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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Arduin Eternal Design Notes I

A lot of thought went into Arduin Eternal (AE).  Believe it or not, the system was vetted by nearly two hundred people over a several year period.  Where it began and where it ended was a path a difficult as the tales of treks within any of the legendary dungeons.

For all its engineering, it doesn't please everyone.  In fact, it raised numerous areas of contention with fans new and old alike.  Something I'm completely fine with to be all honest.  People have been very vocal in their support or lack of support for AE.  Its actually refreshing to see, even if I don't agree.

Still that's not my point today, its just the intro.  In fact, I'd like to share some of that behind the scenes thinking that went into crafting the various parts of AE into what you see today.

Perhaps the first design consideration that came into being was the basic mechanics.  And that means dice.  It could have been diceless but frankly that was off the table from the first discussion.  While beautiful systems have been crafted without using dice, Arduin wasn't going to be one of them.  We asked the question and everyone uniformly responded with a positive for the use of dice in the mechanics.  Which led to the next question.  What dice to use?

That question consumed a bit more time.  Our older systems used d20, d10 and d100 systems, sometimes interchangeably as a core mechanic.  Speaking of which, I should use a definition here.  By "core mechanic" I mean specifically what dice were used mechanically for resolution within the system.  AG I used a mix of d20 and some d10, depending on which of the "conventions" were in play.  AG II (Arduin Adventure) was functionally a d20 system.  AG III was a d100 mechanic, the infamous Compleat Arduin. 

Now we looked at those mechanics and then went broader, looking at dice pool systems, other dice resolutions and even card based mechanics.  In the end, we went for a d100 based mechanic, using it as the framework for conflict resolution.  Even that decision had broader sub-decisions to go with it.  Would d100 mean percentile (%), using a closed d100 measure?  Would it be closed-ended, using a d100 + # system but still using a max 100?  Would it be closed and allow values larger than 100?

Those questions and a lot more went into finally selecting the open ended d100+# system we chose.  More than a few days were spent with calculators and computers to simulate numbers.  The problem with closed roll systems was the conflict resolution range was too small, such as d20 and to a certain extent, d100.  Those types of ranges were valuable to simplify math but sucked badly when you began to raise the curve to higher end types of play.  At this level of play you are blowing the curve as your bonuses begin to outnumber the range of values you have for resolution.  We wanted to look towards the greater end of play, to make way for high end game play with heavy numbers and legendary characters without breaking everything.  To do so, though, would require a little math work by the players, though lots of conventions were created to assist with the process.

Anyway, a small insight into the design process.  This one is really about choosing the dice to use.  It would affect everything and it needed to be done up front.  Once done, onward to the list of questions we had devised to answer the others.

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