Negotiation, and Language & Literacy | February Roundup

Published on 4 March 2024


Velkommen! I'm Jon de Nor and this is Goblin Points - a podcast covering MCDM, the MCDM community, and whatever else MCDM related.

December was massive with official news, January was full of people playing the game, while February has been somewhat quiet. This is not for the lack of progress, rather the opposite.


Patreon play test

James has worked his way through all of the feedback from the patron play test. It's been a massive task with over a thousand submissions. And now him and Matt are working hard on improving the RPG.

I feel it's once again important to reiterate that the feedback is used to gauge what people like and dislike, and what they struggle with in the current rules. The feedback will not determine what's in the game, but rather help what's in the game being better implemented.

James wrote a post on Patreon covering what they learned from the survey: what people liked, and some of the things that still need some work.

Both Matt and James said there's been made significant changes to the game which are currently going through testing, both internally, and with the contract testers. So far the changes have been well received.

Patrons are clamoring for another play test, but there won't be one for a little while yet. After the new changes, a lot of internal testing needs to take place before it's ready for the wider Patreon audience. James has reiterated this month that he hopes to have a play test for patrons every quarter, but that's a goal, and not a solid promise.


Negotiation is one of the things that have gotten a significant rework.

It's important to remember that Negotiation is not a system for talking to people, or asking for simple favors. Negotiations are for when the stakes are high, and the future of the adventure is shaped by the outcome. James summarized Negotiation quite well recently: "Negotiation is for when you want something from an NPC, and they're reluctant to give it to you, and the thing is big and important."

NPCs the heroes are negotiating with, still have an Interest score which indicates how willing the NPC is to give heroes what they want. The higher the Interest at the end of the Negotiation, the better the deal for the heroes. The counter balance is Patience which indicates how much longer the NPC is willing to negotiate with the heroes. When Patience runs out, Negotiation is over.

What has changed is the Motivations and the Pitfalls of the NPC. Previously these were statements of a couple of sentences which explained very specific topics which would immediately raise the NPCs Interest, in the case of Motivations; or immediately lower the NPCs Patience, in the case of Pitfalls.

The new system uses broad categories as Motivations and Pitfalls, instead of narrow statements:

A Motivation in the old system might have been "I want to avenge the murder of my son. The murderer, the Duke of Overthere, is my sworn enemy, and I will go far for the opportunity to kill him." While in the new system it would just be listed that Vengeance is a Motivation.

Pitfalls have evolved from being taboo subjects, to aversions. The NPC have certain attitudes or behaviors they dislike, and if the heroes display these behaviors during negotiations, the NPCs Patience lowers. Examples could be that the NPC dislikes being condescended to, or dislikes people being boastful.

There will most likely be a list of common Motivations and Pitfalls in the core rules. I assume they'll also be accompanied by a short explanation and hopefully a few examples.

In addition: the changes also makes more use of dice rolling than previously. Part of the previous design was that the heroes didn't roll any skill tests if they included Motivations or Pitfalls in their arguments. The new design makes the heroes roll more, and mimics in larger part how other social encounters are done.

There will also be more advice for the Director on how to make sure the players understand how good of an offer the NPC is making, and how to better indicate when there are better deals to be made - if the players play their cards right.


The explanation of the Negotiation system also prompted questions about alignment. James reiterated that the RPG won't include alignment, as it's known in Dungeons & Dragons, but that the Motivations & Pitfalls system will serve as an indicator for how the NPCs behave.

And as with alignment, Motivations and Pitfalls may change over time for an NPC. Once the noble has gotten revenge for their sons murder, they might be motivated by Greed, instead of Vengeance.

The 2d6 system

There has also been changes to the 2d6 system. Feedback from internal testers, and more recently Patreon testers, has been that the 2d6 system is a bit samey in the long run. Matt and James have been working on some significant changes, but they don't want to talk about it yet. It's in very early testing, but it's already showing a lot of promise.

The system is still based on d6s, but they way they apply the dice is apparently novel. James said he hasn't seen the dice being applied in this way before.

Boons and banes

Boons and Banes are also being tweaked. While it's fun for the players to stack multiple Boons on allies, and multiple Banes on enemies, it's a hassle to keep track of all the bonuses. They hope to figure out a good way to balance the fun and the bookkeeping.


They're also testing "analogue" conditions. Instead of having a condition or not having a condition, creatures have an amount of a condition: for example On Fire 10.

At the end of your turn you make a roll to combat the condition, and you subtract your roll from the condition's number. If you roll a seven, you subtract that from ten, and you're now On Fire 3. Allies can also help put you out, doing the same roll and subtracting the rolled score from your condition.

Matt also mentioned he likes the idea of fewer conditions in the game, but that conditions can have multiple effects. If you're On Fire 15, you're just taking damage, but if you're on fire above a threshold, say twenty, you also cannot use Triggered Actions, for example.

Language & literacy

Matt is hard at work on Language and Literacy. He wants the choice of which languages a hero knows to be significant. Which languages a hero knows is primarily determined by their upbringing.

Certain languages have evolved to become important within a certain community, trade or social group. If a hero knows the language being used in a community, they might get advantages when negotiating with NPCs, or they might have an easier time researching certain subjects.

Matt explained that the language spoken by the High-Elves, for example, is the language of diplomacy. If a hero knows the language, they can converse with diplomats and other high ranking officials in a common tongue. The language spoken by the Dwarves is the basis for a lot of engineering terms. If a hero knows that language, research into contraptions built by the engineering arts is quicker.

Heroes might also find instructions on how to build flying castles, but the art was only known by a people not present anymore. Their knowledge lives on in books though, but in their native language. If you want to research how to build flying castles, you'll first need to learn the language the books are written in, which adds time and complexity to the task.

The current thinking is that the core rules will include a list of living languages which are still being used by people, and a list of dead languages, only useful if you're doing research written in those languages.

Like real languages, the different languages are related to each other. If a hero and an NPC doesn't have a common language they both speak, they might know two languages which are closely related. By how languages naturally evolve, they might still be able to communicate in a rudimentary way, by speaking to each other in those related languages.

The lore of Orden includes an empire that spanned across large parts of the world. Everyone in the empire learned the empire's official language. Trading partners and others who interacted with the empire and it's inhabitants also learned the language. In current times, the empire is long dead, but the language survives as a common tongue among the many peoples of Orden. 60% of the people of Orden speak at least two languages, just like the real world, and for most the second language is the common tongue.

Crafting & research

As you might understand, Language & Literacy is closely related to Crafting & Research. While there are no rules for Crafting & Research yet. Here are some of the team's ideas of how it might work.

If you want to figure out how to make something, you'll have to do research. Each thing you want to research is assigned a number of research points you have to accumulate before you understand it.

A healing potion might be 30 research points, for example. Each time you rest, you make a roll to see how much progress you make. When you've earned enough research points to learn how to craft healing potions, you'll be able to make new ones at a set pace; one every ten days, for example.

Bigger things takes longer. The flying castle? 100,000 research points. But, if you find an old tome explaining part of the process of making a flying castle, the tome might grant you 10,000 research points.

But then, if you don't know the language the tome is written in, you'll have to research the language first. To be able to learn a language you'll need breakthroughs: moments when you make a discovery and make significant progress towards understanding the language. To earn a breakthrough, you might need to roll a critical success on your research rolls.


As mentioned, the hero's upbringing will influence which languages they know, but it'll also most likely include some progress in a field of research. Something the hero has been researching and has already made some progress on.


Another change on the heels of the play test is the removal of the Endurance characteristic. Matt and James had some longs meetings and ran a few tests with changing the characteristics. As explained in a Patreon post, they tried multiple solutions, but ended up with keeping five of them, and dropping Endurance.

Endurance was used to determine Stamina, previously Health, but Stamina is already determined by Class and Ancestry. Recoveries was also determined by Endurance at some point, but that's also determined by the class now. Remaining is tests to see how long you can endure strain or exertion, but that's just as well covered by Might or a mental Characteristic.

Play tests removing Endurance have been very successful so far, with multiple test sessions going by without anyone noticing that the Endurance characteristic was even gone.

Choices and complexity

Matt and James want the RPG to have meaningful choices and that you make choices more often than you would in D&D 5e game. But they don't want too many options to choose from. That makes it more difficult for the players to make a choice, and it increases the chances of the designers putting in a bad option.

Core ancestries

One of the choices players make is the ancestry of their hero. Matt explained that the team had made a list of ancestries they wanted to include in the core rules, but after the crowdfunder and they started planning to do the work, Matt realized he wants ancestries in the core rules the players have never seen before.

He talked about opening an RPG in his youth and being surprised by ancestries he'd never seen before; that sense of wonder and inspiration is something he wants to reproduce in the RPG. He wants some well-known ancestries, some setting specific to Vasloria or Orden, and some completely different.

Designing a class

Matt wrote a post on Patreon explaining the process of designing a new class. The post is really thorough, and goes through a lot of details and influences, and how decisions are made when creating a new class.

The Elementalist

Speaking of designing classes. There's a new version of the Elementalist being tested internally. This is based on the design I covered in last month's Goblin Points. From what Matt says, it sounds like the prototype is working well.

Power and balance

James and Matt has also talked about the work on figuring out how powerful a first level hero is. We know first level heroes will be less powerful than the premade heroes we've seen so far.

The next step is designing a tenth level hero. The goal is to figure out the two extremes of power levels. By knowing where the scale starts and ends, it's easier to know how much of a step up each level needs to be.

Supernatural items and balance

The game will most likely assume that supernatural items have been attained by the heroes and the balancing math will take that into account. It's expected that a hero keeps the supernatural weapons they find until they reach tenth level. The items will also scale up, the more powerful the hero becomes.

Encounter building

James posted an update on Patreon going through the current design for building combat encounters. The goal is to make it easy to build encounters, both when preparing a session and when improvising one at the table. The system is very much inspired by the one we already know from Flee Mortals!

Time and turn time

Speaking of encounters There's no set time for how a long turn lasts, and that's on purpose. They'd rather use different language to explain how long things last. The RPG uses "until the end of the encounter", instead of one minute.

D&D has six second rounds because you need to know how long a turn is for spells and effects that have a duration. If something lasts for one minute, you need to know how long that is in combat.

The Location of Malice

James wants to do something akin to Where Evil Lives for the RPG, sometime post launch, but nothing is certain. It could be in the form of an encounter building book, which would include pre-built, drop in encounters.

License and name

The name of the RPG will not be released until they have the Dev Kit ready.

The Dev Kit will include the license, explain what's trademarked and not, and logos (with guidelines for usage, I assume). They are making their own license, but have been looking at other licenses for inspiration.

Matt likes the idea of just giving the monster away, and not have something like the System Reference Document of Dungeons & Dragons, but it's not final decision. Matt also mentioned the idea of giving the layout away, allowing other creators and publishers to use the same layout used by the official products. That includes colors, fonts, and general styling of headers, paragraphs and stat blocks.


MCDM are in talks with GenCon about attending this year, but no solid plans yet. No certain agreements have been made. MCDM also needs more staff to be able to have a proper presence at conventions, which they are currently trying to fix.

From the community

The MCDM community is always hard at work. Here are some of February's creations.

The Executor (v3)

ViktorMayrin has created a rework of the Warlock class in D&D 5e. It's meant to function as an improved version of the Warlock.

The Goblins of the Wode

Francesco Passero has made a graphic short story inspired by the RPG. It's a fun little five minute read, well worth checking out.

Additional Sorcerer Spells

SentientG33k has created extended spell lists for the Sourcerer subclasses that hasn't gotten as much love since the class was first introduced. The aim is to bring the original subclasses more in line with the subclasses introduced more recently.

Book of Misspells

Ardis Foxx has updated their Book of Misspells, which is a book containing spell scrolls with misspelled spells. The spells are written down incorrectly and results from casting them can deviate significantly from what's expected.

Alternative Rules for when you Miss

Veangous has created alternative rules for when you miss on your attack roll in D&D 5e. The rules add extra abilities, called Efforts, which give you and/or your allies small buffs for a little while. The creator warns that this will increase time in combat.

Beastheart - Bronzeback Titan Companion

Kerrigor29 has created a companion stat block for the Bronzeback Titan for the Beastheart class. The Bronzeback Titans are from the Iron Kingdom setting from Privateer Press.

Around the web

I've also included a couple of links from around the web, relating to MCDM. I especially want to highlight the Baldur's Gate III mod, that allows you to play as an Illrigger in the game.


As the Director and sole producer of this fine podcast I will allow myself a small editorial in this episode of Goblin Points. I'm not sure if this is going to become a permanent thing, but I felt I had something to say.

Cinematic, as in Movie Logic

There was a question in the Discord this month about how the Fury has access to ranged attacks, with the questioner proposing infinite throwing knives. This is a legitimate question if you're not used to thinking of resources in the terms the RPG is.

Or rather how we believe it will think of resources. The game's not done yet.

One of the usual answers to this is "don't worry about resources, the game does not care about tracking resources". Which is true, but not a helpful answer. I think that's a dismissal of the question, not an answer at all. With a proper answer, we can both answer this specific question, but also help others get into the right mindset.

I think the right answer here is to emphasize how the game is cinematic; in the sense that it employs movie logic to explain why things work the way they do. The answer to the question of infinite throwing knives isn't that the RPG doesn't concern itself with tracking resources, the answer is that the Fury always has enough throwing knives.

In a movie, the protagonist always have enough resources to be the hero. Sometimes that means they end up empty, but only when it's dramatic. Hawkeye always has arrows in his quiver, until the moment it becomes dramatic for him to run out.

This is how the game thinks about resources. And that's how the Fury always have throwing knives.


And that's it for February. If you have anything that should be included next time, send me an e-mail on [email protected].

Links to everything, including this script can be found on

Until next time. Snakkes.