Tuesday, 30 April 2013

7 Days: The Creation of the Wildpath System

I am the Warden!!

Regular readers are probably aware of the heaping plateful of responsibilities on my plate at the moment: Killshot Reloaded, school, video editing, launching a Kickstarter, even some ongoing plans for Optional Core, but it seems all that was just not quite enough. What can I say? I'm a sucker for lost causes.

Over the weekend, I posted a note on my bulletin board titled "List of Regrets." On there are two entries: NaNoWriMo 2012 and the D&D Next Character Sheet Contest. Both of these are contests or tryouts I wanted to invest time and energy into completing, yet never did. Why keep account of such failings? Because it's how I motivate myself to add less and less to the list. Every time I add something to the List of Regrets, I feel motivated to keep something off its ruled lines of damnation.

So when EN World announced a 7 day RPG design contest, I latched onto the idea and neurons started charging up. At the very least, my entry is accepted and potentially published if Russ likes what he sees and finds potential in it. At best, I stand to pull in a much needed $1000, meaning that only thing I stand to lose is skipping another entry on the List of Regrets.

I wanted to create an original RPG that could work within 20 pages, including character creation and setting material. That meant foregoing the standard RPG mechanics (unless I wanted to use an existing system, which I did not) and trying something simpler than my usual work. Going over various notes recorded into Evernote, I found some rough concepts for a story RPG system where players do not roll to see if their action succeeds, but rolls to determines how many times they get to take over the story in a round.

The Mechanics

In this game, players and a GM (called the Director) sit around and prepare to tell a story. The story is broken into rounds and every round starts with all players (not the Director) rolling 4 Fate/Fudge dice simultaneously. What they roll is broken into three possibilities: actions, reactions, and difficulties.

Whenever you roll a (+), you gain an action. Actions allow players to take control of the story for one description involving their character and it's capable of describing anything you can devise for your character (so long as it fits within the parameters already provided in the story - you can't just whip out a jet pack unless a jet pack has already been placed in the story by the Director).

Whenever you roll a (-), you gain a reaction. Reactions allows another player to interfere and counter an action, thereby causing it to fail automatically. If you try and describe your attack against an opponent, the player can instead use a reaction to defend herself and the action automatically fails. If no one plays a reaction, the action is described successfully.

Whenever you roll a ( ), the Director gains a difficulty. Difficulties can be used as actions or reactions for NPCs and allow the Director to insert challenges, props, and new NPCs as the story progresses. For example, a player describes her character approaching a locked door. The Director spends a difficulty and suddenly the door opens as a guard from inside steps out to take a leak, spotting the intruders.

And so the round plays out with players and the Director using actions, reactions, and difficulties to share a story and progress their characters forward. No dice rolls are required other than those made at the start of a round.

Oh, but it goes on.

Abilities are single-word descriptions of all characters in the game: Strong, Swift, Clever, Smart, Passionate, Tough, Precise, and Crazy. Players can use an ability to gain either 1 action or 1 reaction in the current round whenever they need it, though you can only use an ability once per round. All character starts with 2 abilities and can gain more as the story progresses.

Equipment provides additional actions and reactions in a round. Just like characters, equipment has the same 8 abilities to choose from. If a character shares an ability with equipment, he can use that equipment to gain a bonus action or reaction from their ability. For example, a Strong character can use a Strong warhammer in combat or a Crazy character can use a Crazy flaming sawblade.

Complications arise when a successful action is augmented by the player spending 1 additional action. Each complication inflicted on a character blocks off access to a chosen ability. When a character has more complications than abilities, they are defeated in a manner chosen by the player who provided the last complication.

Assets are provided when a player spend 1 additional action after completing a successful action. Assets allow players to change an action described by another player or the Director in their favour, such as blocking a killing blow or twisting someone's words around to prove someone else's point.

As of last night, there are just shy of 3,000 words to detail all the rules for this game. That's an incredible difference between my usual work, particularly the Optional System. And because every project needs a name, I'm calling this one the Wildpath System.

Introducing... Asylum

And just what is the actual game called for this submission? I'm going to be a real prick and leave the details for next time, but I'll leave you with a teaser. It's called Asylum and it's a story RPG of violence and survival against impossible odds where the object of the game is to remain the last character standing in a world of psychotics and savage killers.

Now let's make the tease even worse. I will only share details on what the game's about if this blog post receives at least 5 comments or shares across the Interwebs. Show me you want to see what this bad boy is about and I'll tell you all about the harsh world of Asylum. 


  1. Chalupa Batman1 May 2013 at 04:45

    This looks very promising, and I would like to see more! I've been looking around for new systems to try out, and I would definitely give this a try!

    It looks great for a one-shot game (simple rules + goal is to be the last one standing), I assume that's intentional ^_^

    I did have a bit of difficulty with the wording of Complications and Assets, as I found it a bit unclear who gains, does and suffers stuff, and who affects who/what. I'm not a native speaker, though, so that just might be me.

    1. It could also be the phrasing of complications and assets may be too vague - it's the risk when you're coming up with next stuff to underwrite it at first. Basically, players who have completed a successful action can spend 1 more action to cause a complication on an opponent or target item, thereby weakening and eventually defeating it. Or they can choose to gain an asset instead, which can benefit the player at any point and time in the story (though I'll likely limit them to 1 asset per round).

      Complications are the same as wounds when it comes to combat, but they can also be used to beat any opponent for any reason. The trick is how their defeat is described. To convince someone to join your cause, it's the same mechanics as if you were physically fighting, except when you defeat an opponent through conversation, they come around to your way of thinking instead of fall dead.

      Asset are the cheat cards of the system because they give you one exception to the rules. You could also use an asset to remove a complication.

      Does that help?

    2. Chalupa Batman1 May 2013 at 16:31

      Yes, that certainly helps! I think this system could be used for a variety of settings, so I would really like to see more of it!