Sometimes a project is tough, it seems to have an inertia, an almost sentient quality resisting your every effort to make progress. And then there's Flintlock.
The good ship, Lady Flintlock is charging ahead with a full sail and calm waters as far as the eye can see.
In other words, things are going well. The play test groups are really doing us proud and continue to supply critical feedback and insight. Some are going even further, designing characters, writing modules and creating Character Sheets! Really, RPG players are the most creative, collaborative and generous of people.
We've added all sorts of things, wild animals, animal companions, ship-to-ship combat, 18th Century travel rules, armour and detailed descriptions of Flares; mostly at the suggestion of play testers.
During the play testing and feedback some interesting points have been raised and I thought it might be interesting to throw those out to the wider community. It would be great if anyone wanted to leave a response.
Specialist fonts - can a little verisimilitude be too much?
The font used in the comic for sub-headings/flavour text is one called 18th Century and it is actually derived from real 18th Century handwritten script. This means that the modern day "s" is presented as an "f" minus its cross-stroke. Now, originally i used the font accidentally, for all headings and sub-headings, I had intended replacing the "f"s with a provided "s". I forgot and in the blink of an eye, there they were.
At first they really bugged me, but as my eye tuned into them i started to like them, to appreciate the way they captured the feel of text from our past. I even wondered about applying it to the whole book, as a sort of faux-18th Century special edition! (I'm a sucker for things like that, I'd buy both versions.)
Then the feedback started coming in and rather like Marmite (apologies to those of you who are unaware of this singularly British foodstuff, suffice to say it has a very distinctive taste and splits opinion most exactly) it was a clear case of love-it-or-hate-it!
So, what do we think? Yes, no, give-me-some-time-to-get-used-to-it?
Comments below, please!
How deadly is too deadly?
I make no bones about it (ha!), the combat in Flintlock is deliberately designed to be dangerous. In doing this I wanted to capture the risk that individuals took if they engaged in violence. The system makes it easier to kill an opponent than it is to achieve any other result, such as wound or incapacitate. It also forgoes the traditional hit point solution and simply puts a PC in a condition, dead, incapacitated, disabled or wounded; each has its own consequence.
I really like this, because I want players to be motivated to role play rather then roll play. I want them to realize that, unlike say a fantasy RPG which offers "monsters" as sword and spell fodder we can hack and blast our way through without really having to consider what we are doing. I want the players, and by extension their characters, to value human life, even if it is only their own to start with. I want GMs to create NPCs that have real substance, that they come to love as much as the players love their PCs. I don't want people to be seen as obstacles to be killed off, unless that fits the PC's nature of course.
Now, I know that their are people running campaigns in traditional style games that encompass the same philosophy that I'm expounding, and I am in no way criticizing OSR games or attitudes (I'm a grungy old Grog myself), but I just wanted to give myself a design challenge that I thought would create an interesting reality to play in.
As a balance we do offer the optional Humanity Scale which plays rather like sanity in CoC, moving PCs closer to losing their humanity as they commit more and greater acts of violence.
So, is deadly too deadly. Am I being selfish. Am I being too analytical, will GMs moderate the death rate anyway?
Thoughts below, please!
Technical language, to use or not to use, that is the question!
Simple one here. In the game we split characteristics into Intrinsic and Extrinsic. I'm happy with that, I think those are pretty clear concepts, but a number of testers have wondered whether a less technical(?) or obscure(?) pair of terms should be used, like natural/nurtured or known/learned.
Thoughts below, please!
Seduction, persuasion, intimidation and killing; when are these ok and not ok?
This is a sensitive one. When is it acceptable to take control of another person and make them do things they might not choose? What are the limits?
In any of my games, I let players know that any sort of persuasion will never make someone act in a way that is fundamentally opposed to their basic character.
Seduction is even more problematic for me. The fact that it introduces the possibility of a sexual component into the game is one that I am not necessarily comfortable with either, and I am no prude, but let's face it, its a very individualistic thing. I've played games that have sensitively and one might even say, therapeutically, addressed sex and sexuality, and those were great games. On the other hand, I've played games in which misogyny and homophobia have crawled forth, and those were not great games.
Flintlock is what I like to call a DcRPG, a Diversity conscious Role-Playing Game. It is based on a comic series that actively eschews the 35-40 year old, straight, white and male protagonist. We want a game in which players might choose to play a PC who is different from their usual choice, different in that they are anti-heroes, different in that they are not constricted by gender, different in that gender is not even listed on character sheets.
Finally, I wonder why a lot of of us are starting to question these modes of play, but very few of us add killing into that discussion. If I am putting serious thought into "should players be able to seduce NPCs" shouldn't I be putting the same effort into the question of murder?