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sladethesniper

Feedback Sought

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OK, I posted up the sample setting in the downloads sectionBRP Central - Downloads - Vhraeden Sampleand asked for some feedback, and so far, 20 downloads and 0 feedback. Maybe because no one knows my email...so here's a thread for that feedback I asked for.

If it sucks, I can totally deal with it...but this is a serious attempt to get feedback for two reasons: 1) to improve the setting if possible and 2) to improve my creative skills.

As this forum is not my private advertising space, I won't post back in this thread or bring up the topic again, but if you took the time to download it, the least you could do is say "hey this blows" or "s'ok...I guess".

I would have put the full PDF up, but at over 10 Mb it was a bit large and I doubt anyone would really look at it....

-STS

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Frankly, Aki Ghost, I find your comment a bit to blunt. There's no reason to hurt someone's feelings. While it might be true that no one really can expect feedback - there are nicer ways to put it... Such as not using capital letters...

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So, when I read an RPG, I never just plow straight through. I read it a skimming at a time, gleaning small bits of information, mulling over them to see what questions arise in my mind, and then skimming again to find the answers and, consequentially, new questions. I actually recommend to any RPG writers that books are skim-friendly (lots of bold headings for changes in topic and important info).

So, this comes after the first skim.

OK. There's some passion for the ideas here, that much definitely comes across.

However, to be very frank, the fiction is not enjoyable to read. That's OK, usually game fiction isn't known to be the draw for RPG's. But then it goes on for pages. I recommend you keep it short. No more than a page or maybe two. I know Shadowrun had five or six pages, but those were five or six mediocre pages I read once or twice and never read again.

Then we get to the setting. That first paragraph tells me a lot of "Vhraeden is" statements, but it wasn't until the last one that I got the idea of what the hell Vhraeden was. From there on, the prose is convoluted and straight-up difficult to read. There's a lot of redundancy between chapters and even paragraphs, where the same information is given. This is fine when the information is logically relevent and briefly referenced... but some of it is hard repetition. This compels me to skip paragraphs without my eyes finding material worth slowing down for.

So, I skip to the next chapter, and the next. I find that the prose becomes very dry and so laced with in-game terms that I have no idea what the hell's being talked about. Even on a skim, I usually get an idea of what's going on. It's clear that you have a strong handle on the information, and that's commendable, but it's not communicated very well to a person who's very casually reading it for the first time.

What I see is a lovingly, enthusiastically written homebrew that is a wonderful reference for friends familiar with the ideas and perhaps newcomers who are going to spend time with your group (who probably also have a handle on the setting). I'm sure it's really fun and cool to hear about in person, but in writing... it's a little over-and-under-whelming.

If you wish to go forward with making this something to be published, I would recommend heavy and rigorous editing, cutting material to the utmost basics of the setting to gently introduce us to the ideas of the settings, and providing the rest of the setting in later, more refined supplements.

But before any of that comes, this is my last comment, and perhaps the most painful to hear. I don't see anything new and gripping that says "play the hell out of me." I see a convoluted and unnecessarily detailed Shadowrun with new terms, new geography, and slightly different focus, but not much else. Shadowrun attained its impressive lexicon of odd bits of information over years of development, allowing fans to become familiar with the new information in new editions over the decades. This is a far less organized grouping of information of a similar mass and volume, but without the quality of years of development.

I'm sorry if this is a little harsh, but this is my honest opinion.

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Aiki, why so harsh this time? This seems a bit uncharacteristic of you...

I was in a bad mood. But at the end of the day marketing either works or it doesn't, whining about it changes nothing.

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I was in a bad mood. But at the end of the day marketing either works or it doesn't, whining about it changes nothing.

Unpleasant, unprofessional, unneccesary. Take the high road.

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I did a quick skim of it, and Ars Mysteriorum covers much of the same ground I would. The things I found missing were the most compelling questions any RPG has to answer:

1. Who are the player characters?

2. What do the player characters want?

3. What aspects of the setting oppose that?

I'll admit I didn't read the setting deeply, but those three questions should be central to every part of any setting, and emphasized accordingly in the background material. A reader should be able to pick up a setting (not a system) and within a few pages (a dozen at most) be able to understand exactly the answers to those three questions.

To take a few examples from classic BRP games:

Call of Cthulhu

1. The PCs are normal people

2. They want to discover the truth to unusual situations and stay sane

3. The enemies of humankind attempt to destroy the PCs and work to overthrow the world

Stormbringer

1. The PCs are fantasy adventurers

2. They want fame, fortune, and to survive the oncoming wave of Chaos

3. The forces of Chaos and the evil of others

ElfQuest

1. The PCs are tribal elves

2. They want their tribe to survive and prosper

3. Rival tribes, enemies (trolls, etc.)

RuneQuest

1. The PCs are fantasy adventurers and cultmembers

2. They want to achieve greatness, survive, and become favored by their gods

3. Monsters and other hostile races

Pendragon (technically BRP-derived)

1. The PCs are knights

2. They want to serve their king, achieve glory, and have families and descendants

3. The king's enemies are their own, the meddling of sorcery and faerie, etc.

Focus is your ally.

Don't mistake the quantity of aspects within your setting for the quality of the game experience.

Rather than dozens of barely-defined races, why not limit it to a handful of really cool ones with strong personalities? Rather than a "Here's the setting, you figure out what to do in it", why not provide a specific campaign model such as "You're all a team of operatives working for ______"?

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Jason hits it spot on.

Who am I? What do I do? Who is opposed to me?

Excellent summation of the best settings. If you can answer that in the first couple of paragraphs, you'll know for sure whether you'll like the setting or not.

What you've provided is essentially designer notes. Then you wrapped some fiction around it. Not fun.

Instead of cataloging the world, focus in on a specific setting within the setting. Consulting your notes, ask yourself, 'What is your best idea for a gaming location?' Concentrate on that, establish a general framework that supports the three ideas behind character, setting, and opposition, then allude to other areas that differ in one way or another from the setting you have presented.

Like I've said in other threads, I've always wanted to try Science Fantasy.

Make me interested.

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OK, I posted up the sample setting in the downloads sectionBRP Central - Downloads - Vhraeden Sampleand asked for some feedback, and so far, 20 downloads and 0 feedback.

...

As this forum is not my private advertising space, I won't post back in this thread or bring up the topic again, but if you took the time to download it, the least you could do is say "hey this blows" or "s'ok...I guess".

I would have put the full PDF up, but at over 10 Mb it was a bit large and I doubt anyone would really look at it....

-STS

The size is a big bit of it. I was asked to review the Gwenthia setting and used at least a month to do it as it was about 100 pages long! ;) Yours also 100+ pages, so it'll take time, just be patient! :)

The whole pdf would be great, if it's uploadable (there's some limitations to the upløoad software. Maybe it will have to be compressed by Adobe Proffesional to get up. Tell me if you want me to give it a run through with that program).

As mentioned, an introductory scenario would do A LOT in introducing the world. Fiction itself will have to be extremely good to pull in people alone.

...

What you have to realise about the world is that NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR STUFF.

That is all.

Not helpfull, only rude. :ohwell:

SGL.

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The whole pdf would be great, if it's uploadable (there's some limitations to the upløoad software. Maybe it will have to be compressed by Adobe Proffesional to get up. Tell me if you want me to give it a run through with that program).

I suspect that the front page image is the bulk of the document's size. I'd personally get rid of that - it's not very readable and doesn't really add anything to that a plainer cover page wouldn't serve as well for.

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Wait this is a professional board now? Arsebiscuits I knew something was fishy around here.

The comment referred to your behaviour, not the board.

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Jason hits it spot on.

Who am I? What do I do? Who is opposed to me?

Excellent summation of the best settings.

I disagree. This is kind of the conventional wisdom which I've heard repeated a number of times online, but it doesn't square with my favourite games and settings. I see it as one approach, but more fashion or trend than reflecting truth about good design.

For one thing, despite Jason's incorporation of RuneQuest into the "answer 3 questions" model, I think that this game, particularly RQIII, would fail the earnest scrutiny of 3-question askers if released today. It doesn't shoehorn PCs into any particular roles, but offers instead a vast sandbox. Most fantasy games are like this.

My favourite settings are sandboxes. Atlantis from the old Bard Games, Tekumel, Talislanta - I'm sure others could add their own personal favourites. Not so much games with a limited focus (Dark Heresy? Answers the 3 questions nicely, but I'm just not interested in the answers). And my favourite systems are generic ones.

Yes, a broad sandbox does make the GM and players think harder about what they are going to do before starting the campaign. But this lasts for about 5 minutes, before they are engaged in something they want to do, having used their creative faculties rather than being shepherded along.

I don't disagree about a focused approach being useful. It's one way to design a setting or game. It's just not the only one. If the designer wants to present a large sandbox, it needs to be excellent. The details needs to draw you in. This is difficult to write. Anyone can come up with a focus, but not everyone can write a 200-page fantasy setting that is so imaginative on every page that you want to play it. Think Artesia: the Known World. This is a traditional fantasy setting, heavily influenced by the writers RQ experience, which does not easily answer the 3 questions because it is so broad. But the writer is bloody brilliant. Works for me.

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My favourite settings are sandboxes.

My current setting is a sandbox, too.

I find it quite useful to give new players the kind of informations Jason men-

tioned as a base for their character generation.

They really should know the available options for their characters' roles ("who

they are"), what kinds of adventures their characters might have to face in

the setting ("what do they do"), and what the potential challenges could be

("what opposes them").

Without this background, many of the players would create characters which

would not fit well (or at all) into the setting, and therefore would hardly have

much fun with the game.

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My current setting is a sandbox, too.

I find it quite useful to give new players the kind of informations Jason men-

tioned as a base for their character generation.

They really should know the available options for their characters' roles ("who

they are"), what kinds of adventures their characters might have to face in

the setting ("what do they do"), and what the potential challenges could be

("what opposes them").

Without this background, many of the players would create characters which

would not fit well (or at all) into the setting, and therefore would hardly have

much fun with the game.

I think Jason was referring to a total RPG, as in system and setting.

I'm a fan of Talislanta, a well-known "tool-box" RPG, but even then, the manifold roles of each character type are well packaged in the cultural descriptions as well as the archetype descriptions.

I think it benefits a player and the GM to have these three questions (or some other variant of these questions increasing readability and understanding of the setting and the characters' possible place in it) answered to ease players into the setting. Gone are the days when the bulk of RPG players sculpted their own settings. In a mass market culture, I think people want neatly packaged products, delectable in their own right. I find very few are willing to cobble their own setting (or system) any longer. And marketing to that very few just isn't deemed "good business."

That said: I think the BRP core is going to serve as a fine stepping stone for those very few to lend their ideas and breathe new life into this system. Provided the settings are solid, simple, and innovative, this could be a sort of mini-renaissance for Chaosium's wonderful system, especially with their monographs.

I look forward to more creative input from players.

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A sandbox is definitely interesting, and you are right to a degree, but my other points are still valid:

The text is dense, and reads like designer notes, not a setting.

If I were to reorganize the material, it would flow thusly:

1. Here is the world, it is in flux because of this . . .

2. Enter your the character, who is trying to do . . .

3. Hir antagonists are . . .

4. One good setting, that reinforces the tone established above

5. All the inclusive technical bits that show this is a sandbox

As it stands now, I looked at it for 5 minutes, then put it back on the shelf.

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A sandbox is definitely interesting, and you are right to a degree, but my other points are still valid:

The text is dense, and reads like designer notes, not a setting.

If I were to reorganize the material, it would flow thusly:

1. Here is the world, it is in flux because of this . . .

2. Enter your the character, who is trying to do . . .

3. Hir antagonists are . . .

4. One good setting, that reinforces the tone established above

5. All the inclusive technical bits that show this is a sandbox

As it stands now, I looked at it for 5 minutes, then put it back on the shelf.

Are you answering my post? And what book are you putting back on the shelf?

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I disagree. This is kind of the conventional wisdom which I've heard repeated a number of times online, but it doesn't square with my favourite games and settings. I see it as one approach, but more fashion or trend than reflecting truth about good design.

For one thing, despite Jason's incorporation of RuneQuest into the "answer 3 questions" model, I think that this game, particularly RQIII, would fail the earnest scrutiny of 3-question askers if released today. It doesn't shoehorn PCs into any particular roles, but offers instead a vast sandbox. Most fantasy games are like this.

My favourite settings are sandboxes. Atlantis from the old Bard Games, Tekumel, Talislanta - I'm sure others could add their own personal favourites. Not so much games with a limited focus (Dark Heresy? Answers the 3 questions nicely, but I'm just not interested in the answers). And my favourite systems are generic ones.

Yes, a broad sandbox does make the GM and players think harder about what they are going to do before starting the campaign. But this lasts for about 5 minutes, before they are engaged in something they want to do, having used their creative faculties rather than being shepherded along.

I don't disagree about a focused approach being useful. It's one way to design a setting or game. It's just not the only one. If the designer wants to present a large sandbox, it needs to be excellent. The details needs to draw you in. This is difficult to write. Anyone can come up with a focus, but not everyone can write a 200-page fantasy setting that is so imaginative on every page that you want to play it. Think Artesia: the Known World. This is a traditional fantasy setting, heavily influenced by the writers RQ experience, which does not easily answer the 3 questions because it is so broad. But the writer is bloody brilliant. Works for me.

You raise good points, but the points I mentioned are just as valid for a sandbox approach.

Fantasy settings are bit more of a gimme when it comes to the three questions, mostly because most people have the tropes of the fantasy genre ingrained into them.

For some examples from the text:

- It's not until page 31 that a list of the races available to PCs appears, and the descriptions are less than dozen words each. What races are significant and which are less prominent? What are the cultures of each of these races like? Why would you want to play a kuo-toa vs. playing a lizard man? Your example games (Tekumel, Atlantis, and Talislanta) are all rich with information about the different races, and most of them have around a dozen or so races to pick from, as opposed to 62.

- There are 546 professions listed, by name only. No real advice about how they fit into society, or which races favor which. With so many options, why list them at all? Again, the sandbox games you recommend usually have either freeform character creation or introduce thematic classes/professions/careers that make sense and work within the setting.

If I were an editor looking at this, my first piece of advice would be to look at the GM advice on pages 114-118 and say "Pick one of these themes and rewrite the manuscript to make the game about that", then leave the rest in the back as alternate modes of play.

The game I found this closest to in spirit was Shadowrun, and that game allows a vast amount of character variety but still gives some nice themes about what the players are supposed to be (fringe-dwelling mercenaries and for-hire entrepreneurs), what they're supposed to be doing (sticking it to The Man, if the pay is good), and what forces oppose them (corporate security). I'm generalizing, but not by much.

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Are you answering my post? And what book are you putting back on the shelf?

Oops. Thought I quoted you. I was in fact responding to you, and it is sladethesniper's book I put back on the shelf.

My favorite sandbox is Savage Worlds. :)

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