Thursday, 25 July 2013

Status Report

Oh my goodness! It's been almost a week without an update. I'm sorry about that. I kind of lost track of the time. I've had my head buried in Cairn, working out some stuff. Got a lot done, but there always seems to be more that needs doing. It's kind of like pulling a thread on a sweater... next thing you know you've got a ball of yarn in your lap. Which is to say I do something in chapter 3 and discover that changes something in chapter 7, or means I have to write something new for chapter 9....

So, what have I been doing? Let me give you a status update:

I fixed the enchanter. The problem with this class has always been that they exist to create magic items. That means magic item creation rules. This can be hard in a game that's supposed to be simple and fun. As originally written, enchanters only really got to enchant things when they got to a high level. In the meantime, they could wander around writing runes on things for short-term effects. Which is okay, but just didn't seem right. And, to my mind, chasing after 10th level just so you can finally make magic items didn't work. So, now you can enchant things at lower levels. This meant, however, also moving things around for the enchanter.

That led to actually designing magic item creation rules. Originally, the rules were super loose, because that's actually the kind of game Mike Nystul likes to play. He's old school, so in his games, if you can't roleplay it, you can't do it. He doesn't do the "sense motive" or "diplomacy" check; you have to act it out. So the rules were "you tell your GM what you want, he tells you if you can have it." Great. I want a wand of nuclear fireballs.... I'm not saying this approach is wrong, but I think for a class whose main function is crafting magic items you need a bit more hand-holding. So, now we have magic item creation rules.

Which led to potion creation rules, since the alchemist is lurking in the wings. We were all happy with the way that class worked, but there were never any rules for making potions. So, now that's done, too.

So, then I tackled the shifter. I've mentioned this one before. I took the "form of" approach. Previously, the shifter shifted into his chosen animal, which meant waiting until you were higher level and filling the class with other nature-related stuff. Also, when it was written, we had no real idea what an un-Awakened animal was. Who wants to turn into a trout? So I broke it down into bits. Sort of like how Sean Connery "borrows" the speed of the elk in Highlander. The shifter can move like the animal, then use the defense of the animal, then the special abilities of the animal, then (finally) can shift completely into the animal itself. So rather than come up with a list of animals and benefits you can get, I linked it to the bestiary. Find an animal you like in there, start using its stats. Which means as we add un-Awakened animals to the game, the shifter gets more options. Oh, and to explain why the shifter exists as a class at all (another bone of contention), I describe them as paladins for the Primal Powers who've been touched by the Gods. James Silverstein (the guy who wrote the classes in the first place) really liked that idea.

Which meant I finally had to tackle the bestiary. This was a chapter that was written late in the process, right around the time things went pear-shaped. So I haven't looked at it since March. I made a list of the creatures I wanted to see in the game, using Mike's original chapter, then started writing. This has taken a lot of time, because it meant doing a bit of design work. Designing is different from just writing. You have to think how you want something to work, then write it, then see if what you wrote actually works, then fiddle with things.

Right now, I'm working on the magic items themselves. Again, this is a lot of design work, which means a lot of staring off into space and thinking, then furiously pounding the keyboard. My "to do" list is getting shorter. That's a good sign.

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