In the run-up to Metatopia 2015, just one week away now, we’ve been running a series of Forthright Open Roleplay sneak peeks of Beta 3, with a general goal of laying out nearly the entire system in blog posts before November. Here’s the series so far:
- The Game Charter
- Action Resolution
- What You Roll
- Basketball Initiative
- Cosmetics and Continuity
- Build Your Own Class
- Background Talents
- Character Advancement
- Big Fights
This week, I’m going to do a roundup of some of the other technologies and tools that I think make Forthright pretty special. During our experience last year at Metatopia, one of the biggest compliments we got was that we were really thinking about how to use the system at the table and were developing some awesome technology (such as character sheets, team sheets and the like) to represent that. So a lot of our focus has been on stuff that may not seem all that sexy, but which does provide a tremendous quality-of-life benefit to players and guides alike.
Forthright is a game about people working together as a team to solve extraordinary problems and have grand (or not-so-grand) adventures together. To that end, we’ve crafted a Team Sheet which provides players with a place to record why they work together, any benefits they’ve earned collectively as a team, and the relationships they’ve developed with characters in the Gamescape. That this sheet exists reflects one of the core values of the system: players work together, not against each other. Now, we have had folks tell us that “my players are mature and can handle their characters backbiting each other.” And that’s great! But it’s not philosophically what Forthright is about, maturity level or not: after all, if you can’t trust the people you’re with, why would you stand together in a crisis and why would their care about your well-being matter?
We’ve previously talked about the evolution of our character sheet; as you can see above, it has further evolved to be a single landscape-oriented page. This is helpful particularly when play space is limited; the redesign of all the most frequently-used player-facing sheets in landscape allows better use of play space and easier flow for character options. We’ve intently studied how players have used each iteration of these sheets in order to adapt our sheets to what players seem to need.
Guide-facing sheets, on the other hand, tend to still be in portrait because so far from what we’ve seen, the format of data the Guide requires tends to be better suited to this form. This particular sheet is the Advancement Sheet, which serves as the Talent storefront I mentioned when I talked about advancement in Forthright. There’s a spot for each player (Forthright comfortably supports up to 6 Protagonists) and marks for whether they have suffered setbacks in any areas: this is important for improving their One- and Two-Star Proficiencies. The rest of the page is dedicated to the storefront itself, which will fill up over time (and which continues on the back of the page).
Rituals and Crafting
Another aspect of the game we’re rounding out is the rituals and crafting rules. Because of the nature of these tasks, we decided to give them a similar architecture in the ruleset: rituals take less time but only give their effect once, while crafting takes longer and provides a permanent tool. Both of these require instructional guides, called Grimoires or Manuals (to remain in-keeping with the fiction of the game), and can be used to generate essentially any effect. Unlike other such systems, though, we do not gauge whether the effect is successful by increasing its difficulty. Instead, more difficult or extraordinary effects take more time, and may require more infrastructure.
That is to say, you can’t invent an iPod in the middle ages without inventing electronics, miniaturization, recording, digital recording. . .et cetera. This is the great flaw of technology, and why the permanence of its effects are so valuable. Magic, through rituals, lets you bypass all that pesky infrastructure in order to create one-off items and effects; it is a subtle difference, but one rooted in the “re-manufacturability” of what is being made. Once you can make an iPod through technology, you can always make an iPod, quickly and efficiently, using your established infrastructure. If you make an iPod through magic, sure you can still always make an iPod, but you’re going to have to spend the same amount of time making your 50th iPod as you did your 1st.
Relationships and Factions
One of the things we haven’t talked about frequently, though it remains present in the system, is the Relationships mechanic and the Factions (formerly “Organizations”) subsystem. We have greatly streamlined this as part of the redesign of the social system, and it is now easier to make friends (and enemies!). The level of a relationship is either positive or negative, and rated from One- to Three-Stars. You can shift from one step to another through your in-game actions.
Factions, meanwhile, have gotten a lot of focus as themselves being characters. Each Faction is rated in Force, Influence and Manpower – essentially, Faction-level Fight, Talk and Skill – and through these different functions can bring different abilities to bear in any situation. Factions can advance, too, through gaining and expending Dominion. The Faction rules are present largely to help Players run their own Factions and give Guides some idea of how Factions might interact in the Gamescape. Both Relationships and Factions serve as story-generation tools, helping to tie the Protagonists closer to these NPCs they’ve chosen to interact with.
So, what do you think? Are you excited to give Forthright a whirl? Let us know in the comments!