Soul's Calling

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Omnifray:- fantasy roleplay in the mysterious Enshrouded Lands, "a thousand worlds in one", where magic bubbles away beneath the surface, beyond the ken of the common folk, with a unique, detailed, highly flexible rules system

Soul's Calling

Postby Mick Red » 9:34pm on 30 Nov 10

I mean this in the niceist possible way, but dude leave the pointless crunch out and for once showcase the Enshrouded Lands without getting a stiffie over decimal points, you are the only one who likes these... Combat should be fast and over in no more than 2-3 dice rolls.. w dont need tables for jumping climbing or stuff like that, lets just assume we can do it.... To get your mathamatical chubby you have FF omnifrey, ONF light was still about 80% to crunchy with the indie crowd... so lets see what you have this time, tell us all about the game and give us some system details and examples
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 1:20am on 01 Dec 10

Well, I'm still stripping out crunch atm, so I don't want it to be set in stone as being necessarily even as crunchy as it currently is, but...

Let's start with somethings it DOESN'T have...

* there are no tables for jumping, climbing, swimming and that kinda thing
* there are no tables for stealth modifiers
* there are no combat stances
* there are no stat bonuses for using energy tokens etc., instead limited re-rolls

At the moment, just about the only aspects of combat which are in a sense crunchier than other RPGs (bearing in mind it is lighter in some respects too - no separate hit + damage rolls by and large) are:-
1) different stats for armour v. blunt, slash & thrust weapons
2) you can get re-rolls
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 1:28am on 01 Dec 10

Practical example of social interaction rules in play.

Mick the Ready wants to persuade Mugg the Mook to let him into the Evil WIzard's Dungeon, claiming to be sent by the Evil Wizard.

The ref can see a major incident coming, so he guesses what's going to be needed in terms of dice-checks. It doesn't matter if he guesses wrong. The ref decides it's likely to be about Mick persuading [ed.] Mugg and lying through his adventuring teeth to try to get access to the Evil Wizard's Dungeon. It's a double roll check, Mick's Persuasion versus Mugg's Empathic Observation.

Mick's a general adventuring jack of all trades with Persuasion of 8 and Empathic Observation of 8.

Mugg is an average human with Persuasion of 6 and Empathic Observation of 6.

Mick rolls d12 plus his Persuasion of 8. He rolls it twice and his totals are 16 and 18.

Mugg rolls d12 plus his Empathic Observation of 6. He rolls it twice and his totals are 10 and 17.

Mick got the outright best result on his best dice-roll. But he didn't get the two outright best results (Mugg got a 17). Mick didn't get the worst result tho, so getting the best dice-roll and not the worst means Mick scores a Clear Success and Mugg scores a Basic Success.

There are prompters for this core mechanic on the actual character sheets so it's easy to remember.

Now this dice-result doesn't actually tell you what the outcome of the dialogue is AT ALL.

All it means is that because Mick got a better-than-Middling result, the ref is going to be nice to Mick in how he roleplays Mugg.

So the ref plays Mugg a bit gullibly.

This is meant to represent how Mick is extra-persuasive due to his good dice-roll.

What actually happens depends entirely on the dialogue which is played out using direct speech. You speak AS your character.

But the ref goes easy on Mick's player because he got a good dice-roll. So he has SOME chance of getting into the dungeon without a fight if he roleplays well, even though that would normally be very difficult to manage.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 1:41am on 01 Dec 10

Well it ain't working cos Mick the Ready's player had one too many beers the night before in between having his ball-hair waxed for charity. So he ain't playing to his best form and Mugg tells him to clear off.

Mick decides to go away and try and sneak in unobserved when Mugg's not looking.

Mick's Stealth is 8. Mugg's General Observation is 6.

The ref has to ask himself - how hard would it be for an average man in Mugg's position to spot an average man in Mick's position sneaking past him?

o very little chance (2% or less) sneaky creature’s Stealth gets +5 or more
o slim chance (around 1 in 10) sneaky creature’s Stealth gets +0 to +4
o less than even chance observer’s General Observation gets +1 to +4
o even chance (50/50) observer’s General Observation gets +5
o better than even chance observer’s General Observation gets +5 to +8
o very good chance (around 90%) observer’s General Observation gets +9 to +11
o virtually assured (98% or more) observer’s General Observation gets +12 or more

The ref decides that it's a wide, shadowy corridor with some boulders nearby for cover. Mick's going to throw a stone to distract Mugg, and the ref figures there would be some chance of an average man sneaking past Mugg unobserved in those circumstances. Overall he thinks someone in Mugg's shoes would have a better than even chance of spotting someone in Mick's shoes. This means he gives Mugg between +5 and +8 as a modifier.

He goes for +7.

So Mugg is rolling d12+6+7 twice, and Mick is rolling d12+8 twice.

Mugg has to get the two outright best results to spot Mick's exact position. Anything less than that and he will have some varying clue as to where Mick is.

Mick rolls two 2s and Mugg rolls a 4 and a 12. Unfortunately this means Mugg DID get the two outright best results (12 and 20), cos Mick only got 10 and 10. So, Mugg spots Mick trying to sneak past.

Say instead Mick had rolled a 9 and a 10 and Mugg had rolled a 1 and a 6, Mick's totals would have been 17 and 18 and Mugg's would have been 14 and 20, so it would have been a Middling result. Mugg would have noticed something odd or amiss in roughly the direction where Mick went. He might start searching to see if anyone has gone past.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 1:52am on 01 Dec 10

Practical example of combat. I COULD ditch the initiative system or make it optional I guess, but I think that would be a shame.

Bear in mind combat is not supposed to be the mainstay of the game; in 4 hours you might have 1, 2 or 3 fights; you might spend half an hour to an hour and a half dealing with combats. The mainstay of the game is the other stuff. And combat is the crunchy part of the game.

Mick the Ready is a newly genned up PC jack-of-all trades. He has stats:-
Reaction Time 14
Melee Attack 8 plus +4 for sword & shield combo = 12
General Defence 8 plus +6 for sword & shield combo plus armour bonuses
General Defence versus Thrusting attacks (+2 for Padded Jack) = 16

He has other stats but these do not matter for combat.

Mugg the Mook is an unimportant NPC peasant. He has stats:-
Reaction Time 18
Melee Attack 6 plus +6 for spear = 12
General Defence 6 plus +5 for spear plus armour bonuses
General Defence versus Slashing attacks (+2 for Padded Jack) = 13

Combat is called. Each guy rolls d12+Reaction Time for order of initiative. Lowest first, times stack. Tried and tested system, this is NOT too crunchy for most roleplayers.

Mick rolls 7, goes on 7+14=21.
Mugg rolls 6, goes on 6+18=24.

Mick to go first on 21.

Mick attacks Mugg. It's a single roll cos Mugg's a Mook. Mick rolls d12+Melee Attack (12); Mugg rolls d12+General Defence (13). If Mick gets higher total, Mugg is OUT OF THE FIGHT. If Mugg gets higher total, Mugg is IN THE FIGHT. Tied rolls = flip a coin. [The ref COULD ask for a 2nd roll of the same dice+stats for cosmetic description, which is to say if Mugg is in the fight does he get a cosmetic injury; if he's out of it is he killed outright. But that's not required.]

So far, so simple. That's 2 rolls for an attack. Fewer rolls than most commercial RPGs.

Mick rolls his next speed of action to see how long his 2nd action will take. d12+14 again. Rolls a 6 for a total of 20. Mick is now going 20 ticks after his first attack, so he's going on 21+20=41.

Mugg is next to go, on 24.

Mugg attacks Mick. He's rolling a double roll attack. d12+Melee Attack of 12 v. Mick's d12 + General Defence of 16.
Each of them rolls twice. Mugg would have to get the outright highest roll on both dice to kill Mick. That's not a high chance. (In fact, it works out as about 1 in 30.)

But Mick's not taking any chances. He has 4 energy tokens as a PC, and can use them in combat and get them back after 3 mins' rest.

Mick commits an energy token to defending against the blow. He's putting in special effort. That's a tactical decision.
It means Mick can have a free re-roll if he wants. He has to commit the energy token before the roll.

Mugg rolls a 12 and a 10! His totals are 24 and 22! Mick only rolls a 2 and a 6! His totals are 18 and 22... now that would mean Mugg getting a Clear success (outright best dice-roll and not worst dice-roll), which would be a Terrible Injury for Mick and -4 on basically all his stats (a few exceptions which are written on the character sheet).

So Mick decides he WILL use his free re-roll. He re-rolls and gets a 4 and a 10. Mugg re-rolls as well and gets a 3 and an 8. So Mick's totals are 20 and 26; Mugg's are 15 and 20. This means Mick's the one who got a Clear Success this time. He escapes with only Minor Injury, a -1 on basically all his rolls.

Mugg rolls d12+18 for how long his next action will take, gets an 11, total 29, so he will next go on 24+29=53.

Mick's going on 41, considerably before Mugg on 53.

So on 41, Mick attacks again. This time he commits 3 energy tokens to the blow. He wants to finish Mugg off. 3 energy tokens would let him have 2 free re-rolls if he wanted.

Mick rolls d12+ Melee Attack (12 minus 1 for Minor Injury) and Mugg rolls d12+ General Defence (13). Mick rolls a 7; Mugg rolls a 5 and Mick win's the coin-toss tiebreaker - Mugg's JUST out of the fight!

The ref wants to know if Mugg's dead or just incapacitated so he makes Mick roll again for that. Mick rolls a 9 and Mugg rolls a 4 - that would kill Mugg (Mick's total of 20 to Mugg's total of 17). But Mick has put 3 energy tokens into this attack. He can have 2 free re-rolls (that includes for this follow-up dice-check). He decides to re-roll this one. He rolls a 5 and Mugg rolls a 5, so with totals of 17 for Mick and 18 for Mugg, Mugg survives by the skin of his teeth.

Basically Mick used all his concentration and adrenaline to control his blow at the last split-second so it wasn't a killing blow, at least not an instant kill. Mugg is incapacitated and ready to be interrogated...
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 1:55am on 01 Dec 10

Now that's not the WHOLE combat done in 2 or 3 rolls.

There's a basic 2 rolls for each attack. 1 for initiative (speed of action) and 1 for attacking.

Compare it to commercial systems some of which have 1 roll for initiative, 1 to-hit, 1 for damage.

Bear in mind no-one has to keep track of any hitpoints for the Mook. And Mick's injury levels are uninjured, Minor Injury, Grave Injury, Terrible Injury or Dead. Only the nastiest injury counts.

I like combat to be climactic and tactical. I think this complexity is acceptable.

The energy tokens do allow for re-rolls. I figure it's less fiddly than fiddly little bonuses for using energy tokens in different combat stances which is what Omnifray Lite had.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Neil Gow » 10:58am on 01 Dec 10

Hi Matt

Glad to see you kicked off the examples with a social one. I have a couple of questions:

The ref can see a major incident coming, so he guesses what's going to be needed in terms of dice-checks. It doesn't matter if he guesses wrong. The ref decides it's likely to be about Mick persuading the Evil Wizard and lying through his adventuring teeth to try to get access to the Evil Wizard's Dungeon.


In all of the above situations, why doesn't the ref just ask the player what their intent is? A lot less scope for getting it wrong when you get it from the proverbial horse's mouth.

Now this dice-result doesn't actually tell you what the outcome of the dialogue is AT ALL.


What actually happens depends entirely on the dialogue which is played out using direct speech. You speak AS your character.


Well it ain't working cos Mick the Ready's player had one too many beers the night before in between having his ball-hair waxed for charity. So he ain't playing to his best form and Mugg tells him to clear off.


This, for me, is a touch more problematic, in two areas.

The first is, whilst I can see that you are positioning the game as very much a first person, in-character at the table, game, it therefore relies upon the player being able to vocally impress with their 'roleplaying' talent. There are a few natural limitations on this - specifically that someone who is a little socially limited, or simply not particularly eloquent, cannot RP a more eloquent, highly intelligent person. If that is going to be the be-all and end-all of the gaming then it acts as a natural upper limiter. Thats why most games use the RP to influence the dice, not the dice to influence the RP.

The second is the question of who decides what is 'good' RP, what is 'bad' RP and thus how successful conflicts are. This offers up a smorgasbord of chances for GM-Blocking, at-table conflicts over what is good or bad RP and an entire showroom of GM Fiat.

I'd love to hear your take on this.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 1:08pm on 01 Dec 10

Neil Gow wrote:...why doesn't the ref just ask the player what their intent is? A lot less scope for getting it wrong when you get it from the proverbial horse's mouth.


The ref can perfectly well ask the player what their intent is. Or it might be obvious from something the player says. Or the ref might have an intention in mind such as getting the NPC to try to manipulate the player so wants to roll to see how cunningly / how obviously noticeably shifty he (the ref) should play the NPC.

The first is, whilst I can see that you are positioning the game as very much a first person, in-character at the table, game, it therefore relies upon the player being able to vocally impress with their 'roleplaying' talent. There are a few natural limitations on this - specifically that someone who is a little socially limited, or simply not particularly eloquent, cannot RP a more eloquent, highly intelligent person. If that is going to be the be-all and end-all of the gaming then it acts as a natural upper limiter. Thats why most games use the RP to influence the dice, not the dice to influence the RP.

The second is the question of who decides what is 'good' RP, what is 'bad' RP and thus how successful conflicts are. This offers up a smorgasbord of chances for GM-Blocking, at-table conflicts over what is good or bad RP and an entire showroom of GM Fiat.


When I mentioned Mick the Ready's player's RP not being up to scratch because of the night before, I didn't mean to focus on some kind of quasi-artistic or dramatic merit. It's just about how well he does the practical job of convincing the NPC which basically means - how convincing is he? Mick's player as Mick has to "convince" the ref-as-NPC; obviously the ref is making allowances here, limiting himself to the NPC's knowledge. The dice-roll also means he goes easier or harder on Mick's player. He's not judging how well he's RPing the char; what he's doing is judging how convincing he's coming across to the NPC, giving more or less leeway according to the dice-roll.

Yes, in theory, this does mean that the socially impaired may struggle to play eloquent characters. More fundamentally, whether the character is eloquent or not, they are at a disadvantage convincing NPCs of anything anyway, as soon as you rely on dialogue.

But my take on that is threefold:-

1. players have different abilities at all sorts of things which find their way into reflecting on play - tactical manoeuvring; understanding of basic probabilities [in any game-system which uses randomisers!]; reading the ref's poker face; scheming and manipulating the ref and other players; flair for earning bonus points through any elements of metagame such as points for good roleplay or earning bonuses for playing up to behavioural tendencies;

2. social interaction is, IMHO YMMV, both safer and more potent than combat on the whole (turning enemies into allies rather than just lumps of dead meat), though of course there will be occasional exceptions (the allies won through combat or whatever) - so although you don't get quite as much impact on social interaction from social stats as you get on combat from combat stats, that's OK

3. most roleplayers are not actually THAT bad at social interaction within the framework of the tabletop gaming environment - and the ones who think they are TERRIBLE, are usually just mediocre - using my system, good dice-checks can more than make up for that - it's totally up to how far the GM takes the interpretation of the dice-checks, a question of judgment for him which comes with time and experience;

4. there's nothing to stop the GM going easier on people who are simply lacking in conversational ability, the same as he might go easier in combat on people who are lacking in tactical ability;

5. I think it is a price worth paying that SOME people will have some constraints on playing certain kinds of character to the max, if it means that everyone at the table is roleplaying immersively and if it heightens their experience of the game - it's a question of variety versus depth, and in this particular area, I think depth wins.

BTW I might actually replace the Stealth rules in the core book with a single roll check for a simple did spot them / didn't spot them result. For me, that's not the ideal - when NPCs are trying to sneak past PCs. But for PCs trying to sneak past NPCs it might work better, and I can always put the double roll Stealth rules in the 2nd book. Saves about 5 pages because of the need to explain to people how to use gradated Stealth results, so I might slim down that bit of crunch.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 3:49pm on 01 Dec 10

Omnifray wrote:BTW I might actually replace the Stealth rules in the core book with a single roll check for a simple did spot them / didn't spot them result. For me, that's not the ideal - when NPCs are trying to sneak past PCs. But for PCs trying to sneak past NPCs it might work better, and I can always put the double roll Stealth rules in the 2nd book. Saves about 5 pages because of the need to explain to people how to use gradated Stealth results, so I might slim down that bit of crunch.


I have put the emphasis on single roll Stealth checks now.

BTW interested that Neil was so focused on the way I presented the social example first.

Why was that?

At the moment the order of my chapters starts:-

0. Intro
1. CharGen
2.Core Mech
3. Reaction Time (order of initiative)
4. Attack/Defence
5. Fate/Energy
6. Soul's Ties stats
7. Stealth
8. Fear & Insanity
9. Persuasion
10. Setting
11. Magic etc.
etc.

But I could put it as

0. Intro
1. CharGen
2. Core Mech
3. Persuasion
4. Reaction Time
5. Attack/Defence
6. Fate/Energy
7. Soul's Ties stats
8. Fear & Insanity
9. Stealth
etc.

It doesn't really make sense to have the Fate/Energy or Stealth chapters before the combat stuff because some of it is combat-specific. The Fate chapter kinda needs to come before the Soul's Ties chapter.

Thoughts?
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 6:07pm on 06 Dec 10

Mick Red wrote:...Combat should be fast and over in no more than 2-3 dice rolls.. w dont need tables for jumping climbing or stuff like that, lets just assume we can do it....


Just for you, Mick, I've written up rules on impressionistic combat.

The players state their tactics (can be done in a written note). The ref takes a global view. Each PC or major NPC, and each group of mookish NPCs, gets an outcome/fallout roll. This dice-roll is a double roll with no stat modifiers. It can result in far better than, somewhat better than, same as, somewhat worse than or far worse than expected outcomes.

If the result looks bad enough for a PC to take a major injury you can switch to the detailed rules for an attack against that PC with a situational bonus, or maybe a couple of attacks.

There's a lot of handwavium and it relies on the ref having the confidence to adjudicate on the fly but it's ultra-quick.

Now I don't see this replacing the detailed rules of combat. But for combat where the PCs are not likely to be particularly seriously injured, it's fine.

Back in the conventional world of detailed combat, I have also ripped the guts out of the grappling rules.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Neil Gow » 6:11pm on 06 Dec 10

BTW interested that Neil was so focused on the way I presented the social example first.



It was an interesting - possibly unintentional - statement of intent. Many games start with combat and then work their social mechanics off that. You stated your social ones first as an example of your core mechanic. I like that. Its a cool way to present the game.

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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 6:33pm on 06 Dec 10

Neil Gow wrote:
BTW interested that Neil was so focused on the way I presented the social example first.



It was an interesting - possibly unintentional - statement of intent. Many games start with combat and then work their social mechanics off that. You stated your social ones first as an example of your core mechanic. I like that. Its a cool way to present the game.

Neil


The sad truth is I typed out the combat example first out of habit, then I could virtually hear Mick's snoring carried on the wind from Plymouth to Newcastle, so I swapped them around. But maybe the social interaction rules deserve to go first, after CharGen and Core Mechanics. They are likely to make a lot more impact on the style of game. I like combat and I like a reasonable amount of crunch but it's hardly the point of the game. The point of the game is the roleplay (!).

EDIT:- I have now switched the chapters around so that the order is basically:-
1. CharGen
2. Core Mech & impressionistic combat system
3. Persuasion
4. detailed combat system:- speed of action
5. detailed combat system:- attack/defence
6. Stealth
7. Energy Fate Luck
8. Soul's Calling-based stats
9. Fear/Insanity
10. Enshrouded Lands
11. Magic etc.
12. Herbal concoctions etc.
13. Advancement
14. Mini-bestiary
15. PreGens
Appendix - reffing advice (mostly)

PS Mick if you're reading this, the post I PM'd you about is the one directly above Neil Gow's last post.
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Mick Red » 12:59am on 07 Dec 10

Still way to crunchy dude keep stripping
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Re: Soul's Calling

Postby Omnifray » 10:34am on 07 Dec 10

Mick Red wrote:Still way to crunchy dude keep stripping


What about the impressionistic combat system?

How can "one opposed double dice-roll with no stat modifiers for each PC and major NPC and for each group of mookish NPCs, with the ref going off his general impressions of the combatants' abilities" be too crunchy for anyone?

I mean unless you're actually playing gnomemurdered, that's about as abstract and simple as you can get, isn't it?
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Postby Pete » 11:45am on 07 Dec 10

Hi Matt

Design the game you wanna play. Not the game that Mick wants.

I like crunch in some of my gaming, so if Soul's Calling needs grappling rules, then leave those "guts" right in there.

It ain't my intent to come across as a patronising git there. Game on dudes, game on. I'm up for giving Soul's Calling a bash at IndieCon 2011 - hopefully it'll be fun and immersive.

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