Monday, December 09, 2013

Elthos Imagination Machine

As some of you know I've been working on the Elthos Project for quite a long time now.  A really good long time.  It's been great.  I'm finally at the point now where I feel comfortable opening up the system to a wider audience than my few play testers.   Having done a bit of poking around I'm leaning towards "The Elthos Imagination Machine" as a working title for the system.  The Elthos RPG is located at in case you care to take a preemptive peek at the thing.   Don't be shy. 

Anyway, for those who have a kind of geeky interest in the history and intention of the thing here's a quick chronology of my progress thus far with the project:

1978 Created Elthos Prime Rules based on OD&D
1994 Began programming the Elthos Prime Rules in QBasic & Visual Basic
1995 Professional Gamesmastering (Elthos RPG at local Community Center) (made $600 in 6 weeks!)
1996 Joined International Game Developers Association (wrote articles on RPGing for their Magazine)
1997 Began working as a programmer / analyst and working on Elthos as my nighttime hobby-job
2000 Finished the Elthos Prime application in Visual Basic.
2004 Professional Gamesmastering - Hamfest - Weasel King Campaign (made $1360 in 12 weeks!)
2006 Founded the Literary Role Playing Game Society (LRPGSW)
2007 Created the Elthos One Die System (ODS) to run mini-games for the LRPGSW
2008 Completed PDF
2009 Completed Elthos RPG Web Application V1.0 in ASP.Net - Closed Beta
2009 Game Testing - Hamfest - The Rescue of Lord Beltane Campaign  - Revisions to 1.2
2010 Game Testing - Hamfest - The Bellowick Campaign - Revisions to 1.3
2011 Game Testing - Hobbington - The Hagglesmith Campaign - Revisions to 1.4
2012 Game Testing - Hobbington - The Dragon Stone Campaign - Revisions to 1.5
2013 Completed Elthos ODS RPG Web Application - Prepping for Open Beta in 2014
2013 Completed work as a Programmer / Analyst and switched to Business Mode for Elthos.

OK... I'm a slow poke... don't rush me.  It's been a lot of fun though, actually.  And a great learning experience.  In fact I built my programming career around working on this game system.  At this point both the rules and the web application are stable.   I'm pretty excited about it.  I'm going to open the system up for general beta testing in 2014, and will be publishing the related materials at the same time.  I hope people will find it both enjoyable and useful for managing their RPG Worlds.

The ODS is a rules light system that adheres to the traditional OD&D tropes.  Sure I know a lot of people have moved on from that and are using all kinds of fancy newfangled RPG innovations, and that a lot of folks are looking for alternative mechanics.  There's lots and lots of RPGs with innovative mechanics, most notably among the Indie Revolution which I believe is still going strong.

Elthos, however, has gone the other way.  Its intention has been to clarify, simplify and consolidate the traditional system and make it a cleaner, easier system to run.   I've always been fond of the traditional take on the game, and still am.  I like Levels, Hit Points, Classes and stuff.   It works for me both as a player and as a Gamesmaster.  I also am lead to believe that it also continues to work for many other people and is the foundation of what I think is being called the Retro Movement..., and so my hope is that in it's own Retro way, Elthos will appeal to people who are looking for a traditional light weight system.  One that comes with Substantial Computer Support.   Not just a little bit, either.

The Elthos ODS Web Application's most generally useful features will probably be found in the World Weaver's Development Studio.  It allows Gamemasters to create their own worlds, by importing a default world with a selection of default fantasy genre items (weapons, armors, equipment, classes, etc).  They can also elect to create a "Minimalist World" which only has one item in each category as an example, and from there the GM can create whatever their hearts desire.  Everything created ties into the systems calculation engine so that everything the GM creates for their worlds integrates smoothly.   The nice thing about the World Weaver's Development Studio is that it stores everything about people's Worlds online where you can get at it from anywhere, and not lose stuff over time ... which always used to happen to me.   Where did those notebooks go to?   Bah.   Not anymore.  :)

The other side of the coin is the Gamesmaster's Toolbox that allows Players to manage their Characters online, and lets the Gamesmaster run all kinds of functions that are helpful during the course of a game.  The Toolbox rolls characters, or randomly generates adventure groups.  It allows Players to interact with their Characters online to select their skills and powers when they go up in Levels, and manage their Character's description, history, and equipment.

Between the two sides of the coin, and I'm only giving a light weight description here, it's about as comprehensive a system as I've seen out there so far.  Of course it fills it's own niche so it doesn't do things that other systems such as Roll20 do, though Elthos could be used in conjunction with those other systems on the back end, so to say.  That's how I intend to use it myself.   I think it will be ideal for use with Google Hangouts and Roll20, actually.  I'm planning to try that out soon.

Anyway, the upshot is, lots of progress has been made, and I'm now ready, finally, to go to Phase II of the project.  And that involves opening it up to the public for use and feedback.   When it goes Open Beta I will make an announcement on this blog.

So at this point I want to say ... Many many many thanks to all of the people who have play tested, and helped me with the rules system and programming along the way!   Thank you!!!
"Festina lente."
- Augustus Caesar