Curgoth (curgoth) wrote,

GameNerd: Diceless Design part 4

Design Decisions; Applying Components

So, I have Attributes, Powers and Accessories, a list of goals, and two settings.

The Nano-Victorian Future

A weird sci-fi/pulp/fantasy setting dreamed up while I was trying to write a microfic a day for November. (See the nano-victorian future tag on this post for those stories).

While I still want classic RPG types like soliders, spies and even an odd sort of occasional wizard, I also want to support characters who are university professors or grad students with no reason to be effective in combat. Social maneuvering and proficiency with weird science should also be important parts of the game. This means that, as a GM, I need to pay attention to the kind of characters my players give me, and make sure that there are non-combat ways to resolve plot twists for those who want them.


I'm keeping Influence for this one, too. after some of the discussion last time around, I'm stripping out the bit where it grants social status or wealth. It's just your ability to plug into social networks and handle people. In her game "Volatile" for ACUS, zdashamber puts a different spin on a social stat, calling hers "Secrets"; both the amount of secrets one has, and the tendency one had to acquire new ones.

Unlike the Neren setting, I'm not concerned about detailing the differences between two swordsmen, or keeping them distinct from a sharpshooter. Amber's Warfare stat is getting co-opted for representing combat skill. Swordfights, shooting guns and tactics all get wrapped up in one big bundle here.

Similarly, in the absence of magic, mental resistance/willpower is a less important factor, so I'm mixing it together with some aspects of physical toughness and calling it Resilience. Physically, this covers endurance type things; pushing one's limits to run long distances, staying conscious during torture, etc. Mentally it covers keeping secrets private during torture, keeping one's head when drugged and resisting addiction.

Intelligence should be important in this setting. It will cover both mental acuity and education, as well as facility with science.

Finally, to support heavily physical characters, I'm lumping together strength, size and damage absorbtion into Brawn. This is the stat for heavy lifting, heavy drinking, and fist fights. I may have to specify ranges for Brawn to allow for engineered super-Brawn characters; I'll put a cap on Brawn at something like 20pts for unmodified humans.

Perception, again, will be picked up by other attributes. In this case, most often Intelligence or Warfare.

That gives us Influence, Warfare, Resilience, Intelligence and Brawn as our attributes for this setting. I think a mix of these really covers the spectrum of basic charcater elements for the setting as it lives in my head.


There's no magic in the Nano-Victorian Future, but there is "sufficiently advanced technology". Some powers will be based on having a genetically engineered body or built-in nano-tech enhancements - the Queen's engineered Seraphim would be at the more extreme end of that spectrum, as would a Demon who had escaped from Hell (formerly known as "Europe").

Other powers would be moderately generic devices that the character has access to, like the personal computing/smart-fibre(tm) system contained in many people's clothes, fancy weaponry, and other gadgets. Anything truly unique should go down as an "Accessory", but ultimately I think it's just simpler to group "powers" and "accessories" together under "Gear" for this game.

Instead, I'm going to add a final category for "Knacks" to allow for minor skills and quirks - this would be where the character who happens to be a gifted acrobat distinguishes herself, or where one might sink points into being a Duke of something or other. A character with a title and low influence won't havbe a corrsponding social network to leverage, but he will have money and access to certain parts of the world he might not otherwise have. I don't expect Knacks to be really central to the action of the game, so most characters shouldn't be spending a lot of points on them.

I'm done, for now, I think. I'm pretty happy with how the two settings are laid out rules-wise. I will likely run one or both of these games next year at AmberCon US, and hopefully locally in the next few months. I'll start trying to figure out when I can start up a game when I get back from Ambercon.

In the mean time, I suspect the best thing I can do for both settings is to write more microfic for them. Beefing up the mythos of the settings should do a lot to help players get a handle on the feel I'm going for.
Tags: game design, gamenerd, gns, nano-victorian_future, neren, rpg, wtf?

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