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Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-08-27, 12:13 AM
For over a year now, I have been tossing an idea for a game setting around in my head. It has gone through many different names, sub-themes, and styles, but has always remained fundamentally the same: a sentient and evil alternate dimension that eats people. It is dark, quirky, and off-kilter; inspired by the works of Tim Burton, American McGee, Clive Barker, H. P. Lovecraft, and Lewis Carrol.

The setting information ...
Stain

Were all mad here. Im mad. Youre mad.
- The Cheshire Cat

The Stain isn't only a place, but a sentient thing. It is a mad realm of dreams and nightmares. A shapeless thing crawling in the shadows. A spindly hand that drags people away in the dead of night. It is a maze of shimmering fog, twisting like a nest of snakes and echoing with wicked laughter. It is a dark forest of slime an decay, thick with the stink of corruption and crawling with the worms of loss. It is a living alternate dimension formed from the nightmares of misfits and madmen. It is hungry.

Its shadowy fingers reach into the most woeful places of the world, and snatch people away. It whispers into the ears of the sad and destitute, tempting them into its sinister clutches. It opens doorways in the places where reality is thinnest, and those who enter seldom return.


The Stain as a Place
The stain is an ever-changing wonderland where nothing can be said to truly exist. It appears to be an endless dark forest with huge tress coated in a blanket of thing fog and illuminated by glowing fungus. Winding through it is a labyrinth of twisting paths, and stalking it are all manners of strange and horrifying entities, from giant black spiders to crawling hands to brain worms. Throughout the place are clumps of broken stone structures that appear to be abandoned towns, trashed and burned long ago. They are inhabited by the souls of those who have died in The Stain, and are horrific in their own unique way.


The Stain as a Being
The stain can think, and has very much control over its geography and inhabitants. It can rearrange itself at will, make mental contact with people in the real world (so long as they have recently undergone some kind of trauma), and seeks to trap depressed souls within itself so it can slowly feed off of them. It is wholly evil and horribly sadistic, taking great pleasure in tormenting and terrifying its victims.


Entering the Stain
Getting in is easy, getting out is hard. There are thousands of gateways into the stain, being anything from dark paths to gaping holes in the ground to morbid thoughts in ones head. You might wake up one morning in the place after experiencing some awful event, or wander in accidentally on a lonely night.


Surviving the Stain
Most people who find their way into the stain soon succumb to horror, desperation, and loneliness. The few who fight their fear and attempt to escape find themselves locked in a vicious battle not only with terrifying monsters, but their very surroundings. The Stain does everything it can to subdue them, creating physical manifestations of their nightmares, and getting them hopelessly lost. It crawls into their heads and whispers discouragement, and sends its most trusted agents to deal with them personally.

As one stays in the Stain, it gradually sucks out their soul and replaces it with its own essence. Their skin becomes sickly pail, their fingers long and spindly, their spines hunched, and their eyes sullen and dead. Evil and paranoia begin to infect them, and if they stay to long, they become creatures of the stain.


Escaping the Stain
To escape The Stain, one must outwit and overcome it. They must evade its most devious traps and emissaries, and defeat it in a sheer battle of willpower, driving it out of their mind and tearing a portal back into the world through sheer power of will. The very few who do escape are forever changed. Jaded, traumatized, and often driven mad.


Major Influences
Silent Hill, Limbo (http://limbogame.org/), American McGee's Alice, the works of Tim Burton, the Coraline book and movie, JAGS Wonderland, Dungeons & Dragons, The Magician's Nephew novel.

Anyway, I like it enough that I'm willing to make a roleplaying game out of it. I am aware of the time and effort involved, and have set aside some of both for the project. I have even recruited a friend to do graphic design and artwork. I plan to give the game away for free under a Creative Commons licence.

I'm perfectly fine writing endless setting information, but find the process of making a rules set daunting. Since I want creative licence, I can't use an existing system, and am not happy with the idea of making my own from scratch. Because of this, I've decided to reach out to the skilled forum homebrewers and ask for help.

I want to make something quick and simple. Something that is easy to learn, easy to make content for, and easy to play. Something that is good at portraying atmospheric horror. I would also like it only to run on six-sided dice.

Is anyone willing to help? If so, thanks in advance!

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-08-27, 12:13 PM
Still no response? Not even a comment on the setting.

erikun
2011-08-27, 01:36 PM
I've been on the forums for over three years now, and I haven't even seen a 3.5e revision get completed in that time, much less a full system be produced. I wouldn't be surprised if you're looking at five years, minimum, unless it is a remarkably simple system without too many variables.

Your setting seems to have absolutely no reliance on a system. The only mechanical effects I see are, "You are trapped in the Stain and cannot get out." You don't even need Call of Cthulhu's Sanity mechanic, because there isn't an indication that a trapped character loses sanity beyond being stuck there indefinitely.

If you want to make the setting available to the largest number of people, why not make it for an existing -free- system or two. Just right off hand, I know that Fudge (http://www.fudgerpg.com/goodies/fudge-files/core/), Fate (http://www.faterpg.com/resources/), Wushu (http://wiki.saberpunk.net/Wushu/WushuOpenRules), Risus (http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/risus.htm), Basic Fantasy (http://basicfantasy.org/downloads.html), or dozens of others (http://www.1km1kt.net/cat/rpg). I can't help but think that translating the setting into a system like Fate or Risus (or even both) would be far easier than trying to develop, playtest, balance, and put together your own system personally.

Xefas
2011-08-27, 02:34 PM
It really depends what you want. No one can really know what you want but you. Just some setting information isn't enough to go on.

For instance, you could design a whole system about a small set of specific individuals (ala Lady Blackbird (http://www.onesevendesign.com/ladyblackbird/)), focused entirely on romance driven day-to-day within a single tavern, and have it set in the Forgotten Realms. And, that system could be bigger and more complex than D&D.

You could also design a GMless system where one person plays the dark god Cyric, and everyone else plays his initiates, and they run through a rogue-like gauntlet to earn his favor, where the primary mechanic is hilarious death (ala Kobolds Ate My Baby (http://www.koboldsatemybaby.com/)). And that would also be set in the Forgotten Realms.

There are an innumerable multitude of possibilities for a single setting. To design a system, you need to figure out what it is you want the players to do, and why. Decide what message you're trying to impart, what behaviors you want to inspire, and so on.

If you want the message to be grimdark doom and gloom all the way, take a look at Cthulhu Dark (http://www.thievesoftime.com/news/cthulhu-dark/) for inspiration.

If you want a slow spiral into madness, yet fringed with a sort of macabre silver lining, maybe get inspired by Don't Rest Your Head (http://www.evilhat.com/home/dryh/), whose setting, "The Mad City", sounds a bit like what you're going for anyways.

If you're really super serious about taking this all the way, making your own system from scratch, publishing it, selling it for money, and becoming a game designer for a living, your best bet is to head over to The Forge (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php). Their community is pretty good, and will help you at every step of the way, brainstorming, playtesting, and then they have an entire forum for helping you publish your indie RPG.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-08-27, 05:51 PM
If you're really super serious about taking this all the way, making your own system from scratch, publishing it, selling it for money, and becoming a game designer for a living, your best bet is to head over to The Forge (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php). Their community is pretty good, and will help you at every step of the way, brainstorming, playtesting, and then they have an entire forum for helping you publish your indie RPG.

Thanks for the link! I'll be getting an account very soon.

Jude_H
2011-08-27, 06:16 PM
Sounds like Don't Rest Your Head. If you haven't read that, it's probably worthwhile, just to see how this sort of game has been approached by other designers. It's also just a fun read.

I don't have any concrete suggestions, but I think you should sit down with a cup of coffee and ask yourself:
What sorts of conflicts are players going to focus on? That's typically where you're going to want to focus your system.
How do you want characters to behave in/react to the Stain? Can you use the system to encourage or facilitate that sort of reaction?
It sounds like you're trying to create a sense of desperation and urgency to the players' escape. How is your system going to convey those feelings?

AkaiNeko
2011-08-27, 10:27 PM
Honestly, more good, concrete info is needed. There's certainly potential here - which actually makes this harder to work with, without more to go on.

Sounds kinda cool, though.

Katasi
2011-08-27, 11:12 PM
For over a year now, I have been tossing an idea for a game setting around in my head. It has gone through many different names, sub-themes, and styles, but has always remained fundamentally the same: a sentient and evil alternate dimension that eats people. It is dark, quirky, and off-kilter; inspired by the works of Tim Burton, American McGee, Clive Barker, H. P. Lovecraft, and Lewis Carrol.

The setting information ...
Stain

Were all mad here. Im mad. Youre mad.
- The Cheshire Cat

The Stain isn't only a place, but a sentient thing. It is a mad nightmare realm of depraved dreams. A shapeless terror crawling in the shadows. A spindly hand that drags people away in the dead of night. It is a maze of shimmering, ungodly fog, twisting like a nest of snakes and echoing with wicked laughter. It is a dark forest of slime an decay, thick with the stink of corruption and crawling with the worms of loss. It is a living alternate dimension formed from the nightmares of misfits and madmen. It is hungry.

Its shadowy fingers reach into the most woeful places of the world, and snatch people away. It whispers into the ears of the sad and destitute, tempting them into its sinister clutches. It opens doorways in the places where reality is thinnest, and those who enter seldom return.


The Stain as a Place
The stain is an ever-changing wonderland where nothing can be said to truly exist. It appears to be an endless dark forest with huge tress coated in a blanket of thing fog and illuminated by glowing fungus. Winding through it is a labyrinth of twisting paths, and stalking it are all manners of strange and horrifying entities, from giant black spiders to crawling hands to brain worms. Throughout the place are clumps of broken stone structures that appear to be abandoned towns, trashed and burned long ago. They are inhabited by the souls of those who have died in The Stain, and are horrific in their own unique way.


The Stain as a Being
The stain can think, and has very much control over its geography and inhabitants. It can rearrange itself at will, make mental contact with people in the real world (so long as they have recently undergone some kind of trauma), and seeks to trap depressed souls within itself so it can slowly feed off of them. It is wholly evil and horribly sadistic, taking great pleasure in tormenting and terrifying its victims.


Entering the Stain
Getting in is easy, getting out is hard. There are thousands of gateways into the stain, being anything from dark paths to gaping holes in the ground to morbid thoughts in ones head. You might wake up one morning in the place after experiencing some awful event, or wander in accidentally on a lonely night.


Surviving the Stain
Most people who find their way into the stain soon succumb to horror, desperation, and loneliness. The few who fight their fear and attempt to escape find themselves locked in a vicious battle not only with terrifying monsters, but their very surroundings. The Stain does everything it can to subdue them, creating physical manifestations of their nightmares, and getting them hopelessly lost. It crawls into their heads and whispers discouragement, and sends its most trusted agents to deal with them personally.


Escaping the Stain
To escape The Stain, one must outwit and overcome it. They must evade its most devious traps and emissaries, and defeat it in a sheer battle of willpower, driving it out of their mind and tearing a portal back into the world through sheer power of will. The very few who do escape are forever changed, jaded, traumatized, and often driven mad.


Major Influences
Silent Hill, Limbo (http://limbogame.org/), American McGee's Alice, the works of Tim Burton, the Coraline book and movie, JAGS Wonderland, Dungeons & Dragons, The Magician's Nephew novel.

Anyway, I like it enough that I'm willing to make a roleplaying game out of it. I am aware of the time and effort involved, and have set aside some of both for the project. I have even recruited a friend to do graphic design and artwork. I plan to give the game away for free under a Creative Commons licence.

I'm perfectly fine writing endless setting information, but find the process of making a rules set daunting. Since I want creative licence, I can't use an existing system, and am not happy with the idea of making my own from scratch. Because of this, I've decided to reach out to the skilled forum homebrewers and ask for help.

I want to make something quick and simple. Something that is easy to learn, easy to make content for, and easy to play. Something that is good at portraying atmospheric horror. I would also like it only to run on six-sided dice.

Is anyone willing to help? If so, thanks in advance!

Well what do you mean creative license?

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-08-27, 11:26 PM
Well what do you mean creative license?

I mean Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/). I will, of course, give credit to everyone who contributed, and mention all my major influences.

Katasi
2011-08-28, 12:13 AM
I mean Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/). I will, of course, give credit to everyone who contributed, and mention all my major influences.

Oh. In that case I can't really help you. My suggestion was just make your setting completely and then you can use GURPS to make the gaming part work no matter what you have in your setting.

lothofkalroth
2011-08-28, 06:16 PM
Well, I don't know how much this will help, but you're welcome to use the universal system that I made, 2d6, as the mechanic for your game, provided you don't ever intend on selling it and you toss me a credit. The link's in my sig if you're interested.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-08-28, 06:28 PM
Well, I don't know how much this will help, but you're welcome to use the universal system that I made, 2d6, as the mechanic for your game, provided you don't ever intend on selling it and you toss me a credit. The link's in my sig if you're interested.

Its a good system, but not what I want. I want to do something where the chances of success are much more dependent on the nature of the challenge than the competence of the character.

AkaiNeko
2011-08-28, 08:03 PM
Its a good system, but not what I want. I want to do something where the chances of success are much more dependent on the nature of the challenge than the competence of the character.

....what? Please explain what that means, in usable terms.

Also, are things like sanity, despair, some sort of corruption or ego barrier type thing, disease, or what have you gonna be involved?

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-08-29, 11:53 PM
....what? Please explain what that means, in usable terms.

Also, are things like sanity, despair, some sort of corruption or ego barrier type thing, disease, or what have you gonna be involved?

I had a half-baked idea where as weird stuff happens to characters, they are forced to make checks that are the equivalent of saving throws. If they fail, they become "stained". As a character becomes stained, the succumb to their surroundings and become more like them. The life drains from their eyes, their skin becomes sickly pail, their fingers lengthen into talons, they grow taller and thinner, ect. Essentially, they become twisted and corrupted as the stain sucks out their soul and replaces it with its own essence. The more stained they are, the more powerful they become, and the harder it is for them to get back into the real world.

Maraxus1
2011-08-30, 05:39 AM
Okay, first rule of amateur game design: Don't start with a punctual detail idea and think: "Hey, there should be a game that has this."
While bottom up design strategies are often used, Top-down is the way to do it right, especially the first time you try it.

Start with the big picture: Start with making a table of contents for your rule-book, make a collection of overall goals for the game and restrictions this puts on the mechanics as compared to other games.

So, let me have a first shot:

---------------------
Table of contents:

1. Basic mechanics

2. Character values

3. Character creation
3.1 Character backgrounds
3.2 Classes?

4. Skills

5. Feats/Talents/(something to allow characters to do stuff beyond skills)

6. Drama resolution
6.1 Combat resolution

7. Equipment
---------------------

Overall concepts and ideas:

- One idea is already included up there: Combat is not as much of a focus as in other games and will only be a sub-point of a greater conflict resolution routine.
- The game should be build on a solid skill system, like JAGS or GURPS.
- The game needs some modeling of psychology details: A good set of mental ability scores and maybe personality traits and driving forces in numerical values.
- The game can have classes but I'm rather not seeing a leveled system like D&D, more of a "buy stats for XP" character development. Probably because I see development happening in a lesser extend. You are not going from "1st level guy who has just picked up his first sword" to a "multiverse hero, who battles gods and elder evils".

I assume, the characters are supposed to come from a modern or historic setting, no magic and fantasy races? You know, before they go down the path into the horrors that lie beneath? :smallamused:

So, add overall concepts, adjust the table of contents, then give all the points a quick filling, they will influence each other so it is not needed (or useful) to write final versions somewhere.




Oh, I forgot: While there are great benefits from designing a setting a gaming system together, because of the sheer size, it's usually better, to start with either developing a setting for a common universal system (with minimal adjustments), or to transport a current setting into a new (or at least different) rule mechanic.

Xefas
2011-08-30, 12:31 PM
Start with the big picture: Start with making a table of contents for your rule-book, make a collection of overall goals for the game and restrictions this puts on the mechanics as compared to other games.

I agree that design goals are the first thing you should be thinking about, but doing a table of contents? That's getting way ahead of yourself. Unless you're cribbing mechanics wholesale from other games, at that stage, you shouldn't really know how anything is going to work.

Especially something like your mockup table of contents. I can think of plenty of games that have few of those things that you put up, but I can think of at least one great one that has none of them.

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danielsolis/do-pilgrims-of-the-flying-temple-a-storytelling-ga). As you can see from the linked page, it made $20,000+ based entirely on the creator having the rules posted openly for free on his website, and people wanting a hardback book of it.

It has no equipment, no skills, no feats/talents, no classes, no character advancement, no conflict resolution, and no character creation. All you do is name your character, and the story is directed by drawing stones out of a bag that give you a result of "You get into trouble in the next scene" or "You get out of trouble in the next scene".

People are willing to pay a lot for games that aren't fundamentally just D&D crooked slightly so.

AkaiNeko
2011-08-30, 03:21 PM
I agree that design goals are the first thing you should be thinking about, but doing a table of contents? That's getting way ahead of yourself. Unless you're cribbing mechanics wholesale from other games, at that stage, you shouldn't really know how anything is going to work.

Especially something like your mockup table of contents. I can think of plenty of games that have few of those things that you put up, but I can think of at least one great one that has none of them.

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danielsolis/do-pilgrims-of-the-flying-temple-a-storytelling-ga). As you can see from the linked page, it made $20,000+ based entirely on the creator having the rules posted openly for free on his website, and people wanting a hardback book of it.

It has no equipment, no skills, no feats/talents, no classes, no character advancement, no conflict resolution, and no character creation. All you do is name your character, and the story is directed by drawing stones out of a bag that give you a result of "You get into trouble in the next scene" or "You get out of trouble in the next scene".

People are willing to pay a lot for games that aren't fundamentally just D&D crooked slightly so.

....I think your intent was good, but that really wasn't helpful. I don't think, anyways.

No, Twilight shouldn't necessarily assume that standby features of many systems are needed, but all you really said was "throw it all out, it's unimportant". Which would probably be a bad idea. What Maraxus meant was that Twilight needs to figure out the overall picture, or some rough early version thereof, and work to fill in the blanks.

(By the way Maraxus, unless I'm mistaken, what your advocating is bottom-up design. As in, the foundation, a.k.a. the solid, basic, fundamental rules and mechanics where you begin are the bottom, and the top, a.k.a. your fluffy, fun, noticable-but-not-fundamental flourishes are the gleaming spire at the top. Or, you know, the gleaming barbed wire, at the top of your 50ft. concrete wall, I'm not here to judge)

So in short, I agree with Maraxus on the "table of contents" idea.

Maraxus1
2011-08-30, 05:54 PM
It has no equipment, no skills, no feats/talents, no classes, no character advancement, no conflict resolution, and no character creation. All you do is name your character, and the story is directed by drawing stones out of a bag that give you a result of "You get into trouble in the next scene" or "You get out of trouble in the next scene".
Sounds like it could be fun. ... But it's not a roleplaying game. The big difference is, that in cooperative storytelling, you have to think way more: "What would be good for the plot to happen next?" and less "What would my character do in this situation?" Now, a good roleplayer has the first question in mind, too, but the focus should be the second question.



I should have noted, that the little: "adjust the table of contents" in my post up there is very important and will and should happen twice or thrice, as the design becomes clearer. The point of doing it in such an early point is, that a table of contents has very much similarities to the structure, the project should have. ... Okay, there are differences, too, most important the "Overall concepts and ideas" part I mentioned, but you have to start somewhere.



AkaiNeko: No, the two terms come from that idea: Think of the project as a tree diagram. In the top there is the concept "game", then two branches leave and on the next level you have the knots "mechanics" and "setting", those are split up again on the next lower level for example into "character values", "skill tasks", "combat" on the one side and "races", "cultures", "geography" on the other side. And so on. And don't ask me why you can not draw the tree the other way around, growing upwards like a normal tree should, someone did it this way and people made a standard out of it. :smallwink: Now starting with the big idea and breaking it up into smaller parts is from the top down in the tree. You can also try to build little thinks at the bottom first and then see, how they merge to the bigger picture, however this is more difficult and you are very likely to forget some branches or maybe you end up building "details" that if you take a closer look simply don't fit together well. Thus, I'm advocating the orderly way. :smallbiggrin:

Btw, Twilight Muse: You can actually try and draw this tree. It has advantages and disadvantages compared with a prototype table of contents, both which are very minor. you will see the similarities.

IcarusWings
2011-08-31, 05:10 PM
Its a good system, but not what I want. I want to do something where the chances of success are much more dependent on the nature of the challenge than the competence of the character.

This though intrigues me. So rather than encouraging players to grow stronger to overcome difficult obstacles, you would encourage them to think tactically and find an easier solution? I like the idea, it's definitely a non-standard way of going about it (although I can think of one or two examples of this paradigm), it should definitely be used more.


Top-down approach stuff

While this is definitely a way to go about it, I disagree that it's the only or even best way to go about it. Personally, I've always worked by starting with a small idea, and letting it ferment, gathering more and more ideas to it like a snowball rolling down a hill, until it's big and cohesive enough to start putting it down on paper. I wouldn't advocate the 'set out a functional skeleton at the beginning method' because it makes it harder to change things as you go, which is integral to an organic design process.

More on topic, I do agree that the system really does need to reflect your goals with the setting. The impression I'm getting is that you want it to be dark, edgy and nerve-wracking? Then the mechanics need to reflect this. Characters should be substantially weaker than whatever opposition inhabits the stain, and make this clear. The environment itself should be trying to ever so subtly kill you. Make it easy to slip up, but not realise, so players never know if they really succeeded, or just doomed themselves with that roll.

Your 'staining' idea seems like it would be good in that respect. But I would advocate against having a Sanity system. The paranoia and fear in characters should be coming from the players getting paranoid and scared, not because the game arbitrarily says "Your character is getting paranoid now." You need to do everything possible to try and merge OOC and IC perspectives, and having the game directly change your character's personality doesn't help that.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-01, 04:18 PM
I just added on to the setting information in the first post.

EvilDM
2011-09-01, 04:40 PM
I had a half-baked idea where as weird stuff happens to characters, they are forced to make checks that are the equivalent of saving throws. If they fail, they become "stained". As a character becomes stained, the succumb to their surroundings and become more like them. The life drains from their eyes, their skin becomes sickly pail, their fingers lengthen into talons, they grow taller and thinner, ect. Essentially, they become twisted and corrupted as the stain sucks out their soul and replaces it with its own essence. The more stained they are, the more powerful they become, and the harder it is for them to get back into the real world.


Character actions are resolved by making dice rolls against a difficulty number. There are two types of difficulties, standard and opposed. To perform a standard difficulty action, the gamemaster calls for the player to roll the dice for a certain attribute or skill. The value of each die is totalled and the pips are added to the die roll to get a total. This total along with any GM or system imposed modifiers is compared against a target difficulty number. To perform an opposed roll action, the two parties involved (usually the player and a gamemaster controlled character) both roll their appropriate skills dice, total them and any modifiers and compare the results. If the first party's roll is higher than that of the second, he wins the contest and the rest of the result is resolved. If the second party equals or exceeds his opponent's roll, then the second party wins the contest.

Honestly the standard D6 game rules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D6_System) should give you what you're looking for, it shouldn't take long to adapt them to your setting.

Morph Bark
2011-09-01, 04:48 PM
I've been on the forums for over three years now, and I haven't even seen a 3.5e revision get completed in that time, much less a full system be produced. I wouldn't be surprised if you're looking at five years, minimum, unless it is a remarkably simple system without too many variables.

What, never heard of d20 Rebirth (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=98722) or Legend (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=204176)? :smalltongue:

For something much simpler, I'm currently working on something myself: name pending (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=213731).

However, I do agree it kind of seems like this whole thing isn't necessarily reliant on a particular system. The Staining for instance already seems quite a bit like Taint, except in this setting it would grant you power somehow.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-02, 09:20 PM
I have some rough ideas for a core mechanic and a damage system.

Characters have Core Statistics, similar to D&D ability scores. The average for a human is 0. 1 is above average, 2 is exceptional, 3 is amazing, -1 is below average, -2 is glaringly bad, and -3 a serious disability. When a character attempts to do something, they roll 2d6 and either add or subtract the associated statistic, and try to get equal to or above a certain number (5 being easy, 7 tricky, 9 very challenging, and 11 almost superhuman).

The damage system would be inspired by the condition track in Star Wars Saga Edition. Each character has a determined toughness score (5 being average). When they endure punishment, they compare the amount of damage they took (usually a number in the single-digits), they compare the number to their toughness score. If it is equal to or higher than their toughness, they go one space down on the condition track. Two spaces down if it twice their toughness or higher, ect.

The condition track is a number from 0-3. Characters start out at 0, and when they "go down a space", their number is increased by one. They have a penalty to all rolls equal to their current number. If they are at 3 and they go down a space, they are incapacitated and must save to avoid death. If they go down two or more spaces at once, they have a chance of being disabled in some way (such as losing a limb or receiving brain damage).

Also, here is some art my illustrator friend made for the game in about half an hour:
http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/7199/staindoll.png

Bearpunch
2011-09-03, 03:11 PM
It sounds to me like the characters are trapped in world where everything is out to kill them and has the power to do so. As such, I think you should put an emphasis on stealth and avoiding creatures.

When combat is inevitable, I don't think a standard combat system would fit. I don't have much experience with creating combat rules, but I get the idea that players should be encouraged to know about the creature and think tactically about how to kill it. A poor example would be:

A creature that is highly combustible chases players, but, lo and behold, a player has a piece of flint! The other players would distract horrible monster, while the guy with flint would burn it.

Another poor example:

A slow, lumbering creature chases after the party. (a lot of chasing going on...) Characters climb up onto the rooftops (if there are some) to get away from the creature. The creature slowly climbs up. Once there, the players jump to the nearest rooftop, but since the slow creature is bad at jumping, he falls and dies.

Thats the sort of combat I imagine in the setting. More of a puzzle solving mechanic than anything.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-03, 04:39 PM
It sounds to me like the characters are trapped in world where everything is out to kill them and has the power to do so. As such, I think you should put an emphasis on stealth and avoiding creatures.

When combat is inevitable, I don't think a standard combat system would fit. I don't have much experience with creating combat rules, but I get the idea that players should be encouraged to know about the creature and think tactically about how to kill it. A poor example would be:

A creature that is highly combustible chases players, but, lo and behold, a player has a piece of flint! The other players would distract horrible monster, while the guy with flint would burn it.

Another poor example:

A slow, lumbering creature chases after the party. (a lot of chasing going on...) Characters climb up onto the rooftops (if there are some) to get away from the creature. The creature slowly climbs up. Once there, the players jump to the nearest rooftop, but since the slow creature is bad at jumping, he falls and dies.

Thats the sort of combat I imagine in the setting. More of a puzzle solving mechanic than anything.

I was thinking of doing something like that too. Direct combat should mean death.

Maraxus1
2011-09-03, 05:30 PM
I was thinking of doing something like that too. Direct combat should mean death.
Although not exclusively, please.
It should be possible to play "real man" character and there should be times when the team gets "build up" by giving them a fight that they are expected to win (without loosing even 1 team member).

Not every monster should be a "thing that shall not be" and "think from beyond the void" and "destroyer of worlds and eater of gods"

There needs to be "Zombie", too. And "Mad cultist". Opponents equal to one player character - or 2/3 or a "real man". :smallwink:

And then a few "end fight" monsters, equal to a well prepared group and after this there can be a good number of monsters that scream: "Run you fools or you will all die."

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-03, 07:00 PM
I'm about to buckle down and write some crunch, using the core mechanic and damage system I made.


Although not exclusively, please.
It should be possible to play "real man" character and there should be times when the team gets "build up" by giving them a fight that they are expected to win (without loosing even 1 team member).

Not every monster should be a "thing that shall not be" and "think from beyond the void" and "destroyer of worlds and eater of gods"

There needs to be "Zombie", too. And "Mad cultist". Opponents equal to one player character - or 2/3 or a "real man". :smallwink:

And then a few "end fight" monsters, equal to a well prepared group and after this there can be a good number of monsters that scream: "Run you fools or you will all die."

Like in Call of Cthulhu, direct combat will be an option, just a generally bad one. There will be some lesser monsters and evil spirits that the characters have a good chance of surviving an all-out tangle with, but most adversaries will simply be too tough for them, unless they have a really good plan.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-03, 07:08 PM
Do you think character creation should have an element of randomness? My initial idea was to make it entirely point-based, but I think including some dice-rolling would help add to the feeling of helplessness and chaos.

fizzybobnewt
2011-09-03, 07:27 PM
Ooh, have you played Limbo? What's it like?
I get what they're trying to do there, but if I'm gonna pay for a game I'd want either a demo or something more informative than "Unsure of his sister's fate, a boy ventures into Limbo." And not even that, on the site!

This setting sounds really cool. I admire how much work you're prepared to put into the system, especially to give it away free.

AkaiNeko
2011-09-03, 07:45 PM
Are you basing there stats on anything in particular? They seem a tad random.

I like Bearpunch's ideas on combat. And Maraxus' additions, which reminds me: there could be some sort of method via which to generate your own unholy abominations to unleash on helpless players.

Also: how much will things like, for lack of a better word, personality play into it? Will individual characters have defining traits, and or will there be some sort of method of measuring different parts of their mentality?

Knaight
2011-09-03, 11:48 PM
Do you think character creation should have an element of randomness? My initial idea was to make it entirely point-based, but I think including some dice-rolling would help add to the feeling of helplessness and chaos.

I'd consider something along the lines of a "lifepath" system. Basically, you get to make bulk purchases of character points or similar, but each one of these comes with risk of corruption. Given the setting you are going for, the randomness is warranted, and said randomness is within setting.

Maraxus1
2011-09-04, 06:18 AM
Do you think character creation should have an element of randomness? My initial idea was to make it entirely point-based, but I think including some dice-rolling would help add to the feeling of helplessness and chaos.
Nah, the usual feeling is:
"Unfair, that other player rolled better then me and now he has the better stats in addition to be the more lucky one anyway!"
and
"Damn, this is really not the character I want to play, so it doesn't matter to play him a little suicidal."

Knaight
2011-09-04, 02:05 PM
Nah, the usual feeling is:
"Unfair, that other player rolled better then me and now he has the better stats in addition to be the more lucky one anyway!"
and
"Damn, this is really not the character I want to play, so it doesn't matter to play him a little suicidal."

There is "some element of randomness", and then there is "roll for your incredibly important core stats, of which there are only a handful". Besides, I was under the impression that character life spans were supposed to be short in this anyways.

Z3ro
2011-09-04, 09:11 PM
So, a few thoughts that I feel will help your design.

1) The first most important thing; how similar is too similar for your system? Do you care if it takes parts of other systems? What about specific mechanics? In other words, how important is your system being original to you (keeping in mind, the more original, the longer it will take to produce).

2) What type of basic mechanic do you want to use (mostly with regards to dice rolling)? This is important because it guides all your other decisions; no point in writing up a skill system that uses a single die roll only to decide to use dice pools. Related, how often do you want dice involved?

3) Will there be a magic system, and if so, what type? This answer will mostly come from your setting; once you have the answer, you'll need to decide what type of magic.

4) You've expressed a desire to have it simple and easy to learn; that's good. However, what are you willing to sacrafice to make it simple? The simpler you make it, the less original it will be, and the less depth it will have.

Bearpunch
2011-09-05, 08:27 PM
I'm about to buckle down and write some crunch, using the core mechanic and damage system I made.



Like in Call of Cthulhu, direct combat will be an option, just a generally bad one. There will be some lesser monsters and evil spirits that the characters have a good chance of surviving an all-out tangle with, but most adversaries will simply be too tough for them, unless they have a really good plan.

An interesting enemy type would be a person trapped in the world for so long that they go insane, rabid in a sense. They would be approachable, but still horrifying.

AkaiNeko
2011-09-06, 11:31 PM
Hmmmm....random character generation VS. non-random.

OK, how about this: each player chooses an age for their character (or an age range). Kids are more energetic, adults are tougher, etc; they also get a certain mount of points to assign in various areas, again based off age, and perhaps other factors like education, marriage, or what ever. Y'know, depending on how deep you wanna go.

WHEN SUDDENLY! You roll for one mental issue. After all, there was something wrong with you if you got in here. I dunno what affect it'd have, but hey. It's something.

Also, I must point out that combat in Call of Cthulu is often a fine idea; like as not, you're facing cultists. A little planning, teh element of suprise, some half-decent rolls, and boom! Problem solved. Teh real trouble, like what y'all are talking about, only really starts when teh blood of said cultists seeps into teh rune carved on teh floor and summons Q'lugthaln, teh dead god from beyond teh veil, who likely has a thing for tentacle rape.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-23, 09:48 AM
I think it be a good idea for characters to start out with no stats (being equally competent at everything), but then gain unique advantages and disadvantages as they are warped by the Stain in different ways. Their bodies would twist to reflect the darker aspects of their personality, and they would gain magic powers that are reminiscent of their subconscious.


EDIT: I have created a core mechanic which I think suits the new no-starting-stats idea ...

When a character attempts to do something challenging, they roll a six sided die. If they get a 1 or a 2, the result is 4. If they get a 3 or a 4, the result is 5. If they get a 5 or a 6, the result is 6. They compare the result to a number (usually 4-6). If the result is equal to or higher than the target number, they succeed.

As the stain warps them, the results they receive for their numbers change. For example: a character twisted by raw chaotic energy has a wider range of numbers they can achieve, adding more random chance. For example, a roll of 1 or 2 would produce a result if 3, a roll of 3 or 4 would produce a result if 5, and a roll of 5 or 6 would produce a result of 7.

Different situations require different skills. A character may be unnaturally strong (gaining a +1 bonus to results for things like fighting and lifting things), they gain no bonus in things like solving puzzles and casting spells.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-23, 03:16 PM
The same friend did more art for the game. Not quite as good as the first piece in my opinion, but still great.

Behold:
https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=ed19e3f87f&view=att&th=1329779a9f834549&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_gsxhhxig1&zw

I'll never eat fruit again. :smalleek:

AkaiNeko
2011-09-26, 11:08 AM
Eh, it's a thought, certainly, but given teh setup for this all, I still like teh idea of having at least something to differentiate characters at first. Doesn't necessarily have to be huge, but I think it should be there.

Also, this is starting to sound a bit like Persona as well. Which I like.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-09-26, 12:55 PM
Alternatively, I could have starting stats and use a slightly modified version of the Grimm core mechanic (https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:--bz_dkIhXgJ:www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/grimm/media/lineard6.pdf+linear+d6+system&hl=en&gl=ca&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh3Mh50QZwyE6qcaLPWxMqwifGMR8vs2eapQOB9 zS3nKtH4Aj2SWXyMNGtuHoJysxg1bKiMnaW2UYbuq1IC8OiFR0 YcHTMtUiK8DbuNalZWu80ATGuHr1hcBPvIh_gqG98kYa-R&sig=AHIEtbQDOgOzw5RdwVM94l1lyWT-N6GXRw). It is simple, uses only d6s, and is designed to be mostly predictable with a touch of randomness.

AkaiNeko
2011-09-29, 03:20 PM
....ok, maybe I'm just a noob, but I'm not seeing how that solves teh actual stat issue. That's for after you chosen teh stats.

whydoibover
2011-10-04, 09:19 AM
If your characters all have a few stats to differentiate them and you focus on an idea which helps combine them all, you'll be much closer to realising a whole system.


Attributes can be really helpful to make the entire system- for examples :

D&D3.5/PF 3-18 give a range that feed well into d20 rolls, when you start computing below average (8) to above average (14) there only a difference of +3 in rolls, making D20 attributes secondary to class.

DFRPGs (+0)-(+5) skill-only system creates a large enough difference between skilled and unskilled combatants. 4dF means that someone who is "superb" will, sometimes but very rarely be able to outdo "average" opponents. The uncertainty means that aspects become more important.

nWoD 1-5 dot system across 9 attributes helps define how abilities work- the three groups are again split (social/mental/physical; power/finesse/resistance).



So if you do decide on attributes from -3 to +3, for example, and you're using d20s, you're leaving a lot in the hands of fate. If attributes go from -3 to +3 and you're using d4s, someone more skilled will normally succeed.


My personal idea, based on your "random" assigning of numbers to value on a d6 would to have different roll values for dice in a scale.
An average task could be say, difficulty 5, and the average way to roll could be 1d4+2 (success half the time). With attributes from -3 to 3 there is significant difference.
Eldritch things could roll will higher boni, chaotic things could roll with larger variation (1d20 would be something very chaotic quite often capable of completely outdoing a basic person but also capable of doing worse).

It's a weird way to play it, but it creates a simple way for weaknesses to work (eg, men made of tinder roll 1d4 to resist burn attempts but 1d6+2 against anything else)

Just my 2 cents.

AkaiNeko
2011-10-06, 05:28 PM
I'm a little, ok a lot, unclear on teh details, but I like teh gist of what you're saying (I think?). Teh attributes thing is definitely something to consider, though I don't think too many PCs will be made of tinder. :smallwink:

....will they? Cuold stuff like that happen in teh Stain?

whydoibover
2011-10-07, 04:34 AM
Sorry if I was unclear, what I meant was that you can have a character with stats like:

Strength +1
Speed +2
Intellect -2
Willpower +1

And he's overall about 2 points above average.
If the way to roll (for a human) is 1d4+2, he rolls:

Strength 1d4+3
Speed 1d4+4
Intellect 1d4
Willpower 1d4+3

If an average task's difficulty is 5, he can almost always achieve that with strength and willpower, always for speed but never for intellect.

Compared with the Stone Goliath:

Strength +4 (stronger than the strongest human)
Speed -3
Intellect +0
Willpower +2

But he rolls 2d6 instead, (you can put that maths in), which means he has a sizeable advantage over humans, even though his stats (strength excepted) are close to what a human could start with.

This way of doing things all started when me and my friend tried making a vamp-hunting system where humans rolled 1d10, vamps rolled 1d20 unless weakened and humans who'd studied to the pinnacle of an ability rolled 2d10.

AkaiNeko
2011-10-09, 04:42 PM
Hey, I kinda like this. Maybe a little rough as is, but tailored properly to circumstances, I think it could actually be really great. Nice.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-10-12, 07:49 PM
I have recently come across the free roleplaying game JAGS Wonderland (http://www.jagsrpg.org/jags/content/Wonderland.pdf), and it is remarkably similar to Stain. Only, as much as I hate to admit it, more interesting. Both games are about horrific sentient alternate dimensions that one can enter, both are heavy on Lovecraftian horror, both have the alternate dimensions twist the characters and give them interesting and beneficial mutations that reflect their personalities, and both draw inspiration from Clive Barker, Silent Hill, and H. P. Lovecraft.

I'm rather discouraged now.

AkaiNeko
2011-10-17, 12:16 PM
Hehe, your sig its a little more cynical now.

Don't get too discouraged. "There's nothing new under teh sun", as they say; it's all in how it's done. I'm more-or-less sure that there are plenty of places for you to take us in teh Stain that'll leave us scarred and incapable of functioning in normal society; so what if others have had similar ideas before?

If you'll keep trying, I'll keep throwing in my two cents. Deal? :smalltongue:

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-10-17, 02:01 PM
Hehe, your sig its a little more cynical now.

Don't get too discouraged. "There's nothing new under teh sun", as they say; it's all in how it's done. I'm more-or-less sure that there are plenty of places for you to take us in teh Stain that'll leave us scarred and incapable of functioning in normal society; so what if others have had similar ideas before?

If you'll keep trying, I'll keep throwing in my two cents. Deal? :smalltongue:

Actually, my sig links to something different now. Click on it.

AkaiNeko
2011-10-21, 08:46 AM
Good, so long as you haven't given up (you haven't, right?). Now that that's settled....

....

....woah. Ya, I don't think I'll be submitting this month. Maybe if inspiration takes me in teh next few days.