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Messages - catty_big

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Design, Development, and Gameplay / Re: Pay 2 playtest?
« on: November 05, 2020, 10:28:04 am »
I've usually had good luck getting people to try new game systems (with the designer) at small local conventions, meetups and such.
Me too, but it generally ends there, with (if it goes well) the players saying 'Thanks, good game', and then going home and forgetting about it.

I think it's pretty likely that the only long-term group you'd be able to playtest with is your own.
Yes, that's how most games get playtested. Trouble is, I don't have one unfortunately.

Design, Development, and Gameplay / Re: Pay 2 playtest?
« on: November 01, 2020, 07:56:22 am »

I've been thinking about random encounter tables recently, and I have come up with some ponderables* about granularity as follows:

Say you have a 2d10 system (or at least, it uses d10s as part of the mechanics). You thus have the choice of making a 1d10 or a 2d10 table. If you create a 1d10 table, you have up to ten results. As I see it, you now have several options.
1) Ten different events: wild animals; monster; magical tree; informative passer-by etc.
2) Ten different event types, as above, but for each result you roll a d6, say, to grade the event and/or attach a valence to it. Let's say you roll a 3 on your 1d10, which gives you weather. You then roll your d6, and you get a 4. Supposing i) evens are positive and odds negative, and ii) the event is on a scale of 1-6 where 1/2 is minimal and 5/6 maximal. This means that the party experience extremely clement weather. If they're on a ship they make good progress and the Sun is shining etc.  

Now imagine you roll a 7, which on your table is a bunch of random NPCs. You roll the d6 and get a 3, so they're antagonistic – bandits maybe – but low-ranking, so your PCs should be able to dispatch them without too much difficulty.

If you create a 2d10 table, you have up to nineteen possibilities, which means you can make the table much more granular, incorporating some of the variations of (2) above, so...
1)   You could group the results under categories, forex 2-5 weather, 6-9 wild animals, 10-13 magical items (#10 spell-binds, #11 grants enormous power to the user, #12 is cursed, etc.), 14-16 are random NPCs and 17-19 types of terrain up ahead.
2)   Same as above, but instead of your table being 2-19, it's 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3, 3-1, 3-3 etc., which gives you so many possibilities you'll spend the rest of your life coming up with them, so maybe too many.
3)   You keep the results at 2-19, but on a double something extra happens: if the event is generally positive a double could give it a negative twist (sort of yes, but), and vice versa on a negative result (no, but). If you were using 3d6 ofc, you would have the possibility of trebles.

Finally, something I'm thinking of incorporating in some of my games, an XdX table with consequences for either no-one or a specific member of the party. Prior to the game you distribute cards with 1-n on them, where n=number of players, so a party of four would get cards with 1-4, and a party of six cards with 1-6, etc. You have in your GM's quiver a bunch of similarly-themed random encounter tables, with six, eight, ten and twelve results respectively. The key difference though is that these tables only kick in on rolls where the result is the same as the number on one of the cards, the rest being blank.

Forex you have four players, so at an appropriate juncture you whip out your 1d8 table. On a 5-8 nothing happens; on a 1-4 something happens to a specific player. You can either stop there, with a pre-arranged thing happening, or you can go down a similar path as 1d10 (2) above, i.e. the table is random NPC(s) - you roll a 1, so the event happens to Player 1; you then roll a 4 on a d6, so your player encounters an NPC or group of NPCs who are friendly and helpful, buy them a drink and give them info about something relevant to the mission. If you roll a 3 they cut up ugly and go for the hapless player, who then has to lay about them with whatever weapon they might have on their person (including their person).

Of course, this means you have to come to a session armed with a sheaf of RETs, but on the plus side, once you've come up with a bunch of generic tables you can use session after session, they are, as Keats put it, a thing of beauty that's a joy forever.

So, thoughts?

*No, that was the Ponderosa.

[EDIT] I'm mainly concerned here with whether folks prefer their granularity within the table itself (forex the d100 one), or via a smaller dX + mods.

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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.

Design, Development, and Gameplay / Pay 2 playtest?
« on: April 11, 2020, 07:22:37 am »
Oh, boardgames are no trouble at all to playtest. For one thing, as you point out, you can fit several plays in a four hour slot, and if your game plays out in less than ~30 mins you're golden. With RPGs otoh, one usually struggles to fit preamble, game and feedback in that timeframe. Plus, for some reason people (even non-gamers) are much more willing to test board and card games than RPGs.

As regards free vs paid, for various reasons - lack of a regular gaming group, can't afford to go to loads of cons, unkown publisher etc. - I've garnered very few playtesters via the free route, so paid for is about the only option remaining. Actually no, it isn't. Using boosted posts on my FB page to build a dedicated playtest group (simply posting about it in gaming groups on FB in general is pointless) is something I haven't yet tried, so I guess I should explore that avenue before giving up completely.

Btw, since you mention board and card games, I have a card game trundling its way towards publication, prior to which I'm going to upload a PnP version to BGG. If you're interested, check the press release forum there over the next month or so, or if you like I can PM you when it's up.

Anyway, thanks for all your input.

Design, Development, and Gameplay / Pay 2 playtest?
« on: April 08, 2020, 02:28:59 pm »
I was talking in the news and ads forum about producing a limited run of print copies of my public alpha to give away at cons and such, and someone said that I should instead spend the money on 'specific gaming groups where they have committed to X sessions where they will provide detailed feedback'.

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 previously when I asked about this 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'.

I don't hold out much hope of garnering paid playtesters either, but tbf I haven't put out any calls for them, so I don't know if it would work or not; moreover, it's the only thing I haven't tried so far, so I suppose it's worth a try. So my question is, do any o' y'all have any experience of that area yourselves, or know of any publishers that have gone down that road successfully?

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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?

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« on: April 03, 2020, 06:11:48 am »
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.

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.

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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.

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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.

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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.

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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.

News and Adverts / Lands of Plenty public alpha
« 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.

Transcript here.

Look forward to answering folks' questions about this exciting project :).

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