Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

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Publisher of the Crimson Exodus sword & sorcery style roleplaying game, the stand alone wound encyclopedia Trauma, and the Fantasy Dice game system known for fast and simple game mechanics with lots of tactical depth.

Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

Postby Thorgarth » 3:11pm on 17 Apr 14

First of all My congrats to Claus for a very good job on both the system AND the setting of Crimson Exodus, now on it´s 2nd edition.

I recently bought it (PDF version) and as I´m reading through it I will try to post here my thoughts, suggestions and questions regarding both elements (system and setting), both in substance and form, with the aim of contributing to a permanent improvement of the game.

As such, and in no particular order on my 1st post I would like to raise 3 "issues".

First, and to try to systemize and give a better understanding of the flow of events, on a historical level, I think a Timeline of events, at least the major events (though some minor events would add depth), would be crucial to a better understanding of the developments world wide. Starting with the arrival of the Elves as year 0, and moving from there, with points such as the outbreak of the plague (and we need more info on this), the start of the exodus and the turn point when the Empress left the court, the start of the barbarian invasions, the dwarven "crusade" to retake their lands to the south, major moments regarding the rocky sea area and the bardur kingdoms, concerning also the serpent empire, etc...

I think this will be a major asset to the setting.

Secondly, and on more specific points, regarding:

- The Elnar and Bardur nobility. Bardur nobility are direct descendants of the Elnar, with variable purity nowadays, with the mixing (though forbidden) of bardur blood. As such I reckon that THAT is the reason why there is such a discrepancy between the age info on both peoples (e.g. Bardur nobility category old goes from 75-95 years while Elnar goes from 100-179, a huge diference). It would be great though to have that, or any other reason, clear on the section regarding Bardur nobility.

- the discrepancy between the way Bardur commoners and Dwarfs are portrait in terms of skill regarding smithing and the actual "skill levels" given to players of both races. From the text the Dwarfs are seen as the epitome of smithing skill, and generally excel in it on a general terms, BUT Bardur commoners may start with a higher dice in smithing compared to them, 1d8 for Bardur while only 1d6 for Dwarfs, and the former may start with any 2 specialities, while the dwarfs only 1.

It seems to me that it should be the other way around, or am I seeing it wrong?

I will post more as I read through the book.
Thorgarth
1st-level
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Re: Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

Postby Claus » 7:39pm on 17 Apr 14

I have been having a similar conversation over on Google+ as to how the races (aka peoples) were created and as I said there I had a spreadsheet to give me a rough build point total reflecting attributes, skills and traits, but it was only used to guide the process and not to provide balance. Even so the Dwarves have above average attributes, some very nice traits and access to more skill specialities than any other race, except maybe the Elves. Their Strength if 3 already gives them an advantage in Smithing, but just because Dwarves are the best smiths (and arguably also some of the finest poets and scribes) does not mean that all Dwarves are master smiths. The D6 ratings were assigned as minimum for any Dwarf. So all Dwarves will have Smithing and some form of mountain Survival at D6, but a Dwarven smith will typically have D8 or D10.

Yes, Bardur nobility have shorter lifespan because they are descended from Elnar (who in turn have some Elven blood) but have mixed with the local Bardur people for many generations, and as you will have noted the lifespan of men, orcs and dwarves are all quite short. Of course the exact lifespan will vary a lot from Kingdom to Kingdom and even from family to family. The nobility of the kingdom of Fydor will likely have a lifespans very close to the Elnar, while in Beria or the Wolfwoods the situation will be very different.

Discussing these ideas is always fun. Then again you might have a better idea so just let your imagination run and use the text and maps as inspiration, and interesting story ideas will emerge.
http://www.RadicalApproach.co.uk - Crimson Exodus and Trauma
Claus
Radical Approach
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Re: Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

Postby Thorgarth » 3:50pm on 19 Apr 14

On to the skill part...

I must say that I find the rolls and rules core very smartly built, giving the player some leeway in terms of strategy concerning the roles, and overall with no issues, apart from 2 which I think needs to be cleared:

- Combined vs Teamwork skill rolls... I get it then when a roll involves 2 or more skills the overall result is dependent of an average skill, and not the simple adding of them, while the goal of using team work for solving a problem is exactly adding the skill or raw atribute to make it easier.

When you say that we should use the combined skill roll rules we must also add the skill and then divide by the number of players OR that only applies when combining different skill? e.g. if 3 players where combining their Strength to move a very large rock blocking the doorway, should they just add the combined St score then divide by 3 or just adding the St score to get the number of dice to roll... It seems to me that the former would void the goal of using more people to help achieving a difficult task, because in such cases each player contributes to reinforce the overall "power".

Taking into account the Dominate section on Social Conflict rules it seems that even when only one skill is involved we actually should add the scores THEN divide by the number of players contributing... On this case in particular the point I made above is minored by the fact that we could just give a bias modifier for large numbers BUT it seems to be that this rules misses the purpose of joining efforts to overcome a problem. If you just average the pool WHY would any1 join the effort apart from the ONE with the single highest Skill/Atribute Score, since all else would just end with a lower dice pool?

- The fear rolls, specially regarding the horror section. Though the book states that the DM should use this rolls sparingly on the horror table a single random bandit may seem enough to prompt such a roll to enable the players to attack him, based it´s "horror"... I get it that to an average group of adventurers an encounter with some beasts/monsters could be traumatizing for the 1st times BUT unless the bandit is in fact a group of bandits with a reasonable upper hand on the encounter I see no reason for such.

One other aspect I´m considering changing as a house rule is the skill scope. I understand that such skill construction was meant to make things easier to track, make it more streamlined and easier for the character to choose by reducing the sheer number of them, BUT I just find the scope of some skills (actually a significant part) way too big, and the melee skill is the epitome.

Taking into account the way the skills AND skill system is built it puts an abnormal focus on a large scope skill with the specialty just as 1dice bonus. Comparing this system for instance with the way Rolemaster skill system is built (with a rating both for skill category, a common rating to a group of related skills, and for each skill), the focus is the opposite. While in Rolemaster the the main score comes from the skill rating, with the skill category just helping and making it possible to even try to roll in untrained skill, here a basic score in, say smithing, enables the character to try to do anything from a pair of gold earrings (goldsmith) to make a plate armor or a lock, with the only thing to differentiate the various areas a 1dice bonus. I could say the same about the crafts, the lores AND the melee skills. Things could be more balanced IF we could keep "investing" the same specialty, buying more levels in it (which would give us more dices to roll other than the one bonus dice), but even then some skills have just way too many areas of knowledge.

What i´m thinking I will do is just reduce the skills, in most cases, to what is know a specialty, and then make some specialties for each, in most cases based on the actual descriptions already in the book or just using common-sense.
e.g. Smithing skill would become, Goldsmith skill, armorsmith, Bladesmith, with specialties for each, like Armorsmith - (Maces and flails, Hammers and picks, Swords, Axes, etc...).
Thorgarth
1st-level
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Re: Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

Postby Claus » 9:27pm on 19 Apr 14

Hi, glad you like it.

Teamwork
As the first paragraph says: “People can work together either to benefit from different skills, reduce the time to complete the task or to do something that is difficult for one person to do alone.”

As the text says, when a roll is required each person involved can either:

a) Roll to complete their part – most suitable when the task is divided between the team.
b) Adjust the difficulty to reflect the number of characters working together, then have the leader roll with the combined skill.

So when you combine a team roll adjust the difficulty, and yes the combined skill roll is still divided by the number of skills involved. So a large rock which is hard for one person might be just tricky for two people to push.

Horror
As the text says the table is just a few example difficulties for courage rolls and does not mean a courage roll is always needed in those circumstances. Whether a bandit (or group of them) might require a courage roll will depend entirely on the situation and you as the GM must make that call and assign a difficulty you think reflects the fear of being attacked or threatened. Use it to add drama.

Skills
A lot of effort, time and playtesting was done to get a set of skills in Fantasy Dice that is relevant to a fantasy roleplaying game, with skills that will be used in situations when success/failure really matters (rather than a description or talent being sufficient) and cover a big enough area that they are likely to be used.

It was also important to keep the number of skills manageable, but at the same time give choice and variety to make characters unique. Finally, having a skill such as Melee cover all close combat with specialities in major weapon types was done because once someone is a master swordsman or blacksmith, they are likely to be quite good at related areas of that field and able to learn fast. Having Melee D10 with the sword and shield specialities means that you are an expert fighter and you have combat awareness. You have reflexes and experience that tells you how to read your opponent and how to stay alive and win in a fight. You might not be an expert at wielding an axe, but if you got your hands on one you would still be a deadly opponent, and if you decided to learn to fight with an axe it would be much faster and easier for you to learn that speciality than some greenhorn who has never left his farming village.

However, I understand completely that different games and players require different skill structures and there is nothing wrong with breaking up the skills or adding more. Especially if you are planning on playing a long campaign with players who are into that sort of thing. I hope my explanation above helps you do just that and do share and let us know how it goes.
http://www.RadicalApproach.co.uk - Crimson Exodus and Trauma
Claus
Radical Approach
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Re: Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

Postby Thorgarth » 12:40am on 21 Apr 14

Regarding combined rolls I understand your choice and realize is as valid as my take on it, but I still find that imposing the averaging in all cases will sometime raise the question if it is indeed positive to add help, even with the slight lowering of the difficulty.

As for horror, and taking into account the way the setting was designed, low-fantasy but with lot´s of violence, uprisings, war, the plague and the undeads, racial violence, etc, I will be very circumspect about the use of courage checks in most low-end encounters, unless very special reasons state otherwise.

On the skills, I understand the reasoning behind your choice but personally I prefer a more personalized, specific and smaller scope for my skills, especially (as you also mentioned) considering large scale campaigns and the chance for a more substancial progress character wise. I will probably also introduce the chance to keep "investing" in the specially, conferring further bonus dice on the rolls.
Thorgarth
1st-level
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Re: Suggestions/questions Crimson Exodus 2nd Edition

Postby Claus » 8:07am on 21 Apr 14

Sounds like you've thought it through and come up with some good house rules that will fit your game.

Keep in mind, for combined rolls, that helping is not always a good thing. Take a social conflict where you're trying to smooth talk a Lord and then your vagabond companion tries to help and says all the wrong things, or you're trying to sail a ship but your crew is a bunch of landcrabs. I'm not saying you can't do it your way, you certainly can and having everyone roll lots of dice and getting physically involved does have its appeal.

Building on your idea of investing in a speciality, if you want to allow for a lot of detail and character development you could keep the speciality die separate from the the rest of the roll, and make speciality improvement cheaper. Then specialities could have a dice rating just like the skill, e.g: D6, D8, D10, D12 (even D14 and D16 if you want to take it further and can get your hands on those dice). So, Skill D8 + Speciality-A D6 & Speciality-B D10
http://www.RadicalApproach.co.uk - Crimson Exodus and Trauma
Claus
Radical Approach
User avatar
Location: London
Thanks: 28 given/37 received
Running: Edge of The Empire
Planning: Too many games at once!


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