Monday, January 18, 2010

Game Design Journal #3 - M.A/C.C

For today's entry, I think I'll take what I talked about last night and show how I am applying it in M.A/C.C. So, in short, this is another blog about the Player Characters and how they progress through the game. It may end up not being a particularly long entry, but it should give a bit more insight into the game itself as well as what I was speaking about in yesterday's post.

Power Progression Structure
For the power progression in the game I opted to go with a point buy system, while the structure for the point buy is different from GURPS and Champions, and what you can buy isn't quite as in depth (the idea, at least starting off is to not have crazy powers flying around) but the basic idea behind it is essentially the same. There aren't levels, nor do you unlock access to new abilities by crossing a threshold of experience gained or spent, everything that is in the game is open to you right from the beginning. Along with all the strengths and weaknesses that system brings with it.

Essentially, at character creation you receive a number of points to buy your core stats with. After which, you are given another allotment of points to buy skills, perks (read: advantages), and restrictions (read: disadvantages). Finally, you are given a final allotment of points for buying your gear, basically your gadgets, gizmos, armor, and weaponry.

In this, character creation follows the structure of a lot of 'Mixed' player progression systems, though I still stand by the lack of any levels, and the fact that you can start a new character off as a complete combat monster (literally as good mechanically at it as you can be in the system, right from the beginning), or a monster in any other aspect that you want.

Actual progression with experience is currently a bit closer to a level progression system. It is rare that you see Batman, Green Arrow, or any of the other types this game is trying to emulate actually improve mid-story in the way that characters tend to during the course of a game. So, the idea is to keep XP gains during the story to a minimum (though not 0), while giving a lump sum of it at the conclusion of the story, before the next one begins in what I'm currently calling 'Training Time'. This though, requires a bit of testing, as the idea isn't to stifle the feel of the character's growth, so much as it is to make it feel more like the target genre that the game is going for.

Starting Point
Where a new player will start off power-wise in the world, as I said, is an important decision. For M.A/C.C considering the genre, and the characters we are trying to emulate, I opted for players starting above and beyond the normal person. You start off competent, and the assumption is that PCs are highly competent, and highly talented individuals.

You start off with enough points to be 'above average' in every stat, or you can choose to specialize and be truly capable in that area. As I said above, it is possible to be the best possible mechanical fighter in the game right from the beginning. You have just enough points to pull it off, however, you are going to be incredibly weak in other areas of the game. It is however important that the option is there for the player.

This means GMs may have a bit of trouble balancing things between characters at times, but considering the game is you starting off having just finished 5-10 years of intense training, or already being intensely trained in some other fashion before you return to wage your personal war, it is perfectly within genre to do, and there are more than enough other ways to challenge players in the system that I'm not overly worried about the fact that you can max out one or two areas right from the get go.

Hopefully this shows you a bit more of what I was talking about yesterday via its application in M.A/C.C. Keep those points in mind when making your own game.

Happy Gaming

1 comment:

  1. As usual, good food for thought here. In a recent blog (2013) you talk about downtime in-between adventures. Stressful/exciting times are more so if you also have downtime. But I wasn't really sure what that looked like - I don't think my players would know what to do on their own without some strong hooks present.

    But reading a couple of blog posts here gives me some thoughts. In Dark Heresy it's not really discussed "where" and under what circumstances you can spend your XP. It's assumed you basically accrue the new skills/better-characteristics over the course of a scenario. Of course, that doesn't entirely mesh with the fact that you don't experience those benefits over the course of the scenario-in-question but, rather, suddenly realize these benefits right afterwards.

    This has me thinking of requiring players to spend some downtime of training to spend their XP and possibly require a reasonable IC location/circumstance in which to do it. In Dark Heresy they work for a powerful secret organization, so perhaps they have to be at a location of this institution or one of the sister institutions for training to spend their XP. I like it in theory.

    Of course, there's going to be times when one scenario ends with them getting a "hot" lead to another scenario but, naturally, they want to take 2-3 weeks of downtime/debriefing/training so they can spend their XP. But them having to make that decision is probably a good thing.

    Main caveat, I think, is as GM being prepared for them as a result passing on the hot lead they would otherwise jump at. Being prepared for that plot-wise with the ramifications of them following-up 1-3 weeks later and having built-in reasons making it difficult for them to blow off the plot-hook altogether since they'd be "late".

    Hm, it's an important call with pretty extensive ramifications that I have to make before the next session. It's early in the campaign but they're going to get XP this next session and the sooner the better if I'm going to introduce something like this into the overall structure.