Project Update: Ostravia Progress October 2013

I figure that since I’m getting increasingly detailed on Ostravia (and I keep posting about it again and again), I should give people some idea of where I am. I’ll be keeping it pretty simple this month, because I’m quite honestly not at the point where anything is set in stone, or even particularly thick paper, but there are a few things that I can keep working from and developing.

Martial combat has been scrapped again. I don’t have much written down, but Ostravia’s needs mandate an “action” system that involves each character getting a certain number of actions per round, but unlike the Action Point system I was developing for Orchestra (which, by the way, remains the best fit for its current needs), the action system is more abstract. It’s like a mix between Shadowrun 4’s IP system and d20’s unified combat round actions. As such a lot of variables get to be cut out, making the game a little more fluid and making it flow better. For instance, ranged attacks don’t need a separate reload action. It also fits the “simulationist-narrative” design of the game. It’ll likely be the subject of next week’s post.

Social combat is about 20% done, with the majority of it that remains being more fleshing out the medieval social aspects rather than the mechanics. It’ll still need a good chunk of mechanics design, but what I’ve seen so far is pretty good as far as whether or not it’s likely to just get thrown out kitchen sink and all..

I’ve decided to add a dueling system. It’s not going to be complex; just rules for tournament or other such styles of dueling that are period authentic and allow a direct contest of martial skill rather than a more traditional combat system. This is in line with the simulationist-narrative design I mentioned earlier; these things don’t work so well outside the combat of a specific system, especially if the goal is not to beat your opponent unconscious or kill them using normal combat fighting. It also provides an excuse to learn to use certain combat skills and weapons that may be impractical, as it plays more into the social elements than into the normal “kill or be killed” combat does.

Finally, stealth’s entirely incomplete. I have ideas for where I want to take it, but there’s no real solid grounding since it’s still highly conceptual. It’d be sort of sorry and interesting if the only part of the game played on a mat is actually the stealth, rather than the normal combat which is primarily narrative, rather than blow-by-blow, driven.

As far as the other skills go, I don’t have many fleshed out. This is in regards to stuff like medicine and forgery that don’t get a huge domain (like combat), but do get a fair degree of rules and complexity. As always, the flexibility of the ABACUS system means that you can abstract these in play, and that’s about how far the current rules allow for as a general sense, though stuff like forgery can be done very well if the desire to do so is there, even perhaps becoming the focus of a session.

Setting-wise, I have some ideas concept mapped that I’m still working to blend together. I’ve also settled on the idea of sort of having Ostravia represent a 300 year or so span of social developments, going back to pre-“We no longer worship Svetovid” all the way to 1202 Poland, which is the main experience. I’ve also decided to openly embrace the Gothic/Romantic inspirations for Ostravia, since I’m a geeky literature studies kind of guy, and allow openly fantastical elements into the game, though only to a low-fantasy level.

As an honors creative project/thesis, I’m still searching for an adviser. It’s highly up in the air, but I think I’ve found a potential lead (who I e-mailed just before getting an e-mail with recommendations). So, in short, expect to hear some more developments and potentially a fundamental shift.

I’ve also lined up an artist, and if the transactional things with the money from the college for a creative project go as planned you might expect to see some interesting art soon. This interesting art may turn into a Kickstarter to get… more interesting art. I’ll keep people posted.

Finally, obviously, are my Kickstarter plans. I do plan for Ostravia to be a Free and Open work, so that means there are restrictions on how I monetize, but one of the things I’d likely do is create a “Ostravia Primer” as a backer reward and perhaps stretch goal, with several examples of precedent, explanation, and clarification of the rules as they sit in the narrative.

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