Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Design Goals

Since it's been a while and I've been re-working a lot of the mechanics, I've been feeling the need to restate some of the goals of the game system that I'm creating here.  Overall I think I can sum it up with the following vision statement:

To create a open role-playing system supporting campaign play that integrates shared story telling and hero development, where the journey is as important and dangerous as the destination.
  • Combat is both deadly and heroic, wounds are often crippling and slow to recover.
  • Actions have consequences, poor choices most often lead to poor outcomes.
  • Every Hero has a role, and every role has a moment to shine.
  • Simplicity is preferred over complex tables and realism is the Game Masters guide.
  • Hero advancement is slow and often temporary or cyclic based on items that have single or limited number of uses. 
  • Having a good time in a shared heroic story telling environment is the ultimate goal.

Now, I realize that many systems can claim these same goals, but I've made significant effort to hold true to these in many of the system design choices that I've had to make.  In some situations, when I've had a difficult time finding a balance between Simplicity and Realism, I've attempted to choose Simplicity as the default, but provide a consistent optional rule to allow GM's add realism when they desire.

Something that I've really tried to do is allow characters to "choose" their battles, based on an underlying terrain type and difficultly of areas of the world.  Thus, roads often mark the "safest" routes between points, but not the fastest, and speed can be gained through adding danger to the journey...or they can self govern their choices by understanding some of the basic creatures found in an area.  Also, it should be quickly apparent when the heroes are out matched, or given the location of an abandon civilization how prepared a party would have to be to even make it there, let alone explore it.

I've decided to move away from the term "character", and settle on the term "Hero" as the base term for the actors the players control in the shared story of a campaign.  Additionally, a Hero begins the game at "Above Average" ability, they are visibly able to handle themselves better than most in the commoners, and because of this they are sought out or targeted as someone to help when most are heading the other direction.  This above average ability only goes so far, as the further from civilization the Heroes get the less apparent they are "above average".  Advancement is possible, but is traditionally much slower than other game systems.

Typically, the Hero a player has at the beginning of a adventure is going to be roughly the same as one that the end of a adventure, assuming they survive.  The major difference is going to be in the loot that they possess, loot being most often in the form of items...Think "Doom" the difference in ready for the "Boss" and not ready is the amount of health and ammo that you have.  Loot is equally as important to the enemy, there's a big difference in a town's folk and a town's folk with a grenade.

Not only does Hero's overall all power vary with the items at their disposal, but the abilities change as well.  There's no doubt that there's a big difference between a dagger and a flail, so I've chosen to grant abilities that are only usable given certain weapons.  A dagger is fast and close weapon, its much easier to hit then your that close to an opponent, it may not deal as much damage, but you can invoke the abilities grant to your Hero by wielding a dagger, abilities such as Vital Strike, Double Strike or even Triple Strike are granted to reflect the weapons speed.  A flail on the other hand, can Trip an opponent, Stun them, or deal a Crushing Blow.

Another item worth mentioning on the "goals" page is that a play session should be spent "developing your hero".  "What would they do?",  should be asked much more than, "What do the rules say?".  Attempting actions based on how you view your hero should be your guide, not meta-gaming to achieve actions that you know would be beneficial in game terms.

Also, I've removed traditional "leveling" to avoid what I refer to as "XP Whoring".  Players that know combat is the way to maximize XP per hour of play, so they can achieve the next level to get increased HPs, Defs, and Abilities, only to fight creatures that also have higher HPs, better Defs and more powerful abilities.  These systems typically minimize actions that occur outside of combat, so players rush characters from one battle to another, never really developing their characters outside of combat.

This system encourages day to day actions, where typically everything can be a opportunity for character development.  The whole session may be spent shopping for supplies, or crawling around a dungeon, the rewards are based on the actions performed and the ingenuity of the player, not the body count at the end of the night.

Yes, combat can be heroic, and is apart of most sessions, but it should be apparent that it is too be avoided, unless the party has the advantage and that there is a significant reward in proceeding into the battle.  The battles are typical one or two per session, possibly more if they are minor skirmishes of single entities.  However even minor creatures, given a bit of luck can leave a lasting wound that has significant penalties or even death.

I think that about does it for giving an idea of the design goals for the system I am creating here.

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