

I’m excited to playtest it more in various settings! Once the game is finalized I’ll make the whole page setup for it on the blog here.

My “Fishing Day” web game

My “Fishing Day” web game

Hard to get any in-person games with Covid, so I made another fun web game (originally for my kids, but great for all ages). The idea is pretty simple, you get a beautifully generated map (with tons of little touches) and can fish for 10 bait a day, trying to catch what you can. The reel the fish in you have to do a “quick time event” minigame, such as pressing the correct keys in order, or doing a simple math problem. You can change the difficulty to suit your individual skill. There are over 130 fish you can catch, plus they sometimes dynamically recolor to add even more variety. Birds peacefully fly overhead, rain and snow can fall, and you get an exciting new map after every night. Scores persist between sessions in the same browser, so see how high you can get!

https://horizoncarlo.github.io/fishingday/

Here’s a few screenshots showing the variety that awaits you:

My “Treasure Hunt” web game

What started as a silly little side project to teach my kids about programming has turned into something quite fun and polished. This is my Treasure Hunt game, and you might want to check it out. The idea is a monster (tons of random ones that come up) is attacking your town, and you need to collect coins to bribe them and scare them away. There are useful Powerups you can trigger at the right time, and also hazardous tentacles that slow you if you touch them. The maps are all random and I really like how they look, and there are even some rare surprises that can come up in the generation.

https://horizoncarlo.github.io/treasurehunt/

I’d love feedback and any comments!

Progress on Battletech rework

Well I have tentatively named the rework In the Mech Hotseat (that goes to the new game page for it), to try to convey that you’re really managing the Mech, and allude to how important heat management is. The name is likely to change though as it doesn’t roll off the tongue and isn’t super memorable (compared to the likes of Glowquest and Echo Death!).

Progress is going well, and I’m nearly at the point of my playtests just being playing the game for fun, which is a good sign.

The game page has more detailed information, background, etc. But a brief summary is you still use the paper maps from Battletech, and your vast mini collection for Mechs, but the focus is on 1vs1 duels and how to make them interesting and compelling. Which is achieved by having a dice placement/allocation minigame to represent power/heat management. You can maybe get the idea from the rough sheet examples above, where you can see slots to place dice to do different stuff.

Anyway you can read the Rework Brainstorm or take a look at the rough, unformatted Weapon/Active/Utility Subsystem list for further information.

I think the biggest hurdle will be balancing and tweaking all the Subsystems, especially once Covid clears up well enough that I can playtest face-to-face with friends and see the crazy, unbalanced custom designs they come up with. The core rules are feeling pretty solid now I think.

Fickle RPG online dice roller

During my last remote session of Fickle RPG I realized maybe half my friends who played don’t actually have enough D6s on hand, and had to resort to online dice rollers. Most of which aren’t designed in the least for the style of dice rolling that you do in the game. So I figured I’d make a simple Fickle RPG dice roller that everyone can use next time!

Fickle RPG Dice Roller: http://fickle.homelinux.com/

I think I’ll use that as the main link. But it’s a redirect that some places (like Facebook messenger) have problems with. So I’ll likely pass around the alternate link of https://horizoncarlo.github.io/ficklerpg/dice.html

The roller is made with plain HTML and Javascript and is totally enclosed in a single file. You can use it offline by just opening the HTML file in a web browser. Which is super handy as it’s braindead simple to setup, no install needed or whatever, and in case my hosting plan ever goes away or is down. You can download a ZIP of the dice roller.

Anyway suggestions are more than welcome! I primarily meant the process to be done with hotkeys, so you just press the number of dice you want, how many go to Fickle, and answer Y/N to Luck Dice going to Fickle or Flat, then it rolls and you get your total success right away. People might use the dropdowns and buttons though still.