RPG Designer Diary: Descriptors (03)
We are making a new edition of -U- the Game of Stories RPG. So what is the biggest difference between the new version and the original? Descriptors.
I Blame Fate
One of the games that we really enjoyed playing early in 2014 was Fate 3.0 by Evil Hat. It is a truly marvelous game, that we enjoyed greatly.
When we kept playing it in a longer campaign, however, we found that we started doing things that we liked in the game less and less. We started using Fate tokens less and less, and writing down aspects became an odd habit. The thing that we really noticed in Fate, after some time, was that we thought somethings should not have to be rolled for.
For instance, when someone turns into a dragon and gains the Dragon the Size of a House aspect, why should that require a token to invoke? We were probably playing something wrong, but this is what happened.
So, we decided to change how we were playing. And when we did that, we realized the beginning of our game, and the core part of it: Descriptors
At their core, Descriptors are really just a brief description of a part of a character, and a number next to it to rank how strong that Descriptor is for that character. This idea led us down the path of determining what Descriptors everyone had, which led us to creating set Attributes for each character.
With Attributes and other Descriptors we now had a good feel for how the characters would be made. But what did the numbers mean? This took us a bit to figure out. Finally, though we decded it would be the number of dice a player got to roll. What dice to use, though?
Next time we talk about our quest for the perfect dice roll mechanic.
RPG Designer Diary: The Feel (02)
In 2015, we are making a new edition of -U- The Game of Stories roleplaying game. Where to start? How about the goal and feel of the game.
The Feel of the Game
The first goal for our RPG is how it feels to play. Is it an exercise in math and charts? Does it feel like you are just randomly rolling dice? Does it feel like a board game with a little story? Does it immerse you in the story? All of these are good and legitimate things to be, so what is the feel we want?
In a nutshell, we want our RPG to feel like something you could tell a TV show or fast-paced movie story with. A quick-moving, character driven story-telling game. That is the goal for the feel.
How That Affects The Design
So, how does that affect the design? Well, for one, it means that the layout of the book must be easy to get through. In fact, chunking it into bite-size mini-books would be a good idea. It also means the actual page layout should be clutter free. If the game is supposed to encourage stories to breathe, then the actual pages should evoke that. White space will be our friend on the pages, and in the section headers.
The feel also impacts the art style for the book. Honestly, this is a tough one. We could either go with artwork bleeding into the text in a lighter grey scale to indicate that it is all a mesh of idea and words, or we could make sure that the art is sectioned off keep images from being distractions to the text. Also, the art can be either clean-cut lines with shadings and colors, or it can be sketch-like art that indicates that the ideas are still forming. Honestly, we're not too sure which way to jump for the core rule book. Thankfully, words come first.
The feel really impacts what rules we use in the game. The rules have to be light, simple, and flexible. They need to stay out of the way of the story and not involve charts or the need to reference the book at all. Using descriptions of things instead of lists of skills, and lots of free form text is important.
We're sure there is more,but this is a good enough start.
Next time, we look at the core mechanics of the game.