Tuesday, March 28, 2023

More Fiddly Bits

The further I delve into the rules for Hack’D & Slash’D, the more happy I am with the game balance that has been hard-baked into the fundamental mechanics. Let me give you a few examples:

There are no specific restrictions about armor and weapon usage by class or role, because there don’t need to be. Since your traits set your availability of armor, weapons and magic, you cannot be great at all of those; if you take more might, you get access to heavy melee weapons and armor, but you won’t have much in the way of magic or ranged attacking, because you don’t have the points to do it all. If you get access to a lot of powerful magic, then you won’t have the points to also wear good armor and carry a longbow. You’ve got to make decisions. You can be an arcane archer (mind 3 and reflex 3 at level 1), being pretty good with both bow and magic. You won’t be as good as a pure archer or pure magician, but you’re close. There are no rules or restrictions needed for this. I also like that your ‘role’ can be largely malleable as a result. You can be a ‘fighter’ who wears lighter armor but carries a great bow, or you can be a ‘fighter’ who wears plate mail and wields a greatsword. Either is a viable warrior.

The magic system also balances itself. One of the bread and butter spells is vestments; it allows any caster to use a task to activate armor 2. Armor 2 is not much (the equivalent of studded leather), but considering that it potentially soaks 2 points from every attack you suffer, it can really matter. However, because it requires a task to activate, it also means you are checking the companion action with -1 edge. With a standard attack, you can just go for it; you miss, you miss. For spells, this significantly increases the odds that you are going to fail and burn one of your precious mana points. Strategically, most casters are going to cast a task or two in the first round while moving into position (getting themselves maximized for combat effectiveness), and then start their full assault in round 2. I like how the mechanics lead to some strategic thinking where you can’t just throw your best spell every round. It makes sense to give yourself a cantrip first that will make sure a later spell is more successful.

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