Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A (hopefully) Triumphant Return

Okay, folks! Welcome back to Realmcrafting. It's been a long while -- a full month without posts, and sporadic for the month before that. Unfortunately, it's been a rough time, with preparing a house for sale (or rent, as it turned out), packing, moving, and settling in to the new town and apartment (while preparing for school). And, unfortunately, I am not enough of a professional to either work much ahead (if at all) or have a friendly blogger willing to fill in for me. I'm sure I've lost some readers along the way here, and I appreciate those who are still reading and are willing to stick with me.

But enough apologies. Let's get back to the meat of the blog. I've decided that the Terra Incognita project was much larger than I originally anticipated, and I'm unwilling to remove this blog from The City of Lives long enough to finish it all in one go. Expect us to return to Terra Incognita from time to time, but the main focus of the blog will now return to the City.

Moving to a new town, I've started up a new City of Lives campaign, that we will run over the internet, with the majority of my old gaming group from Alaska, but with a couple additions who are old friends of mine. I'll report occasionally on how that's working, using the MapTool program from RPTools.net, a wonderful virtual tabletop, and voice chat over Skype. However, I've taken this opportunity to take The City of Lives in an interesting new narrative direction, and make a few rules tweaks as well. So we'll go over those here.

In the original FATE system, Spirit of the Century, characters started out with 5 stress boxes, and once those stress boxes were filled, they had to take 3 Consequences (broken arms, ruined reputations, etc) before they were Taken Out and lost the combat. This was generally considered by the players to make characters too tough, resulting in endlessly long combats. Later games, in an attempt to make combat quicker and deadlier, changed the Consequences rules to mitigating stress (shifting damage down a certain number of stress boxes, depending on the game) rather than coming after the stress boxes. Most games also reduced the number of stress boxes a character started out with -- I can't be bothered to look it up at the moment, but I believe Diaspora starts characters out with 3, Starblazer Adventures/Legends of Anglerre with 4, and The Dresden Files with only 2.

My point is, I've determined that my characters in the previous City of Lives campaign suffered from being too tough -- I gave them a base of 4 stress boxes, with Consequences removing 2, 4, or 6 stress depending on their severity. Combats took too long, and the PCs never really felt challenged. I'm going to do a couple things differently in the new campaign (and, presumably, the rules for the game in general). I'm going to reduce the base stress boxes to 3, and make it so characters with high Vigor and Conviction (the skills that add more stress boxes to the character) have a cap on how much they can add. I'm going to emphasize weapons more, ensuring the baddies almost always have a bonus to their damage. And finally, I'm going to experiment by changing how Consequences work.

As it stands, Consequences are rated Mild, Moderate, or Severe -- but the only thing that differentiates them is how much stress they mitigate and how long they take to heal. They act as aspects, taggable for bonuses -- but tagging a punctured lung has the same effect as tagging a bloody nose (a +2 or reroll). I'm going to experiment and have each Consequence give a different bonus (for the enemy, that is) -- a Mild consequence will give a +2 bonus, but a Moderate will give a +4, and a Severe a +6.

All of this will make combat significantly deadlier. I'll check back in once it's been playtested, to see if I've gone too far and killed all my PCs.

Okay, that's enough for a first post back. Next time, I'll speak more on the new rule changes, and get into the narrative changes.

See you later in the week!