17 August, 2011

PC Upgrade

There could be a break in transmission as I transfer files from an old laptop to a new one.
Especially when it comes to transferring those frequently used programs such as the Office Suite, Photoshop, and the various other programs I use for 3D rendering and game design.
Hopefully this should take no longer than a day or two.

One small step for goblins, one enormous leap for a game about them.

Goblins are a race of huge genetic diversity; there are big ones, small ones, scaly, furry, green skinned, brown.
Trying to catalogue them all would be a nigh impossible task.
Trying to create a roleplaying game or a miniatures game capable of capturing the diversity is surely a fool's errand.
But that's the task I've set for myself.
So how do I do it?
At this stage I'm treating goblin desriptions fairly simply, with two modular parts. Firstly a racial heritage that defines a series of baselines, then a series of occupations that boost those baselines.
It seems to be fairly ordinary stuff, many games have a similar structure.
But I get the feeling that a genetically diverse and decadent race that has evolved into hundreds of niches requires a carefully structured society to avoid devolving into complete anarchy. Goblins are traditionally treated as anarchists, so this might be their tendency when far from the central authorites of their race. The "powers that be" would take on a tyrannical view to keep their masses in check. Human history has seen groups do this through religion, military, nobility, commerce, and other means. Goblins add magic into the mix.
This is complicated further by a goblin's short lifespan, weeks rather than years.
Goblins don't have long to make a mark for themselves, and they find themselves oppressed by a cultural society that will certainly outlast them. Goblins may choose to rebel against their situation, subvert the society around them, or use it to their advantage in the hope of gaining access to a means of extending their lifespan and thus gaining more chance at notoriety, fame or wealth.
I'm trying to delve into a very alien mindset here, but there needs to be something familiar for outsiders to latch onto. It needs to make sense.
I'm starting to ramble here...in the attempt to explain my thought processes,,,but I'll just provide the next part of character description.
Occupations come in three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. These are clustered into groups within a tree structure.
As an example for a warrior's occupation tree.
The basic level might be a footsoldier.
This branches to two types of intermediate warrior: infantry and cavalry.
Then each intermediate offers the choice of two advanced warrior occupations.
Each occupation takes a week or so to progress through. As a result, characters could pick two or three basic occupations from separate trees, but they'll probably die before getting very far in them.
Gaining access to an occupation requires performing some kind of feat in goblin society; these feats get harder as higher levels are being accessed. Once access is gained, each occupation offers bonuses, but it also offers obligations.
If you become the high courtier, you'll be expected to fulfil obligations associated with running court proceedings.
I'll be writing more to clarify these ideas shortly.

06 August, 2011

Goblin Labyrinth Blues

A bit more information regarding my thought processes on the Goblin Labyrinth.

First a few key design points for the project.

  • The game uses a combination of live play and miniatures.
  • The game needs to be scalable for a variety of play group sizes. Ideally, anything from 2 players to 200. But it's more likely we'll be looking at the 6 to 30 range.
  • All players need to be connected to at least 3 other players through some kind of relationship (whether that comes in the form of an alliance or a rivalry).
  • The game needs to be fairly self-sufficient in terms of ecosystem and economy within the game world and narrative potential. (Any GMs need only be present to help resolve rule disputes between players, a small game between experienced players shouldn't need GMs at all).
  • The game needs to generate story through meaningful player decisions.
  • The game needs to be fun and easy to learn.

It's a tough set of criteria, but I'm gradually finding my way towards a rule set that fulfils each of these objectives (in my mind anyway).

Point by point:

  • The game uses a combination of live play and miniatures. If you've read my Raven's Nest posts, you'll know that this is possible. If you know the origins of roleplaying games as a hobby, you'll understand that this is basically just the ultimate old-school revival...the first braunstein games basically fulfilled this criteria and most other forms of roleplaying have been divergences from this tradition.
  • The game needs to be scalable for a variety of play group sizes. Ideally, anything from 2 players to 200. But it's more likely we'll be looking at the 6 to 30 range. I'm envisioning the game to run more as a board game with smaller numbers of players, perhaps more akin to a standard miniatures game, but with story driven elements required to achieve success rather than simply beating down an opponent. This is easily driven through mission objectives acquired at the start of play. A mission from a shadowy cabal of benefactors, a mission related to a current occupation, a mission for family...This becomes inherently scalable as larger groups of players will have more conflicting missions, but larger groups of players will also find groups sharing the same mission.
  • All players need to be connected to at least 3 other players through some kind of relationship (whether that comes in the form of an alliance or a rivalry). The application of missions immediately links players through rivalries and alliances, so this one's covered. To advance the concept here, I'm working on an idea of sharing favours with one another, or making public declarations of ill-will.
  • The game needs to be fairly self-sufficient in terms of ecosystem and economy within the game world and narrative potential. (Any GMs need only be present to help resolve rule disputes between players, a small game between experienced players shouldn't need GMs at all). A standard miniatures game needs no GM because the rules are procedural and can be looked up if necessary. A large freeform game only requires GMs to help resolve conflicts that extend beyond the scope understood by the players. Hopefully, by tying players and characters to specific goals within a specific framework of activities, the use for GMs can be reduced if not eliminated. This is the tricky one.
  • The game needs to generate story through meaningful player decisions. The goals assigned to characters will be conflicting, players will have to choose what is more important to them. This will become even more dramatic when characters require other to help them complete their goals, because you can never be certain whether the person you are asking for help will end up being a hindrance. An action will often lead to new actions, and the first quests completed in a game will change the dynamic of the scenario for the others involved. Thus the story will work toward a climax, but you can never be sure what climax will be generated. In many cases I'm foreseeing the ability for players to generate their own goals on the fly, thus creating a truly interactive experience driven by the economies of the setting.
  • The game needs to be fun and easy to learn. The actual miniature rules needs to be intuitive, they need to help drive the action in subtle ways, but not complicate the setting. The rules should make sense on the first turn, and with every action performed. The same general system should be used for all activities.
That's my basic design goals for the project. More details to come.

04 August, 2011

Mob Rules Update

For the last couple of nights I've been crossing and meandering between two projects.

Number 1: Finishing off "The Great Bard", my game chef entry which seems to have drawn a bit of interest (Thanks for the review Steve).

Number 2: Getting the goblin mob combat rules to sit right in my head.

I've revised and refined the concept a bit.

We now follow a standard pattern for all different types of actions, whether combative, mystical or otherwise.

It works off a few simple notions.

a) Goblin characters are surrounded by mobs of lackeys, the mob can be any size as long as you've got the money to keep paying them. Lackeys are expendible and work like a combination of special abilities and hit points...once you lose a particular lackey, you lose access to the ability provided by that lackey and your mob size gets smaller.
b) When a goblin engages a task or enters conflict with another mob, they select a team from their mob. This team size is based on the leadership of the goblin, it may be higher if the goblin character leads them into battle, or it may cause morale loss if the goblin character sends his lackeys in to fight while he hides in the mob.
c) All team members get a single active action each turn, but they may defend themselves as many times as necessary.

With this in mind, the 3-minute turn sequence basically works as follows...

Minute 1:
  • Choose your active team
  • Draw an active hand of cards (1 plus the size of the active team)
  • Allocate a single card to each member of the active team

Minute 2:
  • Player with the larger active team goes first, they choose a member of their team to act, this goblin is the assailant.
  • Acting goblin targets a member of the opposing active team or a random member of the mob. The target of the action is the victim.
  • Play a random card on the assailant and the victim. Each player may choose to expose and use their allocated card if it is higher. Higher card adds 1 to their attack (or defence if the higher card is gained by the victim).
  • Compare scores, if assailant is higher, an effect is applied to the victim.
  • Move to next goblin's action (alternate turns between players).
Minute 3:
  • Chance of goblin recovery after the round has ended.
  • Any other end of turn effects manifest.
  • Begin new round.

It seems quick and simple at this stage, but will probably see further refinement as special abilities are devised.

More Goblins


I've added a few more goblin tarot images to my deviantart page.

I figure I'm about 3/4 of the way through the collection now.

I'm happy that these images are getting a good viewing by people who haven't previously seen my work. I'm starting to get a few more regular watchers out of this series.

If you'd like to have a look, a link to the gallery is here.