Tuesday, 22 January 2013

In the Beginning...

...there was nothing. Then there was something. That something became an Idea. An Idea that now reaches fruition, or soon will. This blog is to detail the progression, and eventual support of, an Indy Role Playing Game called Hands of Fate.

HoF is a homebrew project of mine that has been several months in development and playtesting, and is almost ready for actual publication. All the rules are in place, now there just remains tweaking and balancing, and I'm very excited to say that talks are underway to have it professionally illustrated.

So what is HoF?

As an avid gamer and roleplayer for many years, I've had the pleasure of using a wide variety of rules and systems. I played, in my early days, the great game that is and was D&D, when 2nd Ed. was new and everyone's parents thought it was the devils work. Since then I've played so many systems that to name them all would take too much time and effort to remember them all. I've been fans of many, and hated some, and been on both sides of the GM's screen. The last few years, however, has seen me becoming more and more disillusioned by the games I once loved, and I found it hard to get excited about the next new thing that came out, or the next well illustrated, glossy expansion for a game that already had too many options and rules.

I switched game systems several times in a year. Nothing seemed to hold my interest for longer than a month or so, and running a game started to become a chore. I began thinking "Is this the end of my gaming life? Am I finally growing up and becoming a full responsible adult?"

Well this project has been my way of answering that question to myself with a resounding "Hell no!".

The HoF project for me has been a way for me to nut out exactly what irked me about previous systems. I've been able to grasp onto what I truly loved about the games that I've enjoyed. I can say with my hand on my heart that although this game will continue to grow, at least locally, I have put all I can into producing a game that captures brutal combat, fantastical magic and story telling tools where everyone has control over the story.

In Hands of Fate, there is no ever growing pool of health or hit points. There are no levels that make growth a static progression. There are no rigid archetypes or classes that define a character. Every fight your character gets into could be their last, regardless of skill. The visceral nature of HoF combat means that a sword blow could end the fight as swiftly as a well aimed arrow, or a swift knife to the kidneys.

The main mechanic of the game revolves around the 'Play' of cards from a player's 'Hand', which determine how in control a character is, their composure and ability to remain in the fight. Damage, as health remains conceptual, is simulated by the removal of cards from the player's Hand. Skills become important as they determine how many cards may be Played, with the player selecting any amount of cards from their Hand to use to build a Play, meeting the remainder with cards drawn from a random Pool.

In this way, uninjured and unstressed characters can maintain control of their actions while those that lose cards to damage must rely more and more on random numbers drawn from the Pool.

The cards in question are regular playing cards, and their Suit and value are important. Suit's are matched to different actions and skills, and provide a mechanic to simulate 'criticals' or 'exploding dice'.

Magic is divided into 4 distinct systems, each independent from each other, while each able to mesh into the same system. The differences between different types of magic in other systems have always just been flavour and semantics to me, so in HoF I wanted there to be such disparity in the styles that all 4 are distinct and unique. Sorcery involves the free-form manipulation of the 4 elements, Benedictions are holy magics called down by a follower's gods, Enchantments are subtle and devious while Animism deals with spirits and assuming aspects of the wild such as growing claws and fangs like a wolf's.

Hands of Fate is about a collaborative approach to storytelling. The players have chances to be the story teller in each game, for a time, by succeeding in skill checks or becoming the centrepiece of a plot. HoF encourages the players to drive the story for a time by actively taking part in the action, rather than sitting back and reacting to stimulus.

Excited yet? I am.