November 21, 2010

Minimum Competence

I promised an ExoSquad update, and while there isn't much in the way of firm rules yet, as I'm a firm believer in designing by design. But that said, even after the ideas are there and the design bible written, you have a crazy idea that you've just got to try.

I stumbled upon that idea today. Imagine never missing. You roll the dice knowing you'll hit, but the dice tell you something more than a simple pass or fail: they tell you how effective you are.

Low rolls mean you graze or just scare your opponent, high rolls are deadly accuracy.

Applying this idea to ExoSquad, I've got a quick idea of how I can go about it.

Assuming a twenty-sided die, I'd make 1s always give a single point of heat.  After all, that's what heat is, right? It is something to worry about, even if it doesn't hit. Then, in the 2-5 range, it'd be based on weapon, maybe a smaller amount of heat, or a small beneficial effect like forced movement.

Stepping up the ladder, we get into the 6-13 range, the classic range of potential hit zones.  This will be your baseline effects, mostly damage, with an added benefit.

Then we push into the 'guaranteed hits', 14-18.  They aren't 100%, but a good portion of the time, a 14 (Or 70%+ for percentile.) or better is going to hit the target.  These get bonuses: a more powerful secondary effect, more damage.

Then we have the 'critical range' of 19-20. In Exosquad, this zone will be for the absolutely amazing effects at each level. And most of them should include an immediate threat roll from the enemy, in addition to whatever benefit it offers.

So, one roll determines effect, another spits out the specifics of the hit. Of course, each type of weapon and attack will have different riders and abilities, with different levels of damage to go with it.

In an effort to speed up game play, as most tactical RPGs have a bad habit of bogging down in combat, how do I apply this concept to the NPC killables? My idea is simple: a choice. Each enemy offers either two effects, and the player may choose which they want.

Perhaps an infantryman with a mounted machine gun can offer either an amount of heat (Say. . . a four-sided die.) or one heat and a forced move to represent a tactical retreat.

This system leaves the effects entirely in the hands of the players, who can choose between significant damage and stuns, or movement into what may be a less useful position and damage.

So, think about it, maybe try it out at home with a quick system hack in your tactical RPG of choice.  Let me know!

For a little bonus, I’ve also been thinking on Velocity, and have decided it’ll be more interesting as a ‘shared story’ type RPG where winning the dice roll means you decide the narration of the event, instead of determining pass/fail. I’ll need to set the thresholds regarding when you can actually knock an opponent out of the race, though leads will be determined by the narrator.

Come back next week for part three of Hook, Line and Sinker, and find out how Adventures should be planned using narrative tools.

Your initiative, readers; comment below:

Do you think removing the ‘whiff factor’ from games is a good idea?

How would you like to steal the DM’s thunder and choose the outcome of events in Velocity?


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