Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Of Armor and Weapons

I've wanted for some time to create a stronger difference between unarmored/unarmed characters and their armored/armed foes. A +1 difference between the character wearing leather armor vs. no armor, or the character wielding a dagger vs. no weapon at all, has been too thin in previous incarnations of the game. I've come up with a solution I quite like, but I need to play test this to see how much of a killer this is (because I KNOW it's going to be a killer)...

With no (or insufficient) armor/weapons ability ratings, you default to D6 instead of D12 for damage or soak rolls. This means that your poor magician who has neither armor nor weapons abilities is walking around soaking D6 damage, and dealing D6+1 with that dagger he picked up and swings around (although he has no idea what he's doing), while the town guard with only armor +1 and weapons +1 gets to soak D12+1 wounds with his serviceable suit of leather armor and deals D12+1 wounds with his club. He lays the physical beat down on the magician.

I don't want to increase the complexity of the game too much for no good reason, but I also want to make sure I don't have magicians walking around in Cavarian Plate Mail +6 simply because D6+6 to soak is much better than D6 unmodified. Here are two solutions...

First of all, I could add a might requirement for armor; you must have both the armor rating and the might rating of the suit in order to wear it. This becomes somewhat problematic and limiting at higher levels, and it also bogs the game down a bit.

Secondly, I could add an armor spell for magicians (and their rogue friends) that effectively replicates leather armor +1; you cast the spell, and get to roll D12+1 to soak the next consecutive strikes that hit you, up to your rating. With arcane bolt +5, you would soak D12+1 vs. 5 consecutive strikes after casting your mage's armor spell.

I'm hesitant to have a 'no armor for magicians' rule, although I could see this as a limitation (granting 2 CPs) that most magicians would willingly pick up; your order precludes you from wearing armor.

A simple fix for this also is to say that any armor or weapon rated +3 or more beyond your ability cannot possibly be used by you... so with armor +1, you can wear leather +1 (soaking D12+1), studded +2 (soaking D6+2), chain +3 (soaking D6+3), but scale +4 or greater is beyond your ability to even try; it's too heavy, too bulky, and too awkward for you right now to continue to do the other things you do well. This steps out the abilities a little bit, is easy enough to remember, and feels more intuitive.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Random Thoughts and Other Musings

I haven't been posting lately in large part because of how busy and chaotic life has been, but also because the work I've been doing on Resolute has been both busy and chaotic. I'm allowing it to be a bit of a chaotic mess right now to let ideas percolate, but that doesn't mean I'm not making significant progress. I'm world building, dungeon designing, mechanic tweaking, monster making, rules writing and edition delving all at one time. A few quick hits to give you some ideas of my ideas....

- I'm thinking of monster listings as more open-ended frameworks rather than 'static' monster blocks. For example, for skeletons, you will get a list of the basic abilities all skeletons have, a smorgasbord of options many skeletons have, and a few 'common' types of skeletons the heroes might encounter, at 3 different levels of difficulty. Each 'monster' then gets a full page in the rules (along with more direct notes about habitats, behaviors, how to use them in the game) and a chunk of stats to build your own. This should be easy enough for referees to use quickly, but create enough of a sense of a 'living' environment that monsters are dynamic and interesting.

- I've never known what to do for sure when a character has no weapons/armor ability, or when this ability is below the rating of the weapon or armor the character has. I've never been completely satisfied with my previous solution (your ability rating caps your progression), although it's worked; with armor +3, any armor beyond +3 simply defaults to a +3 rating for you. A wizard with weapons +0 who picks up a staff +1 still gets +0 damage with it. Meh. I didn't have a better solution... until now. My current thinking is that your 'unarmed' damage is a base D6 instead of D12; if you have the ability weapons +1 and you pick up a dagger +1, you deal D12+1 damage with it; if you pick up a sword +3, you get to deal +3 damage with it, but you default to your unarmed die with it, so you deal D6+3 damage with this sword. A character with no ability wielding a +10 weapon is still going to do significant damage with it (D6+10), but not as much as a character with weapons ability at +10 (D12+10). This would also mean that with no armor at all (or no training in armor), you soak D6 damage instead of D12. This is tough on the poor wizards! I think that this rule may only apply to damage rolls and not to soaks; otherwise, wizards and low-level rogues are going to be even more squishy than they were before. Then again, this is all the more reason to pick up a few points in armor, or to make sure that your fighter and cleric are at the front taking all the damage. Hmmmm. This one I may playtest some. The other implication here is for monsters... a monster with NO invulnerability is going to roll D6 to soak damage, and is going to be much easier to take down. I'd expect that this would mean that pretty much every monster has a minimum of armor or invulnerability +1, if for no other reason than to take advantage of that D12 soak roll. However, low-level mobs now become even more vulnerable... a giant rat soaking D6 damage against your D12+3 weapon is not likely to live long. That's rather the way it should be...

- Speaking of play testing, I'm still doing quite a bit of it, I just am not posting results. I don't get around to writing it all up, and I find some things out, tweak, and try some more things. Don't take my silence as a lack of progress... I want to make sure that as I play test, I'm creating things that might actually make it into the game. This means I've spent a LOT of time thinking about Mount Brim and the implications of it to the greater game world (if it is my version of Castle Greyhawk- and it is).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Decade in Review

I've been sincerely publishing fantasy RPGs since 2002 (basically producing a new fantasy RPG every two years since that time). Inspired by the way the designers of D+D Next went back and played through every edition of D+D to derive the 'ultimate' D+D experience (at least in theory...), I've started a magical mystery tour through my own work to see what works and what doesn't, and to strive towards a Legacy version of my fantasy rules using the newest version of Resolute as the core system. In the time I've spent going through old files and flipping through old books, I've made a few discoveries:

- Every thing I've created has had some great elements, and has also had a few things that kept it from breaking through. Each was truly a 'fantasy heartbreaker' in every sense of the idea; some great possibilities and flashes of goodness that get bogged down by a few things that don't fit, mechanics ported from other systems that don't belong, or ideas that are not sufficiently developed to really work.

- I have far more material sitting on my hard drive than I thought I did. Hundreds of pieces of art, dozens of maps, over a dozen finished adventures, and all sorts of seeds sit scattered in various places for various systems. My summer project (after getting the new edition of the fantasy rules finished and published) is to go through this material and update it all for the current edition. I can quickly put out a library of support material for the new game; much of this stuff was seen by 8-10 people over the last 5 years, and there's no reason not to take everything I've done, polish it up, align it with the new rules, and get it out to support the game.

- I will need to generate some new art for the new game, but my target is going to be 4-6 excellent, well-designed signature pieces to set up the main categories of the book; almost every part of the book that I need to illustrate has something on my computer that I am proud of, and which I think will work nicely in the new edition. Probably 3/4 of the art for the new edition will be recycled from previous releases, but with the small audience that has seen the bulk of what I've created before, I don't feel too bad about this!