Saturday, August 20, 2011

The War In The Heavens pt. 10: unstable mechanics charge way too much

Yesterday's post illustrated a few things to me about my game that I had not considered. I realized that the mechanical pieces of my game do not fit well together. I have three parts to the mechanics so far. I really like each of them, but as it stands they are not a unified whole. I know that I promised a bit of setting fiction here today, but I think that this is a more important item on the old to do list.

So first lets take a look at the three mechanical pieces that I have at the moment:

  • Aspects: I have a very specialized form of aspect in my game. The aspects allow for a re-roll, or add a die to an existing roll. Also they can be invoked for effect, compelled, and used in maneuvers like an aspect in any Fate game. I really like Fate, and so it is no surprise that I am utilizing a lot of what I have learned from that system in my own. Currently Player Characters will have four aspects:

    • Vision: Vision will be the characters view of himself. I see this as kind of a high concept. Basically who and what is your character? The tricky part will be making this useable in play, but I think that with a few examples and the proper advice section this should be easy enough.

    • Commandment: This is a little more nebulous. So I think I will be making a concrete set of commandments for the players to choose from depending on the culture they come from. This will be kind of like the Magic keywords in HeroQuest. Where you pick a god, belief structure, or magical philosophy and you can pick a set of keywords from that section that define your character. I think something like that will work here. Though I think the players should have a say in how it is presented as an aspect. This need some work, but is small potatoes as far as my mechanical issues go.

    • Crusade: Your crusade is your current goal. I see this a bit like a Belief in Burning Wheel. This will be the thing that drive's your character for the foreseeable future. Basically this may change from session to session, or story to story. This will need to be worked out as a group as the Crusade will be the same for everyone in the group. Now the phrasing and emphasis will change from player to player. And if I use a patron system(like in Traveler) then perhaps the patron(i.e. The GM) will have a say in it as well. This is the Aspect that may change the most in play testing, as I am unsure how well it will work.

    • Failing: I am not sure I like the term Failing for this. I have thought about using Vice or Fault, but they don't really capture what I am looking for either. This is going to be an aspect that will be primarily used for compels. It will work a lot like Trouble in Dresden Files. This is what complicates your life.

  • Roll/Keep: I have this idea for precision in this. Basically you set the target number and roll a number of dice. You add up only a certain number of the rolled dice. The closer to the target number the better. There will be a three point area around the target number. For example if the target number was twelve, the the success margin would be between nine and fifteen. I really like how this sounds. However, I have not play tested this idea, and I am completely unsure how it affects probability. I have so many variables with the other parts of the system that I am unsure how to calculate how hard it will be to hit the mark every time. I love the concept, but am unsure it will work. Also there is the thought that if the number of dice you are allowed to keep is too high, or the amount of dice you roll is too close to the amount you keep, then there could be problems with hitting low numbers. In fact low numbers seem to be the issue here. I do not yet have a fix.

  • Attributes: I want there to be a set of attributes, between five and seven. I want there to be a primary attribute and there to be a weak attribute. The weak attribute will have no inherent pool. The primary will have a higher than normal pool. The remaining will all be at a standard pool. This leads to a problem. How to do the Roll/Keep with this system? I see a few ways around the problem. The one I am leaning toward is similar to aspects, only there will be no fate involved, but that changes the part about aspects. Basically my idea is to have a bunch of key ideas about your occupation, beliefs, and culture, as well as having equipment. Each of those gives you one die to a roll, but they can stack with others. This would allow for you to pull in a great deal of concepts into a roll, theoretically making them more meaningful. The idea sort of comes from the Smallville RPG, kind of. Again though I am unsure how this will feel when the dice fall. Another issue is that I do not have any names for the attributes, as I am unsure what I want them to model.

So those are my issues with the mechanics as I have presented them. I have a few ideas for some fixes, as you can see, but overall I am a bit stymied. I guess I will have to play around some more with them to get something I feel works. The big question is will it be fun? And to that I do not know yet. I have a system that is coming together slowly, and a setting I think is interesting. But that's all me, we'll see when I start testing this.

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