Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tinkering tinkering

Hello all!

I have made some more changes to Legend of the Wayfarer system. And I need to stop them. I need to make a promise to only change the system every 6 books or so, to stop constant tweaking. Here are the latest tweaks:

Changes to the abilities:

My ideas with the abilities was to keep them balanced and keep them concrete. What I mean is that I didn't want one ability to be useful more than the others and I also wanted any situation that involved an ability test to be clear as to which abilities will help, so I wouldn't have to think so much about it. For this reason, I made these changes.

Insight has been replaced by perception and lore: Originally, the insight ability covered both general knowledge AND spotting things. This was because I used 6 abilities in the first edition and because of that, insight covered 2 abilities worth of things. It also didn't make sense from a flavour point of view. Someone who knows a lot isn't necessarily perceptive and vice versa. So when I decided to have starting characters choose 3 abilities from a list of 12 (instead of 1 from a list of 6), it made more sense that I could have the abilities cover smaller areas and this was the obvious choice.

Mysticism now also covers what intuition used to: In the original 12, mysticism covered communicating and repelling the fey whereas intuition was about detecting Fey creatures and magick. Since insight also covered detecting things, intuition seemed to cover too narrow a field, so it is now covered in mysticism and perception took its place.

Cunning is gone: Cunning was a pretty awesome ability to have in the Virtual Reality series. It conjured up the idea of the quick thinking trickster and I usually chose it, especially when doing the 'Most unlikely hero skill set' challenge (usually meaning no swordplay, archery, magic, charms or brawling). However, I found it a bit nebulous to fit into the books. Where to use it seemed a bit arbitrary and the skill itself seems to be a mix of roguery, charm and lore. Since it is not as 'concrete' as the other abilities, it got the axe.

Roguery no longer covers sneaking and hiding. Stealth does that: Cunning was replaced with stealth, which covers hiding, sneaking, disguise and blending in with the crowd. Originally roguery covered stealth as well as picking locks, picking pockets, disarming traps, forgery and the other things you consider a rogue to do. This seemed like too broad a skill set for one ability, so I split it up. Also, rogues do not necessarily get a monopoly on stealth. It fits just as well with a outdoors hunter type.
Use of 1d6 instead of 2d6

I always want to make things as simple as possible, so using anydice, I made a few calculations on the probability of success in a 1d6 and 2d6 system. It turned out that using a 1d6 system gives players a small (about 5-8% decrease) in the chances of success, but then I remembered that these values are rough. I'm taking the standard test as difficulty 4 on 1 die (so roll 4 or more), which is 50/50 normally. I will name 3 abilities. So the probability of success then is 64%, which is OK. If I used a 2d6 system, the chance of succeeding at a difficulty 7 test with 3 abilities mentioned is 70%, which is better.

However, this does not take into account the fact that sometimes, I will let items and codewords give the player rerolls as well as having the spend 1xp for a reroll rule. Also, this is only for characters with 3 abilities and some characters may have more if they have bought them with experience. Coupled with a personal rule that no ability test should lead to instant death in the case of failure, I don't think that the 6% decrease will be a big problem and coupled with the increase in simplicity, it's a no-brainer. It might even be that the 2d6 system was too easy.

Also, I had the idea of fate rolls being 1d6, 2d6, 3d6 or 4d6, but all of my fate rolls turned out to be 1d6, so I won't bother with the other dice rolls.

Experience increase for critical success in ability rolls only if experience is 6 or below

I thought of a little loophole that might happen over time. In my old rules, you got 1xp if you rolled a double 6 on an ability test. The idea of this was for you to have a special treat and also to make sure that players will never see any ability test as pointless (for example, if they come across an easy test and they have 3 abilities for it, they may not want to roll the dice as the chances for success are certain. This way, they will roll to see if they get the double 6). However, if you get more xp, you can get more abilities, which leads to more rerolls, which leads to more double 6s which leads to more experience and so on.

In the 1d6 system, I changed this to a single 6 which has a 17% chance of being rolled before any rerolls. So I changed the system so that you only got experience if your experience was 6 or less. I've come up with a couple of flavour reasons, but the main one is to prevent a vicious cycle of rerolls.

Vitality and will start at 6 and have a maximum value of 12

They have smaller values as I wanted to get the size of the consequence of each gain and loss of vitality and will right. What I mean is that I don't want a loss or gain of 1 to be inconsequential and I don't want a change that is inconsequential for one character and devastating for another. If your starting value is 6 and your maximum is 12, a change of 1 is never inconsequential, whereas if you could start with a value of 12 and there's no maximum, 1 could be inconsequential. Also the range between 6 and 12 for starting values might be too much where a change of 5 could be a huge problem for one person, but no big deal to another. So I'm reducing the variance to 0 at the beginning and putting a maximum on so that no one gets too powerful.

So now, with 3xp to gain 1 will or vitality and 12xp to get a new ability, you need the following xp to get the maximum scores.

9 x 12 = 108 for all the abilities.

6 x 3 = 18 to maximise your will

6 x 3 = 18 to maximise your vitality

-3 because you start with 3 xp

So you only need 141xp to get all the abilities and maximum scores, as long as you don't spend any on rerolls. However, since I only give out 3xp max per book, it's going to take a while.


  1. Sounds like rule design... Always tinkering, never satisfied. I think it's good, and should be expected, to go through several iterations, but there's a balance to be struck. When I was working on Theatre Noir, part of the reason I never finished it was because I kept revising and revising until I ran out of steam. (read: prioritized The Good, the Bad and the Undead and other projects) Good luck finding that balance! I never did...

    I look forward to trying out the new rules :)

    1. Good points! I need to stop myself now nad actually write some gamebooks with the rules to see how they work out. I'll never be satisfied in a vacuum. Looking forward to the Good, the Bad and the Undead!