Project Update: Ostravia (Lots of Housekeeping)

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do a whole lot on Ostravia this week. I’ve been pretty busy with a lot of stuff, and I’ve mostly come down to getting correspondence about doing it as an honors thesis and stuff like that, and not so much to the actual work on Ostravia itself. Still, I’ve had some progress.

I’ve now found two of the three people for my creative project committee. I’m starting work on the prospectus for Ostravia, which means a lot of paperwork and not a whole lot to write about. I also found a good resource (hopefully) for work on Ostravia, which covers most of the Early Middle Ages context for Ostravia, mostly in the form of an index of links to resources, but the same site also has some useful stuff on it. One of the crucial things of Ostravia is to look at the social and cultural influences in medieval Poland, in particular contrasting paganism and Christendom (something which would have been far outdated by 1202, but which is included both for the literary aspect and to touch on the historical aspects of it), and the roles of authority (also something where Ostravia compares pre-1000 and 1202 Poland).

Other than the historical aspects, I’ve gone through and come up with a revamp to Ostravia’s combat (again) to streamline it a little and bring it more in touch with social combat. I’m also working toward progress on character creation and advancement, with the constant caveat being balancing early and end game characters with the important factors of balance, realism, and narrative, as I obviously want to allow some room for progress but also want even new characters to feel meaningfully distinct from each other in terms of skills and abilities without arbitrarily restricting them to certain roles. Another thing to consider is choosing between a point-buy and package based system; point-buy tend to be very flexible and easier to design for, but can be pretty nightmarish to balance out and don’t necessarily fit the medieval feel, so a package system may be more desirable. I’m also considering having character advancement in packages; if you’ve mastered one skill in a package you can’t advance it further, encouraging a little diversification, and it means that free point-buy exploitative build styles aren’t as likely. Then again, Ostravia is strictly narrative, and while it’s not explicitly cooperative Ostravia isn’t designed to be competitive, and as such should worry more about giving each player an opportunity to make their character shine instead of determining who mathematically “wins” the most. The alternative character advancement is a “earn marks as you use skills” system, which is somewhat bookkeeping heavy and feels icky, plus it’s very reliant on a universal GM’ing style that calls for rolls/skill use at certain intervals, or otherwise tends to overlook differences in session length. In addition, scaling a marks based system is difficult, as any option has major flaws (increases have to be carefully considered), and I’ll likely wind up waffling on the exact method until after some rigorous playtesting.

I’m most likely not going to pursue a class system. While it’s perhaps most simple and the easiest for characters to get going quick, it’s also very inflexible and tends not to accurately reflect real people. Plus, it’ll make things a lot more ugly, and discourages a deeper examination and reflection on history (ask anyone who’s ever played a D&D barbarian what their archetypes for the class are, and you’ll likely get something different than the designers intended).

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