Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Brief Scene Excerpt (Adventurers try to fill out questionnaire at Society for Autonomous Individuals)

[Selections in bold represent player's choices]

"Which of the following statements best describes your abhorrence for adventuring guilds like the Lucrios Expedition House?"

1. "The low entertainment, easy wages, and unscrupulous conduct found there thwart my progress toward freedom of thought and action."
2. "The contrived camaraderie one always sees in such places excites my misanthropic organ."
3. "While the entrepreneurial drive of someone like Eduard Lucrios is commendable, I resent putting another person's name above my own."
4. Not finding any choice they could support without important qualifications, the adventurers appealed to Rylev.

"There may not be a perfect answer; just try to settle on the best answer," he said.

1. "We are going to look for work elsewhere," said <FirstName> grumpily.
2. The party resigned themselves to finishing the questionnaire.

"Oh? All right," said Rylev, returning to his papers. As the party left, he called after them -- "If you change your minds, you know where to find me."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I have no sense of anything firm yet, and I anticipate work slowing down while the semester ramps up. That said, I intend to spend a lot of the summer (which I have off) working on the game, and may have slightly more freedom to do so in the fall, too. I'd really like to finish everything by around this time next year, but I could also see it taking longer. Writing is by far the most mysterious variable. Sometimes it takes a long time, sometimes very little.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Charisma, Part 2

Yesterday I discussed how Charisma interacts with conversation options in the game. Today I'm discussing what else Charisma affects -- treasure and experience rewards.

After winning any battle, the game will check to see if any character has a certain Charisma score or higher. This number will vary. If they do, the characters will have the option of selecting better rewards. Charismatic characters also get bigger experience bonuses from completing quests.

This may seem odd, especially given Charisma's traditional domain -- personality, leadership, etc. It's true that I've broadened the attribute to encompass what same game systems would call luck. But it makes a kind of intuitive sense to me that a magnetic personality could attract good fortune as well as people. 

If the party includes no characters with high Charisma but players want these extra rewards, there is a way for them to get them -- they have to use trait slots to purchase "Fortune's Favored" (which gets them any treasure Charisma 16 would) and/or "Itinerant of Renown" (which gets them XP rewards that Charisma 16 would).  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Charisma, Part 1

In at least one way, Charisma works in the game just like you'd expect it to: it makes characters more persuasive in conversation. Unlike most contemporary editions of D&D, it does this all on its own, with no Diplomacy, Bluff, or Intimidate skills. There are a few reasons for this:

1) All non-combat skills in the game use Wisdom.

2) I wanted to make Charisma itself more versatile in more situations.

3) There's sometimes a fine line between the conversation skills, Bluff and Diplomacy especially.

4) Finally, I wanted players to read, interpret, and make decisions about conversation choices because of the language itself. Using Charisma, which is pretty broad conceptually ("compelling attractiveness or charm"), allows them to do this with some mechanical element still involved in success likelihood.

But that wasn't enough. While there are certainly payoffs to having high Charisma in terms of narrative, as well as a few scattered mechanical benefits, the benefits aren't nearly as consistent and predictable as what's conferred by Strength. I'll talk tomorrow about what else Charisma does.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fluff Diaries #2: Magicians and the Church

In a lot of games and fantasy literature, users of magic and clergymen have an antagonistic relationship. This is only half-true in Dungeon-Town.

The Church of the Perfect Light really doesn't like witchcraft or witches, but most of the conflicts between witches and priests happened ages ago, and the two can exist uncomfortably with each other. 

More impressively, the study of High Magic was for a long time part of the Church. As mentioned in an earlier post, the discoverers of discordium were theologians. After that discovery, magic began to evolve into its own branch of study separate from Perfect Light theology. Seeing this, the Radiant Synod decided that learning might flourish better outside Church walls, so they sanctioned the establishment of Libraria, where scholars who did not always strictly comply with Church doctrine could work and still benefit the Church with new magical discoveries. These quasi-religious institutions eventually evolved their own secular culture and customs. The relationships between Libraria and their parent organization, though they have sometimes been strained, are cordial. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tedious Rascal

One of the traits available in character creation is "Tedious Rascal." When I was developing the game's tone and style, I was torn between a Vancian world of ridicule, outrageousness, and sordid behavior, and a world less like our own. I opted for something in between. But one remnant of that first world is the "Tedious Rascal" trait. This trait enables unique conversation options otherwise unavailable. They are silly and pretentious, in the vein of the dialog options you'd sometimes groan at in Baldur's Gate but, I'm hoping, more of a piece. They're kind of like the "Wild Wasteland" trait in Fallout: New Vegas, in that their addition makes the game a little less serious -- not that it's very serious to begin with. Though mostly cosmetic, choosing "Tedious Rascal" options sometimes rewards or penalizes the player.

Monday, February 13, 2017


One of the more Dungeon-Town-like locations I visited. Also, this 3D-printed cave:

Now for an update. I'm currently working on expanding and/or tweaking the basic weapons in the game. I'm also writing, and I've finished up one of the first faction quest lines and have just begun another. I've also started using Coggle to keep track of the narrative, quest branches, and map out the story so that I can proceed in a less haphazard way. It's a great tool.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Little Vacation

I'm going to Italy for a week! I'll be back a week from tomorrow. My laptop is coming with me, so Dungeon-Town will not be neglected.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Conversation Tree

Here's one of the game's bigger conversation trees. It's taking a while to write these, but it's been rewarding -- this comes from Archbishop Creuscia, one of the faction leaders. Don't look too closely if you don't want spoilers! I'm just giving the picture to give a sense of how the conversations branch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Some of the Finished Portraits

These are the character sheet portraits. Each one corresponds to a PC token that moves around on maps, so if you've seen screenshots they will look familiar. Many of them look like 90s baristas, but I've decided I'm okay with that. I still have a few more to go.