Thursday, May 28, 2009

What is the point?

In this game there is a currency used to create things.  The universal unit is "the point".  A point can never be created or destroyed, and anything that can be helpful in conflict (combat, task, contest and the like) has a point value.

An average person and the things an average person can do are all at zero points.  That is, a basic person who has common sense and normal skills and intellect, physical attributes.. the average person is worth 0 points.

If a person was blind, yet average then their blindness (negative point value) would be offset by something else (positive point value), like maybe they get extra money from the government under the Americans with Disabilities Act or at least accommodations so their blindness was less of a factor.

If a person was a famous rock star and thousands of people loved them (positive point value) they might also have a ruined marriage, drug addiction and photographers invading their life all the time (negative point value).

That is all part of the character creation process, to calculate these point values and to balance them.  Positive and negative, then they balance to zero points - the human condition. 

The point is not only held in these states of being (blindness, rock stardom, etc) but also in skills and attributes.  The average attribute is 10, that is worth 0 points.  The average skill is +0, that is worth 0 points.  A strong character might have a physical strength of 12 (worth 2 points) and a weak character might have a physical strength of 8 (worth -2 points).  There might even be a person who is not alert in the morning and has an intelligence of 8 in the morning but in the afternoon they are at 10 (which would be worth -2, half the time since the time is split in half for a total of -1).

Not only is the point the universal currency of creation, it is also is used in the stereotypical RPG combat system.  Most Role Playing Games use a concept of Hit Points where a person can take damage and perform at their peak until they run out and die instantly.  This game does not follow the Hit Point methodology.

In this game, when a character takes damage it comes from the creation points.  If you take damage, attributes are decreased, skills are impacted and eventually the character may die (but after significant loss of abilities).  Healing can regain all lost/impacted abilities back to the pre-injury level, but combat and damage are intentionally draining.  Just as in real life, avoiding combat and damage is the best policy (but it might happen anyhow).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


So, a role playing game is to mimic life (even a fictional life).  To have a game that mimics life, what is the goal of the game?  What is the goal to life?

I have come to understand that the goal in life is not to accumulate wealth or power, it is not to score imaginary points were whoever dies with the most toys wins.  The goal in life, the meaning of life is to experience and overcome conflict. 

Who are the heroes we admire?  What makes them admired?  Wealth? Power?  No, conflicts they faced is what makes them admired.

So, life is about facing conflict.  Successful or not, we admire people who face conflict.  Many figures we admire did not individually achieve their goals in life.  No leader won every battle they fought, no athlete won every match they were in. But it is the facing of conflict that teaches us to be successful. Facing the conflict is what life is all about.

A game is all about maintaining balance.  "Fairness" is a concern of all players in all games, equal chances to win and equally enforced rules.  To maintain fairness rules are set and game parameters are measured.  This is the same with a Role Playing Game.

Since the goal of this game is to face conflict, the conflict is measured.  Anything that helps or hinders the player in facing conflict is of consequence and therefore measured.

So, in this game only capabilities that prove a benefit in conflict are evaluated, other things that are unlikely to matter are just decorative.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creative Commons License

I like freedom.  I think that freedom is the greatest thing ever.  I think work should be free for others to use and expand upon and competition is a good thing. In line with this belief, whatever content I release it will be under the Creative Commons "Attribution-Share Alike 3.0" license. 

This means that people may freely use my game system and expand upon it, as long as they attribute my work and allow their work to be shared as well.  Just as I can publish my work and make money from it, so can they -- as long as others can do the same.

My goal in creating this game system was not to become a wealthy RPG creator (there are so few of them).  No, knowing that I would do well to have a hobby that paid for itself, I would prefer my system and game be used than I maintain a strangle-hold on it.

So, from this moment forward any of the original ideas I present may be used in your own work, as long as you mention me and agree to maintain the same license.  Yay, Freedom!

First post: The challenge.

This is my first post. After a lot of blogs and a lot of time, I have come to the realization that I have wasted a lot of years on myself.

A log time ago I loved Role Playing Games. Not specifically the one with Elves, thieves and warriors, but the general idea of a game played with paper, pencil and imagination. I played many different games but loved the imagination and process of creation required for each game. I played games with armor plated heroes, super powered animals and even giant robots. The one constant was my jealousy at the creators who had all the fun when they made up the rules and game itself.

In 1991 I decided that I could make my own role playing game. I made a system that was simple and basic, more of a theology than set of rules and charts. Games of the time were called "rules heavy" and required two years of astro-physics before they no longer seemed convoluted. As I made my game and played it with friends whenever possible, other games were made. New games were "rules light" games that were more of a process of story telling and were much more free-flow. As fun as they were, there were few rules to keep things balanced and in a fixed context.

I'd played generic games that were in the middle of "rules light" and "rules heavy", and they clicked -- but still didn't suit me. They still needed big books and used arbitrary point systems to make characters and items that really weighed down the process. The players of these games were still encouraged to create their own content, but the process was complex and needed big books with heavy accounting skills. If a player were comfortable with a 1040EZ or other IRS forms, then creation was simple. As an Art-Major it was much harder for me.

In 1993 I had come up with the basis of my game system, the rules needed to make stuff for the game. I wanted to jump in and start publishing a game, but these were the years before the internet was common and I could see no way to get any game I produced to be published. Real life and the pressures of my existence pushed my love of this game to the back burner.

In 2000, on a family camping trip, I was doing laundry at a laundromat with my son who was 4 at the time. My son loved a specific movie with spaceships, robots and magical warriors. I had some regular dice and paper and played a quick game with him based on that movie. We called it the "counting game" and it was an instant hit. As the years when by we played a few times, eventually including my daughter. The desire to publish this game became stronger.

I had a problem. I wanted my son to contribute and we could publish the game together, but I lacked a plot for a game world I felt would fit my game and system. Aside from achieving an impossible licensing deal, I had no compelling content to provide with my game. Publishing a pure system was a major shortcoming to other game systems and I'd rather the effort remain unpublished than fail with known fault of other systems.

Back in 2006 my son and I spent some time working on a game that might involve monsters fighting each other. I would work on the rules to allow 100ft tall monsters destroy a city and he would work on the monsters. As an avid biologist he came up with some great ideas, but I faltered and lost sight of the project.

This failure on my part has been weighing heavily on my soul for a few years now and my son is much older. I know that I don't have a lot of time before he give less than two hoots about my wishes to be included in his life.

After failing at this for so long, can I pull it off now -- or is it too late?

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