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Friday, May 4, 2012

Where has she gone? SALT?

I'm over at Google+ most of the time.  I'm running five nights a week, or more.  I'm in friends' games, including Reed Decker's Boot Hill, Ghost orbit, Carousel Delta, and likely soon, Full Clock.

Porphyry is still in the art/layout phase, and three passes of proofreading/editing later, there are sections I'm still [not] thrilled with, but had to let it go.  I'm anxious about it being in print in my hand before the North Texas RPG Con aeroplane trip, but I intend on having something printed up, even if it is an 'ashcan' edition, as it were.

After Rob Kuntz and Reed both urged me to push Vanguard back to rear-burner priority, I've once again picked up the Urutsk RPG development gauntlet, and am honestly feeling a bit daunted.  No one really seems to want innovation, they want familiarity.  I'm seemingly stuck catering to folks who want LabLord or whatever as the basis of the game engine, and everything operating as extensions of the four (three!) original classes, etc. Frankly, that really deflates my interest.

So, instead, I've been playing a lot of games that have zer0 to do with the D&Ds, and loving every minute of it.

So, anyway, there's this SALT system Jeffrey Osthoff, Duke Barclay, Michael Henry, Reed, and I have used to run games as diverse as a Car Wars-type game to outre Supers style, to mythic China, far future, etc.  It has a super small initial footprint, but its extensibility is profound, allowing any degree of customisation off the main trunk.

It operates on a bell-curve (which I prefer), has no maximum or minimum scores, and could easily accommodate polyhedrals instead of only d6.  One of my favourite sessions was running an infiltration of a remote jungle base in search of the mcguffin, and ran really smoothly in both abstracted operations and in action-by-action modes.

Osthoff liked it enough to propose using it as the basis of his ALLTERRA Multi-setting/Multi-GM collective.  It seems easy enough to translate characters into from virtually any game, and really calls to attention the over reliance upon rolling that many systems seem to operate on to define how they differ from each other.  Since the rolls in SALT are all the same sort, with the possible exception of adding in another stat to the result, the ubiquity of rolling quickly becomes droll.  This could be seen as a failing, but I've instead seen it as a great success.  It truly illustrates how much more GM/Player exchange does, in fact, drive all of our RPGs, and not just the New School talk-it-ups.

Simply gauging the numbers and the averages, a GM could easily eliminate 50% or more of the sorts of mundane rolls that clutter up any given hour of any sort of session.  Now, I hear OSRites grumbling that they enjoy the chaos of falling through weak floors, picks getting stuck in locks, etc.  I hear you, believe me, that's why the rolls can still be made.  GMs may still roll to all get out and screw the PCs over as much as they please, but the curve is so regular that it really is only the Doubles Add a Die (DAD), Snake-Eyes & Box-Cars rules that make much of a difference.

Anyway, I'm likely to release it to the public, free and clear, and then all'y'all can do with it what you want, or not, as it suits you.  Stay tuned.