Tag: Party of Light

Tiny but important Party of Light tweaks (and even more art)

So as if that isn’t the most lovably old school medieval fantasy image ever, right? I can’t wait to use a similar style in Glowquest when I get around to adding art. But for now this beauty is going straight into the Party of Light rulebook, now v2.6 (a 0.1 increase since last week! 🙂 )

Download the new Party of Light v2.6 PDF rulebook.

Now a bit of a look at what’s changed…

Problems from Yesterday’s Session
I had another game session with my sister and nieces yesterday so I have a few takeaways from my recent changes, as well as some tweaks I want to do. First of all:

  • The kids didn’t really use the Action Ideas list. Was super handy for me as thinking up mechanic effects on the fly is hard when organizing and managing the rest of the game.
  • We had 3 failed Heroic Moments, which is rare, but also feels like kind of a bummer, almost like the old Fickle RPG approach where you use your big moment, fail, and feel deflated. So I reworded the rules a bit to say it should equal ~5 outcomes AND always do SOMETHING even on failure.
  • Base Speed 3 feels a tiny bit too slow on the old Dragonstrike boards, so I bumped it up to 4 and made the choosable bonus +2 instead of +1.

We also had an on-paper interesting engagement. The heroes were in a blizzard, approaching an unknown camp situated along a popular trade route. I setup the board and put figures on. And one player suggested trying to solve it in a non-combat way (which is rare in a traditional RPG once the figures come out). Now I’ve intentionally written Party of Light to be a bit like Fickle RPG where “Stamina” is used instead of Hitpoints/Health/Life, to subtly hint that you can damage it in other ways than pure combat. Which is all well and good. Until the hero and enemy started trying to talk down the other one, intimidate them, etc. for what felt like an eternity because of failed rolls.

Looking at Dice Odds (Again…)
Which made me revisit my dice odds. When I made the change from flat Stamina damage to D4 damage I changed the odds a bit and Easy became a bit harder. But with the new Action Ideas list I was using a ton more Normal actions, and dang does 50/50 ever flip. I read a bit more about the topic, and learned that in blind studies (mostly related to gambling, so you know they’re serious) people were told they had a 50% chance to win but the consensus was it only FELT that way to a person if they ACTUALLY won 66% of the time. Wizards of the Coast also looked at this type of problem with D&D 4th and 5th edition and found 60-80% success is a good starting point. Anything above is actually MORE frustrating to fail (like a 90% or 95% chance to hit) because it feels “cheap” or like you deserved the success. I’m sure all the X-COM computer players out there can relate to missing a 95% chance shot and wanting to throw their keyboard out the window.

While researching I also found some good quotes on the topic, so I thought I’d share those:

Failing at trivial things only makes your story into a farce.

Definitely felt that one before (…flashbacks to Fickle RPG when players tried to get their ally to throw up the zombie infected ticks inside them), and it’s steered me to only roll for important stuff. Because sometimes I’ll ask for a check/roll, then if the players fail it I realize, whoops, that wasn’t worth doing a check for, and now it’s lame.

Combat should advance at a snappy pace. Whiff-fests are boring, and if you have a round go by in which nothing really happens, you’ve just wasted everyone’s time.

This describes about 2 entire rounds for the camp negotiations above. Sure we could have switched to “safer” action options that gave bonuses or guaranteed at least a bit of success, but since no one did the situation sort of dragged out and ground to a halt. I find a lot of talk=damage situations can end up this way. For some reason saying “I swing my sword” three times in a row isn’t as…weird? feeling as saying “I argue with the bandit to let us pass” three times in a row. Maybe because players have a lifetime of experience talking and negotiating but haven’t exactly lived the life of a medieval adventurer.

100% are the most fun odds. Something should happen, 100% of the time, when you roll the dice.
Whether that’s success, a complication, or whatever, the end result of a roll of the dice should never be “nothing happens”.
EVERY roll of the dice should move the story forward in some way. That’s good game design.

This last quote is around the more modern idea of non-binary dice systems, where even on failure SOMETHING happens. Binary resolution is “you hit, or you miss, the end.” Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars and Genesys gets around this with Advantages/Disadvantages. Those have their own downsides, but yeah. In the case of Party of Light, with the target audience being younger, I think I’m going to stick to binary resolution. Mainly because “you miss, BUT…” drags the turn out.

Solutions and Changes
Another possible solution I thought of are opposed rolls, or defense rolls. Much like Fickle RPG where SOMETHING always happens because if you fail the enemy has succeeded, so they get to do their thing. Again downsides: the kids sometimes take a while thinking of what they want to do on their OWN turn, if they ALSO had to think of a reaction everytime they are attacked it’d bog down even more. Overall the combat might be faster (since someone is probably losing Stamina every action), but I don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff for the flow of each individual turn. Again this is just for Party of Light, because as I mentioned Fickle RPG does action/reaction for each turn, but that’s a different beast and different target audience.

Or I could give a player who fails their action a bonus for their NEXT turn. Like a poker chip or something called “focus” or whatever. Maybe even lets them reroll their next action. It could end up hecka game-y as people could intentionally fail a Hard action (but what a bonus if they succeed!) just to get a focus token for the next turn. Plus it’s just one more thing to track and manage. I had a phase of loving re-rolls, but now I find they are often tacked on in a lot of cases, unless they are entirely core to a game (like Blood Bowl).

In the end the simplest and easiest solution is to just tweak the basic dice odds of success. I considered swapping a D10 somewhere in there (maybe for Normal). Some info:

Success on 5+:
D6 = 33%
D8 = 50%
D10 = 60%
D12 = 66%

Success on 4+:
D6 = 50%
D8 = 62.5%
D10 = 70%
D12 = 75%

If I put Success back to a 4+ then Easy gets a +9% buff for chance to succeed, but most importantly Normal gets +12.5% buff, and Hard becomes more usable with +17%. Because honestly that 50/50 doesn’t feel great on Normal once you’ve had a bad streak of failing it three or four times in a row, but would be acceptable on Hard. And I don’t have to get the crummy non-platonic-solid D10 involved (I hate that stupid dice).

So yeah, all said and done in Party of Light v2.6 I switched Success from 5+ to 4+ to encourage more Normal usage and make Easy checks succeed more often (although I’d prefer 5% less of the time for Easy BUT the game is aimed at kids after all and failing at that age isn’t super fun). I also added two more pieces of art (both featured in this post) and reorganized Making a Hero to the bottom of the rulebook, and a few other minor tweaks.

Party of Light – new release with action idea list and art!

Well I booked an upcoming session of Party of Light with my nieces who I made the game for, and as tends to happen an imminent game spurs me into creative, productive mode. So I updated Party of Light slightly to v2.5. So still a similar level of complexity and the same basic idea to the rules. I tweaked a few wordings and expanded an example section in the core rules. The biggest addition has been the “Action Ideas” document, that gives a list of actions/effects that could be done on your turn. These can be combined and expanded on as desired by the players. I also put together a very simple Monster Sheet that helps me (the Villain!) organize my baddies. Oh, and of course, an amazing title page and new interior art! Finally found a larger size image of what I used before for the title page, which you can see here: new title page.

So here ya go, ya salty sea dog: Party of Light v2.5 PDF

Now as you know from my much loved Fickle RPG I’m not much for giving the players lists because the vast majority of their time they restrict themselves to the list only. But that’s a game for adults, and in Party of Light I think a bit more guidance would help the kids. It’s not like they are familiar with grid based combat effects from their vast lifetime of computer games and other RPGs or something.

So the action idea list helps that. As you might remember, Party of Light uses a scaling dice system where you are always looking to roll 5+, with Easy using D12, Normal D8, Hard D6. So 66% chance, 50% chance, 33% chance. Simple and smooth and introduces kids to other weirdly shaped dice. For deciding which dice to use you start with Normal which gives you 1 outcome/effect, such as damaging the target. If your action is with your Best statistic (so swinging a sword with Might, or casting a spell with Magic, or taunting a monster with Mind) then it becomes 1 “step” easier. For each additional outcome/effect you move 1 step harder. So you could damage the target, heal yourself, and push another enemy for +2 steps (so Easy -> Hard).

But previously thinking up those actual outcomes/effects was tough for the kids. This list will help that. The options can be combined as desired, so an Ice Storm could be Ranged (apply at any distance), Radius (hit target and hurt those around), Basic (as damage). Or a healing shield could be Basic (but +Stamina instead of damage) and Block (saving throw vs next damage).

Oh and the monster sheet is basically what you’d expect. One step above scrap paper, haha.

Anyway the main page has been updated with the rules or you can grab the PDF above.

Planning maps for Dragon Strike boards

I mentioned I regularly use my old Dragon Strike map boards when playing Party of Light. Mainly because I never really bought a ton of new well printed cardboard tiles (as tempting as the numerous D&D Dungeon Tiles packs and maps were). But anyway I found some old black and white planning maps for each of the 4 Dragon Strike maps, so that’s pretty neat. As a reminder here’s what the Dragon Strike field map looks like:

dragon-strike_map

And here are the planning maps. You could print them and draw in monster and trap locations like it’s 1993. On a barely related note, my local hobby shop has a pretty good quality copy of Advanced Heroquest in stock for $160. Although I already own one, and the minis aren’t nearly as good quality as modern offerings, I’m still somewhat tempted just to get more sweet, sweet dungeon tiles and rooms.

I wish they were larger size to even print as basic, playable maps, but alas this was the best I could find.

Party of Light: slightly improved character sheet

So after my last Star Wars themed game of Party of Light with 2 nieces and 2 cousins I realized the character sheet has a few problems that consistently come up. First of all though the game session went well. The kids were a bit rowdy and energetic, as is to be expected from kids, but they all had fun. Not sure how well the Star Wars theme came across since they weren’t as familiar with it as I expected (as they had all seen at least the original trilogy). So some of the players might have fit better with the standard medieval fantasy approach.

Anyway here’s the new sheet integrated with the rulebook: Party of Light (v2.1)

And here’s how it looks:(for reference the old one looked like this)

The changes are purely from experience and feedback I saw with the players. First of all everyone got confused that “Speed” was on the same row (and had the same style) as Might/Mind/Magic. They all thought it was an option for their Best/Worst stat. So I instead moved Speed down a row, and put the Damage dice instead (since the kids tend to like to line up the dice on their sheet, and there was no place for the D4). I also expanded the Stamina section since kids write really big, and it’s a hassle for them to erase. I shrunk the Backstory a bit to fit this. Otherwise just minor changes like lining up the background pictures a bit differently.

Another lesson I learned was kids love maps. We had a few scenes without maps during the Star Wars game, and they weren’t nearly as invested, and even asked “do we have anymore maps?” “when is the next map?”. So although it’s much more preparation (I’ve been spoiled by Fickle RPG!) to draw maps, and results in a more linear session, it’s definitely worth it to them.

Party of Light: Star Wars

I did a fun little re-skin of Party of Light, my light game meant for teaching kids the basics of RPGs. Previously the game was your typical medieval fantasy setting. I made a Star Wars version with the same mechanics, but a more sci-fi looking character sheet. This was because I’m aiming to play the game with my nieces and my cousin’s kids sometime soon, and Star Wars seemed like a pretty universally known setting. Plus it’ll be fun to try something where Magic isn’t a factor, and shooting, outsmarting, and using more mundane approaches to problems will work. Although the Force is in the game, it certainly has more limits and restrictions on what can be done.

Anyway here’s an example of the Star Wars version of the character sheet:

And the actual Party of Light (Star Wars version) rulebook and character sheet download.

This time I might not use so many battle maps, since those are a lot of work to prep and really restrict the path of the story. I had a huge backlog of fantasy style ones from various D&D campaigns, but I have very few for Star Wars, so I’d have to make them all. My previous Star Wars RPG experience was running an Edge of the Empire campaign for ~6 months, and being a player in an Age of Rebellion campaign for less time than that.

Session Ideas

Here’s my notes document for the game I plan to run for the above crowd. Should be a fun time. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that an enemy like a Flame Beetle won’t seem tired and overdone to a bunch of kids who didn’t grow up playing Neverwinter Nights. I can basically re-use all the standard tropes and concepts and they will be new to them.

ORD MANTELL
– Start on Ord Mantell (L-7) in Cargo Port H-3911, which is on a raised platform over a river of silt
— Has regular shuttles to the Jubilee Wheel
– Characters were all trying to board a shuttle for their own reasons
– Suddenly a Chadra-Fan (short bat race) named Pok comes rushing up and begs the characts to help him escape
– Says he has information important to the Rebellion
– As they decide they hear Stormtroopers approaching from further down the platform
– Ideally rush onto a shuttle to the Jubilee Wheel
– Learn more about Pok on the flight, he says he has a data stick containing a new Imperial spaceship design
— Ship design is the “Cairo Class Destroyer”
– He needs to get the information to Kashyyk, home of the Wookies, to a friend Shew’hrruk

JUBILEE WHEEL
– Need to evade capture and get/charter a ship on Jubilee Wheel
– Get a Wayfarer class ship (use old EoTE map)

SPACE CHOICE
– Can choose to fly a shorter route across wild space (generally more dangerous), or along known hyperspace lanes (higher chance of Imperials)
— Wild space: Engine malfunction, have to land on a remote jungle planet Aleen, wander and find a camp of Silas Hadlock, who is dead, and his droid servants have been carrying on trying to survive. A flock of Ravenbeast (violet fur, horned, jump/glide) have been harassing the camp. Droids can fix spaceship if heroes clear Ravenbeast camp
— Hyperspace lanes: Need to refuel on Tanaab (agricultural planet), Imperial entanglements, fight in a cantina while ship is being refueled?
– In either case Pok dies or is gravely injured?

BOUNTY HUNTERS (can be dropped for time)
– On the next leg to Kashyyk bounty hunters on a Harpoon class ship overtake the Wayfarer and board. Right as they are recalculating a jump to Hyperspace.
– Fight on the Wayfarer

KASHYYK
– Reach Kashyyk next, Shew’hrruk is hunting in the Shadowlands
— If pressed for time just find Shew’hrruk right away
– Descend to try to find him, end up fighting a giant Flame Beetle with Shew’hrruk, then give him information

Update to Party of Light damage system

Remember when I talked about changing the Party of Light damage system to use D4s? Well, I did that.

Grab the latest rules: Party of Light Rules v2 (PDF)

But I wanted to keep the original “flat 1 Stamina” approach too, so I basically made a “Basic v1” and “Advanced v2” of the rules. I could even see a v3, v4, etc. as I add more complexity, statistics, classes, and so on as my nieces grow up and want to play a more involved game.

So anyway the change is Success is now 5+ and the difficulty dice have changed to Hard = D6, Normal = D8, Easy = D12. This changes the odds a bit, in a beneficial way to be honest, and also frees up the D4 to become a Damage Dice.

Also for now the rules don’t specify anything about Critical Hits, but I do want to consider adding something like that eventually. I’m gonna play the game tonight and see how it works and how Crits would fit in well. Originally I considered just having max to-hit roll = crit, but that makes Easy much less likely to Crit than Hard. Hard would actually be a 50% to Crit if you hit, since you’re only hitting on a 5 or 6 on a D6 anyway. So maybe I need a different approach. I like the idea of having the D4s potentially explode, but that could be really swingy and time consuming, so maybe just 4 on the Damage Dice gives +1 damage or something.

Party of Light damage changes

After a few sessions of Party of Light with my nieces (who the game was originally designed for), I’m considering adding a tiny bit more complexity.

The reason stems of all attacks currently do 1 Stamina of damage. This results in fairly predictable fights, where enemies die at an expected, steady rate.

I’d like to change that. What I would do is first of all change the underlying core dice resolution. I’d change Success to 5+, then switch the difficulty tiers to:

Hard = D6, Normal = D8, Easy = D12, Heroic still D20

This results in odds of 33% Hard, 50% Normal, 66% Easy, and 80% Heroic.
Currently the approach is 4+ Success on D4, D6, D12, so 25%, 50%, 75%, and 85%. So with this change Hard becomes more likely, and Easy is a tiny bit less likely (not extremely happy about that, but the odds are still pretty good).

The second step would be adding a “Damage Dice” of D4 (now that it’s not associated with a difficulty). The Damage Dice in theory should be rolled at the same time, but realistically I imagine it’ll be a second step like how most D&D players do it. The result is the Stamina damage, instead of a set amount of 1. Of course all related Stamina values would be updated (such as total hero Stamina, item effects, etc.)

This also allows for Critical Hits to be a new mechanic. If you roll the max on your to-hit dice, you maybe automatically do the max 4 damage, or roll a bonus D4, or something.

I’d also likely codify and do a minor tweak to the “Powerful Attack” idea, which currently means a person making their check +1 difficulty to do double damage. Now it would be D4+2 damage instead. Or maybe just roll 2D4. I’d have to see what feels better, but I think the former because I don’t think my nieces have 2D4 each.

So yeah, should add a bit of variety to pacing, and make the system closer to a traditional RPG to help transition the kids as they get older. I imagine I’ll playtest this idea next time I run the game for them, and if it seems good I’ll write up the changes and release an updated rule PDF.