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View Full Version : Requested ruleset to be a stretch goal on ***&H kickstarter



vodokar
October 22nd, 2016, 01:40
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1806106772/astonishing-swordsmen-and-sorcerers-of-hyperborea-0/posts/1715321?ref=backer_project_update

I just posted this on the AS&SH Kickstarter:

"Would you consider supporting the creation of a ruleset for the Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop Software as one of the stretch goals, pretty please. Swords and Wizardry and Barbarians of Lemuria both did that thru their kickstarter. This would make you part of the COOL_KIDZ on the block. Please speak to DDavidson over at Fantasy Grounds. He can help answer any question you might have."

If anyone else is backing this project, please back me up on it. You never know till you ask. I was floored when I learned that Barbarians of Lemuria had a finished commercial ruleset and S&W has one forthcoming. Kickstarter is where we really need to press this issue, because that is where the money is.

vodokar
October 22nd, 2016, 14:46
Got this response.

"Charles, Patrick, Nick -- I must confess ignorance. I don't know what Fantasy Grounds is, but I will look it up this morning. That said, I have no plans to get into a venture that I know nothing about, but if you fellows think it is excellent, then I should take a look to at least see what it is. "

I consider that a win. Even if he doesn't do it at this time, he will now be aware that we exist. We can keep working on it from there.

Mask_of_winter
October 22nd, 2016, 15:22
Good luck to you! Let's hope a developer is willing to take on the project.

Trenloe
October 22nd, 2016, 16:32
As an FYI: Some additional info about Kickstarters and Fantasy Grounds here: https://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums/showthread.php?33913-Warning-about-Kickstarters-Claiming-to-support-Fantasy-Grounds-add-ons

ddavison
October 22nd, 2016, 16:40
Content for existing and officially supported rulesets is normally cost effective. Rulesets can be an entirely different beast. For those you need someone with technical programming skills, familiarity with the FG model of layered rulesets and some amount of artistic skill to properly skin and theme the interface. If a project has 500 backers, how many of those people want a digital tool to run it locally or online? Are those same people willing to pay an extra, significant amount to get a ruleset built? If not, then it probably won't be enough to appeal to any of our community devs to take it on unless they just so happen to already be a big fan of the property.

We would love to support as many systems and products as possible. We just need to avoid over committing and under delivering. Because Kickstarter takes people's money up front, I would be very, very reluctant to promise any new rulesets for unless we were doing it internally. Right now, we have too much other work on our plate to even consider adding more unless it is a huge property like Star Wars or Warhammer.

vodokar
October 22nd, 2016, 20:06
Content for existing and officially supported rulesets is normally cost effective. Rulesets can be an entirely different beast. For those you need someone with technical programming skills, familiarity with the FG model of layered rulesets and some amount of artistic skill to properly skin and theme the interface. If a project has 500 backers, how many of those people want a digital tool to run it locally or online? Are those same people willing to pay an extra, significant amount to get a ruleset built? If not, then it probably won't be enough to appeal to any of our community devs to take it on unless they just so happen to already be a big fan of the property.

We would love to support as many systems and products as possible. We just need to avoid over committing and under delivering. Because Kickstarter takes people's money up front, I would be very, very reluctant to promise any new rulesets for unless we were doing it internally. Right now, we have too much other work on our plate to even consider adding more unless it is a huge property like Star Wars or Warhammer.

I know that Mr. Davison. I don't really expect that he is going to actually agree to my request. In fact, his response already virtually states that. But, until we brought it up to him, he didn't even know we existed, so that laid the seeds for possibilities down the road. You just never know. I do know this much. His game is actually quite popular - not Wotc popular, to be sure, but it has a decent following. So, who knows. Even harder than getting someone to make a ruleset is actually getting permission for licensing from the developer. It's taken from very difficult to impossible if the guy doesn't even know what FG is. So, a little getting the name out there can't hurt.

Zhern
October 23rd, 2016, 19:42
If anything, it might be possible for it to become a community supported ruleset provided Jeff Talanian (developer for AS&SH) approved fans putting it together, much like I'm doing with Swords & Wizardry with the approval of Bill Webb & Matt Finch. Let's see how the Kickstarter ends up (it will fund without doubt - it is already 2.5x initial goal) and what comes out of Talanian's initial research into FG. I bet in the long run he'd welcome fan support and community exposure.

I think the big take away from mentioning it on the Kickstarter thread and getting a response is that he is open to it but doesn't know enough about it currently. Not getting an immediate "No!" is a good start.

vodokar
October 23rd, 2016, 20:23
If anything, it might be possible for it to become a community supported ruleset provided Jeff Talanian (developer for AS&SH) approved fans putting it together, much like I'm doing with Swords & Wizardry with the approval of Bill Webb & Matt Finch. Let's see how the Kickstarter ends up (it will fund without doubt - it is already 2.5x initial goal) and what comes out of Talanian's initial research into FG. I bet in the long run he'd welcome fan support and community exposure.

I think the big take away from mentioning it on the Kickstarter thread and getting a response is that he is open to it but doesn't know enough about it currently. Not getting an immediate "No!" is a good start.

I decided to take a step further and private messaged Jeffrey offering a) giving him a demo of FG capabilities and b) offering to donate my time and work towards the building of a community ruleset with his permission.

I know that is a bit presumptuous of me considering that I have not learned yet how to develop for FG and also already committed to doing an AD&D rulesset, but I really felt it was wise to strike while the iron is hot and we have his attention. I have faith in myself that if I want these things badly enough I will find a way to make them happen (albeit with a lot of support from my friends here). I may not be a programmer professionally or even amaturally, but I was a Navy Nuke and have belief that I can find a way to "Nuke It Out" if I put my focus to it.

damned
October 24th, 2016, 00:08
I decided to take a step further and private messaged Jeffrey offering a) giving him a demo of FG capabilities and b) offering to donate my time and work towards the building of a community ruleset with his permission.

I know that is a bit presumptuous of me considering that I have not learned yet how to develop for FG and also already committed to doing an AD&D rulesset, but I really felt it was wise to strike while the iron is hot and we have his attention. I have faith in myself that if I want these things badly enough I will find a way to make them happen (albeit with a lot of support from my friends here). I may not be a programmer professionally or even amaturally, but I was a Navy Nuke and have belief that I can find a way to "Nuke It Out" if I put my focus to it.

A cautionary word....
Building a ruleset is likely to take you anywhere from 3months to 3years.
One thing at a time will get you there faster.

You dont need an author/publishers permission to build a ruleset - game mechanics cannot be copy protected - but it never hurts.

You will probably be better off working out the core dice mechanics and if it doesnt exist in MoreCore (for 3.2.0) build a new dice roller to be incorporated... it will be much easier and a much lower load on your time.

vodokar
October 24th, 2016, 00:33
A cautionary word....
Building a ruleset is likely to take you anywhere from 3months to 3years.
One thing at a time will get you there faster.

You dont need an author/publishers permission to build a ruleset - game mechanics cannot be copy protected - but it never hurts.

You will probably be better off working out the core dice mechanics and if it doesnt exist in MoreCore (for 3.2.0) build a new dice roller to be incorporated... it will be much easier and a much lower load on your time.

Wise advice, as always. After doing some research, I don't think it will end up being as tough as I first thought, though. AS&SH is a modification of the the AD&D 1e rules. So, I will basically be going from C&C, based on 1e to 1e to AS&SH based on 1e. The modifications to the rules are significant to be certain, but likely the lessons learned doing one project will transfer to the other and it will be doable. Having said that, should I open my mouth and volunteer for one more task before either of these things come to fruition, you have permission to flog me, sir.

You are right. I don't actually need Jeffries permission to do a community ruleset. But, I would like to have his blessing if I can have it. Keeping him informed in the process, if he is interested, just seems like the proper courtesy to follow.

Without having done a full review of the rules yet, I won't know the extent of the changes, but here is some that I found in a review at http://www.howlingtower.com/2013/08/astonishing-swordsmen-sorcerers-of.html.

The Rules

The rules can be summed up very easily. What you have in the AS&SH rules is a spruced up version of AD&D. The departures are many, small, and mostly improvements.

A few examples:

The "Open Doors" and "Bend Bars/Lift Gates" columns from AD&D's Strength table are renamed "Test of" and "Extraordinary Feat of" and extended to the Dexterity and Constitution tables, too.

Clerics have a percentage change to learn spells similar to magicians.

Turning undead is done with a d12, and Charisma affects the odds.

Thief skills advance on a fixed schedule as in AD&D but are rolled on a d12. Having a score of 16+ in the attribute associated with each skill gets you a +1 on the roll.

AC descends but starts at 9 instead of 10. An interesting twist is that medium armor also blocks 1 point of damage from attacks and heavy armor blocks 2 points.

XP tables cover levels 1-12. Characters can build strongholds and attract followers at level 9.

The combat rules give a knowing nod to Chainmail in their handling of weapon classes and first strike capability.

Combat rounds are 10 seconds, not 1 minute.

The section on Advanced Combat includes fun options such as disarming, parrying, and shield tricks.

There is just one saving throw and it's the same for everyone, but each class gets bonuses in specific circumstances and there are further modifiers for high ability scores.

Characters are unconscious at 0 hps but can be awakened; stable at -1 to -3; dying at -4 to -9 (losing 1 hp/round); and dead at -10.

XP are awarded for monsters and treasure as usual but also at a discretionary rate for roleplaying, being clever, attaining goals, showing up for the game, and other "soft" achievements, similar to 2nd Edition.

Task resolution is handled with the "Test of" and "Extraordinary Feat of" columns where the physical attributes are concerned. In other cases, there's a generic table assigning d6 values to simple, moderate, challenging, difficult, and very difficult tasks.

Zhern
October 24th, 2016, 02:27
A cautionary word....
Building a ruleset is likely to take you anywhere from 3months to 3years.
One thing at a time will get you there faster.

You dont need an author/publishers permission to build a ruleset - game mechanics cannot be copy protected - but it never hurts.

You will probably be better off working out the core dice mechanics and if it doesnt exist in MoreCore (for 3.2.0) build a new dice roller to be incorporated... it will be much easier and a much lower load on your time.

That is the biggest reason I don't want to take on working on an additional project right now. I still don't know how long it is going to take me to get through all of the Swords & Wizardry stuff.

One thing I've been wondering, not related to S&W or rulesets, but if we'll end up seeing some of the Frog God Games megadungeons like Rappan Athuk or Slumbering Tsar added for FG. I know Smiteworks and FGG have a contract in place and access to the entire FGG catalog. I was really glad to see Quests of Doom pop up.

vodokar
October 25th, 2016, 00:36
Regarding Rappan Athuk or Slumbering Tsar, I'm pretty sure the answer would be that it isn't that Smiteworks doesn't have permission to do them, but it would be a question of would it give a return on investment. It would take hundreds of hours likely to get a megadungeon like Rappan Athuk formatted in FG and after that, it would be doubtful if it would sell enough to get a return on the time invested. In order to be a sellable product, the customer expects 100% of the entire text in the module and professional looking. That takes a ton of work.

On the other hand though, for personal use, it isn't that tough to get something workable formatted. What I usually do is this: I have my hard copy of the module in front of me when I am playing. The only things I actually enter into FG is: maps, encounters, items, treasure parcels, npcs and monsters. I don't enter any of the text itself. A typical 20 - 32 page adventure module I can usually have prepped to run in about 3 hours work. A megadungeon like that, not sure, but it would be considerably less than what it would take to make it a professionally salable product.

Regarding your project. Have faith in yourself. I know you are up to the task. Leverage as much of the existing code as possible. That is why your layering it over the existing code in the first place. Starting from C&C or 3.5, 80 - 90 % of the code can probably be used as is; after all, it's all based on D&D. Find the delta - the things that make S&W different from the game your layering it over. List down the differences. Fix them one at a time. You'll be done sooner than you expect, i think.

Zhern
October 25th, 2016, 02:01
Thanks for the words of encouragement on the project. My biggest limitation is free time to work on it. I know I'll get it done, I just can't commit to a timeline.

From what Bill (The Frog God) told me, Smiteworks has full access to the FGG catalog, but as you mentioned, it comes down to ROI. I would think they would do well given how epic the FGG stuff is but if there has been little demand for it then it is perfectly logical and sensible to focus on the product that will sell best. I might take a crack at Rappan Athuk or Sword of Air after I finish up the Swords & Wizardry ruleset. I'm looking forward to my last graduate class next spring because after that I should have plenty of free time...till I start the next degree, heh.

vodokar
October 25th, 2016, 22:54
Here is an update regarding my request regarding AS&SH.

I pm'ed him with this:

Hi. I wanted a chance to explain in more detail what Fantasy Grounds is, why you should be involved in it, either now, or in the future, and what it would take to do that.

First, I wanted to say, when I made my post about supporting a ruleset, I wasn't really expecting you to say, sure, let's do that, here is some money earmarked to hire a programmer to do it. I really just wanted to make sure you were aware that Fantasy Grounds exists and what it can do for your product. Heck, you might even find use for it yourself personally for your own games. Who knows.

Also, I should make this clear, I am simply a long time user of the Fantasy Grounds software and active member of the forums there, so I in no shape or form represent Fantasy Grounds or SmiteWorks (company that owns it).

Fantasy Grounds is the premier virtual tabletop software on the market and they are growing leaps and bounds in popularity. Since I first purchased it in 2007, due to the leadership of Mr. Davison the owner, he has taken a rather obscure piece of software and taken it from obscurity to being the official virtual tabletop for both WOTC and Paizo. They also have an online store which not only sells official rulesets, ingame manuals, and ingame conversions of adventure modules, all of which the IP holder gets their share for sales. It is cutting edge stuff and looking to get even better when they convert the software platform to a unity engine underneath the hood sometime next year.

Here is the catch, though.

Development of a "ruleset" - the actual module that contains the character sheet for a specific game and tells the computer the rules which that game works under etc. has to be programmed using a combination of XML and LUA scripting. It's a task that entails likely 100 to 200 hours of programming work that needs to be done.

There are basically two approaches to get that done.

1) hire a programmer to do it - but that is very financially risky and may not reap a return on investment, honestly, as I know you aren't WOTC and this isn't 5e.

or

2) as one of the other people suggested, having you show public interest in seeking a volunteer to make it happen, one might step up and do it as a labor of love. Hey, it could happen, right. In that case, it is really a win win situation for all concerned.

You see, the biggest issue the Fantasy Grounds community has had is in gaining permission from game companies to do conversions of the products, even when the work is being payed for by Smiteworks or being donated by the community. Case in point, Goodman Games won't even respond to our pleas to allow doing official conversions of their adventure modules, we guess because they feel so strongly in promoting face to face play. For years and years, WOTC did the same. It was a big win for them when they finally changed their mind, as there are about 60 thousand individual games of 5e played each month on Fantasy Grounds and the officially supported manuals and other products are big sellers in the FG store and the DM's Guild store. But, that's 5e.

I'll go out on a limb here. I personally would be interested in donating my time to make a project like this happen. I would like to develop a working ruleset for your game. I'm not a professional and I would only be doing it in my spare time. I am confident, however, that given permission to do so, I can get the ruleset up and running sometime in 2017 and I am confident it will be something you would be proud of.

At that point, we can determine if it should be a community ruleset, which is simply shared non-commercially to the Fantasy Grounds users without in game manuals or any trademarked material etc, or if it should be a commercial ruleset officially supported and sold in the store. If the decision is made that it is worthy to make it a commercial product, then it would need to include official manuals, like the AS&S Rulebook, Beastiary and other portions of your official trademarked IP. Taking that step would require proper legal contracts etc. to be signed etc.

If you want to see a demo of what FG can do, I'll be happy to do that for you.


Response from Jeffrey Talanian:

Charles, I would love to take you up on that, seeing the demo of what it can do, but from my cloistered world of mechanical pencils, graph paper, and old moldy books, it is a bit hard for me to digest at the moment -- especially considering the bombardment of questions/suggestions/feedback I am receiving both privately and publicly. I would love to revisit the topic after the holidays, when work and responsibilities are less intense, so can we revisit it then at a time of our mutual convenience! Many thanks for taking the time to articulate your knowledge, Charles. Thank you! :)

ProfDogg
November 1st, 2017, 14:54
Any new word, Vodokar?

-Prof.Dogg

ddavison
November 1st, 2017, 15:03
We would love to add additional rulesets to Fantasy Grounds, but please don't suggest adding it to a Kickstarter. Ruleset development is considered high-risk because they take a fair amount of time to build out fully and a large number of them which have been started by well-intentioned fans have been abandoned before completion. I would much prefer to get agreement to allow it in private and then discuss a Kickstarter or other public announcements when it is fully ready to go -- or nearly so. Even large and complex modules can fall into the high-risk category.

Please don't take this as a knock towards Vodokar or an insinuation that you are not technically capable of delivering a ruleset. We've just seen good developers fall short or get impacted by real-life changes, job loss, health issues, etc.

JohnD
November 1st, 2017, 16:05
If your FG demo session comes to fruition, you might want to show him C&C. I believe Mr. Talinian was working with Gygax on the Yggsburgh and Castle Zagyg campaign for TLG when Gary passed and his widow pulled the rights. Unless, you have something of his ruleset ready for show by then. AS&SH is being heavily promoted in the online OSR community through places such as Tenkar's Tavern and other similar places. You would be able to target a whole new market segment if you can manage it.

ProfDogg
November 1st, 2017, 19:51
We would love to add additional rulesets to Fantasy Grounds, but please don't suggest adding it to a Kickstarter. Ruleset development is considered high-risk because they take a fair amount of time to build out fully and a large number of them which have been started by well-intentioned fans have been abandoned before completion. I would much prefer to get agreement to allow it in private and then discuss a Kickstarter or other public announcements when it is fully ready to go -- or nearly so. Even large and complex modules can fall into the high-risk category.

Please don't take this as a knock towards Vodokar or an insinuation that you are not technically capable of delivering a ruleset. We've just seen good developers fall short or get impacted by real-life changes, job loss, health issues, etc.

I might have misread something but I don't think Vodokar was suggesting doing it as a KS. At the time of his posting, the KS was already is in full swing (possibly even finished, I don't remember when it closed). I think he was suggesting it to Talinian when it was still going or just recently wrapped up with the idea it would be a project afterward. I might be wrong but that was my impression.

--Prof.Dogg

JohnD
November 1st, 2017, 21:15
I would support the heck out of this product line with my wallet. Hope it happens.

ddavison
November 1st, 2017, 23:10
I might have misread something but I don't think Vodokar was suggesting doing it as a KS. At the time of his posting, the KS was already is in full swing (possibly even finished, I don't remember when it closed). I think he was suggesting it to Talinian when it was still going or just recently wrapped up with the idea it would be a project afterward. I might be wrong but that was my impression.

--Prof.Dogg

That's probably true. We just wanted to be safer than sorry and didn't want to see it added as a last minute stretch goal to an ongoing KS. We've seen it before which has made us a little gun-shy.