Friday, March 12, 2010

Game-Fu 8: Refining

So it took me far too long to notice that my math was, to put it kindly, off. As much as I like a default target number of 7, because 7's such an iconic number in fairy tales, it doesn't really, y'know, work. Since that's the average of 2d6, rolling the baseline 3d6 pretty much guarantees at least one point of effect every time. That's too easy, especially if a character's defense is +3 per relevant blessing. The attacker is doing damage far too often, which makes combat a little too brutal for my liking.

One interesting thing about this mechanic is that even upping that number by a couple points can have a dramatic effect on the results. After all, it's not just that you're trying to beat, say, a 9 -- it's that you're trying to beat it with dice to spare. Nine's probably as high as I'd want to go. Higher than that, and succeeding at the default difficulty with no applicable blessings means having to roll 10 on 2d6, and that's unnecessarily hard. No, 9 is good. Someone without any advantages can still pull it off, but even one relevant blessing is likely to put you over the top (10.5 average on 3d6 vs. 14 average on 4d6).

This is made even more interesting by the Fortune/Misfortune mechanic. Do you really want a point of effect if the only way you can get it is by racking up a point of Misfortune? Are you willing to have less of an effect if it means nabbing a point of Fortune? I'm eager to see the choices players make in play.

Upping the default target number also has an effect on how defenses are calculated. I'm vacillating on static defenses vs. variable defenses, but the former's easier, so I'm going with that for now. Physical defense is 9 +3/Body blessing, and Mental defense is 9 +3/Mind blessing. If I limit blessings to a total of three, that should keep things from getting too far out of hand.

That brings me to damage. (Well, not necessarily, but I was going to get here somehow, so it may as well be via an inaccurate segue.) In keeping with the non-numeric character sheet -- seriously, so far your character is a collection of adjectives -- damage is measured in hardships. There are two basic categories of these,  physical (gained from damage in physical conflicts) and psychological (from social/mental conflicts), on two separate but convergent tracks. Here, it'll be easier to show than tell:

For every point of damage taken, fill in a blank with a single word that describes what's just happened to you. Start on the top row and work your way down. For example, if someone hits you with a knife for one point of damage, fill in the first physical blank with something like "Scratched" or "Cut." If you'd been hit for two points instead, you'd fill in the first two blanks, with the second blank representing a more severe result. It's the same with psychological "damage," such as that dealt through intimidation, fright, or even negotiation.

You'll notice that the two tracks converge on the bottom row. The separate tracks only go so far -- once you're damaged badly enough, it doesn't matter what finishes you off. If that bottom blank's already filled and you have to take another hardship, you're done for. That may mean you're dead, or unconscious, or cowering, or fleeing, or whatever. It's highly dependent on the situation. It's also not exactly an original idea, so I'm sure people out there are used to it already.

What do these hardships mean? Anyone attacking you can use them as blessings, but only one per row. E.g., if a Strong guy's attacking you with his big meaty fists, and you have a hardship of Bruised, he gets to roll 5d6 against you: the standard 3d6, plus 1d6 for being Strong, plus 1d6 for your hardship. If you had two hardships on the same row, he'd still only get a total of 1d6 from them, but if you had, say, two physical hardships and one psychological hardship, or two psychological and one physical, or two of each, he'd get 2d6.

Anyway, how do you recover from these things? The top row goes away at the end of the scene. The middle row has to be "healed" with a roll -- the difficulty's, say, 12. One point of effect moves it up a row; two points removes it entirely.

As for the bottom row, that's another story. Those hardships never go away until the end of the story, barring something truly extraordinary (like Queen Mab magicking it away). It doesn't just go away, though -- it gets translated into another curse. Curses are, as far as I can tell, always mental, so the new curse would have to be, too. Again, the exact nature of this new curse would be dependent on the hardship that spawned it.

Apart from magic and a situational modifiers, I think that's about it for the mechanics. Nice and simple. Such a departure from Leftovers. Not that Leftovers is a mechanically complex game, but it's a damn sight more complex than... this game. Whatever it's called.

No comments:

Post a Comment