Sunday, April 26, 2015

Observation I: Immersion has nothing to do with rules (design notes for LSotN)

The day before yesterday had been the second time for me to test Lost Songs of the Nibelungs in actual play. As those things are bound to do, it showed me what worked, what was missing and what didn't work as I intended it to. Here is the first part of some random observations on what's missing, what needs to be changed and why. While it helps to have some idea what I've been writing about the last 5 months, the general ideas and insights should be interesting for all the games we play ...

The Brawl and the Tears

Since I had three new players at the table (two of them completely new to role playing games), I thought it interesting to start with the Pub Brawl to give them an impression of what I am trying to do with the game. After that I proposed a test run for combat with weapons (a skirmish, if you will) and some role playing to close the session. The tears had been mine, by the way. But let's start from the beginning.

The Pub Brawl worked as it should. As with all the previous players new to the game, they all thought it terribly difficult at the beginning, but realized how easy it actually was pretty fast and started to talk strategy immediately after that. One might think that seeing all the rolls and stats of the other players would hinder the immersive part of the game, but the opposite was true and that's interesting for several reasons.

What is immersion and where does it come from?

I know that there are opinions out there claiming that games with light rules are ideal for getting players immersed and I'm not saying they are wrong. Light rules systems allow some room for immersion in a game, but they (in my opinion, at least) are doing that mainly by staying out of the way. In other words, if the DM and the players don't take that opportunity and fill the blanks between the system with "fluff", the game will turn out to feel flat. Sure, a good DM can make such a game sing, it's just nothing the game brought to the table, it's something the game stays away from.

But that doesn't mean that rules-heavy games will have better results, as far as immersion goes. And the argument for this is basically the same as for the light rules systems, just for other reasons and heavily dependent on the type of crunch a game offers. I believe that with rules-heavy games the story emerges to a huge degree from the meta-gaming aspects of the game, because talking strategy at the table means screening a situation in-game and in detail, which in turn leads to immersion (or the feeling to experience something in the game more intensive).

So no, immersion is not the opposite of meta-gaming as many people would make one believe. Instead it's just another way to get there.

He looks immersed, doesn't he? "Gaming makes beautiful!",
Amiga Joker 07/92 [source]*
A DM not able to work this magic and without players willing to go those places will, again, reduce the game to something flat and soulless (as a side note, I believe the heavy reliance of board game mechanics in D&D 3e and 4e make them work well in the cases immersion isn't reached, just like a board game would, but that's neither here nor there ...).

And that's why the Pub Crawl worked. Thinking strategy (and talking about it) meant finding an understanding of what was happening in the fight and that resulted in a narrative that explained how it played out. The process of talking about how it came to pass drops into the background really quick and what's left is people talking afterwards about how that punch k.o.-ed a player or how a move resulted in an awesome action, stuff like that. The kind of immersion you'd want to have in a game.

Happy tears first, but ...

There's maybe more to say about immersion in role playing games. But this is not the post to do so. The Pub Brawl brought the players into the right mood and worked well with the newbies. It made me happy. The melee test-run after that not so much, as it turns out that just adding options to the Pub Brawl wouldn't work as I wanted it to (at least the options I chose seemed to break the game and make it weep ...). But those observations are for another day.

* I had this poster hanging in my room for years back in the 90s and when I started thinking about immersion for this post, it somehow emerged it's ugly head from my subconscious. Found it online, thought I'd share it :) 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Rules are not The Game

I have questions. What is The Game? Why does the system matter? And why do so many people believe that their choice of a game is superior to those of others? How do you even compare the experience of an individual group with that of another group? This is not a rant ...

The Best Game Ever!

We all know the phenomenon. A new game hits the shelves and produces some hype. Sometimes people just believe the colorful advertisement, sometimes the hype just resonates quality, but in all cases you will find statements online* how a game rocks the table or how it is superior to another game (or edition of the same game, for that matter). It's not that difficult to understand if it's just parroting the propaganda (it ain't pretty either, but I can get the motivation), but if it's some play test report claiming such a thing, I'll sooner or later ask myself how much the DM in question had to do with the impression. And then it's not about the game anymore, but about a DM making the game shine.

It's a fact I very often see ignored. A group with a capable DM tries a new game. The DM, being capable and all, has read the rules and is enthusiastic enough about it to get the group to play it. At the time they come together, he already has some ideas what he likes and what not. To make the game work at the table a DM will always work with what he likes, because if he wants this game to have a future at his table, he needs to sell it to the players hard enough to make it stick.

Here is the fun part: if he succeeds, the players will run around, telling everyone who wants to hear it or not how genius the new game is, what great rules it has and how much fun it was at the table. All that jazz. But it had been the DM all along ... Anyway, there's more to it.

Confessions of a Bookseller (Interlude, of sorts)

It's basic sales, really. If you have the name to promote a product, you may use it. But if you are not famous and you want to sell something, you're not sharing your opinion per se, you're sharing your enthusiasm. I don't know how many books I've sold without ever reading them. One could say I had an informed opinion in most cases and it comes with the territory when selling books (fun fact: there are roughly 100.000 new published books per year  in Germany).

In the end you'll try to find out what a potential seller might want and then you use what you know to make him enthusiastic about a book he doesn't know. If you do your job right he might even end up liking it. But you didn't sell him a book, you sold an opinion by using enthusiasm. Often enough his own opinion, for that matter.

Because (and here is a big secret about selling books) you can't know how a stranger will experience reading a book. Even if you've read it yourself you won't be able to use that knowledge and apply it on someone you don't know. Sure it helps and part of the job is to find out what a buyer liked and compare it with your own reading experience or, if all else fails, with that of a colleague. You'll try and make that connection, but it will stay an educated guess.

This gets exceedingly more difficult with specialized literature, because you either need the specialized knowledge to sell those books or the buyer brings it and already knows what he's buying. Now take role playing books as an example and you'll see how difficult it is to really know what a game is about and how impossible it is to give an informed opinion about it in a way that helps someone else understanding a game short of reading it himself.

The easy way is to "sell an opinion". This is the short cut, you share the enthusiasm about an experience you had with a game. It's not about the rules or the product, it's a sales pitch.

So what is The Game?

I think we have established by now that it ain't what they tell you on the cover or what others tell you about it. Can't be. Neither it's the experience of another group. It's not even the rules, because we all know how every system of rules will play out different at another table.

If I where to make a guess, I'd say it all starts with a lie you believe and can get excited about. It's that enthusiasm a set of rules needs to get a chance. Depending on how long that enthusiasm holds, a game will end up being played at a table. Understanding this means understanding why inspiring artwork and good writing are essential for role playing books. You need those little "lies" to push through and get to an understanding of how to promote the game yourself. So at this stage it still is not The Game. For this to work you'll need players.

My very first rpg. I saw that cover and I wanted to
play that game. Still do, as a matter of fact. It helps.
So if a game gets past a DM it needs to be successful at the table. The rules in this are secondary, really. What's important here, as I mentioned above, is if the DM is able to sell the game to the players. Or better yet, if they can come to a broad agreement about it. Now it's that shared enthusiasm that needs to hold long enough to make a continuing game happen.

So if a game works at a table it's the product, the rules, the DM and the players in concert with each other. It's never one of those factors alone and it's always a very individual experience.

How can one game be better than another?

Objectively speaking, it can't. If someone tells you another game (or edition) is so much better or superior or whatever, it's most likely (sorry about that) bullshit. They may like it better, but even that is most likely subject to change over time. People might change their view on a system one way or another, they get a chance and reason to read some rules themselves and come to another idea about how they like a game or not ... You name it. Those things change with experience, getting older or meeting new people.

I believe that's the important part here: it's the synergy of all those loose elements that make a game The Game and never just one aspect of it, but it all starts with enthusiasm and it really doesn't mean it'll work that way for everyone else.

Fourth Wall and all that ...

I'm not saying that promoting a game is wrong or that it doesn't need good writing or inspiring artwork in role playing games. It doesn't come down to "YMMV". No. I want to get excited about this stuff and I want the opportunity to find out myself. Getting fired up by the enthusiasm of others is a great way of finding new things to love and play and share. For me it is an important part of the hobby.

There is a limit, though, and it stops with people starting to defend "their" game as the absolute one and only, with edition wars and how this rule is wrong or that way of playing it is superior (if not to say "the right way"). I'm sick of that stuff. Tell me what's good, tell me what 's new. It's all good if it works for you and maybe you're able to convince me to give it a shot. This is all fair game and I'll do the same. Sharing enthusiasm for ideas and games is what this (blogging, the hobby, playing) is all about.

But please understand that we all just share personal experiences here, not The Truth. There's no reason EVER to fight about any of it or claiming some game is "better".

The rules are not the game, the product is not the game, but we are (so play nice).

* It is possible to hear this stuff in real life, I guess, but let's stay online for diversities sake.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lost Songs of the Nibelungs Character Sheet (beta version)

A functional character sheet for Lost Songs of the Nibelungs was very high on my to-do list since we play again end of next week and testing what needs to be where and why and henceforth is essential. So I wouldn't say this is the final design or the final layout, but it's what the players will get the next time we play on that lost island:

I used inkscape for this, the images are DP and
the composition is by yours truly. PDF will follow.
The only thing that definitely needs altering is the magic part. As you can see, it will be somewhat similar to combat. At least in as much as 3d6 are rolled and distributed. It's a bit vague right now, but in my head the system will allow a character to channel magic (by rolling 3d6) but he'll need to focus and dismiss some of it to not ... I don't know ... explode? Anyway, so on lower levels the problem is not the mana that's not available, but the difficulty to manage what you got. Triples and doubles could mean surges of energy ... Sorry, digressing here.

Anyway, this is Lost Songs on a character sheet. This should be all a player needs to keep track of all the information he's likely to keep. We'll see if it holds in play testing :)

There'll be a pdf at some point in the future.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pondering on D&D Combat for Lost Songs of the Nibelungs (additional thoughts on compatibility)

Most of this post works with what I already established for Lost Songs of the Nibelungs, but since it is about compatibility, it should be easy to see the connections to D&D for anyone not interested or familiar with the concepts of Lost Songs ...

So the other day I wrote a post about compatibility and +Kurt Patz made a comment that shifted my perspective on the whole thing a bit. Here's the important part of that comment:
"Compatibility through statistics, removes barriers. When you hit with similar rolls, deal similar damage, and have similar action resolution systems you can breath new life into a library of books that are otherwise made obsolete by editions or game system divides."
My approach had been the complete opposite of this: I tried to write a system that uses what is (arguably) D&D to allow a bridge between Lost Songs and D&D, but mostly to make it a bit more accessible for the RPG/OSR-crowd. Didn't see it as a possible Rosetta Stone (of sorts) and that comment got me thinking: what would it take to make a skirmish system possible that'd allow to use any D&D variant at your disposal while mixing up the procedures a bit?

First thought would be that I'm not the one to attempt such a thing. What I'm able to do, though (and already do to some extent right now), is establishing a system that'd work both ways instead of just one. It might seem obvious, since the result would have been able to achieve this anyway (in theory, that is), but the aforementioned shift of perspective allows for a different approach in engaging the ideas I'm working on right now. Here are my thoughts on this.

The beauty of compatibility.

One of the main problems when expanding on an existing combat system like D&D is that you have to keep the DM in mind. A detailed mechanism enhancing a player's game might be just too much to handle for all the monsters/NPCs a DM needs to handle occasionally. The madness that started with D&D 3E to give every creature it's own stats might help illustrating why a DM shouldn't be forced to use the same systems for all the creatures as the players do for their characters*.

No, instead it's common sense to allow shortcuts in a system to make it work for a DM. So instead of having all ability scores and level appropriate skills and spells and whatnot for a random encounter, you got reaction tables and all the stats a DM might need for a combat plus the occasional fully fleshed out NPC**.

If this is not considered when tinkering with a system, it will fail in play-testing as the ideas that worked well for the characters will slow a DM down and end up in endless fights where every little detail deemed necessary by the rules ensures additional grieve for the endless discussions and back-paddling it produces at the very least in mid- to high-level fights (sounds familiar?).

I know this works for some people, but most DMs I know don't really like to put all that effort in an encounter that'll die faster than he's rolled up.

What I did now with the Bare-Knuckle Fighter and the Pub Brawl works on a PvP basis as it should and I'm confident that future expansions will be as balanced. But for a DM to handle all that for a group of encounters (the PvE basis, if you will) would be way too much to ask. If not impossible.

But then I realized that I needn't change anything. This is the beauty of compatibility. If I just change how the statistics are met, I might as well use the original system (of sorts) in a PvE situation with many encounters. So if the combat system I came up with for Lost Songs is truly compatible, this should work without too much fuzz.

Another beautiful illustration by Angus McBride
from the Germanic Warrior (p. 36)
The problem is the solution?

In Lost Songs a roll of 3d6 decides about initiative and gives the characters the potential for attack, defense, damage and combat related actions like movement, change of weapons, et cetera. It's all in one roll per round. So if a group of adventurers encounters a group of goblins, the characters would roll 3d6 while the goblins would roll 1d20 to attack and damage if they hit. Easy enough and it should work since ac and hp are still basically the same as in D&D (the probabilities are almost the same, too).

The first problem I see is with initiative and my first idea here was to set a difficulty to be faster than the enemy. Since it's better to use what is already there, I'll go and use the movement of a creature as base difficulty. This needs to be tested, of course, but the math is sound here as long as 9 is the base movement (I'm assuming that a player needs the results of two six sided dice plus his base attack to meet a difficulty, which could be done in 1 to 3 rounds, so a character could hit every 1 - 3 rounds and a 9 as difficulty roughly translates to a 50/50 chance for winning initiative).

Any factors needed to raise this difficulty would come from either the hit dice of a creature or the bonus a creature gets on it's hit dice or the number of special abilities (depends on how much more difficult is needed). If an initiative is higher than the difficulty, a character is faster so the creature rolls it's attack first and the player is able to react to that. If the creature is faster, the player has to declare his actions first and the creature might act accordingly. Say, every -4 they take on their attack would result in either countering a declared action, movement or raising it's defense by that amount and it's roughly the amount of a spend die.

The decision to take a -4 or more is done after the roll. This means even a miss could result in some actions and is congruent with what players can do with their 3d6 (also allows for a bit more tactical combat, which is nice).

Attacks of a monster would be (hd value + hd bonus or number of special abilities) + 1d20. I've seen similar versions done before, but the last time I saw someone propose a system like this would be over at The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms (an excellent post, by the way). Instead of making it deadlier, it would leave a DM with more room to navigate a monster's actions (-4 to attacks for counter-, defense-, movement-actions and so on).

Armor class would work like D&D 3E, so higher is better and conversion from older editions is quite easy. Damage and number of attacks stay as they are noted in the monster entry used and the ratio for a monsters Endurance (which LSotN will use but is not a regular feature in most editions of D&D) will be (4 + hd).

So yeah, this should work ...

So regular LSotN PvE combat should be completely compatible and won't be more work than it is in D&D. Special encounters could still use the rules for characters to make the fights more interesting and intensive. Most of this conversion work could be done on the fly, so it should be easy to port adventures, modules or monsters to LSotN. I'll test all this next time the group comes together, but since most of this already works one way or another in D&D, it should produce no problems.

Magic is the only other thing that needs some work and maybe I'll have some time the next few days to write a post or two about that.

* It's not the point here, but the considerations they must have had to take that route couldn't have been with the DM in mind. Enhancing the work-load needed to prepare a game that much can only mean they wanted their customers not only to buy the basic books and be done with it, but instead wanted to force them into buying so much more books. No big surprise, I guess ...

** Interestingly enough (but also not the point here) is the Vancian magic system one of the weak spots in D&D, since a DM will have a hard time knowing what or how many spells a NPC Wizard might have. And that fails even before he might need to consider how much of it he might have cast already when he's encountered. There are no satisfying shortcuts in the core books, it's either fully prepared or fully improvised.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Signs of Life (um ... Progression Report, of sorts)

It's been two long weeks already. Strange how fast those things can happen. Some of it had been true holidays ("true" as in I had decided to give the keyboard a few days of rest, too, instead of writing every free minute) and the rest had been some unfortunate family business that kept me busy and occupied. But no rest for the wicked, and all that, so I thought I'd at least give an update or two about Lost Songs of the Nibelungs and the mini dice-games series.

Lost Songs of the Nibelungs (updates)

As some of you might recall, I had to promise my players a first beta-testing of Lost Songs around Easter. Since I had some ideas how I wanted combat to play out (and knew that it could work) I decided that it was time to throw together what I already have, improvise the rest with the D&D Rules Cyclopedia at hand and give this baby a "pre-beta" spin. I delivered two days ago with four players at the table. It went ... ah, let me tell you how it went.


Well, the game isn't developed far enough (yet) to use it in the mythological Germanic 550 AC setting it is written for, so I had to improvise. Since I had some vague ideas about almost everything (magic being the vaguest, but more on that later), I decided a Robinson Crusoe approach would be best to make this work for two or three sessions: the characters got lost at sea during a storm and got stranded at the shore of a strange tropical island. harsh conditions to put some pressure to the abilities, no armor and weapons to begin with and only rumors of magic.

Frame from the film Robinson Crusoe (1902) by Georges Méliès [source]

Basic Character Creation

This I got almost down and the players knew that this was testing some ideas and adding new ones on the fly if needed. We started with rolling for qualities. 3d6 per quality, written down as sum of 3d6 for the quality itself and separating lowest die/sum of two highest dice for several purposes (some of it will sound familiar, since it's already part of the Bare-Knuckle Fighter/Pub Brawl Mini-Games):

  • MUSCLE (buffer-pool for Endurance) - highest two dice results as Base Attack
  • FINESSE (buffer-pool for Coordination) - highest two dice results as Base Defense
  • GRIT (buffer-pool for Health) - highest two dice results as Stomach
  • WITS (buffer-pool for Sanity) - highest two dice results as Resistance to Magic
  • NERVE (buffer-pool for Serenity) - highest two dice results as Base Calmness
  • WYRD (buffer pool for Fate) - highest two dice results as Base Reputation

So with some rolls of 3d6's we established qualities and what I'll call "saves" for now (base attack/defense, stomach, et cetera). For this session I let them roll 1d6 Health and 1d6 Endurance, too, but that will change to rolling 2d6 per level, take highest for Health, lowest for Endurance (the reasoning behind this might be subject to another post ...).

I'm quite happy with this so far and believe it covers every eventuality a DM might to throw at the characters in a game:

Endurance, Health and Sanity explain themselves; Coordination concerns everything from footing in a fight to moving under extreme weather conditions and so on; Serenity is about how calm a character is and if he gets provoked into loosing some initiative dice and so on; Fate is about how the world treads a character.

Base Attack/Defense and Resistance to Magic explain themselves; Stomach is a save against anything from poison to pain; Base Calmness is a save versus provocation and Base Reputation is a save versus ill deeds (if a player is able to pull it of without consequences or not ...), bad rumors, intrigues and so on.

Those are the parameters, if you will, with which the characters interact with their surroundings and vice versa. I allowed one re-roll of 3d6. The only thing missing at this stage is specialization (skills, abilities, equipment). So off we go to the bloodlines.

Lineage, skills and Equipment

Some of you might remember this from that post I wrote earlier this year about using 3d6 to create a characters lineage and status in society. Never got to the point where I actually wrote down the possible skills, items and advantages, but I wanted to test-drive the system for the things it already did and had to improvise the rest.

Here is a short summary of the system (from that post):

"Every player rolls 3d6. The sum is a characters status in the group, with the lowest result being the highest in standing. Each rolled number represents now a facet of the society the character was born in (1 = royal bloodline; 2 = artisan bloodline; 3 = mercantile bloodline; 4 = artistic bloodline; 5 = foreign bloodline; 6 = magical/fairy bloodline)."
"To see now how the characters are related, the players just need to compare their numbers. If they rolled the same numbers and built pairs, triples or quadruples, they could be somehow related (with pairs being distant cousins, triples being cousins and quadruples being siblings). Each player has to decide the most important relation to another player. As soon as the players have sorted this out, they have to sort out how they relate to the rest (basically answering questions like "If he's my cousin and you are my sister, he must be your cousin too, right?" and stuff like that."

"There are always synergy-effects trickling down, so the family of the one with the higher status will provide some additional skill/advantages/items for those of a lower status but related."
"1 die in a bloodline means 2 points to buy skills/advantages/items, two dice in a bloodline mean 5 points to buy stuff (one of them related to the dominant bloodline, so it would be an item with a trade related bloodline, etc.), three dice means 9 points (with three to be distributed among skills/items/advantages associated with the true bloodline). Status might give a player additional points (so even if a player doesn't come up with doubles or triplets, he might still have some additional points for high status ...) and lineage might produce additional points."
This worked really well. It didn't take long for the players to figure out how they were connected. The one case where a player couldn't muster any relations, status managed to give the character a position in the group (actually for being nobility, which worked nice).

Skills, advantages and items had to be improvised, so I offered that the players could make suggestions and I'd make a guess about the points it would cost. This had some rather nice side effects (although I need some lists for the game, of course). The number of available points where as suggested above, with a +1 for every double that connected them with another player.

Items were the easiest, since the "stranded on a foreign shore"-scenario allowed me to say they had none at the beginning (Ha!).

But skills weren't that hard either. I told them that they needed to make it work with their family background and they got + 1 for every point they spend on that skill (so a + 3 Acrobatics, for instance, would allow a situation-based bonus to the quality used and cost 3 points).

Advantages were a bit more difficult, but also the most interesting. We had two characters with a strong fairy connection (double 6 each), so they went for some magical advantages.

One chose to see in darkness and that the character only needs half the nutrition a normal human might need. I decided it would cost three points each and he had to choose how normal humans could get a hint of his abilities by looking at him. I suggested that his eyes worked like those of night-active animals, so they reflect light in the dark for his night-vision and that the character was unnatural thin (which would get obvious by closer examination). He took both.

The other chose a magical awareness of the past of places he visits (he needs to ask for it) and a magically advanced awareness (more like a gut feeling). The unnatural signs on his body were slightly pointed ears and that the color of his eyes change every time he blinks.

Other advantages had been weapons and armor. Bloodlines helped for that like classes did for D&D as far as availability and costs were concerned. But instead of choosing weapons, they chose aspects of what those weapons could do. Those aspects are hacking, piercing, size, defense, two-handed and range, they cost 1 point each. We didn't get an opportunity to test armed combat, so this is still somewhat theoretical, but it wasn't hard to figure out the costs for the weapons the wanted to use.

One player with a strong artistic background (triple four), for instance, chose to use daggers (piercing, but small size), two- handed (with an option for defense) and the ability to throw them (range) and ended up paying 3 points for that (reducing the size reduced the cost by 1 point).

Another player with a royal background chose the sword and I decided that (1) it was the king's standard among melee weapons (with all advantages but range and size) and that (2) it would cost 3 points for the character being royal (so it is a bit cheaper).

All characters are able to fight unarmed and with blunt weapons. Number of attacks per round is the number of weapons used, number of defenses is two (might be three, if defensive weapon is deployed and yes, this means a shield is handled as a weapon this way). 

Armor is (like in D&D) divided in three categories: light, medium and heavy. For those with a royal bloodline each category costs 1 point, but if a character knows to use heavy armor, he has to pay for the others, too (so he'd have to spend 3 points). All other bloodlines have easy access to light armor, but heavier armor use would result in higher costs ...

In theory combat will work like shown in the Bare-knuckle fighter and the Pub Brawl (here is a post explaining the rules in detail), but with several new options for delay and modes of attack. As mentioned above, it didn't come to a fight, so this, too, will be subject of another, more detailed post.

Running the Game

I used the reference sheet as a, well, reference and intended to bridge everything else with the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (but never needed to). It worked, if I may say so, very well. Using the abilities as pools worked great. The players could, for instance, use Endurance to succeed in a task they didn't manage to with their roll for it (the idea here is to use a number of endurance as a bonus to meet the difficulty of said task) and if they used more Endurance as the had, Muscle would be depleted which would result in exhaustion. How fast this exhaustion would regenerate and if it leaves any permanent damage would depend on how much Muscle was depleted.

An example (the reference sheet linked above may illustrate): A player rolled 2, 4 and 5 for Muscle, so the pool value of the quality would be 11, divided into 2/9. As long as the pool value is drained for 9 points, a character could simply sleep it of, regenerating it over night. Two points more would reduce the pool to zero and to regenerate those two points would need two complete days of rest to regenerate (i day per point). Going below zero would result in permanent damage, of sorts, only regenerated as explained here. Relevant quote:
"Now I'm thinking it would be neat to give characters the time to regenerate some of those lost points by taking some downtime between quests. Winter would be the perfect time for this as it is a natural break and goes along well with how it actually was."
All pools work like this and I had a chance to test this with Grit when they ate some foreign fruits and two characters couldn't stomach them. Both didn't make their save and got the shits, but one just needed to sleep it off, while the other will need a whole day and one night to get over it.

Didn't have the opportunity to drain them for Sanity, Coordination, Serenity or Fate as of yet. But it will happen soon :)

Other than that the system managed to do what it intended to do. One player, for instance, managed to roll a 20 for a Wyrd-check, resulting in a lucky string of events that helped the whole group in the long run (they found some carpets and a machete). Seeing their pools drained made the players more careful about their actions, which always translated to how those pools got drained ("Well, my character is quite exhausted right now, so I'll skip doing xy ..." and so on). I'm very happy with it right now!

So what needs to be done right now?

So this pre-beta testing should produce a playable beta version of Lost Songs of the Nibelungs in the near future. As soon as I'm there, it will be released into the wild for those of you who want to give this a spin. There are several things that need to happen before this is possible:
  1. I need a character sheet, so this is high priority on my to-do list right now.
  2. Combat needs testing, so there will be some mini dice-games like the Bare-Knuckle Fighter and the Pub Brawl for dueling and skirmishes.
  3. While I'm at it, I need to update the already existing mini games, make pdfs, give all of them a home online and all that. It will take time.
  4. Magic will be the next big thing and a post about it will happen (I'd say) next weekend. Maybe I'll manage to make a mini dice-game about it, too (I have some vague ideas how that could be done).
  5. Lists, so many lists. Especially for skills, advantages and items. It will take time, I suppose, but we'll play again in two weeks and I need to have some results by then (same goes for the character sheet, actually)
  6. Advancement and all the options characters will have with leveling up. 4 weeks from now, the latest.

This is a lot of stuff to do and still not all of the things I need to get done for the finished game. But this ain't a race against time and it will be done when it's done. All I can say right now is, that it's going to happen some time this year.

I hope this helped illustrating where Lost Songs of the Nibelungs is headed at. More as soon as I got the time.