Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Irons in the Fire

I have irons in the fire for five different Resolute sub-projects right now. Normally I'd feel pretty scattered in this approach, but Google Docs is helping me stay quite organized, and developing the game in this way is helping me to design across genres and to look at the big picture in design, which is incredibly helpful. Tonight, I quickly created stats for 4 generic level 1 fantasy heroes, and put them up against a gnoll. As I played, I toyed with two mechanics: one is a tweak to the stealth rules, and another is an all-new mechanic that I can add as an advanced option for superhero play, but which feels right at home in a fantasy game.

What if stealth forced the target to take the resistant dice result at half? Instead of a full D12, the target effectively rolls a D6 to dodge the attack? That would be an effective ability, and not over-powered. You could still miss, but your odds go up tremendously, and it’s an easy mechanic to use… I have to blow this up and use it other places; an ability that makes the target take D6 instead of D12 is an awesome mechanic to layer over other parts of the rules; it's that sweet spot between a minor penalty (like -1 or -2) and forcing the target to take an automatic 0.

Another mechanic: FATE. You give the referee a point to use later against you to make something cool happen now. Oh, wow do I love this. So, you use resolve in combat, but you use fate outside of combat or when all of your resolve is spent. So, you’ve burned through all of your resolve, and you really, really, really want to do something cool because you just have to. You use a fate point, meaning that the referee gets to bank a point for later to use against you, or gets to roll on a random events table, or there’s some nastiness down the road. EXCELLENT! Using fate guarantees you of a success on your role, but at a major cost down the road. I'm play testing this that fate gives you an automatic result of 12 on your action roll (although I'm tempted to go with 13 for the unlucky nature of it- that's even cooler! It FEELS like a nifty mechanic, because it is). Your fighter uses a fate point now to get a natural 13 on his sword strike, knowing that when you get into the Lich's lair, he's probably going to go right after you with his mind control, and send you hacking at your allies. I love the social dynamic of this too- your team wants you to be awesome and kill stuff, but they do not want you using fate to make it happen; you always have the option of the easy button now, but you are going to PAY for it down the road in big ways.

I also stole the option of having characters decide their own sequence from the new Marvel game (at least what I've read about it... I don't have a copy). I truly wish that I'd thought of this first. It's such a simple, elegant solution, and it makes so much sense. The leader of the group will probably go first, and the referee can wait for his baddies to go at the end of the round- it's not going to kill him to let the heroes go first every round.
I'm posting the actual play results in the forums. Not to gush about my game too much, but this is far and away the most a session of any game I've written has felt like OD+D play. It had that same pace and all sorts of cool stuff happening... and this was a level 1 group against a gnoll. Oh gosh but I want to get to some higher-level play.