Threads of Narrative: Managing Open Worlds in Tabletop Roleplaying

Game Masters of tabletop roleplaying games have to create a story that works well, and that can often be difficult not only because a story has to be engaging, but because it’s difficult to keep track of the way in which a story will unfold; it’s easy to forget about some minor elements, or conflate them too heavily with the main plot, and wind up coming to a screeching halt. One great way to handle this is to think of each plot as a thread; it develops from the previous events in sequence, but will eventually be brought to fruition by the players’ actions.

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Case Studies in Formatting

I’ve been a bit behind on the latest updates for Street Rats, partly because I’ve been working on figuring out ways to get Street Rats unified into a more coherent document that does away with some of the wasted space (and partly due to working on other projects, I must admit): I consider the 200 to 300 page range to be the ideal for independent publisher games, especially since Street Rats has no art in it at this point: it’s over eighty thousand words long, needs editing, and really needs to be improved to meet commercial standards. Most importantly, however, I don’t want it to look longer than it is and turn away potential players.

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March Status Update

I’ve been meaning to get better about blog communication stuff, and this will be the place I do so. I’ve got a number of projects underway right now, and some I’ve got brewing in my head and I may or may not start once I get stuff done.

Before I get started, I’d like to point out that working on multiple projects is a good thing for me right now; I write whenever I have a good idea or inspiration for design, which means that individual projects grow a little more slowly, but mechanics get more polish and I have much greater net productivity.

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Street Rats Alpha 3 Released

Street Rats is now in Alpha 3! This update isn’t the largest update ever in Street Rats’ history, but it has some of the largest reaching effects on gameplay and is a marked improvement. There’s not much in the way of new features, but play has been improved significantly. Since you’re probably already privvy to the changelog if you own it on DriveThruRPG, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to you if you don’t yet, since it’s pretty much simple improvement stuff going on.

For more commentary and explanations, read on after the break.

You can get the core rulebook over at DriveThruRPG: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/169540/Street-Rats-Alpha

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Revising Hacking in Street Rats

Street Rats has actually been seeing updates the past couple weeks, despite me not posting about them here. Part of the reason for this is because there haven’t been a whole ton of progress on bits that I consider particularly interesting, more just on things that have to get done to get a finished  game out. There have been some adjustments in plans. First, most of the setting is getting cut from the main book; some brief blurbs will be available, but Phoenix in the UAS will be the only setting place to get wide coverage. I want to keep Street Rats’ total running length below 300 pages, and something had to be cut.

One of the other things getting “cut” is the hacking rules as they stand. Right now they are not only bulky, but they’re too similar to other games on the market that have widespread problems on account of… their hacking systems. Hacking should be both a robust experience and a quick one, so it is getting new and exceptional mechanics; this puts it a little outside the rest of Street Rats, but when dealing with cyberspace such things are necessary.

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FOURS: Fast, Open, Universal Roleplaying System

FOURS is a product of my mind last night. It’s a 24-hour game of very simple rules with a storytelling focus, and it’s free.

My main goals in creating FOURS were to make a game with a lot of simple mechanics, which would be accessible to a novice. It also serves as an attempt to translate the Hero’s Journey into GM instructions, and make a 24-hour game (technically, FOURS is more like a 6-8 hour game, but I digress) with full art, though some of that is limited.

Without further ado, may the FOURS be with you.

FOURS

Street Rats Alpha 2.0 Released

Keeping on course with the weekly update schedule I’ve been attempting, Street Rats Alpha 2.0 has been released. If you’ve been playing Street Rats already, you might wind up having (or wanting) to remake your character, as there have been significant changes to the character creation process and some of the Duties have been tweaked and rebalanced. More after the break.

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Thursday Review: Apocalyptia

I’m getting back into doing the occasional review; these will be rarer than they used to be, because I am no longer a featured reviewer on DriveThruRPG, but when I get around to getting a new game I will try to write a review of it.

Apocalyptia caught my eye as a free and open source tabletop game over at DriveThruRPG. Since it has a post-apocalyptic theme and I’ve been on a post-apocalyptic kick recently, I gave it a good look and it is fairly interesting, although it’s not necessarily a stand-out title.

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Street Rats Alpha 1.1

Street Rats Alpha 1.1 has arrived. It’s been a frantic week, but we’ve been able to do some things, including setting up a nice new forum which should make us a little more open to people and have our own little corner of the web, but mostly revolving around a pretty nice changelog (if I may say so myself). A lot of the things that really cheesed me off about the state that I released Alpha 1.0 in have been fixed (note that I try to release something every December 24th, which is why it was released as it was.

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Street Rats: Alpha 1.0 Released!

Good morning/afternoon/evening, everyone! I am pleased to announce and officially publish the alpha version of Street Rats, a cyberpunk roleplaying game that I’ve been working on for the past few months.

The year is 2098. As humanity prepares to move into the 22nd century, it must come to terms with the horrors and splendors of the 21st century. Nuclear war, the creation of digital sentient “life”, international identification databases, and the rise of corporations and secret societies behind the scenes have shaped the tide of world events.

Street Rats uses a core mechanic with a d20 and margins of success and failure, combining rapid single-die play with a hybrid class-based and point-buy system and quick lifepath character creation: you can get ready to play in a matter of minutes!

Download links after the break.

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