Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!

I'm going back and forth between editing the core RPG rules and scanning/cleaning up comics pages, and I'm making considerable progress on both fronts. I've got almost 200 comic pages scanned at this point. I'll hit a rhythm where I scan 15 or 20 pages right in a row, and then my scanner will get buggy, I'll have to restart my computer, or an image will not square up no matter what I do, and I'll have to scan the same image a half dozen times before I get a publishable page.

I've pretty much made up my mind that I'll be getting the player's guide (the free core rules) ready first, and will release this shortly after the playtest period ends. That draft is at 41 pages without any art, so trimming it to the 48 pages I had planned (which isn't necessary, but was my goal) may be tough. In this edit of the RPG rules, I'm simplifying. Here are some examples of the sorts of things I'm editing:

Reaction rules. I don't expect these to be used every encounter, but I wanted a clear set of reaction rules so that this at least implies that you can (and should) try to talk your way out of some situations. You put mechanics in the game that you expect the players to use! No rules for it implies that you probably shouldn't be doing it... my first run through of reaction rules had specific DTs based on situations and character actions, and I tied it to Leadership, but then set up to differentiate between allies and enemies. It was a lot of work, and would be difficult to quickly referee in play, because it didn't use the same rules as everything else. Now, I've tied it to Moxy; you make the better of a Mind + Moxy or Spirit + Moxy roll, and the target rolls a Mind Feat to resist. Trying to get the Wasp Empress to let you live and trying to get the Ant General to let you borrow Ant Force One for a trip are equally difficult, and both require the same fundamental skills. You have to be smart (Mind) or you have to be able to read people (Spirit), and you need some chutzpah to pull it off (Moxy).

Object rules. I've used a formula where a physical object has two ratings: its exterior (what it soaks from every attack) and its interior (how much it can sustain before being destroyed). I've been going with the interior rating at twice the exterior rating, so a door might have a rating of 6/12 (soaks 6, takes 12 hits to destroy). However, this has felt a bit out of whack - the object should maybe absorb more, but be able to sustain less. It's easy enough (or rather, easier!) to go with one rating, and have this reflect both the exterior and hits. For example, change the door above to a rating of 9. Now, it soaks 9 hits from every strike, but once it suffers 9 hits total (beyond the 9 it soaks) it breaks. Well, that's fundamentally very close to the 6/12 (either door is one-shotted if it sustains 18 points or more). It's a simpler rule, is easier to remember, and is quicker in play. That's a win.

I go back and forth on Perks. These are bonuses you buy for 1 CP that generally grant a situational die shift... so your keen eyesight (1 CP) gives you a +1 die shift to Spirit Feats that rely on eyesight... the drawback of these sorts of things are that they end up being very fiddly, but the benefit is that you create an enormous subsystem for further exploration (stuff to create for the Adventure Journals!). I go back and forth because if you have keen eyesight, you already have a good Spirit... and if your eyesight gets better, you should probably just increase your Spirit to reflect this. Right now, Perks are in the draft of the rules, but I might end up dumping them altogether. I can always layer them back in a later supplement, but they feel somewhat out of place for the core rules. I don't have any Perks right now that are necessary or which provide options the rest of the rules don't already allow. If I keep the Perks, I might layer them in as a free bonus for your character... or make this part of randomization. You can get from 0 to 3 perks at character creation, and you roll randomly for these. Then, there's a chance that you end up with some negative perks as well (I suppose they need another name - 'perk' implies it's a good thing!). Obviously, I have more thinking to do on this... I am going to have some alternate character options in the Appendices to the core rules, and maybe Perks should end up there. These aren't part of the core rules, but by definition are an add-on you can put in your games as desired.