I updated the actual play thread (over in the Hack'D & Slash'D resources tab). I got to play test changes, and made a few more tweaks on the fly, and I really like the rule changes. This all feels very balanced and there are no glaring challenges; even a small amount of damage (an offhand that deals 2) can deal significant damage (4 points) on a natural 12 with a failed opposing armor check. I like it.
I made a few changes to mana, and these really work nicely… you can only cast spells ranked at your current mana +1; this means that as a longer fight wears on, you have fewer high-power spells to choose from. This ‘feels’ like a wearing down. I haven’t done any high-level play yet, but the idea that you can keep trying your heavy hitter spells each round is something I’d like to mitigate a bit when we get there. This should do it… There’s already the incentive not to try rank 6 spells when you don’t really need to (you have a 50% chance of losing a mana point with each attempt), but this would be even more resource management on the caster’s end, which I don’t necessarily mind.
Speaking of which, there was very little in the way of resource management between combats. Almost everything resets at the beginning of the next minute, meaning that it is going to be very unusual for wounds or lost mana to carry over between fights. This is not a good or bad thing, necessarily, but will prevent games from becoming wars of attrition over time. I didn’t love that so I added a slower drip on mana recovery. You don’t reset your mana every minute, but recover 1 mana every hour. This makes healing fully between combats in a dungeon more problematic, since your rest can be interrupted by wandering monsters. It might add that layer of larger attrition without adding a lot of complexity. I found that Vessa was healing only as much as she felt she had to, because the risk of rolling a 1 and being out of mana was a bit scary.