Friday, 23 May 2014

SARPS Preview

Production has started on a free preview version of the Setting Agnostic Role Playing System. Using a stripped back version of the rules (if that were possible!) and simplified combat, we've nutted out an adventure idea with pre-generated characters to whet the preverbial whistle of interested parties. 

The setting takes place in a fairly standard fantasy world, with the players taking the role of a Warrior, an Assassin, a Priest and a Wizard who all have a personal vendetta in taking down several bad guys holed up in the fortress city of Cahr Mordain. With each character comes an objective, defeat their nemesis and the help the others defeat theirs. For each personal nemesis slain, a boost the Advantages of the characters enhances their abilities.

There is no advancement rules, but certain milestones in the adventure offer ways to increase the powers of the characters in order to simulate advancement, but true statistical advancement through the use of experience points is being saved for the full SARPS rules.

Offering well over a dozen monsters and NPCs, each with unique Advantages to showcase the flexibility of the Advantage system, there is plenty of stock material to pique the interest of the players and GM alike. Full colour maps of the dungeons, sewers and various hold outs of the nemeses for the characters fill out the content nicely.

The product is expected to be released as a free download, possibly with a built in code offering a discount on the full SARPS Basic Rules when it is released. Now, to finish the artwork....

Monday, 5 May 2014

Character Concepts

A playtester asked me the other day to clarify a few things regarding the Academics skill in SARPS. Specifically, they wanted to know how a character's fields of study can be reflected by a single 'knowledge' skill. This was a good question, as it had come up during play before. The character in mind had been built as a sort of chemist, turned drug king pin (someone watches too much tv :)) and they were arguing that as they had an Academics skill that was quite high, they should know about all sorts of sciency stuff. 

To a degree, this is correct, however the player was neglecting one of the most important parts of their character; the Concept.

A character's Concept is what guides the entire character generation process, but it doesn't stop there. The Concept provides a 'flavour' to a character that distinguishes it from other characters with similar skills. As the character in question had a Concept that specifically mentions they're a chemist with legal issues, I would say they know quite a bit of sciency stuff...Chemistry in particular. Other fields, while all part of 'Science' and therefore one could say 'Academics', are not mentioned in the character's Concept and there is no indication that they would know much beyond their indicated field. As a result, Academics checks may still be made to know things in fields other than chemistry, but the difficulties of such rolls would be greater than if it was a straight chemistry question.

This same idea can be applied to all of the Skills; Boxing can be flavoured to resemble kung fu, so long as the Concept points at a background in Eastern fighting styles. A track and field athelete would be very good at running and long jump and such things, but may find rock climbing to be out of their depth, conversely a character whose Concept specifically mentions an outdoorsy type explorer would be an experienced rock climber. 

It is this idea that makes 'rules lite' or old school gaming an effective system for many people. They don't need dozens of skills and perks to detail what a character can and can't do, they simply need a backstory. All the extra details tend to do is create a rigid set of limits that don't necessarily define a character, but simply point to what it can do in a set list of parameters. 

For example, get a piece of paper and try to write down all the skills you as a person may possess... try as you might, working out all these skills is going to take some time, and there's always something that you forgot you know how to do until the situation comes up. But if you instead list your background, activities that you like to do, you begin to see that each concept that makes you you also shows how well you can do certain things.

I have a background in the military, in particular electronics, so if I was to say that I know Academics that would be appropriate. The same cannot be said of the level of biology or philosophy I know. Sure, I may be intelligent and know how to learn things (at least I think I am), I can answer questions much more confidently if they're about electronics, especially if they're military electronics, than I can answer questions regarding Plato's Dialogues.