It’s been awhile… also another side track

Well, I have been working on either Dual20 or the Hex crawl web app, rather I’ve gone back to an older project (well, about the same age as Dual20) that being a Roguelike called Dragon Rising, where you get to play as the dragon. I do think I’ll incorporate some of the ideas I have for Dual20 in it, though, so some development will be continued on Dual20… once I get to the point in the Roguelike where I’m actually coding my own game logic and not making my own engine and following a basic gameplay tutorial. It’s source can be found on github here. I do not make any guarantees that the code will run properly during these early stages, btw :P :)

So I’ve got three projects going, Dual20, the unnamed hex crawl web app, and Dragon Rising.

Side track: Hexes

So I haven’t been working on Dual20 too much lately. So many projects, so little time. I am working on a project that’ll help me run my future games (after my current campaign is finished). It’ll be a web site for managing a sandbox/hexcrawl campaigns. I envision it to manage the map, random encounter generators (or maybe custom generators in general), various alternate initiative/action trackers (beyond the simple standard init, I want to try making an init tracker for Dual20’s, as well as popcorn initiative, and a general “all going at once” action tracker).

I’m putting the source code up on github here for those interested in checking it out :)

The Magic of Dual20

Well… it’s been far, far, far too long since my last post here (darn WordPress, I though I set you to send me reminders to post? Oh well, wouldn’t have helped being so busy and distracted by other things/projects :P )

So for this post I thought I’d give an overview of the four basic forms of magic in Dual20: Lore, Core, Will, and Pact. Core could also be referred to as Inherent, but then it’d have more than four letters and break the lovely pattern :P

Lore magic is your classic magician up in the tower pouring over spells or your academy of mages, alchemists and their guilds, enchanters creating wondrous magical artifacts, and other such workers of magic. They gain magical power from their tools and the environment around them. They study and discover the hidden workings of the universe, and how to manipulate them, whether by magic words or runes, special ingredients, or particular motions.

Core magic is the mage or creatures who have magic as a natural part of their being. Their magical power comes from their bodies and possibly able to draw on the environment too, though not as Lore mages do (so kind of like the difference between breathing in the air and blowing it out vs. using a fan to blow it around). Core magic is almost always a bit flashy when used by mages, though for magical creatures it can be more subtle.

Will magic, this is your “subtle and quick to anger” type wizards. It’ll be very much like the magic seen in Tolkien’s works, particularly the Silmarillion (mixed with some Lore magic, too; Lore and Will magic often mix well together). Using this magic is hardly ever flashy, though the results can be sometimes. This is probably the rarest form of magic, and some would say the first and purest. Though there are other types of will mages besides wizards, bards and inspiring war captains have a bit of this magic too.

Pact mages come in the wide variety, from your prophets wielding the power of God, to your warlocks making deals with the devil, or someone who has gained favor with the fey, or otherwise gains his magic from some Entity of Power. I’m also thinking this will handle characters that have a lot “pets” as their primary means of power, summoners, binders, etc. They may technically use another form of magic to obtain them, but it’s not directly usable for other things.

In later posts I’ll delve a bit further , though I think I’ll do into my thoughts for each of them, including ideas for mechanics (where I have them at least), though I think the next will go over the various classes that I have planned (now including the mages, though several have been named already ;) )

Stealth and Detection

So some readers may have noticed that there is a Notice stat in Dual20, rather than a skill, like most systems I’ve seen. In most games I’ve played in, a Notice/Spot/Search/Perception/Whatever skill is by far the most used one, second only to actual attack checks (and in one game I’m in, it far surpasses even those, but it’s not a combat heavy game :P ).

It’s typically something that every perceiving creature can do to some extent, even without any particular training, and being used so much, so I figured on making it a full blown stat to accompany others like attacking. But then what about its main counterpart, Stealth/Sneaking?

Should it be a stat as well, and be a stat pair with notice like attack and defense are? It’s again something that comes up a lot, something that most creatures can do to some extent or another, and what’s more, characters without it may have to be left behind. Some gaming groups are happy to work around that, or just leave it as is, but some aren’t.

I’m inclined to promote it to a stat, but either of them (even Notice) as optional skills might also be important for some groups. Perhaps a compromise, given the nature of skills, and how their bonuses can differ wildly, what if we had both the Notice and Sneak stats, and a more advanced Search and Stealth skills that acted as a bonus on top of them? They’d be smaller bonuses than other skills, but then so would the Notice and Sneak stats, but together they might be more inline with the rest.

Thoughts and opinions from the audience?

Acquiring Skills

In most game systems (at least of those I’ve seen) and particular d20 systems, a player gets a number of points each level to spend on skills, often with 1 point for 1 rank of skill, or perhaps different skills cost different point. Other systems might have an increasing cost per rank. Skills are also often attached to classes, and you can only buy ranks in your class’ skills, or perhaps pay extra for other skills.

Dual20 does not do that.

Instead, what you buy at character creation is how the skill advances over the levels you get (specifically the level track that advances Stats, Feats, and Game Breakers), and you buy grades of the skill, from 1 to 3, though it can get as high as 4 if you pick the right Foundation, as mentioned in a prior post. Since you are buying grades of advancement quality and not actual ranks or bonuses, skills (and stats) can advance at different rates from each other, and need not be linear.

So each grade of a skill should be of comparable worth to that of another, but he actual numbers you need for dice rolling or other procedures can differ greatly, as needed for that particular grade of that particular skill.

You can also buy grades in a skill group, which grants you points to buy subskills, that are generally more specific or limited scope and applicability, in a similar manner as other skills. In act, all skills work this way, as they can be considered as a subskill of the Skill stat that every character has. Game groups can even divide up other skills to more specific components, or combine subskills if they just want to deal with one big general skill.

So an example of a skill group would be Crafting, which can have the various crafting disciplines within it, such as weapons, which could be further divided into various types of weapons or not, as the group desires. You can even have a group for Flavor skills, that don’t have much bearing on the main part of the game, but can be useful at very specific times, and gives plenty of flavor to the character as implied by the name.

One more thing, Grade 4 skills may have a better bonus than Grade 3, but that’s not their big differentiator, if you get Grade 4 that opens up new uses of the skill that usually have a magical or mythical nature. You may still have to wait till higher levels to use it reliably, and they will generally not be as flashy as a mage’s spells, but they are just a bit beyond what a typical mortal can do. With Grade 4 Weapon crafting you’ll be a legendary swordsmith perhaps, creating blades of unequal quality (perhaps used by kings or six fingered men) or even get a little bit of overt magic in them if you get skilled enough, with Grade 4 acrobatics you’ll seemingly be climbing on vertical walls with the greatest of ease. Etc. etc.

There are a lot of benefits to using the system like this, but there is one thing I’m not too happy with and that’s the inability to go in a different with the character’s skills without using character rebuilding rules. But perhaps a solution will come up, and even if it doesn’t I think the pros outweigh the cons for my goals with this system.

Character Foundation and Stats

I believe I mentioned before that the Foundation elements that a character picks may add grades to his stats. I had initially considered that there’d be a few bonuses sprinkled around, but that didn’t satisfy me, they mostly because that would have the problem of too many potentially stacking together.

But while writing my last post I thought what if they weren’t outright granted but only made available as a choice, similar to what 13th Age does for ability bonuses from race and class.

So now every Foundational element except Fates will grant as an available option a Stat or Skill grade bonus. These grade bonuses are the only way to get a grade of 4.
I might still consider races to be able to outright grant a stat bonus in addition to granting an extra option choice. They can get away with it because you’ll only ever have one race basic package.

Also I’m thinking that usually Race and Background are what offer Stat grade bonuses, and Background, Culture, and Specialty are what offer Skill grade bonuses.