Saturday, March 5, 2011

Simplify Simplify Simplify

Consider my mind officially blown.

I was toying with recalibrating some of the abilities to see if there was some way to get to one roll in combat; you make a single attack roll, and then you layer damage into that if you hit, taking out the target’s soak.

I was making some progress when I decided to try and look at physical attacks through the same filter I’d been applying to magic. Rather than making magic mimic the way physical attacks work (my fundamental design approach thus far), what if I looked at how magic SHOULD work, and then apply those principals to physical combat… I’ve been unhappy that you only use focus to attack, but use your bolt for all other applications. If the bolt is how you make an action, it should always be how you make an action (combat shouldn’t have its own subsystem for this).

- Your ‘power’ (the bolt) should determine if you hit or not.
- Your focus item (the wand or staff) should determine how much damage you deal.
- Your warding object (the cloak or amulet) should determine your soak.
- Those last two items can have their ratings set by the same ability, with the option to tailor the ability.

So, to be a caster, you need two abilities:
- Bolt. This is your attack. Roll bolt to do stuff: Hit with a magic bolt, charm, sleep, stun, boost might, whatever.
- Aspect. This sets the rating for both your magic wands and your magic cloaks. You can tailor aspect on damage or soaks; with aspect +5, you could have +6 with wands and staffs, +4 with cloaks of warding. This makes SO much more sense to me. It’s simpler, cleaner, and applies all the time. It’s highly customizable, because you can tweak the numbers in a variety of ways.

Now, as a fighter, you need only two abilities: an attack ability, and an ability that sets the rating for your stuff (weapons AND armor).
- You can choose to use might as your attack ability (if you prefer to wail on your foes) or you can use prowess (if you prefer to dissect your target delicately). Might now gets stamina rolled into it (might is how physically tough you are all the way around), whereas prowess affects missile weapons too. If you want to be a ranger who can wield the sword and bow with equal facility, you build your hero around prowess. If you want to be a barbarian who rips doors off of their hinges, throws spears and leaps into combat with a huge axe, you pick might. They’re both equally valuable; prowess is better for ranged fighters (bows get better range than thrown weapons) but might is more useful for defending against things like poisons and constriction.
- Arms includes all of your weapons and your worn armor. This one breaks up three ways; you could tailor your arms +5 as armor +4/melee +7/missile +4. You can wield an axe +7, a bow +4 and wear armor +4. You get the veracity I was looking for (you wouldn't learn how to use a bow exclusively without ever picking up a sword) but also get variety and 'expert' characters.

This gets rid of armor as an application, and gets rid of stamina as an ability. I like both of these changes. It also gets rid of warding and focus, merging those into aspect.

Then, for monsters, you re-calibrate the way that these abilities get organized; invulnerability becomes a hybrid of the soak abilities from both arms and aspect. You could choose to focus your invulnerability on physical or magical/energy attacks; invulnerability +6 (energy +5/physical +7) means that you soak physical damage better than magical damage. This carries right over to the supers version of the game with no need to modify the system at all.

And, evade becomes the universal defensive ability against all attacks, physical and magical. The only ability that wouldn’t be defended by evade would be mental attacks; defend against mental attacks with intuition (that makes absolute sense to me) and you get to soak with your resolve (also perfectly logical, and perfectly tying with my basic concept for the game world; mankind’s resolve is his greatest asset in his battle with the messari).