Thursday, April 16, 2009


Several months ago I finished the final draft for RBH. Before I could finish typing out the first page of the new document it occurred to me that I just didn't like what the game had become. I'd ventured too far away from the original inspiration for the game. Hoping to find the original spark, I started carrying one of my early documents around with me at work, reading it occasionally and just allowing myself to daydream about the thing. Unfortunately, that spark never came back. After all this time, I think the inspiration for this thing has left me entirely.

If you are still tracking this blog, then you are indeed a hardcore fan of RBH. Thank you. I'm still tickled that I've been able to write a game that folks have enjoyed playing. It's a great feeling to hear about your actual play experiences. The doodles still make me smile.

I'm sorry that I can't give you a final polished product. But I'm sure you'll agree that the honest and unpolished thing that RBH is now is much better than forcing the name on a product that just doesn't carry the same vibe.

If you still have the inclination to do anything with RBH, such as translations, hacking, or small press publishing, then please consider the thing to be yours. Do what you'd like with the thing. It's my gift to you for all the feedback and support you've given.

Thank you and goodnight.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Talents & Classes? Check!

As of this evening I now have thirty five Talents and seven Classes to divide them between. That's the last item on my Big List O' Things To Fix. Which means that it's now time for me to start typing up a new document.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just a little tease

Antoine was certainly spot-on when he said that the only way to make these new attributes was to make a list of the expected actions that I'd like to see PCs making in non-combat situations. It's also true that I'd need to start with the list of combat actions to pair them with.

Well, the combat actions are going to change a bit with RBH3. I don't have time right this minute to detail out exactly what they mean or why I've put them in, but I wanted to give you a little taste of what I've come up with anyway.

PUSH is replaced with ROUTE, where you can dictate the movement of an enemy even if you aren't in the same Arena.

SHOW-OFF becomes STUNT, mostly because I like the visual implications of a stunt more than I like that of showing off.

CHARGE becomes a standard action anyone can take. A CHARGE is like an attack, only you get to move, then attack. Until your next action anyone who attacks you gets +2 to hit.

Gotta fly!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Attributes

I'm giving serious consideration to scrapping the current attributes. They work ok, but they aren't singing to me. They don't make me as happy as I think they could.

I have this tiny seed of an idea I'd like to explore. I'm having a bit of a hard time finding the words to describe it, so bear with me.

Vincent once wrote about how he intentionally authored the attributes for DITV so that increasing your character's capacity for one thing also increased their capacity for another thing. Like how increasing Acuity would make the character better at talking and gunfighting (iirc).

That's kinda what I've got in mind. Only I'm imagining something a bit more simple and direct. Imagine that RBH had three or four attributes and that each one had a direct tie in to combat. At the same time, each of those three or four attributes would also cover all the non-combat things I expect characters to get into: Like sneaking past guards and seducing the sons of kings.

Now the trick is going to be figuring out what those attributes might be.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Progress Continues

As of this afternoon I have 30 really good Talents. I need at least five more. If I could come up with twelve more, I'd be even happier.

I've re-scaled damage. The original damage scale was "one and sometimes two", but the creation of the Combat Token system let that get a bit out of hand. With a tweak to Heavy & Very Heavy weapons, as well as an adjustment to the cost of bonus damage from tokens, I think I now have a very satisfying "one, sometimes two, and very rarely three" scale.

Directly tied to that, I've re-scaled the HP for PCs, NPCs, and monsters. Each character or monster will have fewer HP, but with the damage under control, that should work out just fine.

And directly tied to that, I've also changed both the healing system (just a tiny bit) and the PC Death mechanism. I love having the death of a PC hovering over the game, but I decided that I'd like it better if there were a little less random chance and a little more conscious player investment.

I know there's going to be some pretty serious changes to combat, but I haven't really ironed all those bits out yet. I'm changing a few of the standard combat actions. Getting that bit right will make or break this new version. I'm also toying with the idea of removing the classic Initiative mechanism and replacing it with something that has more room for players to riff off of each other.

That's all for now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Talents & the Classes

One of the things I've discovered about the Talents between the time I wrote RBH2 and now is that all Talents that are strictly combat-oriented suck. That is, if a Talent has no useful purpose in non-combat situations, I find it boring.

Honestly, that surprised me a little bit. When I was writing up those Talents I thought that a small smattering of combat only powers would be really nice. I was wrong. Which just goes to show what you can learn about yourself when your game design meets self-reflective actual play.

So, added to my list of creative constraints for creating new Talents is "Must be fun for non-combat situations. Gaining an advantage in combat situations is optional." The footnote to that constraint being "Talents that can support or create interesting non-combat situations are double-plus good. (Like Homunculus or Guild Contacts)"

I then went through all the Talents currently in the game and noted which ones I felt were already good, which ones were possibly fixable, and which ones needed to just get dropped. Chalk Door, Rock Music, and Illusions are all (for example) strong enough to stick around. On the other hand, every one of the Warrior's Talents needs to go.

Since Warrior was the only class where I suddenly had to start from scratch, it made sense to me to focus there first. I sat down with one of my trusty notebooks and scribbled "RBH3: Warrior Talents" at the top of the page and just started writing down everything that came to mind. After an afternoon & evening of working on nothing but that I had a single Talent I thought worthy of the game. Which was pretty dissapointing. I'd even tried enlisting Lisa to help again. But we just couldn't get anywhere.

Finally I decided I'd just sit down and let myself come up with any new Talent that would fit my constraints, nevermind if it fit into a particular Class or not. I poured out lots more ideas onto paper, but still only came up with one that I'm sure I'll enjoy using. But I have high hopes for that method. I have high hopes that, given a bit of time and inspiration, I can come up with 35 individual cool Talents.

But can I make them fit into the seven classes I've already come up with? Or do I need them to fit into those seven particular classes? Ah, see, that's where my brain is now. If I come up with those 35 cool Talents, and those Talents help define the world and it's situations, then shouldn't I be able to organize the 35 by theme and assign new classes to them?

Maybe. We'll see.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Inspiration is a funny creature. Sometimes it's a demon that tears at your brain 'till you write a thousand pages and sometimes it's a ghost who won't visit you no matter how much you beg.

This morning I was looking over my printed copy of RBH2 and kind of daydreaming about the session of Supercrew I recently GM'd. BAM! Inspiration. I wrote a fresh outline of what I need to do to make RBH3 happen and then immediately followed that with about five pages of actual mechanism changes.

With a constant flow of inspiration, I may be ready to present RBH3 in just a couple weeks. Keep your fingers crossed that the demon sticks around for a while.