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Author Topic: Lands of Plenty public alpha  (Read 1865 times)

catty_big

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« on: May 27, 2019, 05:38:49 PM »
Hello peeps.

Over the last few months I've been working on the public alpha of Lands of Plenty, a pseudo-Mediaeval gameworld and RPG I've been designing on and off for the last year a bit, and that document is now ready to be released into the wild.

'Why a public alpha?', or 'What is a public alpha?', you may be thinking. Well, I will of course be doing my utmost to get it playtested by gamers I know locally, or those I might meet at cons; however, it is in the expectation of said utmost being nowhere near ut enough that I have decided to open up the process to, well, anyone who fancies getting in on the ground floor of an exciting new game. Nowadays, people are so interconnected via the Internet and social media that thinking of the whole roleplaying community as potential alpha playtesters is by no means bizarre IMO, hence this announcement.

So, what's involved, how will the playtests work, how and when will feedback be incorporated into the document, is there a book (and if so do we have to buy it), and how will all this be coordinated? Very good questions all. Here are my answers:

What's involved?
1.   A series of full run-throughs (lasting about 4-6 hours), for GMs to familiarise themselves with the gameworld, and see how it all fits together.

2.   A series of shorter sessions to test specific parts of the system, forex
a.    Combat.
b.    Spotlight scenes and character development.
c.    Social combat, opposed rolls and duels.

3.   Editing of the document following feedback

4.   Rinse and repeat until there is a consensus that the rules are solid.

5.   Go to beta.

How will the playtests work?
1.   Anybody is free to run a playtest anytime anywhere, including online (although I personally don't feel the system can be adequately tested that way, but it's ok for getting used to the gameworld and the system in outline).
2.   There will be some way of recording the sessions: how many players; how long did the game take; what sort of game and what play mode was it? Etc.
3.   A feedback form will be provided, but feedback in any form will be welcome.

Is there a book (and if so do we have to buy it)?
Nope. It will be a free pdf always, but at some stage I may print a limited-edition commemorative issue, available at cost to playtesters. However, folks may print off the document for their personal use at any time (see below).  

How and when will feedback be incorporated into the document?
1.   The doc will be a continuously evolving one. Every so often, I'll pull together folks' thoughts and update it to incorporate changes that seem logical and command widespread support. This will then become the Status Quo Document (SQD), which games will be based on from thenceforward. I will endeavour to strike a balance between amending the doc to include logical and agreed changes as above and ensuring all player groups have enough time to test the current draft.
2.   Throughout the alpha stage there will be an outward facing SQD and an inward facing working document that I will continually update and amend behind the scenes until it's ready to become the new SQD.
3.   Playtesters are free to print off the SQD or work from the PDF, whichever is easier.

How will all this be coordinated?
There will be either a dedicated website or forum, and/or a social media group for GMs and playtesters to compare notes, possibly a meetup group to arrange sessions and recruit playtesters, and maybe a Discord if I ever get the hang of it. I'm happy for GMs to run  games on any platform they see fit, so long as they record the data on a shared site as above.

You'll note that the cartography is just a down and dirty Word-confected affair. Professional cartography is coming later, but for now I just want to get it out there, plus I'm reluctant to fork out for a professional cartographer until there's enough traction to justify it. However, once things get going, I'll look into costs and so forth, and start working on it on an ongoing basis.

I've mentioned throughout the doc that there are as yet no travel rules. This is because I'm testing the basic rules here, and I don't want to add another layer of complexity at this stage. In the area of the gameworld covered by this doc, no journey will be more than a three-day ride, so IMO there's no burning necessity for specific travel rules; GMs can just throw in an obstacle every so often, or come up with a rudimentary set of encounter tables for wild animals, bandits and/or weather to challenge the PCs on a journey.

However, rules for travel and exploration will probably be the next thing I will look at once the basic rules have been more or less fixed, and this is likely to coincide with an expansion of the map to the South and West.

There you have it. I will be at #ukgamesexpo this weekend if anyone wants to have a chat in convivial (albeit slightly hectic) surroundings. Otherwise, interested parties can contact me via PM here, or on FB, Twitter, MeWe or Pluspora. On FB I'm Cattinald Bigg, everywhere else I'm catty_big.

So, who's with me?
« Last Edit: August 08, 2020, 12:46:47 PM by catty_big »
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catty_big

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2019, 09:13:15 AM »
Gah! Zapping inconsistencies even at this late stage. Looking at the char sheet the other day, somebody asked me why I'd put Stealth under DEX rather than AGI. 'Had I?' I thought. 'Surely not?' But when I checked, it turned out that yes I had. Oh well, these things are sent to try us I suppose.
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catty_big

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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2019, 07:28:10 PM »
Following a recent thread on RPGGeek, I've made some changes to the core mechanics, to whit a) the reroll option is now applicable on rolls where the attribute value is 4 or 5, not 3-5 as before, b) the usage cap has been reduced to one per session as opposed to three per session, c) players may now spend as much Bounty on a roll as they like (previously, players could spend it only up to the value of the attribute they were rolling against), and d) the terms Basic and Bonus have changed to attribute value and reroll respectively.

I anticipate these to be the final changes prior to a general release (see below).  
2. A limited run (100-200 copies, depending on uptake) of a print version is planned for early 2020, possibly via a Kickstarter around the end of this year, followed by...  
3. An official launch at UKGE 2020.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 07:54:42 PM by catty_big »
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catty_big

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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2020, 06:11:04 PM »
Following a memorable (GM'd) one-player session at ConTinency in January, and in particular a couple of suggestions made by that player, I've updated the doc slightly. First, I've added advice to highlight the +4 and +5 ability mods (see example character sheet on p17, and GM advice at the bottom of p15), and secondly, I've incorporated their suggestion to lessen the book-keeping involved in Trait monitoring (Trait displays attract Bounty, the in-game meta-currency) by possibly allowing the players to keep track of it themselves (see top of p15). In addition I've added a Trait reference guide (p19) for GMs who are happy to monitor Trait displays themselves.

Finally, I've added in the advice section on p15 that if GMs do decide to do the monitoring, they should heavily signal that bc in the heat of the action it's impossible to monitor Traits meticulously, the players are encouraged to point out ones they think the GM may have missed.

Still desperately seeking playtesters, so, you know, if any o' y'all fancies taking it for a spin, hit me up.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2020, 08:22:16 PM by catty_big »
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catty_big

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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2020, 09:06:26 PM »
So, I finally decided that, since I was going to be stuck at home for some considerable time, I should have a go at converting the doc from its previous layout - whereby each subtopic had its own section, and you had to read the text section by section - to a fully two-column format, whereby you read the left-hand column from top to bottom, and then the right-hand column likewise. (I know, it's confusing; check out the linked file with examples of the text before and after, you'll see what I mean). The full text is in the OP.

I've known for some time that I'd eventually have to get someone to redo it, but the other day, bored stiff at being cooped up indoors, I decided to have a go myself, fully expecting to give up after a few minutes of desperately trying to get Word to do what I wanted BUT, amazingly I succeeded! Over about three days last week I managed to reorder an entire 85pp document, including tables and bulleted sections. It now looks almost readable, and I'm really chuffed with myself.

Sub-topic headings are now one column, but are separated by the dividers from the previous version. Some of the text still looks slightly off, forex the bits where bulleted lists go over two columns, and the acres of white space that have suddenly appeared everywhere, but that will probably change when my eventual layout person - whoever they might be - gets their hands on it, but that's a way off yet, so for the foreseeable future this is the standard doc.

The only thing missing now is professional cartography, which I might commission. It may not seem worth it if I'm only going to delete the files afterwards, but it would be nice to get it to the best possible state before I finally pull the plug, kinda like dressing the deceased in their best suit before cremating them. Anyway, there you have it.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qlz_zdjObAIWkZI7UhO2cz2tWTzrauHI/view?usp=sharing
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 01:45:41 PM by catty_big »
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catty_big

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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2020, 06:17:31 PM »
Here are the sign-up blurbs for the three scenarios I've come up with so far.

The Harder They Come  is the one in the doc, which is accompanied by extensive GM advice, and which I ran three sessions of at ConTingency in 2018.

Last Will and Testament I came up with while attending ConTingency 2020; unfortunately I didn't have enough time to promote it, although on the day I ended up with one player and we managed a full four hour session - albeit interspersed with discussion and feedback - during which all six of the pregens came into play, and a heart-rending tale involving one of the characters, a naive young girl, and the various people who shaped her life, was told.

Zanka Karjis is Unwell I had the idea for more recently. I wanted a scenario run in politics/intrigue mode, with ruthless, no holds barred power play, machinations and mounting paranoia to bring out one of the signature features of the game. No pregens as yet, but I have some personality types in mind and can easily whip up six characters for it.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 11:27:28 PM by catty_big »
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Spinachcat

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2020, 07:02:10 PM »
Why the title "Lands of Plenty"?

Kudos on the public alpha. I think that's a good idea. Sine Nomine did a nearly-full game pre-release of Stars Without Numbers and that proved to be a smart move.

catty_big

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2020, 06:11:48 AM »
Quote
Why the title "Lands of Plenty"?
It's one of those expressions like 'God's own country' or 'the City of Light', and is how, historically, the productive central belt (and by extension the whole continent) was referred to. It's also the first line and title of an epic poem by a Chaucer-type figure from the gameworld narrating a journey through it and extolling its beauties, which is now heavily ironic given that it's been ravaged by nearly two hundred years of almost constant war.

Quote
Kudos on the public alpha. I think that's a good idea. Sine Nomine did a nearly-full game pre-release of Stars Without Numbers and that proved to be a smart move.
Thanks. I think for an unknown indy publisher like me it's the only way, and I note that, since putting it out there, a number of other similar publishers have done the same thing. The only question is whether it's worth at some point producing physical copies or uploading it to OBS on a free or PWYW basis.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 06:14:32 AM by catty_big »
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Spinachcat

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2020, 06:12:41 PM »
Quote from: catty_big;1125512
The only question is whether it's worth at some point producing physical copies or uploading it to OBS on a free or PWYW basis.

A free Playtest Download is a good idea, especially because they can be marketed to later as customers for the final version full of pretty art and extra text.

As for print copies, I'd spend the money on specific gaming groups where they have committed to X sessions where they will provide detailed feedback for you.

catty_big

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2020, 12:13:53 PM »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1125560
A free Playtest Download is a good idea, especially because they can be marketed to later as customers for the final version full of pretty art and extra text.

Sold, this will almost certainly happen in some form.

Quote from: Spinachcat;1125560
As for print copies, I'd spend the money on specific gaming groups where they have committed to X sessions where they will provide detailed feedback for you.
I came to the conclusion a while ago that paying people to playtest my game was the only way it was going to happen, but when I asked about that on forums and FB groups etc., the answer was always 'People will playtest it bc they want to, you shouldn't have to pay them'. Well I tried that and it didn't work, hence the open alpha. Likewise when I asked what game(s) folks would like me to design, I got 'Make the games you want, not what people want you to make', but that didn't work either.

I don't hold out much hope of garnering paid playtesters, but tbf I haven't put out any calls for them, so I don't know if it would work or not; however, it's the only thing I haven't tried so far, so I suppose it's worth a try. Do you have any experience of that yourself, or know of any publishers that have gone down that road successfully?
« Last Edit: April 08, 2020, 07:39:43 PM by catty_big »
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catty_big

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Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2020, 04:45:40 PM »
[tl;dr: link to Adventure seeds section]

Not a great deal to report, and it's largely a format and layout issue with a bit of tidying-up and zapping of incongruities and infelicities. As a result of a recent feedback request over on RPGGeek, I've made two changes, to whit switching from one long column to two columns of matching length where there is less than a full page of text (forex the Foreword and Introduction sections). Secondly, I've made all subtopic preambles (forex Abilities explanation and Adventure seeds) one column rather than two.

Speaking of the adventure seeds, rather than simply directing folks to the entire doc as I've done previously, it occurred to me that I might get more buy-in by linking to the Adventure seeds section itself, since it offers a taste of both the game and the gameworld, and contains lists of themes, locations and character types, and detailed explanation of all the play modes. In fact I think this section could form the basis of a quickstart should I decide to produce one.

The core mechanic is 2d10 + ability mod + specialism and + or - difficulty and/or situational mods, along with Bounty, the in-game meta-currency, so once folks have got a handle on the setting (which is also baked into the character sheet), the rest should fall into place.

So, there you have it. Feel free to try to come up with a scenario based on one of them or on the setting elements as laid out in that section. And if anyone has any queries, hit me up either here or via PM.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 02:10:02 PM by catty_big »
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catty_big

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Re: Lands of Plenty public alpha
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2021, 07:08:20 PM »
Hm, seems I can't edit posts in this thread. Oh well, link to latest update here. Nothing major, just had a niggling feeling I was mixing up the terms player character (/PC), character and NPC, so I went in and checked, and sure enough I'd been using them all willy-nilly. Thank God for Find and Replace eh?   
« Last Edit: September 23, 2021, 07:15:10 PM by catty_big »
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