Nefertiti Overdrive Inspiration: the Three Musketeers

As I mentioned, all my efforts until Tuesday, 10 February will be over at the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter page. If you are reading this and haven’t checked out the Kickstarter, why not? All the cool stuff is happening there, like taking the 1973 the Three Musketeers movie as the source of inspiration for a fight narrative in Nefertiti Overdrive.

Nefertiti Overdrive: Why Should You Care?

If you haven’t read these, you can now – Nefertiti Overdrive: What Does it Do? and Nefertiti Overdrive: How Does It Do That?

This is a tough question for me to answer, because the very concept of wire-fu action stunting in Ancient Egypt was so compelling to me that I had to write a game for it. Nefertiti Overdrive came to me first as a story idea, then a cinematic rendition filled my head, and since there’s no way I could get the money for that, I did the next best thing ā€“ RPG that mother . . .

What I can say is that if you are a fan of very complex games, you shouldn’t care. If you want a game rooted in the history of the region and period (like Centurion: Legionaries of Rome), you shouldn’t care. If you are a GM who is out to beat your players by killing off their characters or if you are a player out to beat your GM by short-circuiting all his great ideas and using the rules as a bludgeon, you shouldn’t care. This is not the game for any of those peoples.

Nefertiti Overdrive is simple. Check out the Quickstart rules to see if that is something you could love.

Nefertiti Overdrive is based on the historical period and place, but it is not restrained by history. This is an action movie, not a documentary. There is certainly a place for historical gaming (again, see Centurion), but this is really action-fantasy in an Ancient Egyptian setting.

The Nefertiti Overdrive system is designed for cooperative play, in which the GM wants to challenge the players (the NPCs and obstacles are called Challenges!), but should be excited when the players use imaginative and entertaining methods to circumvent those Challenges. Heck, players are rewarded in the system for doing just that. Imagine being a director of a movie and an actor comes with a piece of improv you consider absolutely brilliant (“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain” or “I know”). Would you get pissed off, or would you be thankful that you have a partner in creation who has helped to elevate the whole?

And as a player, you are that actor. Do you want to tank the director’s movie? Do you want this to fail? Then why are you here? You are helping to build a story. And, guess what? Your character is one of the stars of that story. The better you make the whole, the greater your character’s spotlight moments will be.

Oh, wait, maybe that’s why you should care. If you like simple systems for action-fantasy in historical settings designed for cooperative play and targeting the creation of a great story with exciting scenes, you should care.

You can findĀ the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rulesĀ here.

You can learn more aboutĀ Nefertiti OverdriveĀ hereĀ andĀ here.

You can find the Nefertiti Overdrive G+ community here.

Nefertiti Overdrive: How Does It Do That?

In case you haven’t read it: Nefertiti Overdrive: What Does it Do?

You know what Nefertiti Overdrive does, but how does it do this? Some of that is related in the earlier post, but let’s talk about the mechanics and how they motivate cinematic action.

Each character in Nefertiti Overdrive has four Atttributes: Concept, Elements, Traits, and Drivers. Each of these Attributes provides one die for conflict resolution ā€“ called Tests. The GM also has dice, and these dice are rolled and compared for Initiative (who is the active character), Target (what result does the active character need to score a success or Triumph against the passive character), and Effect (the character with the lowest Effect die endure a Condition, which incurs a penalty).

Simple enough. So how does this motivate cool scenes?

Each Attribute is represented by two die-types: the basic die and the max die. If you indicate that your character is using a particular Attribute and explain how it is applicable in the Test, you get the base die. Boring. If you jazz it up, providing a detailed, exciting, or even hilarious description of your character’s action, then you can use the max die.

What is important is that Nefertiti Overdrive continues in the tradition of Sword Noir, Kiss My Axe, and Centurion: don’t ask me, tell me. Players have almost total narrative control. Yes, there is a bridge too far even for Nefertiti Overdrive (a very small circle of people will understand this but . . . no nipple lasers), but in general it is left to the player to make the character’s actions as awesome and exciting as possible. Killing three bad guys with one arrow? No problem: ricocheting arrow. Grabbing an Assyrian enemy by the feet and using him as a club to plow through his squad mates? Fill your boots . . . or his. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop following the traitor escaping in a chariot? Oh yeah!

And you are rewarded for your character (and thereby your) awesomeness with Luck. Whenever you do something another player appreciates, that player can give you Luck, which you can cash in for re-rolls, extra dice, or healing.

So, sure, you can be boring in Nefertiti Overdrive. I’m not going to come to your place of gaming and stare at you sternly (or will I?), but how can you pass up both better dice and the adoration (or at least grudging approval) of your cohorts? The answer to that is: you can’t.

You can findĀ the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rulesĀ here.

You can learn more aboutĀ Nefertiti OverdriveĀ hereĀ andĀ here.

You can find the Nefertiti Overdrive G+ community here.

Facing the “Five Destructive Myths”

So, there’s been some discussion about an article entitled “Five Destructive Myths Perpetuated by Roleplaying Games,” and I decided to see how my games stack up against these myths. To be clear: I don’t consider any of these to be destructive per se. I think that many of these are viable topics or facets for an RPG. The exercise here is to look at something identified as ‘destructive’ and then see how my games conform or subvert and why.

1. RPGs are about the “great men of history” and not the little people: Sword Noir, Kiss My Axe, and Centurion are all specifically about the little people, not the great men. Nefertiti Overdrive, however, is about iconic heroes that change history, and that’s kind of its point. So on this, I think I score pretty good. 75%?

“Camp” by Kieron O’Gorman from Centurion

2. Social ties don’t matter: Kiss My AxeĀ includes a discussion about Viking honour and Viking society. There are very specific points about social ties, although the game is not about them. Sword Noir is based on hardboiled detective fiction, in which social ties ā€“ even those recently minted ā€“ tend to matter to a large degree. Centurion is set in historical Rome and explicitly states how important social ties, especially patronage, matters. Nefertiti Overdrive is all about the social ties ā€“ ties between team mates and ties to a nation and its population.

3. Idolization of explorers when most explorers haven’t ‘discovered’ anything . . . unless you count the Moon: None of my games are about exploration. While Kiss My Axe refers to the far-travels of the Vikings, but in the context of trade, which ā€“ by its nature ā€“ is not exploration, except perhaps exploring for people one has not yet exploited.

by Ed Northcott from Sword Noir

4. What Doesnā€™t Kill You Makes You Stronger: Yes, as we age and mature, we do not always get better. Life and events take a physical and psychological toll. My games are guilty of this, however ā€“ as the article itself states ā€“ creating a game that dispels this myth would be incredibly niche. Even when I’m not playing an iconic, legendary hero of mythic ability ā€“ as one would in Nefertiti Overdrive – I want to play a character with above-average competence. So this is kind of like saying RPGs perpetuate power fantasies. Yes, many do, but generally in a healthy and cathartic manner.

But what about ongoing suffering due to violence, or permanent damage to characters? Both Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe specifically have a Flaw system that can be triggered by massive damage. Centurion and Nefertiti Overdrive, on the other hand, only have temporary and removable damage, so let’s say I’m 50/50 on this one.

by Ed Northcott from Sword Noir

5. Violence Is the Ultimate Solution: Epic violence is kind of the point of Nefertiti Overdrive, however there is a lot in the characters and the mechanics of the game that stress other avenues of addressing opposition. While the Monk’s “Kind Philosopher” or the Spartan’s “Political Exile” could be twisted into application in a fight, these and other Qualities are indicators of those other avenues of conflict resolution. Centurion is about the legions, . . . so, yeah, violence. However, Centurion‘s mechanics work just as well for social or mental conflict resolution, and this is very clear in the rules. Kiss My Axe is about as straight up ‘fix with violence’ as any of my games, but this is a game about Vikings, so there’s that. Even in Kiss My Axe, the Vikings as traders and far-travellers in implicit in the text, but I don’t think I can let myself off that one.

Sword Noir, however, is kind of violence averse. Well, it’s “fair-fight” averse, since the rules can be very punishing if you start to lose a fight. This is again part of its hardboiled roots. There are plenty of people in the world that can put you in the ground, and those that can’t might know someone who can, so walk carefully. Violence exists, because this is a dark, gritty, and unwelcoming world, but it is not the ultimate solution.

Can I give myself 75% on this one? I’m going to.

So I might score 4Ā out of 5, and I think that’s pretty good. What’s interesting is that Sword Noir, my very first game, scores the highest. It subverts all these myths. Not so bad. Maybe after Nefertiti Overdrive is done I can go back and give Sword Noir some more love. It’s coming up on four years since its release.

New edition? Would anyone commit violence on me were I to do so?

You can read the referenced article here.

You can find all of my games – except for Nefertiti Overdrivehere.

You can findĀ the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rulesĀ here.

You can learn more aboutĀ Nefertiti OverdriveĀ hereĀ andĀ here.

Nefertiti Overdrive: What Does It Do?

What does Nefertiti Overdrive do?

That’s probably the most important question anyone interested in this game could ask, and I’ll try to answer it as succinctly as possible.

Nefertiti Overdrive motivates colourful and exciting scenes within an extremely light mechanical environment.

But what does that mean?

First off, the rules motivate colourful and detailed descriptions of character actions by rewarding such descriptions with better dice. Rather than penalize someone’s outrageous description of a character action, Nefertiti Overdrive rewards it meaning that the outrageous and extravagant is more likely to succeed than the mundane. A character simply attacking with a sword is going to be harder to achieve than that same character jumping up, bouncing off the wall, spinning over the head of the opponent, landing behind him, and driving the sword through his sternum.

So the rules motivate colourful and exciting scenes, but it also does so with very few rules. I like playing with fewer rules because to me that allows a wider range of action. However, I like customizing my characters. I want my character to be very different. This is what I tried to achieve with Nefertiti Overdrive.

You don’t need a lot of rules because everything uses the same mechanic, and there are no need for limits and restrictions, because the idea is to be as outrageous as a Jackie Chan stunt sequence or a Donnie Yen fight sequence. Remember the fight/pursuit through the bamboo forest in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Remember the fight between Jet Li’s Nameless and Donnie Yen’s Long Sky in Hero? These are the kinds of scenes Nefertiti Overdrive was built to replicate, except setting them in Ancient Egypt rather than historical China.

Also, it’s important to note that the mechanics in Nefertiti Overdrive are there only to derive success or failure. How a character succeeds or fails is immaterial. In Nefertiti Overdrive, a character can overwhelm a group of Assyrians by leaping into their midst, smashing into one’s face with the character’s foot, and then sweeping out with the character’s spear to slice through another’s throat, impale a second with the spike on the spear’s butt, and then throwing that body into the fourth Assyrian, knocking him flat. One can also say one brings lightning from the sky to explode among the four. Further, one can intimidate the four into surrendering by haranguing and threatening them. The mechanics of all those approaches are the same. What is different is the narrative.

There is no need for weapons’ lists, spells, or skills. The dice used for the test are based on the character’s Attributes. It does not matter if the character uses a glaive, a sword, a magic wand, or the power of her mind ā€“ all that matters is that the player provides a great description.

You can findĀ the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rulesĀ here.

You can learn more aboutĀ Nefertiti OverdriveĀ hereĀ andĀ here.