Initial Design Thoughts

So, I wanted to keep these thoughts separate from the announcement post so that it didn't get overwhelmed with the information here. I just wanted to lay out a few of the thoughts I had while designing the rules, with the hope that this will open up more avenues of approach for improving the rules (like "you wanted this rule to do what? You're way off base!).

First off, the ideas that got me going on this game were notions of conflicting loyalties, and the idea of loyalty impairing your ability to act independently. I wanted to create a game where your character was likely to be torn between a variety of groups (family, friends, associations, himself) on how to act. But I also wanted to leave all the actual decisions in the hands of the player (so no "if you fail this roll you have to do what your family says!) so I tried to set up a system of incentives to act in various ways. I think the 'three resources' are more the core of the game than the resolution rules themselves, but I tried to get them to interact in interesting ways, giving each resource something to do with conflict resolution, as well as a way to gain them through conflicts. The one thing I didn't quite achieve was tying each of the three resources directly into relationships with the clans.

Speaking of the three resources, my guiding principle there was opportunity cost. I wanted every resource to have multiple viable uses and compelling alternatives, so that it's painful to miss out on one for another, but not so painful that you get paralyzed. Since they haven't been playtested yet, I don't know if I achieved that or not!

I'm also pretty pleased conceptually with Oaths and Grudges, but they might be super broken. Guess we'll see.

The conflict resolution rules are essentially a mishmash of every game by Vincent Baker. I tried to make them distinct, but his thinking on what conflict resolution is and how it should be handled was super super influential on my design. Even still, in my desire not to outright copy him, I'm afraid  I created something awkward and inelegant. I have a feeling the core resolution is going to change a lot in playtesting (it usually does, if my wargames design experience is any indicator).

Another area where I was influenced by Mr. Baker and others was in concepts of player ownership of the fiction. The whole notion of creating the world as a group and as you go was stolen wholesale from In a Wicked Age (I was this close to straight up using an oracle system), and the extensive use of lists was another Bakerism. Much of the clan creation rules were inspired by/stolen from Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes by Greg Stafford and Jeff Richard, and the 'demographics' were lifted with extremely little modification, since they jived with what I know about Anglo-Saxon society from college.

But what I meant by 'player ownership of fiction' is that in addition to everyone in the group participating in the world and the story building, I wanted to stress the collaborative nature of the game, and make explicit the way that everyone has something of a 'hold' on everyone else's character. If I say something about my character, but every other player flat out refuses to acknowledge it or accept it into the game's fiction, then it's not really true for the game. That's where stuff like other players defining your family and clan interests came in (I also thought that was a quick and easy way to make sure they're at odds with personal interests!)

Speaking of which, interests/ambitions were another steal from "In a Wicked Age". The basic concept behind abilities is awful similar to how they work in Heroquest, along with the idea of "impaired" and "injured".

The magic rules are all mine. Once I got the conflict rules into a workable shape, the answer just suggested itself. I suspect it might be bah-roken, though, so again, playtesting.

Speaking of conflict resolution, that went through a whole hell of a lot of conceptual phases. At one point it was based on drawing runes instead of rolling dice! I think that would have been neat, but I couldn't get the group/ally rules I wanted and figure out the probabilities. Plus, asking players to make/find some runes is probably a little much. As it is, I'm already asking for largish pools of the most uncommon die types. Take that D10, D6, and D20!

Finally, I'm afraid that the current "running the game" chapter is crap. Actually running the game will probably help with this, but I tried to convey what I have in mind the rules supporting, as well as some great GMing advice I've been exposed to recently, but it was near the end of the writing, and my brain was turning to  mush.

So, if you've read through the rules, or even run through some examples with the rules, please post your thoughts, questions, observations, et cetera here or on the game page. Also post if you have any requests for clarifications, examples to try out, or anything of the sort.