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Author Topic: [Breastplate] a multi character old-school RPG  (Read 1511 times)
leodegrance
Member

Posts: 9


« on: January 22, 2010, 05:55:12 AM »

Hi Everybody,

its a couple of years (maybe more...) I'm working with all my laziness on this RPG. I've already a first uncomplete draft, but as you may imagine reading further, I'm far away from being a fluent english speaker/writer nor my knowledge of this tongue lets me write something so extensive like a 100 pages document, so first the draft is in italian and second it is uncomplete, outdated and bad organized on its contents Tongue

But I'm not here to discuss the draft, but to expose you a couple of ideas in the hope of finding myself a solution on some problems I've encountered during the gestation of this game. First of all a brief introduction on the game: Breastplate is a multicharacter game (each player controls 2 or more characters) centered on characters advancement, combats and exploration, with an engine drawn from ODND (d20) for quick and easy resolution of fights.
For which concern the flavour, I've made my best to write something in english that could be enough clear to be understood by everybody. It might not be enough, but please be kind :-) You'll find it as the first post on: www.breastplate.it just not to turn this post on a wall of text.

Now back to the topic.
In the last year, after posting on an italian RPG discussion group, I've been drawn by the new wave of RPG, and I've been tempted of melting elements from RPG that seemed to me close to mine, like, to name one, Agon. The reason behind that was that I was struggling around combats elements. The aim on Breastplate was to have tactical combats avoiding the use of minatures. What concern me the most is that players should HAVE TO make tactical choices when they create and develop their own "group" of 2 or more characters and equip them (since the start, players have the chance to buy a lot of magical appareils for their characters, and most "special abilities" are tied to the equipment rather that to the classes).
My main issue is: does bringing lots of "elements" and "special moves" increase the tacticness of the combat, or are there other elements that can be put in without weightening the ruleset (and thus slowing the combat process)? I think it would be better than having a lot of "special moves" a la DnD4e to have a solid combat "engine", but then again, what builds a "good combat engine"?
I know I should playtest Breastplate in order to have some feedback on that issue, but as of today I'm sorta running away from putting the game at work, afraid I could discover my castle was made of playing cards Smiley
So my question is: what do you think is important to have when creating a tactical/squad RPG? What are the elements that turn a mere exchange of dices and blow into a tactical fight? Are tactical options only available as "special moves" and shall I drive away from a ODND/D20 sistem concept of combat and enbrace a different approach to the game? (I'm reclutant to move away from ODnD ruleset mechanics as I think they are a really fast way of managing combat, but I'm totally open to suggestions).

I have a couple (well maybe more than a couple) of other questions about other aspects of the game, but I'll cover that on other posts, its enough for now :-)
Thanks a lot and bye,

Marco
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 190


« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2010, 07:11:01 AM »

Please see my Nevercast engine<Placement<Condition
1. Is your character hurt?  Hurt characters act less often and with less precision.

2. How does your system allow for characters to maximize their attributes for tactical superiority?  Does it allow a fast character to have an advantage over a slow opponent?  An agile character to have an advantage over a clumsy opponent?  Or a strong, heavy character to have an advantage over a puny one?

3. In what ways do armor and shields protect you?  Do you allow for weapons to have defensive qualities, such as parrying?


Only when you have fully fleshed out your ideas for condition and placement should you consider techniques, because techniques should be based upon those things, otherwise they are out of context and a bad player will have a greater opportunity to break your system.
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leodegrance
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2010, 08:42:52 AM »

Thanks a lot Ar. I've read your 3d on your Nevercast engine and it makes really sense to me along with your comments, as Breastplate, while having ODND mechanics, has no HP sistem but rather a fatigue and effect system to track the damage on the player characters.
Thanks again, I'll work hard on your suggestions, they look really useful! :-)

Marco
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 85


« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2010, 12:50:30 PM »

I've been using successfully a quite simple approach of a combat system for hacking ANIMA, an spanish heartbreaker loosely based on the Final Fantasy games and fantasy animes. Put is simply, every player has a pool of d6 that they can distribute among many attacks or just a powerful one. Weapons require a minimum of dice to be used and allow a maximun od dice for using, or get broken. any other actions are done using dice from this same pool, so combat mechanics get very simplificated. The good part is that any player can try any move or tactic they like, and the only limit is the amount of dice rolled.

It's a system quite easy to balance as a GM, too. All you need to create an opponent powerful enough to be a challenge is give it a dice amount equal to you player's pools combined. Throw in any kind of powers and abilities for color and you're done.

Hp and fatigue can easily translate to decreasing the players dice pool.

Now, if you want your game to have more fluff, you can use different dice sizes according to the characters ability, add stats modifiers to make character sucess less luck-dependant, but of course that would require a careful balance and study. Best luck!

-Pol
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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2010, 08:32:52 PM »

Hi Marco,
Quote
So my question is: what do you think is important to have when creating a tactical/squad RPG? What are the elements that turn a mere exchange of dices and blow into a tactical fight?
Well, if the current exchange of dice and blows isn't that exciting, is it worth trying to add things onto it to make it tactical?

In terms of excitement, how does the current dice exchange work. Are you always close to losing? Or is the system such that if you die, well, that death spoils the whole game and someone has to 'sit out' and so while it's technically possible to die, all enemies are made to be wimpy and weak so as to avoid it happening on any sort of regular basis? But in doing so there is no 'Oh no, I'm close to losing!!!' excitement?

I'd suggest changing the base set of rolls, so people can lose without having to sit out/without losing the entire game. Say that once the enemy defeats them they go into retreat and the enemy gets a victory point - if the enemy gets X victory points, they win the whole battle.

The traditional model of 'If you die, you lose' always leads to a sucky 'OMG, if he dies (especially five minutes into the game), the game sucks cause he sits out...um, nerf all the monsters stats!'.


Warrior monk
Quote
It's a system quite easy to balance as a GM, too. All you need to create an opponent powerful enough to be a challenge is give it a dice amount equal to you player's pools combined. Throw in any kind of powers and abilities for color and you're done.
To my understanding this is exactly how simulationist designs leech meaning into their simulation. An equal amount of dice doesn't make a RL challenge for the player himself. It's just dice rolling off against dice - that's no mental or physical challenge for the player at all. I'm pretty sure Marco is talking about challenge for the player.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 85


« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2010, 03:28:16 PM »


The traditional model of 'If you die, you lose' always leads to a sucky 'OMG, if he dies (especially five minutes into the game), the game sucks cause he sits out...um, nerf all the monsters stats!'.


Warrior monk
Quote
It's a system quite easy to balance as a GM, too. All you need to create an opponent powerful enough to be a challenge is give it a dice amount equal to you player's pools combined. Throw in any kind of powers and abilities for color and you're done.
To my understanding this is exactly how simulationist designs leech meaning into their simulation. An equal amount of dice doesn't make a RL challenge for the player himself. It's just dice rolling off against dice - that's no mental or physical challenge for the player at all. I'm pretty sure Marco is talking about challenge for the player.

Of course an equal amount of dice isn't the challenge, that's just a tool to balance odds for every side. Actually the challenge is completely tactical because the odds are numerically balanced (I'm testing this feature on a current game, it works so far). So every player AND the GM have to get more tactical IN the combat scenes, instead of just using a mix of 'bending the rules' with min-maxin' characters for powergaming. Now the reason I use this instead of traditional dice+bonus formula is just because I found it quite hard to balance when you use too much fluff. As fluff increases, bonus tend to stack and it becomes hard to calculate the real level of the pc's withouth searching on detail the character sheets... for me. That's why I hacked Anima to make a heartbreaker I enjoy playing instead of playing old faithful D&D. I realize in the end it all comes to what do you feel comfortable using and how many people like your way.

Btw when I wrote "Throw in any kind of powers and abilities for color and you're done." is not because I don't want players to think tactically, but because I'm so glad when my group of players go tactical that I usually let them get out with anything that looks at least a bit creative. Of course, I kick them guts when they try to do it again. Cheesy
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leodegrance
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 01:49:18 AM »

Hi guys, thanks a lot for all the feedbacks!

Warrior Monk: I gave a glance (a really quick one indeed) to ANIMA months ago, but due to its "flavour" (the anime / split in scene action) it didn't get hold on me. It's dice pool sistem reminds me of "Storming the wizard tower" (that i like a lot). I will double check it now, to see how it works as from your description I cannot understand how 2 different character could differ one from the other beside their dice pool. My idea of "tactic" span through character generation too, so a player should consider when building his party, what his character can do (meatshield? high damage? disable skills?). I know it sounds a lot MMORPG like, but I'm thinking more at the "old fantasy party" than at the "DnD4e WoW-like raid group looking for  phat l00t " :-) Without giving each character some field of competency (and thus some limits on what/how he could do something) everything turns (to me) to look like a big Quake Arena match.
I'm totally with out for which concern the stackable bonuses. I still remember the dark days when we used to play 3.0 with all its feat/classes/bonuses/items/abilitylaudrylist etc. But I don't see how giving +1d6 instead of +1 could change the situation. I'm missing something? Anyway the more I write the more I'm getting curious about this dice pool thing :-) (I've just found the ANIMA PRIME pdf while writing this Tongue).

Callan: yes, you are right. Challenge the player is the first point in Breastplate. It should look to some extent a distant cousin to a boardgame. Death is not an issue. "Champions", how the player's characters are called in Breastplate, are creature generated through DNA manipulation (like the anime "Claymore" for the ones who knows it). Players should expect them to die in the way PC died in the ODnD way (the goblin hit. 5 point of damages. You're dead). Further this, each player has multiple characters so if one die, he's not out of the game. Last but not least, Champions do not have hit points (while other creatures have) so death for them is even harder to reach. Your point is a good one, as I was skipping the "excitement" factor and just thinking to make things works. I should definitely start to playtest things, even if they are not ready yet, as excitement can be measured only on the game table.

Thanks again guys. This forum and the people who write in there are an unvaluable source of ideas Smiley
 
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 85


« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2010, 01:54:28 PM »

Hi guys, thanks a lot for all the feedbacks!

Warrior Monk: I gave a glance (a really quick one indeed) to ANIMA months ago, but due to its "flavour" (the anime / split in scene action) it didn't get hold on me. It's dice pool sistem reminds me of "Storming the wizard tower" (that i like a lot). I will double check it now, to see how it works as from your description I cannot understand how 2 different character could differ one from the other beside their dice pool. My idea of "tactic" span through character generation too, so a player should consider when building his party, what his character can do (meatshield? high damage? disable skills?). I know it sounds a lot MMORPG like, but I'm thinking more at the "old fantasy party" than at the "DnD4e WoW-like raid group looking for  phat l00t " :-) Without giving each character some field of competency (and thus some limits on what/how he could do something) everything turns (to me) to look like a big Quake Arena match.
I'm totally with out for which concern the stackable bonuses. I still remember the dark days when we used to play 3.0 with all its feat/classes/bonuses/items/abilitylaudrylist etc. But I don't see how giving +1d6 instead of +1 could change the situation. I'm missing something? Anyway the more I write the more I'm getting curious about this dice pool thing :-) (I've just found the ANIMA PRIME pdf while writing this Tongue).


Sorry, I've been messing things a bit. When I was talking about Anima system I was talking about my hacked version which completely differs from the original system of the game. I changed the original d100+bonus to a pool of d6, and then I had to water down some of the fluff and take out everything I find I couldn't balance, like unlimited instant teleport abilities, psionics and such. Original game has way too much fluff only on the core rules, actually so much that it fills the whole book along the spell list and you can't find a long enough monster list there. On top of that the bestiary hasn't been published yet as far as I know and it makes it hard to play as a summoner. Anyway, if you have any further questions about my hacked version we can discuss it further here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=29185.0

Now, about your question: Why change a +1d6 for a +1? I went on the math behind my version like, what do I want, characters that never fail when they level up of keeping uncertainty even with high epic levels? This all depends on how you set the random portion of the system vs. the fixed part. If the higher numbers come from the dice, everything depends on luck. If the higher numbers come from the stats, everything depends on the level and dice start to lose importance on higher levels. So I went for total uncertainty.

Now, actually depending on the size of the dice, a +1 doesn't affect the random part too much. If you use 1d20 you can have up to +20 bonuses stacked on a single ability withouth doing any harm to the system. That's actually the top for random results and every +1 after that just turns dice unnecessary unless you cut some of the bonuses advantage either by tactical means or by putting a npc with the same +20 bonuses on it. So it's the high levels that become a bit boring when the game advances.

Then again, why a pool instead of a single dice + bonuses? I also found that a dice pool can be quite versatile to represent data that other systems have to turn into aditional stats. For example, amount of actions. How many actions a character can have? ah, it may depend on their dexterity, so lets look at this table...and at this level you can have...3 actions. Any actions or just attacks? oh, attacks are different, you need to... I got bored of that so searching indie games I found this cute simple way: let players allocate their dice pool to the amount of actions they want to do in their turn. So in my system it transtated to this: Let's say a warrior with 5 dice in his pool is surrounded by 3 orks. Player can either run with all 5 dice, make an attack to 2 of them with 2 dice and one with a single dice, slash the first ork in two with 5 dice and hope that scares the rest, etc etc. And that's without counting the warrior's fluff, applicable with the same dice pool. You want to balance the situation as a GM? Give the orks a total of 5 dice as a group or split the pool in 2 dice for each ork, one of which is wounded. From there you've gotta go tactical to make it interesting.

So far in testing this system is quick to learn, quite versatile and easy to balance, and with the right fluff tactical options can go far a long way without needing aditional levels to get interesting, yet I'm sure most I mentioned can be done with ant system, again, it all depends of what you feel most comfortable with. With the clone mechanics you implemented players can actually take hours to create a detailed character and keep playing it as long as they want. Well, hope this helps anyway. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. Best luck!


-Pol
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leodegrance
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 01:06:45 AM »

I forgot to thank you Pol :-)
I'm working on that dice pool system since your last post :-)

M.
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 85


« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 07:31:20 AM »

Glad to of help- good luck with your project!
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