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Game Balance? Yes, No, and It Depends

I wanted to talk today about “Balance” in games. There is much debate on the need for balance in games and where and how to accomplish this. I will admit what follows is my own opinion on this but it comes with over 25 years of playing and designing games.

When I was young, I thought Balance was necessary to a game simply from a pure mechanics basis. If list A didn’t balance list B then neither list mattered and needed to be redone. I spent hours making sure that armor balanced weapons which in turn allowed for Magic to balance with martial abilities. It was an all consuming thing to find that pinnacle of game balance.

It was hard work; difficult and unyielding work to balance every piece in how a game works. Then I read something, I cant remember who wrote it originally but I know somewhere it was through Mick Bradley, of Harping Monkey Fame, that I came to this quote. (I paraphrase) “Don’t sacrifice awesome for fear of Game balance.” I was blown away as I deconstructed this thought.

This is when I started to shift focus. Game balance is important don’t get me wrong and mechanical balance can not get to far out of whack, but where your balance point, that’s what’s important. Now every type of game has different points of balance and for each GM and gaming group you have to find your own, that’s the simple truth, but I digress. We will get back to this in a moment.

Where was I, ah yes. The focus of balance. As I grew into understanding “Don’t sacrifice awesome for Game Balance.” I came to realize it was never about Balance but about mechanics. I started looking outward and realized that the game we play and the hobby we define ourselves by is one where the artists are the participants and the critiques at the same time. The art of Role Playing happens at one time in one place and with only the people participating with it and can never be duplicated again. We can argue later on podcasts and vidcasts and art later.

With this in mind I started to see how the group I was with determined Game balance on such a different level then pure mechanics. Mechanical game balance needs to happen but only in as much as playing the game needs some kind of rules. Outside those rules the group is the ultimate determination. As GM I found that balancing the game had more to do with Spotlight then pure Mechanical balance. We had a social contract, most often unspoken about sharing the cool and the awesome at our table.

This is where Design and balance start to fall apart. You have to be careful and not rely to heavily on one or the other, mechanical balance and social balance. Both of these are needed in some way. The game you are playing must have some internal consistency or the whole thing falls apart, and the group must agree on a balance of play that everyone has fun with. Otherwise the purpose of gaming falls apart.

When asked about game balance in games my answer has become, Yes, No and it depends. It is important but don’t let it kill the awesome, which you and your gaming group determine.

Dwarves of Erinbour

I want to discuss the Dwarves for a moment. They are not native to Erinbour but instead were brought here by the Otherkin primarily by Azure. They came over as slaves, workers and fodder for Azure’s armies. It was their revolt against Azure that allowed Mai and her companions to overthrow Azure and the rest of the Otherkin.

The Dwarves live by a formal Caste System. One that was established long before they came to Erinbour. There are 6 Castes if you include the Castless. They are Farmers, Shielders, Miners, Forgers and Noble.

Farmers: This is the lowest caste. They are charged with maintaining food supply, dealing with the dead and anything relating to growing living things. Dwarves see themselves as elements fo the earth therefore above “living” things. This caste is respected for the importance it plays in keeping the clans fed and clean of disease.

Shielders: These are the protectors and warriors that defend the Clans from intruders and the darkthigns of the mines.  The Casts is the only cast that openly accepts members of other castes. Many a farmers son or daughter has upped their status by joining the ranks of the military.

Miners: This cast delves deep into the earth searching for the raw elements hidden beneath. The Miners are revered for their dedication and skill to find that which is hidden. The Mining Castes is also the religious center for the clans and the bring the word of their strange gods to the dwarven clans.

Forgers: These artisans are reveared for their skill to create from which the miners find. Weaponsmiths, armourers, jewelers and other craftsman. Blacksmiths and others enjoy a bit of reverence even from the Nobel Castes.

Nobles: These are the leaders of the clans. They make the decisions that lead the clans forward into time. They decide when they go to war and where. They are also tasked with protecting the Clans from internal and externalthreats.

Elves of Erinbour

I talked earlier about the Elves are true Ogres from Erinbours History, and as such they retain the same as that culture did milenia ago. Wiped out by disease from the Otherkin the ones to survive  took the Name Elven or Survivor.

Elves live and work within a matriarcal hierarchy of families. There is no noble or Commoner in Elvish society. As an elf you belong to a Family. There are currently 15 Families that make up the Elven nation. Each Family is lead by a Matriarch that oversees the families affairs. She makes all decisions.

She is suported by her immediate family. Each Family is loyal only to themselves and while they have kinship with the other families they are seen as rivals. Each house has a goal to out do their rivals, this sometiems spills into open aggression, but ussually is usually  reserved for backroom operations.  Many a thieves guild can find hidden backers within the Elven families.

Erinbour Next Steps

I am writing this update to all of our backers and people that have shown us support for Erinbour these last few weeks. It does not look like we are going to get to where we need to be. Do not fret Erinbour is not going away. The gang and I still see this as a setting that is our love letter to Fantasy so we will go back and develop more re package our marketing and be back very soon to try again.

Erinbour did not lose on Ideas, the support we have seen and the comments we have gotten both publically and privately show us that it hasn’t failed. The kickstarter didn’t succeed but that just tells us we need to build from where we are and try again soon. Between that time though we are going to run a smaller more directed campaign for our Mecha Kaiju book which is a part of an established line and something that we can build off of to bring Erinbour out. You will be able to get contiual updates here at www.myheroicjourney.com as Erinbour grows.

Again thank you so much for your support stay in touch and we will be back very soon with a changed focus and more directed approach. This is a delay not a defeat.

Knights Magus

The Knight Magus is an order of knights that stand at the ready for the Wizards Council of the College of Magic. They are typically scholars, researchers, teachers and advisors in their normal functions.  However do not take them for anything less then knights.  Each is combat trained to use magic and steel with deadly accuracy.

Secondly and most importantly the Knights Magus enforce the magical law. They are the arm of the wizards council designed to be weilded like a  scalpel to defend mages even from themselves. The Knights train more then a typical wizard as they are skilled in both the arcane and armements of typical knights. One thing that seperates them from other knights is that they tend to favor study in one weapon. This allows them to split their focus and master the martial as much as the arcane. Each knight chooses a weapon upon induction to the knights and spends the next year mastering that weapon before they see active duty. This is usually in a Wizards 3rd year at university.

Knights Magus in keeping with their wizardly personalities tend to be calclating, logical as well as having a strong independent nature and curiosity. Most oporate alone or in pairs and have the freedom to interpret orders as they see fit except in case of War.

If you have any questions or comments about the Knights Magus or Erinbour please feel free and share them.

Kickstarter Backers get an upgrade

Visit the Kickstarter Here

I am currently working on a Mini-Campaign/Stand alone adventure set in the Wilds of Erinbour. This adventure “Th Villiage of the Damned” was written by David Hill and is a good example of the strangeness that can be found in Erinbour. This will be sent out to all current and future backers. It is fully playable for Pathfinder. I need to rework stats to work in Bare Bones Fantasy, that is the hold up at the moment. It should be available by Wednesday this week and will be a DRM free PDF pre production adventure. We have it on the table for a post production version and all backers will receive the post production version once we have the art finished and final layout done.

A bit about the Adventure…

 

“I’ve had this ale before. I had it last night. I had it the night before. I don’t know how many times I’ve had this same damned mug of ale, but I know it’s been the same stale mug for years. I know that every night, I’ve told all the patrons here. I know that every night, they laugh. I know that every night, they worry for my sanity. I know that I can’t leave. So tonight, I’m just going to drink. I’m going to drink to lost loves, to lost lives and to lost futures. I also know that you’re new. You weren’t here yesterday. Would you care to join me?”

-Dane, Proprietor of The Mayfly’s Arms

Some Cool Kickstarters I’ve Found

I was approached by Wolf Scone Studio about cross promoting and I took a look at their Kickstarter and Like what I saw myself so I donated and providing a link here. Amanda Lynn’s book looks interesting and I am all for helping an author get published so take a look

Necronomicon: Prelude

    by Wolf Scone Studio

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1651495560/necronomicon-preludehttps://www.facebook.com/wolfsconestudio?ref=stream
https://twitter.com/wolfsconestudio

Chthonian Guardians Book One

        by Amanda Lynn

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/122917991/chthonian-guardians-book-one?ref=nav_searchwww.facebook.com/scorpioscribe
www.twitter.com/scorpioscribes

 

Erinbour Launch Party

We are launching our Erinbour Kickstarter Monday August 4th at 9 am. In celebration we will host a Google Hangout Launch Party Monday night at 7 pm. We will have a live update and discussion about Erinbour ask for feedback and maybe have a free giveaway or 2 of our other products. If you want to join us please leave a comment so we can add you or drop us an email at heroicjourneypublishing@gmail.com if you want to attend.

Some Praise for some great artists

First I want to give huge kudos to Chris Perry who has been our amazing mapmaker in this journey. He has joined the team here at HJP for the Erinbour Project.

Bio: “Chris was born in upstate New York to a military family but moved a lot as a child to far off places including England, Turkey, and California. He met the love of his life and got married at eighteen. They have been happily married ever since and have two daughters. Chris recently retired from the US Air Force and lives and works in the Oklahoma City Area. He is a Graphic artist, Mapmaker, Storyteller, Board Game Designer, and Futurist in his spare time and has a YouTube channel as RPGMapMaker.”

New-Master-14 Small

 

Second a big thank you goes out to Aaron Wood who did an amazing job with the Erinbour Logo.  I am very thankful to have found Aaron and am blown away by his skill.

Erinbour-Logo

 

The history of the Elves & Where Dwarves come from

I wanted to allow for fairly identifiable races in Erinbour but feel it was unnessecary tor einvent the wheel. Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs are pretty iconic in the fantasy genre so I wanted to keep them in. That doesnt mean I didnt want to give them a reason for being.

I made some decisions about origion stories for these three iconic races and came up with this. Before Orcs and Elves there were Ogres, born or created perfect, these beings were a step above humans. When the Otherkin came the ogres were targeted by a Magical disease created by the Otherkin to wipe out the Ogres. Some interesting things ahppened during the first Magical curse.

A large portion of the population died. Secondly a certian large percentage of the survivors of the inflicted were cursed and changed permenantly and a small number of Ogres were immune to the Magical curse.  The immune Ogres adopted the name Elvin, or Blessed in teh ogre tounge. The survivors origionjally named cursed, or Orucus, took the bastardized Orcs to identify themselves. Later these orcs reclaimed Ogre to try and gain some internal respect, claiming only the true heirs would be affected by a curse targeted at them.

So thats how we came to have Elves and Orcs in the world of Erinbour.  Once ancestory linked by the manipulation of the Otherkin. Dwarves on the other hand are a bit easier to explain.

Dwarves are not native to Erinbour. They were in fact brought with the Otherkin when they came to Erinbour as workers, warriors and slaves. The Otherkin had established a Caste sistem within the dwarves and from that we find the sub races of dwarves. Which brings me to my last point.

We are planning to have several variations on each race that is playable within Erinbour. It won’t be standard elf. dwarf human, etc. There will be types of these which will standout and interesting choices to build your character.