Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cymerian - my new gamebook system

EDIT - I've changed it again.  This is the last time.  There are now 6 livings instead of 12 and you have less starting equipment.

Hello gamebookers!  A while ago, I wrote about a gamebook system that I was working on.  Well, I've finally settled on a system and here it is.  I've called it Cymerian, after the world it will take place in.  I have ideas about the world, but I am going to save them for another post.

I have decided that I am going to build up the system and the world piece by piece as what I have been doing over the past few months is changing the system over an over again.  I will never settle on the system until I have tested it.

This is the advantage with electronic writing now.  If I come across something in a Cymerian gamebook that invovles a rules change, I can change the rules.  If I write one gamebook and then another where people and places should be referenced in the first one, I can go back to the first gamebook and change it.  If and when I feel that the rules, the world and all the gamebooks for Cymerian are complete, then I will release it.

Tell me what you think of the rules.

I will release a gamebook based on them at some point.  The first one will be set in a relatively safe town so your character will be able to base their operations from there - they can rest and buy most items as well as do a few small quests to gain their first experience points.  Then I might write gamebooks for other places.  Then I might link them together with travelly bits.  I might do this after Windhammer though.

Also, have you booked your tickets for Fighting Fantasy Fest and Dragonmeet?

Happy gamebooking!


  1. Congratulations! Looking forward to reading the final version.

  2. Cool beans! I'm at building my own system and after quite a few do-overs it still doesn't seem "right". So I know it is a lot of work.

    At this point I aggree that simplicity is vital. I have a simplicity rule as well for all the rules my system doesn't cover but yours is not only simple, it also is generous.

    The re-roll-dice-for-skill-points solution is just brilliant. It's both simple and at the same time seems very intruiging. Haven't seen it done before, I simply love the idea!

    You kept the combat description very general, but it seems solid.

    What I don't like is the "survival" skill. In fact I've hated it in every book I played. It often feels unnecessary and sometimes it leads to uninteresting or otherwise unnecessary sections/choices that only exist to justify the existance of that skillset.
    Maybe that's just my taste but I don't see why it has to be a skill of it's own. In this particular case it's basically a combination of athletics/insight skill. Yeah, I get why it's not exactly the same thing, but still. Especially since food isn't an issue in your game, why keep it?
    The herbalist (plants for healing and food) and the sailor (sailing, plus he should cover weather and land navigation by stars) are more reason why the survival skill doesn't really bring anything to the table you don't already have.

    About livings:
    Stripping down to 6 seems reasonable. I'm not sure how much livings (are supposed to) influence the game. But I like how they do more than one thing, that makes me curious and makes the career choice seem meaningful (trader is not just for selling or buying stuff but also knowing people, sailor doesn't just sail but also has "charisma" etc.).

    That's not the case with all livings though. Alchemist and mage career seem not too interesting (based on the description). They do change fate rolls and mix potions, that seems rather 1 dimensional compared to the other livings. From what I can see mage and alchemist could very well be one living (careful though not to make it too powerful).

    The most boring career seems to be the herbalist. Why do you need another version of the alchemist anyways? Have you thought about having a woodsman or huntsman career instead of herbalist? This living could keep the herbs part but it would also include knowlegde of creatures and maybe other stuff to make it a more interesting career choice.

    I know you said it's finished, so I hope you don't mind me saying there's some things that could still be improved. I'm trying to point out what I see as strong or weak points, so hopefully that's helpful.

    Cheers, Tom

    1. Many thanks for your reply, Tom. I'm glad you love to reroll mechanic. I came up with it because I was thinking of a way to counteract the problem in the Fabled Lands series and also Tunnels and Trolls solos that if a player's level is too low or high for the book, then it will either be impossible or trivial. A starting cahracter in Fabled Lands book 6 could head over to book 1 and completely walk over any challenge there. A rank 1 character would have no chance in book 6. I wanted a system where difficulty tests could be possible whatever your level of experience. This way, it is still possible with 0 in an ability to get 16 with 4d6. It is just easier for someone to do it with rerolls. The progression of the character is 'horizontal' (where the character gets better at several things, but doesn't go over a certain threshold) rather than 'vertical' (where the character gets higher scores making previously impossible things possible).

      I did a lot of runs on anydice to get 4d6. In theory, the more dice the better, but more dice will mean more book keeping, and I was mindful of the number of dice people might own. Too few dice, however, and a reroll has too great an effect.(so 2d6 was too little, although I tinkered with 3d6 for a bit).

      I see what you mean about survival. I suppose it makes it easier to create a ranger type, but you are right that it is usually just a combination of athletics and insight. I might replace it with psychic - someone's potential to spot magical things and use magical items. With training (taking a living), a character can use their psychic talent for other things such as changing their luck (rerolling fate rolls) or interacting with spirits and fey. Thanks for your input.

      After thinking about it, I got rid of the careers system entirely. What I will do instead is make a career a title (i.e apprentice alchemist) and then attach an ability to that. That way, I will not restrict myself to 6 livings.

      Here are some new rules without livings. I will think about psychic, though. It will add another dimension to the game.