Grab your sword and grab your dice…

 

Welcome to the development blog for the Knights of the Black Lily RPG. In the below posts you will find product news related to the game, entries that highlight and explain design decisions taken as well as general RPG design philosophy and occasional general hobby-related musings.

If you want to be notified of any and all blog updates, please register for the Knights of the Black Lily Newsletter at the highest level (“I’m a huge fan…”) below.

 

The dark gods await.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Generation in Combat Systems (Series on Crunch – Part IV)

with No Comments

The heart of combat

As we have introduced in our last blogpost, the close combat system of Knights of the Black Lily works differently from nearly all other existing close combat systems in that attacks do not alternate, This is done to faithfully emulate the dynamics of cinematic combat with its sequenced attacks – this time around, we’ll have a closer look at how it works. At the center of the combat system is the Melee Attack Resolution Table, which not only gets referenced constantly in actual play but is also short, intuitive and very easy to memorize – it’s in fact so simple that you and your players will naturally know it effortlessly from the top of your heads after the first one or two sessions of play. Following the general philosophy of Knights of the Black Lily by adding mild complexity in order to greatly adhere more to genre standards, this table is what makes all the various parts of the combat system come together… Read More

RPG Theory with Rigor, Part 2

with No Comments

The problem with definitions
In the meantime, there has been a fairly lengthy debate of our first blogpost in which an old problem arose that has been marring the theoretical discussion of RPGs for a long time now: the question of how even basic terminology like games, role-playing games, story, etc. is being defined. Therefore, before continuing our efforts further below to introduce a greater amount of rigor into RPG theory, we need to have a look at these debates about definitions and the problem that definitions of even common terms pose… Read More

The King of the Hill (Series on Fluff – Part III)

with No Comments

Knights of the Black Lily is what we call dystopian black fantasy, a distinctly flavored form of dark fantasy. The darkness in dark fantasy may come in many forms but for us none of them is as interesting to explore as the darkness that lies within ourselves. And as you will discover in the blogpost below, Knights of the Black Lily has more than its own fair share of demons and other common elements of horror. To us, however, none of those even come close to the terror induced by the things we do – or our own kind. That is why we have chosen the makeup of Ilethrean inhabitants the way it is and as it will be outlined to you below.… Read More

RPG Theory with Rigor (Warning: boring!)

with No Comments

Rebuilding from the ground up

Role-Playing Game theory has a long, controversial history. A huge part of the problem is the lack of a solid foundation for theory – the establishment of some fundamental basics that can be considered largely uncontroversial, if not outright demonstrably true. Without such a foundation, things that should be uncontroversial become suddenly controversial in the context of heated debates about more advanced issues. This problem is being amplified by a prevalent lack of rigor in underlying one’s viewpoints or conceptions with argument: existing theories and models (or even just certain parts of existing theories and models) may or may not sound somewhat plausible, depending on your personal take, but without rigorous, compelling justification for choosing certain concepts and their relationships to each other, they have to be considered largely arbitrary… Read More

First glimpse of Combat (Series on Crunch – Part III)

with No Comments

A Responsive Action Economy
The stated goal of the Knights of the Black Lily ruleset is to emulate the fantasy genre more faithfully than any other game before it and to challenge its players within these confines. One of the shortfalls of traditional fantasy RPGs in doing so lies in their lack of proper interruptability and reactivity:

  • Interruptability: An enemy who has a readied arrow aimed at you is often not necessarily faster than your PC who has only a sword (or worse: a still sheathed sword) to swing at him, depending on who rolls higher Initiative scores.
  • Reactivity: An enemy that takes a longer action (running up 20 meters, casting a spell that takes the entire round to complete, unlocking a door, etc.) should give you the opportunity to realize what is about to happen this round and to act accordingly.

Read More

RPG Theory with Pornstars

with 11 Comments

In a recent blog entry, game designer Zak Smith aka Zak Sabbath made a fairly exhaustive attempt at rebuking GNS theory. This post is a response to one of his central contentions. There is a companion blogpost that takes a further look at GNS theory and tries to boil its central components down so that they are easily understandable for everyone. Arguably, the core of Smith’s elaborate rebuttal revolves around a hypothetical scenario of Marvel’s Colossus and Wolverine fighting Mr Sinister, using the famed Fastball Special. This sample scenario is meant, according to Smith, to demonstrate that there are time and again situations in role-playing in which none of the 3 modes of GNS theory (Gamism, Narrativism, Simulationism) get prioritized over one another. A moment of complete blending of the three… Read More

SIC Theory of Roleplaying

with No Comments

Towards a better understanding

Part of the confusion regarding GNS theory comes from its abstract (if not occasionally weird) terminology and unclear definitions. In the following, we will try to substitute the terms Gamism, Narrativism and Simulationism with the more readily understood player priorities Success, Immersion and Creativity (note that there has been a change in order to make for a better acronym)… Read More

Major Update for March 2018

with No Comments

After some weeks of intense work on the game (including playtesting to fine-tune the numbers, editing, layout and page design), it has become apparent that we’re going to narrowly miss our goal of releasing the PDF for the Knights of the Black Lily Quickstart Beta rules in time. Instead, we’re aiming for an early Q2 2018 release now, which will probably (but don’t quote us on that) mean: late April 2018.

What is missing?

For the most part, the graphics design. Tanya Anor is busy working on the art for the outer margins of the book as well some ornamental elements. As a progress report to you, we can share with you below rough sketch that shows you where the page design of the game is headed… Read More

Spotlight: Fortune and the Call of Cthulhu problem

with No Comments

The Problem: A sometimes overheard complaint about the venerable Call of Cthulhu role-playing game is that the players might collectively fail their test to spot a vital clue. Consequently, the party might get stuck in their investigations indefinitely – which is no fun! The role-playing game Trail of Cthulhu set out to solve the above Call of Cthulhu problem by creating game rules that ensure that so-called core clues can never be missed. This, however, replaces the Call of Cthulhu problem with the Trail of Cthulhu problem: people do like egghunts (that’s why there is an annual, literal egghunt every Easter Sunday), so how do we ensure that there is something at stake for your players in finding the clues and at the same time prevent them from getting stuck indefinitely?

Our Solution: Every time your players miss a core clue, you have the option of providing them the missed information in a different way – at a cost in Fortune Points. … Read More

A Brand New Angle on Running RPGs (Series on Crunch – Part II)

with No Comments

On Challenge-Driven Game Design.

The Problem: You want to run a long-term campaign in which the players run protagonists (or even heroes) comparable to Conan, Frodo or Jon Snow. That means character death should be infrequent and failing to beat a scenario should probably be too. If your players have any experience in role-playing games, they are likely to pick up on this quickly – so where does a sense of challenge for them (the players NOT the characters) come from?

Our Solution: Keep track of how much luck the party has consumed during the course of the current scenario. And right before the boss battle, you take stock of the final tally of luck consumed and then shape the highpoint of the adventure according to that. … Read More

1 2