DevPost: Rationales

DevPost: Rationales

So what’s about to come up is a lot of stuff that changes core parts of D&D, and going by the comment sections on the forums at DDB, a lot of folks won’t like it.

Not that I care, but there you have it. People are invested in Faerun and other published worlds, and I don’t blame them or anything. I get flack because I whine a lot about how useless DDB is to me (aside from having rapid access to spells and rules, the forums are about all of value. The rest is meh, and I certainly can’t use it for runnign campaigns) but I do so ware of the fact that the toolset and such is meant not for folks like me, but for what the little voice in the back of my head whines is “lazy ass people” even though the actual speaking voice in my head tells that one to shut up all the time.

The OSR movement is closer to what I do, but that’s mostly by coincidence, because I personally am still more familiar with 1e/2e than I am with 3e/4e/5e. Shit happens.

So, Wyrlde technically may fall under the OSR rubric, but I ain’t looking for it because I think in terms of something that gygax was sorta about: the classes and races are meant to be changed by the setting. They were never supposed to be one size fits all, and the reason that it was just the basic four (Cleric, Fighter, Wizard, Thief) was that they *can* be anywhere.

Of course, I am saying that and I have basically turned the Thief into a swashbuckler, lol, but the point stands.

So, current status is this: I have all the bits and pieces outlined, and about 70% of the whole is written out, but I have a lot of jiggering to do. The act of setting up the aspects really helped me to restart the classes and get better balance out of them. But some of it may not be really fitting with what people htink, so I thought I would toss out some of the underlying rationalizations for why I did certain things.

First, it is important to know that I had to build Wyrlde first. I knew I would have a magic point system, a simplified cosmology, and a few other things, but it was a huge challenge to make that all happen — hell, I was just tweaking some of the dimensions because I wanted to really understand the way the dimensions relate to each other.

I also wanted to simplify the damage of spells — and I spaced that after an early attempt that wasn’t workable, and now have a new version. Simplifying it is all still going on as I work through things. Hell, I am not even sold on the Final Form of my Ability Scores, lol.

I mean, I really like all 9 that I have. The breaking out of Perception as its own scroe is something that they are doing everything they can to avoid doing in the mainline game, and you can see it in the way the rules are constructed. Sanity is a useful too when you are bringing in horror elements, and I do call Wyrlde “Horrific Science Fantasy” on purpose. The Science is the least active part there, lol, although it is also the social science, not the physical science stuff that folks often expect.

Mana needs to be paid attention to a bit — it is the magical ability score, after all, and I should turn to it for magical effects more often, so that will happen in these next few revisions to classes (basically, all magical saves are against mana). Changing Intelligence to Knowledge comes from the same place that makes Charisma closer to “force of personality” than pretty/handsome. THe physical appearance aspect of it is always a challenge, and for intelligence the way people think about it is always “smart or dumb” and I am trying to move away from a lot of that ableist shit because I personally have a lot of issues with ableism and I am working on them (hilarious when you realize I am disabled, myself).

So make it a score name about what it is: knowledge. Comprehension. Figuring shit out. It is not about smart of dumb because the players are no smart or dumb, and couldn’t fully grasp the difference in most cases anyway.

The derivatives all arise from the need to address some mechanical aspect. Psionics almost became a score by itself. I knew I wanted them in the game, but they were so far down the priority list that I wasn’t sure I would get to it — that I was farther along on Runes (and plan to be farther still soon) was a shock. Heart is still being figured out, but I like that it is a nicely complex concept, and that I can tie it into the planes and the energies there. That’s a new kick and effort — Heart is Radiance, Purity is Celestial, Corruption is Infernal, Psychic is Nether, Rot is Necrotic.. I still have to figure out what Shadow is. I have a little form of energy called Manic I could use, but I also have the shadow powers, so it cold just be Umbral. Envoys would love that.

That also links the core planes to classes: Paladins are Pure, Shrinewards are Heart, Envoys are Umbral, anyone with Psionics is Nether. Blood Arts will likely go to Corruption (infernal) once I can turn to them, though maybe Necrotic. And Possession is definitely necrotic, since I have sealed that linkage throught he miasmas.

Rangers get the physical nature, Druids now get the spiritual nature. It did mean pushing wildshape — a popular special ability — out of Druids, but ti think that doing so really fits the Ranger archetype better.

Being able to link Bards, Druids, and Shrinewards together was cool. As is dividing up Clerical duties among Paladins (the more traditional cleric, now), Shrinewards (a magical girl miko), and the “test class” of Cleric, who are really just noncombat priests with buffs and debuffs.

I had hoped to avoid class dependent spell lists, and I have tried hard to do so, but fuck it.

Vanguards and Warriors getting a null capability is a cool little side trick I had wanted but wasn’t sure how to do. Swordmages had been a class I cut three times, but they kept coming back — I may call them sorcerers anyway, but for now swordmage works.

Nomads I just want. I have tried to do a mystic for decades, and a Jedi mix and the secret society thing about patching up the Veil is a nice papering over the cracks there in that rough shove.

Honestly, I am not really pleased with Dwarfs. I still keep making them short, stocky crafts people. I managed to break away from Tolkienesque elves, and to the point that I fear coming close to stepping into Pini territory (though II am not familiar with them) by making them psychos. And I have never done gnomes, who always seemed like beardless Dwarfs to me, really. no Tolkien means no hobbits, and if I am doing an anime influenced fantasy world then I have to have the half animal peoples, the kemonomimi.

in 40 plus years, I had never really done a waterborne deal except for playing with the original saltmarsh modules. So doing the Tritons and Iaran and such was a nice fun addition.

Witches had to be included, with botht he darker and the lighter facets to them as part of the whole. Wizards are a given, but I really pushed them intot he “focus on magic as an art and craft and science” thing, and allowed the Elemental users to be the Warlocks — so that warlocks and witches are also nature focused, but in different ways. Warlocks also allow me to make them war based — there is no more combat oriented pure magic user.

Monks went through so much until the Mortal Kombat idea was sent, lol. It was perfect. Bards, well….

So, Bards are the “civilized” version of the Shaman, in terms of the general game. In am “uncivilized” style, they would be medicine men, witch doctors, and the like. Because their job, the underlying core of their archetype, is to collect the stories, news, history of the people, and to ensure that everyone knows it Since I was making Druids fill that role more broadly, I dropped into the Journalist angle heavily but there was also the entertainer bit, the Fool, the minstrel and troubadour. THere is a reason we called certain kinds of performances minstrel shows, and why the defaults of those works still echo today in a lot of the racism we see in the world.

So that all fed into the ideas around them.

Other rationalizations were less about the bigger picture of the world and how things fit into it. in 1e, a fighter wasn’t always the best, most happy choice. High level fighters were kinda boring. TOgh, but boring. THe barbarian added to this, and gave them some stuff that made being a fighter more interesting. But I really wanted to put some hard work in on the martial classes, and of course the anime stuff meant the sword skills and those special abilities. But I am not a fan of the naruto and the like, lol, so I found my sources elsewhere.

And that in turn led me to the idea of taking the “special properties” of a weapon and making it not the weapon’s part, but the weileder’s part. The game mechanics are meant to help everyone, to even the playing field, to keep fighters from being the only ones who know how to use a weapon. Because how do you balance that among half-casters and the like?

Since my full casters can use armor (it gets itn eh way of spells, but doesn’t stop them) and I put learning magic into the same category as learning weapons, (the earliest form of what is now Aspects), I was able to allow for a bit of play in that, while also restoring one of the earliest strong limitations on classes: why do we call them half casters?

Originally, the Cleric and Druid lists only went up to 7th level for spells. and Rangers and Paladins wee limited to only lower level spells, not just fewer spells. 3e really fucked that up, but at the same time, having all spells onthe same playing field as far as levels is good, and having 10 levels (cantrips trough level 9) makes for an easy to breakdown and plan out set up.

But I also want to let players decide for themselves if their Paladin is going to go for more magic. So they can — but they sacrifice time with weapons and special weapons abilities to do so — not because one is better than the other, but because that allows for them to be more balanced.

There are 3 classes without magic spells: Warriors, Vanguards, and Corsairs. And Corsairs can get magical abilities. It makes it tough.

But those sword skills and the weapon properties made for an awesome fit, because they fill up the lower level of the sword skills, and anyone can get to them. Suddenly a dagger is just a dagger, but a wizard who knows how to throw it has a ranged attack.

I understand min/maxing. So this gives them a whole new way to see the math involved in doing so.

Making elemental spell conditions and natural hazards align was also pretty cool, and reallyt he smoothing over of the damage across the spells is a huge ease deal — fireballs get stronger, and now it is more as if the spells are linked in a way that I was already doing with the creation of all the new Elemental spells for each of the elemental types.

That’s an area likely to undergo some alteration. I do have a tradition built into the system of using key numbers (hell, in the descriptions section for character development, I had to be careful to avoid the number 8 as a number of options because 8 as a number is a bad number in the world and so is 6). Plus, Stone annoys me. But if I take out Stone, I have 11, and while that’s an ok number, it isn’t the number I need.
Still, 11 and 13 are allowable numbers. We’ll see. I have to keep the rest because of damage types. Stone is meant to include crushing, but anything it can do goes over to earth, anyway.

Radiance, as a Plane, is a challenge. Yes, it is heart, but it is also luck and life. By opposition, that makes the necrotic plane the opposite of Heart and Luck. Heaven and hell are easy, Radiance and Necrotic less so, but the hardest is and remains Shadow and Nether. Mostly because they aren’t clear in my head. They are getting there — a lot of what I have been toing with of late is tweaking those two, getting them more fixed in my head about what they are about and how they work. You can tell in part because of the shortness of their entries — I know they need to be there, but I haven’t given them the depth of thought and awareness that I have Heaven and Hell. Of course, Heaven and hell are easy, lol.

Which is the next thing — Celestial and Infernal are the planes, Heaven and hell are only two of the dimensions, and it really is the dimensions that matter more than the planes. The Veil is the fabric of space and time, and subject to tears, rips, gaps, and more. Hell, the whole of Fairy lore is built on that idea.

Things I need to do include finishing up the write ups for classes and Aspects, including the spell lists for them. Then I need to clean up and finalize the elemental spells. After that comes the Backgrounds — I know what they will be, but none are written out, really.

Finish up Herbs and Spices, compile the Runes and write out the psychic powers rules (basically a variant of magic rules).

Do up the Power words. Tweak the combat rules and finish out some of the damage types and environment stuff. Flesh out the biomes with random encounter lists. Drop in the entire section about creating adventures.

Oh. yeah. That’s a new section. It is what will likely take the full file into the 1300 page range, and possibly return me to the position of two books. Direct result of too many DDB threads from new DMs wanting to know how the fuck do they plan out a big thing.

Now, I did a bunch of work on the rough idea for the first campaign already. So that stuff is mostly done, although it is set up for me talking to myself. Changing it isn’t hard. It involves the major heroic Journey Cycles (there are several), and the one that I created to reflect the experience of being trans in the world. WHich was prescient at the time as the attacks hadn’t started up like they have.

But also how to break things down into chunks that seem to stand alone, and the dramatic story structure and stuff like that. And then, of course, the perspective: the Dm is the creator of the story, not its author. I think that is a huge challenge for a lot of new DMs who want to write the story and have the players act it out for them. And, really, when you are writing the modules, it kinda is like that.

So, yeah, decent sized chunk. Current size is 933 pages not counting the front matter (title pages, copyright, dedication, contents). But that combines the Wyrlde Book and the Encyclopedia into one thing.

BTW, turns out most people did not get that joke. Far too clever, far too niche, lol. People will no longer understand the difference between the britannica and World Book sets of knowledge books, lol. Hell, Wikipedia has stolen that, lol.

The current naming system of -Alia /-ica is just pure fancy. I need to remember to put that into the language final when I get it done for common. ha! That, by itself, will add something like 25 pages. Still collecting words for the master word list. Still debating on how word construction will fallout. I played with it to get an idea of how to get where I want to go, but haven’t quite made it work yet.

Ok, my midnight ramblings are done. The tropical storm has passed over.

Goddess of Change, Mystery, Wonder, and Fun
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