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Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes

Author Topic: Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes  (Read 4934 times)

David Dostaler

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Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes
« on: May 13, 2012, 07:35:12 PM »
Okay, I haven't playtested yet (just read the rules) so take all these thoughts with a grain of salt. I'll also probably change the posts when I play the game and get a better idea of the rules through GMing.

Okay, reading through all the spells I came up with the following (so far):

@ Spell casting is incredibly powerful. I think it might be too powerful, but not sure yet. The only balancing factor I can see is Mana cost. A lot of the best spells function on a 'literal' effect principal rather than a 'dice roll' effect similar to 3.5 D&D and earlier. I like this. It also makes spells deadly and quite useful. Also, as far as I can tell so far you can at second level dump all build points into getting 5 schools with Mana Elves and then get like 8th level spells at second level (?).

@ I'm not completely sure on this but the best spell school seemed to be: Matter. Followed closely by: Mind. After that Earth seemed the third best and Necromancy and Limbo also had good powers. With Matter and Telekinesis you can do a lot of outrageously powerful stuff and telekinesis is a first level spell! Ability to alter minds and read thoughts also makes Mind a very powerful school. Earth lets you tunnel through stone and do some other sweet stuff. At higher levels matter lets you "Teleport" and I think one of them gives you Invisibility which are both outrageously powerful abilities.

@ I could be discounting the mana cost for spells. I'll have to playtest the game to know for sure. Those are just the potential 'power' areas I noticed on my first read through. Some of those abilities 'alone' can wreak havoc on a game, let alone all dumped together.

***

Powers


***

I know this should be in the powers thread (sorry) but I thought I'd keep all the issues right here for brevity's sake.

@Shape-Shift. Shape-shifting is an awesomely powerful ability. Even with the limits of cool down and animal forms only (at lower levels) I can't see any player 'not' taking shape shifting. it lets you essentially: go invisible, fly, breath water, improve movement, improve natural abilities, increase eyesight x10 (eagle) see invisible and in the dark (bat), 100x smell (dog or similar), and who knows what else.

@Elemental Bloodlines. These are just cool (like all of the above, don't lose them, they're sweet. I have them in Challenger too. I just know they create 'balance' issues so I thought I'd warn you from experience). These bloodlines appear to allow you to take any race you want but make you pay through the nose for it. That's cool. I noticed if you're undead you can transfer to other dead bodies at VI. Would that make you invulnerable, or does it only work if the dead body is 'nearby'? If so, what qualifies as 'nearby?'.

Can you take multiple bloodlines at the same time? I'm assuming no. One of my players pointed out nothing in the rules says you can't though (I haven't read absolutely everything so I might have missed it). As a game designer and GM I'm assuming you can only take 1 bloodline. However, if this is so and you start with say Hammer Dir and Earth Bloodline can you 'skip' it to play as say a Drago bloodline?

@Power System vs. Class System. I like how you opted for a powers system instead of a class system. That's very cool. Gives the players a lot of choice which is always epic. Also loved the crafting system. Entourage and pets are very cool too. liked the guns in the system. Liked the BP system.

The one problem you might run into is the 'take best of everything' mentality of some players. I know you said something about 'weaknesses' in characters and need to 'compensate' built into the game. That would work, but I'll need to see it in action.

Basically, you start running into the same problem as Gurps: too many options and everyone taking the same things. Haven't tried the game out yet though, so I'll get back to you on that one. I like your decision though, Age of Past does 'way' better as a power based system. Kudos. Just letting you know where problems might arise.

***
Miscellaneous Notes:
***

@ Start Build Revision. I noticed you marked 'needs revision' on the page at the back of the book. I think it's a good idea in principal but needs more details like the start section earlier in the book but not so much that it goes over a page or so. I'd also like to see it somewhere near the start of the book, because as an experienced game designer it's what I look for first and I found it last (somehow missed the character build section on my first read through and caught it on the second).

@ Character Build Section. Explained things much better. Very good (see above). The one part I didn't understand was the talents build (narrow, broad, and normal) it seemed to make sense with left over points. However, I never could see where these left over points go. Do you still get to spend them? If so, when and how? As far as I can tell the 'narrow' build is the best unless you can actually use the left over points for something. I'm guessing they're BPs?

@ KPs: I saw KPs in the rules and I'm pretty sure I know how you get them and use them. My question is, what's a KP?

@Minions/Entourage/Pets. I really liked this idea. Kudos on that. However, while you have a great number of minion stat blocks (and animal stat blocks in the monster section) I could find no rules on designing your own minions or pets/mounts and how to 'level' them. I liked the minon vs. champion rule but I'd like to see a section on exactly how minions interact with the game world. Are they PC controlled? GM controlled? PC controlled unless GM overrules. What's their starting allotment of BPs and limits on advancement. As an extension of PCs how do they level? How do they earn xp? What happens when they hit a level cap? Are they identical to PCs but of lower level? I noticed you stated them as 0-level characters. What are the key differences from 0-level people and 1st level characters? Does it follow the rules on character creation of a 0-level PC character who at 1,000 xp reaches 1st level?

Can you make up more animals to have as pets or shape shift into? or are you limited by those in the monster section. Can you take a pet tiger as easily as a pet song bird?

@Action Points. I actually used this system in an old RPG I designed (but never went to market with). I think it's a cool idea in principal, but every time I try to implement it myself I run into some of the following problems. I'm not sure if you've somehow negated them all (if so Kudos) I just wanted to give you the heads up from my experience: 1) multiple actions per round slow down combat. 2) more actions is almost always better than more powerful actions. 3) most players specialize and go 'top end heavy'. Generally this would mean taking max number of actions, max power in specific powers, and then going all out and attacking 3 or more times in a row while saving nothing for defense. I know some monsters will take advantage of this. My question is basically: does the system intrinsically reward defense over offense? If it doesn't, I think my players might just go 'all guns blazing'.

@Complicated Rules. I found the rules pretty straightforward. I still have a couple questions but I'm sure they'll be cleared up when I run a game or two. Why I mention this is just for the sake of new players. Anyone completely new to RPGs will probably love this game but I think it might be a bit of a steep learning curve. There is a fair amount of math, a lot of nifty rules, and over 150 (?) powers. The character sheet alone is about 3 pages long and that's not even counting minions, pets, and monster stat blocks. I'm not sure what my point is here, you've done a fine job of laying out the book. New players shouldn't have too much trouble. I think if you could just revise the page at the back and put it somewhere near the start that would probably go a long way towards new guy clarity (I was a little befuddled myself until I found the character build section).

@Crafting. I love the crafting rules. Very cool. Just a basic question. Is there anything to stop people from just making all the items in the game with a few professions skills, good rolls, and ingredients at only 25% price. Basically, is there any advantage to 'not' making something yourself?

********Sweetness**********

Okay, whew, now I'm through pointing out little nit-picky stuff let me just say I love the look and design of this system. It's very cool. I hope you displace the big games and make a load of money.

I linked to your site through mine, so hopefully you can get some more publicity. I've also re-tweeted your site and username on Twitter a couple of times. This game deserves lots of attention. Best new RPG I've seen in quite a while.

As a game designer myself, I cannot but help to admire your sweet website and layout of the PDF. I think it's going to be a mighty fine looking book. I'm kind of techno inept myself. I was just wondering how you did some formatting stuff if you don't mind my asking:

@ Sweet parchment background.

@ Page numbers in cool page borders.

@ Full page sweet artwork.

@ Smaller pictures within text (every time I insert pictures they always displace all text around them, which is annoying. Perhaps because I'm using single column at the moment.

@ Which font did you use for text?

@ Visual Aids: I loved the combat counters, Morality chart, and character sheets as well as the step-by-step red-bolded, numbered pictures for filling out character sheets. How do you actually put in the little numbers to make the visual aids to filling out character sheets?

Okay, last thing. When is this game going to market/print and how can I get a copy? (I live in Canada).

P.S.

I'm still planning on reading more and playtesting the game. When I have more (and better) info I'll probably send you an e-mail through the playtest e-mail link you posted up. Thanks for that.

Best Regards,

--David

Offline Age_Past

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Re: Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2012, 03:19:34 PM »
Okay, I haven't playtested yet (just read the rules) so take all these thoughts with a grain of salt. I'll also probably change the posts when I play the game and get a better idea of the rules through GMing.

Okay, reading through all the spells I came up with the following (so far):

@ Spell casting is incredibly powerful. I think it might be too powerful, but not sure yet. The only balancing factor I can see is Mana cost. A lot of the best spells function on a 'literal' effect principal rather than a 'dice roll' effect similar to 3.5 D&D and earlier. I like this. It also makes spells deadly and quite useful. Also, as far as I can tell so far you can at second level dump all build points into getting 5 schools with Mana Elves and then get like 8th level spells at second level (?).

- No you can only raise spell schools once a level.  Also the schools start at level 3.  to raise to 8 would cost: 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 = 30 Bp's.  You could achieve this at 6th level but would be mana crippled and most likly have a low casting drive.


@ I'm not completely sure on this but the best spell school seemed to be: Matter. Followed closely by: Mind. After that Earth seemed the third best and Necromancy and Limbo also had good powers. With Matter and Telekinesis you can do a lot of outrageously powerful stuff and telekinesis is a first level spell! Ability to alter minds and read thoughts also makes Mind a very powerful school. Earth lets you tunnel through stone and do some other sweet stuff. At higher levels matter lets you "Teleport" and I think one of them gives you Invisibility which are both outrageously powerful abilities.

Yeah stuff is meant to be powerful, but it appears to be in balance.  Teleport might be a few levels too low and might have to be moved or modified.  Also "Bosses" get the "boss haught" ability which makes them more resistant to "insta-kill" spells.  Also I think we are changing the tunnel spell to dirt and loose earth and cannot work through solid stone.



@ I could be discounting the mana cost for spells. I'll have to playtest the game to know for sure. Those are just the potential 'power' areas I noticed on my first read through. Some of those abilities 'alone' can wreak havoc on a game, let alone all dumped together.

Spells have 3 things that limit them.  1 is mana cost.  2 is casting drive.  3 is the actions it takes to cast.  A pure caster would be powerful but also will be a glass cannon.  Where a fighter can get a crap ton of abilities a caster will be limited to their spells.  When you take into account the 3 factors it seems to work.  Obviously someone who really studied the casters would be better then someone who played one like in DnD.  Also someone who studies a non-caster would find a ton of leverage as well.

***

Powers


***

I know this should be in the powers thread (sorry) but I thought I'd keep all the issues right here for brevity's sake.

@Shape-Shift. Shape-shifting is an awesomely powerful ability. Even with the limits of cool down and animal forms only (at lower levels) I can't see any player 'not' taking shape shifting. it lets you essentially: go invisible, fly, breath water, improve movement, improve natural abilities, increase eyesight x10 (eagle) see invisible and in the dark (bat), 100x smell (dog or similar), and who knows what else.

yeah... there's potential.  Any suggestions would be welcome.  But it's okay for things to be powerful, this power is quite expensive.


@Elemental Bloodlines. These are just cool (like all of the above, don't lose them, they're sweet. I have them in Challenger too. I just know they create 'balance' issues so I thought I'd warn you from experience). These bloodlines appear to allow you to take any race you want but make you pay through the nose for it. That's cool. I noticed if you're undead you can transfer to other dead bodies at VI. Would that make you invulnerable, or does it only work if the dead body is 'nearby'? If so, what qualifies as 'nearby?'.

hmm not sure.  at this level there is a lot of GM intervention and approval.  I would say that yeah there's the potential for immorality


Can you take multiple bloodlines at the same time? I'm assuming no. One of my players pointed out nothing in the rules says you can't though (I haven't read absolutely everything so I might have missed it). As a game designer and GM I'm assuming you can only take 1 bloodline. However, if this is so and you start with say Hammer Dir and Earth Bloodline can you 'skip' it to play as say a Drago bloodline?

GM approval.  Some might work well, like demon/angel dragon, but a clockwork plant seems kinda silly.


@Power System vs. Class System. I like how you opted for a powers system instead of a class system. That's very cool. Gives the players a lot of choice which is always epic. Also loved the crafting system. Entourage and pets are very cool too. liked the guns in the system. Liked the BP system.

The one problem you might run into is the 'take best of everything' mentality of some players. I know you said something about 'weaknesses' in characters and need to 'compensate' built into the game. That would work, but I'll need to see it in action.

this is stemmed from cost.  Powerful powers cost more.  Players are encouraged to take what they want and have some confidence they aren't overpaying or that their buddies are underpaying.

Basically, you start running into the same problem as Gurps: too many options and everyone taking the same things. Haven't tried the game out yet though, so I'll get back to you on that one. I like your decision though, Age of Past does 'way' better as a power based system. Kudos. Just letting you know where problems might arise.

Yes I agree.  I haven't noticed it too much from play testing, as players are focused on developing their archetypes.  We tried to take the "power game" aspect out by allowing people to choose, with the cost system there's a decent distribution of powers.


***
Miscellaneous Notes:
***

@ Start Build Revision. I noticed you marked 'needs revision' on the page at the back of the book. I think it's a good idea in principal but needs more details like the start section earlier in the book but not so much that it goes over a page or so. I'd also like to see it somewhere near the start of the book, because as an experienced game designer it's what I look for first and I found it last (somehow missed the character build section on my first read through and caught it on the second).

this page has been removed.  i added a 4th page to the character sheet, as this old information was made redundant after the "fill your character sheet" was added to the front of the book.


@ Character Build Section. Explained things much better. Very good (see above). The one part I didn't understand was the talents build (narrow, broad, and normal) it seemed to make sense with left over points. However, I never could see where these left over points go. Do you still get to spend them? If so, when and how? As far as I can tell the 'narrow' build is the best unless you can actually use the left over points for something. I'm guessing they're BPs?

if "power points" are left over they can be spent in step 10, essentially give your character 11 to 12 BP's

@ KPs: I saw KPs in the rules and I'm pretty sure I know how you get them and use them. My question is, what's a KP?

it represent accrued knowledge that PC gets from adventuring.  maybe i need to explain them better....

@Minions/Entourage/Pets. I really liked this idea. Kudos on that. However, while you have a great number of minion stat blocks (and animal stat blocks in the monster section) I could find no rules on designing your own minions or pets/mounts and how to 'level' them. I liked the minon vs. champion rule but I'd like to see a section on exactly how minions interact with the game world. Are they PC controlled? GM controlled? PC controlled unless GM overrules. What's their starting allotment of BPs and limits on advancement. As an extension of PCs how do they level? How do they earn xp? What happens when they hit a level cap? Are they identical to PCs but of lower level? I noticed you stated them as 0-level characters. What are the key differences from 0-level people and 1st level characters? Does it follow the rules on character creation of a 0-level PC character who at 1,000 xp reaches 1st level?

Can you make up more animals to have as pets or shape shift into? or are you limited by those in the monster section. Can you take a pet tiger as easily as a pet song bird?

hmm maybe you have an old copy... in the animals section there is a page that explains designing your own pet.  followers level in line with your character.  bonded pets/ champions have a level 1/2 of your PC's might and henchmen/pets can level 1/3 of your character might.  When you get the might they level.  I tried to keep it simple.

@Action Points. I actually used this system in an old RPG I designed (but never went to market with). I think it's a cool idea in principal, but every time I try to implement it myself I run into some of the following problems. I'm not sure if you've somehow negated them all (if so Kudos) I just wanted to give you the heads up from my experience: 1) multiple actions per round slow down combat. 2) more actions is almost always better than more powerful actions. 3) most players specialize and go 'top end heavy'. Generally this would mean taking max number of actions, max power in specific powers, and then going all out and attacking 3 or more times in a row while saving nothing for defense. I know some monsters will take advantage of this. My question is basically: does the system intrinsically reward defense over offense? If it doesn't, I think my players might just go 'all guns blazing'.

1. Multiple action of slow things down, but the combat system is still faster then most others.  After about 3 games it flows pretty well.  I can go into more detail later... try it out and let me know.
2. going top heavy is fine, but PC's are limited based on level as the +1 action is only available at levels 1,5,10, and 15.  Also a player would have to choose the +1 action over something else.  Also fighters don't need as many actions as parrying is done for free and pure casters usually can't afford them.


@Complicated Rules. I found the rules pretty straightforward. I still have a couple questions but I'm sure they'll be cleared up when I run a game or two. Why I mention this is just for the sake of new players. Anyone completely new to RPGs will probably love this game but I think it might be a bit of a steep learning curve. There is a fair amount of math, a lot of nifty rules, and over 150 (?) powers. The character sheet alone is about 3 pages long and that's not even counting minions, pets, and monster stat blocks. I'm not sure what my point is here, you've done a fine job of laying out the book. New players shouldn't have too much trouble. I think if you could just revise the page at the back and put it somewhere near the start that would probably go a long way towards new guy clarity (I was a little befuddled myself until I found the character build section).

Like any system, I think new players should be given or build more simple characters. The character sheet is 3 pages but one reason is because the boxes are 3 times larger then those on most other typical character sheets.  The sheet is also designed to help make play easy.  I'd be happy to post fan based sheets on the website.

@Crafting. I love the crafting rules. Very cool. Just a basic question. Is there anything to stop people from just making all the items in the game with a few professions skills, good rolls, and ingredients at only 25% price. Basically, is there any advantage to 'not' making something yourself?

unfortunately the crafting rules are sorta skeleton.  players and GM will have to work together to make complex stuff.  There really should not be a downside to crafting, if a player chooses to take the powers to do this then they and the party will benefit.

********Sweetness**********

Okay, whew, now I'm through pointing out little nit-picky stuff let me just say I love the look and design of this system. It's very cool. I hope you displace the big games and make a load of money.


I linked to your site through mine, so hopefully you can get some more publicity. I've also re-tweeted your site and username on Twitter a couple of times. This game deserves lots of attention. Best new RPG I've seen in quite a while.

thanks!!!!!!!!!

As a game designer myself, I cannot but help to admire your sweet website and layout of the PDF. I think it's going to be a mighty fine looking book. I'm kind of techno inept myself. I was just wondering how you did some formatting stuff if you don't mind my asking:

@ Sweet parchment background.

my artist made this and i added the green lines at the top and bottom.  my artist made most of my "trinket" pieces like the ivy and metal bars.

@ Page numbers in cool page borders.

@ Full page sweet artwork.

@ Smaller pictures within text (every time I insert pictures they always displace all text around them, which is annoying. Perhaps because I'm using single column at the moment.

@ Which font did you use for text?

text = times new roman, nyala, and calligraphy 421bt?


@ Visual Aids: I loved the combat counters, Morality chart, and character sheets as well as the step-by-step red-bolded, numbered pictures for filling out character sheets. How do you actually put in the little numbers to make the visual aids to filling out character sheets?

My layout program is Quark.  That or InDesign I think would be best.

Okay, last thing. When is this game going to market/print and how can I get a copy? (I live in Canada).

Hopefully in the next 6-8 months lol.. we'll see!!

P.S.

I'm still planning on reading more and playtesting the game. When I have more (and better) info I'll probably send you an e-mail through the playtest e-mail link you posted up. Thanks for that.

Best Regards,

--David


thanks so much for the comments and support!!
- Jeff



David Dostaler

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Re: Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2012, 08:55:55 PM »
Hey, no problem, Jeff! Thanks for the great tips and explanations. I know some of the questions were off-base because I haven't played the game yet (as GM). Yesterday some of my players pointed out obvious stuff I missed like the points for Talents. No issue there anymore.

Okay, now I have a slightly better understanding of the rules (reading over again before play and through your reply) I hope you don't mind if I ramble on about some things again. :)

Remember, this is an awesome game, that's why I'm writing so many nit-picks. The games I don't like hardly get this kind of attention. ;)

****Revised Questions 1****

@Spell Casting.

Okay, that makes more sense. Where is the rule about raising spell levels only once per level? For instance: with my 10 enhancement BP's at first level couldn't I take my spells up to level 5 (4+5)? If not, can I raise them to 4? or do I have to wait until second level? If you 'can' only take one spell advance per level, I think that should be written in the rules somewhere (perhaps my gaming group missed it).

I agree that you would be mana crippled and low casting drive. Hammer Dir can take Psionic and Endurance 5+1 Brawn for cast at first level (but limited spells so not a big issue). Also, Hammer Dir is the only race which gets 2 Heroic Traits? Hammer Dir and Mana Elf seem the best races. Am I wrong?

I read somewhere that you can take Apprentice Caster more times for more spell schools. Can this be done at first level with your extra BP's? As a GM I'm leaning toward 'no' but the rules don't really say. One of my players wants to take 5 schools from Mana Elf and then get a 6th (or more) by buying Apprentice Caster twice. I basically told him he should wait until he can get Rank II in Apprentice Caster (did I make the right call?) Anyway, could be a little more clear.

Okay, other thing I noticed. You can take infinite items 100 gold or lower at first level, right? Meaning 12 vials/potions and 12 scrolls. Spellcraft TN to use scrolls is pretty low too. Presumably a first level caster could take up to 24 of any spells they want from levels 0-2. Also, with Quick Draw (4 points) you can drink a potion as a free action basically giving you an extra action per round (as opposed to +1 action power for 6 points).

Also, even at just level 3 in about 5 schools casters are immensely powerful. If you take: Vigor, Matter, Mind, and Earth you get all of the following abilities through magic: Greatness +1 to 4 Talents (equivalent of at least 16 BP temporary if used properly); Shape Stone meld stone as you will (can bypass doors, destroy fortresses, tunnel, and more), Stone Speak (intel), Parakinesis (ultimate steal, circumnavigate, and attack power), Tunnel (already discussed), and Unsettling Growl (intimidation can allow you to insta-kill any non ranged monster as it stands).

With level 5 or 6 in spell schools (which my players have, but may be wrong if you can only take 1 spell school level per character level) the abilities are even more outrageous and powerful.

@ Powerful Spell Schools

Okay. Is it just me, or do the other spell schools like Water and Nature in particular seem to be far weaker than the 'uber' spell schools of Matter and Mind?

Personally I might change spell schools to 10 points for 1 or maybe 2 schools at first level (10 points for another school thereafter) and max 1 new spell school level per 2 character levels or something. Hey, it could just be me. I know spell casters are incredibly weak in melee 'glass cannons' but some of the powers they wield can easily destroy all enemies before they even get close (Fear comes to mind).

Also, can the Dizzy spell be used multiple times to incapacitate opponents at zero actions? If so, isn't it particularly powerful?

Dancing Weapon + Dancing Bow could be pretty lethal and equate to +2 actions, right?

Corrosive grip also strikes me as particularly useful. With that spell and perhaps the Ghost Arm one you could pretty much double as a thief with no skills (especially with Invisibility and shape change). Also I noticed there's a disguise self spell which makes Shifter pretty much redundant so don't worry about the Shifter power.

@ Casters Vs. Melee

I agree. However, I think casters have a massive advantage over non-casters in pure utility and number of 'powers' (spells) available. One of my players has like 100 spells available at first level. Even if most of them are useless he's still going to be pretty deadly from sheer amount of powers available compared to a Melee character with say 5 powers.

Here's a thing though, why go just caster? As far as I can tell you might as well tank a character out and take magic as well. It splits the character a little, but as long as you take off your armor before casting I don't see much of a disadvantage to being a fighter with spells. I can't really see anyone taking a pure non-caster. I'll have to see when my final player builds her character before I say for sure.

@ Shape Shifter

Yeah, never-mind about that one. It's okay compared to spells. With spells for about 3 points more you can get about 25 more spell effects and shape-change on top of that as a spell. Not to mention illusions, polymorph objects, buff yourself, teleport, and other sweet stuff. Basically, I like the sweetness of spells. I can just see their huge numbers available being abused.

@ Immortal PCs

Okay. I once designed a game where you actually could take a power called 'you're invincible'. Worked okay until I had to throw every monster in with the one key thing that could kill the characters. Then it got a little crazy. Plus, that'll only happen at high levels and could be funny if he ended up in a woman's body or something.

@ Multiple Bloodlines

Okay, my players will be happy with that interpretation I'm sure. You might want to put something in the rules saying that in effect: "Yes, you can take multiple compatible bloodlines." Otherwise, I just would have assumed you can't, or you can only take one at the expense of any others you'd already trained.

@ Power Cost Balance

Yeah. However, no system is perfect and the more powers you have access to the more likely someone is to discover a 'killer combination'. That's why spells are so powerful. You can just get so many of them. Two of my players have almost identical spell schools and powers at the moment. I tried to tell them they should split up and take different spells and powers for more versatility, but they just say, "Why?"

Everyone has: Apprentice Spell Caster, Quick Draw, and Racial Weapon powers at the moment. Maybe if I got the spell rules wrong, they might split up into different things. That would be nice. ;)

@ Power Gaming

I'm glad your players go for archetypes instead of power. Would probably make a great game. My players seem intent on taking 'the best stuff' and then defining their characters styles afterwards. Oh, well. Maybe I should penalize them for taking duplicate powers or have all monsters attack their weak scores, yes?

@ Character Build

Okay, I think I've got that straight now. Thanks for the explanations. I did notice that Racial Weapon costs 4 BP in character building and 6 BP in equipment section. Which should I use? Also, it only gives 1 racial weapon, right? One player wanted to take a racial weapon + a racial shield and stack the bonuses but I said no. Is that correct?

@ KP's

Sure, sounds good. Just a definition and how to award them would be great. I could basically see how they work, but didn't know what KP stood for. Knowledge Points maybe?

@ Minions/Pets

No, I have the new copy. I knew that stuff. Just didn't know they automatically leveled when the character does. Gotcha. I was just going to award them xp and 'level cap them'. Your way works a lot better. I'd just put in an explanation somewhere of that's how they level. Also, can you build your own henchmen/pets? Is there a formula for that somewhere?

@ Action Points

Yeah, ignore my comments on them. They work fine. Especially with 'strong attacks' costing 2 actions and spells at -2 cumulative. Can you save up BP's to use at later levels?

All the characters in my group aren't taking pure casters. They're all combo fighter casters. One player is maxing his action points, but so far the others have left them alone which tells me it's not as much of an issue as I thought. I'll try to get the 3 or more game sessions in and see where I'm at then. Really interested to see how the game plays out at higher levels (will the PCs max all spells to level 10? Will they go pure caster? Will they all die?)

@ Complex Rules

Fair enough. Also, your explanations are awesome. Simple characters would be great for new players, but my players are all long-time veterans. They all read the entire book, all powers, all spells, all skills; and took the best of everything they could find. They definitely 'do not' have simple characters. :)

I like the idea of a 1 page character sheet for experienced players. However, yours is excellently simple to use. I actually used 8 pages when making a test character myself. Do you think you could add a 'spell' page to the character sheet? I ended up writing spells on like 3 pages of my own. Or would it be better to just print all your schools spells and just mark the ones you currently have?

@ Crafting

Okay. Very cool. I love the crafting section. Re-reading it I noticed you basically 'must' have ingredients so that puts all the relevant power in the GM's hands and removes the issue of players 'mass producing' items. The GM can just say, "You've run out of eye of newt. Go adventuring." Good stuff. I was just worried my players might craft absolutely everything in the game for super cheap, but the ingredients rule solves my problem nicely.

@ Layout

Sounds great. Thanks so much!

@ Game Coming Out

Ha ha, okay. I'll wait and salivate. Greatness takes time I suppose. :)

@ Game Sweetness

The more stuff I post about the game, the better I like it. If I post no problems with it, it probably means I don't like the game as much (but not for sure). You should consider it high praise I nit-picked so many things. It's a great game. Kudos. You can do many, many cool things in it. Some of my friends are just itching to make characters for the game when they heard about it (I don't pirate and redistribute stuff, they'll have to come over here or download themselves).

@ Playtest

I only have one player left to make a character sheet, so I'll probably be getting to the playtesting pretty soon. I'm sure most of the above will be cleared up then, or I'll come up with new questions. Hope you don't mind my rambling.

Thanks for making such a great game,

--David

Edit: *****************

Was re-reading the combat section and found the -2 cumulative casting penalty. I think best combo of actions would be: 1 spell, 1 swift attack, 1 potion/scroll (with quick draw), 2nd spell of lower level at -2 cumulative.

« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 03:20:21 AM by David Dostaler »

Offline Age_Past

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Re: Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2012, 04:08:31 PM »
Hey, no problem, Jeff! Thanks for the great tips and explanations. I know some of the questions were off-base because I haven't played the game yet (as GM). Yesterday some of my players pointed out obvious stuff I missed like the points for Talents. No issue there anymore.

Okay, now I have a slightly better understanding of the rules (reading over again before play and through your reply) I hope you don't mind if I ramble on about some things again. :)

Remember, this is an awesome game, that's why I'm writing so many nit-picks. The games I don't like hardly get this kind of attention. ;)

****Revised Questions 1****

@Spell Casting.

Okay, that makes more sense. Where is the rule about raising spell levels only once per level? For instance: with my 10 enhancement BP's at first level couldn't I take my spells up to level 5 (4+5)? If not, can I raise them to 4? or do I have to wait until second level? If you 'can' only take one spell advance per level, I think that should be written in the rules somewhere (perhaps my gaming group missed it).

-- I think it states that no skill can be raised above "4".  Spells are skills.  This is described in the upgrading section at the end of character creation.

I agree that you would be mana crippled and low casting drive. Hammer Dir can take Psionic and Endurance 5+1 Brawn for cast at first level (but limited spells so not a big issue). Also, Hammer Dir is the only race which gets 2 Heroic Traits? Hammer Dir and Mana Elf seem the best races. Am I wrong?

-- well depends on how you look at it:
-- Straad: These guys get 4 arms and can always make an AGL save regardless of being flatfooted, +1 AGL = very powerful!
-- Noquin: They get +1 MND so they have a strong casting drive, and +6 BP's to focus build
-- Orkis: these guys get huge weapon bonus and a high natural immunity to spells
-- Hammer: these guys get +2 END
-- Guun and Asuru: are the only 2 to get +1 HT

all of these are powerful.


I read somewhere that you can take Apprentice Caster more times for more spell schools. Can this be done at first level with your extra BP's? As a GM I'm leaning toward 'no' but the rules don't really say. One of my players wants to take 5 schools from Mana Elf and then get a 6th (or more) by buying Apprentice Caster twice. I basically told him he should wait until he can get Rank II in Apprentice Caster (did I make the right call?) Anyway, could be a little more clear.

-- You have to reach 3rd level to take it a second time. and then these new chosen spells start at 1.  So new chosen spells start weaker, they don;t just get bumped up.  essentially any new spells taken will lag 2-4 levels behind the last chosen set of spells.  By level 8 its worthless to take more schools.

Okay, other thing I noticed. You can take infinite items 100 gold or lower at first level, right? Meaning 12 vials/potions and 12 scrolls. Spellcraft TN to use scrolls is pretty low too. Presumably a first level caster could take up to 24 of any spells they want from levels 0-2. Also, with Quick Draw (4 points) you can drink a potion as a free action basically giving you an extra action per round (as opposed to +1 action power for 6 points).

--  no only "general items" "weapon" "clothes" "ammunition" and "armor"  everything else no matter the cost must be bought with build gold.

Also, even at just level 3 in about 5 schools casters are immensely powerful. If you take: Vigor, Matter, Mind, and Earth you get all of the following abilities through magic: Greatness +1 to 4 Talents (equivalent of at least 16 BP temporary if used properly); Shape Stone meld stone as you will (can bypass doors, destroy fortresses, tunnel, and more), Stone Speak (intel), Parakinesis (ultimate steal, circumnavigate, and attack power), Tunnel (already discussed), and Unsettling Growl (intimidation can allow you to insta-kill any non ranged monster as it stands).

With level 5 or 6 in spell schools (which my players have, but may be wrong if you can only take 1 spell school level per character level) the abilities are even more outrageous and powerful.

-- it may be true, it might take some playtesting to verify, i haven't had an issue with this, but let me know if you do

@ Powerful Spell Schools

Okay. Is it just me, or do the other spell schools like Water and Nature in particular seem to be far weaker than the 'uber' spell schools of Matter and Mind?

-- water is more defensive, and nature is more of a caster buff themselves school;  any single school  could be seen as more powerful but players choose.  I like nature and water.  Both good for fighters.

Personally I might change spell schools to 10 points for 1 or maybe 2 schools at first level (10 points for another school thereafter) and max 1 new spell school level per 2 character levels or something. Hey, it could just be me. I know spell casters are incredibly weak in melee 'glass cannons' but some of the powers they wield can easily destroy all enemies before they even get close (Fear comes to mind).

Also, can the Dizzy spell be used multiple times to incapacitate opponents at zero actions? If so, isn't it particularly powerful?

-- i think it says that it doesn't stack.


Dancing Weapon + Dancing Bow could be pretty lethal and equate to +2 actions, right?

-- correct

Corrosive grip also strikes me as particularly useful. With that spell and perhaps the Ghost Arm one you could pretty much double as a thief with no skills (especially with Invisibility and shape change). Also I noticed there's a disguise self spell which makes Shifter pretty much redundant so don't worry about the Shifter power.

-- it could become a problem, but it takes fewer build points to just be a thief through non-spell skills

@ Casters Vs. Melee

I agree. However, I think casters have a massive advantage over non-casters in pure utility and number of 'powers' (spells) available. One of my players has like 100 spells available at first level. Even if most of them are useless he's still going to be pretty deadly from sheer amount of powers available compared to a Melee character with say 5 powers.

-- any character can choose spells, i haven't found fighter types jealous of casters b/c of the large amount of spells.  As long as each person is satisfied with their load out than things are fine.  let me know when you play test if there are any problems here


Here's a thing though, why go just caster? As far as I can tell you might as well tank a character out and take magic as well. It splits the character a little, but as long as you take off your armor before casting I don't see much of a disadvantage to being a fighter with spells. I can't really see anyone taking a pure non-caster. I'll have to see when my final player builds her character before I say for sure.

-- building your character is never a downside, if a player wants to spend BP's on doing what you describe I don;t see the problem there.  Every BP spent excludes the purchase of something else.

@ Shape Shifter

Yeah, never-mind about that one. It's okay compared to spells. With spells for about 3 points more you can get about 25 more spell effects and shape-change on top of that as a spell. Not to mention illusions, polymorph objects, buff yourself, teleport, and other sweet stuff. Basically, I like the sweetness of spells. I can just see their huge numbers available being abused.

-- i think im gonna tone down teleport, make it two spells, one for in-combat and one for out of combat.  I could just increase the casting time to 1 minute or something like that to help that one

@ Immortal PCs

Okay. I once designed a game where you actually could take a power called 'you're invincible'. Worked okay until I had to throw every monster in with the one key thing that could kill the characters. Then it got a little crazy. Plus, that'll only happen at high levels and could be funny if he ended up in a woman's body or something.

@ Multiple Bloodlines

Okay, my players will be happy with that interpretation I'm sure. You might want to put something in the rules saying that in effect: "Yes, you can take multiple compatible bloodlines." Otherwise, I just would have assumed you can't, or you can only take one at the expense of any others you'd already trained.

-- i think i state its GM permission, any way its not a big deal and even less powerful...  since the bloodlines get more powerful the more times you buy them and you can only take the power once ever 5 levels (1, 5, 10, and 15)

@ Power Cost Balance

Yeah. However, no system is perfect and the more powers you have access to the more likely someone is to discover a 'killer combination'. That's why spells are so powerful. You can just get so many of them. Two of my players have almost identical spell schools and powers at the moment. I tried to tell them they should split up and take different spells and powers for more versatility, but they just say, "Why?"

Everyone has: Apprentice Spell Caster, Quick Draw, and Racial Weapon powers at the moment. Maybe if I got the spell rules wrong, they might split up into different things. That would be nice. ;)

-- umm just counter with lots of small fast creatures.  casters need to be protected, be sure to read casting penalty rules.  if they take damage they take a casting penalty without the "concentrate" power.  Also, casters must make a concentration check to cast when in melee range, also ranged characters can make reflex attacks against casters casting long spells.  If a player looks at the games as trying to eek out everything they can they GM will hand them their ass.

Age Past is suppose to be a team based game.  I have a friend who make caster killers and he would love to fight them.  Orkis get +2 to save against spells, that's huge!  Many monsters are immune to mind effects (mind magic).  Also use monsters that are only vulnerable to physical attacks.  Honestly it sounds like your tester's characters might not be as good as you think.  Check the pre-made elementalist to see what a caster should look like at level one, it's tooled out.

I think you are not building the characters correct from the comments you made above.  The next PDF might explain somethings better.  Also there are 6 saves, any PC can be attacked... i guarantee they have a low STR, INF, or END.  Just use poison against them or a wind attack like galefore.  They'll go down.


@ Power Gaming

I'm glad your players go for archetypes instead of power. Would probably make a great game. My players seem intent on taking 'the best stuff' and then defining their characters styles afterwards. Oh, well. Maybe I should penalize them for taking duplicate powers or have all monsters attack their weak scores, yes?

-- I usually don't have the problem.  After playing some they will most likely change their tune.  I personally don't think quick draw is very good, might as well spend 6 BP's and get a full action.  Casting might seem powerful but how much mana do they have?  They'll out.  Did they take Recharge?  they'll need it,  what is their armor... STR 4 will breach armor 8-9 routinely.  How many wounds?  6?  in 3 longsword hits they are down.

@ Character Build

Okay, I think I've got that straight now. Thanks for the explanations. I did notice that Racial Weapon costs 4 BP in character building and 6 BP in equipment section. Which should I use? Also, it only gives 1 racial weapon, right? One player wanted to take a racial weapon + a racial shield and stack the bonuses but I said no. Is that correct?

-- it should be 4, ill look for the error.  what page is it on?  The PC buys racial weapon once to apply to all the listed types.


@ KP's

Sure, sounds good. Just a definition and how to award them would be great. I could basically see how they work, but didn't know what KP stood for. Knowledge Points maybe?

@ Minions/Pets

No, I have the new copy. I knew that stuff. Just didn't know they automatically leveled when the character does. Gotcha. I was just going to award them xp and 'level cap them'. Your way works a lot better. I'd just put in an explanation somewhere of that's how they level. Also, can you build your own henchmen/pets? Is there a formula for that somewhere?

- henchmen start at level 0.  there are rules for building level 0 characters. check the animal section to build your own beast at level 0.

@ Action Points

Yeah, ignore my comments on them. They work fine. Especially with 'strong attacks' costing 2 actions and spells at -2 cumulative. Can you save up BP's to use at later levels?

All the characters in my group aren't taking pure casters. They're all combo fighter casters. One player is maxing his action points, but so far the others have left them alone which tells me it's not as much of an issue as I thought. I'll try to get the 3 or more game sessions in and see where I'm at then. Really interested to see how the game plays out at higher levels (will the PCs max all spells to level 10? Will they go pure caster? Will they all die?)

--  combo caster fighters are not as good as people think.  Trust me.  They can be effective but lack any type of specialty.  They are actually hard to create to be effective.  They don't have enough wounds or mana is the usual problem and their base talents can be low.  Let me know how it goes, I bet some people change their minds when their character's don't work out as people think.

@ Complex Rules

Fair enough. Also, your explanations are awesome. Simple characters would be great for new players, but my players are all long-time veterans. They all read the entire book, all powers, all spells, all skills; and took the best of everything they could find. They definitely 'do not' have simple characters. :)

I like the idea of a 1 page character sheet for experienced players. However, yours is excellently simple to use. I actually used 8 pages when making a test character myself. Do you think you could add a 'spell' page to the character sheet? I ended up writing spells on like 3 pages of my own. Or would it be better to just print all your schools spells and just mark the ones you currently have?

- for spells since you get the whole school just print all the spells your character has and staple them to the char sheet.  If you have an idea for a spell sheet let me know i can make one or the book.

@ Crafting

Okay. Very cool. I love the crafting section. Re-reading it I noticed you basically 'must' have ingredients so that puts all the relevant power in the GM's hands and removes the issue of players 'mass producing' items. The GM can just say, "You've run out of eye of newt. Go adventuring." Good stuff. I was just worried my players might craft absolutely everything in the game for super cheap, but the ingredients rule solves my problem nicely.

- the crafting times are LONG! usually months for high stuff.  The craftsman power can negate this but it must be taken.  Let me know how crafting goes... I haven't had much interest from players in it.  I think b/c most GM's frown on it

@ Layout

Sounds great. Thanks so much!

@ Game Coming Out

Ha ha, okay. I'll wait and salivate. Greatness takes time I suppose. :)

@ Game Sweetness

The more stuff I post about the game, the better I like it. If I post no problems with it, it probably means I don't like the game as much (but not for sure). You should consider it high praise I nit-picked so many things. It's a great game. Kudos. You can do many, many cool things in it. Some of my friends are just itching to make characters for the game when they heard about it (I don't pirate and redistribute stuff, they'll have to come over here or download themselves).

-- thanks for everything!!!  I don't sweat the critique.  I am a designer by degree so Ive been there... 

@ Playtest

I only have one player left to make a character sheet, so I'll probably be getting to the playtesting pretty soon. I'm sure most of the above will be cleared up then, or I'll come up with new questions. Hope you don't mind my rambling.

-- thanks for the effort!!  Let me know the players names and I'll add them to the book!  I think during play testing you'll figure some things out and it'll make more sense.

Thanks for making such a great game,

--David

Edit: *****************

Was re-reading the combat section and found the -2 cumulative casting penalty. I think best combo of actions would be: 1 spell, 1 swift attack, 1 potion/scroll (with quick draw), 2nd spell of lower level at -2 cumulative.



David Dostaler

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Re: Pre-Playtest Game Design Notes
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2012, 07:13:52 PM »
@ Spellcasting

Okay. I re-read the spell, skill, and upgrade sections; but I can't see that rule anywhere. I 'did' see a max 4 'profession' rank rule in character creation but no limit on skills. Also, there's no table of limits at higher levels. Does the 1 rank per level apply only at 1st level or throughout the levels? I think an entry in character build, spells, and spells as skills for the "max 4 at first level (and later levels?)" would be helpful. As it stands, it doesn't really say, or I can't find the rule.

I think part of my player combo caster/fighter problem was the 5th level spells at first level and the 12 potions and scrolls each. With no extra spells and scrolls they wouldn't have wreaked so much havoc (Did first playtest adventure this morning). Also, crafting is very time consuming, most of my players didn't bother which surprised me a little.

@ Race Heroic Traits

Yes. Yeah, I think that would work well. Never mind my comments.

@ Apprentice Spell Caster

Oh, okay. That helps. All my players were ready to take it twice at first level but I stopped them. Good stuff. At 8th level it's pricey, but I still think it's worth it. Most of my players are planning to take all spell schools and all spells to level 10 ASAP (at the price of mana, casting drive, and everything else).

@ Build Gold

Ha ha, oh okay. All my players took 12 potions and scrolls. :P

Isn't Quick Draw still really good? All my players pretty much drank 1 potion per round for an extra free action. Whereas Heroic Action you can only take per rank, Quick Draw is cheaper, you can take at 1st level, and one player took Quick Draw 'and' Heroic Action for 5 action points per round (and cast Dancing Bow and Dancing Weapon for about 7 actions per round).

@ Spells Power

I'll address this in a post about how the playtest went or below.

@ Weak Spell Schools

Oh, okay. One of my players was going to take Nature. I guess all the spell schools have advantages and disadvantages. Good stuff!

@ Dizzy

I checked Dizzy and Daze. They both don't say the stunning doesn't stack. You might want to write that in there. ;)

@ Thief vs. Magic Thief

A traditional thief, yes, can do that stuff. But let's look at what a magic thief can do with no training: Invisible (better than stealth); Fly (better than all physical skills); Ghost Hand and Disassemble (better than all pick lock and disable traps because it's automatic); Teleport (better than all movement and better for 'break and enter'); Friend Spell or Mind Control (No thief can do that, even one very glib of tongue).

In short, is there anything a normal thief can do better than a magic one? Is there anything a magical thief 'can't do' that a normal one can?

@ All Other Questions

Sounds great!

@ General Power of Fighter/Caster Combos

Okay, lots of weak fast monsters. I'll try that next adventure. Also try to make some monsters which attack their 'low' scores.

Yeah, in the first playtest I messed up the rules a little bit (they had potions and 5th level spells) but next adventure I'll repair that if you let me know what spell level in skill they can have at various levels (I know it's 4 at first now, still not sure for later levels).

I 'did' have all the cast penalty rules, mana, and whatnot. I did miss the concentrate in melee, but there wasn't much melee combat so it probably wasn't a big issue (they switched to melee non-magic attacks in melee anyway). I'll implement that next adventure.

My PCs all had: High End, Str, Spr, Mind and decent Influence. I think Influence was their lowest at 2. Are there any monsters I can use to attack their Influence scores?

Most PCs between 18-25 mana and 8-10 wound. Toughness all 5 (armor would be like 9 or 10 but they didn't wear it).

I agree 3 longsword hits would kill them, but they all had 6+ Parry. They also all used Pillar, Earth Shackles, Fierce Growl, and Fear so none of the enemies ever got within melee range (until the PCs charged them while mounted and massacred the last 1 or 2 still alive). Maybe more monsters with ranged attacks?

I put the adventure notes in the 'actual game play experiences' section. Hope that's the right spot! http://agepast.com/forum/index.php?topic=1481.0

@ Saving up BP's

Sorry to ask again. Can you save up BPs between levels? One of my player's was asking.

@ Charging Modifiers

Okay, I think I read all the charging modifiers but it got a little confusing in play and one of my players was asking. So like if you were mounted and charged with a Greatsword using two hands would your attack pool be +4 or +2 (I think +2) and then Str Pool for Armor Penetration would be +4 right? with any 0's doing 2 damage instead of one? But if you have greatsword and +1 damage pool per charge would that be like +3? I'm sure this is a silly question, sorry to ask. Just got a little muddled in play. Thanks. ;)

@ About the Effort

It's my honor! This is a great game. I'm looking forward to attacking my PCs 'weaknesses' in the 2nd adventure and seeing how that goes!

(My players: Joseph Dostaler, Elizabeth Dostaler, Laura Dostaler (missed 1st adventure), [some other friends missed the playtest which I was okay with, easier to manage less players]).

I have a family of gamers. :P

Thanks for making such a great game!

--David

P.S.

See "actual game play experiences" section for more notes.

« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 08:00:43 PM by David Dostaler »