Friday, November 27, 2009

Legendary Tales : Layout and Wording

Legendary Tales is a free RPG that Rob Lang reviewed on his blog recently, this has prompted me to read it, which made it perfect for my first thing to review.

I hope to write a general review of Legendary Tales later, but this is just on the page layout and wording.

2 Column Layout

Most RPG systems use the 2 column layout (all the non-free ones I know), it's a good way to make one line paragraphs not use up much space (and it allows  for lines which just have headings / titles on them).

Legendary Tales however is not alone in it's use of single columns, FEAR RPG is an example of another (long) Free RPG that uses a one column layout. And I have no idea why, a two column layout doesn't have any disadvantages, if there is any content that shouldn't use it it can be made to ignore the columns.

And it has advantages, it reduces the amount of wasted space, for example from page 56 to p. 63 in Legendary Tales only the left half of the pages is being used! In the two column layout these pages would use the whole of the page. . I know I'd rather read a two column formatted game (it's just better... just because!).

Although I've suggested using the Two Column layout with such objects as tables being exceptions (as is most common), hypothetically one could use the one column layout as the default and the two column on pages where it's most effective (like pages with single-line or double-line 'paragraphs' only).

It'd be particularly useful for some of the sections like the skill section and the equipment section, the equipment section only uses one sentence for each paragraph so it'd really cut down on the space that takes up. Some of the stuff like the Additional Equipment section (on page 31) would need to ignore the two column layout, which in OpenOffice would be done through what's called a Frame. You can select the stuff you want to put in the frame then go to Insert -> Frame and then it'll be in a frame (which might mess up it's position; but they can be moved around).


There's nothing wrong with the wording in Legendary Tales, I'd just like to point out that the length of some of the paragraphs could be reduced. So I've taken a paragraph from Legendary Tales and chopped it down to size.

I've chosen the description of the Theology skill on page 40

his paragraph:

Theology (Intelligence)
This skill must be learned separately for different religions. It is used as a knowledge skill about the religion and the gods. With a high skill the character can use it to pray for miracles. This always takes 1d6 hours, and if the gods answer the miracle will be performed. But there is always a price to pay; the character will gain 1d6 piety points, for more about this see prayers below. A miracle can be just about anything, but it can’t go against the beliefs of the gods in any way. With a skill rank of 1-7 the chance for a miracle is 5%, with a skill rank of 8-14 the chance is 10% and with a skill rank of 15 or higher the chance is 15%. A character can only pray for one specific miracle one time, if he fails and try again he will suffer the same fate as with a critical failure. With a critical success the character understands the religion correctly, and the time for a miracle to take place is halved. With a critical failure the character mix up the religion with another, or he angers the gods if praying for a miracle, and is injured for 2d6+2 damage points.

my paragraphs:

Theology (Intelligence)
Specalize by religion. This skill represents knowledge of religions and gods.

With a high skill it can be used to pray for miracles. This takes 1d6 hours, and if the gods answer the miracle will be performed. But there is a price; the character will gain 1d6 piety points (see prayers below). A miracle can be just about anything, but it can’t go against the beliefs of the gods in any way. The chance for a miracle is decided by skill level (see table below). Retrying after a failed try is an automatic critical failure.

On a critical success the religion is understood correctly, and the time for a miracle is halved. On a critical failure religions were mixed up, or the gods were angered if praying for a miracle, suffer 2d6+2 damage points in that case.


One thing to note here is my removal of the word "character". I also split it up: creating an intro line,  paragraph on regular stuff, a paragraph on critical success/failure, and a table for the percent chance of miracularity.

I'd suggest reading Steve Jackson Games' pages on this sort of thing (particularly this page). They're the makers of GURPS, and I've found those pages useful.

I removed "This skill must be learned separately for different religions" and just said to specialize by religion, because I'd have a paragraph at the start of the Skills section describing Specialization. Same as how Theology was before, 'cept now each skill that specializes doesn't have to explain what skill specialization is (that's just what I'd do, obviously there are pros and cons to each method).

The Fauna Lore, Flora Lore, Forgery, Geography, Heraldry, History, and Evaluate skills could also use Specialization (it would reduce their 8+ word intro sentence to a 3+ word intro sentence: "Specialize by [thing]").

Also D6s are used alot in Legendary tales, if they are used exclusively I'd suggest using the GURPS method and calling them Ds, like: 3d or 2d+2, etc. It reduces the amount of writing (though as with specialization it'd also require that the person knows what is referred to). (Yes, to me even one character is worth saving)

note the line "Proof Reading: No proof reading has been done yet..." on the first page of Legendary Tales.

Please also note that I'm not trying to riff on Legendary Tales or anything, I have nothing against it. Other Free RPGs could do with more work in these editorial-type areas. Probably because they don't have editors.

edit: added a line and moved a paragraph about two-column layout into the section on two-column layouts.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Define: Open Source Video Games

Open Source Videos Games are video games that are shared freely over the internet, and which can freely be modified and expanded upon.

Open Source games are generally licensed under the GPL (though there are other licenses). Open source games are preferably refereed to as Free Software (Free Software video games just doesn't roll off the tongue very well).

Currently I've struck-through video games in the subtitle, cause I'm not really covering these right now, I've only just started after all! I'll get to this after my weekly Free RPG posts become easier to handle. And possibly after my CSS gets to a stable state.

Define:Free RPG

A Free RPG is a Role Playing Game system that's released for free over the internet (or -hypothetically- any other medium). Ideally these games'd also be released under a license that allows redistribution and modification (like Creative Commons Attribution, with or without non-commercial) but Free RPG generally is not limited to only modifiable ones.

This is "Open Gaming" on Wikipedia. There are a variety of Free RPGs released on 1KM1KT.

Define: Freedom Gaming Blog

A blog on Free RPGs and Open Source Video Games.

Because every four letter word was taken.

this post to be expanded on later.