Role-playing design notes

Random notes on the design of Gods & Monsters, and maybe even Men & Supermen if I can remember what I was drinking when I wrote it.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Introducing the spirit manifestation database

Jerry Stratton, May 15, 2010

Abraham

You may have noticed a bunch of changes to the reference sheet section of the Broadsheet a few days ago. That was in preparation for the new spirit manifestation database.

I’ve had it in the back of my mind for a long time now that I should have a database of things like spells and spirit manifestations. The main reason I haven’t done it yet is that the most obvious candidate is spirit manifestations: prophets get a clearly-defined list of manifestations they can use. But I put it off for two reasons. One is that I’ve been using Word, and Word is a bear to automate. As I’ve been moving the books to Nisus, however, that’s no longer an excuse. The other reason is that I don’t like that prophets have a specific list of things that they can do. In D&D, clerics used spells; clerical spells and magic-user spells were literally interchangeable. Gods & Monsters prophets do not use spells. The goal of spirit types is that a prophet can do healing, can do war, can do chaos. What I’d love to have is a mechanism where the prophet doesn’t have a list of “spells”, but rather where the player says “I heal this person” and the game mechanics are obvious.

My requirements for this mythical mechanism, however, include that the prophet player must not have to build the manifestation from effects. That kind of engineering is for the psychic. I don’t want a list of manifestations, I do want game mechanics, and I don’t want any building. This is probably impossible.

At our last game, we spent about five minutes trying to figure out what “protection from animals” does, before finally realizing that I’d renamed that manifestation to “wildlife sanctuary”. I decided it was time to create a database. A bit of private time with BeautifulSoup and a quick model in Django, and here you go.

I’ve designed it for easy use for players of prophets. If you are playing a third level prophet with the spirits of Prophet, Protection, War, Charm, and Trickster, there are your manifestations. Go up a level and switch out Protection for Chaos? Here you go.

And I’d like to take this moment to say how much CSS media rocks. Rather than make a separate page for printing, just print it. A couple of lines in the style sheet remove all of the information that’s not useful in the printed version, so you can print out a summary sheet, a spirit list, and a book of manifestations as easily as print.

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite at the level I’d like to see it. I wanted to provide nicely-columned printouts when printing the prayer book, but both webkit (as tested in Safari) and mozilla (as tested in Firefox) have serious issues when printing in columns. You should be able to get a better printout of your prophet’s prayer book by choosing to print two-up (“Layout” in Mac OS X’s print options).

This is the canonical list of Gods & Monsters spirit manifestations, to the extent that an open game can have a canonical anything.

  1. <- Level drain
  2. Lifting and falling ->