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September 17, 2018 0 comments

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A Consolidated (Simplified) Modifiers Table

To introduce this topic, I ask this question: Who is the primary audience for this game?

My instinct tells me that your audience is not people who are new to rpgs, but new gamers might be possible. I’m sure you’ll therefore have the requisite introductory chapter on “What is Roleplaying?”, etc.

If your audience is more seasoned to rpgs, much of the crunchier aspects of this game (Combat and Spellcasting) make more sense and are entirely welcome. Seasoned gamers might memorize all of your modifiers and apply them to their tactical scenarios. Others might find them useful recommendations and compare them to their own instincts and past precedents.

If your audience is fairly new to rpgs, it might find itself overwhelmed. It also might find the highly granular aspects of Combat and (to a lesser extent) Spellcasting out of step with some other features of the game, notably your (genius) Wealth system.

As a consumer, let me give a thumbnail of my reactions so far.

Stats: Just makes sense. Well done! As a preference, in the characters I have made, I haven’t allowed any Stats to be at 0 (though Kin modifiers sometimes have resulted in 0 or less!)

Kins: Seems serviceable. Thanks for the HP boosts! Playtesting in my home group might result in more attitudes here.

Cultures: Super cool! Thank you!

Vocations: Very cool! Thank you! Here is another example where you have “simplified” things. No 3 DPs for 2 Ranks nonsense. Put 1 or 2 into a Skill. Move 3 for 1 into another category. Quick and intuitive!

Background, Passions and Drive: Background appears to work great! I’m excited to see more options in the full rules. Passions and Drive... I doubt my players are going to get very specific about these, but, again, the playtest will tell.

Resolving Actions: Looks good. And here is where I find what I would propose as a “core mechanic.” All actions (including combat) should be modified, according to the GM, in reference to one simple chart. +0, -10, -20, -30, -40, -50, -70. I expect you see where I am going with this.

Movement and Traveling: I love the Hazards table! What a great way to emulate the journey/quest narrative without introducing more mechanics (and it provides more opportunity for those oft-neglected “Adventuring” skills to get some screen time!).

Wealth and Treasure: Genius! When this aspect of the game so abstracted, I wonder why other aspects aren’t also.

Magic and Spells: Other genius innovations (short of the possible modifiers to casting).

So, what I have in mind is, instead of overburdening the new gamer with tables of conditions and modifiers, why not give simple base recommendations and leave it up to the GM? Seasoned gamers are going to modify this to their tastes anyway. New gamers might misunderstand all this as prescriptive rather than descriptive.

It seems to me that a lot of your Combat and Spellcasting is overburdened with the legacy of games that have come before it. For full publication I recommend a “Basic” edition (in the front of the book) and recommendations and suggestions for specific, tactical circumstances to which modifier tables might apply. You might have planned something like this already, of course.

Last year, in a fit of nostalgia, I started playing one of my favorite childhood games. Like you, I found myself dissatisfied. Ultimately I moved to Swords & Wizardry, importing aspects from MERP that I wanted to retain.

What you have done, as a result of the same impulse, appears fantastic! No negative modifiers for being unskilled? Thanks! Attack and Critical charts that fit neatly onto one GM screen? Thanks! I’m waiting to see how the Weapon stats will work for me. I didn’t appreciate having to mind those in MERP. As a “fix,” I didn’t appreciate flipping through a book of charts in RM2. I expect, rather than looking up weapons stats for VsD, I might make situational rulings. I also will encourage players to remember these things as best they can, too.

Thanks Gabe, this kind of feedback is really precious to us!

Glad you like so many features! ^_^

About suggestions for new players: yes, the Full Rules will contain lots of examples and suggestions that we were forced to cut in the QS. The "Basic" version of the rules is actually a great idea, I think that something like that would be really useful, especially to new GMs.

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.
Quote from Gabe Dybing on December 30, 2018, 10:29 pm

To introduce this topic, I ask this question: Who is the primary audience for this game?

My instinct tells me that your audience is not people who are new to rpgs, but new gamers might be possible. I’m sure you’ll therefore have the requisite introductory chapter on “What is Roleplaying?”, etc.

To be true our expected audience is seasoned RPG players mostly.
We expect quite a lot of them - say a 50% - come from the experience of playing *master games.
We do not expect a lot of newcomers to tabletop RPGs, although it is still possible.

If your audience is more seasoned to rpgs, much of the crunchier aspects of this game (Combat and Spellcasting) make more sense and are entirely welcome. Seasoned gamers might memorize all of your modifiers and apply them to their tactical scenarios. Others might find them useful recommendations and compare them to their own instincts and past precedents.

Agreed.

If your audience is fairly new to rpgs, it might find itself overwhelmed. It also might find the highly granular aspects of Combat and (to a lesser extent) Spellcasting out of step with some other features of the game, notably your (genius) Wealth system.

Probably, yes.
We wanted to make VsD modular and so have rule systems and blocks be added and modified at players' discretion.
Combat and Spellcasting are crunchy and granular by design, because we wanted the game to focus on that aspects that make core tropes of the High Fantasy genre.
OTOH, the Wealth system is purposedly kept simpler and more abstract because it's not the main focus of an high adventure game to pile on riches.
However, if your VsD is about nobles outwitting each other in a courtly game, you could probably throw out the Wealth system and replace it with a more granular one (maybe something inspired by the most excellent Burning Wheel and its Resources system).

As a consumer, let me give a thumbnail of my reactions so far.

Stats: Just makes sense. Well done! As a preference, in the characters I have made, I haven’t allowed any Stats to be at 0 (though Kin modifiers sometimes have resulted in 0 or less!)

In our intention, 0 is the default of the Average Joe.
So 0 is not bad per se. Stats lower than 0 are, indeed, quite bad.
A peasant or commoner could have 0 total points to distribute among their Stats (plus any Kin modifier), a minor NPC a 10 or 15, a major NPC a 25 (like starting PCs) and a Heoric NPC 40 or more!

Kins: Seems serviceable. Thanks for the HP boosts! Playtesting in my home group might result in more attitudes here.

Cultures: Super cool! Thank you!

Vocations: Very cool! Thank you! Here is another example where you have “simplified” things. No 3 DPs for 2 Ranks nonsense. Put 1 or 2 into a Skill. Move 3 for 1 into another category. Quick and intuitive!

Thank you for the feedback. Streamlining was one of our main design goals here, as long as eliminating false choices and baits.

Background, Passions and Drive: Background appears to work great! I’m excited to see more options in the full rules. Passions and Drive... I doubt my players are going to get very specific about these, but, again, the playtest will tell.

Backgrounds will be greatly expanded in the Full Rules, cause they are the real deal of Character Creation, the factor that truly diversifies and customizes characters.

As for Passions and Drive: those too will be expanded in the Full Rules with some serviceable examples of play.
We aknowledge those are not for everyone's taste. You could push hard on Passions and Drive in a character-driven game and use them as fuel for a more narrativist approach, driven by player's agenda.
Either, you lay down simpler worded Passions to let them kick in as a secondary reward if your approach is more GM-centric. We do like this in our home game with my IRL group. Characters have very basic Passions defining them and we are kind of loose when aknowledging Drive points. This adds flavor without sacrificing speed of play.

Resolving Actions: Looks good. And here is where I find what I would propose as a “core mechanic.” All actions (including combat) should be modified, according to the GM, in reference to one simple chart. +0, -10, -20, -30, -40, -50, -70. I expect you see where I am going with this.

Interesting concept.
We preferred a more granular approach in those fields that are zoomed in by design (the afrementioned Combat and Spellcasting) but what you propose is totally doable, maybe as a quick & dirty approach to the game.

Movement and Traveling: I love the Hazards table! What a great way to emulate the journey/quest narrative without introducing more mechanics (and it provides more opportunity for those oft-neglected “Adventuring” skills to get some screen time!).

Nice to hear 🙂

Wealth and Treasure: Genius! When this aspect of the game so abstracted, I wonder why other aspects aren’t also.

I think I may have answered you here.

Magic and Spells: Other genius innovations (short of the possible modifiers to casting).

So, what I have in mind is, instead of overburdening the new gamer with tables of conditions and modifiers, why not give simple base recommendations and leave it up to the GM? Seasoned gamers are going to modify this to their tastes anyway. New gamers might misunderstand all this as prescriptive rather than descriptive.

It seems to me that a lot of your Combat and Spellcasting is overburdened with the legacy of games that have come before it. For full publication I recommend a “Basic” edition (in the front of the book) and recommendations and suggestions for specific, tactical circumstances to which modifier tables might apply. You might have planned something like this already, of course.

As Max said, yes we in fact have.
Probably yes, we can say that some of the crunchier parts of the game show the legacy of the games that inspired VsD more than others.
This is sort of a feature, isn't it? We may however want to have also a simplified approach to those sub-systems.

Last year, in a fit of nostalgia, I started playing one of my favorite childhood games. Like you, I found myself dissatisfied. Ultimately I moved to Swords & Wizardry, importing aspects from MERP that I wanted to retain.

What you have done, as a result of the same impulse, appears fantastic! No negative modifiers for being unskilled? Thanks! Attack and Critical charts that fit neatly onto one GM screen? Thanks! I’m waiting to see how the Weapon stats will work for me. I didn’t appreciate having to mind those in MERP. As a “fix,” I didn’t appreciate flipping through a book of charts in RM2. I expect, rather than looking up weapons stats for VsD, I might make situational rulings. I also will encourage players to remember these things as best they can, too.

We will have crunchy Weapons and Armors table in the Full Rules, but we aknowledge they could be not for everyone's taste. So I suppose situational rulings and a more improvised approach could be welcome. After all, we aim at providing a core framework that can be used a basis for developing rulings fitting the taste of various groups with different play styles.
Your proposed house rules are a perfect example of how the system can be customized to your group's tastes with ease.

Thank you for the great feedback!

For no one in this world you can trust, my son. Not man, not woman, not beast. But STEEL... this, you can trust!