Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If I Could Cherrypick Mechanics

On Friday I talked about my current favorite system - 7th Sea 2nd Edition - but despite my love for 7th Sea, it's not the system with the best mechanic for everything I want or love in games. Today I want to see what would happen if I did cherrypick my favorite mechanic from the world of RPGs out there, and how to make them work. I invite you all to do the same.

Damage & Health: Mutants and Masterminds
I love the way damage works in Mutants & Masterminds. It is probably my favorite way for handling it - if a bit clunky at times - and one of the more cinematic damage systems out there. For those that don't know how it works, it goes like this.

Damage is inflicted as the difficulty for a toughness save (i.e. you don't roll damage so much as your damage is a known number the target rolls against.) If you succeed you're fine. If you fail you take a level of bruised. If you fail by 5 or more you take a level of bruised and are stunned for a round. If you fail by 10 or more - or fail by 5 or more on a second hit while stunned - you are staggered. 5 more (or another hit while staggered) and you are unconscious or dying depending on the lethality of the attack.

On its own pretty simple, but the fun comes in in two ways. 1) every point of bruised you have is a -1 penalty on your toughness saves. This means that someone you can barely hurt, given enough time and beating, can be chipped down into someone you can stun, then stagger, then K.O. which is just great for super hero fights, and for cinematic fights in general. 2) You can take a round to 'rest' and try to heal some or all of your bruised.

Two is where the cinematic comes in. Your hero, beaten and bruised, takes time out of the fight to catch a breather. Perhaps there is some dramatic talking. Perhaps just staring. After they go back to fighting and it's like someone hit the reset button. Higher damage levels like 'Staggered' and 'K.O'd can't be healed this way so big hits linger, but the little hits adding up is a lot of fun.

Rolling: 7th Sea 2nd Edition
This shouldn't be a huge surprise. The dice mechanics is one of the big reasons that 7th Sea 2nd Edition is my current favorite system. The 'Roll then Go' mechanic of 7th Sea makes everything faster, and allows for an interesting twist on the normal strategy where you're not wondering if your plan can work, but trying to figure out how much of it you can actually do.

Skill System: Silhouette Core
Most skill systems just give you a rating from 1-10 or some other number set. Silhouette Core has two numbers for skills: your skill level, and your skill complexity. Skill level is how reliable you are at a skill, and determines how many dice you roll. Skill complexity determines how complex you can use the skill.

For example, a doctor may have medicine Complexity 3 meaning they're a licensed professional doctor, able to do surgery, or to diagnose and prescribe medication for complex diseases. However, how reliable they are would be determined by their level. So a new doctor may only be Level 1 Complexity 3 showing that they've studied and know how advanced medicine works, but aren't super reliable at it. Meanwhile, Doctor House is likely Level 5 (max) with a complexity to match making him both super reliable and super good at everything he is doing.

I have loved the nuance of how this skill system plays out everytime I've used it, and look at it fondly when it's not in use. If nothing else, it lets someone be really good at first aid medicine like the player wants, without them also becoming a skilled surgeon with no training at the same time.

Powers & Abilities: Dresden Files RPG
Dresden Files is a great example of what happens when you build a mansion atop the FATE Core foundation. It answers a lot of the "too open" problems some players in my group have while still giving the options players crave. One of the better systems is how you acquire powers and abilities. It is a point buy system (like many systems use) but the number of points you get are small, and power costs are low to match with a variety of uses to them. You don't need a calculus degree to buy your powers like in GURPS, or a spreadsheet to track everything like with Mutants and Masterminds. However, you get useful powers with a variety of usage, and the people who don't want as many powers get rewarded with more fate points to start with every arc, which is basically a power in and of itself.

Gear and Equipment: ??
I saved Gear and Equipment for last, but now that I think about it I'm not sure I have a favorite way of doing this. I like how many options Fantasy Flight tends to put into their gear where you can really customize your weapons and get the gun you want, but I also don't like just how much power you can get from gear there. D&D is nice and simple and straight forward, but I dislike the encumbrance rules from it. L5R had a neat thing going where weapons did about the same damage, but different weapons had different special abilities (bonuses to disarm, extra attacks, etc) but it also fell flat. 7th Sea just flat out doesn't have a gear system and doesn't care if someone hits you with a zweihander or an empty bucket for how much damage it does.

I'm sure there is one out there, but I've yet to find it.

What about you?

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