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The Travels of Mendes Pinto: Team Game

Still Struggling With Section 4

by Sergio Mascarenhas
Mar 07,2003

 

THE TRAVELS OF MENDES PINTO, GAME DESIGN GOES LIVE

If you are new to The Travels of Mendes Pinto (TToMP from now on), this is for you. Otherwise, just skip this intro.

TToMP is a role-playing gamebook design column. As the column unfolds in a roughly monthly base, I'll be designing the core gamebook for a new role-playing game aptly titled "The Travels of Mendes Pinto".

TToMP is a game set in 16th century Asia. The characters are Europeans (mainly Portuguese) that travel to Asia in the fleets sent by the King of Portugal.

TToMP is based on a 16th century book called "Peregrinacao" (in Portuguese), meaning Pilgrimage written by a Portuguese adventurer called Fernao Mendes Pinto that reached Asia in 1539 and lived there for the next two decades. In his book Mendes Pinto narrates his travels and adventures from Etiopia in Africa to Japan, and from Tartary to Indonesia.

When the gamebook is over, you will get the rules that will allow you to play an adventurer in the vein of Mendes Pinto.

Each month you will find a development in the gamebook design. This will be in a separate file that can be accessed through the links below. The column proper will provide my notes and comments on the design effort of the month.

I hope you enjoy being part of this journey.


STILL STRUGLING WITH SECTION 4

My travails and misfortunes never end. I've been struggling with section 4 but I still didn't get where I want to be. Last month I presented the third draft. Thanks to feedback from BrenMan and Joao Mariano I was able to perceive that it still needed to be extensively reworked. First, the example was too complex and not perceptible. Second, the language used was not the best. Hence a new revision and a new 4th draft (DOC (196K) - PDF (128K)). I think this is the most comprehensible revision so far. I also think that I'm closer than ever to the concept I have in my mind.

What did I change?

First, I used a completely different example. Instead of relying on my own creativity I went back to Mendes Pinto's book. After all, it should be the source for the examples. The example is also a lot more simple. I am very happy with it. It demonstrates that the system is fitting the setting like a glove. But I may be biased on this. Let me know what you think.

Second, I made further changes to the system. For a start, I fuzzed steps 2 and 3 (aims and commitment definition) into a single step. For two reasons: I felt that these two steps are really two parts of a single step; I was not satisfied since I sensed that in the previous drafts they were not linked as they should.

This means that now there are only four basic steps:

a) Identification of the contextual factors. This may be carried out by the GM in interaction with the players. It provides the scenery for the rest.

b) Goals (formerly aims and commitment). The psychological phase. Here the player systematizes his action.

c) Performance. Doing it according to b).

d) Outcomes. Identifying what comes out of c).

Steps b), c) and d) all require some kind of adjudication, either deliberate or through a dice roll. I think the changes make the system more tight.

The third change in the language used. I attempted to use a language that is closer to the terms we use in our daily lives. I hope I succeeded.

The next change was to correct the usage of the character's traits, means and contextual factors in the different steps of action resolution. I think things are now more tight and clear.

A further change was to review all the tables for random and deliberate determination at the different steps. I looked at the statistics for different dice-pools and used it to correct the values.

A final change was to review the presentation and the writing to make it more clear. I hope I succeed here.

I think this is a vastly improved section 4. I hope that I finally was able to write something that will make sense to you, the reader and potential player. Feedback from ?? and Joao proved invaluable to put me on the right track. I look forward for your feedback to be able to perfect it even further.

OTHER POSSIBLE CHANGES

I am considering another major change and would like your advice. I am thinking about changing from the d10 to the d6. Before I explain why let me say that I'm not a fan of the d6 in rpgs. Somehow odd dice are part of my process of immersion in the games. The d6 is too banal and makes things too close to everyday's realities. This is an emotional thing, I know.

The reasons why I'm considering moving to the d6 are based on strictly design considerations. Let's see which:

On what concerns the first and the last rolls (commitment and outcome) generate five potential results. This means that technically I'm not using a d10 but a d5. If that's so, why not introduce a further potential result in each of those rolls and change from the d10/d5 to the d6? I may not even need to introduce a further potential result. I can handle it this way:

D6 roll---------------COMMITMENT--------------OUTCOME
1---------------------Give up-----------------Fumble
2---------------------Reactive----------------No result
3/4-------------------Ambivalent--------------Minor
5---------------------Committed---------------Major
6---------------------Passionate--------------Critical

This has the advantage that in the case of a Basic Die roll (when one rolls a single die) it provides a limited concentration of the results in the middle.

On what concerns the middle roll (performance), maybe assigning in each action 10 Performance Units may be too much. 6 PUs may be make it simpler for the players. And cutting from 10 PUs per round to 6 PUs may be compensated in part if we change the cost of the advanced qualifications from +2 PUs to +1 PU. This simplifies the arithmetic also.

What do you think about these changes? As always I'm always looking forward to your feedback.

IN CONCLUSION

Thanks to Balbinus Rodrigo Vasques' character sheet has been corrected. There were some typos in it.

Thanks once more to BrenMan and Joao Mariano for the feedback on section 4.

Next month I'll revise the combat section according to the revised section 4.

Sergio

INDEX

PREFACE

TABLE OF CONTENTS
- DOC (48K)
- PDF (16K)

I.	"DO I THUS START MY PEREGRINATION"
Introduction
- DOC (224K)
- PDF (272K)

II.	"OFFERED TO ANY VENTURE, GOOD OR BAD"
Fast play

III.	"BEGINNING IN MY CHILDHOOD"
Character creation
- DOC (196K)
- PDF (128K)

IV.	"TRAVAILS AND MISFORTUNES"
The basics of action or the action resolution system
- DOC (196K)
- PDF (128K)

V.	"MISERIES, POVERTY, AND MISCHIEVOUS ACCIDENTS"
Descriptors and activities

VI.	"LIKE ONE THAT SAW DEATH IN THE EYES"
Combat
- DOC (256K)
- PDF (328K)

VII.	"READY TO SAIL"
Seamanship

VIII.	"THANK THE LORD FOR HIS GIFT"
Religion

IX.	"IN GOOD REASON I MAY COMPLAIN ABOUT FORTUNE"
Character advancement and development

REFERENCE MATERIAL

INDEXES

CHARACTER SHEET
- DOC (44K)
- PDF (32K)

SAMPLE CHARACTERS
Fernao Mendes Pinto 
- DOC (44K)
- PDF (40K)
Alvaro Pires
- DOC (52K)
- PDF (48K)
Rodrigo Vasques
- DOC (52K)
- PDF (60K)
(notes on R. Vasques)
- DOC (56K)
- PDF (40K)

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What do you think?

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All The Travels of Mendes Pinto columns by Sergio Mascarenhas

  • Not Dead Yet by Sergio Mascarenhas, 18jul03
  • Still Struggling With Section 4 by Sergio Mascarenhas, 07mar03
  • It's Time For Combat by Sergio Mascarenhas, 31jan03
  • The Criminal Always Comes Back to the Scene of the Crim by Sergio Mascarenhas, 31dec02
  • Tahahahahime Is On My Sahide! Yes It Isn't! by Sergio Mascarenhas, 07nov02
  • Character Creation for Dummies by Sergio Mascarenhas, 08aug02
  • Thus Do We Start by Sergio Mascarenhas, 01jul02
  • Can You Give Us a Descriptor of the Subject? (Part II) February 21, 2002
  • Can You Give Us a Descriptor of the Subject? (Part I) December 6, 2001
  • Time for a Hiatus October 23, 2001
  • System as Language September 27, 2001
  • Don't Forget the Damn Index! August 30, 2001
  • R-O-L-E-P-L-A-Y-I-N-G  G-A-M-E  C-O-R-E  R-U-L-E-B-O-O-K.&nb\ sp; UFF! July 26, 2001
  • Who is this Mendes Pinto, Anyway? June 28, 2001
  • Once Upon A Time ... (How It All Started) April 25, 2001


    All Ruleslawyer For Free columns by Sergio Mascarenhas

  • Experience: From Fiction to Roleplaying Games September 11, 2000
  • The Applied Experience Curve Concept June 26, 2000
  • Experience Curves May 30, 2000
  • Trait Curves March 28, 2000
  • A Change of Course November 28, 1999
  • Spotlight on Alternacy, A Roleplaying System October 26, 1999
  • Introduction September 21, 1999

    Other columns at RPGnet

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