I got dungeon fever

edited March 2009 in Story Games
So, I was working on this idea, but then I started thinking, "Man, I haven't played a party dungeoncrawl in years." And I started remembering all the fun times I had back in those days, with my crazy homemade system and our even crazier homebrew setting, and all the mercenary looting, backstabbing, plotting, and ultraviolence that went on. And now I want to redesign that game, with, y'know, a system that works and doesn't require a calculator (it worked back then, but required a calculator).

And then this happened:

PHILOSOPHY OF DUNGEONS

MOOD
The mood of a dungeon needs to be weird, creepy, oppressive, and hostile. The players should feel like the dungeon has a mind of its own, and it’s out to get their characters.

ORIGIN
Dungeons don’t have to come from anywhere. They’re just there, being what they are. If there is any explanation at all for why a dungeon exists, it should be vague and creepy.

MONSTERS
Monsters should be rare, frightening, and truly dangerous. When a monster shows up, the players and their characters should be having an Oh Shit moment.

Monsters don’t come in species. There is no such thing as “a hydra.” There might be such a thing as a unique, horrible being with numerous regenerating heads, named Hydra.

RIVALS
The PCs aren’t the only treasure hunters out there. Sometimes you will run into others. Is there ever enough treasure for both expeditions?* Better wreck ‘em.

*If you answered “yes,” shut up and go home. Pansy.

DANGER
Since monsters are rare, and rivals are not a given, danger comes primarily from the dungeon itself. Think beyond traps. Traps are there because somebody set them: either rivals, or long-ago denizens. Otherwise, think of how the environment can be dangerous. Collapsing ceilings; crevices; horrible thorns; fire; gas leaks; radiation; whatever.

DENIZENS
Every now and then, there might be sentient-types living in a dungeon. This should be ultra-rare and also kinda freaky. The players should, upon realizing the fact, be left saying, “My God, they were living down here?” That’s a.) how horrible dungeons should be, such that the thought of living in them is crazy-talk, and b.) how degenerate and depraved anyone living in a dungeon should be.

STRUCTURE
A dungeon should not be a linear sequence of encounters and challenges. It should be a solid environment for the PCs to move around in and interact with freely. Given a choice between two doors, the GM better have something different ready (or easily rolled from charts) behind each door.

RISK
The business of a dungeoneer is sussing out risk, comparing it to prospective reward (and data on this subject may be lacking), and making decisions accordingly. Risk and reward should both be present. The GM shouldn’t worry about whether they’re balanced. It’s the players’ jobs to decide whether taking the expedition deeper or quittin while they’re ahead is the best course of action. And they might very well be wrong. Tough, better luck next time.

PROVISIONS
It matters what the PCs bring with them. #1 cause of dungeoneer death: starvation.

PCs have only what they can carry. If you don’t have a place to put it, you can’t carry it. Sometimes you have to choose between things like food, tools, and armaments, and the Gold.

CHALLENGES
The players should periodically be faced with puzzles and challenges. How do we get this safe open? How do we get across this chasm? How can I reach that thing hanging from the ceiling?

These should be open-ended whenever possible, or at least have multiple solutions. The GM may prep an easy way, concealed behind hints that the players might catch onto or not (and if they don’t figure out, then they don’t). But no key hunts. If a door’s locked, and you don’t have the key, you knock it down.

RIDDLES
I lied. Rarely, a puzzle should be posed that has only one right answer. It should be mystifying and weird, and it should yield great rewards. How do I open this box that mysteriously won’t break? Expose it to the light of the full moon. Keep such riddles rare, and never make them required; they’re like a bonus thing. There should be clues to these, but they should be hidden and/or enigmatic so that only thorough and/or clever players will catch on.

...and then this happened:
CLASS LIST
MUSCLE & KILLERS
Bruiser
Carver
Daredevil
Junk Knight
Maddog
Shootist
Tank

MAGICIANS & MYSTICS
Changer
Cooler
Helter-Skelter
Gloomdoll
Reader
Root Doctor
Scarecrow
Stringman
Tattooist
Tripper

TECHNICIANS & SPECIALISTS
Archaeologist
Croaker
Hustler
Gearhead
Sawbones
Trapster
Wheelman
Yegg

VERSATILE / OTHER
Drifter
Hardcase
Gambler
Snake Eater


...and I don't know what I'm gonna do with any of it yet. But, man, does it sound like fun.
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Comments

  • You have great atmosphere going here. Can't wait to see what comes of it.
  • So, you're a company of adventurers. You explore dungeons for a living, and occasionally take merc contracts. But, like, every job, half of your staff gets killed. So you have to hire new ones. And you've got to try to keep the company in the black.

    Lotsa character death. Needs quick chargen, mostly random. I don't think you'll get to choose your class, 'cause they won't be balanced. You'll get one randomly, and you'll just have to do your best. And, of course, take jobs appropriate to the company's range of abilities.
  • RyRy
    edited March 2009
    Ooh! Ooh! You get your class based on the randomly available adventurers at the Tavern.

    "Ye Olde Recruitment Pit of Alcoholism and Desperation."
  • edited March 2009
    I love it. :) Especially with the monsters being unique and rare, you've got some this sort of Lovecraftian-horror mixed with hack-and-slash vibe going on here. The mechanics will definitely be tricky, I would love to see a relatively minimalist system, maybe along the lines of Red Box Hack or Storming the Wizard's Tower (they come to mind because I've been looking at them lately). Dungeon creation should probably be the focus of the game, with a detailed (but still simple/elegant) system for defining rooms, corridors, monsters, loot, etc. It would also be cool to have support for GM-less and/or random dungeon creation, though it would be hard to work puzzles and riddles into the mix. That's getting in to board game territory, however (not that that's necessarily a bad thing).
  • Well shit, I've had dungeon fever too, probably sparked by all the D&D nostalgia RPG forums are dripping with nowadays (I never played D&D or anything similar so my nostalgia is an illusion, or possibly origins from the board game Dungeonquest). So me and a friend got determined to draw half a dungoen each and fill it with the most annoying, random shit imaginable. Many random unfair deahts. I think what I really want from this is something I've never managed by emulate in roleplaying games and rarely happens in computer games and sometimes gets done right in movies: characters succeeding because they are so damn good at what they do. I dont mean people killing a bunch of people because they are the best swordsmen ever but actually leaving their skills transparent making their actions kind of no brainers but they keep doing them right over and over. I love when people play sniper types in my games because I secretly wish they portray themselves as immensly skilled through narration about shit like looking at the vegetation and turning their sun bleached clothes inside out to better match the color.

    So basically, I want the players to go through a bunch of characters and slowly learn to recognize patterns and small quirks in the dungeon to gradually survive better. Like: potions have consistent effects based on color but the players don't know which colors are poison and which are healing before trying them.

    From your earlier Bonedogs posts I suspect you want the same thing.
  • The "company" idea is exactly the concept of John Nephew's board game Tomb. (Sorry, that's TOMB.) Pricey but worth a look if you're committed.
  • Mike R., get out of my head! What're you, a Lvl 10 Reader?
    Yeah, I'm thinking a very simple system, with everything based on roll-under attributes. You've got skills, but they don't have scores; they just allow special actions, and/or bonuses. All bonuses are in the form of re-rolls.

    Posted By: KripplerSo basically, I want the players to go through a bunch of characters and slowly learn to recognize patterns and small quirks in the dungeon to gradually survive better. Like: potions have consistent effects based on color but the players don't know which colors are poison and which are healing before trying them.
    Yeah, that! Except, I want them to also be constrained by their characters' scope of ability and knowledge. That's gonna be a tough balance to strike.
    Posted By: Ryan StoughtonOoh! Ooh! You get your class based on the randomly available adventurers at the Tavern.

    "Ye Olde Recruitment Pit of Alcoholism and Desperation."
    Yeah! Except, I'm going for a sort of modern or postapocalypso vibe. More postapocalypso than anything, I guess, but without any explanation at all.
  • So...
    ...there's oldTech, which is all the machines and guns and shit left behind from, uh, whatever happened. These are really effective, but when they break down, repairing and replacing them is hard. Plus, most folks don't remember how to use this stuff.
    Then there's homeTech, which is what people make these days, themselves. This stuff is relatively ineffective, and unreliable.
    And then there's masterTech, which is what people make these days who know what they're doing. This stuff is effective (not as much as oldTech), reliable, and hella expensive.

    So, this is where the Archaeologists come in. They're not only the guys who can tell if the statue you found is a priceless artifact or worthless junk, but they're also the guys who can identify, operate, and (combined with other skills) repair oldTech. Combine an Archaeologist with a Shootist in the same company, and you're cooking with gas: the Archaeologist sets up the Shootist with an oldTech revolver.
  • edited March 2009
    The "company" idea is exactly the concept of John Nephew's board game Tomb. (Sorry, that's TOMB.) Pricey but worth a look if you're committed.

    You mean John Zinser's board game TOMB?
  • This is cool stuff, Marshall. I could see this working really well as a little Dogma game (GHOST/ECHO style) with your evocative setting elements and a really simple resolution mechanic attached.
  • Thanks, John. What's GHOST/ECHO?
  • G/E is a two-page game experiment I made recently. Here's the SG thread about it, with a link to the PDF.
  • WHOA. That is cool.
    There's no way that this particular thing will fit on two pages, but less than 10 is a definite possibility.

    ...although, wait, what if you had a character sheet for each class, with all of its special rules & abilities printed right on there for easy reference?


    Also, John, how did you go about searching for the artwork in GHOST/ECHO? I mean, is there a trick to it? 'Cause I have a hard time finding the sorts of pictures I'm looking for, when making onesheets and stuff.
  • So...
    What if PCs don't level up, but the company does instead? And this opens up access to new resources?
    What if some of the classes and skills are locked to begin with, and you have to unlock them by leveling up the company?
  • edited March 2009
    A character sheet for each class with all of its rules = WIN. I'm working on a project now that's in that form (the game text is nothing but 'character sheets') and it seems to work well.

    For art, I've been keeping a morgue of images for years. I have a huge collection culled from the Web. I switch to cover flow view and just scroll through them, pulling out anything that clicks with what I'm working on. They're just for inspiration usually, but for something like G/E that I'm giving away, I figured it was okay to use found art in the final thing.

    For me, it's important to have a huge pool of imagery to view and then just have them sort of stream by, letting stuff 'pop out' on its own. Looking for an exact image to illustrate a specific thing is much, much harder.

    conceptart.org is an excellent starting point.
  • You totally need Sanity rules. I'm not kidding.

    Also, I suggest making the backdrop setting not quasi-medieval-heroic-fantasy, to get rid of D&D-related habits and not have people approach it as just another power fantasy "princess game".
  • Posted By: John HarperFor art, I've been keeping a morgue of images foryears. I have a huge collection culled from the Web. I switch to cover flow view and just scroll through them, pulling out anything that clicks with what I'm working on. They're just for inspiration usually, but for something like G/E that I'm giving away, I figured it was okay to use found art in the final thing.
    Huh. That's actually a really good idea. I don't know why I haven't thought of it, given that I do exactly the same thing, but with words, to help me write lyrics.

    Speaking of "morgue"...
    What if, at the morgue, they have this crazy serum that they can inject into dead guys and resurrect them? But it's hella expensive. Plus, you have a limited amount of time after death in which you can do this. It's like a... Rot Clock. Yeah.

    "Shit, my Maddog is dead! I liked this one. Guys, you'll take him to the morgue, right?"
    "Dude, he's, like, heavy. We'd rather carry this gold."
    "Aw, come on."
    "Hey, if you hadn't caught my Archaelogist in that blast radius last time, maybe. But, noooo, you just had to throw a grenade in a 10x10 room."
  • Posted By: rafuYou totally need Sanity rules. I'm not kidding.
    Yeah! I'm thinking that you've got a score called Nerve, and it can be "hit" by gore and horror and freaky shit, and if it hits zero you either become a whimpering wreck, or you totally go left.

    Also, I suggest making the backdrop settingnotquasi-medieval-heroic-fantasy, to get rid of D&D-related habits and not have people approach it as just another power fantasy "princess game".
    Oh, hell yeah. Like, the "dungeons" that I'm thinking of are abandoned skyscrapers and stuff.
  • CLASS LIST, with some explanations

    MUSCLE & KILLERS
    Bruiser - this guy is good at beating people up with his bare hands. He's also good at taking a punch.
    Carver - this guy is good at cutting people up with edged weapons. He's fast and has a high damage output, but not so hot on defense.
    Daredevil - this guy has suicidal tendencies. He does crazy stunt attacks, and gets bonus damage when he hurts himself.
    Junk Knight - kinda like a DnD fighter, plus gadgets.
    Maddog - this guy is best with improvised and unconventional weapons (like chainsaws). Plus, he's on drugs. Depending on whether he's more sneaky or more beefy, he's either like the main guy from the video game Manhunt 2, or he's like the Tremor Bros. in Smokin' Aces.
    Shootist - gun specialist. Quickdraws and trickshots. Not a gunslinger. It's like the difference between a lion and a tiger. A dead tiger.
    Tank - big dude, with a big weapon, covered in plate steel. Put him in front and point him at the enemy.

    MAGICIANS & MYSTICS
    Changer - this guy changes into animals. But, like, only partially. Like, he changes his jaw to a crocodile's jaw, and his hands to bear claws, and his skin to rhino hide.
    Cooler - this guy shuts down magic. It's what the technical types call abjuration. Practical types call it cooling.
    Helter-Skelter - this guy does the kind of magic that blows shit up.
    Gloomdoll - this guy does magic with death and darkness and whatnot. Angst optional, androgyny required.
    Reader - this guy gets into people's heads. He can punch them in the mind while he's there, or he can share wounds to help hurt buddies. Sometimes he gets stuck, so be careful.
    Root Doctor - this guy makes potions and stuff out of herbs and parts of chickens and such.
    Scarecrow - ....uh, I don't actually remember what I had in mind for this.
    Stringman - this guy does magic by playing musical instruments. Like Erich Zann, but a badass.
    Tattooist - his tattoos are magical. But they have to be showing to work, so no armor for you.
    Tripper - this guy does magic by doing drugs.

    TECHNICIANS & SPECIALISTS
    Archaeologist - specialist on oldTech, and appraising artifacts
    Croaker - a doctor, with emphasis on pharmaceuticals. Good partners with a Maddog or Tripper.
    Hustler - good at the business end of things. Sells treasure for better profit, gets better contracts.
    Gearhead - builds and repairs shit. Good partners with a Junk Knight or Wheelman.
    Sawbones - a doctor, with emphasis on surgery. Good at setting bones, pulling bullets, and other essentials.
    Trapster - good at setting and disarming traps.
    Wheelman - good at driving. Because sometimes you have to make a getaway, and/or ram somebody off the highway.
    Yegg - this guy is good at picking locks, cracking safes, climbing to second stories, and all that.

    VERSATILE / OTHER
    Drifter - ...uh, I don't really remember what this was either.
    Hardcase - this guy is like Harry Callahan, Bob Lee Swagger, and Roland of Gilead (except, not as good with guns; that's Shootist territory). He's just an all-around badass, who can stare down anyone.
    Gambler - this guy takes his chances. There's gonna be some kind of Risk mechanic, and he'll get to do cool stuff with it.
    Snake Eater - like a ranger, except with whiskey, cigarettes, and gunpowder on his breath.
  • edited March 2009
    Great stuff. This project needs a badass name.

    I'm guessing that everyone plays a company-member who actually goes into the dungeon, as well as maybe a support character or two. Like Root Doctors, Gearheads, and Hustlers probably don't go poking around in the dark bad places, yeah?

    I think a Scarecrow is maybe an ascetic that gains power by denying the flesh in various ways.

    Have you seen Apocalypse World? Vincent is playing in this sandbox, too (sans magic, mostly). It's interesting to see the overlaps.
  • edited March 2009
    Seeing such a long list of "classes" makes me want to multi-class. Specifically, to pick any two of those and combine them. Possibly with a "Primary class vs. Auxiliary class" choice affecting the outcome. And I'd like that to be the only one mechanical choice or determination whatsoever when making a new character. Talk quick and dirty chargen.

    Edit: to clarify, I mean like this:

    "Dude, I'm gonna play an Archaelogist/Daredevil(*)!" (sums up a bunch of stats and writes them down). "I'll call him Joe Smith and (some mechanically not-relevant talk, totally optional)". End of chargen.

    (* NOT the same as a Daredevil/Archaelogist.)
  • edited March 2009
    Posted By: John HarperI think a Scarecrow is maybe an ascetic that gains power by denying the flesh in various ways.
    Oooooh! That's good!

    As for support guys going into dungeons... I kinda like the idea of them going in. I mean, a Gearhead is good to have around the very moment that your home-made power armor shuts down; you don't want to have to wait 'til you get home.

    The Hustler's really the only one who wouldn't be much use in a dungeon; he's only good at one thing (but it's something that no one else is good at), and it ain't survival. But I kinda like that, too. It carries a sort of Cities of Brass vibe.
    And maybe he could have some tactical ability, using the same acumen that makes him good at business?

    I haven't looked at Apocalypse World yet. But I've noticed that Vincent and I seem to drink from the same well on a lot of things.
  • edited March 2009
    Raffaele, that's how chargen works in a game I'm working on. You combine two sheets to make your character. Psychic + Daredevil (yeah, I have Daredevils, too), Atomic Commando, Robot Detective, etc. It works well for that game, and I can see it working here, too.

    I totally want to play the Carver Tattooist! Not to mention the Bruiser Cooler, punching the magic out of people.
  • upon reading, I thought Scarecrow was going to be an illusionist-phantasmist dude who scares the crap out of whatever you encounter.
  • edited March 2009
    You know? When I read this thread's title I somehow thought that it would include some new lyrics to Buckner & Garcia's Pac-Man Fever. Cool thread, anyway. :)

    Sorry for the detour.

    Dungeon fever... dungeon fever...
  • Damn this looks awesome. I especially love the class names. They're so evocative...and the setting. It's great. I can just see a bunch of people running into some abandoned mall-turned dungeon and wasting their last three bullets firing at some kind of golem made out of manequins, when all the sudden another player taps them on the shoulder and they turn around and get a blast of magical death. To the face.

    The more I think about it the more awesome it gets...and it doesn't even have any rules yet!
  • Dave, let's combine them! The Scarecrow denies the needs of the flesh for power (getting rail thin and creepy) so he can create illusions to scare the crap out of anything he comes across.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsMike R., get out of my head! What're you, a Lvl 10 Reader?
    Nope! Just a guy with some random ideas and whom has trouble ever putting them down on paper. However, I'm definitely eager to share. I love what you've got down here so far in terms of system and flavour, and can't wait to see how it fleshes out.

    Have you thought at all about the dungeon creation yet? I once had a discussion which made me start thinking about the possibilities of a room/encounter creation system in which every element in the room could be assigned a value and added up to fit some sort of budget. Consider D&D 4E, with traps and monsters sharing the same encounter budget, but instead include all possible interactive objects into that budget.

    e.g. This room has lit torches (1 pt), a threadbare rug (1 pt), a pressurized gas tank (5 pts), an old wooden table (3 pts), and a giant squid monster (20 pts).

    Alternatively, the non-threatening objects (torches, rugs) could be on a budget separate from the threats (monsters, traps, hazards). So the example above would be an encounter valued at 10/20, instead of just 30. This is probably the better way to do it, actually.

    This would create rooms that are both encounters and fully dynamic environments, in which the players know exactly what nearby objects they can improvise with, as they're listed out for them. Objects could also have stats of some sort, or listed ways of interacting with them. Or perhaps could just be associated with a D&D 4E "page 42"-style chart based on point value. That is, a 1pt item can be used to do about 1d6 damage, and has one "skill" at value "5" (or whatever). This way you could differentiate between a 1pt small torch and 5pt giant brazier, without having to stat every item out individually. You would just know that the item is a source of fire, easy to carry, and not particularly threatening, or it's a source of fire, hard to move, and fairly threatening.

    A system like this also lends itself well to random generation. A couple rolls could be used to generate any sort of random object, and do it a few times and you've got a room full of toys to play with.

    Anyways, it's late, and I'm rambling on here, and this may not even make any sense. Mike needs sleep.
  • Posted By: John HarperDave, let's combine them! The Scarecrow denies the needs of the flesh for power (getting rail thin and creepy) so he can create illusions to scare the crap out of anything he comes across.
    Done.
  • Posted By: John HarperDave, let's combine them! The Scarecrow denies the needs of the flesh for power (getting rail thin and creepy) so he can create illusions to scare the crap out of anything he comes across.
    Hells yeah.

    Mike,
    I want to go with mostly random dungeon generation. Like, the GM has a map (that he doesn't show to the players), and he maybe has a few notes jotted down -- mostly for things that pertain to challenges & riddles he has planned. Other than that, he just rolls on tables. Somewhere, I've got tables that I used in an older version of the Rustbelt for randomly generating objects -- one for things found in drawers and filing cabinets, one for things found in bookshelves, one for things found in closets, and so on. If only I could remember where the hell I put them.

    I don't want to do a budget, because it's too fair. I want the possibility of completely uncalled-for danger. Because, the thing is, taking what you've got so far and just getting the heck out of the dungeon is a valid move in this.
    Posted By: whiteknifeI can just see a bunch of people running into some abandoned mall-turned dungeon and wasting their last three bullets firing at some kind of golem made out of manequins, when all the sudden another player taps them on the shoulder and they turn around and get a blast of magical death. To the face.
    Yes! That's exactly what I want.
  • Speaking of bullets.
    If you've read any other game I've written, then you know that I've had a sort of hate-on for bullet-counting. But, recently, I've been playing Fallout 3, in which bullet-counting is awesome. Out of .32 rounds? Ditch the rifle, pick up this dead guy's SMG and use his 10mm rounds. You can find another rifle later. Out of bullets for everything? Bring out the baseball bat, and pray.

    So, bullet-counting is totally on for this game.

  • I don't want to do a budget, because it's too fair. I want the possibility of completely uncalled-for danger. Because, the thing is, taking what you've got so far and just getting the heck out of the dungeon is a valid move in this.
    Good point. So throw budgets to the wind and have the players hope to their respective gods that they don't encounter anything they can't handle.

    Tangent warning: Speaking of Rustbelt, I was following it for a while on the Forge, but lost track of it. Where can one find its current incarnation? I really liked the idea of always being able to succeed as long you were willing to pay for it. Perhaps a mechanic like that might actually fit into this game, as well.
  • edited March 2009
    The Rustbelt ashcan is available at the Unstore here. I'm working on the final version; it's almost done, text-wise, but I still gotta deal with illustrations and layout.

    Back to this:

    CHARACTERS NEED ATTRIBUTES THAT YOU ROLL UNDER TO...
    ...hit somebody hard.
    ...hit somebody precisely.
    ...shoot somebody.
    ...attack someone from behind.
    ...sneak.
    ...move something heavy.
    ...break things.
    ...fix things.
    ...make things.
    ...set traps.
    ...analyze things to figure out their functions.
    ...dismantle things safely/for parts.
    ...stare people down.
    ...keep your cool.
    ...avoid getting hit.
    ...make split-second reactions.
    ...do magic.
    ...notice things.
    ...steal from people.
    ...climb & scramble over things.
    ...jump over gaps.
    ...run fast.
    ...trick people.
    ...see through tricks.
    ...move while constrained/encumbered by stuff you're wearing/carrying.
    ...pick locks.
    ...luck out.

    These must be consolidated into as few attributes as possible. Question is, how to divide them?
    Balance isn't the issue here, so much as making sure that attribute spreads are possible to make each class good at what it's supposed to be good at, and bad at what it's supposed to be bad at. So, the Hustler needs to be good at tricking people, and seeing through tricks, but not necessarily good at analyzing things and noticing things, even though all of those are intelligence-type tasks.
  • edited March 2009
    I was initially going to suggest a one-to-one relationship between actions and stats, so each action was associated with one of 6 or 7 flavourful stats (such as Hurt, or Sneak, or Tinker), but I realized half-way through writing it that it doesn't quite solve the problem of the intelligence-type tasks that you mentioned.

    So, what if each action was actually associated with two stats? That is, say, for example, breaking things involved rolling under your Strength + your Intelligence (not just hitting it hard, but knowing where to hit it). That way, with only 6 stats, you would actually have 21 pseudo stats, giving you a lot more room to differentiate the classes.

    Using the traditional 6 D&D stats, you could probably assign a pair to each of your listed actions here. Or you can add some flavour to them, something like the list from Rustbelt. I'd probably go with the stats being action verbs, just for the feel of it. Something like Hurt, Sneak, Tinker, Charm, React, Think, and (some action verb for being lucky, which I can't think of at moment.)
  • edited March 2009
    Posted By: Marshall Burns
    ...hit somebody hard.
    ...hit somebody precisely.
    ...shoot somebody.
    ...attack someone from behind.
    ...sneak.
    ...move something heavy.
    ...break things.
    ...fix things.
    ...make things.
    ...set traps.
    ...analyze things to figure out their functions.
    ...dismantle things safely/for parts.
    ...stare people down.
    ...keep your cool.
    ...avoid getting hit.
    ...make split-second reactions.
    ...do magic.
    ...notice things.
    ...steal from people.
    ...climb & scramble over things.
    ...jump over gaps.
    ...run fast.
    ...trick people.
    ...see through tricks.
    ...move while constrained/encumbered by stuff you're wearing/carrying.
    ...pick locks.
    ...luck out.

    These must be consolidated into as few attributes as possible.
    Why?

    I mean, you totally have a punctually compiled list of all the needed skills, there. Why don't you just use it as is, as a skill list?
  • He's looking for simplicity. Staring at a list of a half-dozen numbers is much simpler than staring at a list of 30 numbers.
  • Why not give each class two scores (beat that for simplicity). The two scores are:

    Niche
    Ordinary

    You're niche score is 7 and your ordinary score is 5. Roll your score or under on a D10.

    Then you take that above list of things you want to include as things you can do and name some of them under each classes niche and ordinary scores.

    Example:

    Bruiser
    Niche (7): Roll niche to hit someone hard, move something heavy, break things, or move while constrained or encumbered
    Ordinary (5): Roll ordinary to do everything else a bruiser could concievably accomplish

    Ideas to ponder - GM never rolls but he may place a small modifier on the roll depending on circumstances (-1/+1 or -2/+2 in extreme cases).

    When the company levels up perhaps you could add a non-niche ability to your niche list. It must of course be specific and fit with the lists.

    The system is simple, elegant, easy to teach, and easily modified for different settings or adding new skills/classes if appropriate.
  • This is very cool. Lots of color here.

    You guys are taking the modern standard angle, which is to make a game out of it. Which is cool.

    But, you can also make pieces of a game out of the pieces of it. This is the approach I tend to take.

    Either way, Fight On! is always looking for interesting new submissions...
  • edited March 2009
    Trespass - climb, pick locks, jump over gaps, move something heavy, break things, trick someone, etc.
    Weather - do magic (endure radiation/avoid cancer), avoid getting hit, run fast, keep your cool, see through tricks, luck out, etc.
    Scavenge - notice, sneak, steal, make things, set traps, analyze things, etc.

    Let players customize which stat goes with which fighting style (hit hard, hit precise, hit from behind).
  • A budget doesn't have to be fair, it could just be proportional to the treasure. That way the competition feels more like you beat the score than just having a friendly GM.
  • edited March 2009
    So, yeah, maybe I'm coming at this wrong, and I don't need the same set of stats for all classes. Maybe each class has its own set, and each is associated with a set of actions. To do actions you don't have listed on your sheet, roll under, say, 5, on a d20.

    Maddogs could have Brutal, Relentless, Slippery, and Edgy. Roll under Brutal to attack someone, or murder someone helpless or unsuspecting, or torture someone. Roll under Relentless to take a hit, briefly ignore a crippling injury, or stay alive while mortally wounded. Roll under Slippery to escape from a fight, to hide from view, and to evade pursuit. Roll under Edgy to find a good hiding place, to find something to use as a weapon, or to notice something/someone hidden. Yeah.

    OOH, and Tattooists could have Black, Red, Blue, and Green, and each one is associated with a set of tattoos. To use the Screaming Skull tattoo on your shoulder that scares people and makes you hard to scare, roll under your Black. To use the Flaming Heart tattoo on your chest that lets you create and control fire, roll under your Red.
  • Posted By: CalithenaEither way, Fight On! is always looking for interesting new submissions...
    So, I know jack about Fight On!
    Can you elaborate? I wouldn't mind contributing, but I don't know what sort of things you're looking for.
  • Right now, I'm a big fan of listing out the actions characters can take so I'd love to see those survive somehow. Your write up for Maddog looks really good to me, Marshall.
  • So, I wrote up a whole sheet for the Maddog, using that schema.
    I'm not happy with it.

    Here's the thing: in doing this, I have to define so many maneuvers that the ones I don't define are kinda nebulous, in a "what the hell do I do if I want to toss a potion across the battlefield to my buddy?" kind of way, with no easy way to handle it. Which suggests that I define every possible move, which I don't want to do.

    The thing is, I want this to be not so much "who can manipulate the listed moves best" so much as "who can cope with the dungeon, constrained by their character's abilities, the best."

    I'm not throwing out the other idea entirely, but the unified stats are sounding good right this moment. Probably:

    Hit
    See
    Think
    Move
    Endure

    and also the sanity mechanic, whatever I decide to call it. Then each character will have exceptions, bonuses, and special rules written on its sheet.

    Oddly enough, the Maddog looks almost exactly the same this way. He's got his stats, then in all his rules, it says stuff like "Roll under Hit to murder someone helpless or unsuspecting" and "Roll under See to find a good hiding place," except there's listed bonuses for some of it.

    This way, I can also list penalties. Thus, the Hustler gets bonuses to Think when tricking/seeing through tricks and appraising everyday valuables, but penalties when analyzing devices.
  • edited March 2009
    I hear ya, Marshall. Listing every possible move would be crazy. There are other ways of handling that problem, of course.

    Broad attributes are one way. They tend to be dull. Hit, See, Think, Move, Endure is a pretty boring list. I look at that, and I don't get inspired to say cool things. To be fair, a lot of great games have boring attributes. Heart, Acuity, Body, Will. Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha. Fighting Ability, Non-Fighting Ability. Yawn.

    If you keep specific color like "find a good hiding place" and "saw off your own damaged limb" in there somewhere, then it's probably okay though. It's the gritty, cool, colorful stuff that grabs the imagination and makes us want to go raid a dungeon. That stuff should be highlighted in the mechanics, too.
  • Posted By: John Harper"saw off your own damaged limb"
    That's totally going in there somewhere.
  • Hrm. It seems to me that you've got a good setup there, Marshall. Keep the base list, and then just add "strengths" and "weaknesses" for specific edge cases for that character. So, a big bruiser-type might have Hit 5, and then +3 while slamming and grappling, so he's not quite good at shooting or being subtle. You can easily write the character flavour into his edge cases, as John mentioned. Definitely seems much more elegant than my random ideas above. :)
  • Why not have completely different mechanics for different classes? When a carver attacks he simply does damage (exploding dice so it can be infinite) and the daredevil has a roll high but under mechanic and if he isn't happy with his result he can add another dice to the roll and the trapser has a deck of cards and his traps are a series of face down cards which people have to pass through or roll vs to skip over just that he'll eventually run out of red cards (dangerous traps) so he'll have to be economic with how he sets them (or simply, a more elaborate/dangerous trap takes longer time/risk to set, lay one card per hour spent).
  • Hey Marshall, does the entirety of play take place inside dungeons? If not, what else gets played?
  • Posted By: Kripplerand the daredevil has a roll high but under mechanic and if he isn't happy with his result he can add another dice to the roll
    That was actually my plan for all the mechanics, except that all the extra dice were from bonuses.
    But exploding dice for the Carver has got to go in.

    I don't want to do things like define traps in terms of an abstract currency, though. I want to be fairly concrete about that, so that players are MacGuyvering their traps out of available materials. The Trapster's the best at it, is all. And probably doesn't have to roll to not trigger his own traps, unlike the rest of you poor saps.

    It strikes me that the problem I'm having with the character design isn't really the stats' fault; in fact, I think that both ways (individualized or unified) could work equally well. The real issue here is the moves. Of the moves that are listed on a character, which ones are only available to that class? (F'rinstance, the "murder" move is Maddog only) Of the moves that aren't listed, which ones are those that the GM just decides what stat to roll, which ones are those that you're bad at, and which ones are those that you can't do at all?
    What I need is an elegant way to handle that issue, I think.
    Posted By: David BergHey Marshall, does the entirety of play take place inside dungeons? If not, what else gets played?
    Maybe? If not all, then most. Or at least mostly in dungeons, and on the way there and back (which is where the Wheelman comes into his own -- sometimes you get there, and somebody else has already found the treasure, so you steal it, and run, and need a quick getaway).

    Any non-dungeon content would be private contracts: some guy hires you to clear out some greenies (goblins) in this old city block he just bought, so that he can renovate it; some guy hires you to rescue someone; some guy hires you to kill this dragon that's taken over the bank, using the vault as his hoard; y'know, your basic adventurer sort of stuff. Except, your characters are all totally imbalanced mentally, 'cause in this setting, nobody else would do the dungeon thing. So, they do the job, and they get back a Customer Satisfaction Survey* a day later that says "YOU FUCKHEADS BLEW UP MY BANK, KILLED SIXTEEN PEOPLE, TWO OF WHICH I HIRED TO GO WITH YOU, AND ONE OF WHICH YOU ATE! NO, I'M NOT SATISFIED!" But, hey, you've got his money already.

    The more I think about it, the more I realize that this game is about having a shit job, but being the only person who's good at it, and being proud of that and pissed about it at the same time.

    *I'm totally going full-bore with the whole company idea.
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