Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quick update on The Philosopher's Stone

I have changed TPS many times in the past year and a half, but the core idea is still to be a collaborative story telling RPG that feels like a traditional RPG. The latest version of it is called Death of the Vele and the (lame) website is here It has a link to the latest rules.

Wow, taking a look at the old rules, I see that I have streamlined the mechanics a LOT since last year. They are simpler, lighter weight, and more intuitive. There are also tools to promote more integrated and structured stories (spotlights, hitting aspects, etc.). Death of the Vele also adds a back story (which you can remove if you don't like, of course).

I'm hoping to publish Death of the Vele within the next 12 months. In the mean time, the rules are out there for free, so anyone who wants to can use them.

Here is the feature list from the latest copy of the rules:
  • Collaborative, but feels like a traditional RPG
  • Your characters are yours
  • Supports campaign-length stories
  • Game play stays at the table
  • Characters don’t always do their best -- sometimes they have an off-day, even if their stats say they’re fine, but this is your decision
  • The Right of Challenge -- if the other players don’t buy it, you can’t do it
  • Show, don’t tell -- a lot of communication happens through scenes and events
  • Answer questions with scenes -- if players want to know, scenes reveal the answer
  • Characters are naturally “woven together”
  • Your characters will get the spotlight
  • Supports visiting gamers


  1. I was wondering what had happened to TPS. Thank you very much for this.

  2. No problem! If you happen to play test it or even just read the current rules, I'd love to get feedback from you.

  3. Hi Bill, I am about 13 pages into Death of the Vele.

    First of all.. I love how it adds crunchiness back to GMless RPGs. Reading this, I feel this is *the game* I want to play, to relive the old days of fantasy campaigns on a new more creative level.

    The rules - although they are a much easier read than BRS - are not yet easy to follow though. It is more fitting to my learning style to see a very simple (even traditional) example, like a character creation and visualize it on a card/sheet, then observe a conflict with that character, then see how things can get more complex. Right now I feel that I have to read everything to be able to proceed with the simplest thing.

    The story is good and it allows for good narrative positioning, but I think it might be more effective if it is spread out in smaller chunks in the text, like BSR does. It is also not easy to visualize races and their characteristics, but I think that might be done on purpose.

    I like how the system of 'magic' is described in detail to allow narrative positioning, yet all resolution uses a separate importance-based mechanical system. I can see playbooks giving the narrative rules of different types of magic/technology/techniques, without ever need to touch the mechanics.

    I'll let you know when I read more.

    Thanks for this game!

  4. I went quickly through the rest of the document. I see everything is there, organized in taxonomically logic sections. I think the pragmatics of learning the game step by step will force you to reorganize the text though. A final cheatsheet/rule summary would also be very useful.

  5. Thanks for the constructive criticism! I'll use these comments to help me with the next rewrite. Hopefully that will be much more easy to digest :).

    Glad you liked the way I did the crunch. I owe a lot to Blood Red Sands, FATE, PDQ, Lady Blackbird, and The Shadow of Yesterday. My main purpose in Vele, like Ralph's in BRS, wasn't to be fantastically novel, but to make a game that was fun to play.

    I hope you have a chance to play it and I really look forward to seeing your feedback!