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Sunday, July 12, 2009

[RPG] Comments, Feedback, and The Like-

I would like to use this post as the initial Comments and Feedback 'thread', as it were. Please don't be shy, but please be civil.

Fellow Moorcock Miscellanist, groakes, has made a convincing argument that I ought to use more of the mechanisms I had devised in a previous, d6-version of the game, namely those that more fully integrate the Elemental Bloods; that the EBs are what is essentially unique to the setting and system, and that it would be a shame not to bring it to fruition. With that would come a restructuring of both books, and the possibility of including a third book, the Setting Manual.

I will let the full changes marinade in my mind for the upcoming week. I've allowed myself that as time off for good behaviour, before setting to work on any further enhancements (while still making certain that as much of it as possible facilitates use of the material with established Classic-Play systems such as the 0th and 1st Editions and their Clones and Simulacra, which was my reason for not publishing the game using the Constructive Die Pool system).

So, have at it. :D


  1. You are such a good commenter, Timeshadows, and I am such a bad one who lurkes, but I have been working on that . . . at least trying to.

    I think that the most important thing to consider is that everybody at the table is playing the same game. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Everybody has to have the same basic understanding about how things work, and they have to work consistently. Changing systems all the time isn't, in my opinion, all that good of a thing. But that is just me, and I'm a stubborn son-a-gun, and I know it.

  2. Ripper X:

    Thank you for commenting. I always appreciate your feedback, and the rarity of it only increases its surprise factor. :D

    If you mean as regards updating the Beta for public consumption, I can understand the concern, and faced it to a degree when I was following Pathfinder.
    I would ask, though, for a degree of forbearance from the Classic-Play (and larger) gaming community, given that no one else is performing the 'official' playtest process, and my group only meets once a week.

    groakes' comments to me via e-mail boiled down to this:

    * There are plenty of D&Dish new games out already
    * The setting deserves to be recognised and played with native rules
    * Said rules at present are not significantly unique to win an audience
    * Ergo, the only deficit is in the integration of the Setting with the System

    My thoughts essentially mirror the above (if I didn't love the setting I'd not have worked on it for over half of my life, nor written novels and short fiction set within the milieu). So, since presenting the nuances of the setting without integrating them into the system would essentially deflate the intended continuity, and or, feel of the milieu, it falls upon my shoulders to craft them into the documents.

    Perhaps I should instead refer to this stage as the Public Alpha-test. I have no problems retracting the Beta appellation, and would love feedback on this (sub-)process.

    I don't know of any other way of receiving testing outside of my understanding of what I intend/mean by terms other than to release it for public trial and error-proofing.

    Please, any-/everyone, help me make this worthy of your gaming time and effort, or else it will simply be an interesting, albeit, failed blip on the Classic-Play radar.

    In any case, Ripper X, I appreciate your feedback, and encourage your continued dialogue.

    Thanks, :D

  3. Should I be finding your email on the page and am too stupid to have done so? Ugh. If so sorry - here's the email I'd have sent...
    First off, I like it. I was surprised by the sci-fi side of it. I can see why it's a game of it's own
    as it simultaneously covers a lot of different bases. I loved the background information, the timeline. The history is well written, not too much detail, good exposition of the relations the different cultures have had over time. The Contempory Technology section made me happy!
    You have an idiosyncratic voice in your writing which made reading very easy. I'm going to generate a character this weekend to see how the actual process goes.

    The world data/cultural data/religious data are all very interesting and well constructed as a whole. I am, of course, curious to see a map of this world.

    I think that once it moves into the Character Creation section, understanding of the process as a whole could be improved by giving page numbers for some of the game-mechanic topics introduced. I would also put alignment after the explanation of ability score , though I see why they are placed now before it (or think I do, don't mean to be presumptuous) – as alignment has such direct bearing on final ability scores. Perhaps Ability Scores → Alignment → Compressed Range Table? Also – perhaps an initial (brief) explanation of Knowledge and Technical derived stats would be beneficial.

    Eugenics 2: Apply Ethnic Bonuses and Special Abilities – I assume that the EXP value at the end of the entries are the amount of Experience a character of that ethnicity begins the game with, yes?

    Back to the idea of explaining some of the mechanics: by the time I'm in the point-buy system, I'm receiving some details of what Fight Dice, Dodge Pool, etc mean – but if I weren't point-buying...;)

    I'm sorry I've not more to offer right now. Will have some time this weekend to try to generate some characters and get a feel for the actual process.

  4. Greg,

    No, you are correct. There is no e-mail listed.
    --This is where I want the Feedback.
    ---Thanks! :D

    * First off: Thank you very much! :D

    * Page Numbers, and even a Table of Contents (!) is coming. Since I knew additional shuffling was on the way, as well as additions to the text, I've so far held off on them.

    * I completely agree that things are presently out of order, and poorly defined/explained.

    * The Elemental Blood mechanism is going to be expanded greatly, and the Human Eugenics either cut in half or vanished (likely cut in two).

    * The XP Cost is to model the imbalance of the Ethnicities, and when Humanoids and Monstrous Beings are written up, they too will have the XP Cost listed. Though, it is a cool idea to have each provide starting XP. I'll have to ponder some tweak on that. :D

    * OK, this Point-Design system thing was supposed to be a secondary system for those that didn't just want to use Urutsk with S&W, LL, BFRPG, what have you. But, in the process, it morphed, took most of my time, and became the portion of the text I used to define all the parts of CharGen. > sigh < My self-appointed deadline was more to ensure that I wouldn't just keep writing it and revising it as I had done with Guild Houses of Blood, the 'edition' of the game set on the Mars equivalent, Aqmlk. That had gone through four or five iterations, and at least three mechanics re-writes. Oy!
    --By releasing the documents -=early=- I presented a shoddily constructed product, but thought my Honour would perhaps lessen the fact that it was rushed. Well, that and the strength of the setting. ;)

    * Dodge Pool is likely going to expand to Dynamic Pool, and will allow for characters sacrificing the points to perform Blood Magic based on their Element, as hinted at in groakes combat example in another post.

    * Please, do not be sorry in the least! Thank you very much for suffering through the cobbled-together mechanical portion.
    --Either Random-only, or Random + Point Design both work --my Alpha (now Beta) Playtest game is 4 months strong, and players know how to continue to modify and increase their characters' powers as they gain XP. It's great from a Refereeing perspective because as long as they observe the one rule of not buying any more than one-level better in any category than their current Pacing Level, everything stays stable, and characters can either be Jacks/Jills of All Trades, or Specialists --their 'roles' in the party secured.

    * If you do generate a character with all the bells and whistles, I'd ask you to halve the Eugenics value generated in half, round-up (6 would max. at 3), and to confine it to one Ability, rather than the listed two. --That's what'll be.

    * The 'kits' or 'packaged' characters are handy NPC Retainers. ;)

    * I am especially eager to see what you come up with. :D

  5. Have you read any of the articles on this site?

    There seems to be a wealth of discussion about Gamist/Narrativist/Simulationist theory, and other stuff. I can't tell if its really profound or just really obscure. :D

    Anyway, I thought I'd mention it, in case you hadn't seen it.

  6. As usual Kyrinn's use of language goes a long way to painting a splendid picture. In this case, she chose a murky, muddy canvas. As I read, I checked my nails for caked on mud and swatted at non-existent giant flying insects nibbling at my blood or sweat. This feeling is 100% from the nature of Urutsk. The writing is fabulous. Urutsk feels full and abundant with messy life.Under World Data, Physical Description felt redundant and far less than the Introduction. Better to relabel Physical Description as Historical Description and drop the first paragraph. Vrun, Durn and Yirinn relations provides a nice decoration of culture to the meaty Introduction's physical world.

    My first foray into Character Creation started with a chuckle. Character Alignment spend paragraphs telling me what alignment is not. By the third time, I cried out, "Just tell me already!" I like the concept of Elemental Blood. As an experienced gamer I quickly surmised the effects of Blood on attributes. I did pause to ask myself, would those arcane abbreviations of Wis, Int, Dex, Pow, and Phy mean anything to a new player. I might choose to move Elemental Blood down and just before Critical Tests.Interestingly, my assumptions about abilities led me down a few false trails.

    Wisdom had a different kernel in it than I expected. The ability to judge "properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion." It is the first part which threw me, "true or right"; there are many people to claim knowledge of true or right without possessing wisdom. Mostly, I see understanding truth or rightness as possessing knowledge. The second portion fit in precisely with my expectations. I understand that wisdom is something outside of plain knowledge or experience. I would just remove, "judging properly as to what is true or right;"As I read, Pow became analogous to Strength or physical exertion. My gaming expectation was to find an attribute profiling some ethereal measurement of personal energies. Still, I think this application of power is more accurate from a physical model point of view. In our physical world, power is a measure of action and potential.

    Characteristics left me with questions. How does the secondary modifier function? I would assume that the Primary Modifier is the value of the characteristic. For instance, I have a character with a Physique ability of 13 which would give the character a Constitution of +1. But again, my expectations played inaccurate. Reading under characteristic definitions and applications brought out an interesting twist. As I understand, a characteristic has 2 values, the action and the strength of the action, primary and secondary modifier respectively.

    Eugenics table is a neat add-on to improve the 'common' stock of human. Too many RPGs label human as average, but create a host of peoples who all are far superior to humans. I am not sure I would use this table very much beyond the character creation phase; a detail already acknowledged by the author. I do like having the different human ethnicities. Humans are varied within our own world. Why not also reflect that variety among the gaming worlds? Some games do this better than others. This game is among the best. Dokirin are perhaps the strangest of the ethnicities by our world standards. While the Khark seem ideal for players who like to take breaks from playing without hampering the entire group.

    I could see the following exchange
    Player: "Karl the Khark tries to become possessed."
    Referee: "He succeeds"
    Player: "Cool, I'm going to go get a bite to eat."

    to be continued... (darn character limit)

  7. I find the Vrun most fascinating. The label of Vrun seems to only indicate a relationship to those Ancient star farers who landed on the planet to escape the 'Scourge'. I say this as the Vrun are a collection of distinct ethnicities themselves.Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Urutsk comes from the Major Skills. I had formed an early impression of Urutsk as rough survival on the surface of the planet only after the 'Scourge'. Needless to say, that indicated huge underground survival complexes were necessary during the harsh 'Scourge'. I lost this impression during the Physical Description portion of the guide. It seemed the peoples of Urutsk were forced to abandon their complexes as water tables rose and survival on the surface became a reality. Then the skills section plunges me back into the high tech world. Genetic memory for skills is fascinating. I am curious how it might play out in the low tech Urutsk environment.

    I really like the simplicity found in the basic character generation rules. There are a lot of familiar features in the optional point-based system. These detailed character creation rules are solid. I find I prefer the simpler rules. I want to roll up a character and get to playing. The optional rules are a bit of a speed bump. Perhaps if I eased into these rules during play as characters accumulate XP.

    Switching gears to the Referee's Guide, the first detail to leap off the page is the lift-shafts of the Ancients. A "tractor" beam style lift is not new, but to allow characters to move at different rates is facinating. I wonder if these Ancients had any safeguards to prevent people from running into each other while ascending/descending a lift-shaft.

    The lift-shafts saved me from my freefall. Opening doors, bending bars, and finding secrets are all integral to the average fantasy/survival RPG, a dizzying amount of detail. Taking into account the world's atmosphere and its effect on the senses is a first for me. I do wonder if fewer animals depend on hearing in Urutsk than in our world. What effect might that have on hunting?

    There are plenty of crunchy rules for surviving on Urutsk. A group could actually turn the act of survival into a mini-game within their adventures. This perception is only reinforced in the Designing Adventures section which suggests letting players explore their environment to create the adventure story.

    An intrepid gaming group may even turn the terrain into full fledged characters using the Terrain Generator to build up the details of an area. This grants a plucky referee with story hooks of ruins, hidden caches, and settlements.

    The end of page 12 and beginning of page 13 is strange. Page 12 promises 16 adventuring locations. While page 13 jumps to the timeline of Urutsk. Perhaps the timeline belongs in a different location within the Referee's Guide. I would suggest putting it into the Player's Guide.

    With that said, the sixteen locations have a tidy layout. Terrain, population, resources, major centers, capitol, and government give a quick highlight of the location. The rumors give everyone a moment to think. Are these rumors true or just your typical stories? Could the rumor hide an even more interesting truth?

    The creatures at the end of the referee guide are fascinating. I would like to see a suggested terrain for each creature as well. There is an asterix next to the fight dice of the biinderhass. No indication what that means.

    Mephan are intriguing. I would love to learn more of the author's view of elementals. With the expanded bloods, I am curious about the behavior of the added elements like glass and void. Nielum are downright creepy. Very appropriate for a Cthulhu style adventure.

    Xarj Scout just gives me more questions. What are the warriors like? What happens when the queen is slain? Are there Xarj workers? In a small way I want to make the Shorrannin the queens.

    I admit I don't get Yrmohved. Are riders affected by the steed's ability? They are strange having no head, four arms, and four legs.

  8. Notes:

    The page discrepancy (p. 12/13) in the Ref's guide will be addressed.

    The asterisk in the creature section is explained: Each indicates a Special Ability, Attack, Defence, etc., which then increases the XP (AP, what hav you)-value of the creature.

    Yrmohved-riders are affected by the shadowform.

  9. Hello, I've only gotten up to the start of character creation and I have these general observation/critiques:

    1. I really like the general shape and tone of the introduction. Doing a 2nd person POV / breaking the fourth wall in a structured manner while giving the broad strokes and some details about how the world is similar and different to our own is very well done, with minor quibbles about a number of stumbling blocks that draw me out of the flow;
    2. Layout issues: is this going to be printed out? If so, I think you may want to play with the margins so that you can go closer to the edges while keeping the space needed for the binding by messing around with the settings for... Word? InDesign?
    3. Layout issues: i'm so tempted to cut & paste my copy into word so I can mess around with the stylesheets and pagination and the column settings with the dividing bar and make it easier to read and add a header and footer with 'breadcrumbs' to give people a sense of where they are -- primarily because I am one of those people who doesn't read an RPG in sequence and jump around from section to section;
    4. I love the little details on pronunciation -- hell, I love the details overall! The world seems really fleshed out, though since I'm only at character creation, I have yet to see if the detail ultimately adds to the gaming experience.
    5. If I succumb to re-layouting things, I shall drop you a line so I can send you a copy before I delete it from my HD.

    Hope to finish the rest of the book soon!

  10. Please feel free to re-organise a copy, and I'll host the file for public download.

    I look forward to your corrections and re-distributions.

    Thank you, :)

  11. Greeting:

    I play the 3 characters in UWoM, the last being O"sil the Vrun mutant. I find that UWoM is a wonderfully created RPG because your character persona is really only limited by its Blood. Players can remake them as they please.

    First and for most for your up coming Happy B Day Timeshadows. "May you live long to game!". Meeting you and playing UWoM has been the highlight of every week since we started gaming.

    As you may have been reading O'sil journey has been infused with a greatness, gifted by the Lady Arctice. Patrona of all the Frost bloods. Along with the fact that she is almost as cold hearted as her patrona. The Frost amulet and Frost short sword given her have been very useful to the quest given her. O'sil greatly desires to fulfill her ladies mission and further the cause of the frost on Urusk. even if it may cost O'sil life and limb and she now hold a great resentment against those that dare fool her into their naughty ad devious plans, O'sil will is unwavering when it come to disruptive the plans of those that have cheated her by making her lose time and flesh in her mission. That Squid will die for this treachery! And so will the head of the false worm be cut of from all the Bloods, ever to float between the them, with no where to be.

  12. I love the dust of my ancient ancestors. It is the source of my mutations, and it feels very good too. As I wait for the landing of this small cramped shuttle, I begin to think with my Aelbaan minds within my changed form, of the recent past. I ask my many selves, while looking out of one of the viewing stations on deck Ewau-4. “Why do they fear me so, or is it that they fear something themselves, because they are so scared to take chances like I have”. What shall become of them, if I remove my protection? The Void blood calls me on with greater vision now than ever. Let comprehend how they behave with their next trails.

  13. I know there is a way back to Urutsk, I think O'syl Pagoda grinder may hold the keys to multi-dimensional time travel.