RSS
 

Combat! Preview Artwork

15 Jul

 

Get ready for a quick preview of the newly designed Combat! Cards! We are waiting on a test run from our printer before we look at relaunching the Kickstarter.

 
No Comments

Posted in Combat!

 

Designing Scrolls

31 Mar

Today started as a playtest for the Artificer, but ended up with a redesign of Scrolls for the Apprentice System. First of all, I should identify what my design goals were for Scrolls:

1. Scrolls can be expensive(compared to grenades and wands)

2. Scrolls are powerful(very important compared to wands)

3. Scrolls are unpredictable

 

My old design was 1/4th of an item and caster level equaled your level. This was okay, but it definitely failed Design #2. A level 1 scroll cost 1/9th of a level 1 Wand, but 1/4th of a level 0 Wand. So it wasn’t amazing for Design#1 either. Design #3 was pretty spot on with 50% failure chance to use, which was awful since it failed Design#2.

After a couple of hours of reiteration, I present to you the newly designed Scrolls. Reminder: Skills have dramatically changed(I’ll post on it later). A “level 1 item” costs 40g.

 

Scrolls

Scrolls are one-time-use magic items. Unlike a spellbook, which is magically inert, scrolls capture and harness the actual spell for the wise to use. Most magic users prefer Wands for their longevity, but scrolls can contain powerful spells and are useful for spells that will not be cast daily.

Name

Caster Level

Cost

+1 Scroll

+2 Scroll

+3 Scroll

Level 1 Spell

1

5g

10g

15g

20g

Level 2 Spell

3

11g

22g

33g

44g

Level 3 Spell

5

25g

50g

75g

100g

Level 4 Spell

7

55g

110g

165g

220g

Level 5 Spell

9

225g

550g

775g

1100g

Each scroll has a set caster level. However, you can make or buy more powerful versions of the same scroll. +1 Scrolls are cast at +2 caster level, +2 Scrolls are +4 caster level, and +3 Scrolls are +6 caster level.

So a “Scroll of Magic Missile” would be cast at level 1, but a “Scroll of Magic Missile +3″ would be cast at level 7.

To use a scroll of a spell you do not know requires an Arcane(arcane spell list), Religion(priest or paladin spell list), Perform(bard spell list) or Nature(shaman or druid spell list) easy DC(8) check. If a spell is on multiple spell lists, you may choose which skill to use. Each bonus +1 to the scroll adds +2 to the DC. So a +3 Scroll would add +6 to the DC.

Failure on the skill check results in the spell exploding dealing 1d6 per your level fire damage, but the scroll remains intact.

Spells that require the constant use of a spell slot(like Create Undead) only last 1 hour. Spells that require concentration can only be maintained for 5 rounds.

 

Apprentice Sneak Peak: Inventor Class

28 Mar

Inventor

Lvl

Base Attack Bonus

Fort Save

Ref Save

Will Save

Special

Inventions

1

+0

+2

+0

+0

Inventions, Breakthrough

2

2

+1

+3

+0

+0

3

3

+2

+3

+1

+1

Breakthrough

4

4

+3

+4

+1

+1

5

5

+3

+4

+1

+1

Breakthrough

6

6

+4

+5

+2

+2

7

7

+5

+5

+2

+2

Breakthrough

8

8

+6

+6

+2

+2

9

9

+6

+6

+3

+3

Breakthrough

10

10

+7

+7

+3

+3

11

 

Inventions(Ex)

An inventor always has a bag of tricks. These Inventions cover basic everyday inventions. An inventor player is encouraged to come up with their own designs, with DM approval. See Spellbook Inventor’s page for full listing.

 

Breakthroughs(Ex)

In additional to everyday inventions, an inventor has huge breakthroughs in certain technology that allows them to perform above and beyond trinkets. Breakthroughs are categorized, but unless otherwise stated do not require you to stay to one category.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Apprentice Sneak Peak: Races

21 Mar

I’ve talked a lot about Apprentice over time, but I figured I’d start actually previewing some of the actual systems.

We’ll start with Half-Elves.

Half Elves (Or Half Humans)

Ability Scores: +2 to Dexterity and Charisma

Size: Medium

Skill Ranks: +2 to Diplomacy and Streetwise

Speed: 30 ft

Languages: Common, Elvan

Vision: Low-light

Metropolitan: +1 to skills  checks while in a city.

Physical Description: Half elves are physically just as the name suggest. Their ears are not as long or pointy as their elven brethren, but they are not nearly as thick or tall as their human relations either.

Politics: Anywhere there are High Elves and Humans, there will be half elves. They enjoy equal social standing as the other two groups in most countries. In many areas, the line between the three groups is very blurred.

As you can see, I went with the “+2 to two stats” for the races, rather than 3.5′s inconsistent sometimes-negative-sometimes-positive. There are races that don’t fall into this +2/+2, but a majority do.

The second big change was having the skill bonuses be Skill Ranks instead. This is in part due to the new Skill System(which I’ll cover later).

The fantasy behind a Half-Elf is that they show up wherever humans and elves mix, which is most commonly in a big city. Many different systems have covered this in different ways, but I went the simple route of giving them more expertise while in a city.

Humans

Ability Scores: +2 to any one stat

Size: Medium

Skill Ranks: +1 to any two skills

Speed: 30 ft

Languages: Common

Vision: Normal

Versatility: Humans characters start with a bonus feat.

Physical Description: Humans in multitudes of sizes, shapes, skin tones, and hair colors. One elven scholar once remarked that there are as many types of humans as there are types of trees, or nuances in magic.

Politics: Humans make up the majority of most countries. Dragon blooded humans usually join the Golden Dragon Clan, who’s main base is in Deregal, but serve their purpose of hunting down any remaining dragons in all countries.

I don’t have a lot to say about humans other than their theme is versatility, which I think they give in spades. Their bonus feat is a major boon, thus them having 2 less Ability Scores and Skill Ranks than most.

Gnome

Ability Scores: +2 to Intellect and Constitution

Size: Medium

Skill Ranks: +2 to Technology and Diplomacy

Speed: 30 ft

Languages: Common, Gnomish

Vision: Normal

Tinker: A gnome starts with one Lesser Invention from the Inventor class. This counts as the Minor Invention feat.

Average Height: 5’1’’-5’6’’

Average Weight: 120-170 lbs

Physical Description: Gnomes stand slightly shorter than elves, but are much less slight. Their ears are much less dramatically pointed, and their eyes are slightly larger.

Politics: Gnomes typically do not venture far from Gnomeron. While the other races continued to use dragon magic, gnomes decided instead to focus on experimentation and technology. During the dragons’ reign, gnomes were the laboratory experiments and assistants. So they eschewed many of the analytical practices performed by the dragons. Because of this cold analytical mind that some gnomes have, many other races distrust gnomes who travel outside of their country.

One big change was not making Gnomes small sized. I’ve always preferred the teenager-sized gnomes to the 8-year-old-sized gnomes. Their ability also allows them to use an Invention from the Inventor class, which we’ll be covering next.

 

How much damage is versatility worth?

07 Oct

We’ve gotten back into the groove of playtesting and working on Apprentice. Lately, our question seems to be around: how much damage/healing numbers is okay to give up for versatility?

Specifically we are looking at the Priest class.
Theme: Divine Wizard. Robe wearing, castor.
Kit: Heals, Light, Darkness, God-theme
Original Mechanic Concept: You can choose two domains at level 1. If you want to be a DPS priest, you choose two DPS domains. If you want a Healing priest, you choose two healing domains.

We’ve encountered problems with this design: players want to choose based on character theme, not numbers.
Yes, Death/Fire/Sun/Chaos all increase damage and Nature/Healing/Earth/Protection all increase healing, but Healing/Fire is a strong theme. Also some of them aren’t that compatible. Death gives you Inflict spells, which don’t work well with the Chaos domain’s power and Protection, Nature, and Healing all buff completely different types of healing spells.
The Priest is versatile during character creation, but not day-to-day the way Shaman is, or week-to-week like the Inventor. So maybe we were too harsh on the priest.
I’m considering “baking in” a slight heal/damage buff, but still allow two domains. A few domains might need to get nerfed to compensate, but perhaps giving them a bit more turn-to-turn versatility will make choosing domains based on theme or utility less awful feeling.

Update:

So I’ve went with my suggestion at the end. Basically I was splitting the two parts of a “DPS package” of Stat-mod to damage and +1/level to damage into two different domains. Instead, I’ve added the Stat-mod to the base class, and made sure the various domains offer different ways to increase damage, but never more than +1/level. In addition, I’ve given all priests Ray of Light(ranged touch radiant damaging spell) and Cure Minor Wounds for free, but given them both a buff in numbers. This will give the priest more versatility in everyday use, rather than just versatility in their character creation.

 

iOS Game Reviews: Part 1: Currently Playing

25 Aug

I’ve decided to start doing some game reviews of iOS games as I play them. I’m going to be listing their current price, but many I have picked up on sale. I’ll be linking to AppShopper, where you can save games to be notified of when they are on sale, and see their historic prices.

 

Currently Playing:

Plants Vs Zombies 2 (Free): This is the Free to play(F2P) sequel to the widely successful Plants Vs Zombies($1). If you are a fan of the first one, the sequel adds tons of new tactics and plants. Since it is F2P, they expect to gain their money from micro-transactions. However, PopCap did well in making these micro-transactions options or speed boosts. Zombies have a chance to drop keys, which you can use to unlock new plants or abilities(like keeping sun from digging up plants), or you can pay $2 to unlock them automatically. For $3 a pop, you can get some of the special plants like the Mimic, Jalepeno, or the new Power Lilly(who creates Plant Food, which gives big temporary powerups for your plants). These  plants are optional, but you cannot unlock them without paying. The only one I have is the Squash(which I bought for $3.99 as a bundle), and I honestly don’t feel like I need them.

Overall: 5/5. One of the best F2P models out there, and completing a zone unlocks additional challenge-mode stars in each level, which exponentially increases gameplay, which the first one lacked.

 

Infinity Blade 2 ($6.99): This is another sequal, this time to the beautiful game Infinity Blade($5.99). Note that I spent $2 and $1 respectively on each. I’d definitely wait for a sale on these two. That being said, they really push the iOS gaming in terms of graphics. The actual gameplay can be repetitive at times(the main mechanic of the game is if you die, you start back at first boss again with all your stuff and grind out lives). But if you like action games, knowing when to parry, dodge, or block gives you a huge advantage. (I typically spam parry, but I’m not terribly good at the game).

Overall: 3/5. Great if you can get it on sale. Though this may be heavily skewed by my love of Tactics/RPGs over action games.

 

Bad Piggies($1): This not-a-sequel to Angry Birds($1) is a contraption racing game. You build your insane contraption using set parts, and try to get your piggie across the finish line. That is a generalization, but that is the core of the game. The game is more engineering than archery like Angry Birds, however, and I love it for that. I particularly like the end levels, where you get the whole lego box to work with and can make insane contraptions to try to beat your previous time.

Overall: 4/5. Priced right, good time-wasting, enough strategy to keep me involved.

 

Neuroshima Hex($2.99): This is my mobile equivalent to solitaire. There IS strategy in this board-game adaptation, but overall the involvement you have to do is lowered, and closing your phone doesn’t make a difference in this turn-based strategy. You choose one of your races(extra races can be unlocked for more money) which have a different deck of hexes. The symbols on the Hexes can be hard to learn at first, but use the ? button a lot to learn that +tall triangle means +1 ranged damage. Overall, players play their Hexes until either someone plays a Combat Hex, or the board is filled up. During combat, all of the same initiative tiles  fire at the same time, either hitting melee or range for 1-2 damage. Placing pieces on the board almost has a Go-like quality of trying to outmaneuver your opponent. He placed a 2 damage 1 initiative person attacking your base? Make sure to get something with higher initiative before combat starts!

Overall: 3.5/5. Price is a bit high(especially if you buy the extra races), but it provides solid pick-up-and-play strategy for when you have a few moments of boredom.

 

Quick Sheet

19 Aug

Quick Sheet is a tabletop system meant to get you into the game quickly, while allowing you to design any sort of character for any sort of setting. The system is to get out of the way of the most important part, storytelling.

 

Click here for the character sheet and how to make your character (in 3 easy steps!)

Click here for the “DM” guide and guidelines for the basic super hero system.

 

The benefits of the Quick Sheet system is that it is fast and adaptable. But it does have some weaknesses. This isn’t going to be as fully fledged combat as D&D or Apprentice. When heroes are damaged, they only have a few HP sometimes! So there is a lot more dramatic play involved, but much more dangerous overall.

This system does put a lot more on the DM during character creation than most, as players are all asking how many points their character has used at any given time. But during gameplay, it is one of the easiest to run! For most actions, roll 3-4 opposing dice, adding or subtracting dice if it is something the opponent would be good at or worse at. Making full character sheets(with more or less points than players) is fine, but shouldn’t be required overall. Also, don’t be afraid to fudge your rolls one way or another for dramatic tension.

The balance isn’t as knife edged as I normally run with. Having a character with 5 Strong, 3 Withstand Blows and a few Awesome STuff to augment the two will likely never ever go down to physical blows, but a good psychic attack(which attacks Smarts and does damage to their Psyche(which is Smarts+1)) can take them down.

In fact, we just had to implement the “no attack die pool over 8″ rule after such a character was made. The rule we decided to implement is that during combat, the max die pool you can ever roll is 8, but you can instead roll half of your normal die pool to deal or protect 2 damage instead of 1. We’re playing with the idea of applying this rule to out of combat abilities too, but the idea of “critical success” doesn’t always apply to everything players do.

Note, however, that to get over 8 die pool, you HAVE to have used your Awesome Stuff points to augment your stats or skills.

This is really only the second design pass version of this, and I normally wouldn’t even bother posting until the 5th or more design pass, but I think Quick Sheets is open enough to allow DMs to modify them however they please.

 
 

How can less choices, give more choices?

04 Jul

Let’s look at a current game you might have heard of: World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is this huge complicated MMO, and the early class systems were confusing and unrefined. The Hunter class was a ranged attack pet class. In 2004, pets each had different stats. Even within the same type. A raptor in one area might be fine, but one with “caster stats” would be weaker and deal less damage. Also, if you managed to get an Elite pet, they were more powerful. Almost a decade later, and now they have pet families(in which all Raptors are one) with unique non-damaging abilities that all have the exact same stats, and can be specialized in tanking, damage dealing, or utility. I would say their current design is a clean design for hunter pets. Rather than have complicated(and hidden) statistical differences, a hunter can know they can choose their pet based on their non-damaging family bonus and looks.

Now, I’m not saying that this clearer design should just remove choices. It instead makes the choices clearer. In fact, part of the problem with the old pet system, was that players were frustrated by the obfuscated rules regarding pets, so typically just looked online for the “right pet.” WoW also had this trait in their talent system before the latest expansion.

It was interesting to me to see players complain about the talent system in Mists of Pandaria, because occasionally there was a choice that was terrible for them(in their playstyle). Players often shouted about how Blizzard was removing choices! How dare they! And Blizzard community managers(called Blues) calmly pointed out that a vast majority of players had the same builds as others(hence the popularity of wowpopular.com). The rebuttle was usually a “nuh uh, people will still use same builds.”

Let’s actually use that website as a current example: Death Knight Talents. Now, outside of Death Pact(which Blizzard is probably looking at nerfing), you can see that most talents are pretty evenly spread. It will be impossible to expect a 33/33/33% distribution, but their new talent systems has added a massive amount of diversity in the playerbase. A talent for one person that may be a no-brainer is not for another. I personally would not want to play a priest without the talent that increases movement speed when I cast Power Word: Shield, but I have seen plenty of players choose the other two talents in that tier.

So Blizzard took wow talents down from 41-points per tree, to six groups of three options. Did they remove choice by taking away +1%/2%/3% damage talents? In theory. But they also increased the meaningful choices that players make on a daily basis, and maybe let players make their own decision about their characters without having to worry about the “wrong” choice nearly as much.

 

Tabletop Warfare 3

25 Jun

Many different games with different players has resulted in some balance changes, “feeling” changes, and a few design changes for our tabletop tactics game(Currently called Ryrin Tactics).

Feeling Changes:
These are harder to define. They are simply “this ghost doesn’t feel like a ghost.” It is not because the ghost was underperforming or overperforming, just that a ghost with 4 HP and 1 Def didn’t feel as much like a ghost as 3 HP 2 Def.
these are the hardest changes to pin down, because most feedback is “I dunno, it just doesn’t feel right.” Most of the time the question “How can I make this deliver on the fantasy better?” Fixes it. The fantasy of a ghost minion is that he can ignore walls, is mobile, and hard to hit. That last part was missing from our early design, thus the change.

Design Changes:
Our original idea was 12 units you choose from. Our design is similar, except the pool is 36 units, but you only flip over 12 to choose from. This design change means sometimes you won’t have a certain element, but that variance is much more exciting than choosing Fighter/Archer the 10th time.

I won’t bore you with all the balance changes. I will say I’m working on a downloadable version for other people to play it.

 

Tabletop Warfare Part 2

12 Jun

I like rolling dice. It could be years playing D&D, or late night games of Risk, but nothing says gaming to me like rolling some dice. The problem with dice in tabletop combat games is that if you treat dice additively(like D&D) need large health pools(since damage varies by 1-6 or even 2-12!).
One alternative way is the success rolls. This is the system used by Axis and Allies, Risk, and Whitewolf systems. In these systems, you roll either d6 or d10, and for every number over a threshold, you get a success(or hit). These systems lend well to lots of dice, with relatively low damage numbers.

We decided to use success rolls for our tactics game, since it allowed us to not have to keep track of large numbers of HP for all 6 troops. With this system, we decided on starting point would be 2 attack die, 1 defense die, and 3 HP. This meant average attack deals .5 damage(or 16% health), but lucky hits could deal 2 damage(66%). Of course, certain units will have more HP or attack, but that was our basis.

Lets look at a mobile air unit:

Jinn
Type: Air
HP: 4+
Strong: Fire
Defense: 1
Attack: 2
Speed: 3+
Ranged: 3++
Spend a turn to teleport this unit anywhere on the board.

For our design notes, we put + symbol for where we used the 4 build points. I wanted Jinn to be a mobile scout type, so in addition to his power(which means he can’t attack), he has pretty good range and speed. That does mean his attack isn’t much, though.

By only giving units four points, we can better define them. A rogue who has + in all stats isn’t nearly as interesting as one with +1 attack and +3 speed.

Rogue
Type: Poison
HP: 3
Strong: Mind
Defense: 1
Attack: 3+
Speed: 5 +++
Ranged: 1
Bonus +1 attack die if ally is also adjacent to the target.

As I said in the previous post, I originally had 12 elements. However, in a pick up and play game with as many units as we have, we needed simple strong-weak relationships. We narrowed them down to two triangles.
Physical ⏩ Poison ⏩ Mental⏩ Physical
And
Fire⏩Nature⏩Air⏩Fire

These should be easy to learn, and the cards themselves have their strengths listed. (Attacking units you are strong against gives you +1 attack die)

Tomorrow is more playtesting for this and Combat with larger group. I’ll report back how it went.