Thursday, October 27, 2011

Doomed to Repeat; Creative Urges

Been a while since I've posted an update.  Here's what I've been working on.

My players and I grew frustrated with Saint Sage Edition since we were coming from some fast and loose systems.  Moving back to the structured, "There's a DC for that.  There's always a DC for that" was a bit of a wake up call.  As much as I love Sage Edition I'm beginning to realize that I love it for being a great d20 system and thus a great D&D system.  Thematically I don't think Star Wars and 20 levels really coincides.  With that in mind we came up with a very agreeable solution.  All the players love SW Minis.  I personally love it for it's simplified approach of taking the "Keep It Sweet and Simple" design approach of Sage and further boiling it down.  Abilities are useful, rather than roadblocks on the way to power.  Many abilities are resolved with a simple saving throw.  A Saving throw is always 11!  Talk about ease of use, this is a terrific rule of thumb (later expansions would add in Save of 6 or 16 but all it's really doing is adding or subtracting +5).  That single rule  I love so much I decided to adapt Static Save DC's for my own games.

So I began the task of going through the glossary and rules of Star Wars Minis to create a playable RPG system.  I'll talk more about that in a follow up post.

I've also been working on transcribing my thoughts to my over-burgeoning text documents.  From there I've been taking barebones systems and trying to create a rough draft of my games.  I'm of the opinion that at some point you need to start writing things down in a coherent fashion or you'll never make progress.  Things have been slow going so far.  I'll never marginalize the work of a copy editor again.  There is nothing more agonizing than taking well worded paragraphs and putting them on the chopping block to make a coherant idea fit on a single column or page.

Currently, I'm working on getting the basic combat system down.  Here is where I ran into a bit of trouble and it pertains to anyone interested in design and modification of RPG systems.  I wrote many posts ago about Wounds, the lifeblood of your character.  As opposed to Hit Points these represent actually taking a serious hit, and if you're lucky you can keep on going.  I based the idea (well revised it really) from the Star Wars RCR d20 system where a critical hit could go directly to Wounds.  Thus recreating the Samurai-things can be settled in a sudden stroke- action present in Star Wars.

 The problems were many of course, they decided to keep critical multipliers in, and as you can imagine doubling 2d8 plus modifiers will nearly always trump your Constitution score.  In my original revision I merely had criticals go straight to Wounds with no doubling or tripling to speak of.  I reasoned that damage progressed at a rate equal to half your level while Wounds progressed at a rate equal to your level, therefore damage would not out pace Wounds.  Of course this idea has a few holes in it, namely that it is ignorant of damage modifications that come from feat choices or class features but the basic premise was a decent one.

The critical system has gone through some changes since then.  Mostly to rectify the idea that a certain ability score will affect the severity of critical hits.  Also having Armor apply only to damage to wounds as a way to minimize extra rolling.  As I was writing up an example in the Critical section I was blindsided by the conclusion.  A man wearing decent armor would still be flat out killed by a man with a longsword and a decent damage attribute.  I put it succinctly, "The defender would then receive a whopping 19 Wounds.  At which point he presumably dies."

Here's the lesson.  This goes out to everyone who likes to propose changed to their RPG system of choice.
"Rules do not exist in a vacuum.  Remember that even the smallest changes can have far reaching consequences on the overall balance of the system."

As someone who decided to design a core system from scratch after coming to the conclusion that tinkering with an existing system to make it work was more trouble than it was worth, I had hoped that lesson would have stuck with me.  Now then, it's time to look into solutions.