First off, I want to apologize to all the Darkness Rising players. I've come to the conclusion that I won't be running that game again. First, the complexity of the game grew beyond what I could reasonably handle easily. More importantly, a few players were dominating the game while others passively watched. The complexity I could manage through effort and automation, but the 2nd issue - player involvement & thus investment - sapped the majority of enthusiasm I needed to keep it going. That's not the fault of any of the players involved - it's entirely the fault of the rules & structure of the game itself.
Role-playing, in my mind, should be available to all, but not required of anyone, and all players should be able to contribute equally.
That said, I'm starting to get the urge to run another game - an entirely new game, in the style of LTDave's Marbit Island series. (Yes, once again, I freely admit to copying LTDave's ideas, but in my defense, he's run so many types of games that would be almost impossible not to - he's a font of creativity.) I also want to borrow from BLAND's Disciples of Erfworld a bit - I really liked the simple class trees. And, as a fan of Dwarf Fortress and other construction/ survival games, I want to include aspects of that as well. (Yes, I know - it already sounds quite complicated. Bear with me.
The basic idea (for those unfamiliar and/or too lazy to look up the Marbit Island posts) is that you start in a zone, and must explore the environment. Each zone is triangular, and has one or more grids (typically 1 to 3 4x4 grids). Zones are thus bordered by between 1 and 3 other zones. Each grid, if it isn't empty, has a basic resource on it - plants for eating, creatures for hunting, wood for chopping, stone for mining, etc. Players (who have the appropriate skill) will be able to build structures on grids as well; either by using an empty grid, or by clearing space on a resource grid. Each player will automatically eat if food is available, and can then spend 4 actions each turn. (I'll probably roll for initiative to see who goes first, if order matters, so that it doesn't matter who posts first.) Each player must end their turn on an empty space on one of the grids, usually determined by what the player made or harvested that turn.
Fog of war applies - you don't know what's in a zone unless you've got eyes on it. Towers and farseeing will let you view neighboring zones, and the benefits of towers and farseeing stack.
Each player can select 2 skill trees from the following list. Each tree (except Specialist - see below) unlocks 2 upgrades, of which the player can select one. With the exception of Specialist, you can chose any combination from the list - warrior/mystic for a battle-cleric, scout/stonemason for sneaky demolitionist, etc. You cannot, however, choose the same skill tree twice. (Specialist does sort of let you do this for civilian trees, though.)
Here's the skill trees I've got so far:
Warrior : Melee type that gets bonuses to offense and defense, and can wear metal armor without penalty; unlocks Dervish (2-weapon style) or Soldier (shield / bodyguard style) trees
Mystic : Wizardly type that can calm, stun, and shoot bolts; unlocks Enlightened (healer) or Sorcerer (dark magic) trees
Hunter : Analyze enemy, avoid melee attacks; unlocks Archer (multiple ranged attacks) or Crossbowman (heavy ranged attacks) trees
Scout : Can forage, hide, gain additional action; unlocks Ninja (poison/backstab) or Farstrider (farseeing/teleport) treesCivilian Trees
Farmer : Better at gathering food & tending plants, and can plant crops; unlocks Chef (crafting meals) or Brewer (crafting brews)
Miner : Better at gathering stone, and can gather Ore and Gems; unlocks Stonecaller (create new stone nodes) or Gemweaver (craft jewelry and gemstaves)
Metallurgist : Create iron / steel bars needed for metal items; unlocks Weaponsmith (craft metal weapons) or Armorer (craft metal armor)
Stonemason : Create structures (workshops, furnaces, forges); unlocks Architect (advanced structures) or Demolitionist (grenades and siege weapons)
Forester: Better at gathering wood, crafts wood items and plants trees; unlocks Herbalist (build plant-based structures) or Shepherd (tend / train animals)
Leatherworker : Can gather and craft leather items; unlocks Skinrider (disguise and defense) or Bonecrafter (bone items/ armor/ golems)
Specialist : Must be paired with another Civilian Tree. When that tree levels, Specialist levels as well. Gains additional actions, and allows player to take both upgrade trees for that civilian tree. Example: Farmer/Specialist can take both Chef and Brewer when they become available.
A few additional notes:
Players don't gain experience. In order to advance in your skill tree, you'll need to meet the requirements. For martial trees, this might be training and / or killing. For civilian trees, you'll probably just need to practice your craft.
Items that you make are yours as long as you are in the same region as they are, and other players cannot take them without your permission. This includes food that you harvest. (Food that comes from killing a creature belongs to every player that aided in killing the it.) If you leave an item in a zone, it becomes fair game.
Crossing a zone requires 2 actions. Unless you have the appropriate skill, gathering food requires 3 actions, wood takes 4, stone takes 8, and leather, ore and gems cannot be harvested at all.
New players will be able to join at any time, but will start at the base of their skill trees, as will players who die. The 'spawn point' is your home base, and players can only spawn if you control that zone. If you don't control that zone, and all players die, the game ends. The game will also have a victory condition, but that will not be revealed at the start.
Character Equipment Slots: Head, Torso, Legs, R. Hand, L. Hand, Ring, Necklace
Character Stats: Offense, Defense, Hits, Actions
Unlike Darkness Rising, the exact mechanics of combat will not be published. I intend to make combat more lethal.
Keep in mind that some skill sets might not be optimal - they could leave you with nothing to do earlier or later in the game (such as Metallurgist / Specialist - once everyone has weapons and armor, this skill tree combo doesn't have much left to do, and if you don't have miners feeding you lots of ore, you'll have a lot of wasted actions). Others might be optimal but boring - a specialist Farmer / Chef / Brewer might be really handy, but ends up doing the same thing every turn.
Post here if you're interested, and let me know if you've got any additional questions.