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Swords under the Sun — Blades in the Dark meets Dungeon World

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
No difficulty? Given that it's the only table I had to include in my game, this was probably destined to rub me the wrong way. I would probably do a lot of arguing with the GM/players instead of Being a Fan and Open Communication.
You don't have to argue with them :)
The GM says what will happen on a fail, and what will happen on success and lets the player rethink their course of actions. There can be a little discussion, sure, but full-blown argument? Nope.

Now I'm thinking that maybe "no difficulty" is a bit misleading. There's a difficulty, but it is expressed not through a number that needs to be rolled, but through a number of steps you need to accomplish the goal.

Like, if a lone fighter tries to Command a group of cultists to drop their weapons, the difficulty of the task is not expressed as near impossible to beat DC 25, but as an extra step "Well, you're outnumbered 5 to 1, it's not gonna have zero effect. But if you show them that you aren't one to be messed with first..." or, maybe, as reduced effectiveness "Well, you have some fearsome reputation, but you're still outnumbered. The best you can do is to make one or two of them surrender, so when the fight breaks out it will be a bit more manageable"

I'm looking forward to the live-action Youtube demo!
I'll look what I can do, but don't hold your breath.
 

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loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Introductory adventure doesn't look like an introductory adventure anymore...

1617698236356.png
 

Art on black background? Awesome!
Fiction-first? Awesome!
No initiative? Awesome!
No grid? Awesome!

No difficulty? Given that it's the only table I had to include in my game, this was probably destined to rub me the wrong way. I would probably do a lot of arguing with the GM/players instead of Being a Fan and Open Communication.

I'm looking forward to the live-action Youtube demo!
For me, as well, no difficulty is the fatal flaw that requires some other exceptional bit to look further.
The excess use of expletives in the announcement makes that bar even harder, by discouraging me from looking further.
When the beta announcement hits two strikes immediately, and it's those two, I know I'm not in the intended audience.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
For me, as well, no difficulty is the fatal flaw that requires some other exceptional bit to look further.
The excess use of expletives in the announcement makes that bar even harder, by discouraging me from looking further.
When the beta announcement hits two strikes immediately, and it's those two, I know I'm not in the intended audience.
¯\(ツ)
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Ok, now that I've sobered up, I think it's time to talk design.

For me, as well, no difficulty is the fatal flaw that requires some other exceptional bit to look further.
I hear from time to time that lack of difficulty class or difficulty modifiers is a flaw, but it had always puzzled me.

I mean, I understand the necessity of DCs in a rigidly structured gameplay, like with action economy and rounds, but when everything flows like a movie?

Let's imagine that a rogue is trying to pick a lock on a chest in a building on fire. So, the task is....
Task difficultySutS situationD&D 5E DC
Very easyYeah, the building is on fire, but the lock is a piece of cake. You crack it open in no time. What ya gonna do next?5
EasyYeah, the building is on fire, but the lock is kinda flimsy. I tell you what, on a success, you will open it, on a fail you'll end up in a riskier position.10
MediumOk, that's a pretty normal lock. You can pick it, sure, but you risk getting burned -- a moderate harm, "Nasty burns".15
HardIt's some quality lock. You can crack it open, but you risk suffering some grave harm -- "3rd-degree burns".20
Very hardThat lock is real tough, crafted by a master. You succeed, you fail, you'll get Grave harm, "3rd-degree burns" and there's also a risk of damaging your lockpicks.25
Nearly impossibleNah, ain't gonna work. You can try to Wreck it, though, or carry the whole chest outside. Don't count on either being easy, though.30

Each of these took me like 1 second -- I've spend more time typing it out, and in an actual game I would only need to gauge a single situation, not a range from Very easy to Nearly impossible.
 

pemerton

Legend
Ok, now that I've sobered up, I think it's time to talk design.


I hear from time to time that lack of difficulty class or difficulty modifiers is a flaw, but it had always puzzled me.

I mean, I understand the necessity of DCs in a rigidly structured gameplay, like with action economy and rounds, but when everything flows like a movie?

Let's imagine that a rogue is trying to pick a lock on a chest in a building on fire.

<snip chart and descriptions>

Each of these took me like 1 second -- I've spend more time typing it out, and in an actual game I would only need to gauge a single situation, not a range from Very easy to Nearly impossible.
I've recently been reading a bit of Ironsworn. Your examples, and its discussion of a similar point, give good illustrations of how to use the fiction rather than DCs to make sure that the challenges that are present in the imagined situation comes through vividly in play.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Ok, now that I've sobered up, I think it's time to talk design.
Aw! Expletives and (apparently) drunken commentary could be a selling point, despite aramis's tastes.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, as someone who hasn't read - any - of the rules, but a task (like killing the dragon with iron-like, razor-scales) becomes more difficult as it has more steps to fulfill it? That makes sense to me, as each additional die roll adds another chance for the unfavorable outcome, and if characters get better rolls as they progress/level-up, they have a better chance of rolling well through a number of dice contests. The mystique, if I were GMing, would be in exactly how many rolls were needed. "I like my odds of rolling through five levels, but my odds drop below 50% on the sixth level."

I know, it's not very immersive to reduce a difficult scene to a percentile chance of winning, but as a player, I want some way to gauge whether the scene will end well for me. I guess that comes from the GM's risk-assessments ("grave harm")?
 

Ok, now that I've sobered up, I think it's time to talk design.


I hear from time to time that lack of difficulty class or difficulty modifiers is a flaw, but it had always puzzled me.

I mean, I understand the necessity of DCs in a rigidly structured gameplay, like with action economy and rounds, but when everything flows like a movie?
It has to do with verisimilitude.
That all rolls are the same difficulty is SUCH a break from my life experiences that it renders a game unplayable to me Because it's completely unrealistic.
EG: Driving across town is easy at the speed limits. No rolls kind of easy (barring other issues from conditions). Driving across town at 90 MPH on fresh snow over ice is a messy attempt at suicide. insanely dangerous, At the speed limit (typically 35) on fresh snow over ice. it is roll needed, as there's a significant risk of meaningful failure. But the nature and rate of failure is vastly different between 35. 60, and 90... At 35, you may need a new vehicle, or be stuck. At 60, you're likely to crash. At 90, it's likely you'll die on a fail. The number of places your failure can happen are the same, but the results and difficulty are not.

Stating difficulty as a number of needed rolls, as your replies to others indicate you've decided to stand in for proper difficulties, is a poor choice from my perspective. (I don't like it as a skill mechanic, either. See also Dying Earth RPG. Nor as an attribute benefit, as in Albedo: Platinum Catalyst.) Back to the drive example, the places where a roll might be needed are the same at all speeds... but the difficulty changes by speed.

Plus, there are many times multiple rolls doesn't make sense.
Shooting someone. spotting an ambush (literal or proverbial). Leaping a gap between roofs. Making a first impression.

As I said, I'm clearly not your intended audience. I'm good with that. On the no difficulties score, there's only one game without difficulties baked in that I've enjoyed: Sentinel Comics. It does, however, have different difficulties baked in to the characters' special abilities. One without does tempt me: MASHed... but I haven't been able to get comfortable with it; it does have a pseudo-difficulty, tho', in the timers.

The excessive profanity is actually far more an issue for me. I'm not one who avoids profanity, per se, but I don't like gratuitous use, and simply put, it's a sign I'm unlikely to enjoy reading the work.

The concept sounded cool, the execution means I'm not in your audience. Since I'd expressed interest prior, and you wanted feedback, I chose to give why I'm no longer interested. For clarity: I was not in any way affronted by your initial shrug response.
 

Aldarc

Legend
It has to do with verisimilitude.
That all rolls are the same difficulty is SUCH a break from my life experiences that it renders a game unplayable to me Because it's completely unrealistic.
Are you familiar with PbtA games or how Position and Effect in Blades in the Dark works? Or dice pools in BitD? Rolls are less about a "difficulty" scale and more about generating narrative consequences. Position and Effect are extra dials and knobs regarding the range of possible consequences to your character and what you can achieve in the fiction.

Also, why would GM have you roll for driving across town at the speed limits? BitD and PbtA styled games operate by the principle of "say yes or roll the dice." If you are just driving across town at speed limits, you likely wouldn't need to make a roll and the GM would just "say yes" as there would be no interesting consequences or complications UNLESS there was something else that you were trying to achieve that was connected to it: e.g., are you trading effect (i.e., how quickly you arrive at your destination) for a safer position (i.e., legal speed limit)?

The excessive profanity is actually far more an issue for me. I'm not one who avoids profanity, per se, but I don't like gratuitous use, and simply put, it's a sign I'm unlikely to enjoy reading the work.
There's barely any profanity (less than 10) in the main document.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
The mystique, if I were GMing, would be in exactly how many rolls were needed. "I like my odds of rolling through five levels, but my odds drop below 50% on the sixth level."
Well, that's something I don't think can be reliably predicted or decided beforehand.
I mean, killing a dragon can be broken up into three pretty straightforward steps:
1) Find its weak spot
2) Get into position to attack that weak spot
3) Actually wound the thing

At least step 2 can take anywhere from 1 to a dozen of rolls -- if the dragon sends you flying with his tail, or flies away, or prevents you from getting close in any other way, then step 2 would need to be broken down into substeps...

My recommendation is to gauge and describe the immediate situation and let everything else flow from it, both from the GM and the player side -- after all, a couple of really bad rolls can turn what looked like a piece of cake into a very sticky situation.

I know, it's not very immersive to reduce a difficult scene to a percentile chance of winning, but as a player, I want some way to gauge whether the scene will end well for me. I guess that comes from the GM's risk-assessments ("grave harm")?
Mostly, yes. The GM tells the player what will happen on a fail and what will happen on a success and the player then goes like "ok, that's a risk I'm willing to take" or "nope, I really need to reconsider life choices".

The concept sounded cool, the execution means I'm not in your audience. Since I'd expressed interest prior, and you wanted feedback, I chose to give why I'm no longer interested. For clarity: I was not in any way affronted by your initial shrug response.
Yeah, I respect that. I will respond to previous point anyway, but it's fine if you don't want to engage. It's more of a reflection on "how should I explain stuff".

That all rolls are the same difficulty is SUCH a break from my life experiences that it renders a game unplayable to me Because it's completely unrealistic.
EG: Driving across town is easy at the speed limits. No rolls kind of easy (barring other issues from conditions). Driving across town at 90 MPH on fresh snow over ice is a messy attempt at suicide. insanely dangerous, At the speed limit (typically 35) on fresh snow over ice. it is roll needed, as there's a significant risk of meaningful failure. But the nature and rate of failure is vastly different between 35. 60, and 90... At 35, you may need a new vehicle, or be stuck. At 60, you're likely to crash. At 90, it's likely you'll die on a fail. The number of places your failure can happen are the same, but the results and difficulty are not.
I think it boils down to a paradigm shift. A default assumption in games with DC or difficulty modifiers is that success is a success -- you do it, and you do it cleanly. Some, like Dark Heresy, also throw in degrees of success and failure, but the default assumption still stays the same -- in that example, speed of the vehicle determines the probability of success, but rolling success still means "you got there on time, you didn't destroy your car and you are in one piece".

SutS (and other Forged in the Dark games) assume that what exactly success means changes depending on the situation, and in tandem with assessing risk, it represents difficulty. So, the difference between riding through snow and ice at 35, 60, and 90mph is:
  • 35mph: you can get there, but you risk getting stuck
  • 60mph: you'll crash regardless of what you roll, but the result will determine how bad did you crash
  • 90mph: ain't gonna work. If you do it, you are dead. Try something else.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
SutS (and other Forged in the Dark games) assume that what exactly success means changes depending on the situation, and in tandem with assessing risk, it represents difficulty. So, the difference between riding through snow and ice at 35, 60, and 90mph is:
  • 35mph: you can get there, but you risk getting stuck
  • 60mph: you'll crash regardless of what you roll, but the result will determine how bad did you crash
  • 90mph: ain't gonna work. If you do it, you are dead. Try something else.

I've long thought that degrees of success is something even skilled play OSR style games could benefit from in a variety of ways. I saw this mechanic in the Edge of Empire game for the first time and thought with some modifications this could be used in D&D.
 


And w see the "you must not be aware" condescension begin...
Are you familiar with PbtA games or how Position and Effect in Blades in the Dark works? Or dice pools in BitD?
Yes, I'm familiar with both. I find the lack of difficulty is an issue for me. In other words, it's a position that I cannot enjoy, because I cannot suspend disbelief. What part of that was unclear in my prior, extensive, post?
 

SutS (and other Forged in the Dark games) assume that what exactly success means changes depending on the situation, and in tandem with assessing risk, it represents difficulty. So, the difference between riding through snow and ice at 35, 60, and 90mph is:
  • 35mph: you can get there, but you risk getting stuck
  • 60mph: you'll crash regardless of what you roll, but the result will determine how bad did you crash
  • 90mph: ain't gonna work. If you do it, you are dead. Try something else.
And that change breaks suspension of disbelief due to being too harsh, since it's possible to do 60 without crashing... just unlikely.
90 is theoretically possible, but not particularly plausible in practice.
 

Aldarc

Legend
And w see the "you must not be aware" condescension begin...

Yes, I'm familiar with both. I find the lack of difficulty is an issue for me. In other words, it's a position that I cannot enjoy, because I cannot suspend disbelief. What part of that was unclear in my prior, extensive, post?
That's not my intention. You could have easily stated the latter without including malign assumptions in the bold. In regards to the italicized, I think it's a matter of how you frame or conceptualize "difficulty," particularly in regards to Effect and Position, or even general principles of "say yes or roll the dice." As you made the comparison of saying that it was just as easy to drive a car across town as it was to go dangerous, the former of which would not likely call for a die roll in these games, it did come across as a lack of familiarity with how these games work.
 

TheSword

Legend
The problem with all the F’s and S’s is that it recruits nobody and puts off some. It gains you nothing and costs you some support, so the choice to include it seems a bit barmy. That makes a lot of people wary that there will be other seemingly off putting decisions/language.

There is a reason brands are careful about their image. I guess it comes down to professionalism. Unless of course the plan is to be edgy to capture a market that would be impressed with the expletives as a FU to established publishers. In that case you’re trading the professional image for something to capture attention. Which is a trade off I guess you have to decide about.
 
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loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
And that change breaks suspension of disbelief due to being too harsh, since it's possible to do 60 without crashing... just unlikely.
90 is theoretically possible, but not particularly plausible in practice.
I barely know anything about driving and I rarely see snow, so I guess I can't effectively judge about the difficulty in that situation. Maybe its not "how badly did you crash", but "the best you can do is get there with a car that would need some serious repair". I don't know anything about cars.

Extraordinary luck and/or skill is handled by critical successes. So, if shooting a Beast through dense fog be at best "you can maybe can hit it, but you wouldn't be able to incapacitate it", then rolling two 6s would result in a hit to a vital organ.

This places a hard ceiling on what can be achieved, but I think that's good.

The problem with all the F’s and S’s is that it recruits nobody and puts off some. It gains you nothing and costs you some support, so the choice to include it seems a bit barmy. That makes a lot of people wary that there will be other seemingly off putting decisions/language.

There is a reason brands are careful about their image. I guess it comes down to professionalism. Unless of course the plan is to be edgy to capture a market that would be impressed with the expletives as a FU to established publishers. In that case you’re trading the professional image for something to capture attention. Which is a trade off I guess you have to make.
Maybe. I don't know anything about marketing role-playing games, and even if I did, it's not like I can make a decent living by selling them.

I guess posting a rough and unedited article was a pretty dumb idea, though.
 

Eolin

Explorer
I guess posting a rough and unedited article was a pretty dumb idea, though.

You know what it reminded me of? This:
DO NOT pre-plan a storyline, and I’m not fucking around

The word fuck occurs 160 times in AW 2nd edition. If a word is good enough for the Bakers, then its good enough.

Also: Hi! I found my 20-year old Enworld account so I could post and say Swords Under The Sun is good. Nicely done.

I've wanted something like this since Blades came out. I've tried to write one myself many times, and never liked the result.

Any interest in making a Bard? Or in mechanics suggestions?
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Also: Hi! I found my 20-year old Enworld account so I could post and say Swords Under The Sun is good. Nicely done.
Thanks! That's super flattering to hear

Any interest in making a Bard? Or in mechanics suggestions?
Honestly, I just don't understand bards. I really wanted to make one, but then I couldn't formulate, what's the main thing about them.

The simplest suggestion would be to make a Sorcerer that weaves their magic through a magic flute or ritualistic dance.
 

You know what it reminded me of? This:


The word fuck occurs 160 times in AW 2nd edition. If a word is good enough for the Bakers, then its good enough.

Also: Hi! I found my 20-year old Enworld account so I could post and say Swords Under The Sun is good. Nicely done.

I've wanted something like this since Blades came out. I've tried to write one myself many times, and never liked the result.

Any interest in making a Bard? Or in mechanics suggestions?

Exactly.

People bitch at me constantly for my use of language on here.

In real life, sometimes people bitch at me for swearing (because I do...a lot).

Swearing doesn’t equal “dumb hick”. And swearing can absolutely and effectively convey rawness and emotion. And the reason why humans use it is because the sounds that curse words make are provocative...sometimes transporting. If you hate Baker already, you’re sure to find AW a turn off. If you feel like swearing is only for Hicks and/or someone pretentiously trying to be “edgy” (same claim against Baker).

It would be nice if people would more often aim for and make games that focus on a niche (like this one does).

As I stated upthread, the game is beatiful and extremely well put-together. There are several different decisions I would have made in the creation of a DW + Blades hack marriage (related to the questions I posted upthread), but all that means is that this game may not be for me...it doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful, well-conceived, well-rendered.
 

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