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Zinoph Hizoto
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Location: Springfield, MO

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:52 pm    Post subject: If you've written anything, please read! Reply with quote

Hey everybody!

I begin some bare-bones testing of my Titan Fall setting this weekend. Long story short, the playtesters I enlisted want information on the races. The problem is that every time I start trying to type out basic player info (like you would find in a players guide) I find myself putting down lots of info... info that isn't pertinent to the playtest. That wouldn't be a problem if I didn't have 20 races I needed to whip info up for in 2 days. See I don't have a problem writing, I have difficulty staying focused.

So are there any designers (or anybody) out there that know what info (other than crunch) players need when looking at a race? Heck, even a 1,2,3 check list would work. Anything will be a help at this point.

Thanks!
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Matt DeForrest
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My recommendation is to find a model and stick to it. Take a look at the way races are described in the core rulebook, for example. Count the number of paragraphs and match the sections.

Back to working on my report. I hope this helps.

Matt
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Dr Savagelove
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recommend keeping it as simple and straightforward as possible. While all the expanded info you have is great, and should certainly be included, for the character creation section, really focus on painting a general picture.

You want to accomplish the following:

1. Give a general description of the racial appearance and mindset. (Elves stand slightly taller than humans, have pointed ears, and deep, earthy colored eyes and hair. They are often considered aloof by human standards, and have a great love of nature and magic.)

2. Give the player a solid idea of the general archetype or stereotype of the race. (This may be wrapped in with point one, as above, but it may not be. For example, in RunePunk, the general appearance and mindset of the Andari does not scream administrators that accumulate power over the centuries and completely run the city, so that is spelled out in the description.)

3. Why this race is cool, and why the player would want to play a member of this race. In other words, what makes this race different and special, not just in this setting, but in the player's role-playing experience. (For the best example of this, see Shaintar: Immortal Legends. Sean's GM to GM sidebars explain why he made the different racial choices and changes that he did.)

4. A bit of cultural info is good as well, to help in the formation of role-playing choices, especially whether the character will be a typical or atypical member of their race.

I hope this helps. Cheers and good play-testing.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess my first question is, why 20? 5 or so should do for the complex writeup (several paragraphs). For the rest do one sentence on appearance with racial attitudes then list the hindrances and edges for the race.

The best example I've seen recently is Slipstream. It has LOTS of races but devotes very little time to most and concentrates a page on only a few. Slipstream also has an excellent race creation system.
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Zinoph Hizoto
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys. I just needed a little quick guidance there. Normally I would do writing research and stuff, but the play group needs the stuff by tomorrow, so time was/is a factor.

I'll take the advice and limit it to a quick: 1) What is the race, 2) What stereotype do they have or fall under, and 3)What makes the race special?

That should get keep me focused enough to get through tonight. Again a million thanks guys!

*and as to why 20 races? Well its not anthropomorphic fantasy without that kinda range really. I did narrow it down to story driven races and ones that just had cool natural abilities. But who knows? Playtesting might reveal some of them are vestigial and get cut. Or ultimately only the central races will get the limelight and the others just get a sentence and stats like in Slipstream... though if I do that now I might get sued. Very Happy

Oh, and if was the wrong place for this tread I apologize.
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jerepp
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As the others have hinted... have an outline and stick to the outline. In the case of 20 races keep it really simple and strict. There will be another place for all the deep stuff you want to get into at some point. But for the play test especially short and sweet.
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razorwise
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zinoph Hizoto wrote:
Thanks guys. I just needed a little quick guidance there. Normally I would do writing research and stuff, but the play group needs the stuff by tomorrow, so time was/is a factor.

I'll take the advice and limit it to a quick: 1) What is the race, 2) What stereotype do they have or fall under, and 3)What makes the race special?

That should get keep me focused enough to get through tonight. Again a million thanks guys!

*and as to why 20 races? Well its not anthropomorphic fantasy without that kinda range really. I did narrow it down to story driven races and ones that just had cool natural abilities. But who knows? Playtesting might reveal some of them are vestigial and get cut. Or ultimately only the central races will get the limelight and the others just get a sentence and stats like in Slipstream... though if I do that now I might get sued. Very Happy

Oh, and if was the wrong place for this tread I apologize.



Everyone has provided good advice, but I'll throw in a few suggestions anyway.

You may have 20 races, but this sounds like a dry run playtest. Focus on six of those races that you want playtested first. Sketch out a brief racial profile and provide a few archetypes (such as the fox men live in pastoral regions, have small and light builds, are sneaky, and prefer loner roles such as scouts or those skirting the law, such as brigands).

Secondly, twenty sounds excessive to me. I'd suggest taking a step back and seeing if there aren't broader categories you can break these races down into and then subsequently provide racial edges to allow players to define exactly what they want.

Thirdly, don't rush things. That means take the necessary time to get things right and that also means sometimes saying no to the playtesters or not yet.

Finally, I'd direct you to checking out RunePunk to see how I created the robust races that accounts for a great deal of diversity and enthusiasm for the setting and how I went about creating a robust world while at the same time making a living city. Also, if you don't have it already, if you are seriously planning on moving forward with this, get 50 Fathoms and study that. It is an outstanding work by Shane, but you need to get beyond the words and into the analytical sphere of structure. Get an understanding of structure and it will better inform your entire developmental process.

I hope my insights help.

Regards,

Sean
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Clint
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

razorwise wrote:
Secondly, twenty sounds excessive to me. I'd suggest taking a step back and seeing if there aren't broader categories you can break these races down into and then subsequently provide racial edges to allow players to define exactly what they want.


That is excellent advice. Instead of creating specific races for each species, consider an overarching but more customizable template.

For instance for an anthropomorphic system of races, you could have a 3 by 3 breakdown of races such as...

Aquatic
Terrestrial
Aerial

and then...

Carnivore
Omnivore
Herbivore

Now, the first group is based on the background species' primary habitat. Since all races are anthropomorphic, Aquatic and Aerial will still have some form of ground travel capability and survivability without water for Aquatic ones. So an amphibious creature could still be "Aquatic" since that is a primary habitat for it, and they will innately be able to travel on land too anyway.

The latter group could just define certain lists (or even pacakages) of Edges and Hindrances that could be taken based on that type of creature. Whether the race is a hawk, fox, or barracuda, they are all carnivores with an attack capability whether it be talons, claws, or teeth.

The Carnivores and Herbivores will be two ends of the spectrum in their special abilities, while Omnivores would have access to some unique abilities both have, but not all of them. For instance, Carnivores might have an "Ambush Attack" ability and Herbivores might have the ability to get Size +2, but Omnivores might not have access to either of those and might have a few special abilities of their own (survivability, adaptability...).

Anyway, that's just off the top of my head; there are other ways to break it down that might work better, but the general idea is worth consideration I think.
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Boldfist
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't Sundered Skies already have something like this in place for building animal based characters???
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Mindseye
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kinda, the Wildlings are all basically Edge and Hindrance packages that add to the base Wildling race. It would probably be something to look at though.


I like the suggestion to use Slipstream as a template though. 5-6 base races 1 page each, a page of races with two lines as max, and the generation system to fill in blanks.

However for the playtest, I'd stick to just the 5 or 6 races. Next time offer 5-6 different races in addition to the previous ones.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like that last idea. Its a way of introducing your universe in digestible quantities.
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Zinoph Hizoto
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well for the most part I've tried to avoid looking at other peoples work. I am creating a product for sale and don't want people saying "I vaguely recognize that from my stuff! I've been ripped off!" I know that it isn't plagiarism if I don't use stuff word for word, but I also don't want people saying "he took ideas from 4 other books to make his!". Maybe that isn't how people think, but I'm new at this so I don't honestly know. I just don't want to get in trouble with anybody. Surprised

Though what I wasn't expecting to see from the thread is that I had too many races... I grew up with the Palladium game After the Bomb and have the D&D mindset that race=culture. I like the idea that Clint proposed, but I don't see how I could keep certain things that are specie related (like only moles having access to Weird Science, or their entire society for that matter) if the players can just cobble together whatever they want. I'm embarrassed to say it... but I'm just not getting it.

And I do have 50 Fathoms actually. It is the only SW book I own that has a great example of how a free form fantasy Plot Point setting can be structured. The other books tend to be "mission based" which is fine for them, just not the feel of my game. And it has a great way for generating random encounters! I love it! But... like before, if I put something similar in my book I would feel like I'm just stealing.

Gosh that all came out all whiny, didn't it? I really appreciate the advice given and if Sean really doesn't mind, I guess I should check out RunePunk. If anybody has any more advice I would be glad to take it. And if anyone can clear things up for me that would be great too.

You guys are the best!

Randy
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Last edited by Zinoph Hizoto on Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Clint
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zinoph Hizoto wrote:
Well for the most part I've tried to avoid looking at other peoples work. I am creating a product for sale and don't want people saying "I vaguely recognize that from my stuff! I've been ripped off!" I know that it isn't plagiarism if I don't use stuff word for word, but I also don't want people saying "he took ideas from 4 other books to make his!". Maybe that isn't how people think, but I'm new at this so I don't honestly know. I just don't want to get in trouble with anybody. Surprised


Okay, I think the best advice I can provide is to let go of this concept... at least partially. You don't want to just take stuff from people, but then there is no reason to reinvent the wheel simply for the sake of reinventing the wheel.

SW players have repeatedly stated that they don't want the "bloat" of supplemental mechanics that basically is just a different way of doing the same thing that is already in another product (the source of that experience is probably clear Wink).

Anyway, I think you'll find the SW publishers are more of a community than competitors in this regard. If someone has mechanics that would work for what you might need, there's a simple answer...

Just ask if you can use them.

I think most will be happy to allow some cross use for a simple acknowledgment of the source in the credits (I know of some who have that as their given policy). Pinnacle has done the same thing with material from the Toolkits.

Ultimately, it's more beneficial for everyone to work together to support the system than to work separately.

But I will say if something just needs a new mechanic to fit the setting, then do that and don't try to wedge in something that doesn't work.
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Zinoph Hizoto
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Clint. That makes me feel better. I defiantly want to make a good product that people can enjoy. Knowing that people would prefer I not reinvent the wheel (and accidentally make it square) is a huge burden off my shoulders.

And oh my god you are a GENIOUS!!!! #1eek1

I just got what you were saying about the 3x3 thing! I don't have to give up my 20 races! I just make them less "ridged"! I can still have rabbits, cats, birds, turtles, etc., but instead of stating them out in full (like a normal race) I just say what categories they fit into (Cat is a mammal/carnivore and may choose Edges/ Special Abilities from these categories)! That gives me the variety I want, lets me focus on more pressing plot stuff, and makes it ridiculously easy to introduce new animals in supplements or for players to make their own!

I am humbled by your wisdom seifu. It just took a few hours of sleep to get it.

*edit* And thanks to everyone else who practically said the same thing, I just didn't get it until I knew it. Or something like that. Mr. Green
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Emiricol
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, Clint is always blowing me away with his rules fu. I look forward to seeing your product someday Smile
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