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13 January 2014 @ 06:58 pm
It's everything I ever wanted in an RPG Kickstarter!  
And I haven't backed it because if it looks too good to be true, it very well might be.

I wrote before about a lot of the stuff I do include in the moddable CRPGs I play, like food and water or encumbrance systems or disease rules or lighting and visibility levels affecting attacks, has too much of an opportunity cost to use in a tabletop RPG. The fiddliness inherent in calculating and updating all that by hand makes it way too annoying for too little gain to use in a pen-and-paper medium, but a computer one? A computer one designed to be run like a tabletop one? That could work!

But there isn't much information about it. That pitch video is basically "This is going to be Your New Favorite Game because it's totally awesome. And Robin Laws. Woo!"

Now, Robin Laws is awesome and having him write the rules implies that it's not going to have tens of thousands of lines of code for combat but social mechanics that boil down to "I don't know, make something up," but there's just not that much info except that it's skill-based and multi-genre, other than what can be drawn from the screenshots. The first update has more info, but even there it's pretty vague.

Alright, what can I learn from those screenshots and the update?

  • Stats have a 3x3 grid like in White Wolf games, though the third category is called "Spirit" instead of "Social," but apparently covers the same ground with stats like "Presence" and "Influence."

  • Skills are percentile, or at least expressed to the player in terms of percentage of success.

  • Character creation ranges from "slap on a few templates and go" to "design everything by hand."

  • There are multiple possible models for the same character, with different armor, clothing, weapons, hairstyles, and so on, so the Invincible Sword Princess can wear a ballgown at a court event and then heavy armor when out in the countryside.

  • There's a system of Qualities, like Fearless or Undead.

  • Injury effects exist, as do wounds, and a bunch of situational modifiers like lighting, armor penalties, encumbrance, and so on.

  • Asymmetric player information is possible. If one character notices something but the others don't, everyone isn't automatically informed.

There's a lot that's not there, though. The first "genre pack" is fantasy, and apparently it's orc-dwarf-elf fantasy from that first update, but how does the magic system work? How customizable are skills or qualities--or the races, since "minotaurs" is a stretch goal? Are there combat maneuvers like disarming people or is it just attack->attack->attack? Is the environment manipulable?

What's more, there's a response about how they're not releasing a rules PDF because the rules would be way too complicated to use at the table. That may be true, but in playing MMOs and reading about RPGs I've learned that the collective knowledge of the player base is often larger than the knowledge of the developers, and if there's anything there that's potentially exploitable, someone will find it if the info is available. That's especially true in complicated systems, since the amount of rules interaction--and thus, the potential for an edge case to make everything explode--grows geometrically as the rules grow arithmetically.

I don't know enough to commit yet, but I'll be watching this one like a hawk.
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Mysterious Universe podcast
marianlhmarianlh on January 14th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
This looks pretty useless unless it can be customized to work with an existing RPG ruleset. I don't want to play Generic Fantasy Game #1163, I want to play AD&D. Or Blue Rose. Same with other genres.

It's got nice isometic graphics, and it might be easier to set up, but otherwise MapTool already does the same thing better, and for free, without limiting you to one ruleset.
dorchadasdorchadas on January 14th, 2014 03:21 pm (UTC)
MapTool would be great if we all had laptops--or least, if I had a laptop instead of a desktop in an inconvenient location--but we all have iPhones or iPads that can't run Java. (-_-;) it's the phone/tablet integration that interests me, as so far the best gaming app I've found by far is GoodReader.

I can adapt to a new system. I can barely decide what system I want to run anyway!
marianlhmarianlh on January 14th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
That's a point I hadn't considered, since I don't have a smartphone.