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Author Topic: Random-Element determining which abilities characters can use?  (Read 562 times)
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« on: April 20, 2010, 06:37:19 AM »

So, I was thinking of something, but I wasn't sure how well it would actually go over.

How do you think players would react to there being a random element determining what they their characters are capable of in a fight?

For example, say there was a deck of cards that consisted of 20 abilities. The player devotes three AP to attacking, so they draw 4 cards and get to use 3 of them in whatever order they want to create a combo. Or maybe they have a hand of X cards and can play from that, but then draw back up to X.

Now, in my head this kind of represents that not every second in combat allows for every possible action--that the enemy's positioning and such keeps certain types of attacks from being viable, and the craziness of a real fight with adrenaline pumping and all just adds to it.

However, the player would have control of the deck's make-up, so, if they really wanted their character to be able to pull off a certain move reliably, then they could just make sure more of them were in the deck.

Does this sound like it might be an interesting mechanic, or would it simply be frustrating for players to not have total control over what is available to their characters at any given moment?
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Jeff Russell
Member

Posts: 44


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2010, 11:23:17 AM »

SAW,

   That actually sounds pretty cool. I think how your players received it would depend a lot on what they want out of play. If they're really concerned with imagining the moment to moment actions of their guys out of their own brain, this might be an issue. But I think if they're into making tactical decisions, this presents a lot of cool options (in the deck construction - I think that has *loads* of potential), and if they're into creating exciting stories, they just might find the random input into what's going on stimulating ("whoah, I tried to kick him and he flipped me over? That's awesome!").

I've recently been swayed to the idea that a player's "total control" over his character is something of an illusion anyway, and that creative, fun ways of embracing that lack of total control can lead to some interesting play directions.
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Jeff Russell
Blessings of the Dice Gods - My Game Design Blog and home to my first game, The Book of Threes
FetusCommander
Member

Posts: 21

also Rudy


« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2010, 01:50:10 PM »

I was working on a similar mechanic for a zombie themed board game.  In mine, you load cards onto the face of a dreidel that had sheet plastic taped on it, and then spin- whatever is facing up is what you have to fight/counter with. 

I think the mechanic is really fascinating because as Jeff said, it presents some real tactical challenges.  The idea of deck stacking seems really fun IMO.  I hadn't really thought of the roleplaying angle of it, since it was for a board game, but it doesn't seem to me that it would be frustrating to moving the story (just the opposite, it might lead to interesting new directions like Jeff mentioned).
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SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2010, 08:33:01 AM »

So, I had been thinking about doing this in the form of actual moves, like:

Slash
Kick
Shield Bash

But now I'm sort of wondering if it would work just as well with just having Attack Value, Cost, and Effect, leaving the actual attack totally up to the player?

So, instead of having a card that was "Slash, (1 STR), 1 ATK" you could have 1 ATK (1 STR) and the player could decide whether its a kick or slash or a headbutt.

But then you'd still have other cards that allowed for status effects and such, so you might have: 1 ATK, Stun 1 (2 STR) in place of "Pommel Strike (2STR), 1 ATK/Stun 1"
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Jeff Russell
Member

Posts: 44


WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2010, 10:59:31 AM »

Fetus Commander: A dreidel as a board game mechanic, awesome! And customizable! Did you make a "character dreidel" that your character used the whole game, or could you change it on the fly?

SAW: Hmmmm, I think your idea with 'generic' attack cards, letting players fill in the blanks is not a bad one, but as I may have mentioned earlier, I've become a big fan of the idea that creativity works best when you're handed something tangible to work with, rather than just being told "be creative!". So, if I were going to use your idea (and a cool idea it's shaping up to be!) here's a rough draft of what I'd do:

Each character gets a certain number of cards with which to build his "fight deck". Depending on what sort of game you're making and what ideas you have for it, maybe classes have lists of cards they can choose from. Maybe certain classes have different sized decks (which would affect probability), and maybe there are universal or individualized limits on how many copies of one particular attack you can have (cos if your whole deck  is "five finger death punch" - boring). Or don't have classes and have players define their role in combat entirely through their deck. Maybe you have character points that can buy more cards for the deck, or add new moves to the deck, or whatever. That might get complicated.

But anyway, the cards you buy would be these generic cards you mention (just the stats, ma'am), but when the player adds them to his fight deck, he writes in ahead of time what they are. So if he wants lots of kicking chop-socky action, he describes all or most of his moves as martial arts. The rules don't care, but he does, and it probably makes the fight more interesting for everybody else too.

To go a touch off topic (but bringing it back, I swear!), I don't play anymore, but Magic: the Gathering has some really solid game design behind it, and the series of articles "Making Magic" on their official website by Mark Rosewater is his discussion of game design issues. I bring this up because there's a lot of pretty heavy stuff you could get into with decks and allowing customizable decks, and Magic has been doing that for years. Over there, they use some RPG-like setting material to jazz up the pretty tight game mechanics, but over here why not use a similar approach to game mechanics (I'm not saying use any of theirs directly, of course) to jazz up your tight and detailed story and setting.

If you really wanted to embrace the whole card idea, you could make customizable decks your main mechanic. Maybe you have a 'skill challenge' deck, and a fight deck, and a social deck. Or whatever. That sounds like it'd get super complicated and involve lots of physical card creation (writing on index cards, putting stickers on playing cards, whatever) to get the level of subtlety that an RPG ought to have, but I'm just trying to throw out some ideas, do with them as you will. Hope something in there is helpful!

Jeff Russell
Blessings of the Dice Gods my little blog about games and game design
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Jeff Russell
Blessings of the Dice Gods - My Game Design Blog and home to my first game, The Book of Threes
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2010, 06:12:51 PM »

While I definitely like the idea of the players naming the moves when they add the cards to their deck, what I really wish was that there was a way to do that a bit more easily without wrecking the card.

Hm. Actually, using card sleeves, playing cards,  and slips of paper wouldn't be too bad an idea.

Anyway, as for the Combat/Skill/Social decks, that could definitely be fun, but you're right, it would require quite a bit. Though, if each deck was only like 20 cards you could almost pull off all 3 with a single pack of playing cards, which wouldn't be too horribly tough.

That, or maybe have each card have one option for each scenario, so three little blocks--but the problem there is that I'm not sure if it would really work for Skill/Social challenges once you went specific. I mean, what would you write on there for your Skill/Social aspects? How would what you wrote apply to all possible Skill Challenges/Social conflicts? Generic would work, however. So I suppose you could just leave the Skill/Social portions "blank".
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Vulpinoid
Member

Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster


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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2010, 07:46:18 PM »

I've used a mechanism very similar to this in a couple of experimental games that I've run.

Where skill level equals size of hand, and the rate of hand refreshment is based on factors such as concentration in the situation, fatigue, and injury (all measured on a single meter).

Players start with lots of options at their disposal, and as they become more specialised in a particular tactic, they may include more copies of that tactic in their deck.

Lets say they start with 10 unique cards. Every time they use a card, there is a chance that it might be removed from play for the rest of the scene, or there is a chance that it might be returned to their deck (at some kind of cost). Players might include multiple copies of a single card, but they still need to have at least ten different card types. Having more cards comes at an advantage and a disadvantage, more cards means mopre endurance and you can probably play cards once your opponent has run out of theirs, byut your chance of getting a good card at the right time is reduced. (Maybe players customise their decks before each conflict they enter).

Another cool way to play with this mechanism is to allow characters special benefits if they throw down multiple copies of the same card for an action (all would be discarded, except for one, which has a chance of returning to the deck).

If you want to get really tricky, you can start throwing in prerequisites for cards..."You must have more 'Savage Strike' cards in your deck than you have 'Unleash Primal Fury' cards". As long as the mechanisms used to play the cards are simple, you can add in complexity elsewhere without slowing down the game play.

Just some thoughts (I've got some more, but you'll have to wait a couple of weeks for me to finish the playtest release of "Bunraku Nights").

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
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