Sunday, May 19, 2013

Shields, or why I need to change my whole damn system

A thought on how to do shields. I have been working on the armor problem for a few months now and it just keeps getting deeper. Basically Fate is not designed to deal with equipment, More to the point it does not deal with equipment in a directly mechanical way. It approaches equipment obliquely. This is due to part of the conceit of the game, that skill is more important than equipment. In general I agree with that sentiment, and there are a bunch of ways to get around that. the problem comes in when you are dealing with two opposing pieces of equipment, in my case weapons and armor. They have a tendency to cancel each other out. and if they do that, why bother using them. So I started to look at all the moving parts of the game. If weapons affect moving part A(say the stress done after the roll) then the Armor cannot directly affect that same moving part. Instead Armor must alter a different but related moving part(say the defense roll, or the maximum amount of stress).

I have altered my shield rules about four times in the last month, as I never felt they dealt with damage in a new or interesting way. After reading some old posts over on Spirit of the Blank and thinking about how I handle ship combat, I think I have come up with a new way of looking at the problem. I need to alter the entire framework for how equipment works.

I think the game needs to become a stress track free version of Fate. This actually will give me more option in conflict rather than less. Stress tracks will now become an option in combat rather than a standard. This will allow me to use a stress track as a piece of armor or a shield. also this will allow me to control the amount of stress a person can take. All they have is consequences, unless they have a shield.

Recovery will also have to change. I was playing mass effect the other day and it occurred to me that, healing is just not done much in Fate. their is no emergency first aid or the like. I think that I would like there to be something like battlefield healing in Shadow Legion. I would like there to be something like megigel or stim packs or whatever you call it. i don't see this healing as actually getting rid of a consequence, I see it as removing the free use an opponent has on a consequence, or maybe reducing teh severity(if the player's character has a free consequence slot open). I will work on this, but it does lead me to one of my larger ideas I had.

Equipment gives permission to do things the skill could not do on its own. I am aware that this has always sort of been the rule in Fate games. However it never really struck home  until I was thinking about my problems with shields. Both my shield solution and my battlefield recovery idea have this one thing in common. They are adding a new rule to the game, but only related to very specific cercumstances. The shield only provides a stress trackin a specific instance. Medigel allows for removal of a free use, but only if you have it. So I see equipment as a discrete rule and consequence that applies to a specific instance. I have already done a bit of that with the monofilament whip and teh slick sword. I will try this out and see how it works.

There are some problems inherent in this. The rules set becomes persnickety, and could get bogged down with exception based mechanics. Look at late 3.x edition D20 for a fine example of how that can go. Also there is the hierarchy of rules. When two pieces of equipment with similar rules interact, how does that work? Which one is the prime rule and which is being overruled? I think I can avoid this by being very careful and selective with which rules I apply. I will keep working on the idea.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever taken a look at the "Dramatic Weapons & Armor" system in the original Fate RPG? I'm using it to great effect in my Fudge-based S&S RPG. It's essentially a situational bonus system where the GM can give one side or the other various +1 bonuses for things like Superior Armor, Superior Weapon, Superior Numbers, Superior Position, etc.

    It might be fun to bolt on a system like this to a newer version of Fate, if only to see how it affects the game. If nothing else, it might inspire a different approach that fits the feel you are going for. :)

    I should mention that I think the biggest reason this approach works well for my particular game is that it uses Simultaneous Exchange combat. If you are using an Alternating Exchange system, it might need some tweaking, although it is the default bonus system for both types of combat systems in the original Fate RPG.