As the end of the year approaches, people typically start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Not me. I don’t really do resolutions. I don’t want to make exaggerated promises to myself that I may not keep. As such, I usually throw my everything into something or I don’t do it at all. Instead of making “resolutions”, I’m wanting to lay out a roadmap for what I plan to do for Crosspath to make it a productive year.
With that being said, I’ve decided to take this post to try and outline what I’d like to achieve with the remaining weeks of 2019 and throughout 2020.
But before I get into that, I would first like to give a quick shout out to my friend Jacob Wood over at Accessible Games. I recently got to participate in a playtest of his newest game ‘Survival of the Able’ in which you play a person with a disability in the 1300’s when a zombie outbreak occurs. I got to play with Aser from ‘The Redacted Files’ podcast and Troy from ‘Plus or Minus: The FUDGE RPG Podcast’, with Jacob running things. It was a blast to take part of and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to dig a little deeper into my character. Once the links are up on ‘The Redacted Files’, I will Share them here.
BY YEAR’S END…
First off, by the end of this year, I’d like to get the rough draft of the character sheet for the CURRENT iteration of the game. I’ve had plenty versions before but they are out of date as many things have changed. A number of formulae have changed because of new mechanics, or factors have been outright eliminated to streamline things. One of the big hurdles was trying to compress all of the relevant information in as logical and concise of an arrangement as possible. I recently had an issue concerning inventory management and how to convey that, but that is a topic best left for another post. In order for me to get input on the new character sheets, I have to playtest the current iteration.
Second, I am working to get a couple playtest sessions arranged for the break between Christmas & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am likely to have one group play using Roll 20 and Discord. The other group will be face to face. I am sure that being face to face will make getting feedback a more immediate thing. So far the new sheets are drawn up in Procreate. I can easily modify anything and get something that does all I need it to do, before I waste time trying to throw it into Affinity Publisher for layout.
Thirdly, I am endeavoring to resolve any race details in the game. By that I mean, nail down the final appearance of the Dunbir. I mentioned the Dunbir in a previous post about how they got their start during the collapse of Ogari Sundura’s Undercity, originally tasked with helping to excavate their sibling race, the Dwarves. I have an idea of what I want them to look like but I haven’t done anything artistically yet that I think feels right. That also means that I need to nail down, not only Evolution traits (if they will get them), but general race traits. Like the Velés reactions to light and how the Halfa go about hive-minding. I know what they are all capable of, but nailing down the explanations is my goal.
Crosspath through 2020
I’ve been working on this game a long time as a one man operation. It’s been a slow passion project. I will not be so bold as to say I’ll have it ready by the end of 2020, but I want people to be aware of it by the end of 2020. That means that I need to put on a bit more social of a hat to pull it off. That means, I will be working towards being more frequent on my updates on this devblog.
In addition to this, I’m looking to make it to Origins & GenCon. At GenCon, I’m hoping to get in at the First Exposure Playtest Hall so that others may be able to see what I’m working on and offer feedback. After that, I’m really hoping to get a chance to go to Metatopia 2020. The amount of playtest data I could pull from having other game designers play my game should be massive.
I will also be devising and revising an official logo for Crosspath. I did one I kind of like but I don’t feel it conveys the feel of the game. To go with that, I will begin working on the concept for the cover art. I will be thinking about that hopefully knocking that out early in the year. Speaking of art…
Another thing I plan on doing is improving my digital art skills. I have to have the concept and reference art to show any potential artists I get to work with on this project. For a long time I was comfortable in my manga style web-comics because I enjoyed black and white artwork. Over time I had finally started dabbling in color work, but I always felt the character interactions were the focus of those comics. The colors were an afterthought. As I try to bring the world of Yzyrra to fruition, I know that I must adapt. I must step out of that comfort zone and start doing things that I’m not comfortable in. I have been watching a lot YouTube artists looking for tips and methods. I simply LOVE the artwork of guys like ErgoJosh, Mikey Mega Mega, Sinix Design, Trent Kaniuga, Brad Colbow, Ghost Paper, and Austin Batchelor (for a special reason but that will come up in just a second).
I just spoke of Austin Batchelor. Thanks to his video, ‘How to Paint Over Line Art in Procreate’, I learned so much from this video. He actually gave and explained a process to figure out how to actually paint digitally. It was immeasurably helpful! While I feel I’m not the greatest by any stretch of the imagination but I AM having fun doing art for the first time in a good while.
Below is the final art for an NPC my first group of playtesters just met in a tense stand-off. Getsuriki Banjo (family name first) is a Halfa Samurai with a bit of something on in his life.
Original Line Art
Final w/ Line Art
Final w/o Line Art
30 Second Speed Paint
I’m not sure but I think I might like having the Line Art in, but I think may just be talking as a manga artist and not as a digital painter. If you have a preference, please let me know what you think. If there is an interest, I will upload the
On that note, I will take my leave until the next Crossing the Paths! If you have made it this far, hopefully something has piqued your interests! If so, and you’d like to learn more about Crosspath, please feel free to Comment your opinions and questions, Subscribe to get notifications whenever I do update so you can be the first to know, and Share with anyone that you think might like what is happening here!
For this installment of Crossing the Paths, I wanted to talk about the evolution of one of the abilities to give an idea as to what type of gameplay experience I’m shooting for with Crosspath.
Namely, the Martial Artists’ “Time Stance”.
It becomes available at Martial Artist level 4, at the earliest if one follows the ability tree called “The Nine Magics”.
(The name for this branch was actually inspired by a joke on the Adult Swim show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast S6:E5 “Curling Flower Space” in which Space Ghost faces off with C. Ling Tile and performs a charged projectile during which Moltar announces “Space Ghost has mastered The Five Magics!”).
The Nine Magics refers to the various elemental based stances that the martial artist can take in combat. These are grouped, in order:
Level 2: Magic of the Body grants access to the Water, Fire, and/or Earth stances.
Level 3: Magic of the Mind grants access to the Wind, Light, and/or Darkness stances.
Level 4: Magic of the Spirit grants access to the Time, Space, and/or Sound stances.
The Time Stance in it original format read as such:
“The Time Stance (Side-Action 1AP) allows the martial artist to target one adjacent enemy and launch a passive onslaught of attacks on them. While this stance remains active, the targeted enemy takes an unmitigated d4 raw damage for every person that acts until the targeted enemy moves out of melee range of the attacking martial artist. Once the enemy moves away the stance ends.”
Originally I imagined it as you took the stance next to an enemy and as your carried out the kata of your stance, afterimages of the motions you took continued to repeatedly hit your opponent. If you have ever seen the clip where Bruce Lee waves his hands around and you see the trails of arm movements following along, you have the idea of what I was imagining.
Some may see that this iteration of the ability could be really powerful if used in a large fight with a lot of combatants. Conversely, it would be less and less attractive in the back half of a combat. While this does offer a passive way to produce repetitive “chip” damage even when it’s not your turn, the downside is it’s TOO passive. It’s like the old Ron Popeil catch phrase “Set it, and forget it”. That is not what I intended. After listening to my friends distaste for how much D&D 4E relied on auto-damage. I wanted to make sure I controlled how much of that was floating around. I realized that I don’t want an ability that could be that strong to have practically no cost. I imagine that the player would be irritated to have an enemy martial artist wait until their turn ends, move next to them, attack them, then turn on Time Stance so they begin getting pummeled with auto-damage for every person that acts… It would leave a bad taste in the player’s mouth.
That brings us to the current iteration. I went for something kind of familiar to some, but puts a spin on it that requires the player to think and make decisions. The new Time Stance reads:
“The martial artist activates the Time Stance by spending a (1AP) Side-Action. They perform a strain. This result is held in a queue and can be released at any time. While the value is held, the martial artist’s Heat is increased by 4 and persists where it is while the strain is held in queue. When the martial artist is ready, they may release the queued result, using it for themself or imposing it onto an adjacent enemy. When the result is released, the martial artist can modify the result by half of their rank in Time Affinity. Whoever is the recipient of the result, acts as if they just rolled that value, adding their modifiers as normal. Upon releasing the queued result, the martial artist’s Heat value where it is can be manipulated again.”
While I will not get into strategies for how to effectively use this (I’ll let those that play find their favorite uses), I will say that activating Time Stance does cause the character’s Heat value to increase. However, while they are holding the queued result, their Heat value does NOT change if they are impacted by something that would. Only after they release the queued result, can their Heat be adjusted again. An enterprising martial artist may find a defensive application for the Time Stance.
Hopefully you can see that this is a bit more engaging and requires the player to put some thought into their actions and watch for opportunities to make the stance work for them. Potentially covering up mistakes or denying an enemy their desired action, to resisting Heat buildup, the Time Stance in it’s current iteration gives a little bit of the battlefield controller vibe.
I’m TRYING to get a little shorter on these dev blogs and communicate the ideas with more efficient wording and a little more focus. Hopefully by getting to this point, you have found something of interest in “Crosspath”.
I would like to take a moment to shout out Radio Free Covenant for being the first Follower of “Crossing The Paths”. They did me the favor on my last post and I wanted to make sure that I thanked them. It may be a little thing to them, but it’s a massive thing to me! Thank you and I hope to keep providing content that you find interesting.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to do so! If you would like to keep up on what is happening with Crosspath and its development, please Subscribe! Lastly, if you have a friend that you think might dig Crosspath, please feel free to Share and spread the word!
Until the next post, this is Darrick Herring, signing off!
In my last post, I spoke briefly about the possibly of adjusting world history to accommodate 2 additional races. I just figured that I would take this post to clarify exactly how that happened in the world of Yzyrra. Truth be told, there are other races that will be encountered beyond the original nine and additional two designed by the Children of Elementia. We will be looking at how the additional two races, the Dunbir and the Lyarki came to be createded by the Child of Earth and Light respectively.
For anyone that may be interested in the original story of Yzyrra’s creation, you can find it here.
Elven Dissent Intensifies
As the history books indicate, the creator of the world, Judge Mother Elementia founded a cradle of civilization in a sprawling territory nestled in a sweeping valley called Ogari Sundura. This place was where she brought the Halfa and ultimately created the other eight original races. It was a glorious city that thrived on it’s diversity of ideas and beliefs. As with most things, some people got the itch to explore and see what was beyond the valley they resided in, especially after the population started to swell.
After Elementia finished her work creating the races in Ogari Sundura, she decided that it was time for her to take a break from things and enjoy the world that she created. She went on a sabbatical that was to last an undetermined length of time. When she was ready to get back to working, she would do so. Before she left, she told her Children that they were to maintain things while she was away and she gave them a set of rules to follow. After that, the Judge Mother went on her sabbatical.
Not long after Elementia’s leave of absence began. Sybas- The Child of Darkness began to look upon the people before him. Propagating, Replicating, Multiplying… He saw how they did such things. This made him jealous. He turned to his twin sister, Nus- The Child of Light and he convinced her that they should create a life together like the citizens of the world. This however was against the Judge Mother’s Rules. They were not to create any new lives, especially in the manner that they created new life.
Sybas’ seduction of his twin sister led to them producing a new life. As the new life gestated, things began to happen in the valley. Crops started behaving erratically. Seasons began to distort. People became sick, restless, and intolerant. As Nus’ pregnancy came to term, the problems intensified.
The day of their child’s birth, The Calamity happened. Natural disasters that should not have happened, all stacked on top of each other and wrought havoc upon the valley. Tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and waterspouts all fell upon the valley that, the birthday of their twins: Hoacs- The Child of Chaos & Arenji-The Child of Fortune.
The parents realized that they made a massive mistake breaking their mother’s rules. The devastation was intense and almost a third of the population was lost to The Calamity. Some believed that if it was not for Arenji’s birth, the devastation might have been much worse. Sybas and Nus immediately and irresponsibly, decided that they needed to fix everything before their mother returned and that they needed to hide the fact they broke one of their mother’s rules. The way they decided to hide their twins was to each take a child and go to the opposite ends of the world and leave them on the doorstep of an unassuming home that was without a child.
Elementia returns after much of the destruction was resolved, but the fact that there was a major drop in the population was harder to cover up. Upon learning about what befell her creation, followed by learning of her twins’ transgressions, Elementia decided what she was going to do. Elementia decided that the best way to teach her children the rules were there for a reason, was to banish their creations from Ogari Sundura for 100 years. Nus’ Elves and Sybas’ Velés were to leave the borders of the valley.
This naturally upset a lot of people, but the worst part was that it caused division, not only between the Elves and the Velés, but within the Elven & Veléjic (vel-ay-YICK) societies. Some elves dissented against Nus for allowing herself to be seduced by Sybas. Meanwhile others remained faithful to Nus and grew to become spiteful toward the Velés for their creator’s seduction. Conversely, some Velés turned their backs on Sybas for getting them kicked out, while the faithful decided such affairs were “beyond the scope of mortals”.
While the Elves left, the Velés that remained faithful to Sybas decided to move underground. They decided to move through Bra’xuud (brah-SHOED), the Undercity of Ogari Sundura, down to The Black Depths below. These Velés voluntarily tended to the Catacombs in Bra’xuud that housed those that passed in The Calamity, seeing it as a way of making penance for their creator’s transgression.
It is at this point that the “Dwarven Things” section (Below) happens leading to the advent of Thera’s other race, the Dunbir.
While the Elves were away trying to find their own way, Nus was upset that she didn’t have any creations in Ogari Sundura, so she begged Elementia to be granted another race so that she had representation. She pleaded with her mother that she be allowed to make a new race to show her new enlightenment. Elementia agreed. Thus came the dawn of the Lyarki.
Nus’ desire to keep her representation, led her to create the Lyarki to be similarly designed to the Elves except that they were infused with properties of the plant life. They were naturally on good terms with plant life making them able to move through dense flora without a problem. Instead of hair, they had leaves and fronds. They also had a strong devotion to Nus because of their ability to regenerate while in direct sunlight. Other saw this “devotion” as a built-in dependence upon Nus to lessen chances of further dissent.
As the word got out about the arrival of the Lyarki, there were some Elves that were none to pleased about the way things were being handled by Elementia and her Children. They felt as though they were replaced. When the Lyarki began learning more about the world and learned about the history of the world, the Lyarki had a clever idea. The Lyarki collectively agreed to reach out to the other races in Ogari Sundura to adjust language to make Lyarki & Elf synonymous. They did clarify Lyarki would translate to something akin to “Wood Elf”. The people agreed and they asked Elementia, “Since you agreed to allow the Lyarki to become part of Sunduran society, and Lyarki & Elf are seen as similar, should not the Elves be allowed to come back?”
Elementia saw a flaw in the argument but if the people were willing to come together for the betterment of one another, she would agree to lift the banishment on not only the Elves, but the Velés as well.
The Elves & Lyarki ended up gravitating into one of three groups. The Elves that remained faithful to Nus, rejoiced and immediately returned. These became known as the Solar Elves or Solar Lyarki. The Elves that converted, continued to blend in with the Velés society trying to continue mending fences. They became known as the Lunar. Some Elves who were bitter over the banishment, just wholesale dissented from the entirety of the Judge Mother and her Children and sought out their own pantheon. These became known as the Agnos.
The Dwarves generally found a place for themselves in Ogari Sundura mining, smithing, and building. For sake of convenience, they took up residence in the mountains that bordered the valley and created a sprawling underground metropolis they called “Bra’xuud” or “Undercity.” Their devotion to Thera- The Child of Earth was so great that they dug and dug, exploring the rocky expanse all around them. As they did so, they discovered a system of caverns beneath Bra’xuud. The caverns were quite expansive and ripe with minerals and desirable metals. The Dwarves began leading mining expeditions with the Velés and any other races that were capable of seeing in the dark. These expeditions were reasonably successful…
Then The Calamity happened…
The Calamity shook the very foundation of Ogari Sundura. The earthquakes jolted some key structural areas in Bra’xuud. The Dwarves did endeavor to work on repairing and bolstering the compromised areas. It was around this time that Elementia issued the decree to banish the Elves and Velés.
As the Velés had already established something of a working relationship with the Dwarves, and the Dwarves felt bad for the Velés’ situation. The Dwarves proposed the idea of helping the Velés settle into the caverns below Bra’xuud. This new settlement would be known as The Black Depths. A major contingency of the Dwarves in Bra’xuud descended with the Velés to help get things setttled.
Unfortunately, one day not too long after work had gotten under full swing, tragedy struck again. Part of Ogari Sundura had sunk as a result of the supports of Bra’xuud failing, and collapsing. Nearly half of the Dwarf population was either killed or trapped.
Thera- The Child of Earth immediately requested of Elementia to be granted a new race since a major portion of her people were killed in the aftermath of the cataclysm caused by Sybas & Nus. Elementia granted the request and Thera immediately formed a comparatively hulking being with rippling muscles. Elementia immediately breathed life into the sculpture and blinked… The sculpture immediately splintered into a legion of giant beings. Thera shouted, “Dunbir! Help dig your Dwarven brothers and sisters out! Now!” The air quivered as the Dunbir, the topside Dwarves, and everyone else that was present charged the rubble and tried to assist in the excavation rescue efforts.
The Dunbir dug with every fiber of their being moving massive rocks that would typically trouble their smaller counterparts. The rescue efforts continued on and most of the trapped Dwarves were able to be saved, but for many more it was already too late. The rescue efforts continued on through Bra’xuud, all the way down to The Black Depths. Everyone was relieved to discover how many people were still relatively safe down there.
Given the chaos that they endured, and coupling that with the advent of the Dunbirs, their size, and their fervent adoration of their Dwarven brethren, many Dwarves were put off by this. They had no idea who the Dunbir were, but they were suddenly indebted to the Dunbir for their efforts in their rescue. As the Velés were sitting in the same boat as the Dwarves, this further reinforced their bonds. At this point, the Velés were still banished from Ogari Sundura. The rescue efforts were appreciated, but prompted the Velés to double down on their efforts to make The Black Depths work. They felt they were still an important part of Ogari Sundura by keeping the ores and minerals coming.
It is at this point that Elementia decided that she was going to pull her children from the job of overseeing Ogari Sundura. While it was only two of the nine Children responsible for The Calamity. Elementia decided that it was time to let the people oversee themselves. She created the Elderguards, a council made up of one person from each race. Each of the Elderguards bore a unique sigil indicating that they were hand chosen by Elementia to represent the interests of their people.
This brings us to the point in the above section where Nus requested the ability to create the Lyarki.
So just what does this mean in terms of mechanics? The easy thing would have been for me to have just stated that Lyarki & Dunbir have the same everything as Elves & Dwarves. However, that feels like it might get viewed as “lazy”. That is not the intention, so it will require a full on workshop. Both Lyarki & Dunbir will be getting their own stat modifiers, chosen paths, racial traits, and evolution traits. As these races (in real time) have only been around for like the last 2 months in concept, they are far less fleshed out than the other 9. The decision to integrate the new races as their own thing (not as a replacement for an immediately recognizable race) was made slightly over a month ago. This blogpost is actually the first detailed explanation of how the new races came to be.
This means that I will have to go through the core text of Crosspath adding the new races into every place that they would be mentioned from racial description, to features, to stat table entries. It may slightly slow my progress down, but I think that it is a fair trade to give the player 11 races to choose from ranging from the familiar to the peculiar. That is where I am at this moment.
THE GRANDER SCALE
What are my long terms goals for the development of Crosspath? That mainly depends on how hard I am able to push myself, within reason. What do I have in mind for down the line? I have 3 new Paths in mind, but one of them may require a lot of work as it would involve adding a whole new way of performing magic spells, that still somehow meshes well with the current system that is used by Devotees, Priests, and so on. In addition to that, I would like to include a twelfth playable race of androids that were created by the Manacists, but became sentient. I will talk about their background before becoming sentient in a later post.
This will take design time because having 3 new paths means that I have to come up with 27 new path abilities that don’t make the previous 81 redundant. Some are a bit easier to concept, but I still have to write out the rules for them so that they aren’t over or underpowered.
This also means that I have to provide the story that integrates these new paths into the world history. Which races get the new paths as their Chosen Path? What are the names for the new resulting Crosspaths? The list goes on.
Ultimately, fleshing these new paths out will take time that I SHOULD be devoting to getting the core game done. What good is additional content for a game that isn’t able to be played, right?
During my time being mentored by Jacob Wood from Accessible Games, he would make sure to remind me that “Perfect is the enemy of good”. I agree with him, but my previous playtests lead me to believe that I might be doing some things right, yet I still have to get the core text completed so I am mutating the motto to “Perfection is the enemy of completion”. These new paths may or may not complete the gestation period, so I have to set them on the back burner so that I can keep as much momentum going as possible. And as a one-man design team working 6 days a week for a day job, I REALLY need to maximize my efficiency.
I just figured I’d share what is happening with Crosspath as I am aware that I haven’t posted in over a month. Things are still moving and I am trying to balance development, production, and social presence. I hope that these musings can help someone else realize if they are struggling trying to flesh out a whole game system, that they are not alone in the experience. It’s challenging, but I think that is what drives me to keep pushing forward to see it through.
If you have made it to this point, hopefully you have found something that has piqued your interests in Crosspath. If you have, and you would like to keep up to date on the game’s development, I would urge you to Subscribe. If you have any questions about the game, please feel free to comment! It just might provide me with the content for the next Crossing The Paths devblog post! If you know of anyone that you think might be interested in a game such as this, I ask that you please Share this with them.
Welcome back to the Crossblog! The official development blog for the Crosspath RPG. Having just gotten settled back in at home I decided to post some of my hindsights in regards to what I have been working on concerning Crosspath and how that pertains to my GenCon 2019 experience.
THE OLD CROSSBLOG PARADOX
I hopped on here to write this post and I saw in my Drafts that I have the first post from the original Crossblog. I was getting going to edit those posts to reflect the current state of the game. I started to edit some things, but it just felt ‘off’. It felt like I wasn’t keeping true to the spirit of the game of Crosspath: Follow your journey, revisit your decisions, follow a new journey. To edit those old posts to reflect the current state of the game felt a bit like whitewashing history books. It is wrong to deny the history and evolution of the game. If you make mistakes, you learn from them, and try something that might work better. With that being said, I will no longer be editing/transferring the old posts. I will just address the changes from the old content by referencing it, clarifying how things have changed, and keep it moving forward.
DIGITAL & PHYSICAL PAPERWORK
Since the last post, I have been busy working on my character sheet to try and make it as logical and efficient as possible. At the moment, it is a 4 page character sheet (two sheets, front and back) and I need for it to be 4 because I don’t want to make the player struggle to put information into tiny boxes like some games do. The whole page isn’t needed off the bat but as the character approaches the level cap, they will have filled all of the pages and everything SHOULD have room to breath. I’ll go into depth about where I am on that in another post. My goal on that is to design a character sheet that is easy to reference and accessible. I’ll have to get that in front of my playtesters first though.
I have been updating the digital character sheets for my online playtest group. It was built on Google Docs and has some automation in it to try and speed up the filling in of information. The sheets are being updated to the latest version (Vers. 4.2), and the NPC’s and monsters they will be encountering will be updated into accordance with V.4.2. As far as the actual playtest sessions, the party is in the room with the person that they have been looking for, but things are possibly a bit more complicated than they expected. As they could potentially be reading this, I will say that they are in a very dynamic situation. It will be interesting to see how they handle things.
I was working on converting a Character Creation document from a Google Doc to Affinity Publisher, and I even included a section that indicates how to generate a character of any level. I then decided that this document would be a good place to include a short appendix of key terms that are frequently used in the game. Among these key terms were the entries, “off-guard”, “distracted”, and “from stealth”. I was having the hardest time finding the proper diction that delineated the effects. It was like past-Darrick tried to explain something, got caught up resolving something, and tried to come back to it creating elements that played off of the other terms’ circumstances.
I won’t go into the issue I was having because it was so smokey and hard to explain. The takeaway is this:
“DISTRACTED”: A condition (that Diplomats can impose) in which a person is so focused on someone that they lose their Natural Evasion against everyone else in the combat. Being attacked while distracted ends the condition. Being successfully hit while distracted doubles the weapon damage.
“OFF-GUARD”: A negative condition in one is caught unaware of a surprising element in the combat, denying their access to their Natural Evasion against the surprising element until the start of their turn. This is similar to being ‘distracted’, but without the penalty of extra suffered damage for the first incoming attack’s being successful. (This could be thought of as something akin to being ‘flat-footed’, but works as appropriate for this system.)
“From Stealth” WAS an effect (that I almost just now explained), but it was removed from the game as a mechanic, per se.
After I created these definitions, it became much clearer how to execute these effects as now, I could just build the off-guard effect into the ability, as the attack is of such an unorthodox nature it simply is not expected by the target of the attack.
I had a blast attending this year but I made a surprising discovery. I just discovered that they had a room hosted by the people from Double Exposure (the people behind the game design convention Metatopia). This room was the First Exposure Playtest Hall, where game designers could have their game vetted by courageous con-goers who were willing to donate 2 hours of their time to be one of the first people to play a new game. I simply was not aware that this was a thing. The more saddening part was the fact that apparently this was like their 7th year at GenCon… I’m pretty sure I’ve been to at least 3 GenCons during that time span. You learn something new everyday.
I took this opportunity of proximity to attend 5 seminars. There were more that I wanted to attend, but they would have resulted in schedule conflicts. I scribbled down everything that I could, because I know I need to draw off the experiences of others if I want to minimize any bumps down the road. What was really validating was hearing them suggest things that I was already doing. It was really nice to nod within myself and say, “You seem to be doing the right things, Darrick! Keep it up!”
AWESOME SIDE EFFECTS
My mother has been my longest running cheerleader. However my wife has become my biggest cheerleader. She has listened to me go on and on about Crosspath for so long, that I think she has caught the creativity bug. As we were heading out to Indy, she was talking a premise for a spin-off story that she wanted to try for the Stranger Things Edition of D&D 5E. I recommended that she give running a module first, just to get used to working things behind the DM screen. And she even went so far as to pick up a copy of Part Time Gods 2nd Ed. because it seemed to more closely match the idea for the type of game that she wanted to play. I am interested in seeing what kind of stories she wants to tell. I don’t know if it necessarily has anything to do with me making Crosspath, but it was an exciting thing to see glimmer on the horizon.
Well, that’s what I’ve been up to. If you have made it this far, I’m hoping that I have piqued your interests! If you would like to keep up to date on the developments of the Crosspath RPG, I encourage you to Comment, Subscribe, and Share to spread the word.
So this has been interesting. I went to the Origins Game Fair earlier this month and had a great time. Among the things that I did there, I attended a seminar on RPG world-building. I was already doing a number of the things that they spoke of, but they presented it in a way that was a bit more tangible.
With the transition from the old Crossblog on Blogger, to over here on WordPress, I decided that I was going to edit the posts to accommodate the newest information. This meant that I was going to have to be re-consider details, especially with the new eyes given to me from the seminar.
I was looking over the world creation story and came across a detail that started irking me. Judge Mother Elementia (The Creator), discovers the first race in her nightmares. The Halflings…
“Half compared to WHAT?! Why is the first race given a name with a relative term?” I exclaimed to myself? When the Humans are created, are they going to be called “Doublings” or “Giants”? Ultimately this line of thought continued and spiraled into a revamp of a handful of races in CrossPATH (I know… That’s later in this post), mainly the “classical” races of fantasy. I have gone and done something moderately different than the classical races, but they have an integrated context within the world of Yzyrra. I will save the details of that for another post.
Also riding the creative high from Origins, I have been working on Affinity Designer on my iPad. I am enjoying the program but I am still wrapping my head around the process of working in apps like that. I decided to put together a first attempt at a logo for “Crossroads: The Yzyrra Chronicles”, just to show some of my friends that are artists and have actually done stuff in the industry. They thought that it was a neat idea but it might have been a little “too busy” to read visually. In hindsight, I have to agree. It was just a neat idea that I wanted to see what could be done with it.
That’s when my friend Dan asked me a question that had me thinking with an even longer view than I was expecting. He asked, “Are you putting the whole title on every book? Like the Monster Manual, DM Guide, etc.”
I had to think for a second. I told him that I figured that I probably would use the whole title, because I personally didn’t feel like calling it “Crossroads” alone would give it strong enough legs to stand on its own. Only a couple weeks ago, I became aware that someone threw an RPG called “Crossroads” out on DeviantArt. Dan did some digging and discovered that there is also a “Crossroads” RPG coming out on Steam for PC.
It was at this point that I decided to take this opportunity to switch lanes and give it a new name that Dan suggested… “CROSSPATH”. I thought about it for a couple minutes as I was working and I started grinning as it was simply a great solution. The game is LITERALLY about adventurers who follow two paths and the strategy/philosophy that reconciles that combination is a crossing of Paths. It was a visceral communication that was not obscured by poetic symbolism.
So that brings me to today. I am officially declaring “Crossing The Paths” the official game development blog for the Crosspath RPG. I just wanted to post this and make it known so that I can get back to migrating the old Crossblog stuff over.
If you have made it this far, hopefully something has piqued your interests. If you are interested in learning more, I ask that you please feel free to Comment, Subscribe, and/or Share.
Until next post, this is Darrick Herring signing off.
Deciding to do something a little different beyond the deep dives of the previous Crossblog, I decided to write about a little bit about something personal. I’ve experienced it but never knew it was as big of a thing until I came across a podcast on the RPG Design Panel Cast called “Face Your Fears”. Among other things, they talked about the topic of “Imposter Syndrome”. As they discussed it, I realized I have been in that space.
I have been working on Crossroads for a long time. A LONG time. It was originally called Mugen Densetsu (Unending Legends in Japanese): The Yzyrra Chronicles. It was just an idea that I wanted to expand upon after I first learned about a game I discovered at my first Origins Game Fair. I was exploring the Exhibitor’s Hall when I came across this booth for a game studio called Maximum CNG. They had a game called Nemesis: A Perfect World. The thing that really caught my attention about it was it was created and written by a man named Malcolm Harris, who was an African-American, like me. This was the first time I had come across this. It was 2001 and the idea literally blew my mind. I learned about about the game and I ended up picking up a copy of the game before I left Origins. It may have been just one sale to Mr. Harris, but to me it was like seeing a sunrise for the first time. I never got the chance to actually play Nemesis: A Perfect World, but to this day, that book still holds a special place in my heart because of its significance to me.
I went home after that Origins and started getting knees deep into RPG’s because I went to the immediately following GenCon with my friends from college and started playing D&D with them, and still do to this very day. D&D was so massive that I knew I couldn’t run a game in that system, so I started looking for a system of my own to work in. Outside of that, not only was I working on this concept for a world of my own, but I was also playing in a bunch of other systems from Vampire: The Masquerade, to Shadowrun, to Big Eyes, Small Mouth, to D&D, and so on.
Being a heavily manga-influenced artist, I discovered Big Eyes, Small Mouth had came out with a 2nd Edition and started getting deep into that. It was light enough, fluid enough, and easy enough to learn that I got enamored with the system. I decided that I was going to attempt to run my first campaign in BESM. I had ran an adventure in a series of ICQ sessions before all of this in BESM’s Demon City Shinjuku setting book. That went well enough that I got a taste of the power of being a GM and wanted to try it again. I started this new campaign set in this fantasy world I had been thinking about. I was even creating my own abilities for the game. This campaign would run for about a year and a half and the party grew to about 9 people before it eventually came to a conclusion.
Years pass and I still kept figuring things out that I wanted to put into Crossroads. More races, more abilities, etc. I’d put the game down from time to time because I got sidetracked with life or couldn’t figure out how to fix or craft a solution to an issue I was having in the game. I never knew there were groups for game designers. Eventually in 2013, I had enough of a thing that I could present to my D&D friends.
Mind you these D&D friends actually had legitimate credits to their names. Some did art in their projects. Some did maps. Some wrote the settings. I never got in on the bandwagon when they started working together because I honestly felt like me being a manga artist, my art style would have clashed with the stuff they were doing. I was also proud of being a manga artist and thought I should be “forging my own path” and I shouldn’t be “riding my friend’s coattails”. I DID however get a few playtester credits in my friends’ work. The curious may figure out those projects my friends did, but I don’t name drop them even to my IGDN mentor. I just felt like I was working on this idea that I never even knew if it worked.
We finally got the playtest of Mugen Densetsu done. It felt awkward at first because it had been years since I GM’d an adventure. Overall, the playtest went adequately. We found some awkward things, we found some interesting things, and they performed tasks that I simply didn’t have answers for at that time. We kept going and ran a second session where they finally resolved the fort that they went to.
I eventually asked for everything… EVERYTHING, that they had to say… Good or bad. I needed to know. Was I capable of making a thing that could work? They did not hold back. These guys have done this professionally, so I had to rely on them essentially dismantling my game in front of me. I knew this needed to happen because seeing what’s wrong was the only way to make it better.
I took the observations that they made and revised a LOT of things. I discussed my ideas with them and they liked the way I implemented things. I was making progress… Slowly, but it was happening.
Time continued to march on. I went to Origins 2017 with my wife. We were looking around in the Exhibitor’s Hall when I came across the IGDN Booth. I looked into what was going on there and was curious about their message. I remember picking up a copy of Masks because I like superheroes and I also wanted to support something like this organization. It was around this time that I had officially switched Mugen Densetsu to Crossroads: The Yzyrra Chronicles.
My wife and I went to GenCon 2017 shortly after. As we sat in the hotel room that Wednesday night, I was scouring the Convention Guide looking over the Seminars. I came across one called “What is the IGDN?”. I IMMEDIATELY knew I had to attend this. I wanted to know more.
We finally arrived at the seminar and I sat down and as the seminar began, I was transported back to Origins 2001. I saw this happy go lucky person named Eloy Lasanta and I thought about it. I had seen his name on a number of books of all different genres. I was seeing evidence that someone like me can actually forge a path in a field like tabletop gaming. I listened intently and knew that I wanted to apply to the IGDN. They spoke of how they can help sponsor game designers to get to Metatopia and have their game playtested by other game designers. This was a major opportunity.
Once my wife and I got home after the convention, the next day I sent my application to the IGDN. I ended up getting my application approved and I was paired up with my mentor, Jacob Wood from Accessible Games.
I just had a personal victory in getting my application accepted by the IGDN, but something felt wrong. Here I am, this guy who works on an assembly line, running errands for the major part of his free time before he has to go to work, and come home and sit here typing away at 2 in the morning. “What have you gotten yourself into?” “You’re just an unknown guy working on a game that isn’t going to reach completion.” “You’re wasting your time…” “Quit while you’re ahead.” “You’re not a game designer. You just want to be.” These were all things that would run through my mind in the weeks that followed my acceptance. It was quiet in our apartment at that hour, and with my wife asleep, I had only these thoughts keeping me company.
Over the course of Jacob’s mentorship of me, he offered me plenty of advice, motivation, and insight into things I would need to look into now so that I could make things easier on myself on the back end of things. Thanks to him, he pointed out what I used to call “Hardcore Traits” was a neat idea, but since it was just a one-off thing that happened, it seemed somewhat awkward. He asked me, “Can these Hardcore traits grow over time with the character?”. It was a challenge. I wasn’t sure how to expand this idea, but I was going to make it happen. I ended up turning it into the Evolution Traits that the game currently uses.
My podcast diet consisted of Critical Role, Sneak Attack, and so on. People playing games. However, Jacob also made me aware of the fact that there were podcasts about game design. I was not aware of this. I found the Board Game Design Lab and started binging on that even though I wasn’t making a board game, I knew that a lot of the principles could carry over. I found RPG From Scratch which was really holding my attention. Then I eventually kept digging until I found the RPG Design Panel Cast. Again, I continued binging on this content in between Glass Cannon Podcasts & Not Another D&D Podcasts. I know my coworker who works across from me on the assembly line HAS TO be sick of me listening to this stuff ad nauseum.
And just a couple days ago, I came across this episode “Face Your Fears” thinking that it was about writing horror. To my surprise it was about designers offering advice to other designers about how to deal with the “Imposter Syndrome”. I’ve heard reference to this in the Board Game Design Lab, but none of these references ever rang so clear as “Face Your Fears”. It was nice to hear that I was not the only one who had feelings like this. It was also a good thing to hear things like, “Regardless of if you have anything published, if you are working on a game, call yourself a ‘Game Designer'”.
So the whole point of this whole story is, if you are interested in designing a game, do so. Don the title of Game Designer. Be thankful for constructive criticism, it means that the player wants the game to succeed. If you are struggling with it, keep at it. Take a short breather. Do something different. It may grant you the experience you need to figure out how to overcome your stumbling block. Talk about your game. If you keep it hidden, only you will know about your game. If it’s a secret only you are privvy to, who can be excited for the opportunity to play it? Also, Jacob would never let me live it down, if I didn’t throw in “Perfect is the enemy of Good.”
I’m still fighting off these internal criticisms, and I smile with each milestone I reach within this game. I understand that my game is not perfect, never expected that to happen. However I am trying to make a game that I am proud to say that I designed. There will ALWAYS be critics. Even the gaming giants have critics. Just remember that while they may have tons of fans than you, they also have infinitely more critics than you as well. Use your critics. If they are CONSTRUCTIVELY critiquing your game, it means that they were paying attention. What you do with their attention, determines if you grow your audience or smear your game with ignominy.
If you are still reading this, I hope that you know I am interested in your attention. While I may not agree with some comments about the design of Crossroads: The Yzyrra Chronicles, that does not mean that the comment is not being considered. I am hoping you are interested in coming along with me on this journey. Hopefully, you will at least know that you are not alone in working hard trying to build a world.
Even if I personally don’t know about your game, know that I am excited for you. I hope to hear about your game. What you are doing is an art, and art needs to be displayed.
Hello and good day! My name is Darrick Herring. I am a creator of a variety of things. However this blog is about the development of the tabletop role-playing game that I’m designing called “Crossroads: The Yzyrra Chronicles”.
I hope that you will join me on this journey as I take this from an idea that lurked in my mind, to a final product that hopefully manages to get some friends to sit around a table and have a good time together.
WHAT TYPE OF RPG IS CROSSROADS? Crossroads is a mid-crunch, dual-class, tactical, fantasy roleplaying game where the players take on the persona of a regular person who faces extraordinary circumstances that triggers their answering “The Call to Adventure”. As a part of answering this Call, they attend an Adventuring Academy that will give them the training they will need to hold their own in a dangerous world. At these academies, the players will meet others who will become adventuring allies and develop relational bonds to them. As their party explores the world of Yzyrra, they will encounter threats from not only crime organizations, corrupt governments, national conflicts, elemental disasters, rampaging behemoths, but secrets of all sorts that have been left behind in the wake of the creator of the world: Judge Mother Elementia.
WHAT GAME IS IT LIKE? WHAT ARE THE INSPIRATIONS? Originally, this was a setting that I created for a Big Eyes, Small Mouth campaign that I ran a long time ago. I wanted to design my own system to see if it was possible. What really sparked my interest was the game Final Fantasy XI, which I played for a couple years on my PlayStation 2. I was enamored with the Sub-Job system, but I really didn’t like the idea that I only got to access half of the abilities of my sub-job. I wanted to design a game where the player had full access to everything that they invested time into learning.
Another inspiration was the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series. I loved the fluidity with which the Benders were able to manipulate their respective elements in cool offensive and defensive ways. The Benders were a major source of inspiration for the casters in Crossroads, called the Devoteés. While they don’t really work the same way as Benders, the Benders definitely gave me something to strive for in terms of awesomeness.
Lastly, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was another inspiration for me, in terms of the cooperative aspects of Crossroads. In that game you could sort of do what you wanted in the mission because of your secret objectives, but you still needed to work together in a tight-knit fashion to not only keep moving through the dungeons but to perform the more powerful spells. While the adventurers in Crossroads are trained to walk two Paths, granting them some adaptability when situations switch up on them, they will need to take actions that will involve their allies to enhance their odds of survival.
CONCLUDING INTRODUCTIONS Hopefully, I have told you some things that have piqued your interests. If so please Comment, Subscribe, and Share. This is not the first Crossblog. The original is actually over on my Blogger page, but I will actually be transferring everything over to WordPress in time, as I learn the ins and outs of using this platform.