Kenoma Update 15

Let’s start with the bad news. I had a Dropbox-related issue and lost a couple thousand words of progress on Kenoma. I’ve remade most of the stuff that I’d lost, and I think the new version is better, but it was still a fairly significant progress setback.

Release Estimate

I’m feeling comfortable giving an estimate of release. March 1 is my goal for a rough export of Kenoma. I’d expect to see the final completion process take a couple months.

This won’t be the fancy final version, with a full page layout, anything resembling final content (in terms of balance or volume), or other niceties, but it will have the following features:

  • Enough information to start a campaign set in the world of Kenoma and develop it with your own antagonists and protagonists (or use the sample characters to assemble a plot)
    • This includes a preview of each of the sections (although these may still be subject to reorganization), which is sufficiently complete to answer important questions and/or provide an adventuring sandbox.
    • Also includes some significant characters from each of the major factions in standardized profiles that describe their origin, life, personality, and current activities.
  • Full character creation rules with at least 50% of character options fully featured and 80% of character options satisfyingly playable as well as character advancement
  • All the rules from the Quickstart, plus additional rules for situations that are likely to unfold in a more free-form campaign, such as gear acquisition and less common combat forms
  • A GM section that gives useful guidance on how to design new encounters and materials in a way that is both lore-friendly and doesn’t break the system
    • Includes advice for how to encourage parties to form and work together
    • Includes basic adventure framework/structure advice
    • Also includes an overview of the rules and how to reward players or impose stress on characters without making arbitrary decisions
  • A form-fillable character sheet

This will correspond with a Kenoma Quickstart v1, which will feature a couple maps (if I get them done in time) and a new section in the adventure to give more opportunities to explore the world and use social skills.

I’m very optimistic about things right now as far as Kenoma goes. It’s certainly going to be the best game I’ve ever made.

Balancing Acquisition

One thing that is going to become a major issue is figuring out how acquisition works. I’ve run the numbers and tried to come up with solutions, but it seems clear to me that the best possible solution is to make it typical to have multiple acquisition tests at a time to make things equal.

This prevents the chances of very low-Acquisition Modifier characters having a resupply period where they get nothing (though of course their party members could help them out with this), and makes it more so that you can count on the mathematically derived expected value of 5+AM/10 when calculating how much gear a character can buy.

Three to four tests is likely to be the standard. This keeps players from buying most gear outright, but gives them leeway to play around with resupplying and putting away some of their resources for a later purchase.

This also means that by balancing the game around having multiple tests to get anything, I can have resupply via Acquisition Test as a way of finding small objects when searching. I don’t like random, but it could be an adventure feature or something the GM could use as a guideline when players ask for favors.

Another question is fabrication. I think this will probably be a non-core feature, but having the cost measured in acquisition difficulty has some inherent insight to the manufacturing requirements of an item, though there are obviously many factors that play into that.

Character Option Progress

The other good news on the progress front is that I have managed to get several new talents made. I’m not being terribly methodological in how I do this, just putting in things as I get ideas (and with six factions, around twenty different origins and three categories of generic talents, that’s a pretty large amount of space to fill), but I try to get one origin done per day and then spread some love around in other places.

I don’t have a count of all the talents somewhere, but I suspect it’s probably at least sixty or seventy. Some have a little overlap (e.g. there are several talents to add protection to armor), but they often have unique factors. For instance, Zealots get protection when not wearing armor, the Tantalites’ auditors (men in black with mirrorshades) have a bonus when wearing low-weight armor, and the contamms have a talent to get bonus protection when wearing heavy armor. There’s also a cybernetic implant that gives armor, though it’s prohibitively expensive compared to normal armor.

By the time the full game comes out, each origin will have at least four unique talents and each faction should have between four and six.

This could be an area for future expansions, both as far as origins and/or factions go and within the existing factions’ options, but gives enough space that characters from the same origin or faction certainly won’t start with all their abilities and can grow into them over the course of a campaign (or, two characters from the same origin can fill distinct spaces within that origin’s specialty, though I don’t recommend this as much).

I haven’t really gone through and done the attribute/specialization bonuses for the origins as I’ve been going along unless something comes to me as I work. Acquisition modifiers are more simple. They are determined by a faction baseline and then increased or decreased based on the character’s rank in their faction and the degree to which they are considered high-priority for gear.

For instance, pariahs can’t carry much and have tremendous mental abilities that don’t rely on material objects, so they get almost nothing compared to the Tantalites’ rather high baseline (currently 30, but subject to change), while auditors are reliant on their weapons to become what they need to be. I’m not sure about including rules for this sort of thing, and I consult it more for balance reasons than anything else. In the end, the setting demands win over the mechanics here.

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