Sunday, March 26, 2023

Little Changes That Add Up

I don't know if I've ever spent this much time and energy fine-tuning a game before. I am in NO rush to be done with Hack'D & Slash'D, and because of that I keep going back and making tweaks to the rules continually. I'm finding that little changes are adding up to big effects on gameplay, and on the flexibility of the rules. Here are some examples:

Changing the paradigm from class unlocking your weapons and armor to traits unlocking your weapons and armor has solved so many problems in a very elegant way. If you are a big, strong character, you can carry a big sword and wear plate mail - because you are big and strong enough to do it. If you've put your points here, then you probably won't have points left to be great at casting spells (because your mind will be pretty low). My hybrid caster/warrior (my preferred archetype at all times) is naturally not as good as either the pure warrior or the pure caster. He or she is going to be decent at both (I can set both might and mind to 3 at level 1), but will already be behind the warrior or wizard who put a 4 in one of those. 

Changing from spells automatically working (and then needing to find a way to put limits on them) to requiring a level check each time has been huge. The limitations are hard-wired into the basic mechanics. Now, you can go ahead and cast all the spells you want - but you always risk losing mana, and mana is a PITA to recover. 

I really like traits that allow you to grant benefits to other members of your team. I like to add little things that contribute mechanically to team work. However, since I often play solo, I never find these useful, and often find that they can harm a character. I'm finding ways to tweak such abilities so that they can be used for your benefit or another's benefit, as you see fit. This is HUGE, because now my solo character can take inspire (granting one automatic 12), and can use it solo, or can give it to someone else during a team up. This is one of those Aragorn abilities; he makes other people better by his presence, but he can also gut check when needed and force himself to do something remarkable.

I've known for a long time that I could write 100 pages of rules that would allow me to play the game I want to play, but with lots of fiddly details that made it happen. Eventually, I got to the point where I could write 80% of the game I wanted to play in 20-30 pages, and I was willing to make that trade off. I am almost to the point where I can play 100% of the game I want to play in 20-30 pages of rules, and that makes me quite happy.  

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