Test, and learn!

Sometimes during, the design process, you have an idea. and you think to yourself, when you put it on paper, that this is going to be awesome! Then, in execution or in testing, you find out that your idea doesn’t hold up. And while you want to be mad at yourself for having a bad idea, or what you feel is a bad idea, at some point you just have to step back and realize that this isn’t just all negative.

We recently had that happen to us with a test of the Genesis System using the “Dead House: Watchers of the Night” universe, wherein we thought that an idea that we had (a new way of looking at health) would execute better than it actually did; not just in our opinions but in our playtester’s opinions as well.

With this in mind, we’ve decided that we, once again, have to reassess how we want to handle certain attributes, especially regarding health, and that our abstract concept most recently tried out didn’t play out as well as intended. However, knowing that our most recent test did yield a definitive result, that is useful information which will allow us to proceed forward more carefully.

We’re hoping to be able to put some more thought into the health and damage systems in the near future and test out some new concepts that will ideally yield better, more functional results!

Game on!



Size does matter…

We mentioned a while back how we were working through the pains of countering the ‘vagaries of luck’ as one of our testers lovingly refers to it against the ranks of the skills available to the players. A couple different options have been played with, to varying success (or failure – maximum damage every time a weapon hits gets messy, quickly) and thus we felt the need to do as we always do:

Talk about it.

When you talk about Tabletop combat, it almost immediately comes with the mental sound of the die hitting the table. When you break it down, the size of that die changes things immensely. If you only have a six sided die dictating your ‘luck’ against your ‘skills’ and you skills are twice as deep as the die, your skill is the dominating factor.

Or, so it would be if ‘all other things weren’t equal’; meaning that the foes you fight may very well be just as good, or bad, at a certain skill as the player is. In which case, the only thing separating the sweet taste of victory against the pangs of defeat is a one in six chance to roll better than your foe.


In an army game, that’s not so bad, really. With dozens of miniatures marching around kicking the plastic molding out of each other, losing a handful of minutely detailed soldiers isn’t so painful; in fact it is to be expected. Casualties of war, or so we are told. But what happens when the player is only controlling one of those figures? Suddenly the idea of a one in six chance of having to make a new character sounds pretty terrible.

So what does it all mean?

It means, in an ideal world, your skills should come close, be equal to or exceed your die factor; I would advise using something smaller than the common 20-sided die in that final case. Keep in mind that everything we do takes time, and the longer and harder you make things for the players, even something like relatively simple math, the problem magnifies with each player added to the table. Keep it simple, and streamlined. Ideally, anyways.

So what else factors into combat, if not just skill and luck? For now, we are going to begin aggressively testing those two parameters and seeing how far we can push, pull, bend and twist them until it feels ‘right’. But our other variable is the tools of combat themselves; weapons. Just because some people think ‘a sword is a sword’ doesn’t make it so. Look at the Oakeshott typography of swords for fun and you’ll see what we are getting at.

As always, keep rolling 20’s and Game On!Oakeshott





The Art of War

“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As of late, we’ve been focusing mainly on combat. Asides from roleplaying of the characters combat is really what “happens” in most RPGs, whether dueling other players to learn your weapons or attacking adversaries to benefit your station. Having a variety of weapons at the players’ disposal to choose from is as much a part of their character as having optional races, backgrounds, clothing, etc. The problem? Balancing all of the weapons so that no one weapon type or weapon style completely steamrolls the others, rendering them completely useless, while keeping some base of the reality of the weapons intact.

That being said, we’ve been spending a lot of time going over weapon types (magic, ballistics, melee) and weapon styles (dual wield vs. single wield, great weapons vs. small weapons) trying to keep them true to themselves as well as being functional in the game to our players and GMs. We’ve had some good ideas, some not so good ideas, and we definitely have some things we’re still testing and rethinking, but the good thing is that we’re much happier with the way things are headed currently than we were with how the weapons were performing previously!

Another thing we’ve been working on is concept art and art styles for the game books themselves. We are lucky to have a few amazing friends/ playtesters that are artistically inclined and willing to help us out! In figuring out what exactly we’re looking for as far as art goes, we’ve been going through and editing the game books as we go along because we might as well kill two birds with one stone!

All in all, we thank you for your patience as we try our best to make the Genesis System, Dead House: Watchers of the Night, Darkstar, and Project: Utopia the best they can be! Game on!


Try, try again!

One thing that hasn’t felt quite “right” with our Genesis System to us as of late has been how skills progress. They currently have been progressing upon successful utilization of said skill up through the ranks of three tiers, adept, veteran, and master, with each tier requiring more success “points” than the previous tier to advance more. This had been functional during our previous playtests, however as it stood before it seemed that playtesters were leveling their most-used skills very quickly and plateauing rather early on; which was a critique from a few different folks.

Last Friday we had a playtest where we tried a different way of progressing skills wherein you progressed your skills for trying to use them, not necessarily successfully using or landing a skill shot but just attempting to use said skill, but each tier required more “points” to level up to the next tier. The problem we ran into with this concept, however, was almost a complete 180 from what we were facing previously: where previously it felt like skills leveled too quickly and plateaued, now it felt like skills were barely progressing because so many “points” were needed to advance.

While we’re going back to the drawing board on the skill ranking progressions, on thing that we also tried out during last week’s playtest was re-consolidating the Character Core skills back down to 5 (down from the 10 we had expanded to previously), but now we have 10 possible points to put into said Cores (up from the 5 you could put into them previously). So far this has made the Cores less specialized and more capable of being used in varied situations, but we will have to see how it plays out as the characters advance!

In closing, we wish you all a happy Friday and, as always, game on!


Skill and Luck

One thing that has come up multiple times in our games is that luck is a huge factor in success; and unfortunately that is something that is very difficult to mitigate in a tabletop RPG due to the roll of the die. In our system we opt to try to mitigate the die roll luck factors with higher skill and stat bonuses, but the vagaries of luck are still present variably.

Our original combat system was completely skill driven, wherein it required you to succeed in your action in order to progress the skill. In electronic gaming, this is more easily worked with because it is a mechanical input: if you miss you (the player) literally missed your target, not a die roll saying you missed your target. The same is to be said for damage: if you hit your target in an electronic game your weapon will do its static damage amount, however in a tabletop RPG you can hit your target but then do minimal damage due to a low dice roll.

The inverse also applies, however, wherein sometimes Lady Luck is totally on your side and all of your rolls are fabulous: crits and high damage amounts all over the board!

Through discussing with our playtesters, we’ve come to the decision that we needed to alter slightly the way that Skills progress and what exactly the Character Cores can do for the players, and this has lead to talks on some changes to our Genesis System. We are hoping to finish fleshing these changes out and put them to playtesting in the near future!

Game on!


And now, for something different…

Dead House was the first game universe we created: about 7 years ago, in version 1.0 as we call it. Thus, we’ve had many years of experience fleshing out the Dead House universe; politics, characters, global changes, maps, etc. While some of this is integral and crucial to the game universe as a whole, some of it is more of an emotional attachment for us; not so much things that have made a lasting impact on the game world, but things that are more ‘hey, remember when…?’

In creating the game book for “Dead House: Watchers of the Night” we’ve spent quite some time figuring out what is integral and what is an emotional attachment. That being said we know that some folks really enjoy the “fluff” backstory lore of game worlds, while other folks would just prefer the pertinent information for their campaign or character.

This is where our new brainchild comes in: “Dead House: the Webcomic”.

“Dead House: the Webcomic” is a collaboration between ourselves at Wyrmhole Gaming and Beth at Inqorporeal (who is also one of our lovely playtesters!). We’re excited to be able to  start the Webcomic out at the beginning of it all: the creation of the Dead House and the joining in of some of the most essential NPCs of the House. We’re really looking forward to being able to tell some of the story of the House in a new medium, and give our followers something in the interim while we still are working on the Genesis System and polishing up our game worlds.

So stay tuned for our new “Dead House: the Webcomic” in the near future!

Game on 🙂


Quietly working…

So while we have been quiet on our social media fronts, we have still been playtesting (though not quite as much as before our baby was born!) and working on tweaking some details of our Genesis System.

We recently ended a pretty epic Darkstar campaign, wherein the player characters started off as mercenaries and ended up as the leaders of a brand new sociopolitical faction. This campaign allowed us to test our new turn taking system as well as some of the new Character Core skills.

Two weeks ago we started a new type of campaign in Darkstar, which is basically taking a page out of the book of the Dark Souls franchise: Prepare to die! The Dark Souls “skin” we’ve added onto Darkstar is not for resale purposes due to copyrighting, but only inspired by the Dark Souls franchise’s new game that Ian is impatiently awaiting coupled with us testing out our new idea for harder, beefier NPCs or supermassive NPCs: Magnitude Scaling.

Magnitude Scaling will hopefully allow GMs the ability to throw exponentially more difficult NPCs at their (possibly unsuspecting!) player party, but since we’ve only had the ability to test the Magnitude Scaling out in one playetst so far that’s all we’re going to say about it for now!

Stay tuned for more updates from us here at Wyrmhole Gaming, and, as always, game on!