Friday, May 21, 2010

Sample Page

Old news, but I did a mock-up of the way I'd like the final version of A Sea Deep, Cursed and Rotting to look. One page PDF here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sort of an Update

I've been silent here because I've been posting about D&D over at my old school blog, The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms. However, this project hasn't been abandoned. The basic rules (the character creation and basic play sections in the summary) form the basis of what I call the Blanc character description and Paris effects description systems, which can either be combined with some story control rules to form a light game like Cursed and Rotting, or added to traditional RPGs to add detail without too much crunch. And I do have a detailed PDF for Cursed and Rotting in the works. I kind of set it aside for a while because it mostly needs trivial elaborations of the rules.

However, I am mulling over whether I should give detailed examples for every possible marine experience, or whether I should merely list possibilities for different categories. Some D&D people have expressed interest in this game, but I think they're looking for crunchy maritime rules, which wasn't my intention at all. I'll have to consider whether I can provide anything useful on that front.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two-Week Deadline

Since I have had hardly any time to actually type on the computer, I can't finish the expanded draft of A Sea Deep, Cursed and Rotting today. Instead, I edited the summary I created earlier, clarifying which rules are optional, rewording some rules, and adding some more detail on what the GM should do, plus a cover page with an illustration and the full-sized dice map as the last page. Here is the six-page summary version of A Sea Deep, Cursed and Rotting. For my elevator pitch:
When the zombie crew claims you, both Sea and Sky damn you to Life-in-Death. Return to your loved ones... or the truly dead.
Thanks to Noah, Eric, Mark, and Hans for looking over the rules and asking important questions, and to my co-zombie mariners Charlie and JB for encouraging me to go ahead with my design, despite the fact that we're all doing Rime of The Ancient Zombie Mariner. Their versions do seem to be taking a different slant on the material; check them out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Intro

Alone on a vile-dark sea, brine-choked, clutching shattered remnants of a lost ship’s deck, awaiting rescue... but the mournful fog spews forth a grim spectral ship, decayed, a corpse-crew clinging to its rigging. No sign of hope, only despair.

Bony hands dressed in bits of rotted flesh haul you aboard, dragging you silently into their damnation. What curse have you brought down upon your head?
This is the new flavor-text for the introduction. Much better than that previous piece of garbage I wrote.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rules Summary

I've condensed the rules into a three-page summary and formatted them into a PDF. A Sea Deep, Cursed and Rotting. I know that, unless you've studied the posts here thoroughly, the summary might not be completely coherent, but I'd appreciate anyone who looks at the summary and comments on any obvious omissions or problems.

Now I'm behind, though. I will need to write quite a bit to get the draft done by Monday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Task/Conflict Clarifications

mark vallianatos asked some questions about the 2d6 effects rolls, which I haven't described in detail here because I haven't needed to work on them as hard, but maybe I should give a run-down here to show what I'm thinking. As I've mentioned, I call the guts of the game that handle stuff you'd find in any RPG "portable mechanics". Task and conflict resolution, for example, are portable. So, too, are the effects of generic actions (damage, skill effectiveness.)

For my task resolution, I'm using a Drama-style mechanic: the GM decides if someone with the character's background and current situation could perform that action; if they could, they did. I then move on to whether that action was powerful enough or quick enough -- the 2d6 roll, with one result assigned to speed and the other to power. Finally, I use the tried-and-true method of conflict resolution: damage done compared to hit points. Since I generalize this to all kinds of conflict, I call the hit points "Luck". Do more points of "damage" than Luck and you make a permanent change in your target: if it's physical combat, you kill them; if it's social interaction, you create permanent feelings of trust, fear, love, or whatever you were trying for.

It seems easier and more intuitive to me to say that actions occur in order of speed. So, if you roll a 1 and I roll a 2, your action comes first, mine second. That means that low results for speed are better. On the other hand, if an action is resisted -- you parry my cutlass, I laugh off your mocking words -- the power of the action must beat (not tie) the power of the resistance; we both roll 2d6, and the higher power wins.

Most actions won't be directly resisted. If we're both swinging swords at each other, we compare speeds to see who strikes first, but unless one of us is wearing armor or has some other kind of protection, my resistance to your sword is 0, your resistance to my sword is 0. Weapons and armor are lumped together as "tools". In any conflict, having a proper tool adds +1 to your power or resistance, as appropriate. For more detail, compare the weapon and the armor to see which is better for this conflict; a wooden club against metal armor might be worth an extra +1 resistance, an arrow against chain or ring armor might be worth an extra +1 power. I wouldn't let the bonuses go very high, but other GMs might allow large stacks of bonuses.

There are a couple other tricks I would use. Some things are just not on the same scale, like a human being and a large galleon. If a human being were to try to lift a galleon, I'd just say "no, it's too big for you; try getting a team to lift it." Some things might act together in layers; an attacker's roll might have to beat:
  • the effect of shadows;
  • the effect of concealment behind an obstacle;
  • the effect of the opponent dodging or ducking.
Each of which might have a separate roll. The shadows might also (or instead) act as a "tool", improving the concealment by +1. A GM has to decide if and when to use that much detail.

Encounter Clarifications

I'm still editing the summary, but thought I'd post something in the meantime. I answered some questions in the comments, but I figured I might want to revisit and rephrase some of my answers here.

hansotterson asked me to clarify the game's structure: what's the game about, and how do you play it? It's a horror-adventure game with scenes broken up into:
  • horrific atmosphere, like meeting the captain, dealing with thirst and hunger, minor incidents on the ship or in port;
  • traditional adventure encounters, like storms, sea monsters, raids, chase and pursuit;
  • flashbacks to life before damnation, which set up relationships and thus aide in escaping damnation.
The traditional adventure encounters are generated randomly on the dice map. noahsgamechefpage asked for clarification on using the dice map: the dice map can actually be used any time the GM wants inspiration on what happens next, but the major events are intended to occur after sunset each day, with minor events and flashbacks filling up the rest of the time. Also, some of the major events and all flashbacks will create NPCs as a side effect. Can these be fleshed out? Certainly. When the Dutchman raids a ship, many of the living crew will be killed and eaten, others will try to escape, but a few may be taken captive as newly damned, which means the PCs can interact with them over the next couple days.

mark vallianatos had some questions as well about the guts of resolving tasks and conflicts, but I'll cover that in a separate post.