The gaming update

October 6, 2009

So, I should make a post to you guys about the status of the two games I’m currently spearheading.  Yes, I said two.  Most of you have probably guessed at this point that I’m going to make Wildfire Industries, thanks mostly due to the comments on my last post being so undeniably positive.  Thanks you guys for being honest, and I’m working on making this game work.

Black Clover, my first love and major Pen and Paper Roleplaying Project, is currently sitting in a ditch and going back and forth to get itself out.  The problem is that if this game was a car, then the outside would look awesome while the engine would be a complete complex unworking joke.  Simply put — the lore and world is fantastic.  Everyone I talk to regarding this project has nothing but happy smiles, raised eyebrows, and a wish to know more.  I’m really excited to be putting all of these thoughts and concepts down on to paper and make a gothic steampunk game.  If this game could be completely lore driven, it would be great, but sadly that’s not the case.  The game is a game first and a world second, which leads me to saying…

The system sucks.

Perhaps it’s me, the author, just being overly critical but I don’t think I am.  Every time I try to sit down and work the kinks out of combat or work with the system, I either feel I’m cutting off roleplay by being too strict or not putting enough meat on the bones of the combat system to make it unique and original.  I feel as if combat should be a good portion of this game, especially as each “class” is limited to one “mythic weapon.” (Oh snap, I just revealed something, oh well.)  That weapon should provide a really wonderful and multi-talented use, as it’s the only weapon the heroes will get.  Why did I make that decision?  Well, it simply seems to fit another system in the game, which some people could potentially guess at but I’m going to leave out of this conversation for now.

Skill checks seem to work well in the context, but those too seem to be too reliant on the branching pathways of the classes.  Plus, I don’t want to put things out of order and make something too strong or too weak.  I need to bite the bullet and get cracking on at least getting things together in some working order so I can test for these types of power issues, but every time I start working on it I feel uncomfortable.  Perhaps I just need a break.

To make up for the problems with Black Clover, I have an awesome wallpaper to give out to you guys here on mah blog.  The art is done by my good friend Melissa, who is spearheading most (if not all) of the game’s artwork.  All in her spare time.  Throw your kudos to here on here, please, and let her feel some love for all of the work she is doing — especially if you use the wallpaper below.

Widescreen Version

Widescreen Version (1600x900)

Fullscreen Wallpaper (1200x1024)

Fullscreen Version (1200x1024)

Now, as for Wildfire Industries… well… things went together damn easy.  The system is insanely modular, and in the span of 2 hours I figured out a way to play the game as a traditional RPG, a cutthroat game of roleplaying where one person is declared the winner in one session and, interestingly enough, an expandable version that can hold up to 5 teams all playing against one another in either a one shot mission or a running campaign.  Now, you need one hell of a team of GMs for the 5 teams version, but it’s possible — especially if you can play it together on the internet.

This is thanks mostly due to the fact that skill checks are easily variable and not dependent on item use, simply on stat use.  If you want to be better at X skill check, spend points on it.  Or, you could spend the company’s money, which is a discussion for another time.  Checks are easily modifiable to either accomidate one player or a team of players working together (as some checks force players to team up to make them, which depending on the game type they may or may not want to do, resulting in hilarity.)  The game also supports secretive undermining right in the checks system, and that’s not even adding in the “traits” system which are the character’s publicly known and secretly hidden abilities.

Either way, the rules are done.  The game is simple, and I think it’s better for it because it leaves oh-so-much-room for sheer insanity on the parts of the players, much like Paranoia does. (Although I think Paranoia is much more complicated when it’s put next to my system.)  Now all I have to do is complete writing up the abilities that each character type has.  Then, it’s going out for a test run with my gaming group.  If it succeeds there, it goes for a test run at the local gaming club at the University of Pittsburgh.  Hopefully all of this will allow me to refine the rules and abilities, and then I’ll ask for testers here on line.

Then, with luck, I’ll get some inspiration and move forward on Black Clover.  Mmmm… Black Clover… *drools*

Anyway, sorry for the HUGE post, but I hope you guys enjoyed it!




  1. Hello! I’m a new reader to your blog 🙂 I’m not entierly sure on the context of everything here (and it’s nearly 5am…) so bear with me if I’m being dumb. 🙂

    But.. in regards to your pencil and paper roleplaying game and mechanics… As a pen and paper player myself, I’ll remind you that *some people* need rules and rolls, and some people don’t.

    Some people can sit there and suggest that, yeah, their student president, leader of the debate team character can be successful or do good while trying to suggest an idea, or just talking to someone. …and other people sit there and talk about their lolvideogame pothead with a potbelly doing triple ninja flips, leaping from roof top to roof top, and quadruple handspring assaults off of a 3rd story balcony with nary a scratch.

    One of the two scenarios is plausible. 😉 They are the people who’s GM NEEDS to relax the reins a bit and let them role play.

    The other group? They’re the reason that complex rule systems exist.

    That’s not to say that they’re bad players.. they just need reminding that their character has limitations on what they can do, just like they do in real life.. and just because they an THINK about leaping over 10 foot walls without breaking a sweat, doesn’t mean that their character can 🙂

    “I either feel I’m cutting off roleplay by being too strict or not putting enough meat on the bones of the combat system to make it unique and original.”

    Restrict the combat.

    No matter what… you’re going to have some people who say “I swing my sword at the kobold”… and you’re going to have some people who make poses and everything and describe how they swing their sword in low, aiming for XXX and how they’ll end up posed like YYY… I actually knew a few players who’d carry around prop swords and, every time their combat turn would come around, would stand up and work out exactly how the attack is suposed to work with the GM. of course, they’re the exception, not the rule. And there will be people who fall between the two extremes.

    I think the idea would be to make it accessable to both… Without knowing more, I’d suggest something like… generic to hit, to dodge, missing rules… then prettify it.

    Add in (with bullet points, to avoid massive walls of meandering text)
    * Optional hit location charts
    * Optional Called shots
    * Combat manuevers — generic ones that anyone can do.. grapple, tripping, stunning blow to the head…
    * More specific combat manuvers that can be bought or purchased — things like ‘cleave’ or ‘power attack’ or swinging a staff low to the ground to hit people’s knees/ankles, causing movement speed and mobility penalties.

    and other thigns like that that are not NEEDED to play the game. This way, the people with their prop swords can get as complicated at the GM will let them, while the other dudes can truck along going “Uhmm.. I use my ‘battering ankles’ stance. You know, the one that means my next three hits attack their legs so that they can’t move around as quickly.” or jsut stick with “I swing my sword.”

    Also, it allows for a learning curve. “I swing my sword” is a good first step for anyone learning a system. Fancy combat things can be learned as you go. Encourage your future GMs to be flexible, and potentially come up with some suggestions for ways that they can ‘design’ their own manuvers to be used by their players, or ways to come up with rules on the fly for the ideas their player has…

    but, I’ve also always heald true to the old white wolf addage: the GM is always right. If the GM doesn’t like it, the GM can change it. And I’ve always believed that it’s the GM’s job to wrangle his players and control them.

    And again: I’ve only read this post and a few others.. I hope I’m not horribly our of context and wrong with my statemetns, but yeah. 🙂

    Hope I don’t realize later that I’ve put my foot in my mouth with my ideas. XD I’ll read more and find out later ❤

    • Hey Colby! Thanks for coming by!

      Your comments are really great, and I’ll certainly take a few of them into consideration. ^_^ A few of them go against my vision statement for the game, however, (which you didn’t know about, as only myself and one other person has ever seen the vision statement, lol.) But you are certainly right. I should go for a system that allows people who want to be descriptive to be descriptive, and a system that allows the more non-verbal players at the table to still be able to participate and learn the ropes.

      It all still comes down to ease-of-use though — something I’m still struggling with. Hopefully I’ll get that overcome though. ^_^

      But thanks again for the input! Much appreciated!

  2. In my experience, Paper and Pencil RPGs need to have elegantly simple game systems and plenty of cool atmosphere/ideas. GMs modify the rules, the data and the world to suit their own tastes anyway, so it’s rarely helpful to angst too much about small details. This is in stark contrast to computer games, where it’s very important that all those details be “just right,” since otherwise the game comes apart in a welter of bugs and crashes.

    So, let your creativity flow, keep filling out the PnP design with cool stuff. You can always come back and edit/adjust things later.

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