I’ve spent nearly three weeks redoing the core material. I feel a quick update is in order to show where I’m at and to reflect on the changes.

As I explained last time, I’m using this opportunity to combine and rewrite the Core Rulebook and the Supernatural Rulebook. So far this has been an interesting exercise, as dissecting and recombining the rules forces me to rethink some underlying design decisions. I’ll use this post to highlight a few key changes to look forward to.

Simplifying Leveled checks

Since the Stage’s inception, I’ve struggled to find a short and sweet way to convey the essence of Leveled checks. I’ve now reduced it to this:

Flat checks and Leveled checks

There are two types of Skill checks on the Stage:

  • The Flat check is a simple Skill check where you roll all the dice in your dice pool once and compare the outcome to a target (the ‘Difficulty’). If your result is equal to or higher than the Difficulty, you succeed.
  • The Leveled check is Skill check where you need to perform two dice rolls. The first dice roll is to beat the Difficulty, and the second dice roll (which you’ll only get to perform if you succeeded at the first roll) is to see how effective your action is, e.g. how much damage you deal on a successful attack or how long it takes you to perform a Skill check. However, you only get one dice pool, so you’ll have to distribute your dice between those two dice rolls.

This clearly conveys the core concept of Leveled and Flat checks without getting too flowery, which is just what I set out to do.

Also, the concept of ‘Effect points’ has been removed from the game. Most non-combat Leveled checks will now use the second dice roll to determine how long it takes to perform the Skill check instead of how much progress is made. That means players roll once to see if they succeed and once more to see how long it takes them. Sweet and simple.

Skills

Oh boy. I introduced a resource cost (as shortly discussed in this post) to a lot of Skill applications. This makes resource management even more important than it was. I’m personally a huge fan of this as resource management adds an interesting strategic layer to the game both in and out of combat. We’ll see what this does during playtesting, but I’m happy to see this evolution in dynamics.

Spell mechanics

Looking at the mechanics in the Supernatural Rulebook made me realize that spellcasting is convoluted. That’s to be expected, as the Supernatural Rulebook was drafted later than the Core Rulebook and has had less test runs; I expected a lot of issues to come up during play and was actually surprised to see how well some parts of it worked. The Supernatural mechanics have now been simplified and combined with the Core mechanics, which has resulted in a reduction of more than 8,000 words (sweet, sweet brevity). Also, Enhancements are going out; they were a nice idea, but the balancing issues were too much and they ended up limiting a Spellcaster’s abilities, instead of expanding them. Finally, the touch/thrown spell mechanics have been simplified, requiring less investment in combat skills from Spellcasters.

The Power of Spells!

Without a doubt the biggest part of redoing the books is introducing the new and expanded Powers. The foundation has now been laid down and totals up to 12 Powers per Skill and (probably) 6 Group powers per Skill. Since there are 24 Skills, there will be 432 Powers (up from 144). Writing these is a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong: it’s fun, but it demands a lot from me in terms of time and inspiration. I’ve completed the core concepts of most Powers now and am already seeing some really great stuff. I feel Powers will play a much bigger part in the next iteration of the Stage.

When the Powers are done, I’ll rework the Spells and Rituals. I’ve got some cool ideas for this and--now that the Enhancement mechanic is gone--I’ll also have to break down some of the existing Spells. This is going to be a lot of fun, but it is going to take quite a while to complete as well.

So that’s it for now. I’ll probably post a few more of these as I proceed, so stay tuned!

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