Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Starting to think about Troll Slayer

As I start to think more and more about just building a new game from the ground up that captures the best of Cold Iron, I've been starting to try and define the game. I'm working on a list of things I want in the game, but the following just spilled out and seemed to need to be captured:

Introduction

Role Playing Game

Troll Slayer is a role playing game. A role playing game is a structured cooperative creative endeavor where the participants negotiate and agree on “what happens.” The game is structured in the sense that this text provides rules to help the participants negotiate and agree on what happens. The creative part is how the participants offer contributions and react to the contributions of the other participants.

One participant is called the Game Master (or GM). The other participants are called players. The GM serves as the primary rules arbiter and primary scene setter. Each player is the primary controller of one or more characters that are the focus of play. These characters are referred to as Player Characters (or PCs). The GM controls any other characters in the game, and especially controls the characters that oppose the PCs. The GM controlled characters are often called Non-Player Characters (or NPCs). Not all NPCs are in opposition to the PCs, and some may actively help the PCs.

What is the Purpose of the Game

The purpose of Troll Slayer is for the players to portray characters who slay trolls. The game master will present a setting (or world) where the action takes place. Not all opposition will be trolls, some opposition will be humans, or other “civilized” races, other opposition might be dragons or other mythical creatures. It’s possible the game won’t even focus on killing trolls. The key however is that the central conflicts of the game will be battles between the PCs and NPCs. In the course of play, the PCs will improve by gaining innate power (experience) and through acquiring treasure. As the PCs improve, they will be able to fight more, bigger, smarter, or just simply better trolls (or other opposition). The battles will be tactical in nature, with the players making strategic choices between battles (deciding how to improve their characters with experience and treasure).

Not all action in the game will be pitched tactical battles, but that will be the focus. Occasionally, the PCs will talk to NPCs, perhaps to get information on the next troll menace. Players may occasionally make thematic statements (for example, deciding it is more important to take out a traitor than to survive). This kind of creative contribution will make the tactical situation all the more interesting – but it will probably not become the focus of the game. Occasionally, “how the world works” will be an interesting factor in play, but again, it will not become the focus of play (though such play would be much better supported by these rules than making thematic statements).

I'd like to acknowledge Vicent's comments in this thread as an inspiration for the above "what is an RPG" section. Finally something clicked as to what defines an RPG for me. When I first read that, my thought was, "and this is why Monopoly isn't an RPG, but it could be, if everyone agreed to take creative contribution - because that agreement to take creative contribution is the core of what an RPG is."

I know the above statement needs a lot of work, and may be premature, but I think it's a good start at trying to capture what I want Troll Slayer to be (of course the name Troll Slayer may not stick - but I need something as a working title).

At this point, my plan is to do a bit more thinking here, and then start a conversation at the Forge (and hopefully Ron will accept a design from the ground up, even if it borrows some stuff from Cold Iron as an indie game).

I guess another thing that's worth talking about at this point is what my goal is. Ultimately, I am designing Troll Slayer for me. I want to be able to run cool tactical gamist games with a system that is easy to share. Of course if others get excited about the game that's cool too, and will make it easier for me to find players for the game (and even find games to play in instead of GM). I want to be able to publish and share my game with a clean conscience.

Frank

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