Weekly Design Blog for Steampunk Musha #7: We Don’t Always Need to Reinvent the Wheel, Just Improve On It

This blog is being reproduced here, as it was part of the original Weekly Design Blogs for Steampunk Musha series that was lost when our information was wiped. The artwork is not fully reproduced. See This Post for more information on that. This blog was originally posted Feb 16, 2016.

Hello All,

For those of you that have looked over these past 6+ Steampunk Musha blog-posts, you’ll more often than not see one of two names, J Gray or Jeff GomezJeff helped to do an initial design for each of the classes, and J Gray has come in to help give the whole of the SpM Player’s Guide a thorough once-over and then some. J Gray in particular is going to ultimately end up working on basically EVERYTHING, so his name will get brought up a lot in the weeks to come.

But just as important a team member is Ishmael Alvarez, whom I know I wont end up commenting on as much but I want to highlight “what he’s doing and bringing to Steampunk Musha” and also to give you a little more insight into the final product.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was published back in the summer of 2009, and even before then its publisher, Paizo Publishing, was cranking out books in support of 3.5 ed. and ultimately their own system. In the 7+ years since that point, literally hundreds of books have been published just by Paizo alone (i.e. not including all the 3PPs!) and only basically a fraction of that text is known by me, J Gray, or anyone else working on this document, let alone easily accessible on Paizo’s own PRD. While incredible alternate sources exist like d20pfsrd.com and the Archives of Nethys, there is literally so much content that we could spend another year or more just sorting through all of it. Unless you know a thing exists, its hard to just “happen upon” it on those sites without serious research.

So, while we could just try to introduce all new spells, feats, equipment, etc. we’d actually be doing both ourselves and the players a disservice, at least in my opinion, if we didn’t first make sure some incredible and awesome alternative already exists, even if its in an obscure source. And this leads directly into what I have Ishmael doing. He’s an excellent designer (check out his 5th edition stuff from Fat Goblin Games, and look forward to his Call to Arms: Optics in the coming months!) but he’s also a solid researcher. He helped us put together the Equipmentchapter of the Shadows over Vathak Player’s Guide (coming soon! The Fattest Goblin’s nearly done with the art and layout!) and impressed me greatly with his ability to blend existing items with those published in Fat Goblin Games books into a cohesive whole, and finding and filling design holes with original content often built to order (an order like “Make a cool bhriota simple bladed weapon or something.” — i.e. ones easy for me to just rattle off). So he’s doing it again in SpM, for many, many chapters.

Exhibit C

Around the ‘shop,’ we refer to materials produced by Paizo Publishing but not expressly released under Exhibit B of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License as “Exhibit C” — and we consider a lot of it to be “fair game” for solid starting points of ideas for inclusion into Steampunk Musha. Now of course, there is some added trickiness using such materials, but they’re all released under the OGL and often some really interesting ideas are included here that just wont ever make it into Exhibit B materials. My go-to example of how we can grab this kind of material and really expand upon it is what Garrett Guillotte has managed to do with Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology by taking things already in the official guidebook for technology in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game . Garrett was able to offer some awesome modifications to those existing rules and in turn, make an incredible book for Fat Goblin Games.

An example of Exhibit C materials we’ve already found and are considering ways to repurpose are the Meditation feats from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game book on philosophies and faiths. Simply put, Meditation feats are…

Meditation feats grant benefits after a character has spent time in quiet contemplation. Monks can take meditation feats as bonus feats.

There are already a few out there that are quite interesting (like Bend with the WindBody ControlBody MasteryCombat MeditationMeditation Master,Meditative Concentration,Perfect AwarenessPerfect CenterSlow Time), but especially as we expand the role and purpose of philosophies in our game world, we might either include all new feats connected to our own philosophies in-game, OR we might just pull out some of these basics and make a core mechanic for philosophies that utilize these kinds of rules and subsystems to give mechanical significance to deciding which philosophy your character belongs to.

Final Words

Nothing is set in stone yet regarding the Meditation feats, its just a solid idea, made even better by having nine existing “examples” for us to grab, play with, and build upon. But it serves as an example of a less common, non-standard bit that already exists out in the greater Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system that we can now save a bit of time by not replicating but instead repurposing to serve our own designs.

While its not as glamorous as “creating original and new content” its a lot more well founded and a lot better design principle to build upon or improve upon existing systems than to try to slap together an all new subsystem that would require months of playtesting etc. to work bugs out of. And finding little gems like the Meditation feats is one of my primary hopes with having Ishmael on the task, searching the Exhibit C sources and finding things for us to fill in holes of Rosuto-Shima.

Lucus Palosaari, Editor & Project Manager at Fat Goblin Games (Like us on Facebook!)

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