Game Mastery

Cutting the fat.

by on Jan.22, 2014, under NoDice

I’ve had writer’s block lately.  Not for posts here, but for my system.  In more game design woes I mentioned a set of combat features I was struggling with. I asked the GiantITP forums, like ya do, and was disappointed with the answer. Long story short the comment I got stuck on was that targeting a limb doesn’t make sense – in real combat you attack whatever you’re presented with. Yeah, you can argue that other systems do called shots. That’s not really what I’m getting at. Point is, I focused on that problem and stopped making progress because I was so focused on that one little sticking point.



The answer is to cut it.  I’m cutting it all.  Pretty much every feature listed in that post – locations damage as status effect, guard/advantage, reach, and engagement.  There may have been good ideas in there, but their inclusion was blocking the rest of the game.  If my system really demands some of those features (my guess would be reach weapons) I’ll come up with rules for them later.  For now, let’s make the basics work and then add enhancement.

Isn’t that basically what I said in the quotation I started that other post with?  Should have listened to that before writing the rest of it.


Okay, so what am I doing instead?  Let’s get back to the roots of the game.  I want something relatively light.  Not Risus, but closer to Risus than D&D.


I’ve also got all these willpower points floating around, so I’m thinking they’ll do double duty as HP as well.  When you damage someone they lose willpower points.  That seems like the obvious solution and maybe that’s a good thing.  Oh and when you’ve lost all those willpower points the next damage will affect a stat and be long lasting.  I like the idea of there being two types of HP, one that regenerates quickly and one that players might actually fear, but that neither of these adds something new to track.  I also like it thematically in that different types of damage will limit your character in different ways.  I’m not really sure what charisma damage looks like though, unless there’s an ugly stick in the game.


So far it seems too simple, but I think that’s deceptive.  You have four main stats with separate willpower pools.  Which one takes the hit?  I think the interesting part of that question isn’t “which” but “one”.  Just one pool can take that.  Let it be the recipient’s choice (at least for basic stuff – maybe spells or abilities could be more specific), but all the damage has to hit one stat.  I always liked managing where damage goes in Deadlands.

That does leave one remaining question though, and that’s what do I do with health.  I want to have a fifth stat for health but it’s only a partial stat that has no real skills.  I kinda have this idea of it ablating damage, but its willpower pool is worthless.  All it’s good for is taking damage, but the other ones take damage AND can boost skills.  Health needs its own specialty.


My first thought was that it could be the exception for choosing a stat to damage.  You can spend health plus any one other stat.  I think that’s a cute bonus, but it doesn’t really make health points worth investing in.


What I’m thinking now is that health points aren’t special but they’re more plentiful.  Like there would be an advantage that increases the cap and the total number of health points available.  I’m a little anxious about adding more advantages because I’ve got a habit of dumping ideas there.  Maybe another idea will come up.

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