Last night we had a little design session for Soft Horizon. We didn’t have enough people to play through and we had some outstanding issues that needed to be hammered flat, so we set up the recorder and talked through some ideas. Toph found a nice little piece of organization in our seven stats, and it echos (faintly) things like the Kabbalah, so that’s pretty cool. Basically we have seven stats and when you line them up like this:
You get some cool stuff. First, the left-hand column is full of direct actions. These are skills that you use to effect results directly. Violence is for smacking guys. Warfare is for winning strategic battles for objectives. History is for knowing (and, from the player’s stance, creating) the worlds and their facts. On the right hand side are indirect skills: Sorcery is for summoning and enslaving things to do your bidding. Courtesy is for manipulating people (powerful people!) to get your objectives met. Piety is for influencing gods.
On the vertical axis is a change in scale. At the top we have world and inter-world scales. Next we have large groups. Then strictly interpersonal. And at the bottom, we have the skill that is only about you: how much can you take?
So by arranging them like this we also wind up with a character sheet.
And that turns out to be pretty cool. Plugging in the character stats for a character I already created, Kar Zetf, we get a nice representation of his skills in a well organized fashion. We cross out Piety because that’s his REFUSAL. We circle Violence because that’s his IDENTITY. And we underline Sorcery and Tenacity because those are his EXPERTISE. The remainder are his COMPETENCES, the skills he has as a side effect of his real choices. That works, it looks cool, and it’s easy to read and to write. No numbers, no math, and precious little writing even. And its easy to see the relationship between choices.
Happily, it does what any good graphic does: it tells me something new. I note that Kar has only interpersonal and individual skills as selections. He’s about himself and his immediate surroundings and not about others and large scale events. And, happily, this gives me his duty: clearly his duty is Harlequin, the Harbinger of Wild. His objective is to make worlds more about freedom and individuals and less about order and organization. I didn’t know that until I drew the character sheet and saw something new on that map.