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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » RPG Design

Subject: Novella, Storytelling Game - Rules PDF -- Feedback Wanted! rss

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Ryan Cook
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MANUAL UPDATED 5/29

Novella Manual - https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B33LyadhnlRzT1hHajh0emJ6TEU...

I am now happy to present something a little more concrete that just intangible "ideas." It is not complete - work has been hectic the last couple of weeks - but I will be updating it as speedily as possible. My primary and ulterior goals are that you enjoy reading this manual, and that I get some good feedback from those generous with their time.
Specific Questions:
1) Does it grab your attention? If you picked this up in the shop would it last longer than 5 seconds? If not for you, can you see someone else liking it?
2) Is the layout conducive to learning/playing the game?
3) Is the commentary helpful?
4) So far, is anything unclear, especially if you're unsure if it will be covered later?
5) Are the pictures helpful? (If you can read them, I know they're low quality...)
6) Any other wisdom you think might be helpful?
And again, I know time is our most precious commodity, thank you for lending me yours.

Plain copy of the Manual: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B33LyadhnlRzLXVCUDA5MlhiS2s...

Original Design Diary - https://rpggeek.com/thread/1773361/my-design-diary-novella

All images from https://pixabay.com/ and are all completely free of copyrights. They are being used as placeholders until I procure some of my own art at some point.
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Justin Rio
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Re: Novella - Rules PDF
1) I would never be interested in such a game, so know that first.

2) I would probably add an overview of the stages of play near the top.

3) I love the commentary, especially Austin's. I also plan to do this in the system I have in forever-development.

4-a) What does influence do? I think that's being explained later?
4-b) I have no idea how the game flows as I read about each part. I can't understand what I'm reading in context of what's next. (See #2)

5) It's not like this is Agricola or Twilight Imperium, it's several note cards; they don't hurt but I am not sure I would say they are helpful.

6) I'm not sure who your audience is. You start off seeming to appreciate mechanics, and then you have the quip "we're going to have to bite the bullet and learn a few rules." Like rules are a necessary evil us mechanical people embrace w/o seeing that it's evil.
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Ryan Cook
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Re: Novella - Rules PDF
IndyOfComo wrote:
1) I would never be interested in such a game, so know that first.

2) I would probably add an overview of the stages of play near the top.

3) I love the commentary, especially Austin's. I also plan to do this in the system I have in forever-development.

4-a) What does influence do? I think that's being explained later?
4-b) I have no idea how the game flows as I read about each part. I can't understand what I'm reading in context of what's next. (See #2)

5) It's not like this is Agricola or Twilight Imperium, it's several note cards; they don't hurt but I am not sure I would say they are helpful.

6) I'm not sure who your audience is. You start off seeming to appreciate mechanics, and then you have the quip "we're going to have to bite the bullet and learn a few rules." Like rules are a necessary evil us mechanical people embrace w/o seeing that it's evil.



1) Well thanks for helping out anyways
2) I do want to keep the idea that you can go in cold and go through the book with your friends. I don't want to ignore your advice. I'm going to include a flowchart with that information in the back of the book that you can look at first if you want, and it can be referenced during play
3) Glad to hear it! Austins a funny/annoying guy...
4) Gotcha, I'm adding a sidebar blurb that should give you the big picture on Influence. As for the second part, do you think that presenting all of that would be front loading information too much. I know for some people if an explanation takes more than five minutes (or five seconds) they stop listening. I wanted to try out this learning by doing approach.
5) That's true and I do love some Twilight. Is there a way to make them more useful, you think?
6) Haha, didn't intend that at all. I went ahead and reworded it, hopefully it panders to both sides of that divide now. Is it better?

Look at that, already making changes based on your feedback

Thanks a ton, next couple pages go up later today!
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Justin Rio
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Re: Novella - Rules PDF
TheGoodGuy wrote:
2) I do want to keep the idea that you can go in cold and go through the book with your friends.
...
4) Gotcha, I'm adding a sidebar blurb that should give you the big picture on Influence. As for the second part, do you think that presenting all of that would be front loading information too much.


You do have to concern yourself with front-loading, so this might be a balancing act with a some conflicting feedback. I do a lot of boardgame teaching, and I've introduced a bunch of people to roleplaying (and I used Rolemaster at that) and the general approach I use is 50,000ft overview, followed by 25,000ft, follow by crop-dusting elevation if that's even necessary before play. (It usually isn't.)

So that's what I'm thinking of here. I felt like the explanations you have are completely fin 25000ft explanations, I just don't know the 50000ft so I'm missing a bit of context.
That may be in part because, as I said, I'm not into storytelling games so I don't have any previous experience.
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Ryan Cook
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Re: Novella - Rules PDF


New version is up - hopefully you can see some of your changes!

It is indeed a balancing act, which I guess is why I defaulted to sticking to the middle of your altitude-spectrum. Hopefully the flowchart I will include will provide the 50,000ft view you want (I think the "Grand Strategy" sidebar might do it too!) and the other sidebar commentary can dust the crops.
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Ryan Cook
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New version is up

This update includes how to handle social encounters, as well as anything else that doesn't fall under combat. It uses the same link in the OP, hope y'all enjoy it!
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Richard
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TheGoodGuy wrote:

1) Does it grab your attention? If you picked this up in the shop would it last longer than 5 seconds? If not for you, can you see someone else liking it?

It is definitely for me, I love playing and reading storytelling games. The strategic angle that I read about in the introduction also captured my attention because I also like board games and miniature games. Flipping through it though is a different story because the layout is a mess.

2) Is the layout conducive to learning/playing the game?

No, it's a terrible. The commentary boxes offer more commentary than is helpful. The pictures that are deliberately squeezed in between the text are not making it easier to read. Overall I found it frustrating, I couldn't focus neither in the left nor right column and stopped reading after a couple of pages.

3) Is the commentary helpful?
The commentary must be less, so edit aggressively. Never write rules in the commentary section as you did in the set up section. Overall the commentary tries very hard (and succeeds) to upstage the rulebook.

5) Are the pictures helpful? (If you can read them, I know they're low quality...)

The art suits more to a yoga leaflet than an to systemless RPG.

The play examples are useful.

6) Any other wisdom you think might be helpful?
The Goodreader app on the iPad can not recognize the PDF format so I get an error message.

Most importantly:
Since you call the game Novella make the layout like one. Use a white background and a typewriter font. Make the concept of your game the concept of the layout.



I would love to come back later in the editing process an read it again. Keep it up. I hope my comments help in the direction of making a wonderful game.
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Ryan Cook
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Richard, I took a minute to glance at your profile and I think this game is designed for you. The whole Enemy vs. Heroes thing, as well as the Plot Cards the Enemy has are directly inspired from Middle Earth Quest. Combat was based on Space Alert for a long time. Arabian Nights helped blur the line between RPG's and board games for me.

My point is, you are the audience I'm designing for - I would value your feedback immensely.

As such, I made you a plain copy of the rules without the layout:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B33LyadhnlRzLXVCUDA5MlhiS2s...

Would you play this? Would you have fun?



As for the layout, I feel like a fool for not communicating this effectively, but all of these pictures are simply placeholders. I'm working with an artist to develop a "sketched, old storybook feel" for the final draft. I understand your issue with the commentary and I'll talk with Katrina and Austin about parsing it down next chance we get.
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Ryan Cook
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NEW VERSION IS UP

This update brings rules for combat. Both the plain version and the formatted version are updated, though there is less prettying-up then there has been.


Katrina and Austin have agreed that the captions need cleaning up. We will be reserving John's comments for the WHY so readers can see "behind the scenes", Katrina for TIPS we think will jumpstart the learning process, and Austin for, well, he probably won't change that much.
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Simon Cole
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This thing still alive? I don't want to go back to far in the forum.

But, I'm sorry. I have to say that you've piqued my interest greatly but reading the manual is a chore. The flow seems really broken. I'm just trying to read the plain text version.

Might I suggest looking at other rule books, particularly for board games, and writing it out similarly? If you have a to refer to a future rule, just CAP it and put a page number by it or something. Don't break the flow by saying that you'll discuss it later.

Write it out more like an outline for a paper at first, maybe that'll help.

Setup:
1) General
2) Enemy
3) Heroes
4) Story

First Round:

Subsequent Rounds:

Final Battle:

Aftermath:

etc.

I wonder if I even got the above basics right.

Anyways... after a good set of rules, I will feel better about critiquing the game itself.
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Ryan Cook
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Hey, it's been a while, but thanks for taking the time to check this out...

Since posting this I have decided I was a little too hasty putting it up - its still very much a first draft. I got feedback from a lot of places that it was indecipherable. I'm working on a more organized format and will hopefully have it up soon. For now, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have

And thanks for dropping by, its folks like you that keep our motivation up!
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Ryan Cook
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I've got a group that's agreed to playtest at the end of October, so that's exciting! I'm going to use this thread for posting about the new elements of the system one at a time, and start a new consolidated thread once the new (much better written) rules set is done. For now, nothing is changed from the last rules set I posted unless I say so here.

There are 8 different "mini-games" that players will do. These are the equivalent of encounters/skill-checks in this game. Characters do not have stats, but are defined by a deck of cards that can provide bonuses to one of those 8 mini-games. Thus, it is somewhat of a deck-building game. The goal of these mini-games is to gather Influence, which you earn by winning them.

The 8 mini-games are: Diplomacy, Combat, Wealth, Skill, Trickery, Adventuring, Erudition, Wisdom.

Diplomacy
One Hero player takes lead. He secretly chooses a Victory Word and three Clue Words. He then gives this list of words to the Enemy, who chooses a Trap Word. Then the Hero and the Enemy will have a conversation during which the Enemy must use a Clue Word and the Hero cannot use any Clue Words or the Victory Word. The Enemy ends the conversation at any time, at which point the other Heroes (not the one participating in the conversation) may guess the Victory Word. If successful, the Heroes win, if not, play through another round of conversation, this time using the next Clue Word. However, if the Heroes guess the Trap Word, the Enemy wins the encounter. If, after playing through three rounds of conversation, there are no more Clue Words left, the Heroes will guess at the Victory Word until they get it or they guess the Trap Word.

Skill
Each Hero will roll two dice, while the Enemy will be rolling the total number of dice the Heroes have put together. Roll these dice as fast as possible. If you roll a "1" you cannot roll that die anymore until you or another player uses a "6" on a different die to free you - reroll both the 6 and 1. Play ends whenever any player calls "Stop!" At this point, the other side has the opportunity to roll any number of dice one more time without a time limit. The winning side is the side that made the set of highest value. Sets with more dice beat sets with higher face value, but face value breaks ties if both sets have the same number of dice.


More to come later...
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Ryan Cook
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Adventuring
Narrate the obstacle the Heroes are facing. Each Hero secretly rolls a D10. Then, the Heroes each narrate how their character is dealing with whatever the encounter is about. When the Heroes are finished narrating, every player, including the Enemy, votes for one of the Heroes. The Enemy breaks ties. Without conferring with the other Heroes at all, the selected Hero now has the option to reroll his D10. After this, if the selected Hero rolled the higher than all other Heroes, the Heroes win the encounter. If a different Hero had rolled the highest, the Enemy wins.

Wisdom
Starting with the Heroes, guess at a type of card the Enemy has in his hand. If he has any cards of that type in his hand, he must reveal them to you. Continue this process until the Hero guesses a type the Enemy does not have in his hand. Then the Enemy does the same thing to the Heroes. After he finishes, the side that revealed the lower number of cards is the winner and all cards are returned to their owner's hand.
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