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Personal Project - Ongoing

Rolling Rattlers

Project Owner & Manager:

- Systems Design

- Content Design

- Writing Player Handbook

- Play Testing & Simulations

- Art & Sketches

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Project Description:

The wild west can be a dangerous place. Large swafts of barren land, a burning sun overhead, and vicious predators scanning the horizon for anything to call prey. For some, it's a death sentence. However, for rattlers such as yourself, it's home.

Rolling Rattles is a western themed TableTop RPG system, where players play not as humans, but rattlesnakes. Uniquely, players don't need any pen or paper to play. Instead, their health, stats, and abilities are all dictated by a handful of colorful dice at their disposal.

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How to Play

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Click to open Player Handbook


Rolling Rattlers began with the satisfying rush of rolling over 10 dice for a single spell in D&D. The satisfaction of rolling lots of little objects, the anticipation of the result, the feeling of power! It was then that I realized traditional tabletop RPGs had a serious growth delay. Whenever a player gains a new power or levels up, they often need to wait for the next session before they can see their newfound power. After all, seeing your numbers increase on paper means nothing till you put the values into practice. So, I set out to create an RPG that rectified those issues.

With this goal in mind, I was decided to focus on a system where a character's entire being, from stats to health, was conveyed through dice. Whenever a player leveled up, their dice would change. Whenever they grew stronger players could feel the difference.

The General Rules:

For those not looking to read the entirety of the player's handbook:

Whenever a player wishes to conduct an action, they roll 2 or more of their dice to attempt the action. If a player rolls the correct colored dice (Red for an attack, Green for perception check), they get a bonus to their roll. Players can conduct as many actions as they want so long as they have enough dice.

If a player takes damage, they roll 1 die per damage and lose any that roll a 1 or 2. This both reduces a players health, statline and the amount of actions they can conduct. If a player loses all their dice they die.

Player dice

Rolling Rattlers consists of players creating rattlesnakes by selecting a variety of different dice (color & values). Player's total dice accounts for their current health, with each color being used to represent a different stat.

The Theme & Characters:

While the system for the dice wasn't too difficult to develop, there were early thematic issues. Originally, I wanted to make the game about rats in an American Tail style world. However, since I didn't want pens and paper to be needed, I couldn't let players have an inventory. After wracking my brain, I decided on snakes. After all, no hands = no inventory.

Eventually, this narrowed to Rattlesnakes, after noticing the connection of the rattling dice and a rattlesnake rattle.

As the project developed, my TPRG friends brought up the key issue that since there were no mechanical differences between characters, the game required far too much roleplaying to provide variance.

In order to add variance, I created 6 species of rattler players could be and assigned each one to a colored D20. Since D20s weren't in the game already, this allowed a player's species to be identified easily. I then added mechanics to each species, two each, to give players something only they could.

Designing these took a lot of work, as the abilities had to be unique and simple enough to remember without the aid of paper.

On Reflection:

I am very proud of what I accomplished so far with Rolling Rattlers. However, there are some aspects that I feel like I should have considered earlier in development.

- Calculate the amount of dice you actually need for testing (don't overshoot by $50 worth)

- Conduct better inventory of other players and stores dice supplies (orange is an oddly rare color)

- Test your own art skills before waiting to prototype art (snakes are hard to draw)

Thankfully the project is still in development, and there is still time to correct these issues.

Continuing Development:

Rolling Rattlers is a project still in development. While the mechanics and systems for players are done, there are still multiple elements that need to be done before a commercial release is worth doing.

The Art

Despite what most would imagine, a lot of the character from a campaign comes from the art within its manuals.

Currently, I am working to create the needed art for the player's manual.

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The Team:

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Me: Jared Ciano
Project Owner & Lead
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Cedric Brownewell 
Tester & Assist. Designer
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Ted. Mahoney
Tester &
TRPG Consultant
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