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 Post subject: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:35 pm 
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Greetings all,

The rumours are true. At GenCon Jake playtested an alpha draft of his new game with a hand-picked group of Indy luminaries. Jointly developed with Luke Crane (of BW fame) it is a heavily story-driven historical RPG.

I've asked Jake to post a synopsis at his convenience.

:D :D :D :D :D

That's a five out of five from me!

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:11 pm 
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:D :D :D :D

~Flint


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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:21 pm 
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Cool. I look forward to it... :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:39 pm 
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Hi Guys. Nice to see you all. :D

Life is busy. Real-life career is going great, family's growing, still doing some Army stuff on the side. I'm a real-live grownup. Except for that whole swordfighting thing. But I digress.

Yes, the rumors are true, I've been working on a project for quite a while. I hadn't announced it for several reasons, not the least of which being that I've started dozens of projects in the past that petered out and never came to much of anything except a bunch of handwritten notebooks.

But this thing is really happening, it appears, which is great.

It starts with Ralph Mazza, of Ramshead Publishing, and our own Ian, pushing me toward creating a successor game to TROS when I last got back from Iraq in late 2008. I started a project then, but real life hit in full force, and it floundered.

Then, at GENCON 2009 I joined up with Burning Wheel to help run their booth and play some games. (Incidentally, I've done that every year since, so if you want to meet up one of these days, GenCon is a good bet.) On evening Chris Kubasik, Kieth Senkowski, and Alexander Newman played some TROS...it was my first TROS game in probably 5 years.

And it was bad-ass. The look on Kubasik's face when he struck a guy with a sword...and his head flew apart on the first blow...priceless. Keith killed the villain at the end of the game with his armor-plated elbow. Spiritual Attributes, blood everywhere. Epic. Our setting was 15th Century Italy. The PCs were condotierri.

The next day the whole lot of us just babbled about how good the game was. As much as I like Burning Wheel (and I really do), I found myself longing for the days of fingers flying into the air, not on GM fiat, but because the game said so. After a couple days of this, Luke--exasperated, I'm sure--wrote to Keith and me:

Jake designs it. Keith Illustrates it. Luke writes it and publishes it.

And that was the deal.

We ran an Alpha playtest last year focusing on the combat system. This year it was, I hoped, the last time I called the game "Alpha." But the guys down at BWHQ are hard-core playtesters, and really, really good at what they do, and my poor little Alpha v. 0.5.1 barely limped home. So on to Alpha version 0.6.

Here's what I can tell you:

The "default" for the game is historical fiction, Blood Opera style. Think Bernard Cornwell's full range. So far we've run campaigns in 15th Century Germany, Italy, and Albania, 16th Century France, and 17th Century Poland. We've had cavalry charges, pistol-fights, grappling in the Pope's hallway, assassinations, massacres of whole villages, suicides, and duels. Ah, the duels.

Mechanically, the game is obviously a descendant of TROS and BW, but it doesn't run quite like either. I can't talk specifics, since the internet is permanent but Alpha versions aren't, but the game currently and will ultimately feature grisly, player-skill and player-choice based combat, fingers flying into the air, etc.; a deep character/player priority system (a la SAs, Beliefs, Passions); character progression directly tied to the things your character does and experiences; and guidelines for running historical fiction games that aren't railroaded and don't suck.

Here are some answers to anticipated questions:

Historical Fiction? What about fantasy?
I'll be honest...I don't really groove on magic that much, and as I've gotten older I don't have the time for worldbuilding anymore. Like BW (and TROS at it's core), the new game is really a system. I am putting in attributes, etc., what will make hacking the game and/or adding fantasy tropes (such as magic) easy to do, and I expect that stuff like that will get published at some point.

Ken Hite, in his 9-year-old review of TROS, said that he wishes TROS had bitten the bullet and been a historical fiction game. I'm thinkin' he was right. Or right-ish, at least.

Will there still be a steep learning curve?
I don't think I know how to make them any other way. Sorry.

How Burning Wheel is this going to be?
I think the influence will be apparent, but this isn't a "Burning" game. In fact, Alpha v. 0.6 removes the all but the last vestiges of material taken directly from the BW playbook.

Likewise, Luke and BWHQ's involvement thus far has been playtesting, murder-boarding, and acting as a sounding board for my ideas. I expect that, once the game is designed and Luke is converting it into a book with coherent English sentences and stuff, it will reflect BWHQ's game design worldview to some extent. But for me, that's a good thing. In fact, if Luke hadn't offered to write the thing, I wouldn't be designing it. I'm done trying to explain all the crud in my head so that a broad audience can interpret it, lol.

What's it called?
It has a working title right now. That's all I'm sayin'.

What are the mechanics like?
There are dice. Mostly they roll in pools. There is a lot of resource management. I'd say that's actually the real mechanical underpinning of the game. You've got all these resources, most of which have a stable and an ablative component--dice in, dice out--and how you manage and cross-manage them is really the game under the game. There are some other things, too.

Will there be damage tables?
Sort of. It's different than TROS, but wounds of all sorts--not just the kind caused by swords--play a central role and are treated with more detail than your average dude probably wants. I like it that way.

When will it be done?
I have no idea. Two months ago I would have told you GenCon next year. Now I'm thinking a year later, but who knows. This isn't my day job, nor is it even my primary hobby (that would be the whole swordfighting thing), so it will be done when its done.

Can I be a playtester?
Maybe. BWHQ has a time-tested and fairly strict, businesslike way of doing things. In fact, we were sort of in agreement to keep this all quiet until it was pretty much done and ready, but Luke leaked it on Twitter the night before GenCon got rolling, so I blame him. :D

Anyway, I don't really know how all that is going to work.

How much have the Successor Games her on TROSfans influenced the design?
To be honest...they haven't. Part of my absence around here has been an attempt to prevent influence. Now that the system is 95% done, I'm going to let myself browse a little, finally read EoS all the way through, etc. I promise that if one of your ideas has a significant influence on the way I've done something, you'll be credited. If we came up with the same idea in different places, though...well, no credit for you! =P




Anyway, I'm not the avid forumite I used to be, but I'll try to lurk here for a few days to answer any other questions or chat generally.

I love you guys!

Jake

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:58 am 
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Jake Norwood wrote:
Hi Guys. Nice to see you all. :D


Heh Jake! Thanks for dropping by!

Jake Norwood wrote:
Jake designs it. Keith Illustrates it. Luke writes it and publishes it.


That's just excellent!

Everything you've mentioned about the intent of the design aligns with where I personally was hoping a Successor game would go. For me it is tick after tick. So I won't comment on the individual elements. However:

Jake Norwood wrote:
How much have the Successor Games her on TROSfans influenced the design?
To be honest...they haven't. Part of my absence around here has been an attempt to prevent influence. Now that the system is 95% done, I'm going to let myself browse a little, finally read EoS all the way through, etc. I promise that if one of your ideas has a significant influence on the way I've done something, you'll be credited. If we came up with the same idea in different places, though...well, no credit for you! =P


A forum is a place to exchange ideas and pass comment. While the lawyers may argue that writing something instantly gives you copyright over that text, saying something on a forum, to me, is no different than saying something around a gaming table with your friends. If one of your fellow gamers were to be influenced by an idea that you consider 'yours', and you're upset about that, just consider that you probably wouldn't have had your idea if it wasn't for the fact that you were playing a game with your friends and you were all exchanging your observations and ideas about the game.

Personally I think it is just great that there's another RPG on the horizon that emphasizes player decision-making in combat over numbers on the character sheet. Awesome!

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:40 am 
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Part of what I think is really cool is that there are, what, at least two successor games coming out of this forum, plus my project, plus the influence TROS has had on games like BW and Codex Martialis...it's all just pretty cool.

Jake

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:12 am 
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Jake Norwood wrote:
Part of what I think is really cool is that there are, what, at least two successor games coming out of this forum, plus my project, plus the influence TROS has had on games like BW and Codex Martialis...it's all just pretty cool.


To this I would add that TRoS has brought a lot of fun to a lot of people over the years. Hundreds of gaming groups spending hundreds of hours around the gaming table -- that's a lot of entertainment for a lot of people, a lot of opportunity for people to connect with one-another under the excuse of playing a game. In short, TRoS has done a lot of good -- as do other games.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:39 am 
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Yes, I have not been active on these forums but only within the past year, TROS has quickly become our favorite RPG and heavily used. I have a lot of friends who are all eager to see what you have in store for your next game! Thanks for putting your time into this.


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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:56 pm 
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This is excellent news indeed! :) As with Ian, it's tick after tick for me as well. I'm a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell, and there was a serious lack of firearms in TROS. Truly great to see this area getting a proper treatment due the eras in focus so far!

I guess the biggest question left unanswered is that where will the updates for your new game going to be published? Will you be keeping us posted here or should we start getting BW forum accounts. 8-)

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:20 pm 
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I'll probably push them out here. The intent isn't to make a big buzz quite yet, so it hasn't even been brought up at BW forums and we haven't fed the fire over at RPG net. But you guys...I trust you guys. ;)

That being said, once the game is published I'm sure it's official forum will be over at BW. That'll be the publisher, after all. But I don't expect any actual press releases for at least 9 months.

Jake

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:27 am 
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That's basically what I figured. Looking forward to playing it! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:03 pm 
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My only "burning" questions at this point are:

1. Why not TRoS 2E for this new game?

2. Can you get original TRoS up on drivethrurpg and it's sister site at least as pdf if not POD?

#2 would really be nice as my group is about to start a full-blown TRoS campaign and as I had to pay so much for the one copy of the book I've got, I refuse to let them touch the book! :lol:

Oh, and thanks for stopping by with the info.


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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:23 pm 
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epicfreak wrote:
1. Why not TRoS 2E for this new game?


Because George owns TRoS not Jake...

epicfreak wrote:
2. Can you get original TRoS up on drivethrurpg and it's sister site at least as pdf if not POD?


A couple of years ago George said he'd be doing just that "very soon"... 8 ^ )

The PDFs are, of course, available through trosfans.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:52 am 
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Hi.

More than just because George owns TROS, but rather because this will be a wholly new game. While it will be a descendant of TROS in some ways, it is very much something different...and, I believe, something better.

TROS was about die-pool combat, spiritual attributes, and, frankly, Weyrth. Or at least, those are all things that would probably belong in a proper TROS 2E.

This thing is different. It's...more...

Jake

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 Post subject: Re: Jake's Alpha Playtest at GenCon
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:28 am 
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Jake Norwood wrote:
TROS was about die-pool combat, spiritual attributes, and, frankly, Weyrth. Or at least, those are all things that would probably belong in a proper TROS 2E.


Speaking completely hypothetically here I wonder what TRoS would have looked like if Jake had designed it and Luke had written it? I think for many people that would have been the TRoS 2E they would have liked to see -- TRoS written with consistency and all the little mechanical anomalies ironed out.

And having bought TRoS 2E I have no doubt that they would also shell out for the new game too!

Regards,

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