Sunday, August 1, 2010

Resource Management

As I wrap up work on the Hero’s Handbook for Resolute, Towers of Arvandoria, I find that the game is growing in a direction I didn’t quite expect. The further into designing this game I go, the more I find that the game is primarily about resource management, especially at higher levels. The game gets crunchier as you pick up additional abilities that grant these resources. As a player, you have a lot of control over this, and how it impacts your play experience. Generally speaking, the game rewards those players willing to take on an additional burden of keeping track of resources. Here are some examples, using ‘fighter types’ to give you some examples:

At the most basic, you can become a wood troll berserker, giving you only a few resources to manage: you have your wounds to keep track of, and the bonus from greater frenzy to factor into your rolls once you activate it. That’s about it. Similarly, a storm dwarf myrmidon gives you an escalating bonus to attacks over four rounds; once you hit your peak, there’s nothing else to keep track of (other than wounds), if you don’t buy it.

At the far extreme, you can become a human templar with the leadership ability and a variety of spells. Now, you have a bunch of stuff to keep track of…
- You have a pool of wounds to distribute among allies to heal them.
- You have a pool of shield points to distribute among allies to protect them.
- You have a pool of bonus fate points (from leadership) to distribute among allies to help them.
- You have your own wounds to keep track of.
- You may have an energized weapon, giving you a pool of bonus wounds you can deal.

As you can see, your approach to character design can vary wildly between comparable hero ‘types’, leaving you with a plethora of ways to build your hero that are all viable. This doesn’t just apply to melee fighters, either… you can build a single-minded caster (primarily dealing ranged damage), or you can build a versatile caster, purchasing dozens of unique spells and minor abilities.

This applies to monsters as well: where you can build a simple foe with only 4-6 abilities, you can build complex, multifaceted foes who wield a number of options, having over 20 distinct abilities, most of which it will use during a single scene.

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