Automating an RPG

#1
I'm working on my own RPG, a private project that has gone nowhere for years until I had a brush with cancer a couple of years ago. Since I also work in IT my aim is to handle the rules as software with a website initially, and apps later, for character generation, GM campaign management and player character actions. The aim is that the tools could be used for both a tabletop game with the tools supporting action resolution or for a remote game in real-time with chat or as a PbP style with the chat handled as posts.

Because the underlying system will have some complicated mechanics in parts the aim would be to hide much of that away from the players. The system doesn't preclude complicated actions nor allowing a GM to fudge or customize how an action should be resolved using skill x or skill y or using both or... whatever. I'd like to discuss that at another time but that's not why I'm here today.

I've seen some of the RPG software that's out there and some of it I've found some of it useful but more so when I understood the underlying game as well.

I don't want to write a computer game and I love the interaction around the table but I'd like to see how far the automation of RPG mechanics could be taken as an integrated set of tools. At this stage, my question is how important is it for you to have access to the rules for both generation and play as opposed to just help documentation for the tools? How important is it for you to be physically rolling dice and so on as opposed to simply stating your actions or clicking a button? What automation tools have you found useful? What should be automated more than it is right now?
 

monsmord

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#2
Having the complete ruleset available to me is extremely important, whether GMing or playing. I like dice, or other randomizers, but this is a secondary concern. The rules/mechanics will drive my enjoyment of play, as I prefer crunchy stuff to purely narrative games.

For that reason, and because I prefer round-the-table play to online, I've not used any comprehensive automation tools.
 

Xander

Registered User
Validated User
#3
I could see a virtual playspace - say your character sheet is only on an app. It holds all your character data, inventory, powers, etc.

You click on Magic Missile to shoot an orc, and it is greyed out on your sheet - the DM can look in your profile and see your spells that are still open. You can highlight the spell and it pops the spell description. You gain a Magic Missile scroll, note it in your sheet, use it up, and it disappears, etc. The DM or other players can send you IMs, it holds your past experiences in a journal, etc.

You could integrate that with a combat tracker - the party finds a room with a monster in it, everyone's positions are shown. You can click on a grid to move your character, the app flashes your valid attacks, you make an attack with die roll or random number, the monster does damage and your HP are automatically deducted, etc.
 
#4
I could see a virtual playspace ... etc.
I think that's what I'm looking at but I also get monsmord's view as well about the crunchy stuff. I want a game that is crunchy under the hood but which hides the numbers away. I don't want to pre-empt a discussion on my system yet but I envision something where, for instance, the downtime ability to learn stuff is actually applied across the entire character development, albeit with a focus on the adult years, with curves of learning gain and loss applied against skills that vary depending upon how easy the skill is to pick up initially, how easy the skill is to master, contagion from other similar skills and how recently you spent anytime learning/training in a skill. I love crunchy - I wouldn't have gone into IT if I didn't - but even I recognise a point where a paper sheet and pencil can't keep up.
 

Xander

Registered User
Validated User
#5
I can see that - say you had an off-time tracker (time not on adventure) and you had "cardio" and "strength" training as options. After spending a certain time in the gym over a few months, the character would see some stat benefits.

The DM could lay out a schedule - "You were home training in the gym for 3 months during the winter, you went on a sailing voyage for 2 weeks and worked along with the sailors, you fought a duel, and practiced the local language for 6 weeks, then sailed home."

The system could pop out: "You gained x development points in strength, sword, sailing and language."
 
#6
Why rolling dice is felt different than drawing a card? In most dungeon dwelling games you could reduce everything to a card dealing. Or even averages. My players seems to really enjoy the moment they handle those object, throw them, hear a sound and look at a random outcome. There are 3 active feedbacks. I never used any IT support, but keeping track of changes out of active play seems interesting. Also to keep track of actual season, determine climate accordingly, manage age growing and maybe incomes. Whatever could change the scene without changing the plot. A touch system to scroll and make choices should be helpfull for a PC creation step with a lot of skills or accurate points distribution.
In the end, it sound better to me that automation is left a total passive role, to avoid breaking of any flexibility needed (and who knows when that rule must be broke...).
 
#7
... but keeping track of changes out of active play seems interesting.… A touch system to scroll and make choices should be helpfull for a PC creation step with a lot of skills or accurate points distribution.
*Nods* The current UI design is along those lines: choose a Package that represents a particular activity e.g. "Working as a Master Black Smith", "Bounty Hunter: Minor Criminal", "Boozing, Brawling and Whoring in Town", "Investigate Ruins: Easy", "Travel From A to B: Sea", "Marry", "Merchant Guard". An underlying formula will ensure all Packages are equal. They will have a pool of points for a period of time with some allocations in mini-pools so that some points need to be spent into certain buckets like language/culture/knowledge or professional skills or whatever is appropriate to the region/area the character is currently in. The player can then allocate them amongst relevant skills, career and income, attribute development and so on and pop out the end ready for the next adventure.

... but keeping track of changes out of active play seems interesting. Also to keep track of actual season, determine climate accordingly, manage age growing and maybe incomes. Whatever could change the scene without changing the plot. .
On where to spend my effort it does make sense to steer away from the in-game activity for some time. The intent for the passive management side was to cover off lifestyle, equipment maintenance, other costs, income, injury recuperation and so on in the Package. World management (local costs, equipment availability, rumor generation, weather and so on) should be easier to write than combat management. I've spent most of my RP life as a GM anyway so I'll be happy to take care of that.

All that stuff should be tweakable by the GM to suit their own campaign anyway. In fact I want to support a degree of open source so that people can produce and share their own packages, NPCs, and so on.
 
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