Thursday, 15 August 2013

Gaming With Icons

I am the Warden!!

Since the last time I wrote about Optional Core, I've been wondering how to present a quick-play system as quickly and efficiently as possible. Poking around throughout the RPG marketplace, I found myself checking out some in-progress work for icons by Chris Tregenza and his card-based RPG system, 6d6 (as well as a few others I forgot to bookmark). It's an approach to game presentation that's picked up speed recently, with D&D's 4th edition and Fate Core as the most prominent examples. Over the past week, I've been dabbling with some icon designs for Optional Core and they're now ready for public sharing and input.

Why icons? To provide shortcuts to Directors while running the game. Say there's a chance for players to gain bonus hits in a scene. By providing a sidebar clearly headlined with the Hits icon (which will include the exact bonus with the icon), Directors gain an obvious visual reminder of this bonus. Same goes for scenes where players need to get at least a critical to bring down a brick wall - that information is provided under the Critical icon.

That's not the only reason why I want to use them. They're an incredibly useful learning tool as well. During my three years of cognitive recovery and retraining, I've found visual markers are far better learning tools than plain text. Incorporating visual translations (such as visualizing words to remember them moments later) has been used by many people attempting to improve their memory and that's the whole purpose of the rules - all GMs need to remember the basics to allow the game to play at a brisk pace while consulting them briefly for clarification as needed. Icons fill both needs perfectly, allowing players to visually mark various aspects of the game on sight and providing faster referencing when you need to look something up. 

These same icons work for Directors and players alike, which is perhaps the best part. These icons can be used to indicate particular sections of the character sheet just as effectively as sidebars for the Director. "Where are my stats listed? Oh yeah, under the d12 icon." Boom!

What's Next? 

Condensing what was the Optional System to 5 pages of text-lite basic rules, that's what. These base rules will be included in every Optional Core product (if all goes according to current plans) and will never assume anyone sitting in the Director's chair will be experienced with the system. It's also handy for experienced ones to have everything they need in one volume for easy portability. 

It's a daunting task, seeing as the rules for Killshot Reloaded ran at 42 pages, but that included loads of specifics for Directors and players to handle a wide number of situations tailored for that game's individual setting and genre. The idea behind these base rules is to work within any genre, setting, or purpose, allowing each one to import its own goodies, such as equipment, bonus rules, options, etc. 

Wish me luck. 

UPDATE: Based on some initial feedback, I made a some corrections and revisions to a few icons. Because Actions involve an entire Team, there's now a symbol of a small group as part of the icon and Options feature a single person in the centre of the arrows because they're used by individual characters. Plus adding a bullseye to the Critical icon and the d6 for Trained Dice now looks 3D to match with the other dice. 

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