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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 154 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Game mechanics rebuild  (Read 2051 times)
ks13
Member

Posts: 67


« on: June 05, 2002, 06:43:01 PM »

First off, I want to thank everyone that offered opinions on my homebrew fantasy rpg. There is already a number of elements that I will want to expand that I would not have thought twice about before checking out the Forge. As few folks suggested that I present the workings of my system, I will do so here. So if anyone cares to look it over, your insights would be much appreciated.

The system is currently on hold. It hasn't been played in a few years, and my old group is hundres of miles away. A perfect opportunity to reexamine and rework the system. While it worked well enough, I wasn't completely satisfied. In this post I'll outline what the system consists of, what bits I like, and which ones I think need changing. My latest ideas for system mechanics I'll leave for a later time.

* Basic mechanic:

Roll same or lower against a stat using d20. Attributes (an extensive list of them) are in the range of 5 to 9, skills are 8 to 18. Difference between stat rating and roll is the degree of success. 1 is a critical success, 20 a critical fail.
I also use d12 instead of d20 for attribute checks and for "easy" skill tests. Skills are categorized by Proficiencies which determined the base rating of skills in that category. A skill rating is a bonus added to the Prof. rating. Proficiencies are specified, as are some sample skills, but anything suitable can be made into a skill.

The use of the two dice works well enough, but the d20 I am not crazy about. The distribution is not great, and it seems way too chaotic with inconsistent result. I do like having 1 as a critical success (some sort of esthetic thing). The jump from easy (d12) to normal difficulty (d20) is too big, so I found myself wanting to use additional difficulty modifiers. The question then also becomes do I use them as a skill modifier, or a die modifier (it does make a difference wrt criticals). I could also have a required degree of success (usually allowing for multiple rolls). So in effect 3 ways to handle difficulty. This also needs to tie into broad skills versus very specific and specialized skills.

It gets worse in Combat. Weapons work like skills, providing a bonus to a Prof. The problem is that I have Combat ratings (attack, dodge, parry etc) that are not treated as Profs. (they are almost like skills of their own; certainly not a grouping of various skills). This disperity between how combat skills and all other skills work I want eliminated (I also split the weapon bonus into accuracy, damage, parry - in itself it was a decent mechanic, but I want more consistency across the whole system). Hit location I want to keep, but move away from charts to something that is possible to remember. I base exact hit location on a roll dependent upon the type of attack (low swing, thrust, etc.) Something between fully called shots and totaly random. To make things even more complicated, the system accounts for weapon differences (speed/range/size). Armour was accounted for based both on effectiveness, and amout of cover. Overall the feel of combat was good, but with all the details it could get slow and things missed. So keep the feel, but make it faster, smoother, and even more exciting. That's my goal for combat.

* Hit Points

Never liked hit points in the classic D&D definition. Was it a damage soak, damage avoidance?
I went with a pool called Physical Energy (PE). Any physical harm or strain would reduce PE. Reduce it low enough, and the character became exhausted/beaten down. If PE was lost in single chunk that exceeded a certain limit (based on race and hit location), a wound was inflicted. There are a range of wounds based on attack type and attack severity. Wounds reduce specific stats, and bleeding reduces PE over time. The bookkeeping is not something I like, but the fact that you can take someone down in a variety of ways (single cripling shot, or wear them down with small wounds and fatigue) is an aspect I will want to preserve.

* Magic

I can't even remember how that works. Like combat it builds off of the central skill mechanic, but also adds on all kinds of clutter. This I will scrap totaly and start from scratch, keeping only the flavour and certain setting inspired themes of how magic works (in game terms, not mechanics). Magic also had a mental energy pool (akin to PE) which was reduced as spells were cast, but this makes no sense to me as I want the casters to draw upon an energy source external to them, so that is gone.

* Character creation and experience

This part will probably survive mainly intact. Character creation uses dice and allocation for attributes, and point spending for skill purchases. The dice add just a bit of randomness, but almost always create a character with stats slightly above average (which I like) and never gave numbers so poor as to render a character concept unworkable.
For establishing a character persona, the player chooses and arrange in order of decreasing significance a list of Priorities (duty, friends, family, self, ect.). It was used as a decision making guide, but I think I will want to give it more limelight in the revised version (what happens when you have to act against a priority, or what if priorities need to rearranged?) The other bit also not pursued as much as I think it should be, are Dark Attributes (setting based mechanic), consisting of Malice, Rage, Phobia and Insanity. Each of these has a matching standard attribute. Passed roll on one of these babies means that the character looses control (in a manner suitable for the attribute). If the dark attribute equals its assigned standard attribute, the character is out of control on a fairly frequent basis. If it goes any higher, the character is basically gone.

Experience was awarded by GM for good "roleplaying". This was interpreted to mean the characters/players achieved certain goals, puzzle solving, good use of character's abilities, in character interaction etc. On occasion I would let players assigned experience based on their own interpretation of how things went (once they knew the typical amounts). However, there were no set rules for this.
Experience went into points to improve stats, or buy "Luck" points (modifiers for rolls).

That's about it. I didn't want to get into too many details, as this post is long enough already, but if anyone wants me to elaborate on anything specific I will be glad to do so. Any thoughts on what parts seem interesting, or the "this exact thing has been done by ....", or any other ideas are appreciated.

To summarize where I want to make changes:

1) d20 not reflecting the feel I want (gives a feel of too much random influence)
2) base mechanic for combat, magic, and skill resolution should be same
3) too much clutter as little details kept getting added on
4) combat has the right feel (dare I say gritty and realistic? better not :)), but needs to be cleaned up
5) magic - still no good way to codify the general concepts
6) add and expand upon bits that were never fully realized
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2002, 09:27:15 AM »

I wrote a real snarky response and then erased it. Have you read the Fantasy Hearbreakers essay?:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/article.php?num=10

Generic fantasy has been done. What you have so far does not improve on it in any way. What is your goal? What's the cool part about your game? Is it your setting that's the strong point? Have you considered publishing in D20?

Have you read Pale Fire's threads? There's been a lot of effort there to raise his game above the level of Fantasy Heartbreaker. Reading that stuff should give you an idea of what you need to do next. Namely get a focus, and decide on some mechanics that back it. Even if just in general terms.

Otherwise it's going to be difficult to help. You say you're game is about Good and Evil. That's an excellent place to start. You're Dark stats don't seem to address it enough to me. Can you elaborate on that? Have you read Clinton's Paladin system yet. That might give you an idea of the level of mechanics that you should be looking to create to get your desired premise.

Once you have that vision down, then we can really start talking design.

Oh, and drop the D20 resolution, and replace it with a difficulty of 1-5 system where the number indicates the number of d6 that you roll to get under your stat instead, then use that for everything, making both combat and magic skills like any other, then just don't allow any exceptions, and use the resolution system for everything, dropping the pseudo HP, and going with a Success=Wounds=Penalty currency that applies to everything, including but not limited to rolls for combat, magic, and dying, whatever.

Or better yet go with an "all opposed" resolution.

Sorry, couldn't help myself. That's my standard spiel to any FH I come across. Essentially it says use some modern mechanics, willya.

Mike
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Jake Norwood
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Posts: 2261


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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2002, 09:37:48 AM »

This is probably going against the flow here--not in substance, actually, but in form...

You need a kick-ass-cooler-than-crap-system that does stuff other systems don't do. The Riddle of Steel has "fantasy heartbreaker" written all over it, except for the mechancis. Mechanics are everything. Not combat or resolution mechanics neccessarily, but at the feel that the mechanics give the players. Old TROS rules used only one 10 sided die. It was boring, so we re-vamped it and now it uses 5-10 d10s...it was a tactile "touch your combat pool thing" that most people don't realize, but that they love. If the game is going to be special it has to promise me that it will make me, the player, feel some way that another FRPG doesn't. It has to be blatantly superior in some important fashion.

Now, if you're just putting it together for your own enjoyment, do what you like, but if you want other people to get into it, forget about "modern" mechanics and all that other stuff. Don't worry (too much) about GNS. Play the game as it stands and say, "what was cool here?" "What did I want to do and couldn't, or what did the game make happen really well that I wasn't planning on?" Figure out the strengths and weaknesses and attack them mercilessly.

The game just needs to reek of "style." If it ain't got it, I ain't gonna play it.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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ks13
Member

Posts: 67


« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2002, 03:34:10 PM »

The quick response to Mike's concerns, questions, suggestions:

Yes.

No way in hell.

Yes.

No, but I will. Thanks for pointing it out.

See below.

Will consider.

Sorry, that's my lazy ass response to a "standard spiel". :) Actually, I am rather surprised by the amount of restraint that people have shown given the topic at hand. But even if that wasn't the case I would stick with working on what I want to work on. If people want to help out and offer suggestions, I will gladly hear them out. I think that I clearly stated that my old mechanics are in need of changing, and admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards getting better. I would also love to take a peak at your games. See these modern mechanics in action.

Quote
Oh, and drop the D20 resolution, and replace it with a difficulty of 1-5 system where the number indicates the number of d6 that you roll to get under your stat instead, then use that for everything, making both combat and magic skills like any other, then just don't allow any exceptions, and use the resolution system for everything, dropping the pseudo HP, and going with a Success=Wounds=Penalty currency that applies to everything, including but not limited to rolls for combat, magic, and dying, whatever.


I want to streamline, but not to this degree. To me, this would be downright boring. Besides, d6 pools have been done plenty. If I want a d6 mechanic, why not just say that the player picks a number from 1 to 6, the GM picks a different number (and if the player picked an odd number the GM picks an even and vice versa). Then the player rolls a d6. If he gets his number he has massive success, if it comes with the GM's number it is a massive failure. If neither number comes up but its an odd number (if player picked odd), then its a success who's degree depends on the stat score. Need to increase difficulty? GM picks a second number. There I go, a mechanic that can be used for anything and is always opposed (in a manner of speaking).

Quote
You need a kick-ass-cooler-than-crap-system that does stuff other systems don't do


Thats a great idea Jake. Too bad you had to come up with RoS and raise the bar so bloody high! In all seriousness, the Riddle of Steel seems to be the only game that I found here that really rings true to the style of game I want to construct (when I get a chance to GM again I will give a RoS a try). And from all accounts it is because of the mechanics. I have no idea what goes on in your world and what the players are supposed to do, aside from using those cool combat mechanics and trying to avoid dismemberment.

Quote
Now, if you're just putting it together for your own enjoyment, do what you like, but if you want other people to get into it, forget about "modern" mechanics and all that other stuff. Don't worry (too much) about GNS. Play the game as it stands and say, "what was cool here?" "What did I want to do and couldn't, or what did the game make happen really well that I wasn't planning on?" Figure out the strengths and weaknesses and attack them mercilessly.


This is spot on. But I don't just want to settle to a "its good enough for me" mode. I want to raise the bar a little higher. And scrounging around the Forge I have come across ideas and methods of play that I never considered before. So far so good.
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