2008-06-30 : A Really Good Weekend

1. Everybody should see WALL-E, but J? You should especially see WALL-E.

2. I have written the ultimate social conflict rules. They're for Storming the Wizard's Tower. They let you roll dice to seize social power over your opponent, but without disrupting the natural conversation. In fact they enhance the natural conversation, they don't impose formalism onto it the way Dogs in the Vineyard's dice do, and they don't cut it short the way lots of other social conflict resolution rules do. Also they handle NPCs' lying better than Dogs in the Vineyard does, while nevertheless showcasing the characters' psychologies. Furthermore they're lightweight, in fact one of the lightest weight subsystems in the game. They may be portable to other games, I dunno, but they fit into Storming the Wizard's Tower like it had a hole in it just their shape.

Don't ask what they are! It's a secret. I'll tell you soon.

3. We spent all day yesterday at the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown NY. We are weary but happy. They have a working small-batch print shop there with these great old hand-cranked hand-set printing presses, and I think I'm in love.

4. I'm not going to get punched in the eye! Probably. I guess there's still time for me to screw it up.

1. On 2008-06-30, Warren said:

Ooh, ultimate social conflict rules... Can't wait!


2. On 2008-06-30, Vincentt said:

Ha ha ha! No eye punching for me! Ha ha!


3. On 2008-07-01, Moreno R. said:

After this, you are going to be punched in the eye if you don't publish Storming The Wizard Tower very soon...  ;-)

About IAWA... did you upgrade the pdf edition, too?


4. On 2008-07-01, Vincent said:

Good catch. I'll upgrade the PDFs this weekend, it takes some processing to make them all.


5. On 2008-07-01, Arturo G. said:

Sorry to be late! What is the premise of Storming the Wizard's Tower?


6. On 2008-07-01, Vincent said:

Storming the Wizard's Tower is the fantasy adventure game I've been learning how to design for all these years.

It's so fun. In our latest adventure the PCs made the trek up the river to the Hillclans' highlands. Something had disrupted the Hillclans' trade with the PCs' hometown and everybody was suffering for it. It turns out that one of the Hillclan kings had taken their feuding too far and summoned the Goddess of Vengeance (in reality a 10xp [which is a lot for first level] monster, fire & flesh, aligned with the spirit world). They beat her, but only because I haven't learned how to play monsters' powers in combination effectively yet. The next monster they meet with a Drain Command + Frighten or a Drain Perception + Stealth combo, they're SCREWED.

Anyhow they beat the Goddess of Vengeance, united Thargood's clan with Breka's, and became its adopted heroes. For treasure they won the ability to create Hillclan characters.

Oops, I got distracted telling you about our game and now I have to go. I'll tell a little bit about the game's rules next time.


7. On 2008-07-01, Vincent said:

The history of the game is, I was playing D&D (Moldvoy ed. 1980 Basic D&D, "blue book" I think that is) with my kids and some neighbor kids, and it was fun, but there were these couple of places where ruleswise I thought maybe I could do better. So I started tweaking it and pretty soon I just threw up my hands and decided to make a new game. In grand tradition! It's oldschool D&D my way.

Elizabeth was telling me about her D&D game, where the characters fell through a hole into Atlantis, "as happens in D&D." I said that Storming the Wizard's Tower is the OTHER kind of D&D, where the town's miners are refusing to work because something down in the mine killed one of them and bit another one's leg off, so the priest and the two violent guys go down there to sort it out.

So it's got, you know, classes, levels, alignments, 6 stats, no skills but some special abilities. None of them work quite like D&D's - for instance, individual characters improve at their own rates, but the group levels up as a whole, individual characters don't; the special abilities are linked to the stats not the classes; alignments are to magical forces, so for the most part only wizards and priests have them, otherwise people are unaligned; stuff like that.

Kind of like Trollbabe, as the group levels up the scale of the game changes. The levels have names:
Level 1: Fighting Monsters
Level 2: Storming the Wizard's Tower
Level 3: Slaying Dragons
Level 4: Defending the Realm

Level 4 is still pretty notional to me, it may not survive the design process. Levels 1 and 2 are solid and level 3 is coming together nicely in my head.

The seed for the game was its monster creation rules. You can read about them here: With combined race and class, choose from 7 unique character types! (Although there aren't still 7, now there are only 4 to start, and you have to win more as treasure.)

The dice work broadly like Sorcerer's by way of Poison'd, with setup rolls giving you bonus dice for combat or other followthrough. So, for instance, Sebastian's ranger character has the perception ability "wild instincts." Going into battle, Sebastian rolls his character's perception to get a read on the situation, and that roll's successes turn into bonus attack or defense dice. As in Sorcerer, this creates a fun momentum in play, with the cascading rolls leading and following the cascading action.

And like I say the social conflict rules are fantastic. Whether they'll serve games that aren't this kind of lightweight tactical high-imagined-content adventure gamism, I don't know, but for this game they're sweet.

Uh. So there's a bunch of stuff about it. It's my current favorite project, so if you want to know more, yay! Ask away.


8. On 2008-07-01, Vincent said:

...In fact everything I say in that Forge thread is obsolete, to greater or lesser degree, except the monster creation rules.


9. On 2008-07-01, Brand Robins said:

I was so looking forward to punching you in the eye. Now my Canada Day beer will be flat and without meaning.


10. On 2008-07-01, Vincent said:

You and Joshua, man.

Hey, come over tonight. I'm making pie as a consolation prize for J, you can have some too. You can make the trip on short notice, yeah?


11. On 2008-07-01, Ryan Stoughton said:

Damn.  I was hoping to punch you in the eye too... I figured that'd be a great way to break the ice in person.  I guess I'll have to wait for Dreamation '09. Sigh...

Any kind of changelog for the upgraded .pdfs?  Did enough change to warrant reprinting?


12. On 2008-07-02, jessecoombs said:

IAWA got upgraded? What's the difference?


13. On 2008-07-02, Arturo G. said:

I like a lot the list-based creation mechanisms in Poison'd. They give you some fictional content at the same time that you get a score. The mosters creation sounds neat and really flexible.
The group-level rocks, it worked like a charm in Trollbabe. I also think that for the kind of game you are describing I only 4 levels is more appropriate (Are there rules for upgrading the group level, or is it going up by consensus?). Leaving also the door open for personal improvement keeps some of the old-shool feeling, good. Special abilities linked to the stats, of course! A list of them, or a creation mechanism for your own abilities?

I'm interested in the GM part. I assume one of the design goals is still making it incredible easy. You say that the content of the Forge thread is mainly obsolete. Are there still things similar to the Cruel Fortunes for the GM? Can you tell us more?

Am I asking too much?


14. On 2008-07-02, Vincent said:

Jesse: Nope! It got reprinted, with some very minor corrections to the text, mostly usage corrections. I think the biggest change is that I added two sentences about "follow the logic of the particular strength." It's absolutely not a new edition or even close to one.


15. On 2008-07-02, Vincent said:

Arturo: There are rules for levelling up. "The group goes up to level 2 as soon as all of the following apply: ..."

Cruel fortunes, nope, not anymore. It turned out that everything I'd think would make a cruel fortune, instead it fit nicely into monster creation. So now it's all monster creation instead. Traps are monsters, difficult terrain is monsters, it's all monsters.

For level 1, creating an adventure just means sketching a rough map and making some linked monsters. In our game so far the monsters have been 1) a mine serpent, the mine spirits it enslaved, and the toxic pools it layed its eggs in; 2) a breeding pair of mountain drakes and the cliffs they were nesting on; and 3) the Goddess of Vengeance, the Hillclan warriors, and the clan kings. So it's still incredibly easy, yes. It takes me 10-15 minutes to prep an adventure.


16. On 2008-07-02, Arturo G. said:

So, you call monsters to every danger or thing that may create an opposition, and the monster-creation system works for everything. Cool! I can imagine now how the prep is done.

Is linking monsters a master's prep. work, or is it also somehow ruled?
Are there modifications to interact with a monster when you have previously interacted with a linked one?


17. On 2008-07-03, Judd said:

I have no desire to punch you in the eye.

Wall*E was fantastic.  I saw it the night I read this post, juggling a few possibilities and I was glad I chose this one.  I will likely see it again with Janaki this weekend.

I can't wait to play Storming the Wizard's Castle.


18. On 2008-07-04, Matt Wilson said:

Meredith and I saw Wall-E last night and way dug it.


19. On 2008-08-04, Erik Weissengruber said:

Dang!  i thought storming the wizard's tower would be the implementation of a functional pseudo-Ars Magica game about wizard


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