Saturday, May 12, 2012

Infinite Earths Overview: Force of Arms

In any tabletop roleplaying game, you're going to get into a fight--that's generally a given.  And especially so in OGL games, since they're based in the age-old tradition of "break into monster's house, kill monster, loot monster."  And while with Infinite Earths we're moving away from the model of combat being the central focus of the gaming experience, it's still going to be pretty darned important.  Because combat is fun!  And dangerous!  And because we enjoy tactical play, both on and off the battlefield.

So the question becomes, do we do anything to change combat, to give it that unique Room 209 feeling?  Or do we leave it largely alone?  As it turns out, we've been working on streamlining it so that there aren't so many situational modifiers:  bonuses, negatives, magical blessings, buffs--a lot of these things go away, because we found that they actually slow down play.  Also, statistical modifiers--how interesting is a statistical modifier, when compared to a new ability that just lets you do something cool?

So we've made some changes in the nature of combat.  The first change is there isn't a Big Chart of Weapons.  Weapons no longer have the various different costs, crit ranges, damage dice, etc. that inevitably boils down to, "which of these will get me the biggest damage for the least amount of effort?  I'll take that one!"

Instead, we have 7 classifications of weapons:  Quick, Light, Medium, Heavy and Great.  They do, in order, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10 and 1d12 points of damage.  They all crit on a natural 20, and when they crit they all do double damage.  They all cost something different, because it requires an ever-increasing amount of material and time to forge them, but, say, a Great Sword won't cost any different amount of gold than a Great Axe.

(And for you ranged attackers out there, don't worry, there are still Bows and Crossbows.  And we haven't forgotten our martial artists, either--we have basic Brawling, as well as more complex Crane, Dragon, Leopard, Snake and Tiger styles.)

But doesn't that take some of the fun out of choosing weapons, you ask?  In part, maybe--but we recognize that sometimes a player wants her character to wield a weapon that looks cool, even if that weapon isn't as awesome in the game.  Say, a Warhammer versus a Broadsword.  By breaking weapons along these lines, players are freed to choose the style of weapon they would like to wield, regardless of combat advantages or disadvantages.

Also, in keeping with our goal that the character, not the equipment, is the hero of the story, we introduced a second major change.  Instead of having weapon proficiencies that dictate you're skilled with "this group of weapons, and can use them without penalty", we've added in Fighting Styles.  Here's an example:

Dual Weapon (Fighting Style)
Attribute: Agility
Roles: Dervish
Description: Your character is proficient in the use of Light weapons and Quick weapons in both his main and off hand, and can wield these weapons in both hands without penalty.  Your character is also proficient in the use of a Medium weapon in his main hand and a Quick weapon in his off hand, and can wield any set of weapons in this configuration without penalty.  Dual Weapon Style permits two attacks per minor action, one with each weapon.

(The text and format might still be subject to change, of course, but the idea will remain the same.)

With this fighting style, which is based on Agility (our Dexterity-analogue), you can just fight with two weapons of Medium or smaller size.  You have to make attack rolls for each weapon, but there's no penalty for that--you just get to do it.  The Dervish combat role gets this ability automatically at first level.  There's no need to penalize any attack rolls or damage rolls since statistically, because dual-weapon wielders must roll twice to get their "full damage",they're already less likely to get full damage than a character wielding a single weapon.  But they are statistically more likely to do at least some damage in a round.

Additionally, different fighting styles open up different abilities down the line.  For example, if you're a dual-weapon specialist, you can mangle your opponents:  dealing extra damage if both of your attacks in a round succeed.

And that leads into the third (and last, for today) major change we made:  we've completely changed the dynamic of multiple attacks per round.  Now. . .now, you get one.  (Or two, if you're a dual-weapon wielder).  That doesn't change as you level up.  You get one at 1st level, you get one at 20th level.

Now, the eagle-eyed among you might have noticed some verbiage in the Dual Weapon ability description that seems shocking.  We'll talk more about the Infinite Earths action economy next time.

See you then, and thanks for reading!

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