Gameplay and Setting General Overview.   Posted by Director.Group: 0
 GM, 10 posts
Thu 24 Jul 2014
at 15:25
Gameplay and Setting General Overview
Darkrealm and its setting are a home-brew game of my own creation, and as such a quick ballpark discussion of the key concepts of the rules system, the setting, and how I like to run a game seem like essentials for any prospective players. For a more detailed overview I strongly recommend the Setting section on the wiki.

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:36, Sat 03 Jan 2015.

 GM, 11 posts
Thu 24 Jul 2014
at 15:46
The Setting
Allornus would be best described as a dark, low-fantasy setting. You might think of it as borrowing from some of the worst preconceptions about it's historic era, tending towards seeing life as short, dirty, and cheap. There are fantastic elements, but they are usually exceptions to this rule rather than the norm. However it is also a setting that wholeheartedly embraces the weird, in that its internal logic and natural laws often differ from that of the real world. This seldom impacts gameplay if I can help it.

In some senses Allornus is a low-magic setting. In other cases it is a high-magic setting. Those familiar with Call of Cthulhu might recognize the tonal approach to magic. While it is accessible (though rare), it is also profoundly dangerous and corrupting, and because it involves lengthy rituals seldom useful to players. As a rule of thumb magic is generally relegated to later in a campaign, or to NPCs and villains.

There are three layers of worship possible in Allornus. There are a group of wholly divine, wholly uncaring true-gods (called Divhi, plural Divh) who are worshiped by very few. Landsmen (humans) are divided into tribes, each with their own divinely-infused template patron, the last of whom to remain in the mortal world is Haederas (see setting thread), and there are elementals. The basic logic behind an elemental is that a mortal being has a soul, but terrain and animals all share one BIG soul. That soul is an elemental, and might embody something as small as a tree or animal, or as large as a mountain range.

Slightly more backward than most fantasy is assumed to be, though no era exactly covers Allornus, a good rule of thumb is to think of the late dark ages in terms of technology. In particular iron is rare and expensive in Allornus (and has peculiar anti-magic properties), and brass is substituted in most tools and cheap weaponry. Seafaring is also severely retarded compared to real-world history, and the world is flat, making the night sky static.

For the purposes of this campaign there are two races, both landsmen (humans) that are relevant. In the world at large, however, there are four races each with numerous divisions. Men are humans belonging to one of six tribes. Myr, or beastmen, are half animal half man creatures, with a handful of specific races (mutations outside these races do exist, but are rare). Ogiere are a race of ogrish semi-giants, many of whom live in an ultra-communal hive collective (the Kardes are an example of such creatures). Goblynkin are descended from an orc-like race of Myr known as Caliban that are dwindling into extinction, but can produce half-castes (goblyns) with other races. In most regions, races that are not overtly present are viewed as mythical.

I'll admit, changing a few terms can be annoying at first. However I do profoundly believe some well placed changes help make a setting unique, memorable, and immersive, so I ask that you try to indulge me in replacing God with Divhi, Gods with Divh, and humans with landsmen.
 GM, 12 posts
Thu 24 Jul 2014
at 15:47
The Game
The building blocks of the game are a whopping seventeen base statistics, which vary from race to race, but are built around a referential average of 17. These can be either randomly generated during character creation, or purchased from a pool of points. Random generation with the chance for a much better of much worse result, while the points buy system is more modest but reliable.

Statistics reflect the raw abilities and limitations of a character. They can be expected to change now and then in-game, but are largely not altered by experience or education.

Often more than one statistic is applicable to a given action. In this case a composite statistic is generated by adding together all relevant statistics, and then dividing by the number of statistics involved.

Trait are slightly more fluid. A trait represents anything aberrant that a statistic could not accurately cover. They range in value from one two three, with each value representing an exponentially greater impact than the previous. There are three main kinds of traits. Natural traits come from racial or individual variance, and represent good senses, natural propensities, lingering injuries, or other extensions of the base statistic.

Character traits are chosen by the player, and represent the governing aspects of the character concept, such as personality traits, assets, complications, or attitudes, and how they might be applicable in a positive and negative light in game. These work as a straight numerical modifier.

Temporary traits might be more familiar as statuses. Temporary conditions such as recent injuries, illness, and even emotional states that can be expected to pass, either or their own volition or with appropriate attention.

Skills represent a character's learning and training, and range from 1 to 10, with 4 being adequate for an average character's primary skill. These act as numerical modifiers on a one-for-one basis to tests to which they are deemed applicable, can support other tests in lesser value, and dictate what kinds of action carry an 'unskilled' penalty.

Skills are purchased with a pool of points derived from a combination of statistics on a sliding scale of increasing value. Apologies in advance, this can be a time-consuming and fiddly process, but Professions (essentially just a cluster of skill values with ready-tallied cost) will be provided for all player to start from.

Statistic Tests
Testing statistics is the basic mechanic of play. When faced with a 'Difficulty' (either a static one generated by an obstacle or a variable one generated by an opposing character) a player chooses which statistic he wants to use for a given test (justifying any unusual choices) and which skills, traits, gear, and so on to tap in the test, giving him a total to which he then adds the result of a 1d6 random roll, and subtracts the result of another random 1d6 roll. Advantageous situations may warrant the right to choose the better result of 1, 2, or 3 additional plus dice, with disadvantageous ones warrant the worst of multiple minus dice.

Players are not always entitled to know the difficulty against which they are rolling, but while players are unfamiliar with the system (as all are assumed to be now) this restriction is forgone.

The Turn
The object of the turn system when playing across the table is to be as regimented and nuanced as possible, so that it is robust enough to be almost completely ignored, and can still be picked up and examined at any point of play when it is needed. This is grossly ambitious, and largely untested, so we'll largely be implementing whatever feels like it's working.

The turn itself can be of variable length, and I will signal whenever that length changes. Players can take actions of any length UP TO the current turn length within a post.

Short turns (six second action-turns) assume all actions resolve simultaneously, thus unless a character has an appropriate skill of describes a logical strategy each action can only happen once (a character attaching with his sword has committed his sword, the arm holding it, and his arch of vision already for that turn). For this reason, actions should be proprietary.

Hero Points
Hero points are what separates PCs from everyone else. They allow you to bolster tests, guarantee certain results, and survive dangerous situations. Spend them liberally and they will often be self-regenerating, or horde them for a particularly dangerous day. Whatever the strategy, they are your last line of defense between being protagonists and regular Joes.

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:37, Sat 03 Jan 2015.

 GM, 13 posts
Thu 24 Jul 2014
at 15:49
Gaming Philosophy
Myself and the Players
Be aware that I am new to GMing PBP material, and equally new to forum style play, so there will be some free-wheeling on my part. I will, however, endeavor to be consistent in my management, so if something occurs one way once you can hopefully assume it will occur the same way the next time.

Because I want to tell an ambitious story I would prefer an intimate group of players (no more than five) who can commit to regular involvement over a relatively long period of time. See below for expanded details.

Following the Story
Players should not feel led by the nose when playing my games. I consider myself a reasonable off-the-cuff creator of content, and embrace inventiveness, not only in dealing with immediate obstacles but in navigating the plot, and indulging portraying a character. This means that characters with their own agendas will be accommodated.

I also commit to all my players that their actions and decisions will impact the plot as a whole. The world around them will not statically wait for them to reach certain plot points, but will remain alive and dynamic as much as I am able. I feel strongly that this is a strength of the non-scripted nature of the RPG medium.

Accommodating Others
The only limitation I have on encouraging players to roam freely is that I ask that everyone be mindful that other players made no such promise, and therefor I request that players endeavor to keep their characters, at least in the same sphere of activity. I am happy to run separate groups with private posts for short periods (and expect to) but ask that you continue to play the same game.

If, as a group, you choose to deviate from the overall narrative, this is fine.

Creating Characters
The DR system does not have classes or levels, so a character will not have the same scope to change from their starting point as they would in a d20 style game. This means character creation is more of an exercise in realizing, and adapting a character concept than following an archetype or a class-like role in-group. The rules are easy to exploit, but the challenges will be appropriate to the abilities of the group, so I would prefer players who want to make and portray interesting characters over situation-optimized characters.

Maxing out a stat or skill will have to be strongly justified in concept, and defended as an interesting decision.

Combat is particularly lethal, and often short. This lends itself to PBP rhythm,as it won't bog down posts for weeks on what should be a dynamic sequence, but it also means that players (even mighty warriors) should be warned to avoid a fight wherever they can, or be sure to ambush enemies as often as possible. Being heavily outnumbered in particular will be quickly lethal even for the most combat-optimized character, and with the absence of magical healing and resurrection in-setting injuries can quickly become debilitating for long periods.

Posting and Absences
Ideally I would like players to commit to making two posts a week minimum to keep the action moving, and eat those early establishing elements of plot with relative speed. I also ask that anyone unable to post for an extended period contact me via PM or rmail so that I can arrange for the character's absence.

Deus Ex Machina
I don't like killing players, and unless it would dramatically benefit the story I simply won't do it, so don't expect to see any of my rolls on-wiki until after yours are posted. That being said, I don't want to take away the threat of death, so expect character death to instead result in permanent injuries, and other long-term penalties. Embrace these as opportunities for character development, and if they really bother you, talk to me. Perhaps we can arrange an understudy character while your main one recovers.

Mature Content
Having read the forum guidelines thoroughly I have deemed my narrative style to be 'Mature'. Expect violence, sexual themes, strong language and potentially the presence of fictional narcotic substances. If you feel I have passed into the adult category (or you'd prefer to see the story go there) say so.

This message was last edited by the GM at 11:08, Thu 25 Dec 2014.