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Game Design
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GM Startup Guide
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Weave: The Threads of Reality
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Jachin Akhenaton: Epic Death in Two Sessions
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DF Let's Play - Episode One
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Razamon, Barbarian of the North
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[#] Simple10: Simply Bad Game Design
09:27pm EDT - 4/21/2016

Today it's time to bully badly-designed "indie" RPG's.


But unlike Hc Svnt Dracones, at least Simple10 seems to be freely distributed rather than something the creators are charging money for.

There's also art, which varies between "bad" and "bland." Mostly it seems to be an RPG designed by someone who's never actually played or read another RPG, despite the foreword describing the creators as "veterans," and somehow this 82-page .PDF(60~ pages of which are just class abilities) took "years" to make.

The Basic Rules

I'm going to sort all of the rules first, which is counter to the game's organization. For some reason they decided it was a great idea to list the races and classes for some 60 pages before really explaining what any of their abilities and modifiers do. The one thing the game does manage to deliver, at any rate, is that it's simple. You roll a d10 vs a TN, if you roll over, you succeed. A 10 is always a success, and a 1 is always a failure. The basic TN is 6, which means that you're going to have great fun fucking up every other time you try to do something, unless the GM decides to give you a nicer average TN.

The formatting and editing are also terrible, I'll note, but I can give that a pass for a project that has no formal editor(though the constant ass-backwards wordings and typographical errors, combined with the generally awful font choices, makes me wonder what the three people on "layout" were doing).

Let's move on to combat, because the bad combat rules are basically why I wanted to review this thing in the first place. At first glance, combat is so basic as to be inoffensive, you trade blows, costing each other "Hits," until someone reaches zero "Hits," at which point they're "Helpless," and lie around losing "Wounds"(when attacked or just over time), while trying to recover. If they reach 1 "Wound," they're out of the battle(or, if someone walks over and finishes them off, dead, losing the last wound can only happen if someone else attacks you to finish you off.). If you recover, or if someone else helps you recover, you default to being restored to full "Hits."

Then you look up how to attack enemies and how to be attacked by them, and it all goes to shit.

The difficulty of hitting an enemy defaults to 6, as usual, if you're of the same "tier."(a stand-in for "level"). For every step you're above them, the TN to hit drops by one, for every level they're above you, the TN rises by one. The higher you roll, the more damage you do. Here's the example damage table against an enemy of the same level.

Simple10 posted:

R O L L 6: 1 damage
R O L L 7: 2 damage
R O L L 8: 3 damage
R O L L 9: 4 damage
R O L L 1 0+: 5 damage

If only the rest of it was as straight-forward and sensible.

Simple10 posted:

Enemies rarely roll on their own. They are instead assumed to roll the opposite of what the attacking player rolled. Enemies that nobody attacked deal 1 Hit to a random player at the end of the turn each.

But wait, what's the OPPOSITE of a roll? Is the opposite of a 10 a 1? The opposite of a 9 a 2? Or is it a -9? Dice rolls don't have opposites. Besides, enemies don't need to roll anything to attack players, because check out what happens if you roll under your TN, here's the table for, again, an enemy of equal "tier."

Simple10 posted:

R O L L 5: 1 Hit lost
R O L L 4: 2 Hits lost.
R O L L 3: 3 Hits lost.
R O L L 2: 4 Hits lost.
R O L L 1: Instantly helpless

The "logic" is that whenever you miss with a "combat action," your opponent "counterattacks." This also means that 10% of the time, your character is going to attack, fall on his face and be unconscious in the mud. However, that may be the safest place to be, after all, enemies don't roll to attack, and it specifically says that they do 1 "Hit" of damage when not attacked themselves. When you're Helpless you no longer have Hits, you only have Wounds. By the rules as worded, anyone on their face in the mud, bleeding out, is immune to mooks damaging them(it might seem logical that extra "Hits" would spill over into "Wounds," but again, this isn't stated anywhere.).

"But obviously, Purple," you're thinking, "These rules only apply to evenly matched opponents, where there's a chance of an attack instantly being met by being knocked on your ass!"

Ha ha, no.

When your tier rises, that's true, the TN falls. But, here's the thing, and they spell this out explicitly in the PDF:

By the rules as explicitly spelled out, you will always have a 10% chance of KO'ing yourself with any "combat action," which is a delightfully vague term that could probably be stretched to include most skill use and, for instance, firing a bow at someone. It doesn't matter who or what you are, as long as you're not a generic enemy who's denied his roll to attack(and, frankly, it's probably safer not to be rolling at all), every tenth attack will knock you out(or every 5th, if you're using a two-handed weapon, which critfails on a 2 as well as a 1).

Art Interlude

So who wants to look at some art before we move on to the badly-written class abilities?

Because, hopping back to the start of chargen, there are also races! Because you can't have a fantasy RPG without races.

You can play as an anime human and, as per usual for humans in RPG's, have a tiny bonus in some edge cases.

You can play as an anime elemental, and, somehow, have even less noteworthy abilities. You get "telekinesis," but literally no thoughts on how it might interact with mechanics at all(also note that at the top of the page it says that Simple10 is in "4th edition," I can't tell if it's a joke or if it literally took them four editions just to get this far. What was 1st edition? A coin flip?).

You can be a furry, with the ability to eat anything, and being agile. Each race also has noted alternate races it could function as, retaining the same racial ability, in this case it suggests that the "Capra" could also be replaced with catfolk or elves. This amuses me since it'd also mean that elves would retain the ability to eat non-food items, crunching up old cans for lunch.

You can be a second kind of fursona, granting you permanent flight. Amusingly enough, shooting at enemies from the sky with a bow would still subject you to the 10% chance of KO'ing yourself with every attack, so it, in an entirely unintentional way, doesn't quite break the game.

No real hiding it, like half of the race options are various animal people. Considering how mechanically minor the differences between them are(it literally comes up to a +1 in most cases, if even that in some of them), I wonder why they didn't just throw them up as a "pick one and make up a fitting race"-list.

Not really sure why rock elementals should have tits. Probably have the only really "powerful" ability, because they have a 50% chance of ignoring anything that makes them Helpless, once every four rounds of combat, leaving them at 1 Hit instead.

You can be sketchy insect people with an HP bonus.

Or you can be shoggoths who are immune to mind control, probably the dullest extradimensional terrors ever.

Bad Class Abilities

Obviously, I'm not going to list out every ability, but I'm going to point out that they're almost all badly written. Even the ones that are mechanically non-confusing, are littered with vague terms like "nearby," which seem like a great way to get into an argument with the GM for half an hour about what "nearby" includes. Is it within arm's reach? Everyone in the room? More? Less? Or "Inspire," which has the non-combat use of letting you play music, though the actual mechanical effects or rewards of doing this is entirely up to the GM... which seems like exactly what would happen if any PC said "I pick up a lute and play a cool song." Some are just thoroughly pointless:

Con Artist posted:

On success, whatever you say, no one thinks you are trying to deceive them. Characters with evidence or knowledge contrary to your claim may disprove you. Outlandish or ridiculous statements can be seen through. This skill also applies to forgery of evidence and documents.

For the cost of a third of your starting skill points, you get to lie as well as just about anyone else, which is to say that generally people won't assume you're lying unless what you're saying is absurd or there's proof to the opposite! The only niche use of this skill, as written, is in case you're dealing with someone who doesn't trust you and would suspect you of being a deceitful liar no matter what you said.

Terrify posted:

Scary stories are the oldest kind of stories. 8+ renders a group of targets helpless.

So how much is a "group"? Can I knock out an entire crowd of people? Is this affected by tiers? Also at chargen you get to pick one skill you have a +2 to using. This means it's possible to start out with the ability to instantly knock out a "group" of enemies of equal level, 50% of the time.

There are also constant references to having "minions" or "pets," but no actual mechanics for them beyond skills affecting how many you can have. It never says anywhere what "tier" they act at, whether they have skills and classes of their own, etc.

Mend posted:

Don’t be such a baby, ribs grow back. A target regenerates grievous injuries such as lost extremities, damaged vital organs and internal bleeding. Cannot be used in combat, nor restore hits or wounds.

This would be great if there were actually any mechanics for losing limbs or breaking bones. There aren't! So this skill is only useful by GM fiat, since it doesn't actually interact with any mechanics. You get the option to reverse it, which sounds kind of cool and horrifying... except that it doesn't actually heal any damage, so presumably the reverse wouldn't actually cause any damage. So I guess you get to make people's bones snap and splinter, their organs pop out and their limbs fall off... but somehow it doesn't actually hurt them or make them any easier to fight.

Healing Hammer posted:

Mercy and fury are but two hands holding the same weapon. Can direct your other action at an ally, healing them for as much as it would have damaged a foe, or damaging them on a failure.

What "other action"? This skill doesn't grant a second action, and players only have one action per round. Do they mean we get two actions, and the first hurts an enemy, then the second heals an ally for as much as we hurt the enemy? Or do we get one action that heals instead of hurting, but the phrasing is terrible? They should have just named this "Simple Ways To Argue With The GM For 10 Hours." Though I guess it doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely as Simple10.

There's also a skill, "Inure," that gives immunity to a "damage type," but nowhere does it say what the game's damage types are. "Target is immune to a specific damage type (fire, ice, poison, possessed etc) for a short time." How long is a "short time"? Is it enough to dash through a wall of fire, or enough to run across a volcano's caldera? What even counts as a "type" of damage? Swords? Is "sword" a damage? Or "sharp"? Who even fucking knows with this stupid game.

They also clearly didn't even notice how breakable their game is. The "Knight" class gets an ability that means the first action they take in combat always rolls the minimum needed to succeed. You can combine classes. What if you make a Knight/Bard who uses his "Terrify" on the first round of combat, knocking out a "group" of enemies? Congratulations, every combat encounter in the game is now over before it even has a chance to start.

Hat Magic posted:

You can pull off amazing tricks out of your hat. Conjure anything small enough to fit through the hat out of it, regardless of length. Difficulty Tier depends on the item Pulling out a generic object (e.g.: bouquet of flowers) is equal to the caster, +2 tiers to pull out a specific object (e.g.: the key to this exact door), +4 tiers to pull out an object wider than the hat. Rolling too soon for the same object after failing will cause failure regardless of roll because the universe catches wise to your tricks. Enchanted items can’t be pulled out.

But why would I WANT something specific? If I can pull out anything small enough to pull out of a hat, and my hat is large enough... a door? Sure, lemme just get out a cutting torch to burn through the lock. An enemy encounter? Sure, let me just pull out a few chunks of refined uranium and a beryllium sphere. I mean, there isn't even any limit to length, I could just pull out an unending rod of pure gold until any given opponent goes: "I'll take that as payment for fucking off."

And so on. There isn't a single class in this "game" that doesn't have at least one skill that isn't incomprehensible, broken or has a completely broken interaction with another skill. The creators of this game should feel bad for having made it.
The short version: This is what happens when you make a game without first having played/read other games and learned from them, or if you think you're smart enough to reinvent the wheel without fucking up the same way everyone else did at first.


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