Part of watching the contrasted reception of Adventure Hour! and Skorne was learning this lesson: more specific pitches resonate with more people, despite having a smaller scope. Use structured campaigns with a beginning, middle, and end. Have something short and sweet that people can chew on. That does better.
So, mulling over a new game. Something fresh.
People seem to enjoy the innovation in diceless design and transparent problem solving (that is, “you have lots information and many fixed variables, now SOLVE!”). So more of that.
Adventure Hour! is a largely “decentralized concept” game. “You’re adventurers who… adventure! How? Psh, don’t ask, just do.” Let’s improve that in this next game.
Pitch: You and your companions carry packages and messages across dangerous wastelands filled with monsters. You’re no hero. You just carry the mail.
Working title: Delivery Knights. It contains elements of carrying the mail and having a code, but also rescue and freedom from bondage. Little bit of flexibility there.
If you’ve played Postknight, you get the idea. Here some pictures from the mobile game:
Adorable, right? Don’t actually play the game though, it’s grindy and repetitive. Stick with me: it’s cute and makes a nice pitch. Zelda-like in style.
Resolution and Combat
It would be interesting to leverage Chris’s “CERTAINTY” system, where dice are only being used for Luck rolls and actually random elements. But combat is likely just 123 (also Chris). It’s Skorne / Any Planet is Earth’s combat, but even more stripped down (whaddya expect from the man who killed to-hit rolls?). Lower numbers means things are even MORE obvious when you cannot win.
I want weapon tags like in Dungeon World. There’s no random there and certain attributes that can be taken advantage of are made more obvious.
But maybe I don’t go the way of Certainty. Quick philosophy note: I only grok with games with three or four levels of probability for success. Either it’s:
- CERTAIN SUCCESS (100%)
- 50/50 (50%)
- CERTAIN FAILURE (0%)
- CERTAIN SUCCESS (100%)
- LIKELY/EASY (75%)
- UNLIKELY/HARD (25%)
- CERTAIN FAILURE (0%)
To me, three levels feels more like an adventure game and four feels more tough-as-nails, especially when “Unlikely/Hard” is the default assumption when the dice come out (Maze Rats, Knave, Mausritter). You have to WORK for that easier roll by leveraging items, skills, what have you.
So, a fun system for four levels of probability: When there’s something risky, roll 2d6. If both dice are 4+, you succeed (25% chance). If you have an advantage, only one of the dice needs to be 4+ for you to succeed (75% chance). It uses 2d6 (big tactile plus) and it’s quick to understand. Something interesting is that you as the GM or player are FORCED to make a call on whether something is considered easy or not. Sure, the focus moves a bit from the world to the mechanics, but you use the world to justify this decision/probability of success. At least it’s not a string of +1s and +2s…
Undecided for the direction. On one hand, this is where the dice can be more involved. Random events come up, situations emerge. Then the GM can focus their prep time on staging problems and hooks. The GM would be responsible for the beginning, the system would handle the middle, and the GM and players would work together to make the end satisfying and reach a conclusion of sorts. Endings really can’t be random.
On the other hand, many games use dice for travel. Is there a diceless procedure to be found here and carefully excavated? That sounds more intriguing… I like making lists more than mapping hexcrawls (I’ve tried, it sucks)… is that an option? Hm.
Difficulty = distance + threat + weather/conditions
Each session is structured around delivering a package, letter, message. Options would be given, difficulty and reward for each job made clear (except when it isn’t).
Travelling back ain’t that fun. What if the PCs have a key that lets them return to HQ? Some sort of fast travel bit? Might break the world, but who knows…
Point of Light setting. The spaces between towns are filled with monsters, which is why delivery knights are armed and competently trained.
Crystals protect towns from radiation-like miasma, much like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. PCs carry a small crystal with them to protect them from the miasma. They huddle together around their wagon to protect the crystal and mail.
The world is young. People pull themselves up by their bootstraps and explore to find crystals and build civilization around it. Colonies and rugged folk.
Some monsters are people affected my the miasma, mutating into emotionally deranged and selfish creatures. Many seem convinced that eating crystals will change their hideous forms.
There are dog people. They don’t like the mailmen. Snarling ferals HATE Delivery Knights.
Lock and key dungeons. Everyone is a Link-like adventurer with magical, gimmicky items, NOT superpowers.
Minigames? Fishing, bowling, sealing letters, sorting mail, festival games.
With the world being young, it’d be cool to have some sort of Legacy system. You plant seeds, literal and metaphorical, what happens later? A week later? Month? Year? Ten years? Century? Millennia? That tree, school, town, family really starts to blossom. It’s a cool way to demonstrate player choices and impact. Sidepoint: movies do a good job of compressing time for us and clearly demonstrate cause and effect over montages and time jumps. RPGs can leverage the same time jumps to great effect as well. This is also kinda like The Fellowship Phase from The One Ring RPG…
Rewards. This is unclear to me. No levels… Medals? Money? Do you get a half-decent salary as a mailman? Or is tied to the above: growing the world IS the reward… Hm.
This could be tied to THE Checklist Campaign… Every monster is unique. Except the dogs. They deserve to be a faction.
Thoughts and input are good, both here on the blog or the NSR discord.
Thanks for listening to me ramble.