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What if I were serious about putting this together as a computer FRPG?  Realizing that it is really a pen and paper FRPG design based on a world I started in 1968? What if I didn't want the heroquesting approach, but wanted something closer to Diablo II or some similar game (or even Greg Stafford's new heroquest rules). Could it be done.

Well yes, that is pretty easy.

I'd start with the Diablo 2 engine, or something similar.

For each character you would pick a sex, requisite pattern (look at the way the game treats the different base character types for additional spell points, life, etc. per level), appearance model, and a skill tree (just one, but you could pick from all of them).  E.g. someone could pick the cold magic tree or the weapon mastery tree or warcries.

One point in a skill costs one point.  The second point in the same skill costs two points.  The third point in the skill costs three points.  Fourth point, four points.  That means to get to 4th level would cost 10 points. Items also have all of their characteristics defined in terms of skills (e.g. faster run walk would have levels = skill levels in faster run/walk).

Timers would generally be removed, graphic sprite load reduced (and damage reduced as well) instead.  Cold Mastery would have cold spells do additional physical damage (as in 1.1) rather than penetrate cold resistance.

After finishing the initial difficulty level, you would pick a second set of skills for the character.  Yes, someone could have fire spells and shadow mastery or paladin auras and necro summoning or ...  A character gets a skill point and a characteristic point each level (rather than four characteristic points, but points are used a little differently), with more from some quests, etc.

Other major game play issues would be gaining a familiar (kind of like a mercenary) with a number of different familiars available at different places (so a character could experiment), with choices as quest rewards and familiar transformation (so that a character could experiment with different familiar configurations as an option each difficulty level. so a spirit familiar might change into a combat familiar.  A familiar would have a slight tweak to the AI -- you could tell it to "hang back" or "fight shoulder to shoulder" or "range ahead" -- and to attack, engage as encountered, or avoid in each of the three modes (range ahead and avoid is obviously scouting, hang back and attack like crazy exactly what you always wanted that rogue mercenary to do <g>).  Familiars would have a wider skill choice and their skills would add to yours (e.g. if you had a familiar with a mastery, then you would have the mastery).  See below for more.

To advance a single-play character would need to fulfill scenario/quest requirements and earn xp.

There would be lots of drops of magical essence.  Some of it runic (see the rune system, think D2LOD charms, but with a twist, see below), some of it non-runic (think of potions).

A belt would have slots = to type (i.e. a sash has one slot, a belt two, heavy belt four, plated belt five), but slots refill from inventory so belt type = number of choices, not size of belt inventory.  There would be more types of scrolls and grimoires (spells/skills in a grimoire could be used without having the skill tree or the spell/skill).  "Grimoire" would be a seperate skill choice (you could only use spells/skills in grimoires up to the max of points in that skill) and some grimoires would include the skill +grimoire (so they could inherently carry more skills/spells) -- e.g. a character might have level 2 grimoire, a grimoire (or grimoire equivilent item) with +3, and thus five slots for found spells.  Found spells would be of two types.  Some would be single use (ID scrolls, TP scrolls) others would be like having the skill (e.g. a grimoire might have teleport or cold armor in it).

Runes would be completely different as they would replace charms -- and -- would go into sub-inventories.

Each character would get/choose a primary weapon or item that would gain slots as the character switched levels from the character into the weapon (or similar item, though each character could have a maximum number of levels invested equal to the current number of levels) -- one of those sub-inventories just mentioned.  Levels invested would work somewhat like sockets (think of each special weapon or item having its own inventory somewhat like the horadric cube does.  Each socket in it could let you stack rune essences of the same type in it.  Total essences would be limited by size.  Each level of difficulty adds another "inventory" item. Non-inventory items could regular magic/rare attributes.  There would be no "standard" charms with any effect in regular inventory).

In actual play it is much like the current model.  But, instead of upgrading weapons as the game goes on, you would switch out or upgrade markers  (the runic identies) that stand for weapon attributes.  Each character could have one item per difficulty level that would accept markers, the rest would be magical items in the vein of Diablo 2.

A character could have magical attributes with a max = level (i.e. the various attributes on helm, boots, gloves, armor, leggings, jewelry, weapons grimoires and shields could not total more levels than the level of the character) with the maximum stacked in slots = one fifth of level (so at level 30 the maximum level of a skill in an item would be 6). Obviously it would be better to have skills stacked up as they count as one attribute (so that level 6 cold mastery in one slot would be the same for limits as level 1 to increased light). (I'm not sure on these limits).

Special quests or items and additions would include:

There would be four difficulty levels:  novice, initiate, heroic and superheroic.  Initiates would get one more skill tree (at the quest reward location) (for a total of  two open trees --  etc.).  Heroic characters would get another (for a total of three), and superheroic another (for a total of  four).

Misc. details.

Characters would start without a stash.  The stash is an early quest reward as is the "super stash" and the "gem bag" and "coin bag" (inventory expanders, one for carrying valuable items such as gems, one for raw essence, one for coins -- until they have that, they carry far fewer coins than in D2).  Essence can be traded or refined into mana, healing, rejuv and other potions.

Characters would also be able to get a sidekick, and a collar for their familiar (the sidekick is a D2LOD merc, the collar is an item that holds attribute markers for the familiar).  Maximum level would be 50 in novice, 75 in initiate, 100 in heroic and 125 in superheroic and 150 in post superheroic.  Once you had completed the game once in novice, you could choose to start in initiate thereafter.  At least two quests at each level would allow characters to reassign skill points or characteristic points already assigned.

New or modified skill trees would include:

In the market you could do the normal, have essences refined, and buy random scrolls and scrolls you already have.

Runes would be limited to ones that were not hostile to each other (e.g. your same weapon could not have both fire and water runes in it, or stasis and mobility, or life and death, etc.).  Your major skill tree would have a rune set it was hostile to (and such runes would not work for the character) and one it was affiliated with (and such runes would get a bonus with the character).

As for PKs ... there would be two settings.  Duel, where both must agree and the loser loses an ear and 10% of cash carried and Hostile, where one party selects hostile (and is at risk to drop everything they are carrying) and the other responds (alt F4 lets them out of the game or they can fight back) and is at risk only for an ear.

Copyright 2001-2003 Stephen R. Marsh and Heather N. Marsh
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