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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: Nights of the Crusades rss

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Tale Weaver
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Hey there Indie RPGers,

We've spent the last few years working on Nights of the Crusades, and it's finally at the point where we can release a Beta version to get some (any?) feedback. Before we can do a proper release, we'd like others to share their experiences with it and let us know if anything needs to be ironed out (ie; a bit of play-testing). Any typo's, concerns, inaccuracies or other things that cross your mind are also welcome!

Here's the description from the Introduction:

"Nights of the Crusades is a roleplaying game set in a land and time that is familiar on the surface, but within its cracks lie tales of sorcery, madness and violence. It is a world that could have happened and then been lost to barbarity and time. Players take on characters that can explore the places involved in the Crusades, from Egypt, through to Damascus and Jerusalem. The Tale-Weaver is their guide, allowing them to unearth the horrors of war and fanaticism as they pursue their goals. As the main characters come across storytellers in their travels, they will take part in a new story within the story of their main narrative. Magic, djinn and foul beasts lurk within the minds of the storytellers, yet many secrets and shards of knowledge can be found within these tales.

And the real world is not free from horror. The land is rife with dark cults, creatures that dwell in unseen places and bloodthirsty warriors. This is a time when anyone’s thoughts, from king to slave, are enough to condemn them to death and hell, and many are they that will line up to cheer the execution. Nights of the Crusades is a mixture of the Arabian Nights, the history surrounding the Crusades and both modern and ancient tales of terror.

The rules hope to reflect mature and gritty issues that are not catered to in many popular RPGs, such as the psychological impacts of combat and killing. The gameplay also allows for tension in every form of conflict, whether verbal or physical. A group of companions made up of an artist, diplomat and physician will be as enjoyable to play as one made up of a warrior, archer and thief."

We're hoping that the interest RPGers had for settings like Dark Sun and Al-Quadim might make Nights of the Crusades appealing to the groups of players who like fantasy set in grim, harsh environments.

You can download the rulebook here: http://www.mediafire.com/?ucehhm0z4byminp

It's quite large (25MB) because it's around 100 pages with illustrations, but it's been downsized as much as possible without lessening the quality.

Comments on this thread will be welcome, as well as on our Facebook page and forum at http://nightsofthecrusades.freeforums.org/

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Regards,
The Tale-Weaver / MJ Alishah

-------------------

Edit 14/10/12

Nights of the Crusades has been updated and is in version 1.2. It's available from drivethrurpg and aethericdreams.com/nightsofthecrusades.html
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William Hostman
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Gaming in Greater Anchorage area, Alaska since 1978. Looking for Indy-willing RPG players in Eagle River (or willing to drive to Eagle River). Geekmail me if interested.
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First glance issues...

1) hard to read on-screen at fit-page. Text is too small, and worse, 3 column, making fit-width impractical.

2) character sheet particularly uninformative. Attribute names, at least, should be spelled out, with abbreviations either parenthesized, or in-place underlined and/or bolded.
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Dave Bernazzani (@rpggeek)
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MJ Alishah wrote:
We're hoping that the interest RPGers had for settings like Dark Sun and Al-Quadim might make Nights of the Crusades appealing to the groups of players who like fantasy set in grim, harsh environments.

Well, two of my favorite settings has my interest peaked! I'm a bit behind on my obligations lately so I'm not sure when I'll get to look at it, but it's bookmarked.

I assume someone will enter this game into our system I can get Tale his Designer Badge after that.

Oh... and welcome to the site!

-Dave
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paz AKA Matt Lewis
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wavemotion wrote:
I assume someone will enter this game into our system I can get Tale his Designer Badge after that.

I can do it when I get home from work; it's a good opportunity for me to test out the beta RPG/item creation pages.

But no doubt I'll be beaten to the punch... whistle
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F H
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Like the art. Such a refreshing change for a prude like me.

The Injuries Table needs to be broken up, they all run into each other somewhat confusingly, also the background image makes the text difficult to read in places.

I have to agree that 3 column layout is terrible for on screen reading, I had the same problem with Trail of Cthulhu. You cant fit-to-view because the text is too small and if you zoom in, you're constantly scrolling up and down.

Looking forward to actually reading it next
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paz AKA Matt Lewis
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Tale Weaver
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Thanks for the replies!

The design (like pretty much everything else!) is a work in progress, so it looks like a redesign is in order for the next version. It was initially created to be a printed book though, do most players these days prefer screen-based rules?
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William Hostman
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MJ Alishah wrote:
Thanks for the replies!

The design (like pretty much everything else!) is a work in progress, so it looks like a redesign is in order for the next version. It was initially created to be a printed book though, do most players these days prefer screen-based rules?


I don't know about most players, but most of the new PDF games either are readable at fit-page, or are single column digest sized (5x8" or 6x9"), or have a separate screen edition. Deep7's new stuff is mostly readable at fit-page; most indie stuff is digest sized; the latest stuff from John Wick has had ePub with the PDF. (Kudos to Joh for actually listening despite his personal objections.)

I really discovered I prefer PDF when I was running BTVS... I can find stuff faster on the laptop than I can in a dead tree. And miss related rules less often.

ePub is better for my sony reader... which I use more than the laptop these days. And it's 3.5x4.5" screen.
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Hans Messersmith
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Hi Tale Weaver:

Here are some thoughts after digesting the rules. I'm going to be blunt both in the things I like about this, and the things I think need improvement, in the hopes that you will take this from me in the spirit it is given; a sincere desire for you to succeed and make a game that will bring a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people.

The Good:

* The basic concept is really neat. I love the Crusades as a setting.

* The idea of "real" characters and "story" characters, and of the story within the story, is just awesome. I had to sit there for a second pondering it, because it seems fairly innovative; I can think of many other games that use a similar conceit.

* The art is really good.

* I think the overall presentation of the book is just fine.

The Not So Good

* You have this incredible concept of a story within the story, of the players playing main characters and the story characters...and you don't seem to do anything with it. There are little or no mechanics about it, no rules on exactly how the story characters are made, no rules on how and when you transition between the "levels", and most important no rules about how the two levels interact. This is CRUCIAL. Unless there is interaction between the two levels in some way, I simply cannot see this game being viable. Most players will either wonder why the heck their gritty Crusades characters keeping pausing to tell stories, or wonder why the heck their cool Arabian Nights characters keep having to be sidelined by this whole nasty, brutish Crusades game.

* I really think that your basic push for a more narrative style of game is undermined by the fairly complex and obvious focus on the combat system. The whole AP system is interesting, but I feel it really distracts from, instead of adding to the concept.

* The system of Traits and derived Attribute is just a playtesting nightmare waiting to happen. Formulas like these almost always lead to strange break points and unintended consequences, and honestly don't add anything to what you are trying to do.

* In general, the rules system just seems...creaky to me. That is, it feels like something that might have been passable circa 1990, but today just misses the boat.

Summary of the above:

What you have here is a fantastic concept that is in need of much better execution.

Some suggestions:

* Consider this page, and the questions therein: http://hamsterprophet.wordpress.com/2007/02/03/rpg-design-ha...
Consider the criticism of those questions at the bottom of that page as well. But think about those questions and see if you can answer them.

* Consider getting a copy of these three games if you don't already have them: HeroQuest (1st Edition) or HeroQuest (2nd Edition); Spirit of the Century or another Fate 3.0 based game; The Shadow of Yesterday or it's more generic version Solar System. Read those games. Ponder them for a bit. Preferably play/run each for a couple of sessions.

* Once you have done the above, go back to your game and consider wiping the rules system slate clean and starting from scratch. The rules system you have now, for me at least, has almost nothing new in it, and what it does have seems less efficient and interesting then other rules systems I have played/ran.

* You have to make more explicit the meta-narrative nature of the game. This concept is your selling point, I think; this idea of characters telling stories about other characters is what will make your game very different from any other game, and what will make people go to Nights of the Crusades when they want to play either Crusades or Arabian Nights instead of turning to some other game (for example, the three I mentioned above, or Burning Wheel or Basic RolePlaying or Savage Worlds or, God forbid, GURPS). To make this work, I suspect you need the following:

** A clear mechanical and/or narrative connection between what is happening in the Crusades world and what is happening in the story world.

** A simplification of system in either world. The world with the more detailed system will be the world that takes up more of the actual play time of the players. The less detailed system world will be the world that is more of an interlude. I could see this go either way. If the Crusades world is less detailed, then the Crusades world narrative will be more of a framing narrative for the stories. If the Arabian Nights world is less detailed, then the stories will be more like short vignettes between episodes of the main narrative. The systems should SHARE concepts (e.g. the basic dice rolling mechanic, perhaps common traits, etc.) but don't have to be the same, and probably shouldn't be.

** A way for players to get involved in telling the stories in the Arabian Nights world. I don't think the game will ever be satisfying unless the players themselves have the option to "tell" the stories during the main narrative. That is, if the Arabian Nights stories are only ever told by NPC's, and are essentially part of the overall plot of the game, the players will quickly lose interest.

Consider this: who are the people you want to play and enjoy your game? What is the fun you want them to have while playing it? How will they have that fun? Whoever those people are, you need to offer them something they cannot get from any other game, otherwise your game will simply disappear into the hundreds of other games that are available.

Good luck with this game. I can tell you honestly that the basic concept you have here is a winner, and if developed in the right direction could be a really interesting and innovative game that people will talk about.
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Tale Weaver
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Wow! I really can't thank you enough for the feedback, Hans.

Over the next few weeks we'll (re)go through those resources you mentioned and try to absorb a way to smooth the mechanics (which is the biggest criticism we've received since the playtesting began). There'll likely be a severe overhaul to the system before the next version.

And what you said about the linking between worlds of the 'Nights' and of the 'Crusades' is something we were wondering if players would want more of, and we see the need to mesh them a bit better.

Thanks again, you've given us plenty of thought-food!
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Hans Messersmith
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My pleasure. Good luck with your playtesting!

As an aside, there are similarities between the your meta-narrative concept and Glorantha's Hero Quests. However, I've not played enough of Runequest/Heroquest to really comment on those similarities other than to point them out, and also to say that I think your selling point may be that it is the players, not the GM, who determine the "plot" of the story within the story.

Here is one suggestion for integrating the two levels:

* Whenever a character starts a story, that character's player becomes the "GM" for that story. She lay's out a set of potential characters that people can play in the story. Everyone can lay claim to one of those characters, and then the Meta-GM plays everyone else. These characters are very rapidly generated, they might have three or four traits/attributes at most, and a couple of phrases, that describe them. (this is cribbed from In a Wicked Age)

* You play out the story, with the Meta-GM guiding the narrative. The rules in the story are VERY simple, and preferably narrative-based. By narrative based I meant that when conflict happens in the story, it's resolved at least partially through the MAIN Characters talking about the story. For example, the meta-GM says that Aladdin stumbles upon the Den of Thieves, but can't figure out how to open the cave door. The Aladdin player says, in the character of his main character, "That's not how I remember the story! I remember that Aladdin had already planned for this, and brought along a big pick axe!" The rules resolve this and you move on.

* After the meta-story is complete, all the people who participated get some new trait/attribute/whatever that reflects how the story affected their own characters. The rules arbitrate this somehow, so it isn't just a free-for-all bonus grab. Maybe the meta-GM assigns them somehow, or there is a random table like Dogs in the Vineyard fall out.

Anyhow, let us know how the playtesting goes.
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