Saturday, June 6, 2015

Trek to the Stars part 9: Damage Done

Initial thoughts
Part 1: The Pitch
Part 2: Skill roll basics
Part 3: Potential Campaigns
Part 4: History in brief
Part 5: Keys and Secrets
Part 6: Timeline and Technologies
Part 7: More technologies
Part 8: Character Creation(rough)

I should be dong other things right now. I have so much on my plate that it seems there are not enough hours in the day. However on my drive up to the family homestead I had what amounts to an epiphany. See, i had been having trouble with my damage system. I didn't really want to have damage just be damage. The way I prefer to run and play games lends it self to a more abstract system than the standard damage style mechanics. I also wanted to do more with stress and damage than just use it as a pacing mechanic. I am a fan of how fallout works in Dogs in the Vineyard. How it is the only real way to advance and so it encourages a certain style of play. As I already have an advancement mechanic that I am a fan of, I am thinking of doing something  little different with this.

Every character has a stress track that represents nonlethal hits, near misses, and anything that gets your heart rate up. Stress is what you take when you are not actually accumulating fallout. Fallout is any lasting effects that might come from a conflict. These would work a bit like consequences in Fate...maybe. I have still not nailed down exactly how fallout will work in play, though I do have a couple of ideas I would like to use. Fallout will grant character points in some way, currently I am leaning toward something approaching a compel or an antagonistic invoke. That said I did have another idea for fallout that might work, but I am still figuring out how to do it. Basically fallout would grant dice to the GM that they can then use against the group...somehow. I would love to hear any thoughts on how to deal with fallout.

Now lets talk about something that I am quite excited about, stress(might want to come up with a better name for this, any ideas?). See the more stress you take the closer to taking fallout you get, but the more powerful your skills become. I got the idea from two places, 13th Age, Lacuna Part 1, and Die Hard. See Die Hard is one of my favorite movies, it is just brilliant. Anyway, throughout the movie John McClain gets more and more beat up and yet as the movie goes along he gets better at taking out the bad guys. I had been playing with the idea of a damage system that made you more effective the more damage you took. However I could not really figure out how to make that interesting, until I read through Lacuna Part 1, which had this absolutely brilliant Heartbeat mechanic. Basically you have a sweet spot for your heart beat, lower than that and you are not at full efficiency, higher and you are at risk of heart attack or stroke(or something). This sweet spot idea really fit well with my silly Die Hard thoughts. So the idea moved forward a bit, now there would be a sweet spot in the damage track that would grant bonuses to your actions. However it just kind of stopped there for a couple years, as I couldn't really think of what to do with it, now that I had it. Jump back to a couple weeks ago. I went to my first Miscon, and managed to play quite a bit of 13th Age. In that dame they have this interesting idea called the Escalation Die. What it does is speeds up play, the longer a fight goes, the bigger the die gets and the quicker you can take out the bad guys. This is a really interesting idea. The idea basically gets rid of the long slog in a fight, and as it only really effects player characters(and a few kinds of creatures, but only in minor ways).

So here is how I see stress working. It is a track that you can mark off before fallout, every level of stress you take will add to the effects of your die rolls. For combat, this is easy, just add in a level of damage(or a die, or whatever) for every stress you take. For other rolls in a conflict it gets a little weird. I am still working on how to deal with that sort of situation. Basically this would encourage players to take risks and grant them an edge that will speed of the conflict's resolution.

Now I need to sort out recovery of stress and recovery of fallout, but that is the idea as it stands right now. I would love to hear any of your thoughts on the subject. How you think it will play, and all that. I do think I am nearly close enough to write up a beta test document and get some external play tests taken care of. Fingers crossed.