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Life Forms Revisited or Into the Breach once more.

MoonHunter

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For those of you that have been around for a while, you know that Animals/ Life forms have been the albatross around my neck. Enough so that it has stalled my game (well that and a really good novel idea). (It just needs to be perfect or at least really good.) I have wrestled with this subject time and time again. So here we are.

Okay, let me explain why I need to do it this time. My game is a universal medium crunch game. It does science fiction, fantasy, horror, martial arts, super heroes, extra dimensional/ time travel. And in some settings, many of those at one time. (So everything GURPS and Hero does, but in a smaller page count and simpler system.) My game will end up with a 250-300 page count.

So see the breakdown... and it becomes important to my questions.

10 pages of introduction
70 page of character creation (which includes some advanced sections often not used), which is 6 sections (conception to attributes, archetypes and the skill areas, gifts/flaws, and level advancement (plus some other things)
10 pages on rolling dice (1 page on how to do it, 9 pages of discussion about all those nuances that players will want to get into.)

30 pages Kitchen Sink (a huge number of optional/ advanced rules for players and GMs, including drama points, character definers, and how to use said die rolling for certain circumstances)
12 page of advanced basic mechanic discussion.

11 pages Tactical/Combat/Damage
12 pages for Powers: Psionics/ Magic/ Force/ Chi etc
30 pages for Meta Powers. (It makes sense for this one to be huge. It is the backbone for all sorts of things from actual super powers, to cyberware, to supernatural powers, mechanical effects, etc...)

55 pages for Lifeforms (Animals, Creatures, Entities, and other Sophants)
15 pages for Other things (Robots, Vehicles, Buildings, Organizations, Lands, and Systemic Agents (Drugs, Poisons, Medicines, etc).

20-30 approx pages GMing
20ish approx pages Example Meta Setting
25 pages of glossary, appendices, and sheets, plus the six example characters.

Okay. 55 pages on how to make lifeforms. 10 of it is examples for animals, creatures, entities, and NPC sophants (*number subject to change if I get excited about this... which I won't.)

It is 45 pages of Life form/ Biologic Abilities. It is a laundry list of abilities found in nature and in common science fiction/ fantasy stories. Yes, it is just a bunch of listings. And the worst part is, this is the cut down list. I culled only the important things game impacting game pieces from the Advanced/ Complete Lifeform Section. That has 65+ pages of listing.

Forty Five page listing of stuff. This is just wayyy too many pages for the importance of this to the game!!! Power Systems have one column or half a column of data fill each. I have 12 example "schools of magic" to plug and play with in the Power system

It has always been my opinion that the amount of space something takes up in the rules should be approximate to its importance to play in the game. Meta Powers are important because they form the basis for description for powers and other effects. In fact, some of those meta powers show the mechanics behind some of the biologic elements (as well as other mechanics).

Am I off base here? Isn't this way out of line with the rest of the game in terms of amount of stuff/ page count?

If I am off base, then I should just keep the existing system and go on.



So. I have tried to do this five times. Five different approximate design considerations. The ones for this time:

1) Advanced Lifeforms scaled down, so it has to support the more complete, more advanced creation.
Usually this is easy to do, just take out the defaults (every lifeform has to have either a Trait or Biologic Element in each of the 14 categories. Most of these are defaults like Oxygen/Respiration, Carbon Based, etc, and do not have a biologic element that has a caust.

2) They have to be distinct from Meta Powers, though similar is okay. Because meta powers allow for "relatively cheap" progression of power per point cost. Natural "powers" have some steps or abilities that are slightly different. Gliding and Flight are all part of the Movement Meta Power (with gliding being a limiter) and often under the same trait. In biologics Gliding and Flight is a different track and ability.

3) Each Biologic Power has one trait. Unlike Meta Powers which allow several traits (Pulsar has a big Attack Meta Element (five points) with several traits, Power Blast (5d6E), General Blast (3d6E armor piercing), Broad Blast (4d6E Effect Cone, no range). ) Meta powers should have single effects for each one. So a Power Cat will have natural attack 2d6E Energy Aura "electro quills" for 2 points and and natural attack 1d6E ranged attack "power arc" for 2 points.

2 and 3 keep biologic powers for "creeping", from being unintentionally more powerful than intended by keeping down the power levels and the number of effects. (Previous builds built animals with meta powers and many animals just became wayy to effective. If I built a "Power Cat with Meta Powers, it would be Attack 2 with two traits for half the cost in points and one extra trait needed (tagging a new cost). So the balance of the points to effect gets lost.

4) It has to cover most of nature and common science fiction/ fantasy abilities.

This is a couple design considerations less than I have done before. It is short, sweet, and will

New Plan....

A hybrid of meta powers and previous biologic element systems. Different enough that it won't be the meta system repeated.

So things will be grouped by category (which dovetails nicely into number 1) then applying one per trait.
**Some of these will be zero costs (as they have an evolutionary cost for the advanced system, but not a game mechanic cost as they don't impact play... very often)
**This means basic description is not repeated and that each primary trait will have its associated rule mechanics.

The new system will list the "acceptable traits" and only acceptable traits will be allowed.
**Traits are very free form in the rest of the game, taking what best conveys what you want. Combative does not need just Swords, you can do "Studied Swords in Japan", flashy bladesman, trained as an SCA Knight, etc
**So we will have a tag on the trait. Using our Power Cat example: Energy Attack "Electro Spines" and Energy Attack "Power Arc". All of these will be under the Natural Attack category or the Special Attack Category (subject to change as these are to be grouped).

I think this combining of things will cut down the number of distinct game mechanics (with plurality given by traits). It will save some of the page count too (removing a few headers, a few line returns after each item, and some repeated text. )

Okay. There we go. I presented my thoughts and case elements. Two things from the rest of you.

Am I off base that this is just too large in terms of the game, thus too much stuff to look through?

Does the new combining approach instead of the discreet individual option might work best (harmonizes with previous sections)?
 

mats

How do I change this?
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I would say that you're going in the right direction by grouping meta and bio. And yes, 55 pages for creating lifeforms is a bit too much in my book, considering you could have at least 55 premade monsters instead, each taking 1 whole page*.

I would definitely put the building options in the end (both bio and meta), behind GM and sample setting, and maybe provide some "standard" options to use on the fly where they fit. In d&d 3.5 (I think) there was a list of all spells at the end of the book, and it worked perfectly. Casting spells was explained before and that large list of things that I (player) needed only 5 items from is showed to the back of the book. That way it could be huge, I wouldn't care. It worked more as a supplement than a part of the book. Maybe I got what you're doing wrong so it wouldn't work for you, but I would try to keep the game text flowing as far as it goes before getting stuck on building blocks and how to use them.

* Going with that idea, you could actually show a number of creatures with their abilities (explained and with a cost) so you get a combination of monster manual / biologic abilities menu.
 

MoonHunter

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And we are back at this again. I am working on this... and I am cleaning up the rest of the rewrite at the same time... and I am trying not to go insane while doing it... again.
 

MoonHunter

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Lol, I take it my advice from 2 years ago didn't help much? :D
Actually it was not bad advice. It was just the preliminary rewrite didn't hit is page size. So I got frustrated and wrote on a novella. (Which is another thing in need of rewrite). I have a new approach and I am going to dive in on that. It takes away one of the design considerations and makes Biologic Elements too much like other Character Elements. However, it is very efficient for text blocks and such. So, the change will be put in and we will go with it.

The problem is that I have several genres of creatures... from regular animals, to fantasy monsters, to alien creatures, to Star Trek Glowing Hate Monsters, to Kaiju, to other intelligent species. (It is a tool kit game for any genre/ transdimensional play - so it has to handle just about everything). So, the new approach will take a large chunk of each section, but not all of it (at least not in the core animal section). It should give examples so you can build up other biologic elements should you need them. Now I have to play carefully as to include as much as I can without cutting the section short.
 
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MoonHunter

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New Structure has knocked 5 key sections that were 13.6 pages down to 7.9 . This is the attack, consumption, defense, movement, respiratory categories.

I am under target.

It is working.

Slight change in structure from what I thought it would be, but it finally is gelling. It is working smoothly.

I may get this section to 30-35 pages. Four pages of rules and ten pages of example lifeforms (four to sixteen lifeforms per page) are my hard point. Now I have 15-25 pages of biologic elements. (From 30 pages in the last two rewrites!)

Next, you all get to listen to me complain about section 50.0 (Vehicles, Buildings, Lands, Computers, Robots, Organizations, and Illnesses). To be fair to all of you, except for a problem with computers, this section seems to be working.
 
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MoonHunter

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System 2.5 down from 3.3 I think I can do better

System is about attribute modifiers, increasing or decreasing damage resistance, making certain kinds of damage easier or harder to the lifeform, and so on.
 

MoonHunter

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System 2.5 down from 3.3 I think I can do better
System down to 2 from 2.5 from 3.3

Enhanced Senses and communication rewrite totally scrubbed last night. Needs more example traits, as the system is pretty abstract.
 

MoonHunter

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This weekend is busy, but my writing has an agenda

New Sense/ Communication section - full of examples.
Morphic to get done.

I am also doing some things on The Realm because I have not gotten that completely out of my system. I am doing some loose work on my default setting at work. You might of seen some of the interdimensional and transdimensional threads... they are kinda my home.
 

MoonHunter

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This weekend proved busier than originally scheduled. There were things I was not told about that were "officially on the books". Sigh. Add on some sinus headaches... and BANG

I went over it here, but I will post it here.

I am sad. One Sinus headache combined with sleep deprivation from our lovely rescue husky, has lead to practically nothing being done on the rpg game. Now, there was some work on Realms and Waunderers work.

I actually did some marvelous work on those other pieces. One should never turn down a short burst or two of creativity, especially when nothing else is coming along.


I am writing down these daily counts/ lack of counts as a way to motivate myself. Write down a goal and you are hugely more likely to achieve it. The act of writing it... of setting it down... make it more real in one's mind.

Doing so in public is supposed to improve that percentage even more.

So here I am, feeling bad about my counting, but knowing that I will bump on it tonight after I escape computer security here at work.
 
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