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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)



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    Casters & Conquest is a game about power, greed, ideology, and magic, built to support creative problem solving, fast paced strategic combat, and groups looking to jump right into campaigns without much setup.

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    This project started in 2010 under the name Homines Inter Deos. The world was based on the one I'd constructed for myself in lucid dreams. I'm still working on this a lot, but for the first time I have something complete enough to show other people, and I need some serious criticism. Most of the stuff that isn't done yet is art and editing, but I intend to add pre-made monsters to the beastiary, and a section full of pre-made dungeons for people to run through.

    What The Game Is Supposed To Be (Design Goals)
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    The game is for groups who want to jump right into their campaign. GMs who want to make things up as they go, and players who don't want to read a lot until they are invested in the game/their characters, and learn to play while playing.

    The ideal is for it to start off very simply, and introduce more complexity once its got its hooks in you, to keep you engaged.

    I want it to be very accessible, very easy to run, reward creative problem solving, and be hard to put away after a few sessions.

    What The Game Is (Features)
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    Here are the highlights of the game:

    Player Characters
    - Everyone plays as a magic user, for reasons relating to the lore.
    - Level progression from 1-10
    - Players select magic "purviews" which largely define their character, and have about four at level 10. (there are between 22 and 43 purviews to choose from depending on how you look at it)
    - Players get combat options, and "Talents", which allow them to make skill checks that other players don't have access to, and gives them automatic success on some tasks which might challenge other players.
    - Players also get developments, which usually boost some stats at the expense of others, and Feats of Creation, which are magic items they construct, beings they bind to their service, or powerful spells called Hexs, which are limited in use.

    Combat
    - Players and the GM choose their actions in secret before the round begins, and then reveal their actions (and perform them) in order of initiative.
    - The six combat stats are Ward, Guard, Reflex, Cunning, Melee, and Ranged
    - Melee and Ranged attacks are fundamentally different in the way they operate and hit opponents. Along with the planning actions in advance, this is the source of a lot of Combat's strategic complexity.

    Skills
    - Levels of training correspond to levels of task difficulty (untrained, amateur, veteran, expert, master). The target number depends on the disparity between your training level and the task's difficulty level.
    - Players roll 3d6 to determine the outcome of most checks. On a check where they have an advantage, they roll 4d6 and drop the lowest die they rolled, and if they have a disadvantage, they roll 4d6 and drop the highest die they rolled.
    - There are 6 natural skills (Athletics, Lore, Awareness, Deception, Persuasion, and Tinkering) and 5 magic skills (Material, Etherial, Mind, Body, and Soul)

    GMing
    - Monsters are built by combining a noun template with adjective templates, and then tweaking it to taste.
    - There is a system in place that allows players to take over tracts of land, and build empires
    - There is no currency system in the game, because of the lack of vendors for magical items, and the lack of extra dimensional space for carrying currency in. Everything players have they make (with the aforementioned feats of creation), or buy with "pocket money" (small amounts of currency players are assumed to keep with them)

    Any sort of feedback is appreciated, but in particular I am looking for...
    - Why my design decisions were bad/how they should have been made
    - Why my implementation of the design systems are bad/how to fix or replace them
    - How I failed to achieve my design goals
    - Why my design goals will fail to please the people who I aim to.

    I'm not saying you have to hate it to post (I'm all ears for praise too), but don't be afraid to criticize. I'm pretty proud of this system, but I want it to be the best I can make it.
    Last edited by Doccit; 2014-02-25 at 09:34 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Just to Browse's Avatar

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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    1) The concept is awesome, good job there.

    2) There are way too many names for abilities and such. The sheer vocabulary lesson up to page 5 will probably turn off a lot of people in itself.

    EDIT: If anything fails your design goals, this is it. This game could be called a lot of things, but "easy to pick up and play" is not one of them.

    3) Label your tables, then make all references to tables based on the label.

    4) In the table on the bottom of page 5 (Table 1-2), why are Ward and Guard "maximum" values, while the others aren't "Maximum Reflex", "Maximum Cunning", etc..?

    EDIT: The table at the top of page 5 (Table 1-1) has "2 Preview" instead of "Purview". Emergency spelling error.
    Last edited by Just to Browse; 2013-09-04 at 10:35 AM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    1) The concept is awesome, good job there.
    Thanks!
    2) There are way too many names for abilities and such. The sheer vocabulary lesson up to page 5 will probably turn off a lot of people in itself.

    EDIT: If anything fails your design goals, this is it. This game could be called a lot of things, but "easy to pick up and play" is not one of them.
    Looking back at it yes, the terminology is kind of overwhelming. There aren't a whole lot of categories of things compared to other games, but presenting them all right away isn't really the "gradual introduction of complexity" that I'm going for. Do you think I need to change the way things are organized, or just how they are presented in chapter one?

    It takes me about three minutes to make a character from scratch, because there are very few decisions to make at level one, but I'm already acquainted with the terminology, so I don't have to go through that step.
    3) Label your tables, then make all references to tables based on the label.
    I'll get right on that.

    4) In the table on the bottom of page 5 (Table 1-2), why are Ward and Guard "maximum" values, while the others aren't "Maximum Reflex", "Maximum Cunning", etc..?
    Because guard and ward are HP. There is a distinction in the combat section between "live guard" (what it is in the moment) and "maximum guard" (what it is restored to after the battle). But maybe that distinction should be made there and there alone. I've removed the word maximum from that table, and from the character sheet.

    EDIT: The table at the top of page 5 (Table 1-1) has "2 Preview" instead of "Purview". Emergency spelling error.
    I'm pretty sure that is right. You choose 2 purviews at the first level. Am I misunderstanding you?

    EDIT: AH, PREview. Whoops >.<
    Last edited by Doccit; 2013-09-04 at 11:19 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Doccit View Post
    Looking back at it yes, the terminology is kind of overwhelming. There aren't a whole lot of categories of things compared to other games, but presenting them all right away isn't really the "gradual introduction of complexity" that I'm going for. Do you think I need to change the way things are organized, or just how they are presented in chapter one?
    Presentation in chapter 1 is probably the most important part--explain spells later in the spells section. My hunch (I've only read to p.7) is that some distinctions might be entirely moot and you could scrap them. I don't have anything to offer yet, but I'll write something tonight.

    Because guard and ward are HP. There is a distinction in the combat section between "live guard" (what it is in the moment) and "maximum guard" (what it is restored to after the battle). But maybe that distinction should be made there and there alone. I've removed the word maximum from that table, and from the character sheet.
    It looks much prettier. Also I didn't catch that from the read-through, but I'm not sure if that's actually an indictment of my reading skills instead your writing.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    My hunch (I've only read to p.7) is that some distinctions might be entirely moot and you could scrap them.
    Hmm. I don't think so. So players get five things for levelling:

    Stat improvements: You're combat numbers go up.
    Skill points: Makes you better at the skill checks they're spent on.
    Combat abilities: You're battle spells (curses) and passive abilities (aspects)
    Talents: Lets you make skill checks that you couldn't make before (EG, slowing down time, or making stones fly at things)
    Developments: Generally follow the format of +x -y. X & Y can be combat stats, skill points, maximum range on ranged attacks, etc. A lot like simple feats in DnD.
    Feats Of Creation: Things which, in other games, you would buy with currency. Like henchmen, magic items, and scrolls with really powerful spells on them.

    All of them are fairly distinct in my head. Do they sound distinct?

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    http://www.mediafire.com/download/r8...r_Building.pdf

    I rewrote the character building section. Is this any better?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    The biggest thing this is missing is a dedicated editor. Explanations are very confusing (like references to "blood" as a stat, and the description of skills and spellcasting), and you've got strange spelling and grammar and lots of typos (Steeled has you roll 2d6, and requires you to get an 18 or higher).

    I think I could get used to the complexities, maybe. Another unfortunate thing is the lack of art. The borders help a lot, but even sketches to break up the wall of text would be nice.

    Mechanical considerations:
    • Every player should want to double up on elemental tracks to maximize horizontal power as soon as possible. Giving them other tracks seems like a trap option.
    • Melee seems useless because kiting looks easy. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    • Writing down actions in secret is a big pain in the butt, especially when you don't get to fix things that mess up. For example if I try to use my ability but my opponent is out of range, I waste an entire turn.
    • Calling seems terrible. People can move their full movement and exit areas of effect.
    • "Full Cast" and "Part Cast" really imply some sort of action usage, but you can apparently do either with the same action?
    • There is no official allowance of movement under combat actions. That should be explicit.
    • Having combat advantage use the same name but act different from skill check advantage is really annoying. "Advantage" should be a universal term applied to skill checks. Use "surprise" or somesuch for the combat bonus.
    • While we're on combat bonuses, why doesn't planning allow you to boost other rolls? It seems like Combat Advantage could just be surprise and give you a free round + advantage on your casting rolls. Adding 3 and comparing is extra math, which I am always opposed to.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    Yeah, steeled is useless in current form

    Kiting not so useful. You are forced to move, then cast, which means that even for long ranged spells (4) you'll wind up in range of a charge.

    Looks like a fun system, just needs a bit of work.

    Quick/Called issue: Maybe making Called curses target a larger area would help. None of the area can exceed the maximum range, probably a 3x3. As it stands right now, there's no reason to use a called spell. Increase the range, decrease the shake, but do something
    Last edited by Clarkson; 2013-09-05 at 11:01 PM.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    I'm working on a big post responding to Just To Browse which I'll finish tomorrow morning, but speaking quickly, called spells do more damage. I should make that apparent to the player, because figuring that out involves some pretty complicated math.

    Called spells deal about 6x your damage stat every six rounds.
    Quick spells deal about 4x your damage stat every six rounds.

    It is all to do with shake.

    You only need to hit 2/3 times with your called spells to meet the damage output of quick ones.
    Last edited by Doccit; 2013-09-05 at 11:12 PM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    Thanks for continuing to help. I appreciate it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Just to Browse View Post
    The biggest thing this is missing is a dedicated editor. Explanations are very confusing (like references to "blood" as a stat, and the description of skills and spellcasting), and you've got strange spelling and grammar and lots of typos (Steeled has you roll 2d6, and requires you to get an 18 or higher).
    Yeah, the steeled thing is supposed to be 8. >.< Whoops. I caught that today when editing myself, but I agree about the editor. I clearly can't catch everything alone.

    Blood as a stat is a holdout from other games of mine, and I'm going to excise it completely, because you're right, it is unnecessarily confusing.

    As for skills and spellcasting, do you mean in the player options section, or the skill section?

    I think I could get used to the complexities, maybe. Another unfortunate thing is the lack of art. The borders help a lot, but even sketches to break up the wall of text would be nice.
    Working hard on that! All the art in there now is just placeholder. I've decided to put in a bunch of 19th century oil paintings, and it is looking quite nice. Check out the redone version of chapter one:
    http://www.mediafire.com/download/r8...r_Building.pdf

    I'm reformatting all the pages to look like these, and editing the book as well.
    Mechanical considerations:
    Every player should want to double up on elemental tracks to maximize horizontal power as soon as possible. Giving them other tracks seems like a trap option.
    What is horizontal power? And I'm fairly sure that taking two elemental purviews isn't better than taking an elemental and a non elemental one. What makes them more powerful?

    Melee seems useless because kiting looks easy. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    Writing down actions in secret is a big pain in the butt, especially when you don't get to fix things that mess up. For example if I try to use my ability but my opponent is out of range, I waste an entire turn.
    Kiting isn't easy because spells tend to have a max range of 3, and pretty much everyone has a movement speed of 4, you have to attack after you move, and opportunity attacks are pretty deadly and really hard to avoid. More on that soon.

    I'm not sure if you considered the ratios of stats gained and opportunity attacks when you said melee was uselss. For every 1 ranged damage you gain, you can expect to gain 2 melee damage, 3 ward, and 5 guard. Because melee has to go through ward and guard, ranged attacks will kill you in three rounds ( ward(3)/ranged(1)= 3) and melee damage will kill you in four rounds ( ward(3)+guard(5)/melee(2) )

    An opportunity attack does your melee damage (so we'll assume 2 for this example). So, if you can get 1 opportunity attack in in three rounds, melee damage ties with ranged damage. If you get more than one, it is better. Because there is no shifting in this game (like in 4e), if you walk up to a ranger as a melee guy, have to incur an attack of opportunity if they want to hit you with a ranged attack.

    As for writing down attacks in advance, I've playtested it a lot with other games and it seems like a fun and novel mechanic. It speeds combat up a lot because everyone deliberates over their actions at the same time, and not knowing what the other people will do if they move before you adds a big strategic element to the game (and makes high initiative much more valuable than it would otherwise be)

    Having people waste their turn because of miscalculating where there enemy would be is intentional. This game doesn't have any to-hit rolls. The way you miss is by screwing up like that.
    Calling seems terrible. People can move their full movement and exit areas of effect.
    "Full Cast" and "Part Cast" really imply some sort of action usage, but you can apparently do either with the same action?
    This is all to do with the shake. Sufficed to say, called attacks do a lot more damage than quick attacks (because quick attacks theoretically will hit more often). But I'm not sure what you mean about areas of effect.

    Full cast actions give you shake, and part cast actions take shake away. You can full cast or part cast any curse. Some add more shake when full cast, some less, some take more away when full cast, some less.

    If you've got to much shake, your spell fizzles and does nothing. This creates the effects of having some spells be desirable for the amount of shake you can get rid of by casting them. It makes some spells start off not doing much damage but because of their consistency do more over many rounds. It makes some spells really really powerful initially, but slow down after a the first one or two rounds of casting. It also allows other characters to drain your shake for you, adding a new healer-ish thing for players to do, and for enemies to put shake on you before you get the chance to attack, making you think twice what to cast around them for fear of (basically) losing your turn.

    The novelty and strategic complexity of this game are built upon the melee and ranged distinction, planning actions in advance, and shake. Shake is probably the most fragile of them all to be honest, but it is the most embedded in the lore.

    There is no official allowance of movement under combat actions. That should be explicit.
    Having combat advantage use the same name but act different from skill check advantage is really annoying. "Advantage" should be a universal term applied to skill checks. Use "surprise" or somesuch for the combat bonus.
    I agree with both of these entirely. I'll change the name and make sure I explicitly state the movement speed of most players somewhere in the combat section.
    While we're on combat bonuses, why doesn't planning allow you to boost other rolls? It seems like Combat Advantage could just be surprise and give you a free round + advantage on your casting rolls. Adding 3 and comparing is extra math, which I am always opposed to.[/list]
    Hmm. This intrigues me.

    Well, reflex only has to be compared once at the beginning of combat, so that isn't that big of a hassle. Cunning is a little harder to explain..

    There is only one roll ever made in combat other than the ones prescribed by status conditions: effect rolls. You get an advantage on an effect roll by having more cunning than your enemy. So combat advantage (I'm changing the names to readiness and disctaction as soon as I'm done this post) does give you an advantage on your combat rolls.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    While we're on the topic of more art, here is the new cover:



    I'm quite pleased with it.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    That looks seriously awesome.

    EDIT: Can you re-explain why you don't think melee is weak again, but slowly as though you're teaching a remedial math student? I'm trying to reason it out but the words confuse me.
    Last edited by Just to Browse; 2013-09-06 at 07:27 PM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    Melee does approximately twice as much damage. As long as you have a move speed of four, you can close and attack because they can't attack then flee. Also, when they back off, no matter what you get an Aoo.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Casters & Conquest (Game System; PEACH)

    So it isn't useless after all. xD You could make a melee attack. That wouldn't do get you an opportunity attack.

    Alright, let me whip out the math here...
    ( ward(3)/ranged(1)= 3)
    ( ward(3)+guard(5)/melee(2)=4 )

    So yes, if a melee person runs up to a ranged person, the ranged person is ****ed. But we can assume that the ranger gets the first hit, because they can hit from afar so they can avoid the meleers.

    So...
    ROUND 1 (R): Ranger hits. 2 damage. Melee goes from 3/3 to 2/3
    ROUND 1 (M): Melee guy runs up and hits. 2 damage. Ranger goes from 8/8 to 6/8
    ROUND 2: (R): Ranger moves back (takes Aoo) and hits. Ranger 6/8 -> 4/8. Melee 2/3 -> 1/3
    ROUND 2: (M): Melee guy moves up and attacks. Ranger 4/8 -> 2/8
    ROUND 3: (R): Ranger moves back (takes Aoo) and can't hit because it is dead. Ranger 2/8 -> 0/8. Melee guy is at 1/3rd health.

    It is a little closer than double, but yes in one on one combat the melee guy is definitely advantaged if he is faster.

    If the ranger is quicker, he can move two spaces over, and because the melee guy has to pick his action at the beginning of the round, he will just miss his attack. If the melee guy is quicker, the ranger can pretty well count on where the melee guy will be because the melee guy has to run up to him.

    So yeah it comes down to speed. In the game however, taking speed basically sacrifices either your damage or your hit points. Point is it isn't cut and dry.
    Last edited by Doccit; 2013-09-06 at 10:19 PM.

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