Monday, May 31, 2021

Fresh Eyes - Range

I'm doing a broad strokes skim through of the rules right now, looking at it with fresh eyes. This is very helpful. I'm asking about some of the foundational things - it's not that I'm looking for things to change, but I'm asking if things are in there that don't need to be. Basically, what is there because it's necessary or adds appreciably to gameplay, and what's there because I have some sort of default assumption it has to be? It's a relic of 40 years of familiarity with this system? (Yeah. It's 40 years. I started with the 1981 edition of B/X, so you do the math...)

Range is one of those things. At first, it seems to make sense - the range of Hawkeye's arrows is going to be shorter than the range of Iron Man's repulsor blasts... right? I mean, it doesn't 'feel' like it in the movies; we never have dramatic moments where Hawkeye cannot target something but Iron Man can - where Thor can hit it with his hammer but Cap cannot throw his shield. I mean, it's not a dramatic thing - it's just not a super-heroic problem.

If we are concerned with the effective difference between assault rifles and sniper rifles, then things like range become important distinctions. But for supers? Meh. I mean, we could easily have a few different range categories; people are on one, tactical weapons are on another. Yes, your laser-guided missile is going to have more range than Cyclops' eye blasts; but his eye blasts and Magneto's magnetism are fundamentally the same in terms of range. We can go with a standard range, but then add limitations or enhancements to shift range in certain circumstances. For example, we could go with: 

  1. Short is up to 50' (no modifier)
  2. Medium is 51 to 250' (-2)
  3. Long is 251' to 1,000' (-4)

Part of the fun of fantasy games and spells in general is the tactics of how certain spells work; you have to be so close to the enemy, and the fireball has such-and-such area of effect, and how do we measure this to keep from frying the party too... but supers gaming has a different vibe. It's much broader strokes. I don't see the benefit of worrying over the individual range of every power. It's one less thing to track, one less thing to log, one less thing to add as a layer to every power; it's either range or it's not. 

Then you could add limitations and boons; a ranged power that only works at short range, or that takes no range penalties at longer ranges. 

The other thing is always, for me, is this something I cared about when I was twelve? That's my default assumption. I cared a LOT about whether Thor or Wonder Man could bench press more (like, cared about this wayy too much) but I never thought about how far Spiderman could shoot his webs, and whether this was farther than Human Torch could fire a bolt of flame. It was always 'hit a guy over there' and that was good enough for me. I want granularity (or the feel of granularity) in many places; the difference between your armor skin and my armor skin matters; who can fire their bolt of lightning farther is just not on the list.

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