Layout – which came first, the chicken or the egg? #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Date Night by Lyraina

Okay so I was just starting to think about layout once I get to the point of compiling all these disparate thoughts into one tome. And I was like hey what’s the best way to start off the book? I’ve seen it done many different ways. My instinct, because this is the type of gamer I am, is to have the world building text up front. I really love reading the cultural and historical framework for a game first, before delving into mechanics. But maybe that’s because I truly love reading people’s fantastical ideas. And then I was thinking it would be good to discuss basic mechanics, so then when one comes to character creation they already know layout of the world and the basics of the rules so they can create a character they know where to fit it in thematically (through world text) and abstractly (through rules). So my thoughts were to layout the document roughly this way:

    World text
    Basic rules (which includes combat)
    Character creation
    Extra areas such as gear & magic
    GM specific area

What do you think gamers? How have you best interact with RPG rulebooks? What have you found to be the best layout wise?

What’s in a (gaming) name? #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Alchemist’s desire by Gothicpagan

I’ve been mulling over what the name of this project should be. I’ve been playing off the Alpha Omega name. I like that it is using a theologically derived name that honestly can play really well in a supernatural post-apocalyptic setting. Also I was thinking having a name that could also be useful if the system is adaptable to other settings. I also decided that I should use names from either constructed (Esperanto) or dead (Latin) languages, so as to avoid upsetting anyone with a mistranslation. Here’s my initial research.

Esperanto derivatives:

  • Revivigi – resurrect
  • Unua/Lasta – first/last
  • Vivo/Morto – life/death
  • Nova Komenco – new beginning
  • Komenco/Fino – beginning/end
  • Nova Fino – new end

Latin derivatives:

  • Primus/Novissimus – first/last
  • Principium/Finis – beginning/end
  • Primus/Ultimus – The First/The Last
  • Genesis/Mortem – birth/death
  • Recreo – resurrect
  • Initium Novum – new beginning
  • Genesis Ultima – the last creation

I’m leaning towards “Nova Fino,” “Recreo,” “Primus/Ultimus,” or “Genesis Ultima” right now. But I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this subject too. What do you think? Do you have some other suggestions that I should consider?

Powers aka special card effects #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Derelict Machines by John F Stifter

Back in my Character Basics blog entry I talked a little about Powers (what I initially called talents). Powers are special effects that will trigger based upon specific cards being present when the final draw of a test is determined. This means that Powers will not trigger until successes are being counted, and the specified royal cards had not already been discarded. A PC will have 3 Power slots that will each contain one Power. The Powers in each slot can change throughout the game by player choice. The 3 slots are:

  • “J” Slot
  • “Q” Slot
  • “K” Slot

Here is a start to the list of Powers that can be obtained by PCs:

  • Flip one action token
  • Draw an extra card
  • Redraw one card
  • Increase magic effect one step
  • Specific number is now consider a success
  • Allow another to draw one card on their next action
  • Allow another to redraw one card on their next action
  • Increase your Armor score by one
  • Opponent needs one higher difficulty to succeed at hitting you
  • Opponent draws one less card on their next action
  • Opponent has one less redraw on their next action
  • Gain insight – ask the GM a question pertinent to the situation that the GM must answer truthfully, or gain a weakness bonus vs opponent
  • Turn a negative (❤️♦️) card into a positive (♣️♠️) card

I’m trying to think of other options, got any suggestions?

I’m also thinking it would be fun to have players describe these Powers for themselves based upon their heritage but also on their own personal design of their character. Like if the character is a Remnant, and has the “Draw an extra card” Power, calling it “Use my extra limb.”

Action economy #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Mecha silhouette by Ryu Saranyawut

“I roll to hit.”

“Again?”

“Again. I rolled a 14.”

“You failed to hit. Again.”

In thinking about combat I wondered if there was a way to incorporate more diversity of actions, than what combat seems to boil down to in the end, “I roll to attack…” so I thought what if I could incorporate using some sort of mechanism that would encourage players to try different things throughout combat, and I came upon this idea… what if a player had a certain number of action tokens (poker chips) that they could use, that would enforce using different actions, and would not be replenished until all actions were completed? What would that look like? Okay so I’m borrowing this from some board games, but I like the idea. So let’s run with it. Here’s what I’m thinking will be the primary Action Tokens:

  • Maneuver/Move
  • Attack (Melee, Ranged, or Magic)
  • Activate Heritage Trait
  • Other Skill/Spell (non-move/non-attack)
  • Pause/Replenish Actions

A player will have physical tokens (poker chips maybe) that represent these actions. Each round a player will declare what they are doing by showing their token. Everyone will show their chosen tokens at the same time. Once an Action Token has been used it cannot be used again until they play their Pause/Replenish Actions. What are your thoughts on this idea? Do you have any thoughts on other possible action tokens?

Skill list (take two) #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Repair by Varguy

After looking at my first attempt at a Skill list, and then after reading through some other games’ skill lists, I decided it was a good idea to scrap that first attempt. And try something new. This one is going to be inspired by the original Alpha Omega RPG skill list, which I think really is a good start for this game. So here’s how it looks to start with:

  • Academia (history, sociology, theology, law, etc)
  • Cunning (deception, gambling, appraise, street smarts, etc)
  • Detection (gather info, awareness, suspicion, concentration, perception, etc)
  • Espionage (theft, stealth, escape artist, defeat security, etc)
  • Fine Arts (paintings sculpture, writing, cooking, performing, etc.)
  • Fitness (running, swimming, climbing, gymnastics, tumbling, etc)
  • Melee Combat (one-handed, two-handed, unarmed, grapple, etc)
  • Military (tactics, leadership, various armed forces, etc)
  • Parley (diplomacy, negotiation, manipulation, intimidation, etc)
  • Ranged Weapons (pistols, rifles, bows, SMGs, heavy weapons, grenade launchers, explosives, etc)
  • Science (biology, chemistry, genetics, medicine, etc)
  • Survival (orienteering, animal husbandry, farming, hunting, living off the grid, etc)
  • Technology (electronics, mechanical, structural, computers, digital, etc)
  • Trade (barter, production, business, commerce, people networking, etc)
  • Vehicles (ground vehicles, aircraft, watercraft, power suits, industrial vehicles, vehicle systems, etc)

Also I think I’m gonna incorporate 3 skills based around Magic. Here are my initial thoughts on those Magic Skills:

  • Arcana (Arcane)
  • Faith (Divine)
  • Animism (Natura)

Combat, or how you hit someone #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is NieRfall by Ariel Flores

“Why’d you hit him?”

“Because I was tired of talking.”

For combat I’m in a dilemma. I’m debating options on how to handle combat. So here I’ll lay out the options and you can debate which will be best.

Both options have these in common:

  • Armor (that can resist that type of attack) absorbs/blocks wounds equal to its Armor level, i.e. Armor 1 will absorb 1 wound, which means that wound does not hit the character.
  • Weapons allow for additional cards to be drawn and/or re-drawn depending upon the weapon.
  • Every character has a Wound Level equal to their Stamina (or Physical, if they have no Stamina). Once they have wounds equal to their Wound Level the character falls unconscious.

Option 1

  • The combat action is an opposed action.
  • Players will draw & redraw based on pertinent Aspects & Abilities.
  • The target number needed for successes is based a pertinent combat Skill.
  • Every success that the attacking player gets above the opponent is a wound.

Option 2

  • The combat action is not opposed.
  • It has a difficulty level set by multiple factors.
  • Attacking player draws & redraws based on pertinent Aspects & Abilities.
  • Difficulty is based on Attacker’s pertinent combat Skill minus Defender’s pertinent combat Skill.
  • One success is one wound.

Other factors to consider

  • How do we determine initiative?
  • How many actions can a character make in a turn?
  • I’m considering using action tokens, i.e. a finite physical medium to determine number and type of actions that can be taken.

Skill list (take one) #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Industrial Zone by Marek Hlavaty

This is now an antiquated list and has been replaced by Skill List (Take Two)

REALLY ROUGH DRAFT. This is the beginning of a master list of skills. I want them to be broad enough to cover a good solid chunk of knowledgeable data, but not so broad that they could be misconstrued to be used for anything. You know, the Goldilocks zone. “Not too hot, not too cold, just right.” I feel this section is gonna be tweaked a lot through play testing. So here goes with draft one:

Combat Skills

  • Hand-to-Hand Combat
  • Fencing and Swordsmanship
  • Archery
  • Armored Combat
  • Light Firearms
  • Heavy Firearms
  • Vehicle Combat

Practical Skills

  • Wilderness Survival
  • Athletics
  • Driving
  • Public Speaking
  • Reading and Writing
  • Investigation
  • First Aid

Vocational Skills

  • Mechanical Repair
  • Woodworking
  • Metalsmithing
  • Electronic Repair
  • Cooking
  • Hunting

Magic Skills

  • Arcane Arts
  • Devotion/Theology
  • Natural Lore
  • Alchemy
  • Magical Item Creation

Science Skills

  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Xenobiology
  • Astronomy/astrology

Character creation #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Fantasy Ops by Ariel Flores

Step 1 – Choose a Heritage

Your heritage will dictate many of your PC’s base Abilities, Aspect choices, Number of Skills, beginning Power selections, and other features called Traits.

Step 2 – Determine Abilities

Your Abilities are determined by your starting Heritage. Here’s how it shapes out:

  • Humans and Evoluu**Choose one Ability to be Poor (1), Average (2), and Good (3)
  • BEs and AIsYou have 7 points to spend on Abilities. No Ability can be below a 1.
  • Grigori-touched*Choose one Ability to be Great (4) and two to be Average (2)
  • Nephalim-born*You have a Great (4) Physical Ability, an Average (2) Ability, and a Poor (1) Ability.

Step 3 – Determine Aspects

As stated earlier Aspects are derived from a PCs Abilities. So when a player initially chooses a PC’s Aspect during character creation that Aspect starts at the Ability score +1, i.e. if the base Ability is 3, then the Aspect is initially a 4.

  • Humans – Choose any five Aspects. If they choose one Aspect in Arcane they will receive an additional +1 to that Aspect.
  • Evoluu** – Choose any five Aspects. If they choose one Aspect in Nature they will receive an additional +1 to that Aspect. After choosing 5 Aspects they may choose to give another +1 (mutation) to any Aspect.
  • BE – Choose Aspects based on the type of “build.”
    • Soldier Build – Strength, Agility, Stamina, Acuity
    • Brainiac Build – Agility, Intellect, Acuity, Willpower
    • Companion Build – Agility, Stamina, Acuity, Willpower
  • AI – Choose any four Aspects under Physical and Mental Attributes.
  • Grigori-touched* – Choose any five Aspects. If they choose one Aspect in Divine they will receive an additional +1 to that Aspect.
  • Nephalim-born* – Choose any five Aspects. If they choose one Aspect in Nature they will receive an additional +1 to that Aspect.

Step 4 – Determine Skills***

Skills are all assigned to different Aspects. As stated earlier a PC cannot have a skill if it does not have the corresponding Aspect. No skill may be above Advanced during character creation. Here are how many skills each heritage allows:

  • Humans – Choose 2 Advanced Skills and 6 Basic Skills, or 3 Advanced Skills and 4 Basic Skills.
  • Evoluu** – Choose 2 Advanced Skills and 5 Basic Skills.
  • BE – Choose Skills based on the type of “build.”
      • Soldier Build – 2 Combat Advanced Skills, 2 Combat Basic Skills, and 2 other Basic Skills.
      • Brainiac Build – 2 Studious Advanced Skills, 2 Studious Basic Skills, and 2 other Basic Skills.
      • Companion Build – 2 Social Advanced Skills, 2 Social Basic Skills, and 2 other Basic Skills.
  • AI – Choose 2 Advanced Skills, and 4 Basic Skills.
  • Grigori-touched* – Choose 1 Advanced Skill, and 5 Basic Skills.
  • Nephalim-born* – Choose 2 Physical Advanced Skills, and 4 other Basic Skills.

The Skill section will need further explanation and a list and description of the Skills available to choose in the game. I will likely dedicate a post to just Skills.

Step 5 – Determine Powers

Powers is going to be an expansive section. Depending upon the direction a player wants to take with their PC will play heavily into their choice of powers. A magic wielder will probably take magic Powers, while a combat specialist will likely take combat Powers, or a scientist will likely take Powers based around non-combat Skill focused Powers. A PC will start with 3 Powers and always have 3 Powers. But those 3 Powers are not static, they can be upgraded (or changed altogether) through spending experience that PCs will gain during play. I will likely dedicate at least one post just to Powers.

Step 6 – Determine Traits (other Heritage special features)

Traits are additional Heritage features that do not fit under other specific areas. I still haven’t fully thought this through yet, but I want to include some stuff here especially for those Heritages that have not yet seen a clear advantage in another section.

Step 7 – Determine Equipment

Picking equipment will be an important step in a sci-fi setting. But it will be most important to AIs, and they will get one free level 1 cybernetic enhancement during character creation. No other PC will have that option at character creation.

Step 8 – Name PC, describe basic appearance, PC backstory, etc.

*Updated 11-12-2018 – Changed Lesser Nephalim to Nephalim-born and Lesser Grigori to Grigori-touched*

**Updated 11-21-2018 – Changed Remnant to Evoluu**

***Updated 11-22-2018 – updated Skill selection options***

Setting and character heritages #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is We Will Build Paradise Ourselves by Pavel Zolotarev

Setting

The world for this game is going to be based off an RPG setting (Alpha Omega) I found really intriguing. The company that produced it has fallen off the face of the earth so there is no new material being produced for it. And ultimately I thought the system was too crunchy. Maybe they wanted the world to feel imposing because that’s how the system honestly made me feel. But the world building was fantastic. So I’m gonna do a bit of “borrowing” for this first attempt at making a game. So here are some of the highlights of the setting:

  • Sci-fi setting
  • Post apocalyptic Earth
  • After the apocalypse, nature revolted and “reclaimed” the world
  • Humanity lives in pockets of civilization fighting to not be taken by nature
  • Magic has (re?)entered the world
  • Humanity is being “warped” by nature and new mutations are appearing
  • Angels and demons have come out of hiding and are now impressing their will openly
  • Angels and demons may be aliens
  • High technology – AI humanoid robots, cybernetic enhancements, etc…
  • Corporations make up the bulk of “governments”

As I write out these bullet points I’m getting really excited again to play in this beautiful world. I love the idea of PCs exploring a new frontier, having mutations, interacting with divine beings, sentient AIs, having magical powers, and shooting laser rifles. What’s not to love?

Heritages

So now let’s talk heritages (aka races or as they are called in the Alpha Omega books, species) in this game. Here are the likely heritages that a character can choose:

  • Human
  • Mutated human – Evoluu**
  • Created humanoid – Bio-engineered (BE) human or Artificial Intelligence (AI) android
  • Half-angel/demon – Grigori-touched*
  • Half-alien servant – Nephalim-born*

There are more heritage options in the Alpha Omega core book, which I feel for my purposes is too many options. Also some options I felt were just too powerful to be PCs, i.e. they had rules to play a full fledged angel/demon which was nearly twice as powerful as a regular human. So I’m not gonna do that, for play balance’s sake. Also I think in this setting some heritages were listed separately that in a less crunchy system can be listed together; i.e. Necrosi and Remnants (Evoluu**) are really both mutated humans. And bio-engineered humans and AIs are both lab/factory-created beings. I think the rules for their creation will be very similar with just a few choices to make them feel unique.

    Humans – “Uncorrupted” humans are the most numerous on Earth still, but their dominance is dwindling fast. The rise of mutations and the rapid construction of AIs is outpacing the growth rate of the traditional nuclear family. But humans aren’t without their benefits. They have learned to study magic and are the best arcane magic “wielders” on the planet. They also are driven to succeed which makes them really good at focused careers.
    Evoluu** (mutated humans) – Often called Morphlings, as a derogatory term, by other races. After the apocalypse there are many mutations that have developed across all living species, and the diversity is well evident in humanity. Those humans who are born with evidence of mutations call themselves the Evoluu. The ones with outward signs of mutations are the easiest to spot and also the most likely to be persecuted against by other humans. Most Evoluu are unique from each other, with no 2 Evoluu having the exact same mutations. Except the Necrosi (Evoluu sub-Group), which seem to have developed a whole tribe/culture around specific mutations; most noticeably pale skin, aversion to light, and ability to see in darkness. Evoluu also have developed an innate ability to use the magic of the natural world around them.
    BEs and AIs (created humanoids) – In this far flung future, humanity has figured out how to create new sentient servants that can cater to every whim and need of the people. Thus bio-engineered (BE) humans and androids imbued with artificial intelligence (AI) were created. Many were created with specific needs in mind, and many have revolted against their programming. BEs cannot procreate but stories say a group of AIs took over an Android production facility and are now creating free-willed “offspring.” BEs and AIs can’t use magic (yet?).
    Grigori-touched* (half-angels/demons) – Since the apocalypse, the rules separating the mundane and divine have seemingly been broken. The divine messengers have returned (or came out of hiding) and are influencing the world once again. And like old times they find themselves desiring the companionship of humans. This has created persons, to a lesser extent, imbued with the powers of life and death itself. Grigori-touched can call upon great abilities unknown to humans, and can channel the magic of the divine. There paths are largely paved by the angel or demon who is their parent, but there are individuals who have chosen to forsake their heritage and forge a new path.
    Nephalim-born* (half-alien servants) – To the uninitiated, one would say the Nephalim are to the Grigori as BEs are to humans. But that’s woefully simplistic and actually grossly inaccurate. Whereas BEs are based on the same “platform” as humans, maybe you could say constructed upgrades to the traditional human, Nephalim are actually a whole separate genome from the Grigori. They are actually an alien species that the Grigori “coerced” into servant-hood and then bio-organically modified to become bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, etc… than they ever were before. And they were brought to Earth to follow their masters, the Grigori. But… the Nephalim have learned from the humans. Many have found them captivating, and their desire for free will has been infectious to many Nephalim. So much so, the world now sees Nephalim and humans living and fighting side by side, which has also created some more intimate relationships, thus the creation of the Nephalim-born who are the offspring of a Nephalim and human relationship. Nephalim-born are only able to wield Natura magic.

*Updated on 11-12-2018 – changed Lesser Nephalim to Nephalim-born and Lesser Grigori to a Grigori-touched*

**Updated on 11-21-2018 – changed Remnants to Evoluu**

Character basics #NaGaDeMon

Featured image is Starfire Cover by Jeremy Chong

Okay so now that I feel my basic mechanic is getting fleshed out, it’s time to talk characters. I alluded to some of the proverbial characteristics that a player character (PC) will have in this game in previous posts. So here’s those concepts a little more fleshed out:

  1. Attributes – Every PC will have 3 attributes. These 3 attributes are basic nebulous areas of emphasis for PCs. A PC may be an amazing physical specimen but be dumber than a brick, and these attributes will let you flesh that out.
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Spiritual
  2. Aspects – Aspects are subsets of Attributes that further define a character. Just because someone may have a good physique doesn’t mean they are necessarily fast. Aspects are like specialized Attributes. There are 3 Aspects per Attribute, and every PC will have a chance to choose Aspects during character creation. A PC will not have every Aspect, and when a PC does not have an Aspect it reverts to the Attribute score for determining tests. Here are the different Aspects:
    • Physical
      • Strength
      • Agility
      • Stamina
    • Mental
      • Intellect
      • Acuity
      • Willpower
    • Spiritual
      • Arcane
      • Divine
      • Natura (formerly called Nature)**
  3. Powers (formerly called Talents)* – Powers are special talents that PCs can use during tests. Powers represent unique actions or effects different from the standard set. There are multiple types of Powers and they will specify when they are to be used. These Powers are chosen during character creation and can be upgraded or changed by using experience gained by the PC. Powers are triggered by playing royal cards during an action. A PC will have just 3 Powers at any given time filling 3 slots:
    • “J” slot
    • “Q” slot
    • “K” slot
  4. Skills – Skills represent the training a PC has had in their lives. It allows for a test to become easier in obtaining successes. Skills represent specific areas of focus that a character has. Skills can include weapon proficiencies, career choices, magical focuses, etc.. and are tied to a specific Aspect. A PC cannot take a skill that they do not have the corresponding Aspect for. Skills have 4 levels of proficiency:
    • Basic – 9 or higher needed for a success
    • Advanced – 8 or higher
    • Expert – 7 or higher
    • Master – 6 or higher
  5. Heritage – This is what traditional RPGs would call race. I’m not too keen on using the word race anymore and I’ve seen heritage used lately and I appreciate it’s use. For this game it means that every PC will have a Heritage which will be a template that, during character creation, helps flesh out the PC’s Attributes, Aspects, Talents, Skills, Equipment, and even Magic.
  6. Magic – This is an area I am still developing. My thoughts aren’t fully formed on it yet. I will hopefully be discussing more about Magic later. Right now I’m mulling over the idea of creating a system that uses different spell components and allows players to put the components together and develop their own “spells.”
  7. Equipment – Equipment will have interesting effects, depending upon what it is. Armor can increase the number of successes an opponent needs to hit you. Weapons can increase the number of cards you draw or re-draw. Other equipment may be able to interact with Talents or Skills, etc… Right now this area is not yet set in stone, but I hope to have some fun with this too!

*Updated on 11/6/2018 to change Talents to Powers*
**Updated on 11/10/2018 to change Nature to Natura**