Tag: Rules

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.

Fickle RPG v0.6 and the road forward

Today is a great day, as it’s release day! Specifically a new version of Fickle RPG. In theory I have finalized all the decisions from playtesting and brainstorming. Which means this v0.6 set of rules could become v1.0, with an art replacement and final read over for typos or mistakes.

So first of all grab the Fickle RPG v0.6 PDF and take a look!

What changed? Lots! If you’ve been following the development you know I’ve had a few ideas around player elimination on defeat, the idea of Karma/Luck/Fortune dice, renaming some elements (like Fate Coin), etc. After much playtesting and consideration I have locked down a lot of those elements with solutions I’m quite happy with.

Changes

  1. Art!: Yep, art is in, some of which you can see scattered around this post. Thanks to 4-5 hours of looking through http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/ that task is finally done. In addition I removed the zombie-specific tentacle images and went with a more generic “leaf” look to the pages and sheet.
  2. Luck Dice: Each person gets a Luck Dice when assembling their dice pool, and it’s normally a different size or color to distinguish. The Luck Dice can be allocated as normal to Fickle or Flat, and provide a more powerful version of either effect. If Fickle the Difficulty of just that Luck Dice is reduced by 1 (ie: Hard to Normal). If Flat it counts as 2 Successes instead of just 1.
    What this means is another great, meaningful, interesting decision has been added to the act of resolution. And because the overall dice pool sizes were reduced by 1 to accommodate (for example starting Attribute is now 3 instead of 4), a few annoying rules could be streamlined, such as total Stamina now being Attr+Attr instead of the awkward Attr+Attr-2. In addition NOT getting your Luck Dice makes a great punishment for players who are starting to be Defeated. All in all a fun, polished idea of the Karma Dice shared/common pool idea.
  3. Broken/Crushed/Defeated: Previously if a player was reduced to 0 Stamina in any Category they were Defeated and couldn’t participate. This wasn’t a ton of fun if it happened early on in a scene. So now there are 3 “stages” to Defeat: Broken, Crushed, Defeated. There are also cool new “Stamina Cards” to track and remember these stages per player. How it works is when a single Category is reduced to 0 Stamina, the player is Broken. They cannot use their Luck Dice, and cannot apply effects when Reacting (such as reducing enemy Stamina). BUT they can still otherwise act. And if everyone in the party is Broken, then the party wipes and loses the scene. Otherwise if a player gets 0 Stamina in TWO Categories they become Crushed. They suffer the cumulative effects of Broken, and also either lose the benefit of a Skill OR take a new -1 Skill (as an injury) for the rest of the session. And finally if they have 0 Stamina in all 3 Categories they are Defeated and only THEN can’t act. Stamina recovery after a scene is different too now, as you only recover 1 Stamina if you were Defeated, otherwise you don’t get any back.
  4. Skill Weakness: Now as part of generation you have to take a -1 Skill weakness, which should add even more flavor to characters.
  5. Game Session Example: Lengthy excerpt demonstrating a bit of a high fantasy session, which is nicely formatted and gives a good idea of the gameplay.
  6. Roll Testing: I wrote a simple software application to do every combination of Fickle/Flat/Luck to ensure there wasn’t a best path or approach to allocating. Some interesting results, and I’m quite happy with the spread.
  7. Defensive Reactions: I had an a-ha moment around these. The idea is if you wanted to React defensively, where you don’t try to do Stamina damage back, you don’t really get an advantage from that. When really the rules already covered that case, just no explicitly. Because the Difficulty of a check is based on the number of effects you apply, and since defensive Reactions are applying NOTHING, that means they should be 1 Difficulty easier, aka Easy 4+. So I didn’t even need to make a special corner case rule, I just had to state that fact. So happy with how easy that was.
  8. Exploit Coin: I renamed the Fate Coin to “Exploit Coin”, which makes for the also fun rename of “Tempt Fate” to “Exploiting”. I like the double meaning of heroic style exploit, and also the idea of exploiting the rules or a loophole. This was done to avoid the Fickle/Flat/Fate alliteration. But let me tell you I almost went the other way and committed fully to silly naming with Fickle/Flat/Fate/Fortune (instead of Luck Dice).

What’s Next?

Now I’m gonna post the rules a few places online to get feedback (hello to anyone who reached this post from a website!) Then I have a Star Wars mini-campaign to wrap up, a few one-offs to run (maybe Fallout, maybe Mass Effect). Then I want to get a non-placeholder piece of art for the game overview, basically of a game in progress at my home table. Then if I’m happy with everything I’m going to make the character sheet PDF a fillable form. I’m also going to add the game to https://rpggeek.com/ and maybe a few other places (like darkshire.net, and maybe DriveThruRPG). Then if I’m happy with everything I’ll make the game v1.0 in a month or two. Which means all in all Fickle RPG will have taken less than a year from the first rule I wrote for the game. Not a bad turn around! After that I’ll likely take a break, let the creative juices bubble, and come back to one of my many other projects (maybe Echo Death).

In the meantime enjoy the new version, I know I have been!

Fickle RPG v0.5 and remaining playtest/brainstorm ideas

You think I’d be used to massive lapses in time since posts, but I still can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since the start of my “alien campaign” for Fickle RPG, as well as the last release. That campaign has concluded now, and was a fun time, although a bit hard to organize with drop-in players. I think I’m going to try a few one-shots (or maybe two-shots) in a wider variety of genres for the next bit, once my friends have recovered from “planning burnout” trying to organize games.

Anyway even though the game is pretty light on mechanics (in a good way), I’ve been wracking my brain on a few key ideas, as my posts since then will show. I’ve been thinking primarily about player elimination via the Defeated mechanic, how the give and take of Stamina works in general, and a potential new decision point (“Luck Dice”) during resolution to really take the core mechanic to the next level.

A lot of that hasn’t been decided and needs further playtesting. Eagerly waiting for a time when I can wrangle enough players to do that. But in the mean time I do have a few minor “for sure” changes that I made to Fickle RPG, and therefore want to release v0.5 today:
Download the latest Fickle RPG (v0.5) PDF

Changes

Game Session Example section
  • Created a huge Game Session Example section showing two players working through a medieval fantasy encounter. Nice formatting with speaker icons too.
  • Now when creating a character you must choose a -1 Skill weakness. These are meant to be flavorful and interesting narrative elements as compared to crippling crutches. The example I give in the rules is “-1 Amputated Hand is interesting when desperately trying to hold a rope lifeline to an ally, but becomes tedious and regrettable if used every time the character opens a door.”
  • Added some Attribute allocation examples, basically preset “arrays” of numbers like 6/5/4/3/3/3.
  • Added a nice looking full page title page
  • Reworked the Creating a Character section to be a bit more verbose, and formatted similarly to Resolution.
  • A pile of new Storyteller tips and clean up of examples
  • Formatting consistency, reworked headers a bit, general polish

To Playtest

Honestly after the items below are hashed out and finalized I think I’ll move Fickle RPG to v1.0. Maybe get some art or pictures to break up the text a bit in the rulebook. Considering antique/old style black & white line art for that. Maybe a real world picture of a game in session too or something.

Because of how differently each individual player allocates pools I can’t just playtest these concepts myself. But the biggest concepts are “Flex” dice (really good single dice in the pool) and what to do when Defeated (staged effects with damage spillover).

So yeah, the list:

  • Add Flex Dice (or Fluke/Fortune/Fate/Luck…name undecideded). Basically a refined idea of “Karma dice” from before. Everyone gets a small/different colored 1D6 “Flex” dice that can be allocated to Fickle at -1 difficulty or Flat at +1 success (2 total) for just that dice.
    As part of this I’d reduce all attributes and pool sizes by 1 to better facilitate “pick up X dice, throw in Flex dice”.
  • Stamina should be Attr+Attr, which works out to the same due to smaller initial attribute (nice side benefit)
  • Post-fight Stamina restores to HALF (rounded up) instead of 1. For everyone, not just those reduced to <=0
  • If Category Stamina is 0 and new damage comes in it “spills over” to another Category (defenders choice, represents how their character deals with it)
  • Broken: 1st Category reduced to 0: Cannot React, lose Flex
  • Wounded: 2nd Category reduced to 0: temporary removes 1 positive Skill from related Category, or if no skills adds a new temporary -1 for rest of session
  • Defeated: 3rd Category reduced to 0: eliminates the player for the rest of the scene. Opponents use this always for first Category to 0
  • Opponents should just have a single Stamina stat, instead of one per Category, and are Defeated when it’s to 0. Makes characters using different attacks from their allies more effective instead of trying to coordinate on each category

First pass of White Line Fever rules

Bit of a departure from my recent Fickle RPG work, but the recent “alien campaign” will likely come to an end before April. So I wanted to change gears a bit, and decided to revisit my White Line Fever car game. I had put together brainstorm notes, then playtested a couple of times, then touched up my notes. You might remember the game is meant to be heavier than my Flickin’ Cars With Guns, but lighter than the classic Car Wars from Steve Jackson Games. Mainly with simplifying the turning template, and having some varying severity to shooting instead of an ablative armor system.

Now I’ve sat down and done a first pass at a formatted, styled, cool looking rulebook. You can get the PDF right here: White Line Fever (first draft PDF)

And here’s an easy glance at the formatting:

I’m quite happy with how the rules look so far, from the subtle background picture to the car showdown. Just needs pictures throughout.

Soon enough I’ll print them out and try to get a few games, just to polish up and finalize the mechanics. Then I might do an “Advanced” section with driver traits, different weapons, light campaign system, etc. I’ve always wanted to have a game where you could simulate a road trip (kind of given it’d be post apocalyptic) using real-world roadmaps.

Fonts

I’m absolutely in love with the title font. Some of the other formatting and effects were achieved with other cool fonts.

First of all “Road Rage”, the title font: http://www.dafont.com/road-rage.font

Then the headers are “Highway Gothic”, which is used throughout the USA on official road signs, so fit very well: http://www.dafont.com/highway-gothic.font

Then I used two wingding fonts for the header car silhouettes (I’m such a silhouette fan in for my rulebooks), as well as the small yield/warning signs before each header: http://www.dafont.com/need-for-speed.font and http://www.dafont.com/traffic-signs-tfb.font

Very handy website, and fun to find that perfect font.

Fickle v0.4, and a new campaign

alien-planet

Well now that the Christmas season has quieted down I’m back to weekly games. Specifically playtesting a few Fickle changes in a brand new campaign.

Instead of the previous post apocalyptic zombie campaign we’ve moved onto alien invasion. Pretty fun so far! This time everyone is playing themselves, in the sense of that is their character (compared to some random person they make up). We started on a normal work day, then had an alien ship land over a central city landmark, put down a shield covering the city, and start attacking/stealing people. So a bit less grounded, but I’m trying to keep the alien technology consistent (and mysterious, as the players fight an unknown foe). My hope is they’ll eventually wage a guerrilla style war against the aliens to drive them out.

Otherwise most of the playtesting worked well, and I’m down to only one last mechanic to refine. So in the mean time here are the v0.4 Fickle RPG rules.

Rule Changes

What has changed? Well…

  • Reactions have been added, codified, and balanced. They use the same base difficulty of Normal, and allow entities to perform meaningful (ie: Stamina damage) actions in response
  • Moved to round-robin 1-turn-per-player structure instead of a global “player turn”
  • Switched from D12 “Fate Dice” to a 50/50 “Fate Coin”, which either wins or loses
  • Split resolution into Check (player vs environment) and Competing (player vs player)
  • Added a “Notes” page to the back of character sheets
  • Cleaned up formatting in the rulebook, including adding “Storyteller tips” for the game master

The two biggest changes are Reactions (described at length in previous posts) and the change to round-robin style turns. Previously the idea was 1 Storyteller turn, then 1 generic player turn. The players decided amongst themselves who acted in that window. I’ve learned this is sometimes called “Hot Potato Initiative” as the players pass the initiative freely among themselves. The problem was this sometimes (…more often than I’d like!) kept the spotlight on one player, and left the others kind of twiddling their thumbs. Reactions helped a bit with this (since enemies could focus on the uninvolved players) but that was a bit of an artificial band aid fix.

So instead the game has moved to a traditional round-robin style turn structure. The “first turn” still belongs to whoever makes sense, then play rotates left from there, with the Storyteller getting a turn after each player turn.

Fate Coin Ideas

Now for the Fate Coin. Like I mentioned the idea is a 50/50 chance of some crazy, impossible, likely overpowered idea working. On failure everyone in the group loses 1 Stamina from all Categories.

Currently the players get 1 Fate Coin per 2 players (rounded up). Which feels a bit awkward to calculate and track.

So what I’m seriously considering, and will be playtesting this week, is changing to a more “push your luck” mechanic with the Fate Coin. With this new approach the players would get only 1 Fate Coin. BUT that coin isn’t “used” or discarded on success/fail. Instead they can keep using the coin, but the Stamina loss on failure goes up by 1 each time. So the second use has a potential 2 Stamina loss, third is 3 Stamina, and so on.

Really makes for a thematic feel to Tempt Fate, and I do like the push your luck approach (and felt the game needed a tiny bit of it).

Critical Success – Tiny Other Idea

A tiny other idea I had, but likely won’t end up doing, is Critical Success. The idea is if the total of your rolled Fickle dice is X, you win! X could be a set number, like “lucky number 7”, or chosen on a per-character basis. This rule would apply for the players only (not the Storyteller).
Upside is the excitement and surprise of winning when you think you are gonna lose, or when you’re drastically outmatched, as well as yet another decision point in resolution (in terms of balancing underdog vs lucky 7). Downside is you can’t just quickly figure out your total successes, and also need to do math to total the roll.