Binding World Update #3: Playtesting Bloodbinder and Medium

I recently finished two one-shot sessions of Dungeon World where I playtested the Bloodbinder and the Medium compendium classes from Binding World, my upcoming DW supplement.

Using the software I wrote about in my previous post, I did up some quick character sheets before the first session. I had one player playing a Fighter/Bloodbinder named Astro and another was playing a Thief/Medium named Bren. The first sheets I printed off were purely functional, with the absolute minimum being done for design. Here were the first versions:

First versions of the Bloodbinder and Medium sheets.

Notes on the Medium

After the first session I asked the player behind Bren, the Medium, what she thought of the compendium class. She had rolled Seance once at the start of the session and became possessed by the Charmer spirit with 3 parity points to spend. During the session she spent all 3 on the boon to get NPCs to like them a little bit. Here were the notes I wrote down after asking for feedback:

She liked it

Always a nice thing to hear.

She liked the “tell” idea

The other player suggested having a physical tell when the Medium was inhabited by a spirit. Bren’s eyes glowed yellow when he was inhabitted by a spirit. It’s a cool bit of fiction I’d like to incorporate, if not into the move directly then into the notes that come with the supplement.

Wasn’t sure how long the charming effect lasted

This was related the boon giving by the Charmer spirit type, which says that NPCs will “take a shine to you” when you spend 1 parity. This note came about because Bren charmed a bad guy for a bit, but he attacked her anyway. I intentionally left the move text vague and I don’t think I’ll change it, it gives the GM more freedom.

Want to channel specific sprits in the story
Maybe create another move for conversing, not inhabiting

In the early stages of the session it was established that an evil lord used to live in Castle Death but he died long ago. My player wanted Bren to be able to channel that specific spirit for story purposes. My idea for Medium is for you to have a cast spirits that is fleshed out as you play, and I’ll probably keep that as is. This means you can’t channel new spirits with the Seance move, but there’s still an interesting idea of being able to talk to spirits.

I might incorporate existing Dungeon World text – such as Contact Spirits, Heirloom, or Speak With Dead – as advanced moves of the Medium.

Notes on the Bloodbinder

Astro, the Fighter/Bloodbinder character, was played in two sessions, and the Bloodbinder underwent some beneficial changes between the first and second. Here are the notes I had across both sessions:

Not much to do
Better to have one big thing

This was in reference to the two main moves both you and your bloodbound have. These allow you to roll with each other’s stat modifiers, and transfer damage taken from one person to the other.

These sounded cool when I wrote them but in practice weren’t that awesome. Their effects were too minor.

Easy to forget your moves

This is probably related to the first note. I had to remind the players that they had the option of taking damage for each other or rolling with each other’s stat modifiers. I probably shouldn’t have as it messes with the testing, but with cooler moves I think it won’t be needed anyway.

Maybe give health instead of take damage

The Blood Bulwark move allows you to absorb damage from an attack for your bloodbound. One of the other players suggested being able to give your hitpoints to your bloodbound instead of taking the damage for them. I think I’ll playtest a move with this later on, and have it require a roll.

Changes to the Bloodbinder

Based on the notes taken and discussion with the player I made the following changes to the Bloodbinder:

Changed Shared Instinct

Here was the first version of the move:

When rolling a move you may choose to use your bloodbound’s stat modifier instead of your own. On a 6-, in addition to whatever else happens as a result of the move, your bloodbound takes -1 forward to the stat used.

Here is the second version:

You and your bloodbound are able to share a small part of your intuitions and reflexes. After your bloodbound has rolled a move, you may let them add your stat modifier instead of theirs. Transferring this impulse is strenuous, you take -1 forward.

I made the move happen after the roll, which is much more powerful as it allows you to turn 6s into 7s and 9s into 10s. Because of that I made the -1 forward a guarantee. I’m contemplating making it -1 ongoing until you catch your breath.

I also added the first sentence of flavor text which I think makes everything a bit cooler.

Changes to Blood Bulwark

First version:

When your bloodbound takes damage after armor you can opt to take up to your level in damage for them, ignoring armor.

Second version:

When you feel your bloodbound’s fresh pain through your link you may opt to take the damage they just sustained for them, ignoring armor.

I changed the trigger to highlight the bond between you and your bloodbound to make it cooler. I also removed the limiter on the amount of damage you can transfer and instead made it just the whole damage of the attack. At lower levels taking 1 or 2 damage from an attack rarely seemed impactful, and the math didn’t really add much more fun.

Here are the two versions of the Bloodbinder character sheet with the first version on the left.

First and second versions of the Bloodbinder sheet.

My next sessions will probably deal with these two classes, then I’ll move onto testing the Helltamer.

New RPG Parser Structure

In the past I’ve written a tiny bit about my RPG Parser software that I use to store game data and insert it into templates and pages. I’ve recently rewritten it while I was working on playtesting character sheets for the compendium classes in Binding World.

The new RPG Parser code works in two parts: Data and Pages.

Whiteboarding the flow.

The Data Parser

Data takes all of the individual JS and Markdown files – each representing something in the game like a move, class, or tag – and puts them into a single gameData object that is saved as JSON.

Here’s the early stages of the file structure of the game data:

Folder structure of game data. Not complete.
Folder structure of game data. Not complete.

The file and folder structure is what determines where the data goes in the gameData object that the parser creates. All the information in game_data/classes/bloodbinder/index.js will be put into gameData.classes.bloodbinder. The .moves folder will ignore the folder they are in and go directly into gameData.moves 

Here’s the contents of the bloodbinder/index.js file:

The starting_moves and advanced_moves lists are all references to moves. The move data isn’t stored directly in the classes, but they are replaced with the full move data during the parsing stage so I can reference classes.bloodbinder.starting_moves[0].name to get the name of the first starting move.

The move files are done as markdown files for easy readability. When the parser encounters a markdown file instead of a JavaScript file it takes the first line as the name attribute and takes everything else as the description attribute. Later I’ll be added support for bold and italic text in the markdown.

The Pages Parser

The Pages parser takes XML documents that reference the game data with tags, inserts the real values, and exports them into multiple formats for InDesign, websites, GitHub, etc. The Parser uses the Mustache templating engine. I have a script for each output and am starting with the InDesign one. Here’s a sample page I’m working with:

A Pages XML file ready to be parsed into a usable InDesign file.

This file is put through the Pages InDesign parser and gives me this:

The output of the Pages parser with all the game data inserted.

What’s Next

Next I’ll be working on some basic InDesign printable sheets for the compendium classes of Binding World using these two parsers. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some playtesting with them soon. More upgrades will come to the software along the way.