I got some great feedback from 1km1kt.net on my “Book of the Gods” which I plan to keep in mind. It boils down to three points:
- Lack of Play Advice
- Missing Quick References (tables, lists, etc.)
- Too much all at once/overwhelming
Nearly all of these faults are due to the way I split the writing of the setting from the writing/design of the rules. I think ultimately Lost Heroes will benefit from this, but v0.19 as a standalone setting book doesn’t.
My plan next now is continue what I was doing and do my mini-survey of the current popular free builds of Fudge and then produce a “lite” rule system for Lost Heroes. But this will contain the “Quick References” missing from Book of the Gods so the basic system may be light, but it my be quite long.
What we need right now is the sound of Angels or the bellowing of Giants, maybe some bewitching music of the Gentry or the battle cries of Valkyries. You’ll have to use you’re imagination I’m afraid.
I’m please to announce that I’ve put the first public release of Lost Heroes RPG: Book of the Gods online. You can download it from here.
“Lost Heroes RPG: Book of the Gods” is the setting of Lost Heroes. I made the decision a long time back to split up the writing of the setting from the design and implementation of the rules (have a gander over past blog entries for more info). Though once the two are done to some satisfactory level I’ll probably bring back together in one. This version, v0.19, is not as good as it could be, but I’m hoping by putting it online, I can kick myself to up the game.
Lost Heroes RPG is a free roleplaying game. It’s set in the modern day but the players take on the characters of the Chosen who are the champions, lovers and children of the Gods. Book of the Gods, contains six unique pantheons of Gods which include Angels and Demons, Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorii, the Greek Olympian Gods and the Norse Aesir Gods.
Your comments and criticisms are welcome.
I keep having thoughts about what I want to get from the system, but the more I think about it, the more it gets fuzzy and, well, complicated (but in a good way I think).
Let me explain. People love roleplaying systems that appear simple and elegant but offer up potentially limitless (or more than easy to handle) complexity. That the system everyone aims for, easy to get into but endlessly flexible. But what is not necessarily obvious is that they also what a system that plays well. And you can come up with any sort of funky simple system, but it may not work when it gets into strangers hands.
So I dwelt on this problem for a while and decided that when I put together the “lost heroes” system, I’ll lob in all the ideas I can or want to include. Fill it up and having it overflowing with much of muchness. Because it’s easier to cut away than add later once you put something in the public (and the sad thing is, I picked this little piece of wisdom up from a reality TV show). The plan then is to play test it, either in person with friends or possible online over at the Fudge IRC chat room on otherworlders.org, cutting back on what doesn’t work until I have something that, well, does.
The system is going to be ostensibly Fudge. And there has been some recent free systems based on Fudge, like Marvellous Superheroes and Fudgepark2/SLUDGE that have come to my attention. (I plan to digest them for ideas! Muhahahahahah). And quite recently a new iteration of Now Playing in The Unexplained from Carnivore Games. So a nice little trove of stuff to dig through.
Thankfully much of the pieces of my system are already there or I’ve done work on them in parts. I still foresee a lot of work getting everything together in a system that appears coherent and aligns with the intents of the setting.
- One of the core parts of the system will be Fudge Passions. This is a system I developed to replace Fudge Points but more importantly as a way to link supernatural powers to characters emotions and environs. Something that makes the powerful lost hero characters part of the world.
- And then there is Story Hooks. This is tied to Fudge Passions but also to other ideas that have been knocking about in my head for years. I started them before I had heard of Fate and in many ways they are similar to Aspects but not as powerful as Aspects in play but are more malleable in the long term.
- I also wanted to do something about conflict and be able to turn any roll of the dice situation into a form of combat. TDO Combat is my first attempt. It suffers in that it’s hard to understand from the text, yet I know what I want from it. It pulls in ideas from Riddle of Steel and Shadows of Yesterday games, the old Fudge Factor and discussions from the old FudgeList. It provides a criteria for when to do “combat” and when just make a single roll, handling group and one-on-one combats and should be applicable to most types of situations from chases and battlefields to political gatherings and socialising.
- Another little titbit, but much more recent, was some thoughts on making Magic Characters interesting. It’s quite generic in that you could add it to any system: Magic Character Add-on. In principal it’s a way to turn a character who can do magic to a magic-based character. The difference is subtle, but IMHO important.
- And finally, at least publically, is a blog post on what I call The Big Pile of Skills Problem. Your character isn’t just a big list of skills you know and I really like idea of “professions” a character has. It’s more defining/descriptive though more abstract and harder to design for.
So I hope you’re now getting the impression of how much of a mix-bag the system is going to be.
Of course, if your more interested in setting-specific bits of the rules, I’d recommend checking back over some of these older blog posts,  and , for some idea what characters you can play and what sort of powers they may have.
I managed to finish the re-reading/editing the text of Lost Heroes RPG’s setting: “Book of the Gods” last week. My feeling is that’s mostly complete. The writing is spot-on in some places and others it’s terrible weak, hence why I say it’s only 68% complete.
But I figure, that’s okay. This setting I’m putting together is basically a baseline of all my ideas and the previous versions brought together in some sort of coherent draft. Using this text, I can start to playtest it (using any system) to get a feel for how the setting (as opposed to the system) works and feels in-game.
I may make this raw text available to the few who have expressed an interest in reading it (ask if you want it). But my plan next is to put it together as a single PDF. The advantage of a single PDF is that it is a binary blob, one that can be download to be read offline, converted to ebook and uploaded to various online sites for further distribution. I will put the text online in HTML format but I’m not sure yet how this will happen.
The other thing I’ve learned from reading though the text is that, I need to split it up. There should be a core text, the basic setting plus the Mad/Dark Gods and Dreamlands and then a separate supplement/book for each of the four groups of pantheons: Tuatha De Dannan/Fomorri, Angels/Demons, Olympians and Norse (Aesir/Vanir). Having these four large groups embedded in the same work means I don’t give them the treatment they need to come alive. Don’t get me wrong, the basic facts and info is there to use and play them, but it’s compressed and thusly very dry to read.
It also makes it difficult to approach as a written project as each of these pantheons needs it’s own flavour and should have it’s only feel (I know what that feel should be too, as I’ve hinted at it before).
My work rate is slow I have to admit. This is a labour of love for me, but must fit in-between all the other must-do stuff and doing 32% more work is a daunting task.
A week into 2010, and I’ve finished the first draft of “Lost Heroes RPG: Book of the Gods”. I just wrote and wrote until I finished and that journey was 13,000+ words long! My. Hopefully parts of are actually decent.
There is a lot to do before I release it publically. I’d love to just put it online in it’s current form, warts and all, and let people tell me what’s wrong with it. This being a first draft however it’ll be unreadable. (Just read my blog for an example on how bad my grammar and readability can get!). It’ll be plagued with unnecessary “junk” words (“actually” is one of my particularly overused favourites), mixing up “their” and “there” (I drive my wife mad with this one), past and present tense and “effect” versus “affect”. And with such a big load of words to read through, everyone who read it would be just telling me what I already know, but not what I need to hear. At this stage I’d rather hear about if the ideas work, as a whole is it good, do the character concepts grab you, encouragement and so on, not the pedantic grammar and readability issues. (Though if there is anyone out there who wants to read it and willing to ignore the grammar and readability stuff, I’d be more than happy to share it).
I don’t have an editor and I don’t have the funds to hire one, I’m going to have do it myself. Even if I consider this version to be a “beta”, I still need it feeling professional when I share with people. So my plan is to do a read-through and fix up anything I find. Then put it aside for a week and start reading it again. I found this trick really useful, it’s like you’re reading someone else’s work (whose writing style is very familiar).
And once I get through that, I’ll read it backwards. Well when I say, read backwards, I mean read the chapters in reverse order. I know that during writing it, some concepts took shape later in those 13,000 and got a name, but apply across the board. This way I can make sure concepts and ideas are consistent throughout the setting.
And then I get to lay it out. Again I don’t have an art director or a graphic layout guy on hand. So again, I’ll be attempting this myself. I’m going to keep it simple however. Rob Lang’s guide seems like a very good starting point for me. Plus I have some artistic ability.
So hold on to your britches, Book of the Gods may be out soon… ish.
My original plan for v0.19 was to create a playtest/initial draft of my game. I was going to write up the setting and rules with all my evolutions and updates and put it online, in one big glob, for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Probably with some nice fancy web formatting (I know a little). I then hoped I gather feedback from a few people and look at doing a “v1.0″, possible purchasing art and looking at POD options.
Then I decided it’d make sense to have v0.19 as a downloadable PDF too. So I’d have it readable online and downloadable to read offline or print out. I could also upload it to various sites to promote the game and gather more feedback. This changed my mind set, oddly. I was writing the setting nearly independent of the rules and character systems but I then hoped to bring the three pieces together in one document. But once I started thinking about a single PDF, I realised that I’d be doing a lot of editing and reworking to get the setting text to flow with the rules text. I started looking at, what was meant to be a version for playtesting, to be a little more than that, an actual RPG “book”.
I’ve been impressed by the high quality of free RPGs online at the moment. The bar is set really high. For me it’s important that I’m enjoying it and what I’m getting out of the work, is worth what I’m putting in. And, for the moment, that’s holding true. But I have no finances to spare on this project, so I can’t afford to buy artwork, hire an editor or a layout guy and son. I wish I could. So for the moment I’m doing everything myself. I hope I’d still be able to generate something of quality.
Rob Lang over at the Free RPG Blog made an excellent post on how you should layout your free RPG (in fact I find this blog affecting my thinking quite a bit about how to go about doing Lost Heroes RPG) and a discussion with Chris Helton on Facebook about RPG settings without rules (I was completely unaware that people were making available such things and that they were popular!), I’ve changed my plan yet again.
For the upcoming version v0.19 (the first public version), I’m going to split it in three: a Book of Gods (setting), a Book of Rules (system) and a Book of Heroes (character systems and lists). I plan to take on Rob Lang’s advise on how to layout each “book”. They’ll all be available in an online format and be downloadable as PDFs (though I may make several variants of the PDF layouts). For the time being, I’ll use my own artwork (which has slowly but steadily getting better, but certainly still not even close to “professional”) and friends to proofread.
Right now, I’ve just finished the Norse Gods section of the “Book of Gods”. This is the final set of gods I’ll be including. There is still so much left to do in Book of Gods, but having an intermediate goal of a setting-only book, makes it feel much closer.
Recent discussions on the Yahoo Fudge Community have made me think it might be worth providing a POD (Print-on-demand) option, via something like Lulu, even though I still consider this a free RPG. I’ll see when I have something to print.
Onwards to Ragnarok and the final battle! My brief break is nearly over now and if I can make it through my kids final month at school before the summer holidays, I’ll be back at full swing working on Lost Heroes.
I finished the section on the Aesir last week and decided to take a short break. I eventually found myself working on this:
Front and back covers for Lost Heroes RPG: Book of Gods
(read about the construction of this image on my personal blog!)
So I take a break from working on Lost Heroes and end up working on Lost Heroes. Go figure.
So I’ve been playing around with Inkscape during my brief break and I put together theses fancy diagrams of some of the Family Trees and organizational details of the pantheons of Gods in Lost Heroes. Now please be aware, only gods and characters mentioned in Lost Heroes are included in this diagrams and are not intended to be academically correct. I’ve also not included a Legend for the colours or icons used in any of these diagrams. I’m not sure they need it, but it’s pretty simply to add.
This first one is about the Tuatha De Danann, the old Gaelic Celtic Gods. There isn’t much to go on, even Wikipedia, my last resort, didn’t have much more either.
The Family Tree of the Tuatha De Danann (Celtic) Gods
This next one displays the slightly complex hierarchy of the Angelic Choirs and the Four Towers of the Seraphim and their nearness to their one God. Originally I wanted to do this in a three dimensionally format but as it turns out I didn’t have enough information to do it.
Organizational chart of the Angelic Choirs
Despite the chaotic nature of the Legions of Hell, the hierarchy of Satan and his Demons is pretty basic.
Organizational chart of Satan and his Demons in Hell
Now when you take the Family Tree of the Olympians, things get interesting. This is the largest and possible the most interesting one of the four here. Shows you how much Zeus slept around too.
The Family Tree of the Olympian (Greek) Gods
Seeing I’m about to start working on the Aesir (Norse) pathenon, I haven’t done nay work yet on their Family Tree. I don’t think it’ll be as complex as the Olympian, but it should be just as interesting.
Update: And I’ve finally got around to doing the Norse pantheon!