Infinity Appendix N

This is a partial list of the influences and inspiration for Infinity. There were many others, but these are representative. All are recommended.

Roleplaying Games

Torg, West End Games. (The most proximate mechanical and methodological inspiration. My love of this game knows no limit.)
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, Wizards of the Coast.
Savage Worlds, Pinnacle Entertainment Group.
Shadowrun 1st Edition, FASA.

Game Designers

Monte Cook.
Nigel D. Findley.

On Being Derivative

All roleplaying games are derivative; the Infinity Gaming System is no exception. In building the game, I’ve taken inspiration from what has gone before.

None of the mechanics of Infinity are directly copied from any of these games (or those listed in Section 15), but they were all influential. I played and enjoyed all of them, and so each deserves a tip of the hat:

On behalf of me and my players, thank you for many hours of enjoyment.

– Jasyn Jones

[An excerpt from the final Appendix in the book. Next time, the movies.]

Moving On (State of Development)

Here’s the revised revision roadmap for Infinity 0.2a:

  • Initiative Mechanics
  • Traits
  • Actions and Movement
  • Combat Maneuvers and Conditions
  • Skill Use and Combat Skills

These are the areas that I needed to either fix, add, or revise before continuing playtesting. As of right now,

  • Replacement Initiative mechanics have been outlined (and posted). A revised write-up is next.
  • Traits are being refined and refocused. A write-up is next on the block. (I’m primarily working on this right now, and am very excited with how it’s shaping up.)
  • Rules for Actions and Movement have been partially outlined (but only partially, because both required the Initiative situation to be addressed). The rules need to be fleshed out, before I can do a write-up.
  • Combat Maneuvers and Conditions are pretty simple, they’re explicit descriptions of intrinsic elements. (Though knotty problems might be hiding under the surface.) Right now, all that’s needed is chopping wood and hauling water.
  • Skill Use has been written up (and posted), what’s needed now is filling in the skill list and writing up the skills. Some research on various skills will likely be required, which is why non-combat skills are penciled in for 0.3a or 0.4a.
  • Combat skills are straightforward, as they are essentially plug-ins for the combat rules. Select skills, define their scope, write them up. Not done, but on deck.
  • Combat Interaction skills are more thorny, but as Traits came into focus, these are likewise becoming more defined. From that, you might conclude that CI skills have something to do with Traits. You’d be very correct. When I get something written up, I’ll post them.

Some areas that have received attention were total surprises. Character creation, Doubles Double-Up, round numbers, and other unplanned advances mostly arose in and around the intense noodling I had to do to fix Initiative. Some of these were “shower revelations” (I was in the shower, and the ideas came), one gradually emerged over the course of several weeks (like a submarine coming up from the ocean depths), and the rest were sudden inspirations resulting from something I was reading or writing. So, despite being total surprises, they’re in there.

What have I learned from all this? Nothing’s easy, and there’s no short cuts.

Several mechanics in the game are being adapted from various sources. That doesn’t mean I can just plop them down and run them as-is. All of them have required rethinking, revising, and integrating.

Traits, for example, are a variation of the Aspects rules from FATE. I love the concept of Aspects, but they have some severe implementation problems. Stunts are likewise problematic. Fixing these required lengthy playtesting (in an actual FATE game), research (done by perusing roughly a dozen different FATE and FATE-derived RPG’s), and directed skull sweat.

I’ve learned that this process isn’t optional. For Infinity to feel like a whole game, and not a Frankenstein mashup of half-a-dozen other games, I have to take the time to make the mechanics my own. And taking time, well, takes time. As much as I wish it were otherwise, it isn’t.

Doubles Redone: “Doubles Double-Up”

I’ve been looking at the Doubles are Trouble mechanic, and carefully considering the feedback I’ve gotten about it (from Glen, Mark, Thomas, John, Winston, and probably others).

Given that Doubles happen 10% of the time, and are always bad, I’ve decided to go a different direction. (That’s too much bad, too much of the time. Another case of “you were right, I was wrong”.) Doubles are no longer just trouble. Instead:

Doubles Double-Up

How does this work? Doubles are no longer just problems. Instead, they indicate that something else has happened, in addition to Success, Complication, or Failure.

So, when you make a Challenge (and you rolled Doubles) you determine Success, Complication, or Failure normally. The GM describes them as usual. Failures Fuel the Action, Complications complicate matters, Success does nice things.

Then you glance at the dice, to see which Doubles you rolled:

Double 1-5: Disaster, something bad happens. A key piece of equipment is dropped (or broken), the character trips and falls, their ammo runs out, etc.1

Double 6-10: Breakthrough, something good happens. The player notices a clue they weren’t looking for, they get a bonus to the next Challenge of that skill, unexpected help arrives.

In general, Disasters are worse if you Failed, and Breakthroughs are better if you Succeeded, but both are entirely unrelated to the Challenge. If you’re shooting, and roll Double 7’s, you don’t shoot better. Instead, something nice happens (whether you Succeed or Fail).

This mechanic means you can Fail, and still have something good happen. (Thomas requested just this mechanic, and this is a better implementation of it.) This means you can Succeed and have something go wrong. (Or gloriously right.)

This does necessitate one change to the rest of the rules, however. Specifically the Success Rating chart.

Success Rating

Result Success Rating Description
-1 or Less 0 SR Failure
0 0 SR Complication
1-4 1 SR Success
5-9 2 SR Solid Success
10+ 3 SR Superior Success

-1 Result Rating or lower is a Failure. The character failed at the Challenge.

0 Result Rating is a Complication. The character has neither succeeded nor failed at the task. They can try again.

1 Success Rating is a Success. The character barely succeeded at the task.

2 SR is a Solid Success, they did well at the task. Not outstanding, but well.

3 SR is a Spectacular Success. The character did remarkably well, enough to earn compliments or admiration for their accomplishment.

(You may note that the above Results take into account the “Round Numbers” change.)

Analysis

Why the change? Previously, the 4th Success Rating (which would be 15+) was defined as “Superior Success, plus something nice”. Now that’s given to the dice, which means we don’t need that Success Rating. (Simplification!)

This streamlines the Success Ratings, allowing GM’s to concentrate on the core “you barely made it”, “you did it”, “you really wowed them!” progression. This also means that Spectacular Success is within reach.

The max you can roll is a +9. If your Skill Rating is equal to the Challenge Rating, that means the max you can get is 9 Result, a Solid Success. You cannot naturally roll a Spectacular Success. (Much less the 15+ you’d need for the 4th tier under the previous chart.) Except…

If you are talented (have a Stunt relating to the Skill), you get a bonus. If you spend an Action Point, that can get you there (and a Trait, plus an Action Point, on top of that can really get you there).

This means that Spectacular Successes are a consequence of being talented, driven, or uniquely qualified. Which is another nice touch of “oh, yeah, the real world is like that…”

The Game World, in Real Terms

Concrete (and relatable) Skill Ratings, concrete Challenge Ratings, and concrete Success Ratings means the game world makes sense. We can easily understand what the game mechanics mean, in terms we are all familiar with.

This makes the game better, more believable and more relatable. The game mechanics present a grounded reality anyone can understand. Which is the entire point: I want to make fictional worlds seem real.

And Doubles Double-Up takes me a little bit closer to that goal.

– – –

1: In Storm Knights, this would be called “Setback”.

[Note: The first Infinity Game Mechanics post. Woo-hoo!]

And the Winner Is…

Ms. Rhode Island!

(Whoops. Sorry, wrong competition.)

After some discussion in the comments, we have a winner:

Infinity

Action Gaming on Infinite Worlds

I like it.

(Technically, the game is the Infinity Gaming System, Infinity for short. This avoids some of the pitfalls I noted earlier.)

I’ve added a new Category to the site, and will be adding new tags. (I refuse to go back and edit all the previous tags. Not gonna happen.) I’ve also updated the About the Site page with the new info.

Destiny is dead… long live Infinity.

A New Name? I… Whoah!

A possible new name for the game-formerly-known-as-Destiny:

Infinite Worlds of Action.

Abbreviated IWoA, pronounced “I… Whoah!”

“Infinite Worlds”, meaning the game covers many settings. “Action”, because… it’s an action-movie game.

Q: “Is that actually the name?”

A: Maybe. Not yet. I’m thinking about it. I’ll probably pick a different name. But maybe not. It doesn’t suck as bad as some RPG names, so there’s that.

Initiative: A Duel to the Death

This is a sample combat I wrote up for TheRPGSite forums, to illustrate how the Initiative rules work. This is a duel between two equally matched swordsmen, Alain and Bayard, who are fighting to the death over an insult Bayard (a provincial) unwittingly offered the cosmopolitan (and easily offended) Alain.

The Duelists
Strength 9 (bonus: +2)
Dexterity 11 (bonus: +3)

melee weapons (fast): +7, Skill Rating 10.

Endurance 10 (bonus: +2)
Spirit 5 (bonus: +1)

intimidate: +4, Skill Rating 5.

Rapier (Str +2): damage 11.
Padded dueling suits (End +1): Tou 11.

Attack (for both): 21.
Defense (for both): 21.

(The italicized text below is what a GM might say to describe the results of the die rolling, “in character”.)

Round 1: Both fighters start out without the Initiative. They act at the same time.
• Alain strikes at Bayard. Rolls a -3, misses. Your blade whips past his head.
• Bayard announces a Seize Initiative and attacks. Rolls a +1, Attack of 22. 1 Result, doing 1 Wound to Alain. Bayard fails to Seize. Your rapier slashes through his sleeve, and blood seeps from the shallow cut.

Round 2: Neither has Initiative.
• Alain (1W) strikes at Bayard, and announces a Seize attempt. He rolls a +6, meaning 6 Result (6 Wounds and a Moderate Injury). He Seizes. You stab him in the left shoulder, and he gasps in pain.
• Bayard (6W, -2) misses. The pain is excruciating, and your arm is shaking uncontrollably. Your thrust is wide of the mark.

Round 3: Alain (1W) has Initiative, Advantage +0.
• Alain decides to play with his bloodied opponent, and intimidates him. “I will kill you tonight.” He rolls a +1, for a total of 6. This gives him 3 Result or 1 Success Rating (meaning Bayard suffers a -2 on his next action) and he Presses. Your opponent appears unnerved.
• Bayard (6W, -2) attacks, rolling a +9. Even with the cumulative -4 penalty, he hits for 5 Wounds (scoring a Moderate Injury to Alain, who is now at 6 Wounds). This Counters the Press. In desperation, you strike out wildly and manage to cut into your opponent’s thigh.

Round 4: Alain (6W, -2) has Initiative, Advantage +0.
• Alain decides to finish Bayard off. He attacks, but rolls a +0, missing (and failing to Press). You thrust at his heart, but Bayard flips his blade up and deflects the attack.
• Bayard (8W, -2) attempts to Seize. He rolls a +5, scoring 5 Wounds. His Seize fails, meaning Alain automatically Presses. Alain, however, is at 11 Wounds, -4 penalty, and takes a Serious Wound. His is also faltering, meaning each Action he takes costs him a Wound. You slice into his gut, and he yells, in rage and agony.

Round 5: Alain (11W, -4) has Initiative, Advantage +1.
• Alain attacks, taking a Wound (12W). He rolls a +6 and (thanks to his Advantage bonus) does 5 Wounds to Bayard instead of 4. He also Presses. Bayard is at 13W, -4 penalty, and is now faltering. (He also takes a Serious Injury.) You step inside his defenses, and clout him across the head. Blood seeps from his ear.
• Bayard (13W, -4) steps back and attacks (taking a Wound), but rolls a 0. 0W, a glancing blow. You push him away and swing, but cut no deeper than his padding.

Round 5: Alain (12W, -4) has Initiative, Advantage +2.
• Alain attacks (taking a Wound, now 13W). He misses. (And fails to Press.)
• Bayard (13W, -4) attacks (and takes a Wound, now 14W). He also misses. The two of you trade blows in a flurry of steel, but neither can penetrate his opponent’s defenses.

Round 6: Alain (13W, -4) has Initiative, Advantage +1.
• Alain attacks (now 14W). He misses and fails to Press. You swing, and Bayard parries neatly.
• Bayard (14W, -4) attacks. He rolls a +3, doing 2 Wounds to Alain. (Alain is now at 16 Wounds, and is dying, meaning he takes 1 Wound every round. He also takes a Critical Injury.) You thrust at him, your blade slipping through his ribs.

Round 7: Alain (16W, -6) has Initiative, Advantage +0.
• Alain takes a Wound (dying) and attacks (taking another Wound). He’s now at 18W, -6. He rolls a -3, missing. You swing at your enemy and miss, and blood pours from your wounds. You are starting to black out.
• Bayard (14W, -4) tries to reason with his opponent, while circling him and keeping his guard up (taking a Wound). “There’s no need for you to die.” He fails his persuasion total. Your bloodied opponent refuses to yield, even at death’s door. “One of us will die tonight,” he says, then attacks.

Round 8: Alain (18W, -6) has Initiative, Advantage +0.
• Alain takes a Wound (dying) and attacks (taking another Wound). He’s now at 20W, -6. (1 more Wound, and he’s dead.) He rolls a -1, missing. Weak from blood loss, you strike at your enemy but fail to connect.
• Bayard (15W, -4) Holds his Action. (Preferring to let his — obviously nearly dead – opponent’s folly do him in.)

Round 9: Alain (20W, -6) has Initiative, Advantage +0.
• Alain takes a Wound, and drops to the ground.
• Bayard kicks away his opponent’s sword, and calls for a chirurgeon.

That’s a sample combat. It demonstrates how the Initiative rules fit together (and how other rules enter into combat, like Combat Interaction skills).

(And, like always, just putting this together has caused me to rethink a couple of rules. Nothing to do with Initiative, so I’ve left all the examples as-is. But some of those numbers will be different in 0.2a.)

Rules Change, Round Numbers

I’ve been writing up a sample combat for posting, and while doing so I keep finding myself mistakenly placing critical points at “round” numbers: 5, 10, 15 etc. I assume that, if I do so, most people will.

(Someone, I think maybe Glen, already pointed this out to me and I ignored him. Glen was right, I was wrong.)

So, starting with 0.2a, the break points for Wounds and Success Ratings will be “round” numbers. This will mean some rewrites, but I wasn’t planning on running the next playtest session until after the New Year anyway.