Monday, September 24, 2018

Retro Phaze VI: Chapter One Draft

Well, here it is. Took me long enough, eh?

This should, at least, give my readers (it's a small, highly exclusive club, I'm given to understand) a good idea where things are going. 

The major changes to the rules can be summed up as follows:

• The spell and weapon ranges have been seriously reigned in, to make things work more like Shining Force or Fire Emblem; spell areas and creature movements are scaled down to match.

• The game now features Land Effect, with an impact on both movement and character defense, just like a real tactical RPG! (The final chapter will have lots of advice on making tactical maps with varied terrain using "drop dice"—drop some dice on the table, those tell you where forests and mountains and rivers go—on the fly.)

• The core mechanic is now rolling low on 1d12 (under base TN + modifiers) rather than rolling high on 2d6 (+ modifiers vs. a TN). This makes probabilities way, way easier to deal with. The game still only features d6s for everything else; but the awkward "roll and keep" mechanics are pretty much gone, replaced with plus or minus fixed numbers of pips. These are otherwise still the only dice in the game: 1d12 for task resolution, Xd6±Y for everything else.

• Some of the stats have been re-named, just to make things fit together a little better. The core attributes reflect what each class mainly wants out of them: Fighters and Monks depend on Strength and Discipline, Rogues and Wizards on Finesse and Cunning. And, since the primary task resolution has been flipped around, the "Defense" score is now called "Vulnerability," and it works just like descending AC in OSR games (i.e. no armor is VN 6, leather armor is VN 5, chain is VN 4, etc.).

• And, of course, with the Scholar class made standard and moved into the front of the book, the alternative campaign options are going to have all of those weird Shining Force races and extra Final Fantasy style classes: the alternative promotions for each base class remain Dragoon (Fighter), Geomancer (Monk), Machinist (Rogue), Bard (Scholar), and Summoner (Wizard).

• Finally, there is now an Action Point mechanic that governs all use of multiple attacks in a round. Fighters get lots of them; Monks and Scholars get fewer, but Monks can spend them on counter-attacks, and high-level Scholars on extra spell-casting. Monsters now generally make just one attack per round, but particularly vicious monsters will get Action Points to spend—and certain Boss monsters may have so much Cunning that they act twice per initiative cycle!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Quick RP6 Update

Two things happened the other day that haven't happened in a long time. I don't know if they're related, but I think it's entirely possible that they are.

First, I bought some new pants. They were comfy. Better than the raggedy old bluejeans I'm used to wearing, anyway.

Then, that same day—maybe it was the pants, maybe it wasn't, who the heck even knows—I noticed that I didn't have any writer's block, and I got back into revising Retro Phaze.

To the point where the first chapter of the book (the original version of the game had four chapters; the new one will need five) only needs to have the spell descriptions updated, and then I can say that I've arrived at 20% done with drafting the body text.

Yeah, sure, the artwork is going to be a different matter entirely, since this time around I am actually going to illustrate the book properly (I know, right?). But so far it's actually been the trepidation over actually going through the rules and re-writing all the descriptions which has been the actual barrier here. Well, that and re-playing as many of the inspirational video games as I can manage in what little free time I have. (Damn, the Shining Force Gaiden trilogy on the Sega Game Gear and Sega CD was astoundingly good once I really got into it.)

So in the next day or two, I'll go ahead and post the revised Chapter One (with the basic races, classes, spells, and leveling rules) right here on this blog for my readers' consideration.

The new Fighter class is pretty badass now. Took me a while to get this one right.

Until next time, sláinte.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Shooting into Mêlée (part 3)

This will probably my last word on this topic until I get a chance to bench-test these rules on Saturday's D&D game, but for now, a summary of how I intend to handle missile-fire generally and shots into mêlée in particular seems germane.  So:

• I'm keeping missile ranges largely by-the-book, such that, e.g., daggers and hatchets are 10'/20'/30', darts and spears are 20'/40'/60', javelins are 30'/60'/90', slings are 40'/80'/120', hunting bows and harquebuses are 50'/100'/150', crossbows are 60'/120'/180', warbows are 70'/140'/210', and arbalests are 80'/160'/240'.
• Range modifiers are as per AD&D (±0/−2/−5) rather than OD&D (+1/±0/−1).  As a general rule, long-range missile-fire is only possible where the ceiling is taller than close range for that weapon.
• Outdoors, the medium and long ranges can be read as yards rather than feet, but it's very difficult to hit a moving target at such extreme ranges: −11 at extreme medium range, and −23 at extreme long.  This means, of course, that missile weapons actually have five range categories, e.g. 50'/100'/150'/300'/450' for a short bow.
• Shooting into a mêlée involves reckoning with both a cover penalty and a slightly increased range penalty: the shot is made at −1 if the target is flanked, −2 if the target is surrounded, and −3 if the target is obscured by a crowd; with an extra −1 at long range (or extreme range, for what it's worth).  Whatever the net penalty (−1 to −4), this is also the chance that the missile strikes another target in the crowd or mêlée instead.  If this happens (i.e. the initial attack roll was a miss because of the penalty), the actual target struck is determined randomly, with the chance that its armor is penetrated equal to 10% × the target's AC for a positive armor class (lessened by 1% per point of AC below 1).

That seems succinct enough to fit onto a page, at any rate.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Shooting into Mêlée (part 2)

During yesterday evening's D&D game, I tried out a test-implementation of a variation on the AD&D friendly-fire rule, with an extra bit of complication whereby ranged attackers could either aim for specific targets at a penalty, or just shoot into the group and hope for the best.  It worked pretty much as expected from a simulationist point of view; but it was indeed on the complicated side from a running-the-game perspective.  Overall, I liked it—it worked—but it was clunky enough that it could use some serious refinement.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Shooting into a Mêlée

Here's an aspect of D&D which has been bugging me more than a bit lately: shooting into mêlée.

Basic D&D doesn't address it, beyond a throwaway line in the '78 Basic Set that flatly forbids shooting missiles into a mêlée involving one's allies.  From the '81 Basic rules onward, it's never mentioned: not explicitly allowed, not penalized in any way, and not verboten either.

Then there's AD&D, where any shot into a mêlée means the DM picking a target at random before the attacker rolls to hit.  I like that this is chaotic and damnably realistic (no degree of archery skill could ever truly prevent friendly fire); I don't like that it means errant arrows from very high-level allies are more likely to strike a friend than wayward missiles shot by nameless henchmen.

Finally there's the d20 system, where you take a −4 penalty when shooting into a mêlée.  As simple and elegant as it is boring and bland.

My Barrowmaze Campaign: Month Eight

This post is a little late, given that last month's final game session took place nearly a week ago.  It happens: life's busy again now that school is in full swing.  (I have no idea what this is going to do to my plans to update Retro Phaze, but c'est la guerre.)  On that account, this is going to be a very brief post, celebrating the fact that as of last week's game, the party turned their attentions away from The Caverns of Thracia and back to the Barrowmaze proper.  But…

Well, I present this for your consideration.  Please don't go below the fold if you happen to be one of my players, because—wait for it—spoilers ahead.