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Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:42 am

Okay, so I've been sitting on this idea for a while, but I'd kind of like to put together my own tabletop RP system.

The basic idea behind it is that it takes place next-sunday AD in a world with millions of different gods. Mortals, as a rule, don't have magic, but Gods do. The plot of the RP world, as it were, is that many many years in the past, the gods were highly active in mortal affairs, but their interaction just slowly trickled away. It wasn't until the information revolution that the gods realized that the mortals had stopped believing in them. This not only made them weaker, but it made it possible for them to die of old age. And so the gods are flocking (or sending their avatars) en masse to a world jacked up with science they don't understand and full of mortals who don't like/care about them.

Mechanically, the main idea behind the system is the three races and their two leveling trees. A player can play as a Deity, an Avatar or a Mortal, and each is equally disadvantaged. The two leveling trees are the Mortal tree, which functions like a typical RPG, with levels gained through combat and quests, and the Devine tree, which can only be climbed if if a person on it evokes powerful emotional reactions such as worship, terror, praise or insanity. Mortals can only level in the Mortal tree and gain powers associated with it, Deities are the same with the Devine tree, and Avatars can level on either tree, but have the same level cap as the other races.

Thoughts, advice and criticism? Also, sorry if this is in the wrong space.

Abilities doc, work in progress

Combat Doc

NPCs doc


Last edited by Elacular on Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:31 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:02 am

Well your biggest problem is that you posted this twice... Outside of that I think this is the right spot for it. Seems like a neat idea for a system.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:14 pm

Asdf, stupid internet. Sorry about that. Fixed it.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:15 pm

Sounds like a fun idea that can be explored in lots of different ways. What kind of advice would you like?

I would like to know what kind of abilities and powers each race has, and what they can gain.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:12 pm

Mainly I'd like advice on the more structured, mathy parts of the affair. Stuff like racial balancing and the like.

As for the abilities, I know that it will have high reflavorability like ponytales, but beyond that I'm of sort of two minds about it. I definitely know that there will be Mortal and Devine ability points, but I'm not sure if there will be two or three ability trees, or just one with different costs for different points.

For example:

Smartphone: (1 mortal point, 5 Devine points)
You have a small, portable machine which can access the internet, make phone calls and record things.

I'm also not sure how to handle Devine domains or gods or avatars whose main shape isn't human. I was thinking of doing something like the old genetic mutations in pony tales, but I'm not sure.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:19 pm

Sorry, I don't know much about the mathy aspects of games.

So you said that avatars can level up on either tree. What exactly is their place in the game? Their purpose?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:31 pm

In a story sense, it's because gods too lazy or too hurt by lack of prayer to go down to earth sent them there on their behalf.

In a mechanical sense it just sorta felt right. Maybe a better word for them would be...semimortals? Demidivines, I dunno. Cause I just wanted a mechanic through which things like avatars, demigods and the like who weren't quite mortal or god could operate. And because I didn't want magic and science to feel like a "never the twain shall meet" type thing.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:36 pm

That's kinda what I thought. And being an avatar sound like a lot of fun. Having to deal with the pressure from the gods on one side, and problems with the public on the other. I know what I'd be playing as if this was a game.

So, how might a typical game start?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:42 pm

Well, presumably the party would all come together by happenstance and be introduced to their first low-level issue of the game. Through this they'd be introduced to the plot hook if one wasn't already implied at the beginning and get dragged into the gods-vs-humans bullshit that's going on wherever the game takes place.

Something like this:

The party meets in a bar in Portland OR where they find a low-level, super holier-than-thou god of chastity trying to hit up a stripper. If they call him on it, a fight breaks out presumably ending in the god defeated and them thrown out of the bar. However, when they search the unconscious (or dead. Gods and avatars can die if you hit them enough) god they find a strange mechanism planted on them made by grimdark corporation, a highly naytheistic company based in Seattle.

Or something. Iunno
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:18 pm

so, in terms of racial balancing, some of that would probably depend on what the abilities are.

How would combat work? And skill checks?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:19 pm

With how I see that this system is built on the idea of blending HIGH FANTASY & SCI-FI! With there being at it's core a system built of "Mortal" "Avatar" & "Gods"... Then the biggest issue to be aware of is the need to be five types of stuff... Magic Only, "Flip Coin" Talent Pairs, & Mixed-Science-Magic stuff... Also suggest having there be some options that are mortals only or gods only...

Would this system only want to only give magic to Gods... Or can mortals get some degree of magical control? And on the flipside is this system only wanting Science only for the Mortals or can to some degree the rare open minded god who was either born or reinvented themselves to better fit in with this new age do with the the fancy science. Will the only mixing of the two subjects happen ONLY for Avatars? If so, why?

What is the lore for this system... How much work is planned to be done on that? I assume quite a bit cause you already said that the Gods are the old high-fantasy type of magic folks & Mortals are mostly the high-tech sci-fi folks... So how does that factor into the game system? What types of games do you want to allow this system to do? Horror, Adventure, Slice of life, Spy thriller, or what?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:07 pm

@mjh6: I'm not sure about the combat. I am incredibly crap at combat in any system I'm in. My first thought is to make it pip based, similar to pony tales, but that's just because it's the combat I like best. For Skill checks, I was thinking sort of a combination of the not-wanderlust skill system and the classic D&D type. Like the six classic things each split into three subskills with three trained skills and maybe an expert skill.

@Xel: Well, it's more fantasy than Sci Fi. I probably used the phrase next sunday AD, but what I meant was that it's closer to modern than it is to traditional Sci Fi. Even so, the mortals do have enough science to make the more traditional gods piss themselves, and it's at a point where basic mind-movey prosthetics exist. Maybe super advanced companies would have a couple of laser guns, but for the time being the bullet based sort work fine. I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by five types. Could you expand on that? And yes, there would definitely be mortal/god exclusive things.

Some humans would be able to use magic, but only if they were particularly close to a god. For example, a priest of a fire god might be able to light things on fire with his mind. But they would have to train a great deal to be as mystically powerful as any devine or semidivine and they would have to maintain a close connection with their god. Open minded gods can figure out how to use technology, but it generally takes them a much longer time since they're just so old and full of experiences. Younger gods would have an easier time integrating, and new gods do happen from time to time. But they wouldn't have a lot of innate abilities that mortals have. For example, a power that only pure mortals have is that, by praying to a god, they can heal the wounds of that god to whatever degree they actually believe what they're saying. But no, mixing of science and magic can happen for humans and gods. It's just harder for them than it is for avatars or demigods.

There is going to be quite a bit of lore to start with, but since there are millions of gods and billions of humans, lore will be largely player and GM driven with just a few rough guidelines set up in the system itself. I will want to do quite a bit of work on that, and I wouldn't mind help. I would prefer mostly Adventure type games to be done with this, but I wouldn't mind if any of those others were possible. If that makes sense.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Xel Unknown on Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:30 pm

Ermmm.... Well my ideas on the 5 types of talents system was something like this: There is magic powered stuff that is magic only option, is the first type of talents... And the second type is there the Science only options that do some things that you can only get by way of SCIENCE! or the like... There'd also be what I'd call "flipcoin" talent pairs that mechanically they do the same thing, how you get them might be different, but one of them has flavor where it be by purely magical means, the other be by purely science means, which would fill up the 3 & 4 types... The final 5th type of talents would the talents are a big mix of both magic & science... That's what I kinda mean... You'd most likely focus a lot of the system being on the flipcoin talents and figuring out fun ways to make some options be easy on magic hard for science, and vice versa... So yeah.

I'd also suggest trying to ballpark a timeline and the like to help newcomers understand the setting a lot.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:34 pm

Aaah, alright. That makes a lot more sense. Thank you. And I'll write up the ballpark timeline and post it asap.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:23 pm

Alright, approximate timeline.

Prehistoric humans: Gods begin establishing selves on protohumans.

Approx 10,000 BCE: Deific pecking order established. Mortals are the lowest rung.

Approx 6,000 BCE: Gods getting bored with mortals. Agriculture firmly established.

Approx 4,000 BCE: Gods begin leaving mortal plane en masse. Beginning of Bronze age.

Approx 3,000 BCE: Most gods in ethereal plane. Humans develop writing.

Approx 2,000 BCE: All gods not fanatically invested or bound in the mortal realm have left. Tale of the demigod Gilgamesh* is recorded as a myth.

2,000 BCE-2,000 CE: The human era. Gods of the past are regarded as myths. Those still on earth are in resting/ hiding or masquerading as mortal. Gods who openly demand worship are regarded as madmen and killed.

20XX, CE: The god Zoroaster* dies of old age. Gods flock back to the earth En Masse. Games take place here.

*Names and stories subject to change for fictionalization purposes
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  AProcrastinatingWriter on Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:11 pm

Story advice: determine what the tone of your setting is and what point it's trying to get across, if any. If none, try and describe things as open-ended as possible. If you want to play up the conflict, make sure to write in that mindset. If you wish for gods and mortals to ultimately start working together again, maybe set up some anti-divine presence in the background that may serve as the final boss of the setting.

Gameplay-wise: it'll be difficult to balance, but more options is always, always, always better than less. Ideally, you want something in the middle - neither too restricting nor too complicated - but always err on the side of more options and therefore more choices and therefore more freedom. Additionally, never be afraid to boot the whole thing out and start over again. If something doesn't work, it doesn't work. Simple as that.

...s'all I've got.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:47 pm

Sorry to be AWOL yesterday. Anyway.

Story: hmmm...the settings tone would be at about mid-level I think. Not overly goofy, but not SRS BSNS. And the theme...I hadn't considered a central theme for it. Maybe "Faith is powerful, but not necessarily good"? That's definitely the case in this setting. But I'm trying to make it very open ended as you suggested. No one party is right or wrong, all of them have good and bad people.

Gameplay: alright. Where abilities was concerned, I was figuring I would do something like pre-wanderlust ponytales with maybe just a bit of genetic modification thrown in.  Thank you for the help.

Would it help if I laid down three campaign ideas with different levels of seriousness?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:48 pm

sure, sounds like fun
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:18 pm

Alright.

Super serious campaign: The mouths of babes.
"Mortals will never understand, not even for an instant, how powerful their children are."

Your group has been hired to inspect a strange affair in Miami Florida. Apparently street kids and wards of the state have been vanishing lately and people are getting paranoid. It's believed to be Divine interference and local gods are being attacked, but the kids are still disappearing.

Campaign end:
You discover, by speaking to the street children, that they "know" what's happening. Their friends are being stolen by La Llorna and demons who found their way to earth. These are the secret stories that they would tell each other because "God is dead".
You can speak to one of the older gods in the city and they explain to you that children are some of the most powerful mortals, because their belief is so genuine. You also find out, if you press them, that the street children believed in their stories so powerfully that they became real, and now La Llorna is trying to take all the children away. However, the children also created an ally, the Blue Lady. You can only save them if you find her in the ocean and undo the spells that bind her by yelling her true name.

Mid level campaign: The new Eden
"Hoc est in paradisum. De mane!"

You are hired by the city council of New York City to inspect an issue with Central Park. Namely, it seems to have disappeared, leaving an eyesore hole in the ground, some very messed up topiary and a great deal of broken pipes. Eventually, you find out that a group of gods and semidivines levitated the entire park and replanted it in a storm cloud which they proceeded to hover a few miles away from the edge of the city.

Campaign end:
After getting up there, you find out that these gods were exiled from their pantheon's paradise and decided to make their own heaven a place on earth. However, they were annoyed by all the humans running around in their park and decided to take it somewhere else. NYC's loyal gods would gladly put it back once these losers are gone, so it's up to you to figure out how to get the gods to ditch the park, with or without hurting the transients they accidentally kidnapped.

Goofy Campaign: Washington Divine Comedy
"Are you a bad enough dude to save the president?"

This was the title of the Craigslist ad posted by your clearly unhinged benefactor. According to her, apparently one of the POTUS' cabinet members is "literally Satan". For one reason or another, you ended up in DC on her dime and were shocked to find that the inside of the White house had been turned into a nine level labyrinth of damned souls with the president at the center, being annoyed by his secretary of commerce. Of course.


Last edited by Elacular on Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:52 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:35 pm

This all sounds interesting. You think that the game should feature a few sample gods, avatars, and important humans?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:49 pm

You mean like premade NPCs? Sure. Lots of them will be based on real mythology. Like the thing with LA Llorna is based on stories that street kids in Miami really tell.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:43 pm

Yeah, I think I've heard that story. I don't know that I'd be much help coming up with gods based on real mythology, but I could try to come up with humans and organizations.


Also, some semi silly ability suggestions, for low level gods

Smiting- (2 divine points, 10 mortal points)

You may produce a small lightning bolt and shock someone who disrespects you/your god.

Divine light(1 divine point, 2 mortal points)

You can glow with divine power at will.

Patron of ______ (2 diving points, 3 mortal points)

Choose a type of animal. You may now communicate with this animal. This ability may be taken multiple times, choosing a different animal each time.

Water Walk (1 divine point, 4 mortal points)

When traveling by foot, treat any liquid as a solid surface for thee purposes of walking, assuming the liquid would not otherwise harm you
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:48 pm

I actually like all those skills. Especially smiting. I'm gonna start putting an ability doc together.

Also, I would really like all the help I can get. Human elements of stories are my weak point. And hey, not all the gods will be based on history.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  mjh6 on Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:56 pm

I also imagine all these powers potentially being upgradable. Smiting starts off as merely unpleasant, but eventually can disable or even kill. Start off being able to communicate with animals, but be able to summon or command them, or embue one with divine power to act as a servant /guide.

I'm a bit harder put to come up with mortal abilities, so if someone else could come up with some for example, I'd appreciate it.

I do actually have a few vague ideas for human organizations and non mythological gods. Eventually, I might post them.
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Re: Advice for potential game system

Post  Elacular on Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:09 pm

Well, first things first, here's a link to the theoretical abilities doc. I do like the idea of strengthening abilities, so we can figure out how that works in time. I imagine that if a mortal had Smiting they'd have an experimental Tesla gun. There will, however, be a destiny for highly magical mortals allowing them to get divine points. And just the opposite for gods.

Opinions: I might rename Divine and Mortal points Magic and Science points respectively. Less repetition, feels more accurate. Thoughts?
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Re: Advice for potential game system

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