Tuesday, February 23, 2021
My previous post on the Japanese tabletop RPG system Saikoro Fiction, or 'Dice Fiction' in English, by Adventure Planning Service was posted this morning, yet it was based on a conversation I had last Wednesday and actually written this past weekend. Why did it take so long to complete? Partly it was due to the accompanying illustration and the sample Attribute/Skill Grid I put together.
Mostly though, it was because I did some addition research, had some thoughts, and got feeling truly creative again. Between my original twitter conversation and now I've been incredibly inspired in a way I haven't felt in a long while. I think the last time I was honestly this jazzed about gaming ideas was when I ran our Red Dwarf/Yellow Sun campaign using the ALIEN RPG.
What follows - both in this post and over the next month - will be a breakdown of a series of ideas that have come to me, not all of which flow in a straight line. I will do my best to organize them into some kind of order. At some later point, when the ideas are largely out of my head and on paper/screen, I will likely compile some of them into a book of some kind. I can even see a sellable product coming out of some of them.
I am really intrigued by Dice Fiction and its Attribute/Skill Grid but one of the things I noticed when building a sample one was that with six Attribute columns and eleven Skill rows, the total number of Skills in sixty-six. 66! That's kind of nuts. It was really tough coming up with 66 names of Skills and what they might possibly be used for (or why one might be used as opposed to another).
Wow! I mean, seriously right up my alley, right? What a great idea for a game. Only...I don't love the system. Very simple, almost too much so, with not a lot to sink ones teeth into. It is functional, even fun, but a little lackluster for my tastes.
If I apply the Dice Fiction rules to the setting, I think I have something. Something really interesting that I can see being used for a long term campaign.
First though I am thinking of fleshing out some of the 2D6 vs. Assignment Skill mechanics with conditions or points that would allow for rolling with Advantage or Disadvantage. For example, an Enchanted Sword that gives you Advantage on your Melee Weapon/Sword so that you need to beat the Target Number on 2D6 but roll three six-sided dice and take the highest two. Meanwhile, if injured or perhaps cursed by a Yama Uba (Mountain Hag/Witch), you might roll three six-sided dice and take the lowest two.
I am definitely going to work on this and flesh it out a bit more. In addition, I will be posting both a more detailed overview of the basic Dice Fiction game (based on my research) and this alternate Barking Alien version I am developing.
My apologizes to the creator of Yokai Hunters Society, Chema González, who did an excellent job with the writing, illustrations, and layout. Clearly impressive enough to inspire my own take on the game.
Also an apology to Nate Treme, who created the Tunnel Goons rules used in Yokai Hunters Society. Again, fine rules, completely workable, but they just didn't grab me personally.
Monday, February 22, 2021
I am not sure I am in love with what they've done with the game so much as what I think I could do with it.
Over on Twitter (What? You don't follow me on Twitter? What's up with that? Check out Barking Alien's Twitter) I was smart enough to ask Claytonian of Kill It With Fire if he could answer some questions I had about the Dice Fiction game. Specifically, I wanted to know if the game had a System Reference Document of some kind or if there was a base version without the added rules unique to each incarnation that has been published.
If that Assignment Skill is one of your Strong Skills, you need to meet or beat a 5 to succeed. If it isn't a Strong Skill, count how many spaces away the appropriate Assignment Skill is from the nearest Strong Skill and add that to 5 and that becomes the Target Number. Blank columns add to the Target Number but filled in ones are not.
For example: Using the chart I made above, if asked to roll a Medicine Skill check the player would roll 2D6 and have to meet or beat a 5. If asked to make a Sleight of Hand Skill check the player would need to roll a 8 or better. Start with a base of 5 and then look to the closest Strong Skill, which in this case is Psychic Powers. The filled in column adds nothing, Psychic Powers is 3 slots away from Sleight of Hand, so 5+3 is 8.
Claytonian wasn't able to answer the questions himself so he did one better and put me into a three-way conversation between the of us and Andy K of the Japanese Tabletop RPG Blog. Andy was quite helpful and had this to say about the subject:
"In short, there's no SRD for Saikoro Fiction games because they are all different. It would be like looking for an SRD for "Powered by the Apocalypse" but even harder because many of these games are very, Very, VERY different.
Many of them have a similar look and flow to Shinobigami: Sheet with a 6 by 2-12 "skill grid", a 3-round 1 scene/player play structure, etc. But after that they are all VERY different.
This is especially true of many of the contemporary ones released. They have great ideas, interesting mechanics, not necessarily big sellers (Shinobigami pretty much dominates Sai-Fi, everything else is kinda in its shadow); and their character creation and playstyles are very different than Shinobigami/inSANe/Magicalogica.
If there was one commonality that would tie them together, the SRD would say "The book includes - and starts off with - a full session replay of the game, complete with lots of notes about what is happening. Then, the rules are easy to read and understand and lead to the game being playable within 2-3 hours of purchasing on a quick read-through. A session can last 2-4 hours but it contains an entire story; it is not meant for campaign play (so you can have a solid, done experience in just a few hours and no requirement of an ongoing campaign). Also, more often than not it is targeted towards novice GMs and Role-players, holding their hand through some of the process". That is the only commonality that they all share."
Yeah that's fine! That isn't what I was hoping for exactly but it is also absolutely fascinating and has me super-charged up to work with the concepts put forth in Dice Fiction even further. Not only do I have my own ideas on how this could be used but how do I adapt it for long term play? How useful is it for playing over the internet, which is our primary mode of gaming these days.
It is likely that either or both Claytonian and/or Andy K will be posting a similar recount of this conversation on their sites and if they do and it adds to the discussion I will definitely link it here. In the meantime, don't be surprised if you see more about Dice Fiction - or a Barking Alien variant on it - very soon.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Monday, February 15, 2021
I've been rather depressed lately.
Part of it is our current global pandemic, part of it our political and social issues here in the US, and part of it my personal economic troubles which have not been helped by either of the aforementioned situations. I have also been feeling like...well...like I am not getting the most out of my gaming time.
This last situation could be the result of my depression and accompanying anxiety but in the worst kind of self-perpetuating cycle it is usually gaming that digs me out of the dumps and if that isn't happening...yeah.
I am gaming more - far more in fact - than I was before the pandemic, yet none of it seems quite as satisfying. That's not to say it isn't good and I hope none of my players or GMs read this and think I am not enjoying our time together. Oh contraire! I am having a great time for the most part and very much like the games I am both running and playing in.
It's just that...
They feel like filler episodes. They're fun stints into the various milieus and systems we are exploring but very little of it feels meaningful, deep, or (to sound extra pompous) artful. These adventures are fun experiences but they don't push the plot or larger character development of Adam-as-Gamer.
For my Sunday game, for example, I am re-visiting Aerth, my Medieval-But-Not Fantasy setting with yet another campaign featuring The Winghorn Guard (see many previous entries on this esteemed order of do-gooders). I am doing a twist on them I've always wanted to do but never got the chance to previously, with the PCs being members of the covert/espionage arm known as The Winghorn Rangers. It's less Avengers vs Thanos and more Agents of Shield vs Hydra.
Was it good? The Zero Session went pretty well, though one player was sadly out sick.
Was is SPECIAL though? Hmm...no, not particularly. It didn't do anything different, shake the earth, or anything quite so epic or unique.
Did it need to? No, not really. Not to be a good game.
I would like it to. I would like something to.
I would like that very much and I kind of need it right now.