Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gonen's World RPG "final draft" underway

This won't be of interest to anyone who is not familiar with Gonen's World. But I'm fairly certain the only person who ever reads this is intimately familiar with it. So here goes.

The rules at the heart of Gonen's World: The Roleplaying Game, developed by Ryan Ashmore (aka Meanie) and myself, has been playtested twice in two genres. The first was Gonen's World itself and the other was Arnegax, Ryan's space opera setting, which used basically the same rules with some name-changes and other twists.

Having gone through two campaigns with this basic ruleset, both as player and Game Master, it's now time for me to go back through the rules and create that "final" draft. In doing that, I've made a sort of executive decision as "line editor" about a few things.

First, I have reworked the classes and given them updated and/or new class abilities. I also started calling classes "careers," pretty much just because I like Warhammer, and that's what these "classes" really are anyway. Some of the "old" careers offered choices, while some didn't. For example, a follower of the Monk career could specialize in one of three different "schools" of combat (Cane & Bucket, Red Herring, Mog Ograth). But the Bravo, another fighter type, had no similar specialization when he just as easily could have followed Saltwash Style, Natural Style, etc. Similarly, the Soldier can now specialize as a Dragoon, Officer, or Gunner. Each career except Mathemagician offers these choices. I also seriously scaled back Priest, giving that career fewer spells but abilities that recognize different priestly types (such as Crusader, Healer, etc.).

The other major change was to eliminate Power and Accuracy. Instead, each of the four primary stats has a "bonus" which is equal to its first digit (just like WFRP handles Strength and Toughness bonuses). I also changed the name of Might to Power, while I was at it. So instead of Power and Accuracy there is a Power Bonus, Grace Bonus, Mind Bonus and Spirit Bonus (I changed the name of Will to Spirit). These basically work the same way, only with a bit more to do. For example, the Power Bonus is added to your damage from melee attacks but it also is subtracted from damage you take - sort of the WFRP SB/TB all in one. Grace Bonus is still added to ranged damage, just like Accuracy was, but it's also added to initiative rolls. Mind Bonus and Spirit Bonus come in handy for spell damage, number of languages/spells known, and so on and so forth (which is a simple way to limit things and also gives the game a taste of "old-school" AD&D).

Finally, I eliminated damage types. We formerly had four damage types but I found this cumbersome during playtesting. As a Game Master I ended up ignoring it all the time and as a player it was just a pain in the ass. It was a good idea but damage differences can also be handled in a narrative way, so now all damage is just "damage." That of course made it necessary to rework weapons and armor a bit. I think it will turn out to be a lot smoother this way.

Everything else seemed to work really well during playtesting, so those are the only major changes I made. But the whole thing needs a thorough edit, and that will take some time. Of course, I will keep all Children of Gonen informed.

The previous incarnation of the rules is up at the Pharaoh's Tomb, which is soon to be removed...


  1. Interesting. I like the rule changes a lot, although I think it might be a neat twist to consider having some careers trained to use the Power Bonus as their damage reduction stat, while other careers might use Grace Bonus. Logically speaking, it seems to make sense for fighter types to be trained to take more of a beating while less beefy career types might be more adept at dodging. It's all pretty well abstracted out anyway, could be unnecessary, but something to think about perhaps. You could even go so far as to use every attribute's Bonus as an incoming damage modifier depending on the class...perhaps scholarly types could use their Mind to figure out where blows will come from, and so on.

    I completely agree about damage types. It wasn't quite so bad as a player, I thought, but it was a total pain in the ass as GM.

  2. Extrapolating my first thought out a bit, you'd probably have to have a secondary stat called something like Damage Reduction Modifier (DRM?) and base its related stat on the class. Might be too much, really, but worth pondering.

  3. VERY interesting point, and shouldn't be that hard to incorporate.