Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Play Example - Downtime

Another request was to see how the mechanics of Downtime Activities work. There are a bunch of things you can do (including an option for an action that doesn't quite fit with the others) - they are basically the sorts of things that are important to your character but wouldn't involve the entire group. Examples include Crafting something, training a monster companion, building a reputation around town, and so forth.

Here's a brief example of how it goes:

The Scene

After a successful endeavor, the party returns to the town of Homble for a chance to relax. The players express a desire to rest there for at least a week, and Blue decides this justifies a session of Downtime.

  • Pink and Green’s characters have both suffered Injuries so they decide to take the Heal and Injury/Get Repaired Downtime Activity.
    • Mariah and Wumble get some well earned bed rest and their players wander off to the kitchen for a snack.
  • Yellow decides that their character has grown especially fond of a shopkeeper named Doa that the party met in the previous adventure. They attempt a Socialization Downtime Activity to see if a Social Bond can be formed.
    • Sha visits Doa’s potion shop each day of the week and makes small talk with him. While Yellow is a bit too shy to role-play any discussion directly, they let Blue know the sort of things they think Sha would want to talk about.
    • Yellow and Blue Roll the contest that Socialization calls for: Sha’s Aura versus Doa’s Grit. Yellow Rolls well under Sha’s Aura and Doa Fails - the young potion maker lets his guard down and has several lovely conversations with Sha.
    • Yellow marks down that Sha has a Social Bond with Doa and decides they’ve developed a relationship of “Mutual Interest”. They also note that Sha has a bonus Heart added to her heart total until the next time she has a session of Downtime.
  • Black has gotten interested in the various elemental dungeons scattered across the world and wants to travel to more of them. She decides that her character, Droop, is going to spend his downtime researching their location.
    • Fortunately for Droop, Homble has a small but fairly well stocked library. He has plenty of books and maps to study.
    • After Black declares her intent, Blue lets her know he will get back to her on what Droop finds. He needs to check his notes and fill in any blanks.
    • Black likes getting into character, so she and Blue roleplay a small interaction between Droop and Homble’s librarian.
    • A few days after the game session, Blue e-mails some notes on the elemental dungeons to Black. While it would have been fine to let her know at the beginning of the next session, he figures she’ll want to pitch hooks to the rest of the group right away.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Play Examples - Player Intro & Combat

Thanks to our increased social media presence (and awesome new teaser page→) I've gotten a few requests to showcase some of BREAK!!'s mechanics. Which, fair enough: All this art is slick and great, but you want to see under the hood a bit, right?

I thought a good way to do this would be to share some of the Play Examples I wrote to better explain the rules. I figure this way you get to see how they work without me just re-printing big swaths of the book here in the blog.

First things first, the cast of the Play Examples is a gaming group that is fashioned after the different sorts of players I've seen in my day.

[I am adding a few Meta Notes in Purple here, as requested by Grey. He suggested it might help make certain things about some of the Character's various Values Clearer]

Game Master Blue

A long time lover of tabletop role-playing games, Blue pours his heart and soul creating open scenarios, wondrous adventure sites to explore and dangerous monsters to contend with. While great at being patient and accommodating the players, he has to work hard to keep things challenging.
Get the look

Player Pink (Character: Mariah, Tenebrate Battle Princess)

While new to tabletop role-playing, Pink is a big fan of video games and anime, meaning she is well versed in a lot of the basic ideas of BREAK!! already. She is always eager to run with just about any hook the Game Master presents to the group. Maybe a little too eager...
Get the look

Player Green (Character: Wumble, Chib Factotum)
Green is the oldest and most strategically minded of the gaming group. He is always coming up with battle tactics and long term plans, but he has to watch himself to make sure he doesn’t boss the other players around too much.
Get the look

Player Yellow (Character: Sha, Human Raider)
Chill and easygoing, Yellow likes hanging out and chatting with the group as much as they like playing the game itself. While mostly attentive and helpful, sometimes they get distracted by their smartphone during play.
Get the look

Player Black (Character: Groop, Bruun Sage)
Black is a storyteller at heart. Her characters are always carefully ingrained in the lore of the setting, and she tends to give Blue a lot of great ideas and asks good questions. Black does have to be careful not to make the whole campaign all about her character, though.
Get the look

Most of the play examples are written in a more text book narration style, but I did a sort of script style for Combat since I wanted to goad Grey into drawing a mini comic for it.

The Scene

The party has taken a job from local beast rancher - a rather ornery Chompa has been tearing down their fences and gulping up their pudge grubs. Spurred on by a desire to help the poor guy (and the fact that they are broke), they head out the clearing where the Chompa resides.

Blue: You finally come across the Chompa. The surroundings are a dead giveaway - crushed rocks, gnaw marks on the ground, the works.

Pink: Geez, do they just eat everything?

Yellow: Sha may know...she’s from around here, so maybe she’s seen one before?

Blue: It’s possible! Make an Insight Check.

[Yellow rolls their d20, getting a 16. This is way over Sha’s Insight of 9. Even a bonus from her Purview couldn’t help. Yellow sighs and debates switching to another die for the session. ]

[Sha's a 2nd Rank Raider, which gives her a base Insight score of 8. She has a Trait (Clever) that gives her a +1 to her base, which is why she has 9 Insight]
Yellow: Nah, I rolled over. Sha shrugs and shakes her head.

Green: It’s best to be safe and assume they do. I figure-

Pink: Let’s get it!

Yellow: Sha get’s her bow ready.

Blue: OK, let me draw out the battlefield.

Green: Dangit guys...

[Blue draws out a rough battlefield on his playmat. This combat is pretty simple, so there are just 3 Areas: the spot the party is in, one for the Chompa’s resting spot, and one in between, where all the crushed up rocks and holes are.]

Blue: These holes here are deep but obvious enough to avoid, even while moving fast. The rocks might be big enough to hide behind in a pinch. Neither you or the Chompa has the advantage of an ambush here, so it’s your go.

Pink: I summon my Heart’s Blade and move to attack it!

Blue: OK, it’s 2 Areas away -

Pink: Nuts, that’s too far to get to it and attack normally.

Green: Move up and go into Reactive Mode! That way you can draw it out and attack it when it comes at you.

Pink: Hey, that’s not a bad idea! I do that.

Blue: OK, so you’re going to attack it if it comes at you?

Pink: Yeah, that! I wave my sword around to get it to look at me.

Blue: Right, the Chompa snorts loudly. It’s noticed you making a scene.

Yellow: Sha is going to take a shot at it with her bow. I guess it’s gonna be her Hunter’s Focus for this fight.

Blue: Gotcha. The Chompa is a big target but it also has a thick hide. You have to beat a 13 to hit it.

[Yellow grabs a second d20 and rolls both, since their character has an Edge on Attack Rolls against the target of their Hunter’s Focus. The results are are an 11 and a 13. Either would hit with Sha’s +2 Attack]

[Sha has a +2 to Attack, once again due to the fact that she is a 2nd Rank Raider.]
Yellow: That’s a hit.

[Yellow eats one of the candies they were using to keep track of the amount of arrows Sha has left.]

Blue: Thwack! The Chompa loses a heart. It’s down to 3.

Green:  I’m going to toddle up to the area Mariah is in but I’m staying clear of that thing!

Blue: OK, if everyone’s done it’s the Chompa’s turn now. Sha pissed it off with that arrow but it’s dumb enough to think Mariah is at fault, so it’s rushing her. Since it’s slow, it will be doing a Charge Stunt so if it misses it’ll be easier to hit.

[The condition for Mariah’s Reactive Mode occurs, so she get’s a chance to attack.]

Pink: Ha! Just where I want you! I bring my Heart’s Blade down across it’s big head!

[Pink Rolls a d20, getting a 7. Even with her +2 Attack, it falls short of the Chompa’s 13 Defense Rating.]

[Mariah's a 2nd Rank Battle Princess, granting her a +2 Attack as well.]
Pink: Uh...a 9? That doesn’t hit, does it?

Blue: Nope. It’s a little faster than you expected, closing the distance before you can get your sword down. Soon it opens it’s dreadful maw for a Mighty Munch.

[Blue grabs his trusty d20 and rolls it out onto the table. Everyone watches in fear as it lands, showing a result of 19. The players look to Blue in a panic.]

Blue: (repressed joy) Well shucks, when you factor in its Attack, that’s enough to beat it’s extra damage threshold too - Mariah loses 3 Hearts.

Pink: ACK! That’s all of them!

Blue: You’ll need to roll on the Injury and Damage table, then.

[Pink gulps and rolls]

Pink: A 6?

Green: (somewhat relieved) That’s an Armor Crash!

Blue: Yup, the Chompa’s teeth tears at your armor, reducing its defense by 2 points.

Pink: Great, I’m easier for this thing to chew on now!

Yellow: You didn’t die though.

Blue: Anyway, it’s going to use the second part of Mighty Munch, and try and pull Mariah into it’s mouth…

Pink, Green, Yellow: WHAT!?

Blue: Might Contest between you and the Chompa, Pink!

[Pink gulps and rolls her d20 at the same time Blue does. Pink’s comes up as a 4, and Blue’s an 18. Fortunately for Mariah, this exceeds the Chompa's Might Aptitude so she is the victor in this Contest.]

Blue: You pull away from the Chompa after a struggle - it manages to snatch away some of your armor and shake you up quite a bit, but you’re uninjured for now.

Pink: This is the worst! (Pantomimes wiping Chompa spit off her arm.) We need a better plan, guys..

[Combat will resume with the player’s actions, since both groups are still around and kicking! What do you think you would do in their shoes?]

Forgive my cornball prose style, everyone.
Anyway, I'll give an example of downtime next!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Cover time (again)

You can never have enough cover iterations.
Older explorations Cover 1 + Cover 2 + Cover 3

Like how BREAK!! is shaping up? Sign up to the release alert email!

Workings... (brick work still too scruffy!)

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Where to talk about BREAK!! in 2017 (and beyond...?)

Just a rundown of places you can find, post, and even discuss BREAK!! information!

All of these places will likely share information, though each will cater to different needs so it's really an option of how (or if) you want to interact with us.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Die-cons (TM)

BREAK!! has several kinds of die rolls that, I believe, demand icons or Die-cons!!!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Let's Talk about the Game Master Book - Part two, "Your Campaign"

The second chapter of the Game Master book is all about Campaign structure; how to start them, run them, and end them. I know this is likely old hat to most people playing Tabletop RPGs, but I think it's a good section for beginners and I do my best to cover some stuff I don't think is usually talked about in rulebooks.

An outline of what's in this chapter:

  • Starting Off (Location, 1st Adventure, Limited or Open Ended amount of sessions?)
  • Various ideas for the Party's Origins
  • Working with party roster changes (such as a player having to bow out, or character death)
  • And a small bit on ending a campaign
And here's a small tid-bit of what's included in the chapter itself. I like showing this here because it's useful for other games besides BREAK!!.

Starting Social Bonds

The game master or players may want to begin the game with some established relationships between the party. This is not a bad idea at all, and is definitely beneficial for who have Abilities tied with existing Social Bonds.
  • If this system is in effect, each player should choose another player’s character and decide (or roll on the Example Social Bonds Table) the nature of their character’s relationship with them. The other player may decide how their character feels as well - these don’t have to be equivalents!
  • For example, a Battle Princess might have a crush on a Murder Princess who considers them a rival.
  • Players should each try to choose a character who has not been picked for a social bond yet. Optimally, every one should end up with at least 2 - one with a player’s character who chose them, and another with the character they themselves chose.
  • The players may flesh out the history of their character’s Social Bonds whenever they like. While it’s perfectly fine to decide on it right away, there is nothing detrimental about waiting do so later down the line.
  • Social Bonds created this way are identical to ones earned via the Socializing Downtime Activity (x.x.x).
  • Characters from the Other World are exempt from this (unless there are other Characters from the Other World present, then they may opt to create Social Bonds with one another) though they may choose which of the other characters they met first.

GM Tip!: The author’s favorite method of doing this is to have all the player’s sit at a table and have each establish a social bond with the player to their left’s character.

Example Social Bonds (Roll or Choose)

  • (1-2) Close Friend - This is a person you feel you can trust and confide in. You might have grown up together, or maybe an important event brought you together.
  • (3-4) Siblings - This person is (or is like) a brother or sister to you. You may squabble here and there, but you tend to be fiercely loyal to them. Note that adoption is very common in the Outer World, so characters of different species may consider themselves familial siblings.
  • (5-6) Rivals - You are very competitive with this person; you may have comparable skills or methodology and you generally strive to top them in this arena whenever possible.
  • (7-8) Partner In Crime - This person may not be your best friend, but they are someone you feel will help with some of your more rash or ill-advised schemes.
  • (9-10) Mentor - You feel like you can really learn something from this character. They may be your superior in combat, social prowess, or some other adventuring vocation and you wish they’d teach you their secret.
  • (11-12) Colleague - While you don’t have any strong feelings for this individual, you respect their ability and feel they are contributing their fair share to the efforts of the party.
  • (13-14) Uneasy Ally - There is something about this person that makes you wary about them, even though you may still recognize them as a friend.
  • (15-16) Shared Philosophy - This person has a faith or outlook on life that you wholeheartedly agree with, or at least respect a great deal.
  • (17-18) Crush - You are infatuated with this person. Something there is simply something special about them that really attracts your attention.
  • (19-20) Admiration -You may not always agree with this person or want to be like them, but they have earned a great deal of respect from you. You may even consider them to be a genuine hero!

(Next Week: Adventure Creation!)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Lets talk about the Game Master Book - Part 1

BREAK!! is currently divided into two books (it was originally going to be one huge book, but we've since decided to split it up a bit for various logistical reasons) the Player's book and the Game Master's Book. The former contains everything you need to play, including a little bit on the game's standard setting and a couple of sample maps and various Game Master Entities (our catch all phrase for monsters and NPCs). The latter is more information on the setting, a bit on making adventures and campaigns for BREAK!! and some guides/systems for creating your own monsters, relics, settings and what not.

Splitting them up as such hardly revolutionary, but it does make things easier on Grey and allows us to cater more specifically to the purpose of both sets of information. I'm not sure exactly how we'll do it, maybe offer a bundle of both, as well as options for one or the other? (Same with PDF versions).

Anyway, I thought I'd write a bit on the GM's book as I've really not talked a lot about that half of the game.

The first chapter of the GM's book is called The Basics. It's pretty straightforward, and covers three topics overall:
  • Using The Rules
  • Tone and Themes
  • Doing right by your gaming group
The first one is a guide on when and how to apply rules while running BREAK!! - it probably won't surprise anyone, but BREAK!!'s rules are intended to be bendy and broadly applicable. Since that's easy to see, this part gives suggestions on how to utilize the basics in a way that keeps the game fair and fast.

Tone and Theme is a lot more fluid, but it's more about the sorts of things BREAK!! naturally lends itself to and how to steer these things into directions that work for you, if you so desire. (There is a bit on not trying too hard, as players tend to go their own way sometimes and that's OK too!)

The last one is the most important to me, as I feel like a lot of books don't get this quite right, usually treating players as adversaries to your enjoyment as a GM, or singling out different play-styles as being dangerous disruptions, and so forth. What I tried to do here is to give advice on keeping things fun (and yourself sane) that has worked for me.

Next week we'll go into chapter 2 of the GM's Book: Your Campaign.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

BREAK!!-ing Random Encounters

I saw a bit of talk about Random Encounters in Tabletop RPGs flying around social media today and it inspired me to talk a bit about how they work in BREAK!!.

It's assumed that most maps in BREAK!! come with a Random Encounter chart. These are generally custom built and used to represent various things that would be moving about the same location as the players are. The intent is to make the world seem dynamic and like it's its own place, rather than a construct made just to serve the player character's adventures. The encounters include other wanderers from the outside, as well as inhabitants whose opinions on intruders range from apathy to murderous hostility. Each also has several entries that simply say "No Encounter" - this means the primary Roll becomes a one that determines both if there is an encounter and what that encounter is, if any.

They do function a bit differently depending on the sort of map being used.

Larger scale maps (such as those detailing a region or province) have a Random Encounter Table you consult each time you cross a significant distance during a journey ( this determined by a quick use of the Overland Travel Rules). The sort of encounters should vary quite a bit depending on where you are travelling, but a lot of them are potential allies, built in adventure hooks or the results of other dangers going on in an area that warrant investigation. An important thing is that it's encouraged that the GM cross off an encounter when used and write a new one to replace it to keep things fresh.

Smaller scale maps (dungeons and other adventure sites, mainly) have a chart that represent the mobile inhabitants of the area or other things that might have wandered in. This is rolled on every time characters make a lot of ruckus or spend a significant amount of time in a particular area. Every time an encounter is "dealt with"" (slain, pacified, etc) it's crossed off the encounter chart. Only so many things can live in a particular place at one time, right?

Also important is that there are less stationary encounters in BREAK!! (I.E "6 goblins in room c") so these often make up the bulk of the things player's can run into.

There is more too things obviously, but these are the bits that come to mind. I'm very excited to talk more about these sorts of things once the book is published.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Magitech Facility, demo adventure site

The Gardens as they would have been. Environmentally controlled dome for exotic plants.

Rey came up with an evocative 'dungeon' concept (and map) for the demo adventure site in Break!!, an Akenian Magitech Research Facility (Botanical). Akenia is a fallen human empire that infused magic into machines and investigated mana manipulation as science.

Lab corridor now. Semi functioning irrigation and lighting systems (and magic!) keep flora alive

Botanical Researchers (knowledge treasure = botanical map of The Murk)
Secret entrance, exposed by faultering illusion under central dome.

Rey's original map

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Cover thoughts (continued!)

The Battle Princesses+ Murder Princess are iconic Callings in Break!! and represent the power of love and hate respectively.

Also toying with putting the logo in a block so it can be dumped on any background!

Background photobashed! Maybe should have some ruins.

Older explorations Cover 1 + Cover 2

Monday, 8 May 2017

Beacon, demo town.

Beacon is a small settlement featured in the core book. It's located in the Shadow Lands (an area of permanent night) on the site of an old Akenian keep. What do these dilapidated structures look like? and what did they use to look like before the cataclysm? Having fun (wasting time!) thinking about the lost civilizations of Outer World. Their language, ruins, magic items persist in the game world.

Then (3rd Aeon) - The Akenian structure as it was in its glittering hey day.

Now  (4th Aeon) - Village of Beacon, a small haven in the unforgiving dark.

Original map by Rey

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Setting as a gentle plea

With the rules more or less written and ready (I'm at the point with them that I probably won't be changing much unless something goes really crazy during broader playtesting) and Grey continuing his perilous journey through layout land, I've mostly been working on sample maps and the like for the BREAK!!'s standard setting, The Outer World.

I'm doing my best to put a lot of small world-building bits in these samples without making them so overloaded as to become confusing or unusable. In doing so, I've ended up reminding myself of something that is probably pretty obvious to everyone: I am a huge softy, and ultimately I'm hoping for players to be curious, kind, and heroic.

Oddly enough, this is part of the reason the setting has a lot of spots that are figuratively (and in some spots, literally) dark. The Outer World is fraught with perils odd and frightening. The status quo is cruel and often unstable. But these things are not meant to be taken as inescapable truths, they are meant as challenges - things that can be tackled alongside and with the same eagerness as a foreboding dungeon or powerful opponent.

It's certainly not a new idea. Pendragon comes to mind and numerous super hero games have attempted the same sort of thing. I was personally inspired by the excellent Porphyry, World of The Burn. But I truly feel that BREAK!! puts its own unique spin on it, one I'm very eager to share with people.

(I suppose you can still spend your campaign just ransacking old ruins and getting cool stuff, nothing's stopping you, really.)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Character Generation. Linear Flow. Quick Start Stats

BREAK!! development seems to be mostly one step forward two steps back!
Looking at a rejig of the first part of the book, character generation (1/3)

Despite efforts to cram character creation into a few pages, the system is wonderfully quirky and must be handled differently.
  • Will be a more traditional, linear flow
  • But will add Quick Start Stats to get you moving rapidly through the process (enabling you to skip over large chunks of text)

'Link' text points you to the next chunk of text relevant to your character creation path.

Will need to tie in stats to character sheet more tightly (whole sheet will needs a revamp... that's for another post)

Monday, 10 April 2017

Character sheet

Somewhere along the way I forgot about the importance of the character sheet. It's a key player/game interface (despite paradoxically being relatively easily to replace with a pencil and paper).

And, following on from my last post on chargen, along with some reinforcing feedback from playtesters I'm prolly gonna add an overview page that explains which sections in the book are required to fill it out. Concept below.

Have been kindly reminded that this need to be practical, not infoporn (see below)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Character Creation, information flow.

Having parsed most of the character creation text, I am finding myself unsatisfied with my initial design for the creation process (see fig1 1. Hyperlink).

My original goals
  1. Create a short condensed character creation flow with minimal page flipping. Quick, obvious.
  2. Allow players to pick/roll results and get a feel (excited for) their character without getting bogged down in mechanics.
  3. Leave richer information/explanations to be cross-referenced later by the player if they desired a deeper understanding.
However! This hyperlink concept is not working as well as I'd hoped with BREAK!! because:
  1. Numerous sub-processes are required for different callings (classes) which complicate the flow. (fig1 4. Sub-processes)
  2. Complex information (stats, gear, blah) is accumulated and modified during the flow and can't be hand waived away to look up later.
While my hyperlink flow might work well for an interactive document, it felt unnecessarily complex for a print book. I tried to solve this buy bringing data/stats into the chargen section (fig1 3. Hybrid) to solve Problem 2 but this bloats the design (conflicting with my original goals) and doesn't help with Problem 1.

A solution?
Maybe the old way is the best. A long and linear approach (fig1 2. Linear). This is good because:
  1. Exceptions are dealt with/explained at time of creation.
  2. You only flip forward (clear sense of progress). 
But bad because:
  1. You get bogged down in detail.
  2. The key chargen tables are spread out over many pages, annoy for those familiar with the mechanics (I know, stick tables together in an appendix)
Flow analysis
Anyway, I visualised how information is extracted from the various structural approaches to see if it would help me design a solution. Not sure if it did, but it's a nice infographic.
  • Blue lines show references to other parts of the doc to collect information.
  • Dotted blue lines, return to chargen flow.

fig 1 - Character Generation Flow Analysis

 Still thinking...