Monday, August 13, 2018

Guest Post: On Dice Mechanics and Over the Edge

This is a guest post on  from Jonathan Tweet, who is in the last 24 hours of his Over the Edge Kickstarter with Atlas Games. I didn't directly contribute to the design of Over the Edge, but it turns out that I contributed indirectly! 

Rob’s first professional appearance at Wizards of the Coast was when he in brought an interesting skirmish miniatures game and showed it to leads in the game design group as a possible acquisition. It was designed as a Glorantha game, but it would work the same way for a Magic-based miniatures game. The special dice you rolled mostly had numbers on them, but some faces instead had runes that triggered special abilities. When you rolled the dice in this game, the numbers you rolled were important, but so were the runes. 

He brought the same approach to 13th Age, where a monster’s attack roll determines not only if it hits but also whether something else happens. For example, if a phase spider hits you with a d20 roll that’s even, it can make a second attack to steal one of your magic items. The attack roll means more than simply hitting or missing, and the gamemaster can use the same attack over and over with different results from round to round. 

The original Over the Edge from 1992 had a linear dice mechanic, where your roll of multiple dice resulted in a number that indicated how well you had performed the task being attempted. The new Over the Edge has a linear scale on two dice to determine success or failure, and it adds good twists (if a die is a 4) and bad twists (if a die is a 3). These are the surprising results, good or bad, that are part of the conflict’s resolution. The good twist and bad twist rule was the original concept that the whole dice rolling system is based on. That approach derives directly from Rob’s dice systems that provided results that were different not just in quantity or degree but in quality. 

The Kickstarter for the new Over the Edge ends Tuesday, August 14, at 11 am Pacific. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Over the Edge!


Design not final
Our Wednesday night gaming group stepped away from 13th Age games for about a year to play many short campaigns of Jonathan’s new Over the Edge.

We had fun with the initial draft, but I don’t think the first mechanics entirely worked for the group. A WMD-user named Ann Thunder was our nemesis in that campaign. We were all supposedly savvy agents but the storyline was eventually titled Ann Thunder Escapes. Ann Thunder had our number.

Our second long campaign went much better, though the mechanics were still in flux. We’d made jokes about our PCs running a sandwich shop together, and when the player who loved that joke wasn’t at the table the night we created characters, we gave him his wish! We called our shop Bread, Beef, & Beyond. The ‘beyond’ included a bomb-maker whose bombs changed people for the better and a transhumanist geneticist. Now that I think of it, the plot also hinged on the moment a ritually-augmented cow took an accidental plunge off the top of a university building, so there was more beef involved than I’d realized.

The next long campaign is where the mechanics came together wonderfully. We (well, maybe that’s largely me) stopped getting knocked out of roleplaying rhythm to question the mechanics. The roleplaying took off. This final version of OTE faultlessly handled our four diverse PCs going off in different directions, having full arc-closing experiences, and looping back together in a central plot. I’m hoping we return to this campaign some day, we were either going to get thoroughly messed up by the Temple of Divine Experience or just maybe we could come out on top. Or both!

The Kickstarter runs another four days.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Where I'll Be at GenCon

In pictures, my week looks like this...

Here's the text version!

Thursday, August 2

13th Age Adventure Design Seminar.
11 a.m. to noon. . .
Lucas Oil Meeting Room 1
We run these as audience-participation workshops, so y’all will brainstorm a 13th Age adventure with Jonathan Tweet and Wade Rockett and I functioning as multiclass ringleader/muses!

Pelgrane Booth, Signing & Talking
3:30 to 5:00 PM
Booth #1317
I’m likely to be around the Pelgrane booth other hours also, but if you want to be sure to catch me, these are the times.

Wrestlenomicon Playtest/Demos
5:30 to 8:00 PM
First Exposure Playtest Room,  convention room109 near the bottom of the Westin escalators
I’ll be running games of Wrestlenomicon in the First Exposure Playtest  Room. It’s a two or three-player card game of apocalyptic professional wrestling between elder gods, launching on Kickstarter later in August!! 

My co-designers Shane Ivey & Dennis Detwiller of Arc Dream will be running Wrestlenomicon in First Exposure starting at noon. The later shift goes to Fire Opal Games CEO Marie Poole and me, Marie will start at 4:00 while I’m in the Pelgrane booth.

Friday, August 3

13th Age Monster Design Seminar.
11 a.m. to noon. . .
Lucas Oil Meeting Room 5
Another audience participation workshop with experienced 13th Age monster designers at the mics . . . and one developer, if Paul Fanning can join us.  Two of the monsters created in previous seminars appeared in Lions & Tigers & Owlbears: 13th Age Bestiary 2 last year!

Worldbuilding from Different Directions Seminar
12 noon to 1:00 PM
Lucas Oil Meeting Room 1
Here’s something you won’t see every year: at least three game designers involved with different games, all inspired by the same world, getting together to compare perspectives and approaches. Of course it’s Greg Stafford’s world of Glorantha, and Jeff Richard and Jason Durall and I will be talking about HeroQuest, RuneQuest, and 13th Age Glorantha.

Pelgrane Booth, Signing & Talking
3:00 to 5:00 PM
Booth #1317

Wrestlenomicon Playtest/Demos
8:00 PM to midnight
First Exposure Playtest Room

Saturday, August 4

Swords, Spies, & Shoggoths: The Pelgrane Press Panel
2:00 to 3:00 PM
Lucas Oil Meeting Room 5

Pelgrane Booth, Signing & Talking
3:30 to 5:30 PM
Booth #1317

Sunday, August 5

13th Age Glorantha Seminar
10:00 to 11:00 AM
Lucas Oil Meeting Room 7
Jonathan Tweet, Michael O’Brien (MOB) and I will take a jaunt through the many Gloranthas that helped create our 466-page labor of love and talk about the many possible campaigns it can help create, in and out of Glorantha. 

[[Also Sunday at 10:00 a.m until 2:00 p.m., Shane Ivey and Dennis Detwiller will be running more Wrestlenomicon demos in the First Exposure room.]] [

13th Age Glorantha Demo: The Next Valley Over
Noon to 2:00 PM
Chaosium Gaming Room
I put this demo and its pregen characters together last week. It’s in the freeform style you may have experienced playing the 13th Age convention demo I created a few years back. Other GMs will be running the demo throughout the convention. 

Pelgrane Booth, Signing & Talking
2:30 to 4:30 PM
Booth #1317

…And that’s the plan, aside from business meetings, design meetings, seeing friends, keeping contact with Fire Opal Games comrade Jay Schneider as he helps run Dragonfire and Shadowrun: Crossfire events, and touring the hall to surf the wave of thousands of happy gamers!