Monday, July 8, 2013

Where are you going, where have you been.

Whew, long absence. Where have I been for 4 months? Well, work got crazy, and my gaming attention has been taken up by several games that aren't Apocalithic. I have ADHD, whaddaya want from me? 

What's more important is where the game is going. And it's coming along OK. I've got a tentative skill list, a character creation system, and a fairly good idea about how communities work and how you alter them. But what's really got me psyched about the game again is the system I'm working on for places. Using the Fate fractal, we're obviously going to represent the environment as a character. But what will that character look like? This is especially important because Apocalithic aims to have a lot more player vs environment than the standard tabletop RPG, and the environment is the GM's primary character. I think every GM knows the joy of drawing a map, so I wanted making the region the game takes place in more like drawing a map than stating a character. To that aim, regions in apocalithic consist of Sites and Paths. 

A Site is a distinct location. Perhaps it's the tribe's winter camp, or a windy canyon, or the ruins of a town. The point is that it has something to distinguish itself. Size-wise, a site needs to be large enough to hold an entire community. So a single clearing wouldn't be a site, but a valley could be. Sites are where things happen. So you can start your Region by coming up with the basic idea for a few interesting sites. 

Sites are described by their Aspects, Complexity track, Resources, and Fate point pool. 

The core aspects are the site's Biome, which roughly describes the landscape and ecosystem, the Landmark, which is the feature that defines the site, and the Trouble. Like any other Fate character Sites have a trouble. A site may also have more aspects, but not too many. You don't want to overload your site, keep it simple. Site aspects are scene aspects on any scene taking place at that site. 

The site's complexity is a measure of how interconnected the ecosystem is, how many checks and balances it contains, and thus how resilient it is. The higher this number, the harder altering the site will be. The value of this is equal to the number of aspects the site has. 

Resources are the site's skills. They are Water, Vegetable, Animal, Mineral, and Salvage. These are the base difficulties players are up against when searching for these types of resources. Thus, the lower the value, the more of that resource is easily found at that site. Rare resources would raise these difficulties. If a site has an abundance of a specific resource, this would be an aspect like Herds of Deer or Silver Mine. 

Finally, the site has it's own pool of Fate points. This is the GM's pool for any scene taking place there. I'm still working on the numbers here, but the idea is to relate it to the resources. Either you have a pool of points to buy up the resource values, and anything you don't spend is your Environmental pool, or the resources start out high, but each point you reduce them by gives you a fate point for the pool. I'm leaning toward the latter as being more intuitive. Mostly I'm trying to just let the GM pick stats instead of having to crunch numbers. 

Sites are connected to each other by Paths. Every site has 1 to 3 paths that connect them to other sites. Path are a lot simpler stat-wise. They simply have a Distance, which is how many victories you need to tally when taking that path to reach the end,  a Difficulty, which is the target number used on checks to take that path, and an Aspect that describes what kind of path it is, like Quiet Forest Trail or Raging White Water Rapids. This aspect will usually suggest what sort of skills are appropriate to the check, such as athletics, boating, whatever might be appropriate. 

So creating your Region starts with a single site, likely the site where the tribe is currently camped at. Then you draw one or more paths away from that site. Now at the end of each of those paths will be another site. Decide what's there, and give those sites some aspects and stats. Those sites will have paths coming off them, possibly connecting to each other, possibly connecting to other sites. Draw out as many sites and paths as you need to create the region you want, but don't forget to leave the ends of some paths undefined. You won't know where those go until the players go down them. 

At the start of any Apocalithic game, the player's tribe will be newcomers to the region. This is a world in flux, after all, and letting the players start settled in would rob them of that exploration goodness. Some Tribes will be the settling type. They'll pick a nice site and make that the location of their community. They'll get to have all kinds of stories about clearing the land, building community projects like walls or wells, and the like. They'll get to add or alter site aspects, resource values, maybe even create new paths.  Other tribes will be Nomadic, following the paths from site to site. Even they'll leave their mark on the places they stay. The system should work well for either playstyle.