November 18, 2008

Secret of Zir'an v.2

Hello all,

A certain subject has been dominating my thoughts for the last few months and that subject is a second edition of The Secret of Zir'an.

Looking back at the world and the Finesse system, it came out of an evolutionary process spread across more than ten years and hundreds of hours of play, creating a system and world that felt cohesive and internally consistent, but not perfect by any stretch.

I'd like to go back and take a new look at the world and system; expanding upon some ideas and refining others. An overhaul of the Finesse system is the biggest nut to crack but we've some clear areas we'd like to address and ideas on how to proceed.

I'd like to present some areas we're looking at for improvement and get some feedback on what you feel regarding the changes we propose and possible areas for improvement that you've noted. Perhaps even some houserule fixes you've created yourselves. The major areas we'd like to touch upon for improvement are:

  • Streamlining character creation: I want to unify the skill packages, make them a set cost in factors of five, so 5, 10, 15, and 20 point packages. Additionally, I'd like to have each package have a set number of skills with each package giving bonus freebie points that can be spent on any skills of their choice.

  • Expand on Battle Arts and Martial Arts: I'd like to find a way to bring these two systems together. I'd like to give non-magic characters their own suite of crowd pleasing abilities. Right now I feel the game is too heavily skewed in favor of magic, both rune and shadow.

  • More combat finesse effects: This could be linked to the revision mentioned above, but I'd like to introduce something along the lines of big combat combos: combat finesse effects that the player can build up over several rounds of combat. For instance, a player could have a big fifteen point combo. One round of combat he attacks and scores six successes, he uses two on the current attack, and saves the other 4 towards building up to that big combo.

  • Introduce a system that backs up the idea of the characters being chosen by Fate. This would be something like action points, but with a broader use and definition. They'd be powers, but big whammy powers that the players could use, but use sparingly.

  • Social combat. I'd like to introduce a sort of three-tiered system of ability and power options based on the three Aptitudes: Personal = Combat, Knowledge = Magic, Social = well, Social. These could lead to abilities such as instilling fear, doubt, sorrow, joy, etc.

  • Streamlining our attributes. So far we've got four attributes and too many derived attributes. I think we need to find a way to eliminate entirely the idea of derived stats and come up with a different solution. This includes how we figure Vitality and Lethal Wounds.

This is just a start of some of the refinements we're considering. More will likely come as this process goes on.



Nathan said...

Hmmm. Interesting ideas. As long as the chargen packages retain their unique flavour, I'm all in favour of standardizing costs. Now, it seems some are useless (Kleshti assassin),and others are broken (All the Fire Reaches). We are currently trying to work out a standard of aptitude points - 9 for Tyroic, 10for Heroic, and 12 for Legendary. This makes some careers (Cyrooni) and some char types (Smart guys okay with weapons) viable.

We've always integrated Martial Arts and Battle Arts. Only problem is that people want more.:) My problem in making more, is that I want to model Arts off of real world physics, whereas Zir'an physics are sometimes opposite (eg/ maces/axes in rl are better at armour penetration, whereas in Zir'an, swords are best).

We also haven't had too many problems with magic vs mundane. Aside from the usual good natured cries of, "hax!" most people are happy with their mundane characters because they are still unique.

Not sure about uber finesse moves over several turns. My players tend to want cool stuff now, not later. Maybe some more battle arts that 1/2 the cost of certain moves?

Like the idea of social combat, particularly if it can be used in combat.

As far as setting goes, I think the timeline needs some work. I tried doing my own home-version of an Edyssian sourcebook, and almost tore my hair out trying to justify a near-continuous 3000 yr old culture that *hasn't* explored every facet of their tiny country. More reasonable wild places, please! (and fewer mountains:)).

My group have no problems with the stat set-up.

Thanks for the update!


Nathan said...

Oh! Oh! And we need bigger penalties for making unskilled skill tests. In one campaign, we had a Talusian duelist rolling 1d10 +17 to attack. Another player had a Shadowmage who rolled 1d10 +15 for all attacks, skilled or unskilled. Perhaps unskilled tests should be +1/2 base attribute?

Vriska said...

And get rid of the backgrounds on the pages! I can barely read big sections of my copy because they're obscured by dark grey glyphs in the background.