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Appendix I : Designers Notes


First edition copyright ©1992 Chris M. Bateman.
Second edition copyright ©1993 Chris M. Bateman.
Third edition copyright ©1999 Chris M. Bateman.

Produced by Discordia Incorporated. Avatar is the official role playing game of the Manchester University Almost Not the Dungeons & Dragons Society. First and second edition print run part financed by the Manchester University Almost Not the Dungeons and Dragons Society. Avatar is another Mad Chris Production.

Credits (Second Edition)

I'd like to offer special thanks to Boon, Brian, James, Nick and Rob whose enthusiasm kept me going throughout this task, and to Neil whose enthusiasm in the past has kept me pursuing all my ill-fated role-playing game projects. Without you, this would never have come to pass.

Credits (Third Edition)

This HTML edition of Avatar has stuck fairly faithfully to the second printed edition. Where there are differences, it is either because of HTML restrictions, or I pulled editorial rank.

As usual, if you notice any problems/mistakes etc., please bring them to my attention. Email me @ neilbundy@i.am.

Designers Notes

It was Sandy Peterson, famous for his work on Call of Cthulhu, who pointed out the astounding lack of designers notes amongst role-playing games. Sandy noted that War games almost always included a section on the origins of the various rules and conventions, and commented that role-playing games were attempting to uphold the myth that they `spring full grown from their designers' heads, like Athena from Zeus'.

As a tribute to Sandy, here are the designers notes for Avatar, which may even go part way to explain Why so few RPG's include their origins...

Begrudgingly, I accredit the concept of role-playing games to Dungeons and Dragons. Can't really get around that one, can I.

The name Avatar was chosen because the author liked it, and also, because of the relationship between Twilight and Shadow, each person really is an avatar of themselves.

The Right-wing Fascist Religious Crusader (or RFRC - pronounced 'roofrack') Table was removed after some discussion. My apologies to everyone who wanted this particular piece of cynicism left in, but it really had to go. Rest assured, the RFRCs will continue to attempt to abolish everything they don't approve of.

Different dice for attributes was pioneered by Runequest, but to the best of my knowledge the Ranked system is original. The Affinity ideas are original, although the characterisation of demeanour owes a little to Albedo and has some parallels with Pendragon, although neither apply demeanour to skills.

The skills system owes a debt to Cyberpunk and Star Wars, but here we have made a slightly less draconian dependence on attributes for ability. The skill descriptions were poached from Outlands 4th Edition (the author's project prior to Avatar). The idea of using attributes to determine how well a skill develops, rather than to control it's current level, is from Albedo, but the Skill table is original in form and execution.

The Duellist combat system is not totally unlike Runequest or Stormbringer, but here we have moved away from percentiles for resolution.

Damage, Fate Points and Development packages are taken straight from Outlands 4th Edition. First edition Outlands was inspired by Traveller but little or nothing has migrated from Traveller into Avatar.

The weapons table was developed from Stormbringer, Palladium and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, with a certain degree of reference to historical sources used to iron out the many inconsistencies and contradictions. Originally, the long sword was used as the description for what is now the claymore. I do not like the use of the term long sword to describe a weapon the same length as a broadsword, but with a tapered point, but there were enough complaints in the play testing to justify the change. However, I hereby curse everyone who wields a long sword. Every Heroic Fumble you suffer is all my fault.

The armour rules are original, although the concept of an armour `save' might be perceived to have originated in Warhammer or Stormbringer. The armours listed are culled from historical sources, and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition.

The Heroic Fumble table contains a bit of everything, but was influenced by the fumble table from Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams.

The idea of non-restrictive magic rules is not peculiar to any one system. The concept of magical backlash was inspired by a discussion with James Rufus, and developed from there. The binding rules are very faintly reminiscent of Stormbringer and I would not deny that they were, in part at least, inspired by it. Since Stormbringer was inspired by Michael Moorcock's Elric, I gleefully acknowledge Moorcock in this and other aspects of the game.

First aid and healing are from Outlands, with the values used in the travel rules extrapolated from those in Stormbringer and modified by personal experience and opinion. The sailing rules are based entirely on the Stormbringer rules in White Wolf, although greatly simplified.

The equipment lists are constructed from the author's conception of what might be required, with the Palladium and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons lists being used for cross-referencing prices (which are, in fact, totally inconsistent in both games). The equipment cards concept was first suggested in Albedo.

The term `non-volitional' is borrowed from Walter Jon Williams' Angel Station, which is worth mentioning since it's a good read. Williams also directly inspired Outlands 4th Edition, and hence (indirectly) this work as well.

The term `theomancy' is a natural conjugation of `theo-' (from the Greek `theos') meaning god, or gods, and `-mancy' (from the Greek `manteia') meaning divination by. The construction of new words by combination dates back to at least the Greeks and the Romans.

Everything else is probably original, although it's really hard to be sure. The term `At the GM's discretion', which appears so often throughout the rules, is an RPG cliche which can never appear often enough.

If you have any comments, suggestions, improvements, problems or queries regarding Avatar, send them to:
Mad Chris or Neil Bundy.

All Hail Discordia!
Mad Chris.
Monday 6th July 1992, Friday 26th March 1993.

Neil Bundy.
Thursday 18th March 1999.

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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999