Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Good Guys & Bad Guys

If you’ve read quite a bit of our products, you might have seen the comments about good vs. evil. There are no pre-established alignments in Legend Quest. As a GM, I make people use their acting skills when they are acting untrue to character. The most common time this happens is when someone who is willing to slit the throat of a sleeping enemy wants to talk to a child. Kids aren’t dummies. They can sense a cold-blooded killer when they face one. If you are a cold-blooded killer and want to talk to a kid without having the child run away screaming in fear, you need to mask your true nature.
Back to good vs. evil. One of the main reasons we did not introduce an alignment system was originally because of the paladin vs. paladin controversy. Here’s how it started: Myork is filled with knights who consider themselves to be the best examples of truth and goodness in the world. They are so good and noble that they travel to other lands and defeat horrible enemies in order to protect those people. The people of Purity are also good people and want “good” for the world. There were plans that at some point, Myork was going to try to take over the world, mainly in order to invoke martial law on the world and stamp out evil and lawlessness. This sounds to me like something that paladins would want to do. (I’ve always been partial to pallies!) At first, Purity and their navy were going to help Myork, but as the war waged on, the Tandish/Purity soldiers and pallies were going to start to feel that they were not doing good by forcing good on others. Eventually Purity would join the others and Myork would fight the entire rest of the world. There would be battles in which the paladins of Purity would battle against the paladins of Myork. Each side would be doing what was “good”. (Do the ends justify the means? Some times.) Anyway, too many people assumed that it would be impossible for people doing good to fight against each other. (Most tried to vilify the Myork knights for imposing law on the world, but if you have a system that works, isn’t it a good thing to bring it to everyone? Yep - the fact that the USA has pulled the world out of crisis after crisis and is vilified as empire builders in Iraq certainly wasn’t lost on me, but the plans for the pally vs. pally war that never was were laid back in the early 90s.)
Anyway. As we laid the plans for Legend Quest, this was in my mind. “Good” is not universally defined. It is my belief that damn near no one would actually think of themselves as “evil”. Do we as a culture condemn actions of other people as evil? Of course we do. What are those people thinking in their minds? Well, of course individuals might recognize themselves as evil. They might be mentally deranged. But if a large group of people is acting in an evil manner, chances are they have rationalized the situation to make it OK in their hearts. “We’re wiping out that race of people because they are evil and unpure.” “We are taking back the lands that our ancestors once held for six days, so it is rightly ours.” “After an insult like that one, we simply cannot allow our enemies to live without erasing our forefathers’ honor.” To an outsider, it may be so much crap, but to someone acting with this as their justification, not so much.
What’s the end? No one, certainly not a collection of people, considers themselves to be evil. Doesn’t that screw up the whole alignment thing?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Simplicity and Character Sheets

Weird topic, huh? The title should be “What do I like about Legend Quest?” First, the simplicity. Attribute x 10% + Skill Level x 5% = % chance of success. Social skills, combat skills, craftsman skills, magic, EVERYTHING!! I say this during every demo I run: “This isn’t a simplistic system; it’s a dynamic system, because no matter what you want to do, you know what chance your character has of succeeding.” Then I go into some hugely complicated example and show them that it really can do what I suggest. I always hated games where you probably only knew how to play one type of character. There is no question that some players will be more drawn to magic or have a better strategy at stealth than grunt melee, but they still know the rules for the other side of the fence.
What about the character sheet? That’s my other favorite thing. Partially it’s because there are no charts that GMs need to hang on their screens, but everything thing you need is on the character sheet. Our standard demo game starts with 20-30 minutes going over the character sheet. By the time we get to the end, they honestly feel that they can play the game. They understand bleeding damage and fatigue vs. life’s blood. They know where their success percentages are and their resistances. I think it’s an outgrowth of the simplicity effect, but the character sheet is all you really need. Anyway, those are my favorite things about Legend Quest.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thunder Doom

OK - Did anyone even notice our release of An Army’s Arms - Slyvania? That’s what we get for releasing something around GENCON. HUGE mistake. OK, so to recover from that mistake, we’re going to release An Army’s Arms - Thunder Doom. Here is a solid description of an orc tribe who raid villages for fun and profit. We’re hoping that if you’re interested in the one book, you’ll check out the other. We’re also hoping to release The Black Skulls - also known to Legend Quest veterans as Garnock’s Elite force. You remember those fun guys, right? The black scale mail armor, the enchanted claymores, these guys chew through enemy soldiers like their eating popcorn. Well, look for the announcement on Thunder Doom very soon. The Black Skulls are probably more along the lines of late in 2009.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Directional Question

Throwing out some ideas - We’ve been thinking about doing a more adult oriented set of supplements, but we’re not sure how well it will go over. As some of you know - the Vandoi is an aldar run hotel north of the elven capital of Slyvania. Walking into the Vandoi - you see a casino that would make any gambler’s mouth water, but it’s the lower levels of the complex that are the most notorious. The entertainments include the opera house, the illusionists’ shows, the gladiatorial arenas, and just about every style of stripper and “adult” entertainment you can think of (and probably dozens you didn’t think of). We might also do the Vandoi’s “sister” hotels: Smugglers’ Lair and Lair of the River Pirates. We’ve also considered just doing the “adult” action in Forsbury, so when you show up in town, you know the difference between a bawdy house and a brothel.

The thought is this: RPGs use to be aimed at teenagers, but nowadays, those teens are either playing card games or World of Warcraft (or some other MMO). We think the pen and paper RPG market has matured, but the products don’t always reflect that. Let us know what you think, because even if the customers have matured, that doesn’t mean they’re looking for this style of supplement.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Topics and such not

While I’m just going off on stuff I want to talk about, I can be aimed! What things are you folks looking to discuss? Should we show more optional rules? Just talk about products in the works? Make up explanations for why the rules are really OK? I’ll keep rambling on anyway, but let me know what you want to talk about.