About Me

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Denver, Colorado, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Playtesting today...

Finally doing another Stellar playtest later today - this one focused on ground assault. I've prepared three characters for the players, as the creation protocols are not yet ready for them.

Still, while working through the fledgling process, I've already realized there's some things I don't quite like. It was a sort of character creation playtest on my own.

Mostly, I do like the Background Ratings approach, but I think instead of trying to be vague I should just go ahead and specify the background itself. For instance: Academics, Military, Criminal Enterprise, etc. It seems more relatable that way.

I also need to think more about how characters without the Ground Assault skill will perform in combat. I'm content with a trained military guy being better in general combat, but from a game design perspective, the other characters still need to feel useful, since combat is a reasonably large part of most RPGs. I could come up with alternate approaches for each major grouping (engineers use turrets and droids?), but something tells me that won't work out well in the end and ends up creating massive number of class-equivalent mechanics. Too unwieldy.

For now, though, I just gave every character some ground assault training, because the point of today's test is to see if the ground assault rules hold up mechanically.

Meanwhile, here's an inspirational image about the future of space travel.

photo credit: AGeekMom via photopin cc

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Combat for Modern and Future RPGs

Ground combat - or any person-to-person level combat, wherever it occurs - has been quite the puzzle for me in Stellar.

The main problem with existing system approaches is that they are primarily fantasy driven in their mechanics, even if they are labeled with science fiction titles.

Hitting people with swords/axes/lightsabers is all very similar, and the mechanics of combat in most tabletop RPGs reflect that. Each character goes in some deterministic order, and their action(s) can be spent with an attack, or a heal, or a (de)buff, or using some item, and then the next character goes. Some games allow for "interrupts", which is an action taken on another character's turn.

I like those games and have played them for years. For Stellar, I am demanding something else, though. I want it to feel like a modern combat. So what is modern combat?

Oops, my finger slipped.
photo credit: DVIDSHUB via photopin cc

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Background Ratings

I've been toying around with the player-character aspect of Stellar, which up until now is really only a tactical space fighter game.

As mentioned previously, I do not believe class vs classless really affects player creativity. However, I also don't feel constrained to rely on a class system.

Setting that aside for a moment, I have also spent time contemplating possible attribute models. I found a great list of attributes used in various games on Fudgery.net.

It's like a miniature thesaurus! Except it only has synonyms for Strength, Agility, Hardiness, Intelligence, ....  you get the idea. The synonym chosen reflects the flavor of the game. For instance, InvaderZ uses "Meat" and "Brain Meat" as attributes. That tells me quite a lot about the game, at least in theory (I've never played it). Additionally, some games use frequency of attribute type to illustrate desired gameplay. So, if a game has 6 different physical attributes and then one attribute called "Mind and stuff", it is safe to assume physical activities are more prevalent and/or important.

I confess to being somewhat bored by the prospect of making yet another game that uses these approaches.

As mentioned in the link at Fudgery, we as gamers usually associate "attribute" with "inherent" or "born with it". In every attribute-based game, eventually someone asks a question like, "If I'm Strength 14, why can't I work out more and get Strength 15?" or "Why can't I study more to get smarter?"

Good questions.

Game systems overcome this sort of probing in one of two fashions: either completely ignoring it, or by letting characters improve attributes somehow. Improvement can come over time/experience, or through magic items (which generally just support ignoring the basic question).

So I asked myself, are attributes inherent to RPGs?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Classless Systems

Every so often - say every 12 minutes or thereabouts - I see an RPG bragging about their classless system. Standard text follows:

"It's better than classes because YOU CAN PLAY ANYTHING YOU WANT!"

"It's like other RPGs except YOU CAN PLAY ANYTHING YOU WANT!"

"It uses skills which are way better than classes because YOU CAN PLAY ANYTHING YOU WANT!"

I want to play a beholder. What skills for that?
photo credit: estherase via photopin cc

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gremlin with a Crazy

For those of you not following @GremlinWidCrazy, you really should. Also don't forget me, @CobaltKobold, which is not nearly as funny, although I did post a picture of Butt Stallion recently.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stellar Space Fighter Construction

I decided that I needed to start letting players in my playtests make some creation choices. Since all I have in Stellar so far is the space fighter combat, it made sense to start with space fighter construction.

photo credit: Louis K. via photopin cc

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