Thursday, February 28, 2013

Game Design: Soaking Damage

So I posted an update to the actual play tonight, and I've been mulling over the problems posed by soaking damage... basically, if you have high Body, odds are good that you can go a long time without taking any hits.

What if I get rid of the soak option altogether? Combat now goes more quickly, because you never roll to soak. If you have protection (a flak jacket, armor, invulnerability) you automatically reduce damage by the rating of such protection. This seems to streamline things pretty considerably, and keeps Body from being the monster stat that it's turning out to be in the early play testing. This means that a creature Body D10 and Invulnerability +2, which used to be able to soak from 3 to 12 hits (more with a die explosion) now soaks 2 hits from every attack.

This is much simpler and keeps the system clean. I was tinkering with options for additional dice and scaling things upward, but scaling down and back is probably the better way to go as I continue designing. I want to add more layers to the game, and adding a layer like this to the core mechanic would have severely complicated things needlessly...

3K and Climbing

We hit the $3K stretch goal this morning, and it's onward and upward towards the next goal... with 8 days to go, I'm optimistic that the campaign can keep growing! Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ladybug's Picnic

Since I expect to hit the $3K stretch goal, I decided it was time to start on the campaign guide section of the rules. One of the locations I've been wanting to fully create for some time (we've only seen glimpses of it in the comics) is the Ladybug's Picnic. This is a watering hole operated by Ladybugs that also acts as a field station for their spy network Intellicect. Above ground you have the humble restaurant - below, you have a small intelligence hub, a hangar and workstation, and some other super-secret spy stuff...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ten Days to Go...

Ten days to go in the campaign! We're inching closer to the $3K goal, and it's not too late for you to sign on.

I also wanted to mention that I did an interview for a research project for a grad student, and he's published his findings. It's an interesting analysis of how Kickstarter operates... and I was happy to contribute to Rob's research!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Time To Play!

The FREE demonstration/play test edition of the new Michael T. Desing’s Army Ants RPG: Legacy Edition is now available to download. Herein, you will get the core rules, including everything you need to get started playing right away. The open play test for these rules is now open, and you can contribute to the play test process through May 31.

In addition, it’s not too late to support the Kickstarterfor this project. Contribute to the war effort before it’s too late; the Kickstarter wraps up on March 9!

Fall in, soldier. The Army Ants are waiting.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Little Things I've Learned...

I'm wrapping up work on the playtest/Demo edition of the MTDAA Legacy Edition RPG (it will be available for free this weekend), and I've become more convinced than ever that the simplest, cleanest solution is always going to be the best one.

To whit, I've traditionally tried to build monster/creature/predator stat blocks to model the PC ones - so far, so good. However, I've traditionally tried to build creatures using the same structures and restrictions as the PCs - so, if a level 4 PC has 7 ranks in dice and 15 ranks in traits, then a level 4 creature should have 7 ranks in dice and 15 ranks in traits. I've learned over the last while that just by reversing this thinking - 22 ranks in dice and/or traits = level 4 - you can build custom creatures more easily, and you can remove artificial barriers that force you to create balanced but sometimes counter-intuitive builds. I've found it is very easy to build predator stat blocks, and to still have variety among a range of creatures of comparable levels. Here are stat blocks for small tree frogs and small chameleons, to give you an idea of how these come together:

Chameleon, Small (30 QPs; Level 6; 6D10 Hits; Save +3)
Body D10; Prowess D12; Spirit D10; Strike D10
Attack +3; Bite +4; Invulnerability +1; Regeneration +2; Speed +2; Stealth +5
Bite (att D12+3/dmg D10+4)
The chameleon attempts to close in on its prey, using stealth (blending into its environment) to get a surprise attack.

Tree Frog, Small (26 QPs; Level 5; 5D12 Hits; Save +3)
Body D12; Prowess D10; Spirit D8; Strike D10
Attack +3; Constriction +4 (Tongue); Leap +4; Tongue Attack +3
Tongue (att D10+3/ dmg D10+3)
The tongue attack can strike a target up to 3 units away. A target struck by the tongue is pulled into the mouth of the frog, suffering D12+4 hits (no soak allowed) on each turn the frog takes. Once the target has been killed, the frog swallows it. A creature attempting to break free of the frog’s tongue must use 1 turn to attempt this, rolling Body + Might vs. the frog’s Body + Constriction resist.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Look Sir, Comics

From the Army Ant Vaults... one of my favorite promotion pieces I did back in the day...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Actual Play Thread for MTDAA

I've started an actual play thread that I've cross-posted at a number of forums (including my own - link to the right ->).

The one that will probably get the most traffic is at, so you might want to visit there... the thread right now shows character building, but as I go I'll demo many of the key mechanics of the system. I plan to have a play test/demo version of the rulebook out by the end of the week, so you can play at home!

Sketchbook page

I thought I'd share a sketch... this was inspired by a former student who has become a skydiving aficionado....

Saturday, February 16, 2013

If you didn't think I was serious...

All-time great RPG artist Jeff Dee has agreed to create a new full-color cover for the Michael T. Desing’s Army Ants Legacy Edition RPG. Old School Fans (including me) rejoice! Jeff’s art created a sense for me of what RPGs should look like, and to have his art gracing the cover of my ultimate RPG rulebook is simply beyond awesome. However, the coolness doesn’t stop there. I’ve also adjusted the stretch goals to accommodate this great news.

At $7500, all backers at $50 or more will get a limited edition print of the new Jeff Dee art, printed in full color at 11”x14” on glossy stock.

At $10,000, we go totally crazy. One random backer at $50 or more will get THE ORIGINAL ART that Jeff created. That’s right. I am loathe to give it away, but if the community gives me this much support, I will absolutely do it.

If we hit this stretch goal, I will also re-publish both the 2nd and 3rd editions of the MTDAA RPG as FREE downloads, and I will publish conversions as appendices to the new game that will allow you to adapt material from this edition to either 2E or 3E. This way, you’ll be able to use the dice pool systems of 2E or 3E (each with a different approach to dice pools) or the progressive die system of the Legacy Edition.

In addition, the next few backers at $50+ still get a free copy of the 2nd edition of the MTDAA RPG (from 1998) that I discovered in the ‘army ant vaults’ last week. I still have a few left that haven’t been claimed…

The MTDAA war effort continues through March 9th! Pledge today.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Attributes and Exploding Dice

One of the ways in which this edition of the MTDAA RPG hybridizes (and yeah, that’s a word. I was surprised too) previous games is in the way attribute ratings are assigned. Each of the four attributes is rated as a dice value, ranging from D4 (below average) to D12 (supreme). You roll this die (with modifiers based on either traits or saves) for actions, resists or results. I’m reserving the D20 for the big guys (sparrows, frogs and garter snakes).

I like this because it means that even if you roll D12, the little D4 has a chance of success against you; sure, the D4 doesn’t have a good chance, but it’s a chance.

And did I mention that dice explode? This is probably my favorite piece of the system, because it makes anything possible, but anomalies grow increasingly less likely the larger the die is. On your D4, you have a 25% chance of the die exploding, so you have a reasonable shot when rolling D4 of ending up with a 6 or 7 on the die. At the higher end, your D10 only explodes 10% of the time, so you can get a result of 17 or 18, but you’ll have to get pretty lucky for it to happen. There are no limits to dice explosions, so it’s possible to roll 3 10’s in a row (although even my limited background in statistics shows me that’s a 1 in 1000 shot), but it can happen, and you can end up rolling 30+ on a D10.

This has cool carryover effects to other parts of the system, but I'll talk about these as we go...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stretch Goals Now Even Better!

Based on feedback from the community, I've increased the coolness of the next few stretch goals, adding pads of character sheets and glossy maps of the Back Yard Campaign Setting to the mix. Check out the MTDAA War Effort to see how you can help.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

First Stretch Goal Achieved

The MTDAA Kickstarter has achieved its first stretch goal in under 48 hours! I cannot express how thankful I am to everyone who has pitched in to help so far, and I'm excited to see where the next few weeks go. Everyone who is in at the $25 level or higher will be getting some MTDAA tattoos with their books.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Special Kickstarter Incentive

I was going through my "Army Ant Vaults" today, and found copies of both the 2nd Edition of the MTDAA RPG and uncut sheets of MTDAA trading cards (printed on standard cardstock paper). I'm offering these as bonus incentives to the first 25 people to pledge $50 or more. So, if you are among the first 25 people to pledge at least $50, you will automatically receive a 1st printing of the MTDAA RPG 2nd edition (from 1998) and an uncut sheet of trading cards.
I will post a follow up when this offer has sold out.

Old School Sensibilities: Saves

I never liked saving throws in Dungeons and Dragons. I just didn’t like the concept, and it seemed like extra bookwork for no huge benefit. Even worse, there were some saves I just never used. Save vs. death ray? It just never came up.

However, I started to read about a handful of games (I wanted to say Microlite 20 was the first?) that used a single save to rule them all. I had never considered that, but it was a great solution. Keep the save, get rid of the extra bookwork. If you need to modify the save, then give a specific modifier for the situation. Member of a race that is particularly resistant to poison? Take +2 to saves vs. poison (modifying your base save). Simple, elegant and direct.

I’m completely gronking this idea for the MTDAA RPG: Legacy Edition. Your character will have a single save modifier that applies to all resist rolls: you save to avoid a hit; you save to withstand a poison; you save to soak damage; you save to avoid mind control; you save to notice someone using stealth. You have a base save modifier (determined by your level), and you roll the appropriate attribute die. If you have body D8 and are level 5 (a +3 save modifier), you roll D8+3 to make a body save. If for some reason you get a +1 bonus to saves vs. poison, you roll D8+4 to save vs. poison.

Nice and easy.