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[Ultrablamtacular] Save Versus Suck

Started by Jason Kottler, May 27, 2009, 10:44:18 PM

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Jason Kottler

Well, the long-awaited (by me, at least) playtest session of Ultrablamtacular took place on the Friday before the long weekend., it was a kick in the designer-nads.

I posted about it here.
Jason Kottler -Ultrablamtacular!

Jason Kottler

My web host appears to be undergoing meltdown at the moment. If I can ever reach my site, I'll post a copy of the blog entry here.
Jason Kottler -Ultrablamtacular!

Jason Kottler

Blog is back up, but just in case, here's the whole entry:
QuoteWell, it's been a long while since the last post. Sorry. The bad news is, the latest playtest, right before the long weekend, revealed a largish hole in the game that I really didn't expect to find at this point. The good news is, I think I'm on the road to fixing it.

The even better news is that the solution to that big problem is going to solve a bunch of little problems that were sort of nagging at me anyhow.

So, I guess it's time to get down in the nitty-gritty and say what went wrong. Blah. It hurts just thinking about it.

Ultrablamtacular! Recognizes two separate kinds of fights - those against Minions and those against Villains. I know this isn't cutting-edge thinking in game design anymore. In my defense, I thought of this a long time ago and it's taken a long time for this game to get written down. So, this was the first time playtesters had actually engaged in combat - I know - roleplaying without fighting - what a concept! Anyhow...

The fight against Minions went well - a few bumps, but nothing I felt was catastrophic. The fight against a Villain, though...what a mess! Nothing worked like I thought it would. Nothing even worked like the sample combats I've run by myself!

The PCs took some damage when fighting the Minions - damage I was OK with, but they felt was too severe. When they fought the Villain, I had to agree. Damage racked up too quickly, draining Confidence pools and quickly sapping all the Funzors from the exercise.

Also, the combat system for Minions emphasizes speed, while the combat system for Villains emphasizes narrative action. I realized after this playtest that two combat systems is overkill. I'm trying to eliminate the second combat system - and since the Villain one was a mess, that leaves the Minion system as the winner by default. If there are features of the Villain system that I love, I'll try to merge them into the Minion system.

The biggest problem, though, was how to slow down the flow of Damage. One way is for PCs to Defend during combat, as a successful Defense means you don't get hurt in a given Round. But when you do get hurt, I've got a new mechanism for resisting Damage that I want to try out. It's based on a new mechanic - a new mechanic? Oh no!

But it's OK, I swear. Because before I designed this mechanic, I considered the question: What are the pillars of Ultrablam? What core principles are there for me to draw on without adding anything significantly new? And the answers were right there. Confidence and the Pyramid Table. So, from the fusion of those two pillars comes the new mechanic - the Confidence Roll. This is the bit that solves a bunch of other nagging problems.

The Confidence Roll is used for a whole class of things that the system didn't do a good job of addressing before. I'm talking passive things. Resistance. Reflex actions. Goddammit, I'm talking about Saving Throws. Ultrablam! uses Attempts to represent actions. But it didn't really have a way to account for things characters did without intent. Now it does. Confidence Rolls will be used to notice stuff (Did my question about perception rolls in RPGs ever get posted here? Dunno). To resist fear, poison, and persuasion.

And injury.

So the end result of this clusterfrak of a playtest? Saving throws. And a unification of my bifurcated combat systems. Which seemed like a great idea a long time ago, and now...not so much. And a way to keep from getting hurt so much. And a generic solution for all those passive rolls.

Guess I made my Save vs. Suck.

Jason Kottler -Ultrablamtacular!