Monday, November 19, 2012

[Q&A] Tim Dugger (Novus)

[19:03] <+Tim_Dugger> Hi, my name is Tim and I am author-holic, I have, in the past, was the primary author of HARP, author as a number of smaller PDFs for ICE, and of the Rolemaster Classic Combat Companion, and since leaving ICE I have started Firehawk Games, and written Novus, a 2d10 roll-over rpg system that allows for a lot player and GM flexibility and is easy for GMs to tweak to their favorite settings.
[19:04] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:04] <~Dan> Anyone have any questions to get us started?
[19:05] <~Dan> Okay! I shall begin. (And bear in mind that I already know many of these answers but am asking for the benefit of the audience.)
[19:06] <~Dan> Tim, can you say a bit more about the core mechanic?
[19:06] <+Tim_Dugger> Current projects being worked on include a Novus-Harn conversion document, a starter adventure, Libram Novus #7 (which will include rules for creating races), and Tylron, the core setting for Novus.
[19:07] <+Tim_Dugger> as mentioned, the core mechanic is basically a 2d10 roll-over system. You roll 2d10, add in modifiers and try to beat a Target Number (TN) decided upon by the GM (the core rules does provide a small list of examples)
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[19:09] <+Tim_Dugger> In addition to the this core mechanics, the dice are both exploding and what I like to call "imploding". For exploding, any roll of 10 on either die allows the player to roll another d10 and add it to the result of the first two. This continues on for as long as you roll 10s.
[19:10] <+Tim_Dugger> Imploding dice means that if you roll a 1 on either die, you roll another d10 and subtract the result from the total of the first two dice. This also continues on so long as you continue to roll 1s. And yes, the potential range on the low end is smaller than on the higher end, and that was intentional.
[19:12] <+Tim_Dugger> In addition to this, there is a Boon & Snag system as well. For every 10 points over the TN of the task, you gain 1 Boon Point (or 1 Snag Point for every 10 points under the TN of the task, and yes, this means that more difficult tasks can produce more Snag Points than easier tasks -- this is one of the main reasons why imploding rolls work like they do).
[19:13] <+Tim_Dugger> The player will then, immediately spend any Boon or Snag points to purchase effects from the Boon/Snag tables. This can produce exceptional results.
[19:14] <+Tim_Dugger> Now, you will likely ask, "What about rolling a 1 on one die, and a 10 on the other?" And that is what we call a Nova Roll. It immediately earns the player a Fate Point, and is treated as a result of 11 with no exploding or imploding of the dice.
[19:15] <+Tim_Dugger> Fate Points == players start with 3, and can gain 1 each level if they have less than 5, and also earn them for Nova Rolls. They may be spent by the player to gain bonuses to dice rolls or to allow the player some minor narrative control in various ways.
[19:17] <+Tim_Dugger> Combat -- works just like other skill rolls. Target has a DEF rating and this is the TN when making an attack roll. If the attack succeeds, the attack will do "Base Damage" (which is determined by the weapon and the stat bonus of the skill used in making the attack), and then do an additional point for each point that the roll is over the DEF.
[19:17] <+Tim_Dugger> There are actions that the defender may perform to increase his DEF as well.
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[19:19] <+Tim_Dugger> Spellcasting is a skill also. The caster learns the skill for his School of Magic (spells are bought by paying a one time cost in Character Points, which are also used in buying skill ranks, etc) and he casts spells using this skill bonus. Each spell has its own casting TN (CTN) and its own Spell Point cost. Most spells also have casting options (which raise the CTN and Spell Point cost)...
[19:19] <+Tim_Dugger> ...that can increase the power of the spell in some manner.
[19:19] <+Tim_Dugger> I think that covers everything...
[19:19] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:20] <~Dan> What are the attributes, and how broad are the skills?
[19:23] <+Tim_Dugger> Novus has 8 attribute (Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Speed, Strength, Willpower, Wisdom) and it has 19 basic skills. However, a number of these skills are what I call bucket skills that should be specialized (and in some case, the player determines how tight or broad this specialization is).
[19:24] <+Tim_Dugger> Other skills, such as the Combat Skills, depend upon the skill itself. For example, most of the basic weapon skills are actually for groups of related weapons, with skills for specific Combat Styles being tightly focused to one or two weapons.
[19:25] <+Tim_Dugger> Also, there are things called Combat Moves (which are purchased for specific Combat Skills).
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[19:26] <+Tim_Dugger> The Combat Moves affect the attack bonus and DEF and other aspects of Combat, including how much and what sort of damage is dealt.
[19:26] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:26] <~Dan> (Howdy, Wondy!)
[19:26] <+Tim_Dugger> hey Wondy! Dan roped me into another Q&A... :D
[19:27] <~Dan> A little bird told me that you take an interesting approach to attributes as they related to combat skills. Care to say a word about that...? :D
[19:32] <+Tim_Dugger> I think that I may have already mentioned this up above, but basically, each combat skill is associated with 1 stat (the same actually applies to all skills), and that stat's bonus is part of the total skill bonus. When making an attack, the Base Damage for a given weapon is equal to the sum of Damage Rating for the weapon AND the stat bonus of the stat associated with the skill used to make...
[19:32] <+Tim_Dugger> ...the attack. This Base Damage is dealt whenever an attack is successful (i.e. a Dagger has a Damage Rating of 4, if the attacker has a Dex bonus of +3 (Dex being the stat for the Short Blades combat skill), then any successful attack will deal a Base Damage of 7 points).
[19:33] <+Tim_Dugger> also, regarding stats. Novus has 8 types of Saving Throws, one for each stat, so it is possible to have similar spells in 2 different Schools of magic, where the target would make a Saving Throw against different stats for each spell
[19:33] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:34] <~Dan> And scale plays a part in this?
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[19:36] <+Tim_Dugger> as mentioned above, is the attack roll is higher than the target's DEF rating, the attacker deals 1 extra point of damage for each point that his roll is over the DEF of the target. Thus if the foe's DEF is 18 and you roll a total of 25 (using the dagger), that means you deal 7 points of Base Damage, and 7 points of Scaled Damage, for 14 points of damage in total. Now, the defender's armor...
[19:36] <+Tim_Dugger> ...has a rating as well, and it reduces the damage dealt by an amount equal to this rating.
[19:36] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:37] <~Dan> Well, by "scale," I meant "size".
[19:39] <+Tim_Dugger> Well, actually that will be discussed more fully in Libram Nnovus #7 - while I did that size factor table pdf, that was done after the core rules were released, and will be covered fully in the rules for creating monsters :D
[19:40] <~Dan> Ah... I must be misremembering, then. Is size already factored into the stats for the monsters as written in the core rulebook?
[19:41] <+Tim_Dugger> Dan was essentially talking about a PDf I created after he and I had had a discussion regarding giants and damage done -- one of his favorite things to tackle authors about
[19:41] <~Dan> <.<
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[19:41] <+Tim_Dugger> yes, they are for those few creatures in the rules where they would apply...
[19:41] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:41] <~Dan> What are the races and classes?
[19:44] <+Tim_Dugger> Novus includes 6 player races in the core rules -- Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half-Elf, and Half-Orc. (Libram Nonvus #7 will intro a couple more, including the Volyri from Tyrlon).
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[19:45] <~Dan> (Volyri being the spider people?)
[19:45] <~Dan> (Howdy, willows!)
[19:47] <+Tim_Dugger> The Classes in Novus are Archer, Fighter, Mage (Classic), Mage (Dual), Martial Artist, Minstrel, Scout & Thief. Libram Novus includes the Shaman, Sorcerer, and Warlock (which was later incorporated into the core rules as one of the 6 specializations available under the Mage (Classic)), and Libram Novus #4 includes the Beastmaster, Monk, Ranger, and Warrior Mage
[19:48] <+Tim_Dugger> Yes, the Volyri are the race descended from the spider-demons (and they ride giant squirrel mounts) :D
[19:49] <+Tim_Dugger> <done>
[19:50] <~Dan> Do you allow multi-classing?
[19:51] <+Tim_Dugger> Oh! I do want to point out that while Novus has Classes, they are more accurately starting templates which determine which skills that specific Class considers Favored.
[19:52] <+Tim_Dugger> As for multi-classing, the core rules have no rules regarding this, neither for nor against. However, in Lirbam Novus #3, there are some options that a Gm may implement to include multi-classing if he desires. There are also rules for running a game without specific Classes, and for creating new Classes if that is what the GM desires.
[19:53] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[19:54] <~Dan> Is this a level-based system?
[19:55] <+Tim_Dugger> not really. While Novus does include levels, they are there mostly as break points, and aids to the GM to quickly and roughly determine the power level of the PCs when he wants to come up with opponents.
[19:57] <+Tim_Dugger> There is only one or two minor things that actually depend upon levels in the core rules (i.e. such as a limit on how many skill ranks may be purchased in a skill in a single level). A level structure is actually an aid to less experienced players and GMs because it provides structures. More experienced Gms can easily remove levels. And ni Libram Novus #6, I even provided an official option...
[19:57] <+Tim_Dugger> ...(including variant XP rules) for doing this.
[19:57] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:01] <~Dan> How powerful is magic in the game?
[20:02] <+JonathanMThompson> Is there a core setting, or is it more generic?
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[20:03] <+Tim_Dugger> Magic is powerful in some ways, but not too powerful. I see it as being more along the lines of magic being somewhat rare, but potentially powerful - through the use of the casting options (which means that it requires MORE skill to cast the more powerful spells.
[20:05] <+Tim_Dugger> Setting -- the core rules are basically generic, but there is a setting in development called Tyrlon. Tyrlon is a bit of a departure from many settings because it isn't a world or even a continent on a world. It is actually a large island within a pocket dimension that potentially allows for access to nearly any other setting a GM might want to include in his game.
[20:05] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:06] <~Dan> How would you describe Tyrlon?
[20:06] <+Tim_Dugger> Tough one, as it is many things.....
[20:07] <+Tim_Dugger> It is mostly raw wilderness, with only a small recently settled area. It is a dimensional dumping ground, the place where all those broken gates and mis-cast portals tend to end up, thus allowing the potential of having dinosaurs and firearms, and even laserguns in the same capmaign (though high tech spots would be small and extremely rare, IMO).
[20:09] <+Tim_Dugger> back when I worked for ICE, I thought Shadow World (a huge world with eons and eons of history (that being the recent history, and not including the first 2 ages), was daunting to say the least. And then when I worked on developing Cyradon, I wanted the starting area to be smaller, and we still ended up having to detail the basics for half a world, and lots and lots of historical events.
[20:11] <+Tim_Dugger> During my tenure at ICE, after Cyradon, Heike (my boss) and I had toyed multiple times with the idea of having a base setting being a small other dimensional are, such as Avalon or that magical Plain found in the Black Company stories, but we never settled on anything
[20:13] <+Tim_Dugger> so, when I wanted to do something for Novus, I decided that I wanted something small. I also wanted something that could be used for a campaign, or even dropped into an existing campaign for another setting, thus the idea of a large island (around the size of Great Britain maybe, but not as large as Australia)
[20:13] <+Tim_Dugger> I also had to figure out how to make it so that it could be included in other settings without disrupting the geology of those worlds
[20:14] <+Tim_Dugger> and thus the pocket dimension...
[20:14] <+Tim_Dugger> and the history only goes back a 100 years or so, to its discovery by the elven prince who built the main city there..
[20:14] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:15] <~Dan> Are you planning any adventures for the setting?
[20:15] <+Tim_Dugger> eventually yes.
[20:16] <+Tim_Dugger> in fact, the starter adventure (which I am trying to write in a way I have never done before) will most likely be located in Tyrlon though it won't include many of the more unusual aspects of Tyrlon
[20:16] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:16] <~Dan> Awww... No dinos?
[20:17] <+Tim_Dugger> no, sorry....
[20:17] <~Dan> Do I recall correctly that the core book maxes out at lower levels?
[20:18] <+Tim_Dugger> This starter adventure is meant to be more of an intro into Novus, so I am trying to write it in a way that can instruct a GM who is new to Novus on how to handle determining TNs and so for (in the past, I always just wrote under the assumption that the GM knew who to run the system)
[20:18] <+Tim_Dugger> No, you don't recall correctly.. heheh...
[20:19] <+Tim_Dugger> The xp table goes up to 20th level, and then gives a static XP amount for each level after that...
[20:20] <~Dan> Maybe I'm thinking of the spells? Seems like there were a few "lesser" versions without the "greater" ones. Also, IIRC, you hold off on some tougher monsters.
[20:21] <+Tim_Dugger> However, there is a basic max on the number of skill ranks that may be purchased, which is mainly the actual stat associated with the skill (i.e.  if you have a stat of 19 and you buy ranks in the associated skill, you may buy up to  5 ranks each level until you have 19 ranks, and then only 1 rank per level after that...
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[20:22] <+Tim_Dugger> ah...
[20:22] <~Dan> (wb, Wondy!)
[20:23] <+Tim_Dugger> yeah, there are some spells like "Minor Disguise" and such where there is an implication of a more advanced version of the spell. Those spell names were actually decided upon prior to my adding casting options to the spells during the open beta period
[20:24] <+Tim_Dugger> but with the addition of the casting options, as well as the inclusion of Lirbam Novus #1, which includes the rules for making new spells, as well as using the Spell Bases as more advanced spells and/or for additional casting option opportunities, such higher level spells actually are not really required.
[20:25] <+Tim_Dugger> as for the monsters, there is always more room for additional monsters...  and I was trying to keep the core rules small and easily acquirable, so I had to pick carefully which monsters I wanted to include.
[20:25] <+Tim_Dugger> done
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[20:28] <~Dan> How gritty is the game by default?
[20:28] <+Tim_Dugger> define gritty....
[20:28] <+Tim_Dugger> :D
[20:29] <+Tim_Dugger> as the answer depends upon your definition.... :D
[20:29] <~Dan> Well, how likely is a one-hit kill on starting PCs, for example?
[20:29] <+Tim_Dugger> very very unlikely...
[20:30] <+Tim_Dugger> a starting PC actually has a fair amount of hit points. Basically 20 + Str stat + Con stat
[20:30] <+Tim_Dugger> so a minimum of 40 hits on average
[20:30] <~Dan> Ah. So not as gritty as all that. I'd say gritty is something like RuneQuest.
[20:31] <+Tim_Dugger> to get a 1 hit kill, the attacker would need to explode the dice, and use Boon Points to increase damage (and of course the player could use Fate Points to avoid actual death as well)
[20:32] <+Tim_Dugger> I was trying more for action and adventure than for realism
[20:32] <+Tim_Dugger> games where you die 10 minutes into the first session are not what I consider fun.. :D
[20:32] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:32] * ~Dan nods
[20:33] <~Dan> Do you include an alignment system?
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[20:35] <+Tim_Dugger> no, I didn't, not really
[20:35] <+Tim_Dugger> there there is some good vs. evil (i.e. the upper spirit planes versus the Infernal planes where demons come from), players are not required to declare any sort of alignments
[20:36] <~Dan> Yeah, that was my follow-up: whether there's any implied objective morality in the setting.
[20:38] <+Tim_Dugger> about the only implied morality is that trafficking with demons is a very very bad idea because they want you to turn evil and vicious and cruel to others
[20:38] * ~Dan nods
[20:38] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:38] <+Tim_Dugger> addendum
[20:39] <+Tim_Dugger> as a general system, I didn't think it was proper to go further than that. For Tyrlon, there is likely to more detail in that regard as I feel that it is mostly the cultures found within a setting that determines the specific viewpoints of what is evil and what isn't
[20:45] <~Dan> Do you, personally, have a vision for how "heroic" Novus is?
[20:46] <+Tim_Dugger> for example, ancient egypt practiced what might be considered necromancy (i.e. mummies guarding tombs), and while that may have been disturbing and/or reserved as a punishment for evil-doers in some cases (thinking of the Brandon Fraser movie here), it was an accepted practice, but in another culture, that might be considered evil..
[20:47] <+Tim_Dugger> I like thinking in terms of heroes having adventures and so forth, along the lines of Conan, Grey Mouser, some of the earlier books in the Thieves World series, The Black Company, things along those lines
[20:47] <+Tim_Dugger> done
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[20:48] <~Dan> So more swords-and-sorcery than high fantasy?
[20:50] <+Tim_Dugger> I guess that would be fair to say. I wanted non-spell users to be more of an impact and be more interesting overall (hence the Combat Moves and Combat Styles) and not to be comepletely overshadowed by spell casters (like can happen in some other systems).
[20:50] <+Tim_Dugger> done
[20:50] <+Tim_Dugger> note: I have to leave in about 5 minutes......
[20:50] <~Dan> I was just about to mention that. Is there anything you'd like to mention that we haven't covered?
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[20:53] <+Tim_Dugger> Oh, for those who haven't checked out Novus yet, you can go to the Firehawk Games website, and go to the Novus TOC -- (Link: - and from that TOC, actually look over and read the entirety of the core rules as they are posted on the website in a series of  HTML pages linked to from that TOC.
[20:54] <+tjja> Not so much a question, but I'd just like to say I really loved HARP
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[20:54] <+Tim_Dugger> I wanted to make sure that Novus would be easily accessible, thus put it up there like that. There are also 3 different versions of the PDF available, from the no frills to the deluxe version (rules the same in each, just the PDF frills that differ).
[20:55] <~Dan> I know you have to run, Tim, so I'd just like to thank you for stopping by this evening!
[20:55] <~Dan> The log will be posted shortly.
[20:55] <+Tim_Dugger> tjja: Thank you. I am glad that you enjoyed it!
[20:55] <+Tim_Dugger> Thanks everybody!! Good Night!
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