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Author Topic: Comments on Rules Style  (Read 723 times)
Akerbos
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« on: January 02, 2012, 01:47:32 PM »

I understand the reasoning as to why the rules are written the way they are (accessibility to readers who are not yet gamers). However, I struggle with distilling out the essence. For instance, the -- very simple! -- rules for a Challenge spread over 13 (!) pages. There is no summary anywhere; a handwritten one I created is half a page. (not much meat there...). I do like the running examples, but they seem to be used to clarify rather than illustrate rules in multiple instances (see several rule discussions). This is bad, imho. The core rules should be stated clearly somewhere.

This is, in particular, an issue when looking up rules (as opposed to initially learning them). No way can I skim 13 pages in the middle of a session, looking for the clause containing the bit of information I need.

Note that this is certainly an issue of personal preference. I am definitely a techy/sciencey guy, so I generally prefer tables over text for clarity; others may have other preferences. I do think, however, that the lack of succinct and unambiguous reference material is a huge oversight, especially because (in my experience) Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans and roleplay gamers are techy with relevant probability.

Rewriting the affected chapters is certainly not realistic at this point. Please consider adding some pages to the appendix that summarize the core rules in a clear way (maybe even flow charts?).

A related issue is one that is, in my opinion, responsible for much of the rule bloat I have perceived. While explaining the basic rules, lots of Narrator/GM advice is given. For instance, "Describing Outcome" takes up over 4 pages before the basic concept of complications can be introduced. While I treasure such advice, it should be better separated from the meat. You do have separated book for special Narrator information already, maybe move the content there? Else such hints should maybe be moved to special boxes more rigorously.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 01:51:30 PM by Akerbos » Logged
MistbornDave
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 03:35:27 PM »

Everyone has their opinion I guess.  BUt like you said, you need the charts and tables, you siad you made a one page summary, so just make another summary for the info you need.  Obviously, you wont know exactlywhat you  need until the game situation arises but after a few games, you will know the info you're going to need.
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Akerbos
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2012, 11:07:10 AM »

The DIY argument is dangerous. It certainly is often valid; apply it too liberally and you get an unsatisfying (maybe even unusable) product, though. For me, having a set of rules that does not bother to give a succinct overview over its core mechanic is quite unsatisfying.

Your last sentence is very true and illustrates perfectly why you would want to have a summary included for people new to the game lest they be put off right at the beginning.
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ZetaStriker
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2012, 09:47:26 PM »

I'm with Akerbos, actually. The book isn't laid out particularly well as a rulebook, and really needs condensed summaries in order to be a useful reference for the Narrator. It'll help when I can my physical copy, but right now I'm having to edit the entire book so I can make a digest version for my players to read.
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Crafty_Pat
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 06:59:39 PM »

Tell you what: we have a few extra pages we can play with - maybe - so why don't you guys work up a list of exactly what you'd like to see in an abbreviated / consolidated rules section, and I'll see if I can work it in as a spread or two.

Recognize, we will not be looking to reprint vast swaths of the rules, but rather including a crib sheet of sorts. I cannot guarantee we will format anything exactly as you do here, and I'm going to ask in advance that you respect our decisions regarding the authorial intent of the book.

That said, have at! Let's see what you've got.
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Patrick Kapera
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ZetaStriker
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 12:37:02 PM »

I totally understand, and wouldn't expect you to. The main things I'd want to see, in order of importance, are:

- All nudge, complication and circumstance rules collected in one place. Mainly the Narrator lists for the first two and the collect Conflict lists for the latter.
- All equipment rules in one place - right now prop costs, difficulties and actual statistics are spread across three chapters.
-Bullet point list of specific "Tactics" actions that can be taken in each Conflict.
-Bullet point lists of each thing Standings are spent to gain.
-List of Burdens for all three types of Conflict in one place.
-Outcome scale

If anything else comes to me, I'll list it, but those are the biggies. I'd also like to suggest that some rules have their positioning in the text moved though . . . there isn't much that needs it, but a good example is one that was brought up in the Feruchemy topic about using only your starting Action Dice when catching a Beat in a Conflict. While we don't need to see it collected, I feel a need to suggest it be moved to or replicated in the Conflict section.

I want to add that I think it's really great that you're looking to the community for this feedback, by the way. I hadn't heard of you guys before this release, but I'm liking your company so far!
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Crafty_Pat
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 04:31:53 PM »

So far, so good, though I'd like to point a few things out...

- All equipment rules in one place - right now prop costs, difficulties and actual statistics are spread across three chapters.

Actually, they're not. All the information save Prop slots info - which is trivial to memorize - is in the Resources section. The other, earlier sections are abbreviated and reprinted with just the information needed at those specific steps, which is as it should be when you're teaching the system in bite-size chunks.

We could summarize everything for every step, I suppose, but a lot of it wouldn't make sense to folks when they first hit the section where I was led to believe people wanted this info - toward the start of Game Basics. I think that suggestion's DOA, however, as including even a small portion of what you're suggesting there would completely interrupt the book's flow in that position. If we consolidate this much, we're definitely looking at an appendix with no marked additions to the existing interiors save some pointers back to the appendix for those who want a full view of things as they read.

Quote
-Bullet point list of specific "Tactics" actions that can be taken in each Conflict.

We could summarize the suggestions we've offered but those aren't intended to be complete lists, and I fear that presenting them as such will hinder people thining outside the box, which is supposed to be standard operating procedure with this system.

Quote
I'd also like to suggest that some rules have their positioning in the text moved though . . . there isn't much that needs it, but a good example is one that was brought up in the Feruchemy topic about using only your starting Action Dice when catching a Beat in a Conflict. While we don't need to see it collected, I feel a need to suggest it be moved to or replicated in the Conflict section.

I'm confused. What exactly are you suggesting be moved? I can't parse that sentence.

Quote
I want to add that I think it's really great that you're looking to the community for this feedback, by the way. I hadn't heard of you guys before this release, but I'm liking your company so far!

We aim to please - within reason. Wink
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ZetaStriker
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2012, 08:17:59 PM »

The rule that might need moved/replicated was mentioned in the Feruchemist thread - here's the post:

Quote from: pheris wheel
I'm afraid I don't understand all the concern.Pg 142 states
"DO I GET MORE DICE WHEN I “CATCH A BEAT”?
No. Catching a beat merely grants your character an additional opportunity
to do something — which is quite valuable in and of itself — but you still have
only as many dice as each action allows (as determined by the Narrator, like usual).
This becomes very important in a Conflict, when you have a limited number
of die to work with for everything your character does in each Beat (see page 135)."
Wouldn't this mean that you were limited to the number of dice given to you when declared? This would make infinite beat cycle impossible, as when the feruchemist declares his attack he/she would declare how much they would tap to support that and have to stick to that many despite catching beats.

It is mentioned in an earlier chapter, but not again in the Conflict chapter where most Narrators would look for rulings specific to the rules of a Conflict.

You're right about the Equipment though - I had mistaken remembered only difficulties and description on the Resources page, probably because that's what everything other than weapons, armor and shields have.

I understand your hesitance on the Tactics as well - I can see how some players might shoehorn themselves into those options. Would you have the same stance on a bulleted list of how Standings are spent though? Although the Tactics section seemed open-ended, it didn't seem that the intention was for Standings to be the same way.
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2012, 10:21:55 PM »

I would like a cheat sheet for something outlining the basic rules that can be easily printed or photocopied and handed to the players.  For example:

Code:
The Conflict Round:
   Setup:
      Define nature of Conflict:  Physical, Social, Mental
      Define stakes:  What is earned with victory
     
   Step 1: DECLARE ACTIONS AND DETERMINE ACTION DICE
      In order of least wits to highest wits, each character declares their action (Narrator decides ties)

   Step 2: RESOLVE ACTIONS
      The character with the most Action Dice may either:
         1) Take the action by using 2-10 dice from their Action Dice.  The target may then also use 2-10 dice from their Action and Defense Dice pools to defend.
            or
         2) Declare a new action.  New Action Dice Pool is figured for new action and then cut in half.  Character acts last this round.
            or
         3) Choose not to act.  The characters skips his action and spends no dice.

      Any unused dice get shifted to Defense Pool.
      Repeat Step 2 until all action dice are depleted from all characters.

   Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until one side surrenders or are reduced to 0 Resilience)
      The winning side may claim the stakes.

Something similar for Damage and Defeat may also be helpful with a quick reminder of how Burdens are gained and what effect they have.
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2012, 10:43:09 PM »

*sigh* Nevermind that last post.  I just found the Conflicts in Brief section which is pretty much exactly what I was describing.
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