Monday 5 January 2009

Lessons Learned from Inheritance

Each game I write benefits from the experience gained in writing the previous ones. A Wanderer's Romance is my most recent game so should, in theory, make use of lessons learned from this experience.

Inheritance was the first of my games I really got to a playable level and it's still the longest game I've written to date. While I still like the game there were a lot of mistakes I made with it that I wouldn't make again.

Long Combats with one type of attack are not fun.

For many types of character in Inheritance they had few combat options besides attacking with their weapon. Other options were there such as focusing on evasion and special attacks such as grappling, charging and disarming but they were rarely used and generally unexciting. In learning this lesson I wanted to give a useful alternative to attacking each turn, which became Focusing. This gives you not only a pretty nice bonus to your next attack but triggers special abilities in various styles. This addition, along with the variation within combat styles, has made combat in A Wanderer's Romance much more active for the player than in Inheritance.

In addition combat is much shorter, being between only two opponents in the vast majority of cases. The player is always either acting or reacting to their opponent and a hit tends to end the fight much more often than in Inheritance. This gave us fast, active combat. Much more fun.

Quick NPC generation can be your absolute saviour.

To make a standard human NPC in Inheritance you took the basic human template and chose two "Good Thing" upgrades for them. That's all you need, mechanically, for the merchant your players suddenly need statted up. When running the game this has saved me a great deal of time in comparison to something like D&D or GURPS where I'd be more likely to give in and grab a pre-generated NPC. Pre-gens are great but can't always give you what you need.

For A Wanderer's Romance creating a new character involve dividing six points between their four elements, choosing one or more Specialities and Styles for them and giving them a philosophy. This isn't quite as fast as Inheritance but it's still something I've been able to do on the fly without players noticing. Very handy.

Players aren't as interested in your setting as you are.

I still love the Inheritance setting. I still want to draw up the whole world map and draw trade routes, settlements, map out a full timeline of events. However, I know that this exercise would be completely separate to any useful writing I do, as only the minority of players will ever really delve deeply into your setting. With A Wanderer's Romance I took some notice of 4e's Points of Light setting guidance. I liked the fact that it was a framework for groups to create their own world in. Worlds would be different but still adhere to the feel the designers felt suited the game and, importantly for me, be consistent with the mechanics.

In A Wanderer's Romance there's little the players need to know about the setting before they play. These points are covered in around two paragraphs highlighted in coloured boxes and the rest is down relatively common knowledge of the game's influences and the GM's own contributions.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I'm not interested in you at all. It has nothing to do with your settings.