Wednesday, April 29, 2009


In addition to the relaxing, the shopping, the visiting interesting destinations, and the dining, this mini-vacation has been a good chance for me to do some writing. I finished a play I'd been working on for Lusternia, using the Rashomon technique. I had written only one of the four scenes before we left, though plotting the story was the harder part anyway. I'm pretty happy with how it came out; more than with most of my writings, it went in directions I wasn't expecting, with some of the things I'd written earlier turning out, to my surprise, to have been significant later.

My next writing project was to develop the rules and spell lists for a Spell Law style profession called Tinkerer, which one of my players wants to play in Uncreated. The Tinkerer would be a character who makes clockwork devices, and I chose to make it a spell-using profession so I could use the mechanics of spell lists as a way to spell out what it could and couldn't do. I hadn't gotten much farther than that, and a few notes about what the spell lists could contain, when I started on it the last few days.

The spell list approach turned out very effective and the whole thing is now done in its first draft -- complete, but in bad need of playtesting, since there are a lot of numbers that I might need to tweak, to ensure tinkerers aren't over or under powered. The rules are pretty simple, and the spell lists are nicely modular with individual pieces that are simple in themselves. But in the combinations of how it all fits together, it should get pretty interesting.

There are six spell lists: Gears, Pistons, Levers, Springs, Switches, and Cogs. Each one involves building different parts of a construct, so you combine them to bulid a fully functional construct. Gears builds the base of the construct, the body or torso, and also includes more general-purpose spells for manipulating materials and devices. Pistons adds ways the construct can move itself around, like wheels, wings, climbing gear, or teleportation; Levers adds attacks, like claws, crossbows, and energy attacks; and Springs adds defenses like armor and dodging, along with self-repair capabilities. Switches gives the construct senses and communication, including ways for it to relay those senses to the tinkerer or a remote control, and for the same to be used to control the construct. Cogs give the construct decision-making ability and ways to react to events and stimuli; it's not quite computer programming but there's certainly some scripting-like ideas in it.

I am sure that some of the numbers will need tweaking. Maybe you need to be able to get more or less Size or Energy, or have more or fewer commands in your Cogs, or the spells need to come at higher or lower levels. But the concept itself, I'm very pleased with, and excited about. I need to see if there's any broader arena in which I should publish these ideas. This might be a great addition to a Rolemaster Companion, for instance, if they are still publishing those.

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