Whenever people talk about the creation of a role playing game, they usually agree on the same thing; it’s really fun, but it’s not simple.
While creating Awaken from scratch, it was a great joy getting together with Marko and Kika, building a world brick by brick, creating the visual identity of it’s inhabitants and Great Cities, as well as the dark legacy behind the antagonists and lore.
It was a task of imagination and creativity.
Well, sooner or later we had to step up and create the fuel which would allow the creation to move. Between the world and the imagination of the players, there was an empty space which had to be traversed to allow the creation to be enjoyed.
That empty space had to be filled out by a system and game mechanics.
It meant hours and hours of countless numbers, statistics, crunching and twisting, testing and playtesting.
Some people find joy in numbers and statistics, but not many. Luckily, our team had Marko and he decided to take the most of the game mechanics on himself.
It was a real challenge to create a dynamic and balanced system which could achieve everything we imagined and be a metaphor of a game itself, represented in numbers.
We wanted a challenging game; dynamic and lethal, but which would allow for player mistakes and not be too punishing. We wanted a system which would remind player to have fun and to think in a same time.
Choice of Attributes and Skills was an easy task; we thought about what an ordinary person would need in a medieval world to survive and how could we additionally simplify those needs.
We decided to separate main attributes into 3 trees; physical, social and intellectual. After all, if we leave out the experiences, a human is a sum of those things.
Experiences and knowledges came in a form of Skills, which we derived so they could be put under the Attribute they derive from or are somehow connected.
Finally, to succeed in task, a person should use the attribute and skill suited for it.
And that’s how rolling for tasks was created.
We derived some character components from those two and we created some additional components to be left to luck and imagination.
The most important part after was the creation of the combat. Sigh, it was a lot of work. We are fans of efficiency and quick combat, and we wished to make it a part of our system.
In order to achieve this and to reduce downtime between turns, Marko came up with the idea of rolling the dice in the same time; if every player on the table owned a set of dice and would roll them in the same time, the waiting would be reduced and the sense of companionship, camaraderie and fighting for the same cause would be elevated. The playtesters were curious about the possibility, but astonished looks on their faces after a quick and successful combat was something which fortified the idea of this approach.
We didn’t want players to focus on skills, counting, bonuses, numbers, damage etc., but rather to experience the combat through the narration and to use the surrounding Character was in. The environment in the game is a part of a combat too, and we wanted players to use it, to be creative and to be rewarded for it.
This was achieved by creating a realistic, fast and fluid combat, which stimulated players to think rather then depend on the outcome of the dice, rewarding them for their creativity.
The playtesters were surprised how much this approach opened their eyes regarding the surrounding and all that without the use of the elaborate figures, representations of a battlefield etc.
They would ask us to describe the environment, seeking for the way to defeat the impossible odds and strong enemies.
To award the players and furtherly induce them to think creatively, we’ve created the Picture Rule, which gives players bonuses for creative solutions in game situations.
More about the Picture Rules and choice of dice for the game in a next episode of Creator’s (B)log!