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Offline vbwyrde  
#1 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2012 5:33:00 AM(UTC)
vbwyrde

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* -- Draft -- *

The Elthos RPG Rules are relatively simple, while still maintaining the basic RPG tropes that made the Original D&D (edition 1) rules set entertaining. Things like Levels, Hits, Classes, Races, and so on are all there in the Elthos RPG. The objective was to create a rules system that tries its best to stay out of the way of the GM and Players to let them focus more on the story and Role Playing than the mechanics. So the system uses small numbers (why have Experience in units of 100, when units of 10 will do?) and a 1d6 as the primary (and only) dice mechanic. And yet, with all this, the system is still rich with interesting mechanics derived from OD&D. That combination of simplicity and richness is great, but at certain points it may appear to lack a certain level of realism. There is a natural balancing act in RPG Rules Systems that occurs between simplicity and realism. The more of one, the less of the other. So some work is involved by the Gamesmaster to handle when questions arise in relation to that balance point.

Gamesmaster Adjudication
The Elthos game is designed with the expectation that when there is a question regarding this balancing act, that the GM will Adjudicate, which basically means to 'make a judgement call'. We could, instead, create more rules to handle the exceptions, but this would lead to a more complicated game, and away from the goal of simplicity. An example of how that pans out can be found in the Topic 'Movement By Race'.

Retro-Fitting Dice Rolls
One concept that I find very helpful as GM is to keep in mind that when we roll the dice to determine an outcome we can retro-fit the result to the story. Lets say that there is an archer who is 10 feet from his target and rolls a 1 and another 1 fumbling the shot. So I know the result. I then need to retro-fit that result to the scene. So I think, "ok so I know he fumbled - so how did it happen? What went wrong?" I think for a moment and come up with "while taking his shot a bee flew into the Archer's eye and his shot went wild as he reacted to that". Anything like that would work. I could have used any reasonable explanation. Maybe he got a muscle cramp. A shadow from a cloud on the trees distracted him. What I don't want to do, however, is just tell the Player "The Archer fumbled the shot". That, friends, is just way to pat. Which leads me into the next topic.

Descriptive Narratives
In order to effectively Retro-Fit the GM should use Descriptive Narratives. That means that when a mechanical effect is being described by the GM to the Players it is done in a way that paints a picture from the story point of view. For example, if during the course of a combat the Player Character hits a Kobold with his sword what I don't say is "You give it 10 points of damage". That is way to dry, and has no story to it. Instead I might say "Brohar the Paladin heaves heavily into his sword stroke, striking down upon the Kobold, carving a bloody gash across it's chest. The pitiful creatures shrieks horribly, collapses to the ground, and twitches for a few moments before going limp." Notice that I don't inform the Players any numerical information - I tell them only what they actually see. Notice that I didn't mention whether or not the Kobold died. It could be dead, or maybe it has simply passed out. This causes the Players to have to consider the possibilities and react to them as they would were they actually in the scene.

Descriptive Narratives should be used to describe everything in the game world as it is experienced by the Player Characters. As well as what they see, you might also include what they hear, smell, or feel. An example of this might be when they enter a room in a dungeon. What I don't want to say is "You enter a 10 x 20 room with a door on the west wall and a chest in the south east corner." Too dry! What I want to say is something more like "Brohar pushes the old wooden door open. It creeks on its hinges as it swings wide. A waft of foul smelling air billows out of the room. Inside is a dark stone chamber, and as he holds his torch forward Brohar can see it is a small rectangular room, with a stone floor and walls. There is a wooden door on the opposite wall, and over in the corner to the south east he notices the glinting of brass studs on a wooden chest against the wall." Something like that would be better. It should be noted, though, that RPGs are primarily Games, and as such there is a tendency to want to rush along and get to the parts where dice are being rolled, which is the game part of the experience. So this tendency leads a lot of GMs (myself included sometimes) to cut corners on the story aspect. However, this tendency short-sheets the experience from the story perspective. Of course for some Players and GMs that's fine. And with some RPG Rules Systems it's pretty much expected. However, for Elthos the Story aspect looms large, and so Descriptive Narrative is an essential tool in the GM's belt. Get good at it, and you will find it is worth the extra time it takes to do.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts on Adjudication in the Elthos Game System. I will add to this post as new ideas surface.
Offline grimjester  
#2 Posted : Saturday, June 9, 2012 6:29:00 PM(UTC)
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This is well written and a crucial part of Elthos. I've played a couple of games which have very detailed, and enjoyable tactical rules. They are so good that the tactical portion of the game could stand on its own as entertainment. For some people, that is why they play these games. Elthos is not the type of game which could be played primarily for its tactical appeal. It is simply a framework of simple rules which allow players to make significant choices which impact the story.

For people who enjoy role-playing for the sake of story, the descriptive narrative is the key. With Elthos, it is an absolutely necessary component. I think that this needs to be included with the main instructions.
Offline vbwyrde  
#3 Posted : Sunday, June 10, 2012 2:57:00 AM(UTC)
vbwyrde

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Originally Posted by: grimjester Go to Quoted Post
This is well written and a crucial part of Elthos. I've played a couple of games which have very detailed, and enjoyable tactical rules. They are so good that the tactical portion of the game could stand on its own as entertainment. For some people, that is why they play these games. Elthos is not the type of game which could be played primarily for its tactical appeal. It is simply a framework of simple rules which allow players to make significant choices which impact the story.

For people who enjoy role-playing for the sake of story, the descriptive narrative is the key. With Elthos, it is an absolutely necessary component. I think that this needs to be included with the main instructions.


Thank you. I am now going over the rules book for other edits to rules that have recently been modified, and it would be a good time to add this as a separate page. I like to try to keep the rules book as small as possible, but I think you are right that added this information will be very helpful, if not crucial to success with the system. Thanks again. :)
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