Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!
That is to say, I assume this will be belated since I’m writing it on February the 14th (in my home) and my internet connection is currently disconnected…so you are probably reading this on the 15th.
[I hope this is posted by the 15th]
[***EDIT: it is still the 15th...barely...took more than 24 hours and two calls to India but I'm back on line...finally***]
Anyway, my original plan was NOT to be blogging, but instead to be playing…that is, play-testing…the new game, 5AK, my version of D&D Mine and one hell of a fantasy “heartbreaker” (appropriate for Valentine’s Day, ja?).
Unfortunately, for some damn reason all my players had plans with their wives or families tonight. Go figure.
My family ended up going out for pizza (yes, yes, my wife received flowers and a nice card, but we’re going to do our “romantic thang” on the weekend, when it’s easier to make reservations). And now here I am blogging.
Funny enough, I’ve been working on the “romance” rules for 5AK all afternoon. This really had nothing to do with the holiday…it just happened to be the thing I was working on. Romance and romantic entanglements play a large part in fairy tales and fantasy, so it’s important to have rules that model this in a fantasy adventure game (which is what I’m writing).
Yes, I realize that many folks don’t bother with such things in the standard dungeon crawl campaign, and the closest thing to romance in the AD&D books is Gygax’s “wandering harlot” table. To me, this is just another example of the unfortunate fashion in which D&D was designed (i.e. a perfectly fine dungeon delving board/war game that morphed into “something bigger” and had additional stuff “tacked on”). You’re welcome to disagree, of course…but I’d bet there’s a lot of cold and lonely Name level characters shivering in their strongholds and wishing they had a Valentine!
Anyhoo, as a starting point I’ve gone back and read this old blog post from a couple years back (said reading being done earlier today, prior to coming home and finding my internet down). The brief rules therein are good enough for a standard (i.e. “semi-generic”) B/X game, but I need something a little “beefier” for my Arabian Nights-flavored setting, where social class distinctions are semi-important. Also, I have this “thing” about wanting “game content” to be open at all levels (not just waiting till you reach high levels in order to “do neat stuff”), so that has to be taken into account.
And, oh yeah, there’s that part about my game just using D6s so I have to work out systems that DON’T involve the use of percentile dice.
Still, it’s coming along (play-testing, of course, will be needed...*sigh*). I’m toying with the idea of making different systems depending on player character gender; I have a pet peeve with fantasy games that make all genders universally interchangeable.
No, I am not talking about imposing AD&D-style “ability score limits” and their thus consequential class/level limits. THAT, to me, is pretty dumb given the role and abstract nature of ability scores and class/level.
In fact, let me (briefly) go off on a tangent for a quick moment: in my game, “class” is short for “classification;” it’s not a career path or some apprenticeship program, either of which might be limited by the social mores or patriarchal (or matriarchal) laws of a given setting. Male or female, player characters are “adventurers;” that is their profession and its open to anyone. Now, what is the manner in which you go about adventuring? If your tendency is to wear armor and hit things with a sword, you get classified as a “fighter.” If you use magical arts (regardless of whether you were taught at a wizard school or by the witch/wise woman down the street) then you are a “magician.” Get it?
This is why you won’t see arbitrary armor and weapon restrictions in my game. You’re an adventurer…you can use whatever is available. Of course, some things require training/practice to use them more effectively, and some maneuvers (like free-climbing a sheer cliff) might preclude the wearing of bulky armor, but that’s just sensible to what I'm trying to model. And, no, there is no “skill system” in sight…the abstract classification still provides a description of the “skills” your character knows/practices. Duh. It’s just not a “job,” per se.
[and ability scores measure characters’ effectiveness against themselves, by the way, not against others…so an 18 strength means someone is very large, strong, and fit for their gender, but doesn’t necessarily mean she’s bigger and bulkier than the 7’ hulk with the 14 strength. Just means she’s more effective at using what she’s got. I can get away with this because ability scores have very little effect on in-game effectiveness…it really is a throwback to OD&D in this regard]
Back to Valentine’s Day and romance…having said all that, there are still some gender differences, mainly setting related (the non-setting ones concern childbirth which does NOT need a game system to model, by the way). Being based on Arabian culture there is, for example, the bride price that needs to be paid by the potential groom. There is no reverse “groom price” that a female adventurer would have to procure in order to tie the knot…and in fact if she can expect to receive a big fat wad of cash from whatever dude happens to get ensnared with her feminine wiles. Then there’s the issue of concubines and marrying your slaves (the latter was permissible for free women, but frowned upon) as well as the (small) differences regarding inheritance and titles.
The game is not actually meant to be a snap-shot setting of 8th century Arabia…I’m sure GURPS has probably put out a book for that already. This is a fictional land (a la Al-Qadim) modeled on our real world one and with the traditional fantasy ramped up a half-notch...no, you won’t find elves and dwarves and orcs (sorry), but you will find more necromancy (undead) and dragons then your average Arabian Nights tale. And the Underworld (from OD&D and Holmes) IS a part of the game setting, though it doesn’t share the prominence you find in D&D. Instead, it is just another realm to explore, alongside the Wilderness and the Palace.
By which I mean: it’s important that there ARE rules for romance, and having gender differences add to the game setting, but it doesn’t have to be a perfect model of the historic real world. ‘Cause it’s not. It’s a fantasy adventure game, perhaps steeped in a little more “real world” stuff then, say, Krull.
Now, I’m still debating whether or not to include tarnsmen…er, “roc riders"…or not. Maybe that should be the “secret weapon” of the Arabs even as the Byzantines pull out their fewer (but terribly potent) “dragon knights.” Cool or not cool?