Saturday, December 28, 2013

What I've Been Working On

I've been off of school for the last week, and have been spending a lot of time with family, which has been great. We got to see Frozen yesterday, and it was the first movie that we've taken our daughter to that she sat through the whole thing! She quite enjoyed it, and Mary and I liked it, too. My birthday was Thursday (thanks to everyone who gave me a shout out) and that was fun as well.

As far as gaming (which is kinda' what this blog is about), I've been tinkering with all sorts of things. I gave myself a 'free pass' during this vacation - I know that as of January 1, I need to put most of my energies into getting Shakespeare Deathmatch done and that KS fulfilled, and then I can shift gears full time to the next project - whatever that is. I have a few ideas, but I've spent the last few days tinkering with the Army Ants game engine to see how I can port it over to fantasy, supernatural horror, and superhero genres.

I've learned that with some minor tweaks, I can simplify the basic game engine and port it over pretty much anywhere. In fact, it's almost MORE flexible than the Resolute game engine, which I find hard to believe. I was able to scratch out some builds for a variety of supers of various abilities and with some quirky powers, and I had an intuitive fix that the game presented almost immediately. Let me give you a for instance so you can see what I'm talking about... here's a character I'm playing (a basic level 1 D+D style cleric). The big change here is that some of the linked abilities/talents (like spells) instead of always piggybacking on an attribute die sometimes convert that modifier to a dice rating (+1 becomes D6 in this, +2 becomes D8, etc)

Ash (10 points) 16 hits
Body D6; Mind D6; Prowess   D8 (Melee +1); Spirit D6 (Faith +1)
Healing D6; Turn Undead D6

- Healing allows you, 3x per day, to restore dice + Faith hits to a target within 30’.
- Turn Undead allows you, at will, to use 1 turn to attempt to force an undead creature to turn back. Roll Dice + Faith, and the target rolls Spirit + Willpower to resist. If you roll 2 successes (10+ beyond the target’s resist) you instantly turn the target to ash, destroying it completely.

- She carries a light mace (D6 damage) and wears leather armor +1. I’ll give her basic starting gear including salt (D4), torches, a wooden stake (D4), and 3 uses of holy water (D6).

It balances itself in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:
- Since Body sets the rating for your weapons and armor, a character with high body (a fighter) automatically has access to better gear; a character with lower body (a magic user) automatically doesn't. You don't need artificial constraints. It gives verisimilitude that I can't wear the armor or carry the weapon because I'm not strong enough. It doesn't make sense (and never did to me) that I can't wear or carry this gear because it interferes with my mystical energy field...
- Each spell can have built-in limits to offset more power. For example, your basic fire spell can deal D6, D8, D10 or D12 damage depending on how much you invest in it, but you can use that every round. However, your fireball (which deals D6, D8, D10 or D12 per level) is only usable three times per day. It's an awesome spell, but you have limited access to it. Right now, I only see levels for players going up to about level 5, so that would cap things somewhat. As a level 5 caster, you could have a 'cheaper' fireball spell that deals 5D6 damage, or a very expensive one that deals 5D12 damage - or anywhere in between. Again, it's self-limiting. It makes no sense to purchase Fireball before level 2 (since the multiple dice don't kick in until then), and even if you put all of your eggs into your Fireball (investing the maximum points to get the D12 damage rating with it), you still will only deal 2D12 damage at level 2, which is great damage, but not a game balance issue. However, this gives a ton of variety, and three casters with very similar builds (they all have fireball) will have different variations on fireball, and do different things with it. Dragon breath works almost exactly the same way... dragon level x dice. A level 7 dragon (probably a pretty typical level for a dragon) deals 7D6 damage with even the most basic breath weapon - and a really good one deals 7D12 damage. Yikes.