2014-12-28 : Freebooting Venus - First Look

A hundred million years ago, Venus was not the toxic hell that it is today. It was a world green and blue, alive, Terra's sister. Freebooting Venus is fun, freewheeling fantasy adventure on this ancient and marvelous world.

I'm running internal playtests now, and while the game isn't ready for external playtesting, I do want to give you a first look, if you're interested.

Freebooting Venus - First Look

1. On 2014-12-28, Judd said:

"Do not talk about Fight Club"

I see a lot of new faces in the crowd tonight, which means some of you have been breaking the rules.

That is what I think of when I read, "DO NOT PLAY" on Freebooting Venus.


2. On 2014-12-28, Tom said:

One thing that was unclear on first read-through was how you rolled more dice for spell exceptions the higher your spell rating is.  That seemed like a bad thing until I saw that you got to pick which die out of the pool would be used to generate the exception (rather than each die gives an exception) and I saw that "exceptions" can be good.  Maybe don't call them exceptions? 

The other quick question is that a spell can be unsettled to the point where it goes away.  But just because you blew out your magic missile spell book there are still other magic missile spell books which will work for other casters, correct?  Also, you can get a new spell book and try again, correct?  Because while I'm jazzed about the idea of a spell getting pissed off cause one idiot kept casting it wrong, that'll be a quick end to magic.


3. On 2014-12-28, Joao said:

exceptions can be good or bad

or something completely diffrent, they just don't conform interely to the norm, by definition. The numenclature is fine by me.


4. On 2014-12-29, Patrick said:

Alright, so what's all this about an accountant? Does it have to do with your debts? I'm kind of dying to know.


5. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:

Accountants are hilariously good!

When you retain an accountant, whenever you subsequently examine your unexamined treasure, roll 3 dice and choose one instead of rolling 2 dice.

You retain your accountant's services until either (a) you choose to go into debt, or (b) you choose to spend your treasure on a time of high living.

The GM creates your accountant as an NPC, of course.


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This makes...
PB go "Accountants are judgy!"*
VB go "Hahaha!"*

*click in for more

6. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:

Tom: On exceptions: The balance of good exceptions vs bad exceptions is something I'm playing with for every spell that I write. It's fun.

On unsettling your spells: Correct. You can ruin your own spell tablet, but all the other wizards' spell tablets all still work.

It's possible that the Wizardry skill will allow you to resettle a spell to a tablet even if it's been unsettled to 0. My notes are ambiguous and I haven't yet made my ruling.

There's more to say about this, but believe it or not an NDA prevents me.


7. On 2014-12-29, Alex D. said:

For examining treasure, you note: "Any roll: enough for a time of high living, generosity, and extravagance, and the opportunity to indulge in it."; it's not clear whether this is instead of the roll or in addition.

- Alex


8. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:

Alex: After you roll, no matter what you rolled, instead of what you rolled, you can choose to spend your treasure on a time of high living.


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This makes...
AD go "That makes sense!"*

*click in for more

9. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:

I sometimes give terse answers, but it's never because I'm impatient with the questions! Your questions really help me a lot. I invite any questions anybody's got.


10. On 2014-12-29, Summerdown said:

This seems a really cool game. I love the ghost state, but is that the end, or is there a way to come back from being a ghost?

I also love the different types of experience, too. Presumably, given the number of dots in the experience bit, to get the most experience from marriage, you'd have to marry someone rich, divorce them, then marry two other rich people?

Also, it's pretty obvious when you kill a monster. But how would a player know when their character has achieved transcendence? Is there a mechanical zen-meter?


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This makes...
AD go "Could you not have a plural marriage?"*

*click in for more

11. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:


1. There are several ways to come back from being a ghost!

2. Yes! Divorce optional.

3. There is definitely no mechanical zen-meter.

Which transcendent experience are you concerned about?


12. On 2014-12-29, Joao said:

Why must I be Quick and cannot be Sharp?


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This makes...
JB go "I wanna be Sharp!"

13. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:

Joao: Alas.


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This makes...
JB go "+1"

14. On 2014-12-29, Joao said:

Maybe its time to read some of the source fiction. Alas(!) there sermos to be only a few works of Ashton Smith or Vance translated to Portuguese. Regardless, do you have any specific advice for starters? Thanks!


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JB go "*sermos = seems"*

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15. On 2014-12-29, M. Stone said:

When you Attack Someone Helpless and choose the Bad Experience, is that for yourself, or for whom you attacked? I assume the former because I doubt NPCs can take bad which case attacking someone always implies something negative for yourself?


16. On 2014-12-29, Joao said:

As i read it, NPCs can have Bad XP too.


17. On 2014-12-29, spigot said:

It'd be cool if, instead of picking from between your exceptions, you could say yes to as many as you liked. So if you rolled 2 and 3 on The Wizard's Candle you could say yes to both and produce a little wind spirit, 3 and 4 could work the wind up to a hurricane, 2 and 4 could summon a spirit who grows with the vent, etc.


18. On 2014-12-29, Vincent said:

Joao: I'd recommend the first Dying Earth book first, I think. The Cugel stories are fun but not very on-topic. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are moreso, really.

M. Stone: Joao's right. Your victim's bad experience(s). NPCs and monsters have slightly different bad experience rules, though.

Spigot: Maybe! For this game's purposes, just one is best.


19. On 2014-12-29, Bret said:

Thanks for the first look! I definitely took one.


20. On 2014-12-29, Marshall said:

So. Much. Yes.

Moar plz. Will pay.

When's it coming out?


21. On 2014-12-29, Marshall said:

Also, how much harm/bad experiences before you die?


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This makes...
PB go "I was killed..."*
PB go "Ah"*
VB go "Exactly!"

*click in for more

22. On 2014-12-29, Jim D. said:

What Marshall said—there's mention of harm, but not what it does or how it's distinct from "bad experiences"; also curious how that interfaces with "ceding the field" / winning altercations.  (No surprise that a first look is sparse in places, just finding myself curious is all.  Excited for more!).


23. On 2014-12-30, Vincent said:

After armor, 1 Harm = one bad experience. You or your enemy choose which bad experience(s) you have. If you or they choose that you're killed, you die.

This is one of the best parts of the game. You're going to love this!


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JD go "Intriguing!"*

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24. On 2014-12-30, Greg Pogor said:

Do the experience bubbles have consequences once they're checked other than bragging rights? Like do you spend them, or do they trigger stuff after X bubbles from Y type or something? Or are they just a guideline for things to do, a direction for players? Or both?


25. On 2014-12-30, Alex D. said:

Most spells say "The spell returns to its native plasmic world unsettled.". One, Companion Creature, instead says in that place "The spell returns to your mind unsettled.".

Is this intentional (in other words, you can re-cast Companion Creature without re-wresting it from it's home), an artifact, or a typo?

Also, I'm having surprising trouble parsing "a hunting dyad of flocking jills". (I almost mistyped as "glocking jills", which is perhaps even more bizarre. I guess they would use either glockenspiels or handguns...)


26. On 2014-12-30, Vincent said:

Greg Pogor: The object of the game is to mark as many experience bubbles as you want and can. There's no other use for them.

Alex D: An artifact! Thanks for spotting it.

Flocking jills are a creature native to Terra, not Venus. They hunt in cooperative groups of 2-4, and in this case, you get 2.


27. On 2014-12-30, spigot said:

Could you talk more about enterprises and city-states?


28. On 2014-12-30, Vincent said:

Not yet! I'm actively writing that stuff.


29. On 2015-01-01, Josh W said:

This looks great fun, I like that you start with the demand, and backtrack to the deception.

The interrupt move is good, puts initiative into a good place; where people care about the ordering of actions because they are trying to change it. In terms of move effect, it's strikingly effective; I think it could lead to some absurdities in play, with people interrupting attacks with riddles, spells with thrown pegs, and generally interrupting each other.

The present/past thing is fun too, as is the nice simple skills system.

Wait, if I regroup, the ongoing effects of being killed end? :P

I could keep saying nice or silly things about this, but I'll stop with this:

The rules for helping are very elegant, just enough detail, and it also seems like the most efficient way for a group of 4+ to fight may be to assist a single champion, providing intelligence, encouragement, checking and repairing armour etc. as the bonuses seem to be able to stack with each other, overwhelming the effects of dice, especially given that non-PCs don't have access to this option. Depends how the fight complications work obviously, but it's interesting.


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This makes...
JMW go "Hang on, is that death thing as intended?"*
VB go "It is."*

*click in for more

30. On 2015-01-12, Jackie said:

I love the skill you have in drawing a whole setting using only a set of rules.
You write moves and tables, but i see the clear picture of a world; huge, defined and alive. Seriously, is awesome; another kind of literature. I hope to aquire this skill someday.


31. On 2015-01-13, Vincent said:

Aw, thank you! That's nice to hear.


32. On 2015-01-15, Paul T. said:

My favourite part of all this is the helping rules.

Although the magic rules are also really neat: it's the first good new magic system I've seen since World of Dungeons.

Vincent, what are the bubbles for on "Bad Experiences"? Like, is there a difference between being killed for one bubble and being killed with two bubbles checked? What happens if all three are checked?

That's the one part I'm really not sure about. (Although we have no idea what the Experience bubbles do, either.)


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This makes...
PT go "If Experiences are just for bragging rights"*

*click in for more

33. On 2015-01-15, Paul T. said:

Some more:

1. Under "Recover, Regroup, Prepare", what does it mean to "regroup"? I'm having trouble imagining where I would use this, and how.

Is it for situations where we're all separated from each and/or lost? What if the others don't *want* to regroup?

2. Same as people said earlier about interrupting: it seems very effective! If I'm "unaware or unsuspecting" and someone attacks me, I can interrupt, yes? And they only get to make the move if I miss... but they still might miss, too.

I suppose this makes PCs very effective compared to NPCs. Is that the intended effect?

3. "Size Someone Up" seems incredibly effective, as well. It implies a world where people are sharp and you can't hide your intentions very easily at all (even on a miss, they can ask "What do you intend?" or "Are you trying to deceive me?", which means you can always know if someone is trying to deceive you).


It's interesting that one's ability to do magic has mostly to do with the tablets one owns; unless Wizardry gives a lot of boons, it has little to do with the caster's own abilities or power.

The ghost and treasure rules are lovely.


34. On 2015-01-15, Paul T. said:

I also love the distinction between "I was killed" and "I was left for dead". It seems silly at first - what's the difference? - until you realize that the benefit of getting to choose your own bad experience means you can "play dead" whenever you like.

If you must choose, say, 3 Bad Experiences (for 3-harm), must they all be different, or can you "double up" for some effect?

Bad Experiences are very cool. I hope I played some part in inspiring this rule!


35. On 2015-01-15, Paul T. said:

One last comment, with my apologies. Hopefully this is helpful!

"You can have at most four attendant magics, spells, ghosts, curses, magical items,
in sum. If have four already, this spell must displace one of them. Roll dice to
determine which one. It departs, returning to its native world, passing through
the jasminite gates, evaporating into the atmosphere, or becoming abruptly inert."

This phrasing is odd to me. "This spell" presumably means "a new tablet". Does this mean that when I pick up a new tablet, one of my other attendant magics will disappear?

The implication is that if one person tries to transport a whole cartload of spell tablets all but four will become inert. Is this permanent, or temporary?

If someone has four attendant ghosts, can I sneak a couple of spell tablets into their suitcase while they're not looking, and thereby chase away two of their ghosts?

Should the "new" attendant magic be one of the potentially inert/evaporated items when I roll dice to see which departs, or does the new one automatically displace an old one?


36. On 2015-01-16, Vincent said:

Paul! Thanks! I'll try to answer your questions in order.

On bad experiences:
The bad experience bubbles are in columns. You have to have 5 different bad experiences, mark 5 bubbles in column 1, before you can start marking bubbles in column 2. When you take 3 harm, you have to mark 3 different bad experiences.

Once you have all 3 bubbles marked, you can't have that bad experience again.

On experiences:
The experiences aren't just for bragging rights. They're the object of the game. They have different numbers of bubbles because experiencing the same thing over and over has different legitimacy as a goal, depending on what it is. For instance, once you've married 3 times wealthy and 3 times for love, marrying again is no longer a legit game goal for you.

On regrouping:
It is for such situations.

For all of those options, if you're doing it with someone else, you both have to choose the option. Thus, if they don't want to regroup with you, they decline to choose the option. This means that either you have to go back and choose a different option instead, or else you and the GM have to figure out how you've regrouped with them but they haven't regrouped with you (which might be perfectly possible under some circumstances).

On interrupting:
If you're unaware or unsuspecting, no, you can't interrupt someone.

On sizing people up:
Hidden intentions are mostly bogus across roleplaying, and they're spectacularly bogus for this game. It's not that everyone's super sharp, it's that everyone's intentions are pretty clear all the time.

On four attendant magics:
That's a relic of an older version of the rules. It'll probably survive in some form, but I haven't sorted it out yet.

Good questions!


37. On 2015-01-17, Jackie said:

I made this for my group's next campaing (after we finish the One Piece one!)
A free adaptation of Dark Age into a World of Dungeons style. This both because my players have very little time for sessions, and because i enjoy small systems. I thought about embellishing it a little and posting it here. I hope somebody likes it!
PD: Vincent, if this interferes with your pre-release of Dark Age in any way, feel free to delete this post. I won't spread this adaptation anywhere unless i get your permission!


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PT go "This is a neat little adaptation!"*
Jackie go "thank you!!"*

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38. On 2015-01-17, Paul T. said:


I have another question for you - hopefully this isn't stretching this discussion too far off course.

"On sizing people up:
Hidden intentions are mostly bogus across roleplaying [...]"

I certainly don't disagree; being more open with intentions has improved a lot of my gaming a great deal.

If you think that intentions should be out in the open, why design moves which allow a chance for the information to be put across (and a chance of failure), instead of just giving them up automatically? (Or perhaps with a move which doesn't require a roll a'tall.)

Why does AW have a "read a person" move, instead of Dogs' general principle of not hiding intentions? It's quite a contrast, though subtle in application.

I'd imagine PC vs. PC is a big part of it, but I don't think that's the whole story.

But perhaps this is too big a question for this discussion. If so, another time! (Maybe a blog post would be worthwhile, if you have the interest...)


39. On 2015-01-18, Vincent said:

Oh, no, it's super easy. In Apocalypse World the GM's general principle is also to not hide NPCs' intentions: give your NPCs straightforward and obvious motivations and have them act on them directly. It's the same for this game too.

So the move isn't instead, it's in addition. It's for when the NPC hasn't been on the stage long enough for you to communicate their intentions but the player wants to know now, or for when the NPC's waffling and the player wants to know which way they'll go, or for when you've been revealing the NPC's intentions through their actions like always but the player just wants to really confirm that they understand what you've been saying, and so on.

Much of the time, the NPC's intentions will already be clear and the player will choose different questions to ask.


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PT go "Great answer, thanks!"
GK go "Nicely spelt out!"*

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40. On 2015-01-19, spigot said:

Vincent could you tell me the program you used to rig up this pdf? Was it Adobe InDesign or something?


41. On 2015-01-19, Vincent said:

It was! The version I'm using is the extremely antiquated version 2.


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Spigot go "Thanks!"

42. On 2015-01-20, Alex D. said:

Man, this looks really cool! Though, if you don't release another version, I might have to make my own. I think I'll call it...


Rebooting Venus


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AD go "Huh!"*
VB go "Huh. I guess so!"*

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43. On 2015-01-21, Jasin said:

"The experiences aren't just for bragging rights. They're the object of the game. They have different numbers of bubbles because experiencing the same thing over and over has different legitimacy as a goal, depending on what it is. For instance, once you've married 3 times wealthy and 3 times for love, marrying again is no longer a legit game goal for you."

But considering there's no end state, and that the object is to check as many as you like rather than all, what is the purpose of having a specific number? How does (should?) play change when a goal is no longer legit vs. when it is?


44. On 2015-01-21, Vincent said:

Jasin: There's an end state.


45. On 2015-01-30, Trithemius said:

I have just been re-reading The Dying Earth stories for devotional reasons and was thinking about dusting off DERPG/Skulduggery until I had a read of this this!

Can you "forget" experiences? When I think of Cugel I think of someone who takes a really long time to learn any lessons at all...


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