06 August, 2010

Microlite Storyteller

Back to another Microlite.

This one I don't have as high praise for.

Maybe Microlite d20 falls into some of the same traps, but this one does it more blatantly. Maybe it's just my critical eye for game mechanisms that has lead me to the issues I have with this incarnation of the Microlite genre.

The Author's original post about it is here on ENWorld, while Stargazer's World mentions it here.

The author readily admits that the game is a very, very, VERY alpha document; but it's been around for a while and it's seen a few comments here and there. If the author has done anything new to it, I'd love to see it.

I'll also hasten to comment that I make these reviews and remarks if I think there is a certain potential in an idea. I'm an old fan of the old World of darkness, I had the old quickstart booklet (I think it might even be in my book boxes which are packed for an impending house move).

So there is a germ of coolness in this game concept, but there's some chaff that I'd seriously dispose of.

Attributes
First, it strips the nine attributes down to 6, it seems to do this by pulling out the social attributes. No, a second reading of the rules shows that this isn't the case, but the storyteller focus on a complicated combat system compared to other actions is still apparent. This might be a comment on the way the author plays the game (or sees the game being played), because one of the key virtues of the Microlite system is pulling out the stuff you don't use.

Next, when I read through the entire rules it becomes eminently clear how to min-max the system. That's something a lot of seasoned players do with the full scale World of Darkness rules, so maybe it's praise that the author has retained this aspect of the game, maybe it's an oversight (he didn't see the trap and thus fell in). If I were to create a character in this system I'd start by giving them 4 dots of strength. It's obvious that social scenes aren't expected, and the hit points, close combat hit chance and even the effective hit points are derived from strength.

Personally, I would have stripped it down to the 3 categories "Physical", "Social" and "Mental". Assigned a single dot to each and then five extra dots (because this is in the middle of the 7/5/3 spread that most supernaturals get to allocate across their statistics).

I would have then made sure that various subsystems described throughout the game used each of the three attributes fairly equally. Offer an investigation subsystem based on the "social" and "mental" attributes, a dominance subsystem based on the "physical" and "social" attributes and a combat/tactical subsystem based on the "physical" and "mental" attributes.

Skills
The stripped back aesthetic of Microlite is apparent in the skills. I can't complain there.

Extras
I like the way the breeds and factions are basically reduced to a simple attribute or skill bonus to reflect the stereotypes. This is probably one of the few things I like about the new World of Darkness. The simplified use of Morality and Supernatural is also nice, and from what I know of the new World of Darkness it seems to be a reasonable facsimile of the more complex rules.


All in all, except for the obvious ability to abuse the system during character generation it doesn't seem too bad. I think the simple change I offered would make it more palatable (it would for me, I don't know how much better it would be for other people).

An advantage I see for this Microlite game over the Microlite d20 is that it fits on a single side of a page. The second side could then be used for the specific genre conventions of certain races within the World of Darkness...front-side: rules/back-side: vampires...front-side: rules/back-side: werewolves...etc.

It's still got that enticement factor about it...I want to change it, advance it, modify it. But maybe not so much as microlite d20.
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