This is my first not-Dungeons and Dragons related blog post, but it’s one I’ve been thinking about indirectly for a while. You see, like all Dungeon Masters, I’m a game designer–though while most Dungeon Masters limit their game design to small house rules or individual adventures or encounters, I’m setting my goals a little higher. I want to create an entire roleplaying game. I have a bit of experience with a wide variety of systems–Scion, various editions of Dungeons and Dragons, MechWarrior, d20 Modern, and I’ve had some looks through World of Darkness, Shadowrun, and some older Iron Kingdoms books. But they’re not quite what I want. I want a system that not only can I call my own, but one oriented more toward being a universal system with which many campaign settings can be run, from magic and medieval to modern to futuristic, to time travel or post-apocalyptic. Basically, I want d20 Modern, but, not quite–d20 Modern is a bit too hokey for my tastes (caveat: d20 Modern is extremely nostalgic to me and I love it to pieces). And I wanted the system to be less combat-oriented, more roleplay-oriented–basically, an extended version of my current Dungeons and Dragons campaign, more focused on the detective work than the dragon-slaying. And so we begin the journey.
Archive for July, 2011
Dungeons and Dragons used to be in a different place than 4th Edition has it now. You didn’t start out as some heroic character, already with adventures under your belt–no, if you were level 1, you were no better (and often worse) than a random town commoner. At level 1 in AD&D, you had a title–things like Acolyte or Prestidigitator or Apprentice or Novice. And for all the meat grinder of a game this created, it had one great virtue that 4E has lost: you got to play out your whole story, from apprenticeship to godhood. Nowadays, you already start out kind of assumed to be a hero–you can take on any town guard, and patrons come to you when there are armies of goblins to stop.
Recently, my adventuring party posed me with a problem: they wanted to kill a dragon using siege engines set in ambush. This would be all well and good, except, I didn’t have any rules for siege engines on-hand, they’re too complex to improvise, and I don’t have any personal knowledge of siege engines outside of Medieval II: Total War. Luckily, siege engines are so expensive and they were running on borrowed money, that I felt perfectly fine saying “the gnolls aren’t willing to cover siege engines on your tab”. However, I’m not one to ever get burned by a lack of preparation twice, so today I dedicate my blog post to the creation of siege engines.
My current campaign requires use of the Hand and Eye of Vecna: the party has expressed an interest in acquiring some ability to see through illusions and invisibility, and the only thing at their current level to support that desire is an artifact. And the Eye provides such vision, so it’s a perfect match, right? Right? … Well, okay, maybe not: the Eye of Vecna kind of sucks. At least, it does in 4th Edition: the 3rd Edition one was hardcore, a huge temptation for party members to take and use, and fairly powerful. Worthy of being an artifact. The 4th Edition one… well, it came in the 4E Dungeon Master’s Guide, uses the experimental “Concordance Score” artifact layout, isnt’ very powerful or interesting, and only grants darkvision instead of the historical true sight. But, ever since my campaign started, I’ve been interested in using the Eye of Vecna! I knew from moment 1 that the campaign would involve the Cult of Sul Khatesh combating the Cult of Vecna, two cults of secrets and lies in competition for the title of “most secretest”. So what should I do? Use the Eye as it is, lame and complicated and weak? Nahhhh. Let’s redo it!
So, today’s session was short and distracted; therefore, so will be the summary. We had Rhode and Stannis show up, continuing their discussions with the Fleshweaver while he resurrected Ryuu’s body, and then they ran off into the night.
So, I’ve spent quite a bit of time musing over exactly how I would create a new system of rituals for 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons that corrects all of the failings of 4E’s current ritual system, and satisfies my desire for magic to feel like magic. It was a long journey, from condensing the important 4E rituals into a few essential ones, ones I didn’t think 4E could operate without, to condensing that even further into a few critical rituals that got better as you leveled up, and finally I came to a “ritual seed” system, where each ritual is simple and largely mechanics-free, and can be mixed and matched at will. And here it comes.