Smoother Conversations, Combat Variety

By | July 19, 2014

Hello and welcome!

This week we have for you the 1.02 updates for Social Interaction and Combat.  We got some new ideas while we were updating them, specifically about how we could improve the rules to make them less complex while providing the same play value and even expanding options.  As a result, we had to go back to the Role chapters and make some modifications there.  So today represents not just 2 new chapters, but tweaks to Personas, Vocations and Fighting Styles as well.  You can get the latest version of all five chapters on the Forthright Open Roleplay product page.

You can also view the changes that have been made on the Change Log.

The vast majority of today’s changes were designed to improve readability, usability and versatility.  What we found upon editorial review of the Social Interaction chapter is that we spent a lot of it proselytizing about why you would want to handle social interaction with rules backing.  We also spent a lot of time repeating the same basic concepts over and over again – this was actually a deliberate choice when we initially wrote the chapter, as we were trying to hit the sweet spot of “three times and you’ll remember.”  Going back through, though, it felt more like a confused mish-mash than anything else.

So Social Interaction is now 10 pages lighter (a third of the chapter gone!), and has been internally rearranged to provide a smoother introduction of concepts.  Repetition has largely been removed, and the examples appearing in the chapter are now (hopefully) more useful to Players and Guides.  We removed the rules about “invoking Renowns” because they were clumsy; now, a Renown counts identically as a piece of evidence in the Gamescape that corroborates or belies your Persuasive Points.  Renowns can also be brought up multiple times in a conversation, rather than only once as before.  And in order to better mimic how people speak, we’ve removed the restriction that characters can only make Persuasive Points or perform Manipulations on their Turn in a conversation.

We’ve also gotten rid of most of the Manipulations.  Many of the Manipulations made their way into the ruleset originally because we wanted to provide Players and Guides an opportunity to “short-circuit” potentially lengthy conversations that didn’t need to be all that long.  But thanks to a conversation we had with Jonathan Garrison (shoutout!), we actually came up with a better way of explaining the social system than the one we actually had.  And that new understanding of how to explain the rules really drives the rewrite of the Social Interaction chapter.

Combat also got some streamlining and tweaks, but nothing quite as radical as the Social Interaction chapter.  We have introduced a new mechanic to Forthrightcombat, though, called Strain.  Characters can now strain themselves in order to improve the results of their actions (or make those actions more likely to succeed).  Strain has proven to be tremendously successful and fun in internal playtests, because it offers additional tactical options and significant rewards, but with some risk if you misjudge how quickly you can end a fight by pushing yourself.  We’ll talk a bit more about Strain next week.

The biggest takeaway from the 1.01 to 1.02 conversion, though, for me, has been that we’ve removed thirty pages from the book while covering more material.  That’s 15% less bloat!  Which will be great when it comes time to provide additional examples of play, etc., because we’ll have the space to do it.

So have a look at the new rules and let us know what you think in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!