Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Something old ... something new ...

So lately I have been working on a medieval skirmish combat version of the Xceptional Game mechanic that would allow me to concentrate on combat in general and weapons and armor specifically. I had a bunch of rough ideas on paper which I decided to dump here because I felt like I needed to post something, and every once in a blue moon (oh, so rare, but really welcome) some one will read something I've posted and say something encouraging ... and I needed some encouragement.

Then a few days later I look at the post, and ... well as you know, I found it to be a mess. So I have "gone back to the drawing board" as it were. The thing is, I am in fantasy skirmish combat mode now and still haven't put that to bed. So some of the work I did in trying to improve the weapons and armor aspect in Xceptional is finding its way into what I am doing now, but what I am doing now isn't Xceptional ... it's new.

Or, actually it's really old. As I decided that trying to force the Xceptional Game mechanic to become something it wasn't was like trying to chop down a mighty oak tree with a small herring, I began to look for something to replace it with. And I had something already prepared. Or at least remembered from long ago.

The very first RPG that I ever tried to create was called Xerospace. It was science fiction and a mix of space opera and mutants with super powers (the premise being that the act of traveling through Xerospace (my own version of hyperspace) actually caused mutations (aka super powers) ... it was Star Wars meets the X-Men. And as with everything I do, it had it's own quirky little game mechanic. One that I haven't fiddled with since 1997. Just for fun I laid it in to the work I was doing with Player Facing Rolls to see what might happen and ... wow!

So now I'm working on a completely new fantasy based game system and here we go again.

I am thinking of just calling this one Rage Precognition Grace after the three primary character Ability Scores which I am retaining. That was also the name I used for a 1 page RPG that I did, but it's mine name so I can reuse it if I want to.

I want to drop a quick note of thanks to Rob Lang at the Free RPG Blog. He gave a very nice little shout out to me on his blog that I only just read today (and it couldn't have come at a better time.) After throwing up my hands in exasperation as my efforts to make the Xceptional mechanic do something it couldn't. I was really questioning myself. Sometimes when our creativity takes a hit, it's hard to recover. And there is very little gratification in the "free RPG game" let me tell you.

Rob's kind words gave me a much needed boost of self-confidence and renewed determination. So, I am writing again and feel invigorated in doing it. Thanks for that, Rob!


Jeff Moore


  1. You're welcome, Jeff! It's great being part of a community, isn't it?

    Xceptional is next on the list to review, sir. Would you like me to wait or plough on with the current version?

  2. I think Xceptional is as complete as it's going to be until some spark of inspiration hits that tells me how to improve it.

    It think the game can work well. The "control damage" mechanic is one of the key aspects to the whole thing and adds an interesting strategy element, but in practice it's clunky and slows things down too much, especially on the GM side of the equation. The book keeping simply becomes too cumbersome in situations where the battles grow beyond more than a few bad guys.

    That said, I'd still love to see a review of the game. Constructive evaluation and feedback of the positives and negatives will only provide me with more tools with which to evolve as a designer. Please, proceed at your convenience and thanks! I welcome the review.

    I was reading through Chad Underkoffler's Truth and Justice the other day. I think T&J is one of the best Super's games I've ever read, (I've never played it, but the game is really well written and looks great on paper.) and I found myself thinking, "I've really got to raise my game."

    Everything that I have written up to this point is little more (sometimes less) than a tool kit. I like tool kit systems because I really do tend to do more with less in actual play.

    It's weird, but it seems like the more material I have to reference, the more obligation I feel to use it ... and this actually becomes restrictive rather than liberating. That tends to prejudice my efforts as a creator.

    Then, I look at something like T&J which is the work of one creator (like me) laboring to breath life into his ideas and I see how beautiful and fully developed his efforts are and I realize I need to be doing more. With each new project, I think ... this is "the one" ... this time I have hit the "magic formula" that will inspire me to create a real RPG ... something beyond, "the kit."

    Inspiration is elusive ... and for myself, the longer that I spend on a project, the more critical of it I become ... and the more critical I become, the more elusive the inspiration. I really need to figure out how folk like Chad (an everyone else in the world who writes) manage to stay out of their own way.

    I am sure a big part of that is in some advice I read once on a writer blog that said, "Don't edit while you are writing ... just write." It's good advice, but difficult to follow when you are a one man show like so many of us are. I tend to read a re-read my work, tweak and twist it over and over ... I'm sure I loose some momentum in the process.

    I still feel like I have that "one great RPG" inside me ... that definitive work that reflects the game I want to play better than anything I could buy in a store. My hope is to create this masterpiece for me ... just for me ... but, to then discover that it speaks to others out there who want to play it the same way I do. That would be awesome!