Month: July 2016

Lands in the Clouds RPG—Why another D20 game?

Why another D20 based system? I had developed a game world over several incarnations over several years I called Lands in the Clouds (LitS). Frustrated as I was with D20, I had trouble convincing my gaming groups to adopt other rules sets with flexible skill systems. So GRIT rules were conceived with two main thoughts in mind. The primary goal was to have a sandbox game. The second goal was avoid having a game that was completely unfamiliar to different groups of players. With these two goals in mind, I looked at the D20 OGL. I felt the combat, stat, feat and general skill set was within the needs for this system. What I wanted and needed to change is the rigid class system and forced game balance that requires odd rules or exceptions that are only there for a type of mechanical balance. I have a long background in RPGs where there essentially is no book derived game balance, but rather GM devised balance. These games allow for a fluidity and experience more focus on storytelling.

There are a few completely new concepts introduced. Spirit is a new stat and the real strength of a character in achieving tasks but not necessary. Stress is a mechanic that can enable characters to go beyond their normal limits, but at a price. Grit is the currency by which a character advances all aspects of their character and can help in heroic tasks. Seasons are the structure by which Grit is spent. In LitS, time is as important of a resource as Grit but more precious as it is impossible to make more of it, so choosing how it is spent is important.

Also of huge importance in this system are relationships and mentoring, either natural or organizational. In this sense classes still exist. Rather than a class giving structure to character skill progression, classes (or guilds/organizations) can only be joined by having the skills necessary and/or relationships. The draw to join those organizations are the training and physical resources they provide. While characters can develop new skills and abilities without instruction or assistance, it can be quite difficult and time consuming.

Though this system was developed specifically for the Lands in the Clouds setting, I believe the GRIT mechanic can be used with any setting to provide a familiar, but unique experience that provides for character growth in ways the D20 system cannot in stock format.

 

-RC Brooks
©RC Brooks 2009-2016


OGL License

The Lands in the Clouds setting and rules will be presented as an ongoing series of articles on this site. This material is solely the property of RC Brooks. The Christian Gamers Guild does not endorse nor condemn any game system or setting. Information presented about a member’s work is for information purposes only and is not to be taken as an endorsement of that work by the Christian Gamers Guild.

Faith and Gaming: Making Peace

In recent months we have drifted away from the central purpose of this series—that of examining how our faith and our gaming hobby may be integrated—into responding to the criticisms of other Christians. This is in some ways a necessary part of what we are doing. If well-intentioned Christians think that our hobby is wrong, we need to examine what they say and what we do very closely. But to some degree, the critics have derailed us, pulling us away from the basics of our discussion. It’s time to get back on track. To do this, we’re going to travel back to the fundamentals, where we began.

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
—James 3:18, UNASB Read more

The Problem with Pokémon

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A few weeks ago, Nintendo released an “augmented reality” game called Pokémon Go. The game has attracted millions of players and, as it did when the Pokémon trading card game debuted, it has also attracted plenty of criticism from some Evangelical pundits. The following article was originally published in 1999 by the Christian Gamers Guild. 


 Recently the Reverend David L. Brown, Th. M., wrote an article in which he delved into the evils of the Pokémon fad and of the collectible card game in particular.  We appreciate his efforts, and agree that there are dangers to this fad.  However, some of the Reverend’s statements should be examined more carefully.  His research into Pokémon was of necessity cursory, and he may have misunderstood the phenomenon, and the game in particular, and so made charges which could be embarrassing if repeated to someone better informed.  Reverend Brown is right to be concerned about the activities of his grandchildren, but should be certain that he presents the right reasons for this concern. Read more

Faith and Gaming: Cults

Some time ago while on an afternoon picnic with my wife the subject of my writing arose. (I write for the gaming industry, as my biographical information attests, so in a sense we were talking about my work.) The talk took a turn toward my responses to criticisms of role playing games and discussions I had had with others about this, something on which I am perennially working as well-meaning Christians send me scathing, offensive, insulting, hateful letters of condemnation for this “wickedness” in which I am involved and which I promote. One point I mentioned was the circular support created between “cult experts” and “police authorities”. Read more

Experience Talks: GM as Host

GM as Host

The GM is also the host of the game. Whether the game is at the GM’s home or not, it is still the GM that is responsible for the game.

New Players

When new players want to join, they should feel welcome so that they enjoy the experience and want to return — make them feel at home. Make sure they know where the bathroom is, and where the phone is. Offer to get them something to eat or drink if you notice that they aren’t digging in.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

Seating

Having enough chairs and table space makes it easier for the game to get going. If the table is covered with boxes, papers, and dirty dishes, players might feel like intruders in the GM’s home, instead of the important guests that they are.

Traditional roleplayer rations.

Food

Food and drink wouldn’t seem to be an integral part of a game, but even when playing, people need to eat and drink. As with any social gathering, especially one that lasts several hours, drinks and snacks are vital to keeping the guests happy.  Read more

Faith and Gaming: Walking In Darkness

As children of God, we are charged to walk in the Light.

[I John 1:5] This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. [6] If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; [7] but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (UNASB)

Critics of role playing games would argue from this that those who spend their time in fantasy worlds filled with sorcerous magic, powerful demons, evil kingdoms, soul-stealing vampires, and foreign gods are walking in darkness, not in the light. Some would go beyond that and claim that being involved in godless science fiction worlds is equally wicked. They say (although, as we have seen in previous articles in this series, without much foundation) that to play such games is sin. Read more

Experience Talks: GM as Referee

 

GM as Referee

referee-1149014_640GMs also have to act as referee/judge when running a game. In other games that require a referee (such as football), the referees must know the rules in and out, and be ready to make a call instantly. GMing is a little different, since the GM not only enforces the rules like other referees; he’s also free to change them to suit the story.

Example: In one game, the GM had us write up Champions characters, but we may as well not have bothered. The game was run extremely freeform, and felt more like a Marvel Super Heroes game. My speedster had a 9 SPD, but in combat, it didn’t matter at all, since everything was handled descriptively, instead of taking it phase by phase. 

This took some getting used to, but it was kind of nice to play Champions while taking a break from the rules for a while. 

Example: In another game, I was mind-controlled to hate a demon that got stronger whenever he was attacked in hate. Since the mind control attack barely hit me, the GM offered me a chance to dodge. Surprised, I said, “Okay, what do I do?” He told me to roll the dice and tell him if I made it. 

I rolled 3d6 and got an average result, and told him that I guessed I made it. He told me that the mental beam just snagged me in the foot as I was getting out of the way and that I now had a medium dislike of the demon. This was a nice rule-bending that added a partial effect to mind control, which is normally all-or-nothing. 

I ended up attacking a structure behind him so that it collapsed and knocked him out. 

As a referee, a good GM should exercise fair, quick, consistent judgement, and should accommodate disagreeing players. Read more

Faith and Gaming: Appearances

Abstain from all appearance of evil.
I Thessalonians 5:22, King James Version

Back in September we examined one of those last-line arguments against everything, the notion of the Weaker Brother argument. But there’s another argument marshaled against anything and everything we find objectionable: the appearance of evil.

This last assault is very effective. After all, it could easily be that everything said in defense of Christian rock music, or meat offered to idols, or role playing games, is true, and yet it still might look like evil. We must avoid the appearance of evil. We mustn’t do anything that even looks like it might be wrong. Read more