Lands of Plenty

catty_big

Miao wow!!
Validated User
#1
Hey y'all!

Around this time last year I posted some stuff about a game I'm working on that's set in a pseudo-Mediaeval game world, called Lands of Plenty. I received some very useful feedback on the setting and system, as a result of which I made a number of changes. Since then I've run an intro scenario at a con here in the UK, with extremely positive results, and I'm now ready to start thinking about putting together a QS. My question for the good folks on this forum is this: given what I've got already, what work do you think I need to do in order to get the game to a point where it can be run by external GMs? Obviously the cartography will need to be a lot more professional-looking, but my question about that is how much of it there will need to be for external GMs, and how much of the setting will need to be worked up? Forex will they need a pharmacology, and flora and fauna etc., or can they just make stuff up for now?

The draft doc is in my sig, and below are the separated out char sheet, cheat sheet, and provisional cartography files:
Char sheet
Cheat sheet
Cartography

Have at it!
c_b
 
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John Out West

Registered User
Validated User
#2
Currently going through it, but lets start with this.

There's no section that says "How to Play." That makes this 10x harder for me as a GM and Player. Please make this section after your overview, and make it as clear and concise as possible.

Note, I am intensely interested in gameplay mechanics and intensely disinterested in lore that is not my own. So I'll be skipping most lore in favor of the actual gameplay.
 

catty_big

Miao wow!!
Validated User
#3
Thanks, that's just the sort of feedback I'm looking for. So you're essentially saying bring forward the section on game mechanics (which is currently about halfway in)? Ok, I'll do that, but when you say gameplay do you mean task resolution and combat, i.e what dice to roll and when or something a bit broader than that? And is your question at least partially answered by the cheat sheet (which is currently exists as a separate handout for con games, but can be found in the mechanics section in the draft doc, albeit in a denser form)?
 

John Out West

Registered User
Validated User
#4
Its good you've brought this in, as its very confusing at the moment and could use some clean up. I'll do my best to give you some usable feedback.

After reading everything, I think its safe to say its unplayable in its current form without already being familiar with the game. There's no explanation in the general rules on how to build a character, and even the provided character sheet is filled with boxes that I don't know how to fill. This is a common problem among designers, especially myself, who often forget that readers don't have one single clue on how to play our games. We have to use baby-steps to not only get our readers to understand our game, but also to have them unlearn any preconceptions they had about the game before they started reading.

The game itself looks like its done except for the polish, which is about 90% of the work done. We have a saying that: The Polish is the other 90% of the work you'll have to do after the first 90%. Polish takes a long time if you want to get it right, and if you're like me you'll spend hours trying to get a single paragraph to sound right.

Responding to your comment above; Yes you should have all the gameplay mechanics that players absolutely need (Need, not might Want) to play a very basic version of the game. If your players had nothing except this How To Play, they should be able to keep up with the GM and more experienced players. The cheat sheet you provided is a good start, but should be a little more thorough. Again, you have to assume that the player's know absolutely nothing about your game. When I made Westbound, I actually included a three page "Welcome to" section which had Bare Essentials, and then afterwards a "How to Play" that explained the core mechanics in detail, followed by a "Complete Rules" section that explained everything I possibly could. Its good to work small to large, and remember that its often Players who often buy their GM's books to play with them, so its really good to emphasize how fun your game is to play right out of the gate. In the best case scenario you can actually make a Player want to be a GM.

Lastly, and this is more a curiosity, are you planning on getting professional art for your book? If you're planning on selling it, I would highly recommend custom art, as it gives your book instant credibility.

Below is a list of my notes.
______________________________________________________
On Task Resolution, you should emphasize that tasks are resolved with 2d10's. It took a while to find it.

I'd warn you not to use terms that have not been explained before without immediately explaining them. Something like "Critical Success" is confusing, especially when you're using a 2d10 system, until I found the page that explained it. On page 18 it says that bosses can reroll: No clue what this means.

As a general rule, I would explain how to be a Player first and foremost. GM's typically know how to GM any game as long as they know how to be a player in that game. After reading more, it looks like you're missing a dedicated player section in general. From what I can see you're letting the Character Sheet itself take the brunt of that responsibility. Unfortunately the character sheets don't explain enough.

Purple Prose is something people often say about my work, generally meaning i'm using too much flowery language. In this case, I feel like you're joking too much in the book, especially in the rules section. When i'm in the Rules section i should be learning the rules and nothing more. There are times and places for joking in the rules section, which is generally in boxes that are clearly separated from the rules.

On page 22, by pelor's glorious light, that is a very confusing way to set up the page. I dont know why it needs to be horizontal, with three distinct pairs of columns, and then back to horizontal again. Was very confusing to read. Reading more, this happens constantly throughout the book. I find it incredibly confusing, but I may get used to it we'll see- Nevermind, it also changes based on which page you're on. You need to make sure you're book has consistency when it comes to its layout. Two Vertical Columns, read top to bottom with no back and forth.

On page 16 it says that one player will have the word "KILLER" on their sheet with no other context. I'm assuming this is only for the Investigation style of play, but it doesn't say that anywhere. Reading more, i find that it is a continuation of the very bottom of the last page, but i'm keeping this in so you can understand how confused I am right now.

Page 19, Character sheets generally go at the back for easy printing. I'm assuming this is an NPC character sheet, but nonetheless.

I have a problem with the Interpretations from a gameplay mechanic perspective, as it seems that I can fail anything, like tying my shoe, with a median roll. Most games let GM's choose the difficulty, but from what I can tell all a character has to do is get a 12 and they can swim up a waterfall. If this is untrue, then its not a mechanics problem but rather it is not explained enough.
 

catty_big

Miao wow!!
Validated User
#5
It’s good you've brought this in, as its very confusing at the moment and could use some clean up. I'll do my best to give you some usable feedback.
That’s the idea! Folks who know me are probably thinking all this but don’t want to say it, which is cool and all but not terribly helpful.

Seems like your critique falls under the following heads:

How to play
There's no section that says "How to Play." That makes this 10x harder for me as a GM and Player. Please make this section after your overview, and make it as clear and concise as possible.
Will do.

Character creation
Yup, need to do that. That had kinda slipped my mind. As you say, it currently only makes sense to me, since I know the game. Explaining the boxes will be easy enough; I imagine the difficult part will be how to stat PCs. In fact, only the other day one of my game designer buddies (and a well-known one at that, so maybe I should hit him up for advice on this point) was saying on FB how much he hates statting characters.

How to play
The cheat sheet you provided is a good start, but should be a little more thorough.
OK, will flesh that out a bit. The cheat sheet is mainly for con games though, although I'm thinking it may be a good idea to build the rules section of the QS from the cheat sheet up.

Artwork
Are you planning on getting professional art for your book?
Yup, take that as read. There’ll be a lot less in the QS than in the full version, but yes, it’ll be there.

General
On Task Resolution, you should emphasize that tasks are resolved with 2d10's. It took a while to find it.
Yeah, guess that is a bit buried.

I'd warn you not to use terms that have not been explained before without immediately explaining them. Something like "Critical Success" is confusing, especially when you're using a 2d10 system, until I found the page that explained it. On page 18 it says that bosses can reroll: No clue what this means.
I always assumed Critical Success was a widely used term in RPGs. What would you say instead, and why is it especially confusing in a 2d10 system? Regarding rerolls, there's a reroll bonus for higher stats (currently 3+, although I'm considering reducing that to 4+), whereby player can re-roll (depending on their stat) either one or both of their 2d10, up to three times per session across all their stats that come with a bonus. I assumed that antagonists would have access to that ability too.

After reading more, it looks like you're missing a dedicated player section in general. From what I can see you're letting the Character Sheet itself take the brunt of that responsibility. Unfortunately the character sheets don't explain enough.
Yes, the character sheet is most of the game as far as the players are concerned. I think I’ll add a page to the section on building a character that explains each bit of the char sheet and how to fill it.

It feels like you're joking too much in the book, especially in the rules section. […] There are times and places for joking in the rules section, which is generally in boxes that are clearly separated from the rules.
Point taken, at least as regards the rules section. As for the other sections, that’s just me I’m afraid.

One column vs two columns
Hmmmm, yes, this is a biggie. I changed all the text for an earlier game from one to two columns after being told that that’s the industry standard for books with A4 layout, even though I absolutely hate it, finding it personally more difficult to read than one column. More recently I’ve discovered that other people hate it too, but it’s the industry standard so that’s that. However, I believe that in certain cases (such as the abilities list on p22, the skill check triggers on p23 and the encounter triggers on p24), two column is just so hard to read that that rule has to be overridden. I have converted a few sections from one to two column though, including the text about the maxed out NPCs. Those had just slipped my mind.

Page 19, Character sheets generally go at the back for easy printing. I'm assuming this is an NPC character sheet, but nonetheless.
Ok

I have a problem with the Interpretations from a gameplay mechanic perspective, as it seems that I can fail anything, like tying my shoe, with a median roll. Most games let GM's choose the difficulty, but from what I can tell all a character has to do is get a 12 and they can swim up a waterfall. If this is untrue, then it’s not a mechanics problem but rather it is not explained enough.
I haven’t added any difficulty ratings yet. No problem, I’ll put a provisional one in, probably something along the lines of Standard (unmodified roll), Easy (+1, 2 or 3), or Hard (-1, 2 or 3).
 
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torbenm

Registered User
Validated User
#6
Some comments on the maps -- not concerning the graphical qualities, but more about the geometry:

  • It seems odd that there are no islands. It would make the map seem more natural if there are islands of various sizes around the main continent.
  • There is only one lake (big enough to show) on the continent. Since the continent spans several thousand miles, I would expect more.
  • The cities seem rather randomly placed. Typically, medieval cities would be placed at coasts, rivers, lakes, or mountain passes. In particular, every river should have a city close to where it flows into the sea, and there are often cities where a river forks or where it becomes too shallow to navigate with large boats (so goods can be transferred to caravans or shallow barges).
  • The upper map (of the Zilik area) should also show the coastline of the continent.
 

catty_big

Miao wow!!
Validated User
#7
Some comments on the maps -- not concerning the graphical qualities, but more about the geometry:

  • It seems odd that there are no islands. It would make the map seem more natural if there are islands of various sizes around the main continent.
  • There is only one lake (big enough to show) on the continent. Since the continent spans several thousand miles, I would expect more.
  • The cities seem rather randomly placed. Typically, medieval cities would be placed at coasts, rivers, lakes, or mountain passes. In particular, every river should have a city close to where it flows into the sea, and there are often cities where a river forks or where it becomes too shallow to navigate with large boats (so goods can be transferred to caravans or shallow barges).
  • The upper map (of the Zilik area) should also show the coastline of the continent.
Oh, that's something I threw together just to get things started. Don't worry, it will all be gone into thoroughly come the time; in fact, the time is nearly upon us, and I should probably be thinking about engaging a cartographer. So yes, currently everything is completely random, but thanks for pointing it out, and I'll probably get a thread going about the geography once I've nailed the core mechanics and started work on that.
 
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catty_big

Miao wow!!
Validated User
#8
J John Out West
My bad. You're quite right, Critical Success is absolutely meaningless. I was thinking of critical hits, a different beast entirely. No wonder you were puzzled. OK, I've renamed the success levels Success, Good Success and Excellent Success, and failure levels Fail, Bad Fail and Disastrous Fail. The idea behind the levels is that if you roll against Perception, say, with a basic Success you would find what you were looking for, whereas with a Good Success you would find something useful that you weren't looking for, and with an Excellent Success you'd find tons of additional stuff. Likewise, if you rolled against Strength and got a basic Fail you wouldn't be able to pick up the bag of gold you were trying to steal; if you rolled a Bad Fail you'd drop it on your foot, and with a Disastrous Fail you'd cuss and mutter, and generally make so much noise that you'd alert a guard.
 
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johnthedm7000

Social Justice Witch
Validated User
#10
J John Out West
My bad. You're quite right, Critical Success is absolutely meaningless. I was thinking of critical hits, a different beast entirely. No wonder you were puzzled. OK, I've renamed the success levels Success, Good Success and Excellent Success, and failure levels Fail, Bad Fail and Disastrous Fail. The idea behind the levels is that if you roll against Perception, say, with a basic Success you would find what you were looking for, whereas with a Good Success you would find something useful that you weren't looking for, and with an Excellent Success you'd find tons of additional stuff. Likewise, if you rolled against Strength and got a basic Fail you wouldn't be able to pick up the bag of gold you were trying to steal; if you rolled a Bad Fail you'd drop it on your foot, and with a Disastrous Fail you'd cuss and mutter, and generally make so much noise that you'd alert s watchperson.
It's important to include clear guidelines on the sorts of things that are encompassed by a Success vs. a Good Success or what have you. Powered by the Apocalypse world games do this with their Player and GM moves, Blades in the Dark does this with copious examples and a lengthy explanation of the rules for position and effect (as well as how to modify them). Burning wheel does this by including rules for just about everything. In the text itself, you don't describe what constitutes Success or failure, which sounds like it would be obvious but it's very important to codify in your rules system that when the dice hit the table, something needs to change (for the worse, or the better). Otherwise there's no point to rolling them.
 
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