Monthly Archives: March 2017

Shard Prospecting: Dungeons Reimagined

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The classic dungeon-crawl is something rather close to many of our hearts; a series of challenges, puzzles and monsters that the players overcome through a combination of guts, ingenuity and often, luck.

Thing is, they’re not always easy to incorporate into settings outside of classic fantasy without seeming a little out of place, or perhaps contrived. You’ve got raids on enemy estates or installations in cyberpunk games, or heists in your spy-thrillers – even the good old-fashioned tomb-raiding, whether for treasure, or forbidden knowledge.

 

What can Crux offer you that’s different?

One of the major features of the setting are the Shards, each a fragment of a world that has ended, due to one circumstance or another. Each of the existing nations of Crux is a stable shard, but often, fragments of worlds will materialise out of the wastes of the Betwixt, only to be swallowed by the storms around them, as well as the entropy they bring with them. They are dangerous places, but also rich in resources and treasure, so are a sought-after commodity.

And where there are sought-after commodities there are people who are willing to pay through the nose to get what they want.

Enter the players…

You get the chance to be the lucky miscreants who trawl through the ruins of dead cities, with implausible architecture, strange dangers, curious conditions and maybe even survivors. Most likely, you won’t be the only ones…

 

What does this mean?

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Awesome Set-Pieces!

Most dungeons are simply a bunch of ‘encounters’ or set-pieces strung together, hopefully underpinned by a common theme – with a newly arrived Shard, the sky’s quite literally the limit – sky-bridges, tall towers, beautiful gardens, a mansion full of antiques, – There’s no need to keep to the dungeon aesthetic, as these things materialise out of thin air, and you’ll be among the first to explore them.

 

Odd Environments!

These environments can be either very familiar, or as wild and strange as your GM’s imagination can envision – crystals that generate anti-gravity fields, giant psychoactive mushrooms or a water-park  long since overgrown or even a burned-out chemical plant. The environment can deliver new experiences and new dangers every time, so going in blind isn’t necessarily a good idea. Look before you leap!

 

Intrigue and Politics!

Unless you’ve managed to bribe someone for the insider knowledge, you’re not likely to be the only ones on the scene for very long. Other prospectors also have patrons and sponsors, from all over Crux, with different agendas, who have their own plan for the spoils. They might even pay more than your current employers…

 

Different Ways To Approach Things!

Unstable shards are normally approached in one of three ways:

  1. Temporarily stabilise the shard, to get the most resources out of it before it disintegrates.
  2. Attempt to permanently stabilise the shard, to either extract it, along with any survivors, or settle it, and run the risk of it becoming unstable again, or worse…Dragons!
  3. Collapse the shard, with the hope of seizing the fundamental essence of the world, reality-pearls, and gain the ability to shape destiny itself. Tales of those who have managed it are few and far-between, but all of them agree, things get very strange once the shard, and the reality it sits in starts breaking down.

 

Unconventional Escape Routes!

Have you ever wanted to escape from an imploding cityscape clutching onto a harpoon’s winch cable, being spooled up onto a magitech zeppelin? Here’s your chance!

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Also, Random Generation!

We’re also throwing together a means of randomly generating Shard encounters or themes, so that, should you literally be drawing a blank, there’ll be something that you can produce through the Power Of Proctomancy. We’re going to be testing whether we can use a normal 52-card deck, and possibly a Tarot deck as well. Watch this space for more on that!

All of these elements can be part and parcel of your dungeon-crawling experiences, but they don’t all happen in context – in Crux, they’re not handwaved, they’re part of the setting.   

Hope that’s piqued your interest…

Until next time, hard love,

Tom Cole

 

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Playtesting: it begins…

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One of the Ultharine Cats, out in the wilds.

So, we’re approaching completion, in terms of writing up the initial content and before we head towards the crowdfunding, editing, layout, and the rest of the frankly terrifying daunting prospects, we get to indulge in one of the more fun aspects of putting an RPG together.

Playtesting!

Why do we do this?

First off, we want to establish a few things:

Do the mechanics work? What do we need to change? What have we missed?

While, having designed the system, and crunched the numbers on the probability end of things, it’s always good to prove that the mechanics work. Not only that, but they feel right. Is combat streamlined and elegant? How lethal is it? Is it too lethal? Are we using the right terminology across the board?

Which leads to: Are the rules accessible? Things ought to be clear and concise, with little room for ambiguity. Letting others look this through will give us the chance to see where we mightn’t have been clear, and fix things.

The main thing we’ll be looking at here is the overall feel and balance of the mechanics, and tweaking the errant values accordingly

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Does the setting feel right? What have we missed? Again, what should we change?

This is probably going to be requiring a couple of passes, running a few scenarios in different places. We’ll be attempting to gauge the feel of the fluff and worldbuilding, as opposed to the crunch. Do any of the names or terms sound clunky, silly or possibly offensive? This is where we seriously consider changing them.

Is it fun?

That strange, ephemeral thing. If it’s not fun, then we’re doing something wrong, and should probably go back and do something about it. This sounds really obvious, but there may be little things that serve to make things “not fun”; little inexplicable details that can turn something from bad to good, or even from great to awesome. This is the “none of the above” category, where we find things to tweak that are neither rules or setting, but equally important to bringing the game together.

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This is more or less a mission statement for our initial playtesting sessions. Once these are underway, expect game summaries, a list of session quotes that are either bad-ass or made us laugh, along with the occasional exposé on in-universe things and mechanics.

Until then, Hard Love

Tom Cole