It’s been a tumultuous past month for me in my personal life, as you can see from the blog’s current state of near barrenness. I’m going through a lot of stuff that I can only really put my head down through and endure. You probably see me yackin’ away on Twitter because it’s my short respite from all this trouble. Expedition is really the only thing I have creative juices left for, and it’s been hard to keep the blog updated as you can see. That’s the depressing stuff out of the way first.
The good news is that I’ve gotten a lot of progress done, and I’ve revised a lot of mechanics to make things a lot more workable. I want to point out some of the quick hallmarks and breakthroughs that I’ve made over the past week or so. As I said before, Expedition Beta2 will look a lot differently from Beta 1 and the Alpha, but each of those has contributed greatly to the end result. So bear with me and I’ll try to get the Beta 2 out to you as soon as I can under the circumstances.
Here’s some of the stuff to be excited about!
Simple Resource Management: Expedition from the beginning has been a game about resources. You win them, you lose them, you spend them wisely. Expedition alpha had a lot of Resource stuff, like the Adventure Points, where you could collect and manage resources and that’d be a large part of the gameplay. In Beta 1, we had Fortune points to do much of the same. Now in Expedition Beta 2, resources are more integrated into the gameplay and story and flow more naturally. Your character, mechanically, is the ways you spend your resources (or ways you save them) to advance the narrative. Even the GM has resources to collect and spend, and the meta economy of the game allows you to do all kinds of neat stuff. Resources are again part of the forefront of Expedition, and they’re easier to understand, manipulate and integrate into stories than before.
Set Your Own Challenges: Instead of the variable target numbers from the past games, there are only three in Expedition Beta2. Challenges are either Common, Heroic or Epic, each with a set number. Every Common Challenge has the same target, and the player can often set the difficulty type (sometimes the GM does it, and at others, the GM can intrude with a Nemesis token and do it anyway). The higher the challenge you set for yourself, the more you can accomplish. In a footrace, if your opponent settles for a common roll and you spring for an Epic one, you run the risk of failing, but your success will far outweigh that of your rival. Or you can meet your opponent’s strictly at their level until you’re ready to break way. You can use your Resources to boost your die pool and accomplish greater feats, or play more modestly and save them up for when you might need them. You can also burn everything you’ve got in a huge nova hoping to end things quickly – but you risk running into one of the GM’s token abilities and getting less bang for [all of] your buck. All of these are expected player modes that work.
No Opposed Rolls: I decided to do away with the opposed rolls I had previously proposed for Beta 2. There’s a lot of value in being able to resolve your action without involving another character, especially in online play which I hope to really support, even if you lose some of the thrilling dynamic that comes from opposing another’s roll. The GM can still add some of this by using a token ability, but that’s basically the only time in the game where rolls are immediately opposed.
Story Stuff AND Game Stuff: I hesitate to use loaded GNS terms like narrativism or gamism and such because truth be told I don’t write for a specific audience like that. I play and enjoy all types of games, and all of them have helped me to design the game that I want to see. Expedition has a lot of modern mechanics that allow for tons of shared story potential. Players can add Details to the scenes in the game, which range from their character’s emotions, to physical objects, to weaknesses in the enemy, that they can tangibly use to help beat the game’s Challenges. Odysseys (sort of like a character class, but not) provide scenes and actions that a character is suited toward (both triumphant and tragic events), and if the character plays out these suggestions creatively, they are rewarded with short term benefits, long term character advancement, and resources. For example, the Sentinel Odyssey awards a Destiny Token if your character tragically fails to protect his or her friends (a decision you can actively make and be rewarded for, and which produces story and consequences rather than killing all your pals); or offers a temporary Vigor boost when your character triumphantly wards off a horde of Underlings trying to get at your allies.
But it also has the fairly natural RPG gameplay of “roll for stuff and use cool powers.” The game explains itself fairly well and any degree and style of storytelling is welcome in the end. There’s fail forward mechanisms to keep the game going despite a bad roll (but to fairly resolve those failures so they’re never comparable to a success), and a lot of tight resource management and guidelines for when all these rules are best used, and how to use them fairly.
Next time I’ll have the revised Archmage Odyssey. You can compare it to the prototypical Archmage Odyssey I posted about a month (or two?) back to kinda see where we’re headed.