Years of (really fun) beta testing have shaped the Augur’s Lore system into an increasingly dynamic way to mediate character actions in gameplay. While remaining true to our interlocking, procedural framework, the latest iteration of the game marks some of the strongest generative content for GMs and for evocative setting creation. But coming soon we are developing even more improvements for the AL Core Action Mechanic that will provide a more nuanced field of general actions for players to lead their characters into distinctive paths. In Beta 7, we hope to balance our system structurally around a multitude of character actions–not just around combat–to allow for a vast increase in character-story diversity.
So, a bit of background: In the early days of establishing the initial setting and procedural charts that made Song of the Pale Stone possible I was inspired by a longstanding familiarity with OSRIC. And while that inspiration has not waned (because we’re still completely committed to simplicity, customization, and flexibility, and I for one consider Augur’s Lore a strong participant in the OSR), one aspect of old guard gaming that is embedded in the core of most systems is combat, and this is something we want to expand beyond.
Combat in tabletop games is fun and evocative (and honestly, at times tedious), but in many systems it stands as the only actionable way to advance a story for characters or provide any real development. The archetype of heroes often yields a violent story. “Experience” is often gained through killing monsters or battling enemies. “Treasure” is acquired (essentially) through raiding. Dialogue–which is a great part of every role play session–is relegated to the “non-encounter” realm. Characters outfit themselves with tools for adventure, which typically amounts to weapons, armor, spell components, or other items that are used in a “combat encounter.” Much of the other character equipment and gear finds use only in incidental spaces (with a few exceptions, such as “rope” to scale vertical distances).
None of these aspects of old school tabletop games are “bad.” On the contrary, a quick smash-and-grab dungeon crawl is loads of fun, and of course our current workable system (Beta 6) allows for some pretty awesome dungeoneering. But I think the many possibilities that can be generated (and imagined) in the Song of the Pale Stone setting through our system make the whole murderhobo archetype feel just inadequate. I know that good games don’t fall victim to the negative connotations that are associated with the whole “murderhoboism” (and most games I’ve ever played or GMed could not honestly be referred to as such). But at some point, running game after game, you realize that all the fun intrigue, dialogue, and actions taking place outside a mediated combat round is where the amazing things tend to happen. And that always leaves me with the questions: why, then, is the system structured around mediating combat as the primary complexity? Why are we gaming “around” the system? There are skills, sure, but I can’t seem to escape the obvious emphasis that the system places on mediating combat.
Beta 6.0 introduced an added action mechanic imagined in our system as a way to mediate general action tasks. This addition was a way to help differentiate between types of tasks that PCs undertake. I began to notice as we tested this new element that we had unwittingly introduced a system that even while providing more actionable opportunities, served to undermine the structure of the game. We had been trying to create a more nuanced series of actions, all while remaining rooted in the essential framework of a combat-heavy game. That’s when we thought to create an action system that treated any act a character can undertake with the same weight that combat receives currently.
And that’s what we’re doing in Beta 7. We want travel and exploration and diplomacy and stealth and crafting and puzzle-solving and social interactions in the game world all to have directly noticeable and actionable representation in the system, all on an equal level with combat. We want characters who outfit with gear for adventure who don’t outfit like they’re stepping into a gladiator ring; we want outfitting and potential actions to reflect the character’s identity, and we want the player’s role playing to have a system that directly supports that type of nuanced character story development. So keep a watch on our reddit as we move forward with Beta 7, and thanks for your continued support of our game.