A few weeks ago I ran a group of players through the first part of the Lost Mine of Phandelver, the intro campaign for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It was a ridiculous amount of fun. In the couple of years since I last ran a game, I’d forgotten just how thoroughly enjoyable it is to role-play. It got me even more excited about the system development work I was doing for Amethyst and about building a fantasy world. It also helped me realise what wasn’t sitting right about Amethyst.
I want to use Amethyst to tell stories. I want it to be an RPG, but where you control a handful of characters or even a few thousand. And the wargame style doesn’t allow for that. It’s hard to consistently tell good stories when your goal is to beat your opponent senseless. Between playing Phandelver and trying to resolve my difficulties with getting story out of a wargame it occurred to me that the solution was simple. Don’t make Amethyst a wargame. Make it an RPG, complete with GM. Doing so makes it easier to focus on the story and makes it possible for players to do more things in the game – you don’t have to have all the rules fully detailed prior to play, you have a referee whose job it is to handle situations that the rules don’t perfectly cover.
I also realised that you can’t make the sort of telescoping system I want from the middle out – that starting at the skirmish scale was a mistake. I need to either start at the grand strategy end or the individual end. I’m going with the individual end for the simple reason that I have a story to tell with that at the moment and I’m more familiar with writing traditional rpg rules than I am with writing grand strategy rules.
Which brings me to announcing Whitecliff, a fantasy RPG I’ll be running through Google Hangouts. At the moment it’s slated to start sometime in the middle of next year, but at the current rate of progress I may start telling some stories there as early as the new year break. Though that’ll depend on people’s availability and interest.
The rules development for Amethyst are on hold until the RPG rules (codenamed Citrine) are somewhat stable, but you can expect to see some of Amethyst’s history written up here in the coming weeks. And an early version of character creation for Citrine will be up before long too.