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The Essential Game.

 
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Aki
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Joined: 06 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:20 pm    Post subject: The Essential Game. Reply with quote

Me again (sorry). Still working with that crazy skill system bit. While doing that I, in reaction to the accusations that I was making things too complex, decided to see what all I could prune away. I ended up with a game I feel captures the essential heart of SW play but is only 1 page long. I'm not joking -- Here it is...



The Basic Game


This heart of the game is about attributes and checking them. All characters have five attributes.
  • Agility represents your character's physical agility and manual dexterity.
  • Smarts is mental acuity, knowledge breadth and memorization skill.
  • Spirit is the character's spiritual strength, wisdom, willpower and charisma.
  • Strength is the character's physical power and prowess.
  • Vigor is your characters fortitude, toughness and resistance to damage.


For each attribute roll 2d6. Round odd numbers up to the next even number to determine the die to use for that attribute. Any roll less than 4 is a d4 for that attribute, so the possible attributes are d4, d6, d8, d10 and d12.

As you adventure you will be confronted with tasks. When your character's ability to perform the task is in question you'll make an attribute check. To do this you roll the die associated with the score and a d6 and compare both to a number representing the difficulty of the task and chosen by the game master ( usually 4 ). Do not add the two dice together.

If either die comes up on its maximum value - it has aced and is rerolled. Each reroll is added to the total. This is open ended, so if you are rolling a d6 and it comes up 6 you roll again. If you get a 3 on the second roll that makes for a total of 9, but if you roll a second 6 you roll yet again until you no longer ace. After all the rolling is done if either die meets or exceeds the number chosen by the game master you succeed.

If two characters compete with each other they both make attribute checks in this manner, but unimportant characters controlled by the game master do not roll the extra d6. Whoever rolls highest wins. Ties are won by the attacking character.

When the order of character actions is important (usually, but not always, combat), a 52 card deck of playing cards is used to determine initiative. Each character is dealt one card each round. Characters go in the order indicated by the card - Aces are high If two players have the same card value but in different suites then Spades go first, then Hearts, next Diamonds then Clubs (reverse alphabetical order). On your turn, you choose one action: attack a foe, move a set distance, and so on.

To attack in melee someone you and your target make a strength check. If you win your opponent must succeed at a vigor check with a target number of 4 or be knocked out. Shooting works the same but uses agility instead of strength.

That's it. Everything else in this book is an elaboration of this core. For example, with the above there's no difference between punching someone and running them through with a sword. There are no formal rules for taking cover from enemy fire, instead the game master should apply a penalty to the attacker's roll. If you want you can stop here, not read the rest of the book and not worry yourself with detailed rules for skills, talents, edges, hindrances or anything else if you want.



* * * * *

The "essential" game. One page. The GM has a lot of judgement calling to do in this version, but that's as close to the bone as the game can be cut that is still recognizable as SW in my opinion. And yeah, I'm working on a scenario using just these rules - a toon game. Though that Fistful of Muppets scenario I saw in this forum is reasonably well suited to this approach as well.

Thoughts?
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Timon
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Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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Location: Haarlem in the Netherlands

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good - I have been thinking about a super-micro-lite-SW myself, so my kids can play it on the back seat during long car trips.

Rolling to determine your attributes rather than point-buying seems very old-school... what is your motivation?
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Aki
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, it's faster than point pay, especially if you have players who will analysis paralysis even a system this simple. The goal is to truly make things as dead simple as they can be. Point buy is discussed later in the draft. The point of this page (and section) is to get people started playing. The fewer moving pieces, the better.
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77IM
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Joined: 23 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea, but I think to make this really Savage Worlds, you have to add bennies and Shaken. It's just my opinion, of course, but those things are what make Savage Worlds play and feel differently from other games. (And even bennies aren't exactly unique. It turns out the Shaken status is the secret genius element.)

Otherwise, all you have is a set of attributes and a dice mechanic. They happen to match what Savage Worlds uses but it's fundamentally no different than any other ultra-light rules. Like, if the attributes were Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha, and the core mechanic was d20+modifier vs DC, we'd recognize that as the d20 System, ultra-light version. My point is that the difference between that and the Savage Worlds ultra-light version you present are superficial.

A few other elements (raises, crit fails, card-based initiative, multi-action penalty, threshold-based damage) seem important but I guess are not essential.

I'll try a write-up:

Bennies: All player characters receive 3 bennies at the start of each session. The GM can award additional bennies for good roleplaying (on average, around 2-3 bennies per session). A benny can be spent after an attribute check to re-roll the dice and use the new result, or at any time to instantly remove Shaken status.

Shaken: Many effects cause a character to become Shaken. While Shaken, you can't take any actions. Instead, you make a Spirit check. On a 4 or better, you are no longer Shaken, although you can't act on the current turn unless you get an 8 or better.

(elsewhere) To attack in melee someone you and your target make a strength check. If you win your opponent must succeed at a vigor check with a target number of 4 or be Shaken. If they're already Shaken, or if their total is 1 or less, they are instead knocked out. Shooting works the same but uses agility instead of strength.

-- 77IM
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Chris Tavares
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Joined: 28 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really don't think it's Savage Worlds without edges. That's what really gives your characters distinction - your stats simply aren't enough.

They'd be pretty easy to add in - basically make them small descriptors that when they come into play give you a fixed bonus like +1 or +2 or something.
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Aki
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My goal here is to state, simply, "this is core, and this is the game." Everything else builds from here. Skills, Bennies, Hindrances, Edges, using jokers in the initiative deck, those are more advanced systems.

This write up is a cut to the bone.

The playtest draft I'm working on doesn't drop anything. Skills, bennies, hindrances, edges - they're all still around. Skills work differently than before - that's the major shift between SW and what this build we are playing with - an unofficial 2. Not 2nd edition mind you. "X edition" as a term is used too much in table top RPG's. While the obvious child of the parent, this game is not completely compatible with SW.

I've continued writing on this. The second and third pages go over the sorts of judgement calls the game master has to make, then buying attributes instead of rolling them, simple skills and bennies are introduced.

The next major section is "The Simple Game." It introduces the concept of roles, Roles are similar to classes & levels, except that when you break them down what you learn is they are pre-configured combinations of races, skills, edges, powers and talents.

The third section is the one most familiar to the old hands - "The Advanced Game". Here the edges, races, skills, powers and talents are presented piecemeal.

The final section is "The Complete Game" which is the Gamemaster's section. It goes how to run the three preceding games alongside each other, particularly the simple & advanced game - though it's possible to allow a player to stay to the basic game though you end up handling a lot of that player's book keeping for them. It also introduces more detailed variant rules for settings and groups that desire that extra detail even if it does have a cost in speed. (More fun - to that group at least - but less fast).

The system shows promise. In working out the math it's possible to play a fighter out to 4th level, then leave the role path and start doing some custom skill and edge buys, then switch over to another role. More cool is the fact one player can run a role character (which is class / level based more or less) while another can run an SW traditional edge / skill based character at the same time without a break in balance.

But all that choosing must come back down to a common, clear and unambiguous foundation. What I posted in the first post is that foundation - the game once everything non-essential has been stripped away. Just because something is beloved (bennies, edges) doesn't mean it's essential. I don't imagine many games running without those rules, but if it's possible to make the game work without them, why not?
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77IM
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then, you can strip it down further. Remove the core dice mechanic entirely. The core of the game is:
    You play a character in a fictional world. When stuff happens in the gaming world that your character would be aware of, the GM will tell you. When you want your character to do something in the world, tell the GM what you want your character to attempt, and he will tell you what happens as a result. Sometimes the GM may ask you to roll some dice to help determine the results randomly.

I think teaching players the core dice mechanic first is a great way to teach the game. But I don't equate a game's core dice mechanic with the game itself.

Building upon the stripped down rules you presented, one could come up with a game that is definitely NOT Savage Worlds. (People would say, "Well the core dice mechanic is just like Savage Worlds, but other than that they are totally different.") Similarly, you could play a game of Savage Worlds with a different dice mechanic, and it would still be recognizably Savage Worlds. (I think you've suggested such alternate mechanics before.)

I guess I'm arguing sort of a semantic point, so feel free to ignore me.

-- 77IM
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Aki
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is semantic but not annoyingly so.
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