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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    After a few years of staying away from serious game design, I have decided to try my hand at a fantasy system again. However, this time I am going in prepared. Gone are the days where I only had D&D to reference, now with a less-modest collection of systems under my belt I am going in.

    Why fantasy? Well it's because I haven't managed to find a fantasy system specifically designed to give a story driven RPG with a 'dark magic' feel, where magic is inherently dark and dangerous. So I present Steel and Shadows (working title until I get something better sorted out), the game of warriors brave and magicians risking their lives.

    Steel and Shadows
    The current rules consist of two key parts, the character elements and the game engine.
    Character Elements
    Attributes
    Every character possesses three attributes, each generating a track that measure how much damage a character can take.
    • Physique is a character's physical capabilities, and determines their Health Track which soaks physical damage.
    • Wits is a character's mental capabilities, and determines their Will Track which soaks mental damage.
    • Charm is a character's social capabilities, ad determines their Spirit Track which soaks spiritual damage.

    Attributes range from 1 (physically disabled) to, with 3 being the human average, and 6 being the effective human maximum, although the rare person can reach 7 with GM permission. Starting characters begin with 11 points to spread among their attributes.
    A character's Health, Will and Spirit tracks have a rating equal to their Physique+3, Wits+3, and Charm+3, respectively. These are reduced when applicable damage is applied, and if any of these tracks reach 0 the character is helpless and can be killed with a successful attack.
    Traits
    Traits are what defines a character, and are decided upon by the player! A trait is either a single word or short phrase that describes the character in some way. Every trait is rated from one to four, which is the number of bonus dice the trait grants to rolls where it is applicable. Every PC has the following four traits:
    • Profession is what the character does, such as priest, spy, soldier or fixer.
    • Tragedy is something bad that happened to the character in the past.
    • Destiny is what the character appears to be destined to acomplish. Unlike other traits this can change freely from in-game actions once a session.
    • Specialty is a specific area the character excels at, such as binding or public speaking.

    Traits all begin at one, but may be raised with customisation (experience) points (CP). In addition, characters can buy new specialties with CP.
    Spoiler
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    Yes, these are essentially DIY skills, as well as being heavily inspired by the Traits in Fate and the Mistborn Adventure Game, but I don't want to use a set skill list and thought 'why reinvent the wheel?' The main difference is that a character's traits form a bigger part of their rolls in the system, being equal to 40% of the available dice for a roll.

    Pacts and Spells
    In addition to Attributes and Traits, players brave enough to read the spellcasting chapter can buy spells and pacts with CP. Spells allow characters to perform actions that they wouldn't be able to touch otherwise, while Pacts offer a passive bonus as long as certain conditions are met. These rules are in the pre-alpha stage, and will be released later.
    Customisation Points
    Customisation Points are the resource used to further refine a character. Each player receives 20CP at character creation, and can expect to gain an additional 2-4 points per session. It costs 20CP to raise an Attribute, 4CP to raise a Trait your character currently possesses, or 5CP to buy a new Trait. In addition, with GM permission, a character can buy Spells for 5CP per rank and Pacts for 6CP per rank. These costs are subject to adjustment as playesting takes place. In addition, a spell your character has cannot increase in rank, although you may buy a new instance of the spell at a higher rank.
    Set System Basics
    The system used by Steel and Shadows is referred to as the set system, after the most common type of roll.
    Spoiler
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    A new character is worth 260CP

    Dice
    The set system only uses d6s, the cube shaped dice you can find in most board games. These are rolled in one of two ways.
    Straight Rolls
    In straight rolls the player rolls 1d6 and adds any listed bonus. These are rarely called for.
    Set Rolls
    When the rules call for a set roll the player first takes the relevant attribute and adds an applicable trait bonus, and then rolls that many d6s. The player must then use these dice to form a set of matching numbers, counting ones as wild. This is normally (but not necessarily) the largest set possible, attempting to get a set equal to or larger than the difficulty of the action. Using an applicable tool increases your set size by one after rolling. For example:
    Example: Richard is trying to get passed a locked door. This is a set roll using physique, and the GM rules that Richard can apply either his Thief Trait. Looking at his sheet, Richardís player picks up 4 dice for his physique and 3 dice for his Thief trait of 3, and rolls a 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, and 6. He forms a set of three using the two fives and the one. Including the tool bonus from using lockpicks this equals a size of four. Fortunately the difficulty to pick the lock was only 3, and the door opens with a barely audible click.
    Difficulty Description
    1 Trivial
    2 Easy
    3 Challenging
    4 Difficult
    6 Legendary

    Resolving Actions
    No matter what the action, no matter how long it takes, only roll once for each action. If you fail, you fail, and if you pass you pass. A task that takes longer may leave you unable to play for a short period of time, but if a player has been sitting out of the game due to this for five minutes or more their last action is automatically assumed to be completed. There was a time skip in there, trust me.

    Any feedback? More rules will be posted once they have been fully written, but your input is greatly appreciated, particularly with the Set system, as I still need to has out the numbers.
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2015-02-27 at 06:26 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    The set rolls are a neat idea, but it seems they lead to either very easy or very difficult odds, with not much in the middle. For example, if you have 4 dice to roll, a "2" task has a 72.2% probability of success, and a "3" task has a 9.7% probability of success. There's nothing in between - it's either very likely, or very unlikely.

    I sense that it will lead to a game with (a) players dedicating a large amount of time to gathering situational bonuses wherever possible, and (b) players not even bothering to try anything their character is not optimized for.

    This is just my interpretation.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galen View Post
    The set rolls are a neat idea, but it seems they lead to either very easy or very difficult odds, with not much in the middle. For example, if you have 4 dice to roll, a "2" task has a 72.2% probability of success, and a "3" task has a 9.7% probability of success. There's nothing in between - it's either very likely, or very unlikely.

    I sense that it will lead to a game with (a) players dedicating a large amount of time to gathering situational bonuses wherever possible, and (b) players not even bothering to try anything their character is not optimized for.

    This is just my interpretation.
    I'm not good with probability (been a good 2 years since I've had to use it seriously), and so hadn't caught this. The idea is that a 'skilled' character will be rolling 6-10 dice (4-6 attribute and 2-4 trait), I just haven't finished the costs and so will upload the complete character creation system (11 attribute points, 4 'free' traits and enough CP for another 4 points of traits). However I don't actually remember the statistics to calculate the probabilities I assume that it levels out as pools get bigger, I should really try and generate the numbers for every other dice pool (so 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10), but I'm worried by the probability curve. How much does the maths change if 1s are allowed? That should even it out at least slightly, although it's too late for me to do the maths, I'll probably do it for both in the morning.
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2015-02-25 at 08:35 PM.
    You do not have to call me by the full name, abreviate as you like.

    I'm on most other forums as Twodsix, this username is sometimes taken.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    Still haven't had time to run the probabilities properly, but I've changed ones from nulls to wilds so that those who don't specialise in an area still have a chance of beating challenging tasks (a character with four dice has a 0.2 chance [very rough] to succeed at a challenging task). I'm also considering letting tools allow people to reroll 1-3 dice, although that cuts down in the reason I went for set-forming in the first place (faster resolution than most dice pool systems). Does this solve the problem of a wide difference in probabilities, or does it just shift it slightly?

    Anyway, I hope to post the proper 'dice rolling' rules later today, including the conflicts rules (not very original at this point), so that I have the full base of the system written. After that I'll start play testing, and see if the system works in actual play.

    Rules for CPs in the first post.
    You do not have to call me by the full name, abreviate as you like.

    I'm on most other forums as Twodsix, this username is sometimes taken.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    I saw where 3 is the human average, but I think I missed where you put what the human maximum was on Attributes.

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    Quote Originally Posted by steelsmiter View Post
    I saw where 3 is the human average, but I think I missed where you put what the human maximum was on Attributes.
    I forgot it. Added it in now, 7 is the true human maximum, but the majority of people cap out at 6.
    You do not have to call me by the full name, abreviate as you like.

    I'm on most other forums as Twodsix, this username is sometimes taken.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I'm not good with probability (been a good 2 years since I've had to use it seriously), and so hadn't caught this. The idea is that a 'skilled' character will be rolling 6-10 dice (4-6 attribute and 2-4 trait), I just haven't finished the costs and so will upload the complete character creation system (11 attribute points, 4 'free' traits and enough CP for another 4 points of traits). However I don't actually remember the statistics to calculate the probabilities I assume that it levels out as pools get bigger, I should really try and generate the numbers for every other dice pool (so 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10), but I'm worried by the probability curve. How much does the maths change if 1s are allowed? That should even it out at least slightly, although it's too late for me to do the maths, I'll probably do it for both in the morning.
    Based on Galen's stated probabilities, I don't think he (or I) realized 1s were treated differently than any other number. Why are you set on using this dice mechanic if you don't already know what the probabilities will look like?

    You might try using AnyDice or a similar resource to help calculate probabilities, but I wouldn't know how to specify the mechanic you are using.

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    Hytheter's Avatar

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    I'm not sure AnyDice can do pair matching - apparently the similar One Roll Engine is beyond it's capabilities.

    But yeah, something I'd like to know: Why this approach? What in particular are you trying to achieve by using the Set rolls? You haven't run the probabilities, so you obviously aren't aiming for a particular distribution. So what then? Are you planning to make use of the actual number used in the set (eg, a pair of 2s is different to a pair of 4s) thus obtaining two variables from a roll? Or is just for the tactile sensation of rolling lot's of D6s? Or just for the sake of being different?

    It's hard to appreciate the "what" without the "why".

    For what it's worth, I ran some numbers. It turns out an "average" character (3 dice), without an applicable trait, will fail an "easy" task almost 40% of the time. So you may want to consider altering how the system runs or at least redefining some of the terms.
    That's treating 1s as a wild fyi. Obviously the original discard method gives even worse odds.
    Last edited by Hytheter; 2015-02-28 at 07:30 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    I'm working with a friend to work out the probabilities, them being more complex than I had realised, the reasons for using the system are:
    1) it gives me the downwards probability curve I want, where the chance of beating a difficulty drops off in a nonlinear fashion, although not quite as fast as it currently is.
    2) it's in my experience faster to match sets than to add numbers or count successes.

    I'm considering revising the rules slightly to be closer to the one roll engine, with the number on the dice being the 'power' of a roll, and the size being the 'accuracy'. You'd than have to form a set equal to or larger than the difficulty to succeed, and the power would be used to determine damage/winner of opposed rolls and similar things.

    In addition I'm also planning on upping the range of attributes to 1-9 with 4 being average, and increasing the trait maximum to 5 or 6. This should help to get slightly more even probabilities, but I have to wait a few days to be certain.
    You do not have to call me by the full name, abreviate as you like.

    I'm on most other forums as Twodsix, this username is sometimes taken.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Steel and Shadows: not another fantasy game!

    I like the system. I think Attribute maxes of 10 and trait maxes of 5 would look pretty, personally.

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