AF 10 Victory XP: An Introduction to EP Game Development

I will be posting this story on RoyalRoadl.com, or at least an edited version of it after I’ve rewritten the story into this new idea of mine.

Dull, neon shades of yellow and gold filled an infinite expanse in every direction, their geometries demarcated by solid, black lines. Hexagons, triangles, squares, pixels seemingly devoid of context and texture broke and reformed into fractals of themselves as rendering data remained stagnant and waiting for commands. And yet, the ground felt solid and real as he walked. The constant kaleidoscope failed to disorient him as it turned and twirled and refracted. Vic was more than used to environment, it was his creation to begin with.

[DevLog Alpha 408c, AF 10] I’ve just completed contextual procedural generation, which basically means the world creates itself as within a 30 mile range of the player character. Beyond that, explored areas are compressed into discrete data points and unpack upon return. To streamline rendering, however, I’ve decided to keep player and economic hubs unpacked, as well as the most used wilderness routes. This should keep the player from seeing undefined space and break immersion.

[Cont.] On this test, I’ll be checking how well it works and behaves from varied points of entry and spawning. I’ve set the difficulty scale for solo and will begin this play-through from a dungeon. Difficulty scale is set at solo, usual character generation parameters, and I’ll just let the RNG tell me what I get.

Summoning a development console to his field of vision, he browsed through the shortcuts for the character generator and activated it. In moments, his real world body transposed from his VR pod was wrapped and changed in a wave of rippling pixels.

Nameless, he was now an Elf of above average intelligence and cunning, hands lithe and possessed of supernatural acumen. He knew he could build the tiniest ship in the tiniest bottle with only a toothpick for materials, but that was an exaggeration. He felt it nimble and graceful as he clenched and flexed, but no more so than the most talented.

He turned to his console, punched in a set of commands, and watched the simple text-window transform into a roll of yellowed parchment. Skimming through the information, he learned that he was a Thief of undefined origin. At Level 1, he had no XP to his name. His weapons: a bow and 20 arrows, as well as a short sword strapped to his lower back. Food, rope, and some basic equipment; he had nearly everything he would need on a simple dungeoncrawl. Satisfied, he banished the parchment and replaced it with a mini-map, a flat texture of blue gridded with lighter hues.

[Subcomm] Zen Zero, tag along. I’m going to subcomm my command lines from now on so manage my IDE while I run the simulation. Have a debugger online as well, monitor my progress an take careful note of any inconsistencies or anomalies. You have the devlog from last time right?

[Zen Zero] Yeah, I do. You want me to check off features from the request board too?

[Subcomm] Yeah, do that. Wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans.

From the empty aether, a red little deamon visible only to himself popped into existence. Tiny screens appeared about the daemon, orbitting him, streaming information in an array of numbers and wireframe charts. The daemon hovered just a little above Vic’s shoulder, giving him the go sign.

[Subcomm] Generate the dungeon and starting hex.

[Zen Zero] Copy that.

The kaleidoscope congealed, warped and gained mass as pixels became wireframes, then solid shapes of basic colors, and finally finally the fractals collapsed into themselves and took on texture. The world came to be and it was green. The lush thicket drowned in the ambient noise of woodland critters. It smelled of rain just past and leaves mixing with soil. Vic stood at a a shallow outcropping that led down a steep cliff and into a ravine that once ran with raging waters. Moss crumbled in his fingers as he passed his hands over boulders and aged bark. He turned his back on the edge and faced a bare, craggy wall of earth. He waited, as the empty feature crumpled and dug itself into a new dungeon.

A gaping maw of rock and ferns now waited. Within, sharp-toothed accretions sparkled. The tell-tale drip of condensation echoed deep down the abyssal throat, hinting at some underground lake. Vic followed the invitation.

Taking steps beyond the stalagmites, careful not to rip to rip any of his clothes on the edges, he takes special notice of the ease of his descent. Elven senses still useful at the edge the cave, he found shaped stones lodged onto the caked earth like steps down a flight of stairs. Lighting a torch where the light could no longer reach, he finds more clues of inhabitation. The signs often contradicted each other, but they were there nonetheless.

Some footprints, polished stone paths, bones of small animals, he followed the signs deeper and deeper into the belly of the mountain. At one niche, just out of sight behind some tall crags hunched over like old men, he found a fast for torches. He turned to his mini-map and reviewed the trail he’d left so far. Rather straightforward, he thought. He left symbols where he found signs, and took some notes to explain the symbols. He’d study them later.

Fire, it’s soft glow throbbed in the distance. Dousing his torch in a puddle, he approached slowly and softly on the balls of his feet. Finding an outcrop of limestone not far from the fire, he left his pack behind it and unslung his bow. An arrow nocked, he searched on for first blood.

Stalking from shadow to shadow, behind pillars of glittering minerals, he found the the underground pool he’d heard at the cave’s mouth. Sitting at its edge was a guard post. Really, it was just a bare camp stocked with basic essentials. Vic assumed it was for a makeshift guard for what could be some lair, but on closer inspection, he assumed otherwise.

The camp was set at the feet of a symbol, a large, rough-hewn statue of what appeared to be a god. It was too dark to recognize; it’s carving hard to look at. What icon or representation it might have been, the idea itself was too alien for Vic to make heads and tails of. Checking his character’s memories, he found nothing that came close to it. The skin and bone added to the piece didn’t help either. Licking his lips, his procedural culture generation engine colored him impressed.

Noise, heaving voices on approach. Vic hurried back into the safety of the dark and set his arrow point on the general direction of the newcomers. And there they were, unaware of him, the Lizardfolk.

Three lackeys carried game in the wake of a hunt leader come back to camp. They were lightly armed, but looked strong and weathered. Vic wasn’t much for asking questions and taking a closer look at this world’s fluff. He came here to test his newest update and combat was part and parcel of any dungeoncrawl. He waited for the forked-tongue hunting party to come closer to the light of the fire. By the time they tasted the scent he left in the air of the camp, it was too late.

Two arrows, in quick succession, found perch in skulls. Nocking another, Vic let this one loose on the hunt leader’s throat.

Fuck,” the shaft whizzed past and broke against the oversized idol behind. Emboldened by the sudden death of their comrades, they dropped their haunches and brought weapons to bear. They slithered for cover, inching their way closer. One flanked left, the hunt leader right. A javelin shot out from behind a mossy outcrop, but went wide and clattered among the stones behind Vic.

The last lackey burst out from behind cover, a sword glinting in his hands. A shaft stuck out of his heart at the peak of his leap, dropping with a heavy thud. Catching the hunt leader’s scales glint against the campfire, Vic let loose and heard the creature cry out in pain.

He approached the dying thing, writhing on the wet floor with an arrow sticking out of its kidney. He drew his short sword and ended it there, blood swirling into the puddles.

First room done. Ten more to go.

Savage Flower Kingdom Hack

VRMMORPG Basic Principles

Savage Flower Kingdom: The Eclipse Phase VRMMORPG Hack

SFK is a great rules-lite RPG by Robertson Sondoh, Jr. available at his blog, Experimental Playground. It uses the LARA System for adjudicating actions by your players and supplements are available for expanding on the things you can do and for a sandbox setting you can play in. For this particular hack, however, I’m just trying to adapt what Sondoh did for a VRMMORPG that exists in Eclipse Phase and is currently under development by it’s designer, Vincent XP.

Credit where credit’s due: Experimental Playground

All you need to play

You’ll need these rules, friends, paper, pencil, a few six-sided dice, and your imagination. If you want to play it solo, there are plenty of GM Oracles available you could use like Mythic’s GM Emulator and the ones from the Scarlet Heroes RPG. If you’re playing this as a character from EP downloading his mind into a “Full Dive” simulspace or VR Game, you’ll need your EP Character Sheet close-by for any sort of metagaming reference or anything else to that effect.

Creating your hero

Your hero is represented by four abilities. They are:

Physical: This ability reflects how good your hero is at using his body. It decides how well you hurdle physical challenges, how good your immune system is, how well you do in combat, and is your base roll for deciding initiative.

Technical: This ability reflects how good your hero is at technical challenges like picking a lock, crafting mundane items, searching an area for trap doors, disarming a trap, and works towards expressing your hero’s creativity.

Intellectual: This ability reflects how good your hero is at problem solving, untangling logic puzzles, learning complicated ideas, memorizing things, knowing the right thing for the right situation, and remembering crucial points of information you may have overheard throughout your adventure.

Magical: This ability reflects your hero’s communion with the inner and arcane world, a combination of your connection with the nature and the living things that permeate it. As such, it not only behaves as your proficiency with magic but also acts as your measure for inner strength, your presence and personality, your willpower, as well as your disposition towards social situations.

To create a hero you must distribute Character Points between the abilities. The minimum points you can pool in an ability is 1 while the maximum is 3 for a beginning hero. If you are creating a download of your EP character, follow these rules.

For Physical, get the average of your SOM and REF scores. Take the first digit as your ability.

For Technical, get the average of your COO and INT scores. Take the first digit.

For Intellectual, get the average of your COG and INT scores. Take the first digit.

For Magical, get the average of your SAV and WIL scores. Take the first digit.

Pick a race

Instead of picking a class like in SFK, I’ve turned classes into races. All races can learn whatever skill they want and use magic. Races who don’t start with MP may gain it during by play by spending XP on it.

Heroes start play as follows:

Race

HP

MP

CP

Spells

Skills

Perk

Human

1d6+12

8

1 Apprentice

Wizard

1d6+8

8

8

3

Mystic Blood. You recover 1d6+3 MP when resting for an hour.

Dwarf

1d6+14

7

Apprentice Goblin Rage

Dungeonsense. You can see in the dark and never get lost in a dungeon.

Elf

1d6+10

6

7

2

Apprentice Negotiator

Glamour. Your words are magical. Others can’t deny you the chance to speak.

Giant

1d6+20

7

Giant Strength. You can use double damage die weapons without penalty.

Orcish

1d6+14

7

Rage

Novice Blood Magic

Orcish Blood. You recover 1d6+3 HP when resting for an hour.

Halfling

1d6+8

7

1 Apprentice

Guile.You cannot use 2 handed weapons but add +1 to attack and defense against enemies larger than a human. You can also act twice in combat.

Experience (XP) and Advancement

You get XP from killing monsters and completing scenarios or quests. You may then spend them as follows.

  1. 1000 XP to gain 1 HP
  2. 2000 XP to gain 1 MP
  3. 3000 XP to advance a skill or learn a spell
  4. 4000 XP to advance an ability

Doing actions and stuff

When in doubt, roll a 2d6 and apply the appropriate ability. The result must be equal to or more than the Target Number (TN) to succeed. Refer to the difficulty table below:

Easy 7
Moderate 9
Hard 11
Tough 13

Critical Hit and Fumble

You get a fumble on a natural roll of 2 and a critical hit on a natural roll of 12. A fumble aggravates your failure while a critical hit increases your rewards. In combat, a fumble means you automatically fail and damage yourself while a critical hit means you automatically hit and deal the critical effect of the weapon.

Spells

To use magic you need to expend 1 MP and you need to make a Magic roll to see if you succeed. If you fail, the MP is wasted.

Rage (TN 7, self): +1 to melee attack roll for number of turns based on MP spent.

Disarm (TN 9, Ranger, 1 Target): Your target loses a weapon.

Skills

There are four skill rankings. These are Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, and finally, Master. The Novice rank means you have just discovered the existence of a skill but will not enjoy any advantages from it. The Apprentice and Journeyman ranks provide a +1 and +2 bonus for the appropriate rolls respectively. The master rank, however, can only be attained by finding another Master to train you at such. This often involves the completion of a quest.

Inventor. You have a knack for making new things out of old ideas. With this skill you can make new items out of schematics you have either found through your adventuring or developed yourself. The TN for inventing is Processed Material Quality+Tech Level.

Resting

Resting a full evening recovers full HP and MP. Resting for an hour recovers 1d6 HP and 1d6 MP.

Wounding and Stress

Whenever your HP is brought to 0 in one encounter, you gain a wound. Whenever your MP is brought to 0 in one encounter, you gain stress. A wound is -1 penalty for Physical and Technical rolls. Stress is a -1 penalty for Intellectual and Magical rolls. Once you reach the same number of wounds as your Physical ability, you die. Once you reach the same number of stress as your Magical ability, you go insane.

Falling

In SFK whenever you fall, roll 2d6 for damage. You may roll for Physical ability against the TN (in measures of height appropriate) to halve the damage die. On a critical hit, you are not damaged at all but you should narrate why.

Poison

Some monsters have poison as their attack. Whenever it hits, the victim needs to make a Physical roll against TN. The base TN for the attack is the lethality of the Poison. When Poisoned, your hero suffers a -1 penalty on all rolls and might die depending on the poison.

Combat

Initiative is the order of who acts when in combat. To determine initiative, each combatant rolls 1d6 and apply their Physical score. The highest goes first. Any ties will act simultaneously.

When your turn arrives, you pick one of the options below:

  1. Attack. Attack a target with a weapon. Roll 2d6 and add Physical or Technical (depending on the weapon) to try and get an equal or higher number than the target’s DEF.
  2. Use Magic. Cast a spell.
  3. Move. A character may move into melee ranger and engage a target, move away from a target, or move into cover. If you’re using abstracted movement, treat move as an attack.
  4. Other Action: This is for actions surrounding picking locks, reloading a bow/crossbow, opening a window, using an item, etc.
  5. Flee: To flee, combatant needs to make a Physical roll against opponent with the highest DEF.

Equipment Table

You start with 10 gold pieces.

Weapons

Pr Weapon Hands Rng Dmg Skill Critical
Fist
Fighting gloves
Iron fist
Spiked fist
Knife Technical
Short sword
Broadsword
Greatsword
Rapier Technical

Protection

Pr Type Use Penalty
3 Shield Reduce Damage 1
8 Spiked Shield Reduce Damage 1, Damage Opponent 1 on miss
3 Leather Armor DEF + 1
5 Scale Armor DEF + 2
8 Mail Armor DEF + 3 -1 all rolls
10 Plate Armor DEF + 4 -2 all rolls
12 Spiked armor DEF + 2 opponent on miss takes 1 damage -1 all rolls

Gear

Monsters

Monsters are defined by these stats: Combat, Ability, DEF, HP, and Dmg. Anything in a bracket is the monster’s skill. When a monster is killed, they provide Combat*100 XP.