Trolling is a Good Thing
I’m not talking about being an asshole in a forum or in someone’s comments section on their blog. That’s never a good thing. Well, except at 4chan.
I’m referring to this:
A fellow by the name of Torben Morgensen over at the University of Copenhagen decided to create what was essentially a programming language for determining the stats on die rolls. He wanted something with which he could easily stat out things like the dice mechanics of the World of Darkness role-playing games by White Wolf Publishing. It’s a great language – very flexible and fairly easy to understand once you get into it. It allows for some amazingly complex dice mechanics, and stats them out quickly and accurately.
The original Troll release was freely downloadable, but it wasn’t for the tech-challenged. Getting it installed on your computer and running was, to put it nicely, a pain. Now, however, there’s a web interface. It’s kinda blah to look at (as you can easily tell just by clicking the link above), but it works, and the output is easy to read and understand. There are several options to help you find the exact stats you’re looking for.
Why am I posting this? I’m far from the first homebrew game designer to point this out, but dice mechanics if your game uses them – is often a pain in the butt to figure out. A lot of things make perfect sense in theory, but in practice, the stats are suck. I had an overly complicated bonus-to-dice conversion system that seemed to work pretty well, but once I stated it, I found out that it wasn’t all that great. I had another overly complicated system that involved exploding dice and drop dice and so on, and that one was better… except for how complicated it was. I came up with it, so it seemed simple enough to me, but trying to get it into Troll helped me see just how complicated it was.
So now I’m “trolling” just about everything.
So now, the Essence RPG will be using a very simple Dice + Bonuses system. It’s statistically sound, and has the level of detail I’m looking for without being slow or at all cumbersome. It’s elegant – simple and effective. Of course, it’s not exactly innovative… but that’s not what your dice mechanics are for. Seeing how complicated what I was doing actually helped me understand that.
As a progress update: the Essence book is up to roughly small novel/novella size at 30,000 words. There’s actually enough there at this point to play, but I want to put a few more sub-systems (specifically magic and a rudimentary battlemap combat system, along with a few lesser things) in before I start early alpha testing.
I have full race descriptions for most of the races I intend to have available when I release the game to the public, although I’m having a little trouble balancing them out for character creation.
I can’t seem to make up my mind exactly how important Race selection is. I keep waffling between “most important choice in character creation” and “essentially a cosmetic choice”. I’ve also worked with the idea of having both possibilities depending on which race you choose (i.e. choosing to be Human or a Storm Equus has a minimal impact on your character; choosing to be an Eth or a Solnyr has a massive impact).
That last option is probably what’s going to happen; the idea of developing a completely new role-playing game for the setting is so that the system reflects the setting, and they can work together as a coherent whole.
Of course, I welcome any feedback, suggestions, or anything else anyone has to say.