Echelon Core Rules Draft Outline

So, October’s been rather lighter on posts than I really wanted. Between trying to get my act together health-wise (eat better, sleep more, work out better), a compelling project (Vale of Elsir map for Nik) and work (the next release of our primary service is now staging for release next month) I’ve been fairly pressed for time.

In an effort to get my writing kick-started again, and because next month is National Novel Writing Month, I’m adapting the NaNoWriMo plan for Echelon. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write, over the course of November, a 50,000-word novel. That’s not quite what I’m doing, and the subject of this post should be a pretty good hint as to what I’m aiming for.

I’m going to try to have a draft copy of the Echelon Core Rules together by the end of November. As appropriate for NaNoWriMo, I’ll be putting a less focus on perfecting things and more on getting content together. I’d like to be able to go to the table in December and actually try this.

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Vale of Elsir, Reinterpreted

Vale of Elsir

Vale of Elsir, according to Nik

A friend of mind is running a D&D 4e campaign and was unhappy with one of the maps he was using.  In order to get a complete view of the Vale he was using several maps butted together.  They had differences in color and style (which never looks good) and some weird geography that got on his nerves.  Mine too, when I saw it.

I’d been looking for a challenge, and this looked like an interesting one.  He sent me a copy of the original, marked up where he wanted changes.  Extend a mountain range here, chop this river in half so it doesn’t go over the mountain range as in the original, and so on.

I’ve spent perhaps 15 hours on this in the last few days, usually a couple of hours at a time in the evening while we hashed out what was being done with the map.  It’s fairly close to what I’d originally scribbled as a starting point, but some things got moved or changed as we came up with better ideas.

Of course, I see some room for improvement yet, some specific things to work on next time.  However, this was my first time compositing something this complex, and overall I’m quite satisfied.

Languages in RPG Settings

Just an aside, and entirely unrelated to the rest of this post, but yesterday was my 100th post to this blog.  Not really meaningful or important, but I think it’s a little bit cool. — kjd

Sometimes we overcomplicate things in the design of role-playing games in an effort to be realistic. One place I’ve really noticed this is in language rules. I have seen a great deal of effort put into managing language, and I think it’s probably not at all needed.

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Token Pools in Echelon

When I first read of the token pool mechanic in Iron Heroes (the core of which can be found on this site in the Open Gaming Content Library under Token Pools) I wasn’t pleased. I thought they would be a pain to track.

In the last few years I’ve been watching and playing a lot of different board games (something to do during my lunch hour), including a bunch of German board games. These games can be full of resource management and I’ve seen a number of ways of keeping track of resources. Of them all, collecting and manipulating tokens of various types has been perhaps the most straightforward and playable.

Considering how much I dislike keeping track of powers usable a certain number of times per day (let alone how I feel about Pathfinder’s ’rounds per day’ of use of powers like rage… there’s a lot of things I like about Pathfinder, but this isn’t one of them), a mechanism that allows use and reuse of related powers but constrains their overuse appeals to me.

In short, I know a bit more about resource management in games than I did then, and I’ve come to decide that a token pool mechanic such as is described in Iron Heroes may well be what I’m looking for in Echelon.

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On Talent Prerequisites

In a recent thread in, I was asked if I would really allow a player character to have “any bizarre talent of his level just because he feels like it”.

The short answer: sure, why not? As long as it makes some sense for the character, I see no reason related to balance to restrict it. There may be setting reasons to disallow it, but that’s beyond my control outside my own campaign.

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