Friday, December 28, 2007

What They Didn't Tell you About Reign

Reign, by Greg Stolze bills itself as a fantasy RPG of lords and leaders. The game features company rules reminiscent of Ars Magica. These rules are built so you can play PCs who are the principle figures in an organization, like a guild, estate, kingdom, or band.

The company rules are really cool and let you do things like manage your company’s troops and money, fight other companies, and carry out espionage and counter-espionage. But what’s in the book is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what you can do with companies and what companies can do for you.

Summary: a company is a group of people united with a common goal. The company has five qualities, which measure its strengths from 1-6; might, treasure, influence, territory, and sovereignty.

Here’s a bit of what I want to do with company rules in my next campaign:

Of these sovereignty is exceptional. It doesn’t change or combine in the same way as the others. It represents the lifeblood of the company. If a company runs out of it, the company dies. The rules don’t give you any hard and fast rules to adjudicate what constitutes sovereignty for a particular company, so I propose linking it explicitly with the company’s goal. Sovereignty is how well the members think the company is doing at its goal.

This is important because the goals of the company aren’t necessarily those of the people in the company. Good (that is interesting) characters have goals. When characters have goals that cross other characters it makes for interesting play:
  • A character might have goals that cross the company’s goals. The company’s goal is gain prestige. The character’s goal is to kill vampires. But the character is in love with a vampire. What should the character do? If the other members get wind of this, how will it impact sovereignty? Finding out is fun.

  • Characters in the company might have goals that cross one another. All the nobles want power. But there can only be one king. How will this tension affect the characters and the fate of the kingdom? You can build an adventure or a campaign around that question.

Companies can do things. The players decide what their company does. But companies can also contain sub-companies, like a kingdom containing a number of noble houses. Conflict between the elements of a company can be an exciting avenue for play. But what are the boundaries of player authority? I propose that each company has members and officers.

Members participate in a company’s sovereignty, but don’t make big decisions. Officers make decisions. Players might be officers in only part of a composite company. The King’s spymaster is the officer of the intelligence corps, a part of the kingdom. He makes decisions for the spy core. The King is an officer of the Kingdom, but doesn’t directly make decisions for the spy corps. This creates a space for conflict.

Oh yes, and sub-divisions of the same company have their own goals which can conflict with the master company. The intelligence corps wants to string the traitorous Duke along to find out who’s funding him. The Army wants to kill him and raze his manor.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Planet Thirteen News Page is UP

I've just added a news feed to the Planet Thirteen Games Front Page. I'll be posting small news items about my games there, rather than clutter up Attacks with them. I'll be still be posting here regularly when I want to talk about design.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dungeon Game update DOH!

Oops, I just realized there were a couple of mistakes in the How to Host a Dungeon rules that make it rather hard to play propertly. I've fixed them now. doh!

Also, I'm going to add a news feed to Planet Thirteen soon so that minor news updates to my games don't have to posted here on Attacks.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Advanced Dwarven Dungeon

I've just posted a new version of the Dwarven Dungeon Game, with a new name, How to Host a Dungeon. Plus I created a How to Host a Dungeon page. You can find the latest version of the game there, plus some Dungeoneering and Dungeon design resources. I've added a host of new monster flavors and dungeon features to the game. The procedures are slightly streamlined, though I have artfuly preserved the slighly fiddly clunky feel of the mechanics. :)

Here's a screen from a v2 playtest (click for full size):

I consider this a pretty much finished vision of the game for the time being. This is a game that I find fun to play, so I'll probably keep throwing minor revs out as ideas percolate, or as I get a response from players.

Coincidentally, costik over at Play This Thing! has a review of Dwarf Fortress, a nethack-like Dwarven Fortress simulator and an inspiration for How to Host a Dungeon! His review is brilliant, as he points out that Dwarf Fortress has the same spark of brilliance that spawned Civilization and Sim City, yet "is a game from an alternate universe. Clearly, no one in his right mind would have created it in our own."

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