Apologies that my post on encumbrance is long delayed - Christmas was great but I've been rather busy which stopped me blogging though not playing – the party has now ended up 188 years back in the past attempting to avert a catastrophe they had inadvertently unleashed. Well I say inadvertent – what did they expect when they opened a magically sealed door in a complex full of dead bodies?.
But fiction often mirrors reality - I've also been busy organizing my backups after I nearly lost some data when my laptop died, and it was in going through this stuff that I stumbled across a document from September 1998 called simply "RPG_IDEAS.doc". I knew Explore is based on ideas I had whilst walking in the Cairngorms in September 1998, but had forgotten that I’d written them down (as it was followed by a 10 year hiatus from playing). So as I step back 18 years into the past, what ideas from the “Me” of yesteryear made it into Explore, and what hasn't?
Some bits made it in almost intact, for example, this description of stats from 1998 is pretty close to what I've got now.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: People have stats like Strength that are actual physical representations of them but this is classed with height weight etc (which are done as in "Slightly overweight").MENTAL CHARACTERISTICS: Mostly intelligence and problem solving ability should be based on the person playing the character
This 1998 document also talks about the removal of randomness from climbing checks, simplification of weapon types, and wounds (minor/major/severe) instead of hitpoints, all of which appear in Explore today. Back then it was for adventuring in Middle Earth, so these notes state combat is lethal and rare and character advancement is capped. There's some standard stuff about hit locations (which I abandoned), and some notes on how to incorporate interesting wilderness challenges (such as crossing rivers) which have prompted me to think.
The section that surprised me is the ideas about character traits, which I have zero recollection of:
TRAITS Characters are susceptible to things like corruption and are often ruled by their temperament.
If a character wants to improve at a skill, they need PERSEVERENCE or else they get bored.
Technical knowledge of how to do something is very important and can be got by upbringing, teaching, experimentation(harder).
CLIMBING: Anyone has a certain FEAR OF HEIGHTS TRAIT
PREDISPOSITION: Someone may be predisposed to be better at certain skills. Races give predisposition, Cultures give technical knowledge.
EXTROVERT/INTROVERT: Extroverts would be showy in front of people
OVERESTIMATING ABILITY: If you overestimate how good you are at something you might come a cropper eg. swimming and climbing
LOYALTY: Why are you doing something? If it's for your own life then you'll fight till you die but for the King? for your friends?
I wouldn't put this sort of thing into the game mechanics nowadays – I'd say just play the character how you envisage it – but what was it that made me want to put in “Fear of heights”, “Introvert” “Over confident” or “Disloyal”? Was this a good idea for the game, or just a sign of my state of mind as I was in the final stages of completing my PhD?
So I'm drawn to the conclusion that what you put into a game (and what you leave out) probably reveals something about your subconscious state of mind...