Design Journal 7: 100th Post!

Well, this is the 100th post. Not much of a blog at the moment, really. A few sporadic random hits, some hits from Google searches that send people my way, a few friends who check on a pretty regular basis. Not much more than that. I just don’t have the time to post as much as I’d like, and I don’t have the time to be as active on forums and other blogs as I’d like to be, which would drum up more hits. Ah well.

As I continue to work on this game, I tell myself that there are some things that are cool about it. The things that come to mind are advancement, orientation, abstract combat, ship attributes and (the) initiative. I’ll probably break up a brief discussion of each one, or maybe two at a time, over the next few days.


This is usually driven by some sort of experience point or character point system or whatever, in which you save up and then purchase new things for your character progressively. A few systems, like Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu and Burning Wheel, have you keep track of how often you use abilities and they raise as they see more use.

Of those two options, I prefer the first one for player control of development and the second one for realism. Often in the first case, in a point system, groups I’ve played with have developed house rules where you can only spend experience points on things you do in-game. This is almost always added onto the rules, however, and in many circumstances points are spent on things that don’t come up in game anyway.

What I’ve done with Parsec is to take what I like from both methods. Advancement is entirely bound to what happens in-game, but what happens narratively rather than mechanically. The first way to advance is to achieve a Goal, spelled out during character creation and also while developing a group template.

The second way to advance is to face an Obstacle – whether or not you overcome it. Obstacles are also part of character creation and group template building, and I like that you advance whether you succeed or not. These are also separate from Goals. Meaningful Goals aren’t just overcoming Obastacles – there is also something positive to be achieved.

The third way to advance is through either learning Secrets or having your Secrets revealed. Essentially, Secrets are a big part of a game that is intended to be at least somewhat driven by intrigue and conspiracy, and in a story secrets are meant to come out. If the Secrets were developed well in the beginning, when they are revealed it’ll be a big moment for the game and for the character(s) in question.

The fourth way to advance is to receive Scars. As mentioned a couple of times before, Scars make you tougher – they modify Resilience the way that Skills modify the other Attributes (lower the target number). They also hurt, and count as anti-Traits – in certain situations, you will lose dice because of the Scar. Not every injury or setback or betrayal will leave a Scar, but when it does happen, your character has learned something. This also encourages the kind of actions that will lead to Scars – dangerous and emotionally charged ones, which are exactly the kinds of things that make a game fun in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Design Journal 7: 100th Post!

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