Monday, March 2, 2015

The beginings of a big idea

I have been busy these last, years I guess. What with Jadepunk and Iconic Adventures I have had significantly less time to write my own stuff. Not that I am complaining, I like having work, and I love my jobs. But I realized I have been sort of neglecting my blog. I also realized I have been focused almost entirely on Fate throughout the life of this blog. I love Fate, so that is not a surprise. That said, I have lots of other ideas that do not fit directly into the Fate mind space. Here is my idea(s) I would like to update the blog more often than I have been, at least once a week would be good. I would also like to expand into some of my non-Fate ideas. I will still probably work quite a bit with Fate, but I do have other loves and other ideas, so I will try and put some more of those out as well. All that in mind here is an idea I have had that I think has some legs on it.

The idea started with my love of WEG Star Wars and my distaste for a specific mechanic within it. That mechanic carried forward throughout all of the D6 System that followed. The problem was Character Points. Here is the basics of how that works. You do adventures and all the stuff, yeah? And then you get character points which you can spend to increase skills and abilities. So far sounds like a different name for XP, yeah? Well here is where it falls apart. You can also use your character points as a momentary increase in a skill, one point will add a die to a roll. The issue is that there is no reason to ever do this. Your gains in the short term will make you inferior to others in the long term. And the more you spend the worse it gets. So how to fix it?

Well I was involved in a conversation a while back where the merits of the D6 System were being discussed. I can't currently find a link to the discussion, but in it we got to talking about the problem with character points. I believe it was +Bruce Baugh(and please correct me if I am wrong, or let me know if you have a link to the discussion) who said something that stuck with me. Basically the idea was that you only got to spend your character points on advancement after you had used them to enhance a roll. This concept BLEW MY MIND! Seriously I had this discussion months and months ago and yet it just kept rolling around in my mind. The repetitive and cyclic nature of my mind allowed for me to gather some other ideas I liked and mash them together. This is that idea.

The other ideas I liked were Keys from Shadow of Yesterday(and Lady Blackbird, also milestones from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying) and use based advancement from Burning Wheel.  Normally how I would go forward with this idea is to introduce one concept at a time over the course of a couple/three blog posts. I have found that can be problematic, though, as people sometime misconstrue what I am doing. Therefore in this post I am going to give the basic rundown of the system as a whole and then open it up for discussion.

We start with a dice pool system, what type does not matter all that much. I am partial to Roll/Keep style systems(like in 7th Sea or Legend of the Five Rings), though D6 System is open, so I may use that. It must have a fairly comprehensive skill list, and every skill would need to listed on the character sheet(maybe, I have a thought on this, but it is incomplete). Each skill rating would be done with filled in bubbles(like World of Darkness), with a series of empty boxes below it, one box beneath each circle. I do not think you need attributes or any false distinction like them. Just a big list of skills should work fine. I know there are more details to be worked out here, but for my purposes this works enough that I can move forward.

Every character will have a list of keys/milestones these are how they gather character points. I have not set out a specific number of them just yet, though my instinct is for there to be three. You will want enough that you will get at least two character points a session, but not so many that you can gain an overwhelming amount. I will be honest here, this is the part I added in last and so is still a bit muddy. I know that it fits and that it will work, I am just unclear on some of the specifics.

Character points sort of work like in the D6 System, you spend one point to increase a roll by one die. You can spend more than one point per roll, but you will never get more than one die per point. This can be done before or after a roll has landed. After your roll, win or lose, you mark a check box for each character point you spent on that roll. Once you have filled in enough check boxes your rating in the skill goes up. I have two thoughts on what should constitute enough check boxes. The first is to increase a skill rating when the check boxes marked off equal the current rating. The second is just to set it at some arbitrary number, like ten or something. Both ideas work, I think. I just am unsure which is the best for the game.

This allows for some interesting interactions. You gain character points through making decisions and adding drama. You spend those points to push your skills further than they should be capable gaining experience in that skill by using it in situations that are beyond your normal capabilities. It also allows for you to gain skill in in areas you know nothing about just by pushing yourself. Though that might be abusable, need to think on that.

Potential issue:
-gaining skill far too fast. I could see someone pushing character points at a single skill all the time and growing massively in only one or two areas. Another thought is the guy who spends all his character points on untrained skills and thus is kind of adequate at everything but sucks compared to anyone with real training. I am not really sure these are issues, but they are on my mind.

Another thought I had was to give only half the experience(rounded down) in a skill if you succeed at the task. This represents a personal view I have. My view is that you make greater leaps in learning through failure, whereas success grants smaller, incremental, growth. I am not sure if that would work. It might feel a bit like gambling and hoping to lose.

So there you have it. It is not all that complex, nor is it all that new an idea. I do think it warrants further discussion and so I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Let me know what you think.