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Focus on the best part
06-02-2021 by Coen
Late Legends is a hobby project. Most of the time spend with it is done playing or hosting a campaign. During these, I always take notes on what to improve in Late Legends. I do not update full systems during a campaign because it is such a big hassle and does not fit in narratively. But once in a while, things do change and systems get altered.
Tweaks of impact
Some changes we wanted to add affected the whole game and turn out to be a lot of work. Here are some examples:
- Adding Bonus shield as a battle stat resulted in lots of balance tweaks for all the skills that already granted a shield.
- Adding Bonus true damage as a battle stat results in rethinking the alternate damage source that is true damage.
- Critical strikes were too frequent, so by scaling the Critical chance down and increasing the base Critical bonus they became rarer and more impactful.
- Making dodge requires two reactions and block one reaction, resulting in dodge being an all or nothing chance and blocking more of an enduring one.
All good changes, but it it all clicked with another change…
The largest part of Late Legends is easily the class system. It was so fun to create, balance, and test new classes over and over again, that we keep ending up with 20+ unique classes. A neverending loop of an idea, balance, and play. Together with the cooldown system, it was already straightforward to build a legend. Since cooldowns are universal, you could make any selection of skills and it would still work. So a common skill like Charge of the Slayer followed by a rare skill from Lightrunner’s like Light’s rush is something that should be able to work, but Late Legends never really allowed for combined builds. Since a group already combined 4+ classes when playing their dedicated classes, it seemed overkill to include this feature. But as my time as a player instead of a narrator, I knew that playing just one class can get a bit boring.
Why just one class is boring
- At the first levels it is quite cool, you get the skills you want, hurray. But later on, the skills you did not prioritize are everything that is left. “Level up!”, great, now I receive a skill that I did not want in the first place…
- In the campaign, an event can happen that alters the perspective of a legend. If my Legend saw a way to cool Fire magician, wouldn’t it be neat that the Legend could invest the following points in the Pyromancer class? “Well too bad you’re already a Slayer, gotta stick with it!”
So why not mix all this, making it so cohesive as possible!
Immediate changes that needed to happen
- Able to still focus on 1 class, with the option to branch out to 2 different ones, at any time.
- All skills cost 1 point and at every level you at least get 1 point to learn a new skill. It is up to the player to build a jack-of-all-trades or a true master of one playstyle.
- Restrictions had to be in place to incentivize a little bit of investment in the class before learning rare, epic, and ultimate skills.
Additional effect of multiclass
Nobody wants to sit at a table juggling around 3 class sheets with just a handful of skills. There had to be a more convenient way. I began building the Class picker. On this page, a player could select skills from three different classes. With a useful ‘play view’, the page would filter out all the unimportant stuff, focussing on the usable skills. On top of this, I added battle stats to the page. Stuff like: “(Power + 13)” will be replaced by the actual value the player entered. With this change, players were less likely to fixate on individual stat boosts and it removed annoying calculation time. A change that seemed impossible because of printing sheets turned into an opportunity to automize an annoying part while highlighting the best.
No more the one-man show
23-11-2017 by Coen
While working on Late Legends, I realized that a system ready for role-playing has to include a lot of things. If I want to ever develop a cohesive system with all these features, it would be a lot of work. Moreover, I have the never-ending desire to keep things easy to play, customizable and “balanced”. I say “balanced” because true balance is impossible (or really boring). The important thing is that the system allows different types of play, without having the players’ choices be influenced by an imbalance.
Late Legends was simply too big for me to develop on my own. Around the end of 2016, I had small discussions with the players of Late Legends on topics that I would like to address. I want to improve Late Legends to an expert level, but do not want to make large expenses. I want to keep Late Legends my own project, free of charge for everyone. In August of 2017, I made the decision to ask a select few of my friends to focus on a specific part of Late Legends. Some were experienced with table-top games, and some only starting to know Late Legends. This was striking a good balance since we could create, test and innovate with limited time. I dubbed the group: the Chiefs.
Creating the chiefs had two major advantages:
- I was able to take a step back from the development and focus on the bigger picture for Late Legends.
- I always had someone to discuss a certain topic with.
While I’m still the main man for everything Late Legends, I would like to introduce the Chiefs (updated 17-05-2020).
~ Jaimy, Chief of narrating
~ Martijn, Chief of Equipment
~ Kyou, Chief of Artwork
~ Censa, Chief of Classes
Nerfseals & Banhammers
To keep the development going, all chiefs try to join a weekly discussion web call, called Nerfseals. We also have special meetings where we take certain topics to discuss thoroughly, called Banhammers. Banhammer-sessions are also used for special one-shot stories or random test-plays.
Us at a typical Banhammer session.
Creating by playing
04-10-2017 by Coen
As a longtime Nintendo fanatic I adore a wide range of games. I could spend hours and hours in those digital worlds, but I always wonder what it was I liked so much about these games. Part of me liked the mechanics. Part of me like the magical worlds and music. The wide arrange of interest (and the pursuit of why I like it so much) is the biggest drive to start with Game Development. Why is something enjoyable? Why does the game work like that? Why do you forget the time while playing?
But why Late Legends?
Good Question! Before Late Legends was a thing, I’ve worked on an RPGmaker game, but never got past initial testing. Most of it because I wanted to create a game with a lot of systems not present in RPGmaker. I started scripting, trying to implement it, but in the end, I lost interest. At that time, I started on Late Legends because game development was fun and role-playing games came into my life. The funny thing is that, if you start from scratch you can create everything, and doubt everything. You can ask questions like:
- Why do I have spell uses?
- Why do I require to wait a day to use that spell?
- How can I ever carry that?
- Why do I learn new skills if I did not even use any?
- How do you learn new skills in the first place?!
- If I can do this in battle, what would happen if I use it elsewhere?
Needless to say, you can start to doubt every single thing in a table-top game. This process started and is yet to stop for me. I simply enjoy thinking about things this way. The passion for games is the same drive I experience when working on Late Legends. I have a background in design and web development, so it was only natural to create a website and designs for Late Legends. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first campaigns
Back in 2013, I started with a one-shot that was not perfect in concept and execution but left me with the motivation to do more. I started a long-running campaign and introduced new ideas along the way to experiment with. The new ideas were hit or miss, I kept everything that worked and tossed everything that did not work (trust me, I killed a lot of darlings in Late Legends).
The highly creative and messy way of development required the dedication of the group of players. The campaign ran weekly and included new ideas weekly. This was both enjoyable and frustrating for the players. On the one hand, it was easy to let them create their own Class and give feedback on ideas of Late Legends. On the other hand, they had a role-playing system as loose as wizards sleeve and had to fill in new sheets over and over again (Sorry!). The story was OK (I hope) with an overarching plot inspired by Final Fantasy and Bravely Default.
As a narrator, it was very demanding at times. The more I did it, the more I wanted to work on it. Every minute of free time went into Late Legends for a while, but I soon realized that was not the way to go (I was blind to a lot of mistakes). As the campaign progressed, my focus shifted away from the system and more towards the story itself. The system itself kept evolving though: New ideas ranged from stat calculations, magical items, level up rewards, class specifics (We still had mana back then and were looking for a way to include more interesting skill mechanics), out of battle specifics like jobs and items.
More players started playing Late Legends, and I also participated in a campaign as a Player. This was also a lot of fun and brought me into new insights (I would advise my future self to do this earlier). The first story finished around 2016. The group was left with fresh new ideas for the system. We started a new story, with new classes and new ideas. Late Legends kept growing, one campaign at a time. I kept this way of development until around Q3 2017, more on that next article.
How I started Late Legends
14-09-2017 by Coen
Hello and welcome to the Late Legends! This website is the source to get into Late Legends, an system for tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).
Firstly, I would like to explain how Late Legends, LL for short, came into existence. I am a big fan of tabletop roleplaying because of the flexibility and the originality it can bring. The first time I came into contact with tabletop roleplaying was when I started playing D&D 3.5. With this ‘system’ I started my roleplaying adventures. It was a huge bulk of info to get into, but a lot of fun to play. It is great to see how a character can develop in a story and vice versa. Once I gained some experience playing D&D, I started thinking of running my own session. During the process of becoming a Dungeon Master and World Building, I became a bit hindered by the current rulebook of D&D. A lot of times I had a new idea that was not included in D&D, or I simply lacked the interest to look it up. Some things were strange and overcomplicated in my opinion. This does not mean D&D is bad by any means, it just was not what I was looking for. Instead of surfing across the homebrew forums for D&D I decided to create my own table-top game in 2013. This game was later dubbed: Late Legends.
Another reason for developing Late Legends is my love for video games. It is just magical what some games can deliver in their narrating and rich battle systems. I realized that for me, this was one of the things D&D was lacking. While I understand the slow approach, I found D&D way to static in battle. Rather I would like to create a mix between strategy and luck which is fun, customizable and fast. I took a lot of ideas from video games since they fit the requirements perfectly. Games like Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Nest & Rappelz. I used bits and pieces to create a manageable health and cooldown system, a wide variety of equipment, and classes. I believe by combining all these elements Late Legends would come to a fresh and deep tabletop system.
Other systems, such as D&D, are not bad by any means. I like to try and see what Late Legends can offer. One of the hardest things during development is implementing new mechanics without making the system overcomplicated. With each new addition to Late Legends, it is challenging to balance stats, classes, and gear.
The more I worked on Late Legends, the more respect I got for the other systems out there because it is a lot of work. My aim for this book is to serve as a guide that motivates you to start playing Late Legends.
There was a lot of work to be done to create a whole system. For me, the best way to create was to play a story while continuing to expand and improve the system along the way. This turned out to be a lot of work but provided me with all the testing I needed to check if an idea had potential.
The adventure began!
I gathered a group of friends who were interested in the idea of playing a homebrew system. My approach for the system has not changed since the Halloween party, empower the players and let their choices affect the story. The name Late Legends was born: Late, since it felt like a step back to avoid computers and create a tabletop game, and Legends to give emphasis to the player characters.
My goal with Late Legends is to create an easy-to-use system that allows you to play interactive stories with a deep and exciting battle system. I took inspiration from RPG’s and other games, for example, The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. For me, both of these game series brought a lot of enjoyment in story and Battle Systems. The first story I ran began with role-playing and battle systems. I always required an Excel Sheet (managed by the narrator) to determine things like incoming damage. Since there were no classes yet, the players could create their own. Together with creating a story, I put a lot of time in creating and balancing the classes, together with the players. I also took some steps in designing sheets and along the way kept improving them. With a handful of classes and 30 unique skills, we were able to play a large part of the story.
As for most things in Late Legends, I created the sheets myself. The sheet I started on was the Legend Sheet, meant to track most common things of Late Legends for a Player. The example below was made in 2013, using mostly Photoshop. For the classes, we had a Google Sheets document for creating the class. I allowed my Players to create their class, though all the balancing was done by myself. Once I was satisfied with the state of the class I copied everything over to an Illustrator Template that I made for Late Legends.