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Phonelobster's Mousetrap 2015 Edition
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PhoneLobster
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 4:56 am    Post subject: Phonelobster's Mousetrap 2015 Edition Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So anyways, like I often do I'm revising my home brew RPG again, and this time I've called it "Neo Ultra 7" edition, because I'm like that with version numbering.

I'm also migrating it to Google Docs, because a) Why not give it a try and b) I'm trying to reduce my gaming paper footprint and Google Docs might be convenient for more digital devices at the table.

One of the upshots of it being on Google Docs? I can chuck a direct link to the work in progress and you can watch me fumble my way through writing and rewriting it in real time.

So hey, I'm going to do that, and even though the latest edition is easily more than 2.5 entire documents out of 4 short of completion, I'm going to put them up here with links and commentary as I go. Then once it's remotely plausible I might try and throw together some example material on the use of those documents for setting construction and game play and junk.

Permissions wise I'm thinking I'm going to provide "Viewable by anyone with the link" and I'm going to enable comments for anyone viewing it, since that seems fairly harmless, but clearly not editing what with that being just crazy bad asking to be troll rolled. Anyway, comment there or here if you care. Or whatever.

Now for some documents and rambling...

Edit:The Collected Document Links
After a request, here are the links to the main google documents for the system...

The Core Rules
How to play, what is what, and the list of basic default actions pretty much anyone can do. And more.

Generic Options
The good traits, the bad traits, the sets of skills you get access to for your good and bad traits, some "generic" buildings, some generic really basic skills everyone might want access to, and the majority of the game's "trivial" skills.

Monster Options
All the rules that replace race. How physical and cultural options are separated, how individual variation works, a bunch of stuff about basic survival options, some stuff about unusual NPC templates (like swarms and stuff), and a large pile of mutant powas to select physical options from when creating "Peoples" or "Individuals" or "Monsters". As relevant to elves and humans as it is to actual "monster" characters. Also contains some of the basic stuff for monstrous item rules.

Cultural Options
EDIT! : The old cultural options document is depreciated and has been split into 4 new ones because google documents hates large documents...
The new split document links are...
Cultural Document 1 : Opening and Misc
Cultural Document 2 : Clothing, Armour, Social Options
Cultural Document 3 : Mobility, Fighting, Professions
Cultural Document 4 : Magic Stuff
EDIT 2 : And now even more cultural document...
Cultural Document 5 : Stealth, Mechanical Power, Intelligent Items, Misc Extras

Pretty much the rest of the rules. Everything cultures do or make or can teach characters. Vague token rants on potential fluff directions, most of the items of the game, huge piles of skill options, all the magic stuff, all the fighty stuff, all the other stuff. A gigantic mess of a document that will ultimately need to be turned into more usable reference documents later.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Document 1 : The Core Rules

This is the link to the core rules document.

The core rules covers the core rules, and a bunch of the default actions covering combat, stealth, social, strategic time, the basic resources of the game, how skill training and cultural knowledge work and a number of guidelines about bullshit stuff.

It's a fairly big document with a lot of content. Some of it is vital fundamental crunch some of it is basically those bits in a GMs guide you just skip over.

Key Reasons For The Current Revision
Well a revision is always nice, there is always SOMETHING to be changed.

But the number one reason for this revision is power tiers.

So anyway with the "original" Mousetrap (ok like the original 2-5 slight iterations on it, whatever) I mostly only wrote in the "Low Tier" stuff with the intention of writing in "Mid Tier" and "High Tier" skills, items, and related support rooms in player controlled bases, well, later.

I had a few ideas how I might try to tack that stuff on convincingly and had accounted for it in a number of ways, mostly be reserving several conceived abilities and types of ability for the higher tiers.

But in the end it was just too big a "tack on" and the whole thing would be better off with a major revision inserting the higher tiers from the very beginning. Also that let me somewhat shorten the low tier a bit and fuzzy up the boundary between it and mid tier, which seems fairly beneficial.

Another Revision Goal, Moar Options
Well, sort of, I'm using the revision, or intending to when I get to it, to break up a lot of the preselected skill sets and push a model where putting together custom skill sets is a major part of setting creation. Previously there was a "all the skill sets and their items" document and a sprawling mess of a document for "all the options for cultural variants and additions". Well. Now it's all going to be the "cultural options document" or something in that form, once I get past some of the generic basics.

New In This Edition, Trivial Bullshit!
Well, I'd been meaning to do something about this for a while. The game needed a bullshit layer for worthless bullshit options. You know the "well screw you I have Star Trek Trivia skill so I know an important fact about bullshit!" sorta skills and stuff.

The game now has that. There is a separate skill point resource JUST for the crap trivial stuff. There are guidelines on how it works, explanations on why it is considered to be trivial in nature and how you should keep it that way, and there are already some early Trivial Skill options being written up in the Generic Options document.

New In Trivial Bullshit, community happiness stuff
Since a big part of the game is having bases, and a big part of that is interacting with organizations and communities, and those interactions might make groups hate or like you, there are now guidelines for that.

The guidelines are, to be blunt, little better than a rambling over extended version of... "The GM should decide arbitrary community happiness/fear modifiers to arbitrary loyalty rolls of arbitrary difficulty, it might not be a bad idea for him to keep track of that arbitrary happiness/fear modifier, if he feels like it. The arbitrary loyalty rolls MAY result in things like rebels and assassins on failure (but you can get them anyway), and success MAY result in things like "we love/and or fear the overlord" parades (but you can get them anyway). And that's why this falls into the trivial bullshit rules.".

But anyway it's just THERE, like so many trivial bullshit GM guidelines it's kinda a waste of space but also kinda there for good reason too.

Imported from a half edition, Good and Bad Trait changes
I tried out porting the system from the last mousetrap for a more complex horror/scooby rules set. It worked sorta OK. Though really, like most horror rules sets, was probably more than was required.

But one experiment from that coming back over to the new revision is the addition of, and some changes to some base good and bad traits, AND the VERY notable addition of small sets of skills made available to characters to purchase based on their selection of Good and Bad Traits.

So NOW when you pick "Fast" as your good trait for your character not only do you get a major definitive fast good trait, you ALSO get access to a group of skills you can gradually take during character advancement that range from "regular skill anyone could take IF they have the right training, but that we want to make sure you can just take" to "moar definitive role protected unique trait related options you can't get anywhere else".

Basic Numbers Changes
So anyway this edition standardizes the physical and social defenses, now calling them "physical and social" instead of "normal and social" and giving them both a starting base bonus of 5, instead of the prior marginally confusing 5 and 10, ideally the change being somewhat absorbed by some additional defense bonuses within the system.

Of course the original Alert 5 bonus is still a thing on SDef, putting it as the higher bonus in physical combat situations, for all the same old reasons it was always like that.

The High Tier Resource
With high tier tentatively now being inserted into the actual available options, it needed a defined resource better than "Treasures". That resource is "Artefacts" (or artifacts depending on which variant of English you feel like, damnit). And for more on the way those are intended to work I recommend the specific section on the various wealth resources in the core document.

Traps, Hazards, Walls, Regions, Travel, things like that
I know that back in the last edition of mousetrap I put up here at least some of the stuff to do with smashing through walls and falling into spike pits and sneaking around in the forest for six months, appeared in secondary documents I may have never gotten around to posting. I'm not sure which bits, and couldn't be assed to check.

The important thing is now that stuff is rolled into the core document and available for perusal. Still needs a few specific implementations related to a lot of it, presumably in the cultural options document, but yeah the basic functionality and guidelines are now core document where they probably belong.

What Is Missing For now?
Well I'm going to post the link to the early work in progress "Generic Options" document in short while.

What you will be waiting some time after that for are the other two "main" documents I currently plan. Those being the "Monsters and Mutants" stuff for all the forehead alien and monstrous thingy material, and the "Cultural Options" document for vast bulk of the "how to hurl swords and fire balls, and also the swords and the fire ball equipment entries" sorta material.

After that some secondary material like say, a character sheet, NPCs, quick guide rules, sample or "common" skill set or culture builds, maybe sample settings junk like that might be useful. But the main plan for now is just the four "core" documents.

Modularity and Customization
Mousetrap, for all it's focus on options and customization of cultures and settings and stuff, is NOT really intended to be a "generic" RPG rules set. It's intended for relatively long fantasy campaigns with relatively small groups of players, it has some core conceits about luxury and palaces being important sources of character power, and as such it is generally going to generate relatively similar play experiences.

Modularity and choice within the game is really just a matter of which skills and options appear in actual game play. You are intended to be swapping out things like "This culture knows Cat Style Kung Fu Skills, and Dog Style Kung Fu Skills didn't bother getting included in the setting this time, yet" rather than swapping out a vast "module" that entirely eliminates the Strategic Time section or turns the game into Sci-Fi space ships.

I mean you COULD write modules that do that sort of thing, somewhat, within some play style conceits that the game basically cannot escape even with vast changes, but I don't intend to and unlike the actual materials that should be popping up sooner or later changes of that scale WOULD require significant additions, removals and rewrites in the core rules.

Just throwing that out there.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Document 2: Generic Options

This is the link for the Generic Options document

The generic options document covers some of the basic stuff the game needs to function (like the good and bad traits), and a number of basic skills, trivial skills, and also buildings for bases, that are sufficiently either fundamental, or generic that they should be in basically every setting and game using these rules.

The Buildings Bit
Covers a bunch of buildings that range from some generic templates to use as guidelines for real buildings later, to options to make some basic economy and kingdom ruling stuff happen, provide basic answers to things like "where to guards come from and where do they hang out?" and "can I have a wall of some sort around my secret base?".

Also some generic options in there for equipment storage and maintenance to interact with drift rules and the intended progression schemes where the better items need special (and costly) storage in order to continue to function.

The Trivial Skills
I intend to throw in more trivial skill options here and there, and the Generic Trivial Skills section is by far anything but final, still, it's intention is to cover a wide variety of options and also prevent needless repetition of some of the more generic trivia options.

It also includes what amounts to a set of mechanics for how much knowing languages and being literate should be worth. Which I feel is a marginally flexible implementation that should hold up fairly well within the context of not knowing how many languages or literate cultures a setting is expected to have. Though it IS built with some assumptions like common and rare languages and of course everyone's favorite dead languages.

The Traits Short Lists
Are intended to (eventually) be brief summaries of the basic traits and their related skill set options to help players quickly pick one. They're ads, trying to sell the skill set to prospective buyers. Sort of.

The full skill sets for traits
Cover the actual base effect of selecting each good or bad trait and the various skills that then become available to the character to invest in later.

Formatting
Skills and buildings remain formatted in a fairly brief "Cost, Name, content" layout, which may not be the best option. It is however a convenient one for cutting and pasting while building NPCs or setting notes... so... for now that's the format.

Completion status?
There is a fairly reasonable amount of content on the Trivial skills and buildings, anything could change there, and stuff certainly will, but it's enough I could move on to the next document and feel an appropriate amount of material was there (barring whatever it is I'm probably forgetting to add right now).

But as yet I'm very much in the middle of writing the good and bad traits. I've got a pile of cut and pasted material from the Horror iteration of the game, and I think the transition point between processed material and raw unprocessed cut and paste is pretty obvious. But very significant changes, removals and additions need to be made to most of it.

The unprocessed materials on good and bad traits might give you a pretty reasonable idea where things are going... but yeah, that stuff isn't done by a fairly long shot.

Of course the whole thing is a live document and I will be working on it on and off when and if I feel like it. I have no plan to use this iteration of the rules set any time soon, so progress will likely be slow and unreliable, or suddenly I might decide I need something playable for a new campaign in like in a fortnight or something and I'll rush the rest with a giant hack job sprint like I usually end up doing.

I'lll post stuff when reaching significant points of progress.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

First run on Good Trait Skill Sets complete
Not sure about dual typed best defense bonuses, mysterious could use more or better content, virtuous "punish the X" skills could possibly be reimagined, and there is the very real possibility that with trait related skill sets as a thing the good traits should roll into a smaller list with things like parts of energetic rolling into fast or determined rolling into tough and so on.

Also I had considered restructuring the short list to a flat out reprint of the basic free trait ability and THEN have vague promotional blurbs for the selectable skill set options.

But anyway. Good traits, now at least initially complete. Content may change or recieve additions (or get cut out to go to other places) as further skill sets are revised and written, but convincing base material is now there.

Onto Bad Traits... (and salvaging whatever seems nice from the "Crazy Skill sets for people with insanities" material from the horror game and tacking it into other traits and maybe a new "Crazy" bad trait).
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Bad Traits Mostly Complete
Ok so the only thing left for the preliminary run of the bad traits, and basically the entire generic options document, is to write a new bad trait called "Crazy".

From the horror game port of the rules set I have a bunch of "at least somewhat beneficial skills associated with various fictionalized game suitable insanities" to rob from. And I rather liked those so I want to salvage something from them.

The problem is that the horror game port, aside from several other dramatic changes to the base rules ALSO had a core sanity mechanic. Mousetrap itself, does not, and I don't want to add one in, or at least not one anything like the one from the horror port.

So the Crazy bad trait needs to BE the (more tacked on less integral) sanity/insanity mechanic for mousetrap, AND ideally it's going to eventually need to be at least marginally compatible with the "Insanity Causing Magic Attacks" skill set that eventually appeared in later revisions of Mousetrap itself.

The idea currently is that Crazy consists of selectable Triggers (which will be free) and selectable "Insanities" which will be costed skills. you get one insanity free and between 1-3 or so triggers, probably also free.

When exposed to your triggers your character enters into an "Insane State" and the GM "takes control" of your character actions, at least to the degree to which they are effected by your selected insanities, for either 1 turn or "at least the rest of the strategic turn and then until you successfully recover" depending on the severity of the trigger.

Insanities will be much like other bad traits, a trade off between benefits and drawbacks that you can in some way mitigate.

The insanity causing magic attack skills will work like regular social magic attacks and the defeat state will be "insanity until recovery" with insane states that are typically all negative with no benefit (to the victim that is). Crazy characters will be more susceptible to insanity attacks, which will get a bonus vs the Crazy keyword, but will either default you to your invested and hopefully mitigated default insanity state or something like that.

It's a bit up in the air on the drawing board here, making the Crazy bad trait concept work without going bullshit lol random kender asshole sort of stuff may be challenging.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Done with the Crazy Trait
It's a hack job but I've thrown together a bunch of crazy stuff for the crazy bad trait.

Insanity skill options are over long and complex (and could use some basic editing passes) but there is enough material there to work with.

Notably Crazy included the only skill option so far that lets you select a SECOND bad trait (so you can be crazy AND cowardly, or something) which is a questionable move to a sufficient degree I gave it a heading and threw in some text about it at the end.

Anyway, there is sufficient material there to experiment with.

Next up is to revise and expand the monsters and mutants materials for monstrous critters, animals and forehead aliens. Or work on the cultural options document with all the skills and items in. Or bits of both at once.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Document 3: Monster Options
This is the link for the monster options document

Right this moment it is literally empty.

I have rather a lot of material lying around to congregate, convert, revise, prune and add to it though.

However the Monster Options document has a lot of different jobs to do.

1) Swarms, Gigantic monsters, those other sub types mentions back in the core
I have some material for most of these, but it's going to need some revision.

2)How to Build a Human, Elf, Centaur, Giant Centipede, etc...
It's going to need at least some discussion of how you are supposed to pull this material together to build a species or individuals (and also maybe some guidelines about differentiating those two things).

3) Physical/biological stuff that isn't really a combat power
So, eating, sleeping, life span, reproduction, etc... A few of these could over lap with or flat out be special powers, I mean swallowing people whole and digesting them is definitely on the short list of must haves. But eating food less often, or eating something weird, or not needing to eat food at all, those are abilities that are both marginally interesting, possibly relevant, but also not nearly remotely as good as swallowing people whole and digesting them.

The new Trivial rules should probably get at least a minor look in here, and I have some very old material SOMEWHERE with at least some lists of seemingly interesting options along those lines.

3a) Totally Cosmetic Stuff
Blonde hair and freckles. Things like that. It's stuff which is arguably even LESS important than the stuff on point 3 proper, but it deserves a going over in the "how to human/whatever" document.

4) Crippling Abilities
Before getting to the extra arms I need to deal with the LESS arms. The game includes various ways to become badly injured, it's actually fairly hard to lose limbs once blocks and parries come into play, but still, it can happen, at a remote stretch you might not just go and heal it, and even aside from that the game needs to account for characters just flat out starting as one legged one handed one eyed pirates.

So that means some rules for long term injury consequences, and options to mitigate or even some how take advantage of such injuries.

Also could double nicely for describing monsters or monstrous peoples that for whatever reason lack some of the basic physical abilities of humans, especially with just moderate expansion and then combination with the actual mutant powas stuff.

5) Monstrous Items
Large portions of monstrous abilities are things like "has claws", thing is that "has claws" is basically a lot like "has daggers". This can make character build resource interactions with monstrous abilities weird.

It is... not great... if "has daggers" costs money, and "has claws" costs skill points.

The current solution? "Has Claws" just costs money too.

So a lot of monstrous abilities are described and costed as items, items that are part of a monstrous creature's body, but still items. It's assumed that in order to gain those items you had to eat or otherwise consume some resource of equivalent wealth value to the value of the monstrous item.

It's also handy because then you have a base price to work around for reselling monstrous items.

It does however mean a few special rules defining how the whole monstrous item thing works. Pretty sure I have some lying around here somewhere. And the last revision of the monstrous options I think was mostly revised over to the full monstrous item conversion. But it will need looking over at least.

6) Actual Mutant Powas Damnit
Yeah ok, actual mutant powas need to get covered, having four arms, two heads, that breath fire, and a tail that spits out poison darts while you swallow people whole and deflect arrows on your carapace that shifts colours like a cameleon.

That sort of thing. I have a bunch of those ready for revision and inclusion, but they always need work and always need additions now more than ever because...

7) Mid and High Tier Monster Options
And since mid and high tier are NEW that means that there need to be SOME mid and high tier options, at some point. A few low tier options with minor alteration can and will bump up to the cheaper mid tier, but its a major point needing work.

I think that conceptually the monster options can probably get away with less high tier options (and by a smaller margin less mid tier options) compared to the cultural options, but it probably needs more than say, the almost entirely bare high end of the generic options (which sort of get away with it).

8) The New Item Complexity Plan
And the options will need further changes because this revision is introducing a new plan for dealing with stacking upgrades onto items, and this document has items in the form of monstrous items, and they might get upgrades. So... yeah... that's going to be interesting.

9) Monstrous Lairs
So there may be the need to fill in a few Room and Building gaps here and there in general for monster related things. Stables, piranha pits, etc...

But also I don't think I covered it in core, so I either need to go back there or put here some sort of run down of Monstrous Lairs, and a whole thing where your various wilderness monsters get to have bases too, creating a consistent mechanic where bandits and cultists are basically generated by/reliant on bases (like the PCs are), and so are wandering giant one headed hydras and fire breathing tigers.

10) and the cultural options document
The monster options probably need at least a blurb about how they interact with the cultural options document. Especially on differentiating species from culture, and a note on cultures that somehow alter physical forms for whatever reason.

But also there could be a great deal of interaction and overlap between the documents and if it gets to be too much I may need to start the cultural options document outright and start flipping back and forth between them.



... So yeah, lots of work to be done here, and even more after that on cultures.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Current Road Bump : Staff Training
OK, anyway, I'm trying to write up the Monster Lairs stuff when I stumble into an incomplete area way back from core document organizations/generic document buildings.

The basic materials on staffing bases with NPCs are incomplete when it comes to training NPCs with skills.

One of the shortcuts I took to reduce accounting on NPCs interracts with potential prior edition training solutions in a way that may result in buying into a second profile/character build of guards on your base as massively more expensive than just buying moar and moar of the same advanced trained profile of guard you have already invested in.

Some choices about whether to alter the shortcut or alter the old training methodology before revising it over to the new material will need to be made, most of it is likely to end up in the Generic Options document.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

More on Staff Training
I've got some time so I'll go over the details a bit more since it might help me come to some decisions on where to go with this one.

The Old Staffing Rules
OK, so bases should have guards and servants and stuff. Under the old rules there were two types of staff, Guards and Servants. It was harder to train servants with combat relevant skills, but could be done at extra cost with extra training areas. But really it was all about Guards.

Guards were generated by Barracks, each barracks had X off duty guards and generated X on duty guards that could be assigned to guard rooms, patrol routes, following PCs on missions to places, etc...

Guards were equipped by Armories, that could equip some fixed number of guards with a full kit of items, as long as they all shared the same item profile.

Guards were trained with skills from training areas. Each training area was written out in the matching skill set at three different levels of price that trained a fixed amount of guards with preselected skills (the more expensive versions of the areas training more preselected skills than the cheap ones, of course).

This generated a few problems. Most notably.
1) Endless write up duplications of training area A/B/C for every skill set under the sun and the many preselected skills for each of those entries.
2) Too much accounting detail for staff training/equipping/recruiting. You had to determine how many on duty staff you were buying, how many of your guard rooms could be staffed by them, how many of them could have equipment, and how many of them would be allocated to the limited capacity of which training areas to get what skills.

It was really way too much effort.

Where it is at now
So as part of the revision I wanted to move over to a broader more informal system. Part of the plan is to switch over to a more generic customizable staff training mechanic so I don't have to write five million inflexible preselected training area preselected skill lists for no reason. The other plan was to make staffing your base involve less numbers.

So far that means that Armouries will supply an unlimited number of NPCs with the same item profile.

And Barracks (for now) provide 30 (only barely) off duty Guards who exist for emergency deployment and taking away with you on missions, and provide an unlimited number of "On Duty" guards, determined only by how many vacancies there are in guard roots, guard rooms and guarded gates you have paid for elsewhere in the base (basically the on duty guards come free with rooms that have on duty guards in them, and only need you to have a barracks somewhere as a requirement for the free staffing).

Servants work sort of the same.

So the problem with that comes when we say "Where do training/skill points come from for these guys?"

If training areas/skill point sources have limited capacities then we have issues with accounting.

If training areas/skill point sources have unlimited capacities, but do have prices based on how many skill points they provide you are strongly motivated to build stack up the quality of your guards and buy more guards of "the same profile". Deciding instead to buy a NEW profile of guards means not just more barracks/guard rooms but ALSO new armories AND new training areas starting from 0 skill point scratch.

I could compromise in a few ways.

Each training area could have "1 Barracks + unlimited on duty guards from that one barracks" as its capacity. So every new barracks MUST have new training areas ANYWAY. But, that is pretty expensive.

Each training area could have unlimited capacity but only train specific skills, so your new guard profile only has to pay for whatever new training areas represent the DIFFERENCE in the skill profiles, instead of having to pay for the entire new profile from scratch including overlaps. But that punishes you more the more different (and therefore more interesting) your new guard profile is going to be. Also without further limitations (like barrack/profile based skill caps) it just defaults to "all the guys have all the skills" which isn't any good.

I could make training areas only provide training access to single cultural/other skill sets then have the actual skill points on the guards "come from" the barracks and you pay for better barracks to have them produce better guards. But then either on duty slots provided by the barracks need to be limited OR if they are unlimited you are motivated to build one barracks up to full quality, staff ALL you guard rooms and patrol rooms with you MOST ELITE FORCES and then your OTHER barracks you buy generate weaker poorly trained forces that only come out for attack missions and when the "intruder detected" base alarm goes off. And that seems a bit backwards for how elite/less elite guard forces should be used.

I could change things around so the "cheap crappy" guards still get unlimited on duty allocations, but if you pay for a barracks skill point upgrade (or buy a different "elite guards barracks") the better barracks start having limited on duty allocations (or no on duty allocations at all). It does give some good reasons to have under skilled mooks running around your base, but it also means that any actual limited duty allocations will result in a return to large accounting costs.

I could price the skill level of guards on barracks AND on the actual guard rooms/patrol routes/etc... So when you buy a guard room you can only staff it with a cheap crappy profile unless you PAY to staff it with a better profile. The accounting costs are not quite as bad as the old scheme but are still not great, and the cost inflation could be horrendous.

I could just go full freedom of choice and each training area just provides X skill points to an unlimited number of guards and different guard profiles can just spend those points differently. But then your entire base worth of guard profiles are always of equal power and there is no real "elite force and regular force" differential between profiles.

While we are here, Wild Options
So I'm calling it wild options, one of the things I think I might want is some minimal skill/item profile some wild populations like villagers and townsfolk might have. Giving us a basic profile for civilians and militia that in SOME cultures might include the occasional sword, monstrous claws, or skill point in something combat relevant.

It's a work in progress but for a while there I was leaning towards "its a completely arbitrary part of defining a culture/population" combined with "and when you recruit them into your barracks/base you get the Wild Options free on top of your payed training/armory options as a sweetener for recruiting from kool kid kultures.

Buuuuut... now I'm thinking it might be better if wild populations maybe should get their costed Wild Options from base structures as well, and basically have an "everyone in the village gets a sword if they want one" armoury building equivalent to the "all the guards of profile X get a full weapon profile" from the standard base armory. And then do that with cultural skills and monstrous skills too. And then make bases just pay for their options flat out, and hell sure maybe the base barracks (or wherever skills end up coming from for guards) might INCLUDE the cost of one or two skill points or like 1 item or something just to give a little head start.

But one way or another "The culture of guys who like swords so much everyone has them" and "The people that all totally have four arms even though that IS a costed skill" needs to happen somehow or other and have some mention that it happens somehow or other. And it touches on both the staff training issue and the monster document.

While We Are Here: What roles are NPC staff actually supposed to play?"
Worth mentioning, what are they FOR?

OK so the idea is that as you build a cool palace CLEARLY you want like, servants and concubines and palace guards cluttering the place up. I mean, really what IS the point of having a luxury peacock garden if you don't wall it off behind a gate guarded by peacock palace guards and then have peacock themed bikini concubines lounging around near the solid gold fountain ornament?

So they should clearly be there for the coolness. Which should be enough excuse, but once they COST something that could be spent on character power they need to perform an actual role as well.

Servants indirectly provide actual character power as a luxury resource.

Guards provide, well, guards, who you can send on bullshit little missions, take with you as cannon fodder on your own missions, and leave wandering around your base for defensive benefit.

Of course the defensive benefit of unnamed guards is always going to be kinda poor. They are weaklings. BUT even weaklings at guard posts can notice invaders and raise and spread alarms. Even the potential non-combatant servants can notice a ninja invasion force and run down the corridors screaming alarm until a PC notices.

They also provide witnesses. Because presumably your bases will sometimes be attacked when you aren't even home to defend them, guards alone probably won't be up to defending, and players may well not have the forethought to recruit additional named characters and leave them behind for base defense. But guards provide SOME defense even when the player characters are not home, AND if the enemy doesn't succeed in killing EVERY guard and servant then you have witnesses to help you figure out who is responsible so you can go and rob your damned loot back and stuff.

But actually one of the most important roles for NPC staff is that they can be a major combat item RESOURCE. Player characters may well lose or damage their items, it's one of the main resourcing mechanics in the game. But without the right skills NPCs basically won't be doing that. Even with the right skills they will frequently miss the opportunity. Even if they had 100% opportunity once they hit combat the nature of the drift rules and the way alarm spreads could readily mean a PC might be lacking in combat equipment during an alarm and meet their own NPC guards before those guards even meet combat.

So basically PCs, both as attackers and defenders, might reasonably be refilling their item resources from NPCs. And having lots of NPCs wandering around your base with items you might use is NOT A BAD IDEA. It gives a good rewarding motivation for situations like Plate Armour Guy PC investing in having Plate Armour themed guards as at least some portion of the guard force wandering around the base he lives in.

So anyway yeah, the roles NPC staff are supposed to fill, coolness, luxury source, back up defense, invader detection, alarm spreading, witnesses, and walking back up item resources.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Road Bump Solution
OK so the road bump on staff training now has an experimental solution inserted into the Generic Options Document.

There is now text describing Wild Options and how you train Staff Options, including a whole set of new rooms/buildings for giving wild populations Wild Options and upgrading your base staff.

I opted for making barracks provide skill points, and requiring postings to be costed higher for higher quality guards to be posted to them. They still need vague training at some training rooms, but that's pretty cheap, as is the armoury cost for items.

It could use a little more work but will serve as the basis for staff training and recruitment for now, and forms a handy basis for determining Militia options and civilian options and stuff too. It should all hook in nicely to the monsters and peoples materials now.

But I Can't Man My Cheap Postings Anymore
One outstanding issue is this. An upgraded posting can be manned by guards of lower level than the posting, so if you have a basic guard barracks and an Elite posting you can man the Elite posting (with only basic quality guards).

But an Elite barracks only supply elite quality guards and a basic posting cannot support elite guards... so... if you upgrade your basic barracks to say, Standard or Elite levels... you can no longer man your cheaper postings... unless you buy a new barracks and create a new cheap guard profile.

That flaw is likely to remain however, because while marginally inconvenient it is in some respects working as intended in forcing the creation of diverse guard profiles, or more costly expenses to upgrade everything to the higher level quality.

Actual Skill Points and such for staff are arbitrary and generous
I had to pick some numbers out of hats and I made them fairly large. Nameless mooks could end up running around with a LOT of skill options. At quite some cost of course, but still, for just 4 treasures, one conquered community with a wild option building, 2 more treasures on armories and a training room you could net, at a minimum before postings, 3 squads of 10 guards with full low tier equipment and about 17 skill points. Sure they are all the same profile and they are all just troopers with low base HP and EP and combined target and cooperative attacker and stuff. But it is still a lot.

Numbers may change in the distant future once I've finished enough of the monster and culture options to try out some samples and figure out just how generous that really is.

Various other details
It may be worth having a look at the new material, there is more to it and it has several implications beyond what is mentioned here.


Now, next time, back to work on the Monster Options again.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Is there a sample battle encounter of the Mouse Trap system?
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There are a few for the old system, the current one really isn't up to it yet, unless I run through a no-skill no-item encounter.

edit The old one had examples starting on this page here, they were fairly simple low level examples, but the bigger one, though smaller scale than many encounters I ran in the system demonstrated a lot of stuff.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Monster Options Zipping Along
So, monster options are starting to zip along now. I've filled out the vast majority of rambling guidelines, lesser traits and general filler.

The main things left now are...
1) Missing pieces, as in "this guy has no arms' sort of things, important for the severely injured, and peoples and monsters with non-humanoid shapes.
2) Mutant Powers, there are a few "real" mechanical powers amongst diet and friends. But real mutant powers are the "tail end" of this document since they are basically the section I have the most solid material ready to just edit and revise.
3) Some how to guidelines, possible in text examples of various options in practice. At the very least the "How to" people/etc... place holder headings need some simple checklists of "try to pick options from these categories to make a complete and functional X" nature. But I think that pretty much needs to wait until the mutant powers are done.

Oh and 2a) I might split some things out of the general mutant powers list into smaller sub categories like "new limbs", "armours", "cosmetic things that actually do mechanical stuff", "etc...".

Interactions with the Cultural Options document
This means that I have (barely) started the cultural options document, because when I hit Vampires and Life Devourers in diets that overlapped with changes I wanted to make with the way people learn to throw and/or breath fire balls at things.

I may link up the cultural document (as empty as it currently is) shortly.

New(ish) materials
So, much of what has been covered on it now are "minor details", like required survival diet stuff. It's beneficial if fluffy material with some limited mechanical importance, it's nice to have, it gives some openings for more significant "I drink blood for fun and profit" stuff.

Reproductive traits hey?
Previous experience says that fluff like "the elves of fire mountain are all clones grown in tubes" or "the orcs of elbow reproduce vengeful offspring through angry macro mitosis upon their violent death" are... kinda cool.

The production of offspring with combat utility directly in combat time is... questionable (and so far a bit of a hack job) but hardly out of line with some monstrous aliens, and at a stretch isn't so bad even with more humanoid characters since the whole thing is basically an opt in process for the effected party. No one is making killer combat babies unless they choose to.

What isn't a great idea, to the point that it gets a shout out as being deliberately NOT on the list is involuntary impregnation shenanigans. Alien ovipositor parasites gestating inside screaming victims may seem like fun, but the moment an actual PC loses an eye and you have to say to an actual person "your precious character has been forcibly violently impregnated" things aren't so fun anymore. So that one is out.

I just couldn't see any good way to make that one work, and it means that if the cultures document does receive a new section with crazy fertility cult options in it then it's probably going to be limited to leaning towards crazy mother goddess stuff for the similar reasons.

Swarms And Gigantic Creatures
Have their template stuff now. How well they will work out is... questionable, both are at least partial if not significant departures from prior versions and there yet may be unfortunate interactions with other people options that are basically designed for standard characters rather than the swarm/gigantic oddballs.

Still, swarm and gigantic give us some relatively simple modifiers that let us have truly gigantic critters lumbering around, or masses of organized tiny ones.

Though maybe with the trooper/co-operative attackers rules being a fairly functional core thing the Swarm has LESS of an excuse for existing... but... yeah... it seems like swarm can offer ways of representing 1000 spiders that treating them as 100 squads of ten very very small soldiers probably cannot.

Monstrous Lairs
Monstrous lairs meant expanding the Staff Training and recruitment materials to now include "squad attachments" and now you can take your squads of 10 nameless troopers, give them a squad leader, a heavy weapons guy, a pet mascot, mount them on a bunch of horses or an elephant, have a hulking ogre follow them around, attach a pack of 10 hounds and then higher a dog wrangler to manage that pack. Or even other similar elaborate combinations.

It should spice up the "ten guys waiting in the guard room" dynamic with some variety as PCs occasionally encounter 10 guys and an ogre, 10 guys and a healer, 10 guys and a leader and his pet fire mini-dragon, etc...

Current speed bump
I just need a brief break, but maybe also I need to commit to the new special item proficiency mechanic outlined in the core as a bunch of the upcoming material is going to have very direct interactions with that.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm back!
Well, I didn't go anywhere, but the last few weeks have seen a few delays, like a nasty flu, a bunch of house build and manual earth works around it so it didn't all wash away, and of course suddenly a new gaming group manifesting out of the wilderness and deciding to play this thing... yeah... way before it's ready and really not even within the "2 week rush job to finish it adequately" window.

So even out of the time I had a lot of it was suddenly diverted into a quick setting, starting adventure, NPCs and some slightly customizable premades (to skirt around the lack of certain entire major rules sections).

That material is a, oh boy, real hack job, but I might clean it up later as some sample material. Not sure.

Anyway, screw the delay excuses, because DESPITE all that...

The Monsters Document Is Sorta Finished!
Yay!

Yep. Well. Ok I'm totally going to be going back there when ideas strike me or when I feel the need to bring it in line with developments in the larger more important cultural document. I know this because that's what always happens. But there is a lot of material there, what material I did have to convert has been converted, those ideas I have had so far for additions have largely been added, the thing is done.

And yeah, I still need to go back and cover the "how to build a people or individual" sections. Which I actually COULD sufficiently do at this point. But is less of a priority when I suddenly need shopping lists of regular items and potential cultural skill advancement for a gaming group.

Monstrous Armours Seems... short
Well, I just got to that bit and looked and monstrous items, and considered it, looked at the prior list of monstrous item specific armour options and thought "really, the stick a monstrous item material on a cultural item template works absolutely perfectly for crab armour and everything else, and if I just expand the cultural options with say, scale armour and fur armour categories, which would be beneficial anyway, then that's basically the damned lot".

So really, the monstrous armours section didn't NEED all that much.

So no defense for being naked?
Not really. I mean, you lose your defense for your armour after torn shirt. It's bad enough that that might motivate people, without any special skills or character investment, in some rare cases where they have time to unequip but not time to fix the expended item to decide to strip down to civilian clothing or even underwear to restore SOME minor default bonus that unexpended clothing offers. If nudity by default offered ANY defense bonus then in SOME context a completely untrained character that is NOT an expert exhibitionist and never chose to be is going to find themselves motivated to chuck off the torn shirt civilian gear for an improvement in defense. And that isn't really a good thing.

But what about the exhibitionists?
Well, nymphs are monsters right? Well, screw it they get to have a culture they can learn a nudity defense bonus as a damn cultural skill or wear a cultural item in oils and paints or underwear or something to give them their damned defense.

Hell WOLVES can damn well take a handful of cultural skills and blame rudimentary animal cunning and a secretive wolf society. That's totally fine.

But a few generic skills that enhance defenses which can apply even when naked, letting some monsters have scale keywords and things like that on their base body keyword list would mean they can qualify for their "I'm good with scale armour" skills to apply when naked (but apply better when wearing real scale armour), and so on.

Those would be good. A few minor things already apply like that such as Evasive Superiority or Beautiful Body.

I should probably have a few more of those skills right there IN the last section of the Monstrous document OR at least over in Generic Skills.

In fact I'm REALLY thinking I should also have a few "sure fine, civilian clothes, but hey, have a defense bonus on top of what they normally provide if thats all you got" skill or skills to chuck into Generic skills.

But I'll assess that more as I fill out the basic defensive options in the cultural document and figure out where the bonuses are coming from.


Still anyway, monster document first run is finished.

Which means...

Document 4
This is the link for the Cultural Options Document
The old cultural document is now depreciated and has been split into 4 smaller documents to improve google docs performance issues...

The new split document links are...
Cultural Document 1 : Opening and Misc
Cultural Document 2 : Clothing, Armour, Social Options
Cultural Document 3 : Mobility, Fighting, Professions
Cultural Document 4 : Magic Stuff

Once again, I'm throwing the link out there somewhere just around the "no content" stage. There are a few notes, some cut and pastes of material to salvage or adapt, some opening sections of the more filler type manner.

But that's where the bulk of the work will be going on for the next while.

I'll probably be targeting a few specific areas to cover options for players and the setting for my sudden new gaming group... so it might be a bit "wait? why jump from swords to lightning to interdimensional travel without covering hammers or fire balls?" but yeah. Cultural Document. It's where all the cool kids will be at these days.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So anyway some extra bits I'd like to ramble about.

How are Mid and High Tier Additions Going
Well. Monster options saw a few more of them. Well. Mostly a few more mid tier.

In some respects that's OK, a lot of monster options should be more accessible entry level things. But I still need, well, just plain more higher level options. We will see how cultural options goes.

Mid Tier options, well, the luxury/skill side anyway, rather than the so far neglected Treasure/item side saw a fair amount of use and I'm fairly happy were they are at. I suspect the few high tier options (on the high maintenance/skill side) aren't good enough, though the world destroying aspect of those is more intended on the upper end of the artifact/building side of things.

So yeah the mid tier luxury options are giving me a pretty nice split for some of the better skills to fall into and that at least seems to be working out pretty nice.

Rambling Hard To Reference Structure?
It's becoming increasingly evident that structure could be marignally better, but with fair sized tracts of rambling guidelines, explanations etc... even with re-organisation there is a fair bit of filler you might want to read only once ever in proportion to the tracts of crunchy rules you will want to look up or cut and paste frequently.

So to some extent even with a structural reform, which I may well do a clean up for later, these documents are ALWAYS going to have issues as frequent reference documents. (also my limited exploration of google docs contents/headings linking hasn't really resulted in the best internal document links).

In prior revisions I have done a run through after producing this sort of document and created secondary reference documents with all the crunch and only the crunch in marginally more sensible orders and groupings. At the very least a document with all the skills, a document with all the items, a document with all the buildings, and maybe a good traits/bad traits and a monsters options (minus filler) document.

Buuut... this time around I'm intending a higher focus on more customized final sub sets of option selections be generated as setting specific material. Sure your "weapon genius" might want to look at EVERY weapon related skill in the game and ask you where in the world he can learn it, or use some obscure trivial skill to get around training limitations and learn it without a cultural knowledge source... BUT for the most part people aren't selecting off the master skill list, they are selecting off several cultural skill lists representing their background and a few other setting specific cultures that have skills they are interested in.

So most of the referencing of the actual master lists or core documents should actually be done by the GM, the GM then generates setting specific lists of items and skills and other options, and then the players should mostly be referencing THOSE lists.

It doesn't eliminate the usefulness of creating cut down reference only crunch documents to cut and paste from and such, but it does reduce marginally reduce the need for them.

So not sure if I'm doing that at all.

I am however sure I'm not doing that YET because while the original documents are in major flux it's not a great idea to clone large portions of the material then have to edit at least two different documents every time you make ONE change to the rules. That inconvenience in the past has led to divergence between the original and the reference that saw me abandon the original and have nothing but the reference up to date and usable, which was sorta fine, but losing all that filler and guideline material entirely like that IS in the end a bit unfortunate.

Any kinda outline of the cultural document?
It's a tough one, more so than monster options cultural options will call for rambling guidelines, additional rules (beyond the base skill/item options themselves), and at least hints of fluff to give some potential context for the materials.

But the idea is to introduce some major concept as a main heading, provide some fluff/guidelines/related base rules additions, then sub heading in some categories of options, fill them with items and skills, and maybe a hint more fluff.

So it will be all like "Ethnic Dress/Civilian Clothing" (I haven't decided a title on that yet), then blah blah blah, people wear clothes, clothes are different, while shallow its a quick and fun way to add character and cultural differentiation to your setting, here maybe we'll finally give out some minor skill options for being the adventurer who doesn't wear armour and expects casual (or formal) wear clothing to do as good a job as a chainmail suit, and then BAM, sub headings for stuff like puffy pirate blouses or impractical corsets and a desperate attempt to given them some token but interesting mechanical purpose with skill and item text.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Here's a couple of things from cultural options...

Those Pants with That Shirt
So, "this culture likes to wear plate mail bikinis", but "this other culture likes to wear leather cat suits". Sure, fine, write up item profiles, you have one clothing slot (layered, but whatever, still just one), and it contains a leathery suit or a metal suit. Fine.

But then someone says "but what if this culture likes to wear plate mail bikini tops and leather pants!" and the whole thing falls to crap because you only have room for one item profile. Hell it even happens if an individual character, say a player character just wants to mix their wardrobe up a bit.

You can wiggle around it with item layers to some extent, also with things like turning your pants into a pocket accessory item. And there are some minimal options going in for just that sort of stuff. But its not enough.

I could have written in hybrid item profiles... but that's a pretty nasty multiplicative bloat issue sooner or later.

So what there is instead is a formal mechanical rule for how to combine two clothing/armour slot items into a single clothing/armour slot item without creating monstrous Frankenstein clothing/armour slot items twice as good as normal ones.

I'm undeservedly over proud of myself for that one. I mean like WAY too pleased that I've got a fairly straightforward trivial mechanic that lets people mix their tights with a pirate shirt.

Also I then used that mechanic to leverage a skill option I called "Piecemeal Fashion Criminal" and I am WAY too pleased with myself for that.

Segregating Abilities for ablative clothing strippers
In a system where item resource expenditure is a big deal and you are trying to have clothing items DO things and have skills that somehow use them, it's hard to avoid writing in options that end up a bit too much like stripper options.

Certainly some options like that have their place, for a start a few item skills/options are just going to have to involve throwing the clothing item at someone, because it's an ongoing pinning entangle attack or something. That's fine. And certainly some character builds might just want to BE characters who take their worn items off for fun and profit, it's not unpopular with players aiming to make both "sexy" characters who end up naked, or who simply like the idea of throwing off just one or two top layers of armour to reveal some... lower layers of armour.

But problems emerge when too many options revolve around throw off your clothes at stuff, or if the options are a bit too good.

In the past I had an issue, where a single cheap skill, marginally poorly conceived and worded, was all that was needed to turn the basic torn shirt ability into a means of layering every oils/underwear/clothing/armour/heavy armour/cloak layer in the game and stripping them off one by one to provide a significant number of blocks over a standard character without the skill, or even over a character who had taken some other single layer specific ablative block, like a cloak or heavy armour specific one.

This time around I was writing up some skills for the new "puffy clothing" category... and was putting in a few too many "expend or disarm" costs. It was looking pretty strippy for puffy pants experts.

So as well as writing up multiple separate skills for ablative layer removal, I wrote them in with options to turn expend costs into disarm costs. And then removed the majority of the disarm costs from the new puffy clothing skills.

The ablative layer removal and disarm for expend cost replacement options are more generic and can be used in more different character builds, they cut down slightly on text repetition in things like puffy pants skills, and they mean that you don't get unwanted free opt in to profitably throwing your pants off just because you wanted to invest in something from puffy pants skills.

Also in the process I wrote in a joke "Hammer Time" skill of only marginal practical utility. Again, I'm way too pleased with myself for that.

I may yet go back and segregate the ablative layer effects from the expend/disarm cost exchange effect, there is something for now that just feels hacky or over complex about it, but for now it's staying.

Makeshift Items
Ended up in cultural options, possibly should have gone in Generic or core? Anyway...

Makeshift items, basically some guidelines to picking up random trash and using it as weapons, armour, or other items.

Gives some basic ideas as to potential action costs to arbitrarily select from, how to arbitrarily select item profiles, and then a pile of makeshift item penalty traits to arbitrarily select from.

Yes it's a lot of arbitrary selection, but there is a process here, and there is something to actually select. Which puts "can I wear that curtain as a functional cloak for my actual cloak skills?" into slightly better territory than "no process at all".

It also lays ground work that can be usefully applied for dealing with ancient rusty garbage swords, really low quality budget bin crap items, and poorly fitted worn items.

Again, far too pleased with myself on Makeshift items.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, I've hit the latest speed bump.

Item/Skill Defense Bonuses
OK. So a big part of your defenses, specifically you physical defenses kicks in with items like armour and clothing.

Previously, to motivate varied armours you could get a fairly similar defense bonus over all from most choices, you just changed the type, people in light or no armour got more Evasive bonus, people in robes and skirts got more Obfuscating bonus, and people in actual plate armour and stuff got more Armour bonus.

Problems arise when you combine these bonuses for mixed items, and with skills to enhance defence and the armour/clothing layering system.

Previously light armour/clothing evasive bonuses actually came mostly from skills that checked your armour type for being light enough to qualify. While heavier armour bonuses mostly came from the items themselves and got only minimal bonuses from skills.

Also previously the armour layering system worked out OK because armour bonuses contributing to top layer sort of made sense and your evasive bonus, coming by way of your skills, checked your over all top layer defense profile to determine if it should apply.

Now, one upshot was a potential risk of "collecting them all", with the right layering, item combos and skill selections you could, at the cost of collecting lots of keywords that attackers could match up against you, pick up every incremental item and skill based defense bonus in the game. And it could add up... fairly high, enough to be off the RNG for SOME attackers.

BUT, in my wisdom, I determined change was in order.

Changing to primarily item sourced bonuses?
OK. So for whatever reason I thought it would be a good idea to basically take most of the evasive and obfuscating benefits and just paste them straight onto the items themselves, so now the three main item bonuses were right on the items and you didn't need "light armour/clothing defense" skill as much early game because you just had most of the evasive bonus from it right on your clothing or light armour.

But that worked out poorly
So early in writing it up interactions with the clothing/armour layer system went poorly.

So clothing/armour layering exists for two main reasons...
1) Ablative characters who do things like shed a cloak or big heavy armour layer and continue to fight in lighter armour.
2) Partial armour characters, who wear armour that does not entirely cover their lower layers of defences stacking up the weakness of more defense keywords in return for, presumably, some sort of benefit.

But now because of clothing armour layering if I didn't write in some proviso your lower layers would contribute both their armour AND their evasive or even obfuscating benefits to top layers on partial armour characters. And that's going to lead to problems, because while with some minor care I could get away with all layer armour bonuses contributing, since generally lower layers will rarely contribute more than upper layers and generally only contribute small armour bonuses if they do, if EVASIVE bonuses are passed up from lower layers than you actually COULD build a character with MAXIMUM Evasive bonus AND MAXIMUM armour bonus and you could do it really easily with like just two items or something.

So the armour, evasive and obfuscating bonuses needed to be separated out of their basic item keyword lists and go into item benefit text with provisos like "if part of top layer" and "if top most layer" or "if sole top layer". And THAT was a mess.

At the same time bonus stacking control attempts fumbled
So ALSO in an attempt to keep incremental bonuses from stacking to hell and back I thought, "Hey, what if like, the skills that increase your armour, evasive or obfuscating bonuses for wearing the right stuff, like, mostly contributed an increase in the non-stacking bonus provided by the armour, so they aren't providing "Evasive +2" which is the stacking notation they are increasing "Evasive 2" to "Evasive 4" which is NOT stacking notation, so while it is still two points higher it ISN'T if they also get Evasive 4 from somewhere else!

Yeah well, anything that required a differentiation between "Evasive +2" and "add two points to your item's Evasive value" was ALWAYS going to be a confusing mess, especially if you then had to repeat it in like A MILLION different skill texts.

So that was a mess.

And both those messes I think need cleaning up.

Discarded Option 1
OK, so an early option that didn't make it?

It was "screw that, maybe no item defense bonuses from items, the bonuses only come from skills which merely check if you are wearing the right items for the bonus, I will write an Evasive, Obfuscating and Armour bonus skill and each one can, conditionally EITHER provide a large non-stacking bonus of the type or a smaller stacking bonus of the type if you meat conditions like "wearing only light armour or less".

Yeah but no. That lacked the armour differentiation I might like, it was too dry and simplified but still managed to put too much emphasis on early skill taxes to get your defences in order, yet still had potential complex stacking issues I disliked and so on.

The current experimental methodology
So the NEW plan is this.

1) Reform the layer bonus stacking rules. You don't just get bonuses for all your layers that are part of your top layer. You now have certain rules for the Evasive, Obfuscating and Armour bonuses that manage how they stack...

So you get your BEST base Armour bonus, even if you cover it completely (yes that means that at least one skill is now redundant and needs fixing). But it also makes it more obviously a good idea to wear a chainmail undershirt, and is frankly gives nice fluffy intuitive feelings.

You get your WORST base Evasive bonus. I don't care if your "super agile tiny underwear layer" is showing, you are wearing a god damned giant partial heavy plate suit on top and it has NO evasive bonus, you lose your damned evasive bonus.

I'm a little unsure what to do with Obfuscating bonus, I'm thinking you get your obfuscating bonus for your visible top layers. Not entirely committed on how to treat transparent layers for top visible layer purposes.

Stacking notation for bonuses from skills should still just work on conditional bonuses, so if you just flat out get Evasive +1 from evasive superiority, or if you get a Pretty +1 bonus if you meet certain conditions you just add all that on after the new rules for layered bonus stacking.

With better stacking rules items can just have flat Evasion 4 Armour 2 Obfuscating 3 type entries appended directly to item keyword lists cutting down on text and confusion, and making it a little easier for me to simply set the numbers I want to set. I hope.

2) Separately in an attempt to wrangle the stacking of "catch them all" armour/clothing defense bonus Skills into an orderly bundle that is less in danger of stacking together until it is wildly out of control, all (or at least most?) of those options will now provide a typed "Skill" keyword bonus to defense with no stacking notation. So if "no armour" skill gives Skill 3 to defence when you don't wear armour, and "armour" skill gives Skill 3 to defence when you DO wear armour, then hey, that doesn't ever actually add to anything other than +3 to your final PDef score.

There is still some room for some "override" skills, certainly there very probably needs to be some sort of "naked defence" skill for edge case soft shelled monsters and naked barbarians and stuff so that characters that invest in it can have a reasonable base defense score even when they don't have ANY layers of protective anything. And maybe that needs to be an "Evasive X" type bonus rather than just a Skill typed bonus.

But hopefully all that should keep bonuses in line a little.

What IS in line for bonuses?
Well, before items, with minimal investment characters can get a +3 skill bonus to attacks, and with their good traits are probably averaging about +4 ish PDef, onto a base PDef of 5, which is a net PDef of about 9 vs a net +3 attack so hits on 6+.

Standard weapon items are expected to add, an average, of about +3 vs random keyword. Elements for Blaster attacks are intended to add about +3 vs random keyword. Materials MIGHT add about +3 vs random keyword OR you might add an element to a weapon attack for +3 vs random keyword.

So you are getting maybe a CONDITIONAL +6 to your attacks from items sooner or later fairly easily.

You might further bump this with a selection of skills, like some already in good/bad traits, that give you some additional conditional attack bonuses, while these could stack to infinity, they are small, conditional, and fairly pricey, so I'm going to, for now, assume players WILL take them, but not MANY of them, it might require a little discipline and vigilance on this though. Still, very possible to walk in pretty early with about a +2 more on average conditional attack bonus, and possible to inflate that slowly IF it turns out you can shop around and find cultural rather than good/bad trait sources for more.

So that is all up maybe a +8 more from the initial scenario and now we have +11 vs PDef of about 9.

But item contributions to PDef need to apply. So I'm thinking PDef "armour use skills" will be adding Skill 3 to Pdef.

That leaves us with about 5 points of potential PDef we can source on items alone JUST to get back to "hits on +6ish" territory. Indeed it leaves us with about 5 points of potential PDef we perhaps SHOULD source on items alone to get back to what is probably a good MINIMUM territory of "hits on +6ish". I would not be altogether displeased if there was the potential to collect enough bonuses for some characters to get their defenses into the hits on +11ish territory relatively easily enough, or even a bit higher for the rare super invested character.

So I'm calling it easily between 5-10 points of PDef that items, like base armours and clothing, shields, accessories like helmets etc... can/should add. Then maybe a few negligible skill based boosts for a couple more points, maybe.

I'd be ok with some of the worse options adding less. You know the sort of things you expect PCs to rapidly find better alternatives to. But that's the general gist of actual important items.

What about further bonus inflation with advancement?
Well, while bonuses at both ends might reasonably increase with "catch them all" acquisitions over time you will probably be working fairly hard (and spending resources perhaps better spent elsewhere) to add fairly small increments to either attack or defense.

GENERALLY the intention is that higher level abilities from mid or high tier will improve you offensive power with more targets, more damage, and more special effects, while higher tier defenses will improve your HP and provide better and cheaper blocks rather than focusing on just giving you flat attack or defense bonuses.

We will see how that crazy plan actually works out...

So "Skill" hey? Keyword list inflation?
Yep this game has a LOT of keywords. But they are I think even with a potentially LIMITLESS keyword list, at least when it comes to the less mechanically deep keywords, still better than having to decide things like "is this item 'Metal' for skills that give you bonuses relevant to metal items?" WITHOUT a formal keyword list to refer to.

I mean I COULD just trash the keywords and STILL have "electro blaster" attack give a "+3 vs metal" and just leave you to your devices to decide if a target is/has metal or not...

Wait... What about SDef?
This will need some consideration, some items maybe should be contributing to SDef, and also some skills. But unlike the PDef items... they aren't making it into the priority list for my surprise campaign, which is on again in, good god less than 24 hours, and may well be neglected for a while.

Meanwhile Social attack bonuses aren't going to inflate from the base +3 all that quickly (yet), and base SDefs (after assuming everyone eventually rapidly takes Socially Developed, or something of similar value) are probably averaging in at about 9/14 without or with alert applied with relatively little effort. There are already a few "sensory" Sdef bonuses to pick up from monster options, and specialists from the good traits could be walking in after some skill investments with substantially higher than average already.

Anyway. SDef and it's interactions with cultural options will need some work. Later.

So anyway, next...
I go back, revise the drabs of the first failed methodology for reforming this stuff, and write the items under the assumptions that the rules I'm considering here are in place, then if that works out and feels OK I'll go back and correct the defense layering/stacking rules back in core.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So anyway, I'm liking how the Armour/Defense bonus shake down is going in those armour/clothing categories I've now done (a fairly pointless grab bag for the surprise campaign).

And the next rather minor hurdle is...

How Generic Are These Here Skills?
So. Yeah. Generic Skills. I took some things out of the horror game good/bad trait skills, I took some skills out of the old mouse trap Generic Skill Set, and put them in a culture neutral generic skills set.

And now I wrote up some skills for Unarmed Combat stuff, as a start for the weapons stuff.

But. Hey. There are things in Generic Skills, that maybe should at least be repeated in weapons and stuff (like say, the basic Unarmed attack skill bonus).

And there are things in Generic skills that maybe shouldn't be generic and should go into acrobatics/mobility cultural options or into a broad "any weapon/attack skill set, but a cultural option that doesn't always happen" thing.

And there are skills in Unarmed Combat that could be made more generic, as in applicable to weapon based combat too, but still kept in the cultural options rather than the Generic skill options.

The cultural options need a lot of choices so you can pick and choose and make your unarmed fighter culture a bit different from someone elses, but that doesn't mean all the unarmed attack relevant skill options for your culture need to be IN the unarmed combat section, and having "Delayed Strike" for unarmed combat ALSO be the same skill for builds using weapon combat... means less text duplication, less confusion, more efficient less cluttered characters, and a lot of other good things.

And as for the falling strike type mobility options in generic skills... just because they got taken off like... three duplicates or more in the good traits skill sets... doesn't mean they shouldn't be moved to a cultural options section instead of just EVERYONE having the option to pick up falling strike without ANY (admittedly very very minor) knowledge/background/culture hoops at all.

So yeah. Some mild decision making and double revision of a few items as they come in, some passes and checks to resort them to a better place in the rules with more generically applicable text to open up wider combinations.

Not a major hurdle, but the latest one nonetheless.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Progress Report Says...
Minor progress.

I went back to the Monster Options document and filled out some "default body layout" templates using the already written missing bits/extra bits/mobility options. So now there is some clear indication that yes, instead of a humanoid you can just build a wolf or a centaur or a bat or whatever, the options ARE already there.

Also in the Monster Options I filled out the "how to" sections for People and Individuals, and filled out the "you get to ignore various limitations because NPC MONSTER" (note the limitations you get to ignore aren't mechanical ones, they are limitations like "playable peoples probably should have hands" type limitations).

I have converted a bunch of acrobatics options, I stole some acrobatics options away from the generic options, coppied a couple from the good traits, converted old material from the old acrobatics skill set, and stole some material from the unarmed and weapon fighting skill sets.

I have written up some "slightly generic" attack skill options for the top of the weapon options for the cultural document, many stollen from conversions in the unarmed and weapon sections and made a bit more generic.

There are still a few unarmed/weapon options I perhaps should convert over to broader more generic skills. but... for now whatever.

There are some place holder headings and some dumps for cuts and pastes of unconverted material as I shunt it out of (semi) completed sections as I go.

Melee weapons are in, (well, a firm start anyway), some ranged weapons are in, unarmed is done for skills, but needs some items (monstrous and otherwise).

Melee weapons and maybe ranged weapons need perhaps some splitting into sub sections and some additional fill out in options. For instance taking say the disarm or sever item options, sticking them in a "Dsarming" or "Mutiliation" sub section then throwing in some relevant skills to work with them might be a good idea. Similarly I kinda want to put in at least ONE "sword master" skill for sword specific... something... ideally some sort of special attack/attack upgrade, which could call for separation, or at least additional material under headings like "Sword, Axe, Hammer" etc... AND finally I could really use some more exotic melee weapons like tridents and stuff.

Throwing weapons, light and heavy weapons, shields, and energy blaster weaponry still need doing. Some more exotic weapon modifiers need to be added/expanded/converted (barbed weapons I'm looking at you... to become a template to work from).

Mind you a LOT still needs doing, I need to easily tripple the material for ethnic dress, at least double or more the material for armours, magic powers, even JUST the blasty ones, but also the rest need HUGE expansions. Healing in particular NEEDS to go in, magical and otherwise, a lot of assumptions have been built around it working a certain way and basically being fairly widely available, it's important.

Social themed skill sets, and skill sets built on the socially developed keyword themes (like educated and irresponsible) don't exist, and need to.

Even the new Mobility section needs more material for vehicles, dancers, luxury through acrobatics, etc...

And then after that I have already got references and tie ins for exo-armour, potions, alchemy, drugs, poisons, and things like oppression, slavery, and hell at some point I need some cultural material on sexism and racism and stuff. Hell I even need sections on nudity, public baths, plumbing, some sort of an excuse to have people build huge infiltratable vent systems into their palaces, and other things like that.

THEN there is all the materials like special metals and elemental energy as swords and... yeah the list just keeps going...

Whats there now is ALMOST a barest possible set of options for play... but still not good enough, I started up a bit of a premature "example of play" document, but got to the end of "first you generate a setting, starting with peoples..." and hit culture generation and just went "nope, not enough".

Immediate Priority?
Probably need to fill out unarmed items and move on to the basic 4 social sets of Terrorism, Seduction, Friendship and Lies. Oh yeah, and healing, I should REALLY do healing.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Is there a way to get around someone using the guard action to block attacks? If there's 5 guys guarding the zone I'm in and I attempt to escape who do I get a free attack on?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
Is there a way to get around someone using the guard action to block attacks?

I had somewhat intended to add in a guard bypassing attack or several, but it's of questionable value because there are already 2 cheaper ways (with more broadly applicable benefits) to bypass guards substituting themselves as targets.

1) You cannot substitute yourself as a target with guard (at least the default one) if you are ALREADY a target of the attack. So multi-target attacks just target the thing you want to attack and the guard and the guard can do dick all.

2) Being faster than the guard. The guard action only counts in the turn you use it. And timing is an issue. So a Fast attacker flat out ignores a guard action that only happens in the normal or slow phase.

[edit]: And 3) Parry(Cancel All Actions) is a relatively common effect. It would cancel the guard action, leaving the guard unable to substitute for the primary target.

Quote:
If there's 5 guys guarding the zone I'm in and I attempt to escape who do I get a free attack on?

You get it on any of them, your choice.

Might not be the best answer and probably needs to be clearly stated but it works and is probably better than "all of them or you fail".

edit: I've tried making some changes to the terrible wording of the default Guard action to better reflect this
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Something that made your game stand out was the terms 'torn shirt' and 'underwear' being a slot people should have jotted down on their character sheets.

From what I undertstand, 'torn shirt' means you can sacrifice whatever you're wearing to increase your resilience to incoming damage, right?

So is it like Ghouls n' Ghosts where the armor breaks off but the guy underneath it is still fine? Are combats between named important characters expected to result in both being stripped to their underwear before one of them delivers a KO?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

As I understand it, there's a big difference between "expended" and "disarmed" in this system. You can still wear Expended plate armour or whatever. It isn't providing you any real protection (no static defence bonus) but you're still covered in metal so its keywords still apply. Attacks that have a particularly difficult time harming metal targets will still have their typical penalty against you.

I'm pretty sure the term "torn shirt" came from the James Bond spy iteration of this ruleset. Spies movie fights often end up damaging but not destroying the clothing of at least one participant. Mooks just fall over, but named characters just barely dodge that rapier / bullet / flying hat and get a big hole in their shirt. So it's not quite Ghouls n' Ghosts level, but clothing damage does happen.

A previous version had a whole pile of skills that let you get a "torn shirt" for every clothing layer and bonuses for removing clothing, leading to the possibility of stripper tanks. I haven't actually read all the new skills, but Phonelobster made a point of saying that was mostly gone because it was too silly and encouraged stripping in characters that thematically really shouldn't at higher levels.

I'm pretty sure Underwear is a slot because it's important to both the whole "the base attacked while I was sleeping" thing and some character concepts. One of the core conceits of the game is that you will not always have your best battle gear on you when you get into a sticky situation, so being able to upgrade to better underwear isn't as pointless as it sounds. As you noted, it's also important due to the destruction of equipment. If your plate armour is expended, it can sometimes be worth stripping down to something lighter. Also, you're mechanically incentivized to have entertainment of various forms in and around your base, and having different "levels" of underwear available to equip your strippers with in case ninjas attack (or as a ninja sneaking in as a stripper) is a good thing for the game.

Characters in this game are not expected to remain murderhobos forever. The best stuff only works if you've got a stable base to train from and opulent surroundings. Wealth is almost directly convertible to power, but instead of lighting millions of dollars in gemstones on fire for another +1 on your sword you convert wealth to power by building awesome castles with literal golden halls and hire dozens of servants to attend your every whim. EDIT: I mostly intended this to mean characters are expected to live the high life, so you can't reasonably avoid the "attacked in your base" rules by not building a base. That means that chances are you were doing something that doesn't necessitate running around in hot, heavy armour with a half-dozen magic weapons when the ninjas attack. Also, magic weapons explicitly don't work well (or at all) unless you keep them in crazy made-to-order treasure rooms most of the time - you literally can't walk around with your Flame Blade all day every day and expect it to keep burninating things.

Unrelated remark @Phonelobster: The "Lady Godiva Turbo Overdrive Exploit" is still my favourite name for a ridiculous rules interaction. It wouldn't surprise me if it's gone now, but I had no attachment to the rule, just your name for it.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This Week, Healing
So this last week I mostly wrote up healing stuff into the cultural document.

There are now healing rooms, healing staff, healing items, healing skills, healing potions.

There are also stubs, or referrals, or additional materials associated with those for mad frankenstien style surgery, prosthetic item stuff, references to mutation magic, stubs for alchemy, poisons, drugs, and stuff, and whatever else came up in that process.

I still however need to go back and do the Unarmed Combat items.

And of course, the unlimited supply of other things I could and should be adding to cultural documents.

Wait I missed that Torn Shirt and Underwear thing
I was away and I didn't catch that there were posts on here until I started writing this one.

Rampaging Poet is mostly accurate. And in more detail than I would have gone into no less.

So yeah. Torn Shirt doesn't destroy, remove, or even render embarresing your clothing/armour/whatever. It's a difficult concept but kinda vital to give well, basically EVERYONE with a name what basically amounts to at least one "special" HP to avoid all the potential mutilating injuries the game throws around (or when that fails a fourth default HP before falling over).

It's in the game for largely the reasons Rampaging Poet says, plus also because of a focus on dynamic item resource management.

I don't THINK I've yet created to much of a stripper tank issue in the current iteration of the rules, I've already mentioned a few times measures I'm taking to largely avoid it, but there ARE opt in build options for specialists, and it's a conceivable and reasonable role... just as long as EVERYONE doesn't just realise that they ALL can take that ONE skill point cost option from the no clothes set (set currently doesn't exist at all but it will again in some form) on basically ANY character turning them into a stripper with up to 3 to 6 extra blocks on them.

Though I'm pretty sure I've rendered it pretty much standard that taking a torn shirt in the cloak item layer specifically and then throwing off your cloak for free is pretty much a VERY cheap bonus torn shirt option that pretty much anyone noticing it might take, basically at the cost of... finding a cheap as trash cloak somewhere, but cloaks are cool so... yeah... until I see that becoming a boring exploit to me its pretty much explicitly in.

Meanwhile... underwear, and even lower layers like paints and oils get a look in because of many of the reasons outlined by Rampaging Poet, and because the system is supposed present viable options for characters who sometimes/always run around in tiny metal pants and some wrestling oil, if they want to.

Lady Godiva Turbo Overdrive MkII
So for anyone who forgets, Lady Godiva Turbo Overdrive was an unfortunate exploit that potentially came about from a small combination of options.

1) You could take a "distracting movement" skill from the Dancer skill set that applied an uncapped penalty to attack rolls for people who saw you move (while in skimpy clothing or less). And the penalty just got bigger the further you moved in one turn.

2) You could move really fast really easily. The game was full of movement boost skills and gear, but even aside from that, you could just fall off a building or... get on a horse.

So the cheapest exploit was 1 skill, 1 horse, and a naked character riding around at full tilt applying some pretty hefty penalties, throw in poor stacking protection and about three or four of them would put pretty much everyone present (possibly including each other) right off the RNG.

Various measures went in to correct or limit it in the old system. The new system (I don't think) has an uncapped incarnation of that skill, or any direct incarnation of it (yet). But the new system does have some better standards and precedents for stacking limitations/notation, an entirely different and better "distract" mechanic to potentially use and abuse, and other things that could help.... buuuuut it also is on a strong trajectory for far more and better movement boosting options than the prior edition.

For now Lady Godiva Turbo Overdrive isn't an issue (i think), but one must remain eternally vigilant.

Next Focus
I don't know, maybe I should fill out the Dancer section what with all the Lady Godiva Turbo Overdrive and Stripper Tank talk. It's pretty much the main place where those things can go wrong or not. That and whatever is going to be the No Clothes skill set incarnation for this edition.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Nudity In Mousetrap
So anyway, I went ahead and just covered nudity now.

Seems quick? Why yes it was quick. Why? Because there wasn't much to it.

Mostly some cultural fluff about "cultures, nudity, why not?" and then... very little actual mechanical crunch. This is largely because of two main factors.

1) This edition has seen a lot of ground work making a no clothes full skill set less necessary.

Between monstrous armour items being so damned useful for monsters (one of the big original beneficiaries of "bonuses for not having clothes on" skills), and attempting to increase the costs of "stripper tanking" builds by already having covered ablative layer stripping skills in a deliberately expensive format right in the generic clothing skills, to having what a distracting clothing removal parry in Pretty to copy already... there just wasn't much left to add.

2) Because the cultural document is now a more selective smorgasbord there doesn't need to be a "one stop shop" of a full stand alone functional "no clothes" skill set like there used to be.

No clothes, in various incarnations had all sorts of overlaps with unarmed combat, acrobatics, evasive defenses, all sorts of things. Now we don't NEED that, it only needs to fill various gaps you cannot just go and cherry pick from other skill sets anyway. When building a skill set for a culture/organisation/individual that is naked and evasive and acrobatic and does unarmed fighting and whatever... you get your evasiveness acrobatics and unarmed fighting elsewhere and only stop by Nudity or Dancing for things you COULDN'T get elsewhere.

So the main things Nudity offered were the most basic skills to substitute for your basic PDef bonuses you lose out on for not wearing clothes, and some "yay I'm naked" minor options for gaining energy and stuff for it. The main things Dancer has (so far) added was a cultural source for the strippy distraction options cut and pasted from Pretty, and a few other minor "things for dancing girl assassins" like... notably, that damned Lady Godiva skill.

This time it has a bunch of provisos and limits stuck to it, it's still good... but... well... yeah... I may need to do some more work on that one.

Dancer still needs some extra stuff, and I have some really nice ideas for it, but they are outside of the whole nudity related realm.

The only other nudity related material I can think of (right now) off the top of my head for the cultural document might be... Paints and Oils items/related skills, Skimpy Clothing items and related skills (deserves it's own section in Ethnic Dress), and maybe some stuff in Seductive social skills/items.

But anyway, the freshly added stuff should cover a large part of "what role does/can nudity play in mousetrap".

Oh yeah, and I added a handful of Unarmed Combat templates for unarmed monstrous weapons for kung fu guys to get their weapon based typed attack bonuses out of.

Next I should probably complete the Dancer section with some more "not a stripper" dancer skills and then maybe some item support.

Then while I have some time and disinterest in GTA for a day or so. Maybe something else? Weapons could really use that split/additional material...
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