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Topics - catty_big

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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.

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: 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?

Help Desk / Problems with posting
« on: July 22, 2017, 08:48:01 am »
Hope someone can help me. I've been trying to post a reply in a thread I've got going, and it keeps saying 'Non-English characters are not permitted'. However, there aren't any; moreover, I've already posted several times in the same thread without seeing this message. Any idea what might be happening?

Design, Development, and Gameplay / Lands of Plenty RPG
« on: July 14, 2017, 07:51:10 am »

I'm currently working on a fictional world that will eventually become the setting for a wide-ranging RPG and possibly also some novels (and maybe one day a movie franchise?). I asked in the G+ World Building community some time ago whether folks would prefer a big info dump or short articles about specific aspects of the universe, and the consensus was for the latter. I'm now ready to start putting some of my workings out there, and over the next few weeks I aim to provide folks with a basic background to the setting: potted history, topography and civil infrastructure etc.

News and Adverts / The (indy)hippo has landed!
« on: March 14, 2015, 12:08:55 pm »
Ok, I've fired the starting gun on the marketing drive for indyhippo, my publishing imprint, which stars Hoagy, a rather wonderful character drawn by the equally wonderful Gennifer Bone. Thanks Genn! You can find Hoagy on FB (where there's already a Sci-Fi Beta Kappa group), G+ and (soon) on Twitter. Please share widely folks!

indyhippo on G+
indyhipppo design lab G+ community
indyhippo on Facebook

Design, Development, and Gameplay / [Great Minds] First draft
« on: December 18, 2014, 09:56:03 am »
Ok, we’re off the ground with this one. I had an idea for a system a few days ago and wrote it up last night. Resolution is mostly through player voting based on the roleplaying.  My original concept was for the characters to have a bunch of skills, which they would roll against at various points, but I now think that would be rather clunky, and would be likely to impede the flow of what is essentially a knockabout ‘nutty professor’ type game. Anyway, let me know what y’all think…


Feel free to comment either here on in my G+ design lab community.

News and Adverts / The UKRP Design Collective at Dragonmeet
« on: December 02, 2014, 09:01:11 am »
Following are links for the UKRPDC offerings and demo timetable at Dragonmeet 2014:

Game blurbs

Catch y'all there!

News and Adverts / Sci-Fi Beta Kappa now on DriveTHRURPG
« on: November 15, 2014, 07:16:50 am »
Good news everybody! Sci-Fi Beta Kappa is now available from DriveTHRURPG, price 9 GBP (14.27 USD). Link to title here.

AP reports here, and recent G+ Hangout here. (For those not on G+, there's a link to the video in this thread).

Have fun y'all, but don't let the Dean catch you ;).

And another one. Sorry, I'm currently trying to get two games playtested at the same time.

Elevator Pitch

Your perfect Society has lost its Rulebook. Never mind, sit down and write another one. But be quick about it, because chaos and anarchy are just around the corner...........

In All That Glitters, players take on the roles of Elders, High Councillors, High Priests, merchants and ordinary citizens, as they attempt to rebuild the City of Ozgurdia almost literally from the ground up, amid a gradual breakdown of the order that has existed for centuries, and a consequent descent into lawlessness and savagery. Players play several different roles throughout the game, which allows for a rich and varied roleplaying experience.

Game structure

Phase 1 You play the Elders meeting in the immediate aftermath of the death of the Book, a quasi-organic sacred text containing rules for every aspect of life in Ozgurdia, from the sublime to (what we would probably think of as) the ridiculous, forex what colour of apple may be sold on which day of the week. The atmosphere in this phase is one of claustrophobia, panic, and creeping horror, with the  characters desperately seeking a way out of the crisis, throwing out suggestions for panic measures, trying to hold onto their (and their colleagues’) sanity, and either putting their heads in their hands and wailing, or blaming the situation on each other.

Phase 2 Some semblance of formal Government has been established, and you play the new leaders as they attempt to keep a lid on the anarchy by reacting to specific events, i.e. firefighting essentially.

Next, there is an interval during which the players flesh out Ozgurdia, with descriptions of the city and its environs, flora and fauna, tech level, citizens’ allegiances (guilds, powerful families etc.) and so forth.

Phase 3 Order has begun to be restored, and a charismatic Leader has emerged, who will be either a despotic tyrant or an enlightened and benevolent leader according the outcome of  Phase 2. You play alternately the Leader and High Council- who strive to develop a set of laws more complex and detailed than those of Phase 2- and Tribune and ordinary citizens- who react to these laws, showing how they will either improve the situation or in fact exacerbate it.

It’s in this Phase that the bulk of the roleplaying will take place, with the player group deciding whether they want either a shortish game, in which case they merely sketch out their citizen characters (who are built using a combo of three stats), or a longer one, in which case they roleplay not only their reactions to the new laws, but their roles and relationships in the Society as well, the default setting being that of a surreal, semi-fantastical one after the style of the worlds created by authors such as Jack Vance, Ursula le Guin and Michael Moorcock. Theoretically, this section can continue for as long as the players are enjoying, or feel that they're getting mileage out of it.

Epilogue Here we look at Ozgurdia a few years on, and, according, to how successful the characters were in the earlier Phases of re-building the Society, it will either have been fully restored to its former Utopian glory, or will have slid irrevocably into post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-style anarchy.

I know this game isn't likely to appeal hugely to folks on this forum, but you know, I gots to explore every avenue, and leave no stone etc, so:

In Dead Man Talking, you play prisoners on Death Row reviewing their lives and crimes in the days leading up to their execution.

I've substantially re-written the doc following the last playtest. Revised draft here.

By way of a pitch, here's the frontispiece blurb:
Can you, in your final moments, come to terms with who you are and what you’ve done, or will you go to meet your maker haunted by your unresolved past? Death is easy, living is hard.

Any o' y'all fancy it, please let me know.

News and Adverts / [Sci-Fi Beta Kappa] Ashcan launch
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:24:31 am »
Good news everybody! The ashcan version of the long-awaited game of delinquent aliens, Sci-Fi Beta Kappa, is scheduled for release at Conpulsion, in Edinburgh, on April 13th. A small number of copies will available at the con, and I will be running two sessions, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Link to the Conpulsion RPG schedule here. Have fun y'all, but don't let the Dean catch you!

Design, Development, and Gameplay / [Chaotic Evil] Mwa-ha-ha-ha...
« on: January 09, 2013, 10:58:55 am »
I had the idea for this when I was checking out someone’s profile on RPGGeek, which happened to have the words Chaotic Evil in it. But did I think instantly of D&D alignments? Well ok, yes I did, but then I thought Hang on, there’s a game in there somewhere. Ok, but what kind of game? No-brainer, a game about ever so slightly incompetent trainee demons of course. It’s also by way of being a dig at the ‘D&D turns harmless teenagers into psychopathic killers’ school of journalism. Lest I get whacked by the same stick, I’ve made clear in the rules that the characters can only do very low-level evil, and that the GM should explicitly steer players away from disturbing themes. Not sure that’ll be enough to ward off potential criticism however. I haven’t got a system yet, but tbh if folks say ‘Don’t do it, it’s pants’ I won’t bother. Anyhow, here's the link.

So, thoughts?

Couldn't find a thread for it here, so I'm starting one. Here are mine:

•   Get Sci-Fi Beta Kappa out there, and playtest Where The Heart Is loads more.
•   Play some FATE, Savage Worlds and Cortex.
•   Garner some solid GMing experience- build up a range of scenarios that can be whipped out as and when.
•   Attend Furnace (a UK con that regularly tops the polls) and Origins.
•   Finally get to play Mouse Guard and Jaws.
•   Find all the cylinders on my blog and get it firing on them.
•   Do more reading around RPGs and roleplaying in general. There are some interesting- and plunderable- columns and articles out there.
•   Clone myself so I can follow all the forums I'm on (though I guess each clone would have to have their own laptop- ok, not such a good idea).
•   Try to ensure I don't have all the same resolutions next year as this one.

Hi all

First of all, apologies if you’ve heard this one before. I’ve posted on a number of fora and fauna in order to try to reach the widest possible audience. Secondly, as I've been pretty busy with my two game projects as well as trying desperately to deal with various RL issues, I haven't been able to be as active on the forums as I'd like, so 'Hello stranger' would be a fair response to this post. Also, I sense this game faces an uphill struggle because, well, it’s just a little bit weird. Anyway, check it out and see what you think…

Where The Heart Is examines relationship issues through the prism of a multi-adult household. Elevator pitch here, current draft here, and first AP report here. I’d be happy to hear folks’ thoughts; better yet, if anyone fancies running it with their gaming group that would be great. I’m aware that the concept is a bit ‘out there’, but, if the response from the playtest last month is anything to go by, I think they'll find it rewarding.

The main things I’d appreciate feedback on are
1.   Degree of player control vs. facilitator/rule book.
2.   How to keep the set-up phase to a minimum without compromising the very necessary world-burning that needs to take place so that the session has a solid foundation.  
3.   How to make life easier for less experienced facilitators.
4.   How to make sure that the delicate issue of ‘mature themes’ and uncomfortable possible subject matter is dealt with.

[After a discussion on another forum regarding the above points, I made some changes to the text which I hope have addressed them, particularly 2 and 4]    

5.   How issues are resolved and what the characters’ goals are.


P.S. Interestingly, since writing WTHI (having had the idea for it on the train coming back from a games con in August) there's been an article in the London Evening Standard about  co-parenting. So maybe it's not the families of tomorrow but the families of a few hours' time...
P.P.S. There’s some more stuff on my public Dropbox folder about resolutions and goals, and some play segments.

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