student 20 Productions

Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

Of Sudden Changes and Late Posts

Sorry this is late in coming, but I had an epiphany on Saturday, and I’ve been toying with it’s feasibility and how far off my schedule it was going to take me.  My final conclusion:  Completely feasible, and might actually shorten up the overall timeframe.

I have been struggling with Statistics for a good long time now.  I see them, generally speaking, as a necessary evil and complication.  It seems that once you include Stats, you have to include mechanisms for harming or buffing those Stats, what happens when they reach nil, how they can be used without skills even though they never really represent mastery of (or even training with) anything…

Now, I’m not really saying that any of this is a bad thing.  I like when games minimize this aspect (check out the fascinating Microlite20 for an example, especially if you’re familiar with the d20 system in general), but some of my earlier forays into RPG design were monstrosities featuring as many as 21 Stats (3 groups of 7 Stats each… oy…), and I was wanting something different for Elements… especially since The Source is unlikely to have “stats” at all.

At any rate, the Stat implementation I was using was clumsy, and felt tacked-on, like an addition made to make some other part of the actual game make sense.  It never felt like it was part of Elements.  And then, epiphany struck with all the subtly of a chainsaw.

It would take better poets than I to properly describe how an epiphany feels.  The best I can do is tell you that I wasn’t really even thinking about Elements (or Fate, or The Source) at the time.  I was just hanging out with my Love, and I went over all glassy-eyed.  I felt a rush of endorphins that I can only say was similar to that received from a chocolate binge or an orgasm.

“Eric?” my Love says to me, “Are you okay?”

“Yes.  I just had an epiphany.”

In any case, this particular Epiphany was to roll Stats into Conditions.  It shortens up the rule book by a whole chapter, and grants a particular flavor to things that is, as it happens, more or less exactly what I was looking for. It will involve expanding Conditions a bit… maybe.  But the point is that after almost four days of mulling, I figured out how to make that epiphany a reality.  A lovely, elegant reality, as it happens.  Net benefits:

  • Character sheets will be simpler
  • Folks who have been beaten down will show it in their Effort checks (which is as it should be, I think)
  • FATE will play a larger role in saving character’s bacon (again, exactly what I wanted)
  • About 2,000 words or so can be cut from the project, along with the accompanying time it would take to write them
  • Elements becomes just a bit more unique (yay!)
  • Dice mechanics become more fluid and interesting, without becoming more complicated
  • No need for attribute-attack Elements (Maneuvers, whatever); they’re now build organically into the “damage” system
  • About half (give or take) of the States can be eliminated, and perhaps replaced with more interesting things
  • Maneuvers just got easier to design
  • Easier transition when writing up The Source after Elements is complete (basically, one less thing to reverse engineer)
  • More Skills, which is good since Elements is supposed to be SKILL BASED not STAT BASED.

I could be getting over-excited about this, I suppose, but you’ll have to trust me… In addition to the above, this moment of insight granted by the universe solves about six problems I was having to patch, and made design a lot easier.  In fact, it’s such a dynamic shift that some things might get re-named.

Next week: The revised-to-epiphany States will be posted.  I mean it.

Oh, and maybe a revised Condition list.  Kinda depends on how much I wanna share in a single post.

As a final note, I’ve decided that I’m going to use this as an RPG review blog as well.  I know it seems a bit against-concept, but I’m not going to want to talk Dev every week.  I suppose I could follow in the footsteps of my brother and make a separate blog for that, and I may eventually… but as anyone can see, I’m having enough trouble with one blog posting weekly as it is.


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6 thoughts on “Of Sudden Changes and Late Posts

  1. Dude, just remove the “A Tabletop RPG Dev Blog… sorta” label and do whatever you want here. It could be a lot like Welltun Cares Presents, but with a focus on a single topic (or more than one, if you want.) And better spelling and grammar.

    And less frequent updates.

    • Well, the less frequent updates help with the spelling and grammar, you know?
      That having been said, I figure I can do exactly what you said. Welltun Cares with more focus? Since you run the gamut from Power Girl Boob Posts to existential musings concerning a certain Billie Joe MacAllister and a particular bridge, it would be difficult to be less focused…

  2. Nicole on said:

    You guys are ridiculous…

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review « student 20 Productions

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