29 January, 2013

Alternate combat system

Every once in a while we hear about a game with a "revolutionary" new combat system. I've heard it said about dozens of games that might simply use a d8 instead of a d6, or maybe an armour system that absorbs damage rather than increase the chance of a damage saving throw. People often think mundane things are revolutionary if they haven't encountered anything beyond the vanilla systems of rolling a d20, then rolling damage.

When I developed Ghost City Raiders, I really wanted something different from the game. I wanted something fast...so I created a set of hit locations and a series of combat stances that could be adopted by characters as they faced off against one another. This idea made the basics of combat quick and intuitive...Do you pick a defensive stance or offensive? Do you aim for the high parts of your opponent or do you strike low? Simple, you just pick your character's stance from the to and bottom edges of the character booklet and present it to your opponent. Your opponent does the same, and when the two combat stances are lined up against one another you can instantly see which areas of you opponent have been targeted and blocked, and which areas of your target have been targeted and not adequately blocked (they get the same details about their combat techniques against you). It doesn't require dice rolls or table references, you just pick a stance and your opponent does the same.

It's worked pretty well.

But I'm interested in pushing things further.

There are a few games that have actually done interesting things with the conflict resolution systems, and I'm thinking of incorporating them into an RPG based on old school PC and console games. A game to capture the essence of Legend of Zelda, side-scrolling adventure games like Golden Axe, or even strategic hex-combat games like Heroes of Might and Magic. These are the types of games I grew up with, the kinds of things that claimed to be computer roleplaying games but really offered no interactive story and no chance to get into a role at all. It doesn't mean I didn't have fun with them, but there always seemed to be something more that these games could have been.

The essence of combat systems in these games are quick, intuitive, they build up as the player opens new powers for their character.

I'd love to do his with an RPG combat system. I think the GCR model is probably a good basis, especially when combined with the combat cycle used in Exalted.

I might spend a couple of posts gradually building up the ideas in this combat system. This is the game that the Voidstone Chronicles logo was created for.

While I'm spitballing these ideas, any input is welcome.
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